The Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA), colloquially referred to as the Adventists, is an evangelical Protestant Christian denomination that grew out of the prophetic Millerite movement in the United States during the middle part of the 19th century. Some religious scholars, notably Anthony A. Hoekema, consider it to be a cult, but other apologists, notably Walter R. Martin, consider Adventists to be basically a Christian denomination, because of their Trinitarian views, even if the church holds some "heterodox" beliefs that differ from other evangelical churches.
According to historians of the movement, this group gained its more recent name from the teaching that the expected return of Jesus on October 22, 1844 had been fulfilled in a way that had not previously been understood (see also: Great Disappointment). Further Bible study led to the belief that Jesus in that year had entered into the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary, and began an "investigative judgment" of the world: a process through which there is an examination of the heavenly records to "determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement"¹ after which Jesus will return to earth. According to the church's teaching, the return of Christ may occur very soon, though nobody knows the exact date of that event (Mat 24:36).
For about twenty years the Adventist movement was a rather unorganized group of people who held to this message. Among its greatest supporters were James White, Ellen G. White and Joseph Bates.
Later a formally organized church called the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was established in Battle Creek, Michigan in May, 1863 with a membership of 3,500. Through the evangelism and inspiration of Ellen G. White, the church quickly grew and established a presence beyond North America during the later part of the 1800s. In 1903, the denominational headquarters were moved from Battle Creek to Washington D.C. (and the immediately neighboring community of Takoma Park, Maryland), and in 1989 to Silver Spring, Maryland.
In addition to Orthodox Trinitarian Protestant theology, Seventh-day Adventists:
- Believe in a literal six-day creation process, culminating in a seventh-day Sabbath of rest, which is still to be observed from Friday's sunset to Saturday's sunset, in accordance with Scripture.
- Maintain that there is no biblical mandate for the change from the true Sabbath to Sunday observance, which is to say that Sunday keeping is merely a "tradition of men".
- Believe that death is a sleep during which the "dead know nothing" (Ecclesiastes 9:5), which is to say that nothing of a person survives death, that the dead simply cease to exist until they are resurrected, either at the second coming of Jesus (in the case of the righteous) or after the millennium of Rev.20 (in the case of the wicked).
- Maintain that, as a consequence of the state-of-the dead belief, Hell does not currently exist; instead the wicked are consumed in fire after the millennium. Perspectives vary, within the church, on the term of the burning of the wicked. However church doctrine holds that even completely evil beings, such as Satan himself, will ultimately be destroyed once and for all, rather than suffer indefinitely. In the wider Christian community this doctrine is known as Annihilationism.
- Present a health message that recommends vegetarianism and requires abstinence from pork, shellfish, and other "foods" proscribed as "unclean" in Leviticus as well as from alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine.
- Believe in an imminent, pre-millennial, second advent.
- Teach that the "Spirit of Prophecy," an identifying mark of the remnant church, was manifested in the ministry of Ellen. G. White, whom Adventists recognize as the Lord's messenger. Her "writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction" (27 Fundamental Beliefs).
A overview of the church's 27 Fundamental Beliefs is found at their official website (http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/)
Number of members
- 1961 1(+) million Adventists worldwide.
- 1970 2 million.
- 1980 3.5 million.
- 1990 nearly 7 million.
- 2000 roughly 11 million.
- 2003 roughly 12 million.
- 2004 roughly 14 million.
Rate of growth estimates indicate the following for the near and mid-term future:
The Seventh-day Adventist Church one of the world's fastest-growing organizations, primarily due to increases in third world membership.
The current head of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is General Conference President Jan Paulsen from Norway.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has many affiliated broadcast ministries that are seen every day on radio and television.
It Is Written was founded in 1956 by George Vandeman and was the first religious program to air in color, and the first to take advantage of satellite technology. Mark Finley succeeded Vandeman in 1992. He left the show in 2004 and was replaced by Shawn Boonstra.
The Voice Of Prophecy was founded in 1929 by H.M.S. Richards, Sr. on a single radio station in Los Angeles, but has since spread to stations throughout the nation and has recently begun television and video production. Richards' son, H.M.S. Richards, Jr., succeeded him in the late 1970s, and today is hosted by Pastor Lonnie Meleshenko and Connie Jeffery (daughter of It Is Written founder George Vandeman).
Amazing Facts was founded in 1965 by Joe Crews in Baltimore, Maryland. Inspired by the success of the Voice Of Prophecy, Crews' original objective was to reach out to both Christian and non-Christian listeners via daily 15-minute programs by opening with a historic fact, and how it applies to the overall Biblical messages. Later, the program offered accompanying home Bible study courses, as well as books written by Crews himself. In 1987, Amazing Facts initiated a television ministry. In 1993, after Joe Crews' passing, Doug Batchelor assumed the position as Director/Speaker, and has held that position ever since. Today, Amazing Facts broadcasts mainly out of Sacramento, California.
The Quiet Hour was founded in 1937 by J.L. Tucker as a radio program. Succeeding members of the Tucker family have run the ministry since then, and it too has expanded into television.
Breath Of Life is one of the most recent Adventist broadcast ministries to hit the airwaves. Although its main audience is African American, the message is similar to the other broadcast ministries.
The Three Angels Broadcasting Network was founded in 1984 by Danny Shelton. Troubled by bad thoughts, but inspired by his and his daughter's singing religious songs, Shelton had an idea to build a television station that would fulfill his own deepest needs. Eventually this would develop into a major 24-hour satellite service seen around the world. 3ABN (as it is often called) broadcasts all the major Adventist ministries, as well as its own in-house productions on the gospel, and mental & spiritual health. Addtionally, there is a Three Angels Broadcasting Radio Network as well. This organization is a privately run non-profit that is not an official arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
All the main Adventist broadcast ministries have engaged in worldwide outreach via numerous crusades and rallies.
Seventh-day Adventists have had a long interest in education. The Adventist church runs one of the largest education systems in the world. Adventist schools emphasise a holistic approach including emotional, spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual development.
The Youth Department of the Seventh-day Adventist church runs an organisation for 10-16 year olds called Pathfinders.
Pathfinders is similar to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
- list of Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities
- list of Seventh-day Adventist hospitals
- The global church is called the General Conference.
- The General Conference is organized by divisions.
- Those are organized by union conferences.
- Those are organized by local conferences.
- Those are organized by local churches (congregations).
Each of these has its own elected governing body and office. Almost everything is decided by either elected committees or through vote of members or representatives from the local churches. Each organization holds a general session at certain intervals. This is usually when general decisions get voted on. The president of the General Conference for instance is elected at the General Conference Session every 5 years. Churches are governed by a church board formed by members of that church.
Directory of divisions, conferences and churches (http://www.adventistdirectory.org/)
- Ellen G. White The Great Controversy (1911 edition) p.422 GC chapter 23 (http://www.whiteestate.org/books/gc/gc23.html)
Official Seventh-day Advenitst Church sites
Other Seventh-day Advenitst sites
Sites about Seventh-day Adventism
- Pickle Publishing (http://www.pickle-publishing.com/papers/jeremiah-films/video-1.htm) A Critique of the Jeremiah Films Video: Seventh-day Adventism - The Spirit Behind the Church
Seventh-day Adventist Divergent Views
- Creation Seventh Day Adventists (http://www.creationsda.org/)
- Restoration Ministries (http://restorationministry.com/)
- Smyrna Gospel Ministries (http://www.smyrna.org/)
- Good News Unlimited (http://www.goodnewsunlimited.org) Diverges from Seventh-day Adventists regarding the significance of the sanctuary.
Sites opposed to Seventh-day Adventism
Sites opposed to sites opposed to Seventh-day Adventism
- SDA Outreach (http://www.sdaoutreach.com/) this is sdaoutreach.com