Fifty Years Later in Adventism

Mar 2, 2009

Colin Standish

A devastating u-turn re-examined.
Fifty years ago our beloved church took a devastating u-turn. The General Conference agreed to answer Evangelicals’ questions about the Seventh-day Adventist faith. Dr. Donald Barnhouse, then pastor of the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and editor of one of the most-read Evangelical magazines of that era, and Dr. Walter Martin, a leading Baptist theologian, led the inquiry. Elders LeRoy Froom, Roy Allen Anderson, and W. Reid of the General Conference provided the answers.

The following year, the book Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine (widely referred to as Questions on Doctrine) was published and became an overnight sensation. While much of this book was excellent, my brother, Russell, and I were alarmed by what we read. There was a subtle effort to downplay the prophetic role of Sister White; to affirm the evangelical belief that Jesus took the unfallen human nature; and to accept that the atonement was completed at Calvary, rather than in the heavenly sanctuary. That last error especially undermined the Three Angels’ Messages and the Midnight Cry. Further, the true power of the biblical victory message was not clearly stated.

Based on answers they received, the Evangelicals concluded that Seventh-day Adventists were legitimate Christians, worthy to be accepted as part of the true Christian fellowship, rather than a cult. Somehow we were flattered. Many of our members purchased this book, thinking that it was an authentic presentation of the true beliefs of our church. Soon pastors, Bible workers, teachers, and others were graduating from our institutions with no background in the Three Angels’ Messages.

General Conference President Robert Folkenberg later declared us to be evangelical Seventh-day Adventists. We certainly should be evangelistic Seventh-day Adventists, but we are not evangelical Adventists. If we are faithful to the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy, we can never deny or minimize the spiritual carnage which has taken place in the past fifty years as a result of this book. Many of our members have only a partial knowledge of the Adventist message, the rich fullness of that message being limited by the errors which have been introduced.

Our church is the special end-time remnant church that God raised up to take what no other church can take to the world: the everlasting gospel, which includes the judgment hour cry. We can make no compromise. We must test every belief by a plain “Thus saith the Lord.”

I pray that each person reading this will grasp the truth of the Scriptures and live a holy life through the grace and power of Jesus. We pray that the voice of Hartland will always be strong against every false intrusion into the belief system of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.