This article is about the origin and teachings of the Seventh-Day Adventists.

Source: Clarion, 1972. 7 pages.

Seventh-Day Adventism

Origin of the S.D.A. Churchβ€’πŸ”—

During the first half of the 19th century many people believed that the second coming of our Lord was in the then near future. One of them was William Miller, who had come to the conclusion that Jesus would come back between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. Many believed his message, but the latter date passed without Christ's coming. A revision of the dates gave them October 22, 1844. But this day came and the Lord did not. This "Great Disappointment" was too much for most Millerites and they abandoned their views. Those who did not want to return to the historical churches were scattered in various groups. The S.D.A. Church is formed out of three of these segments.

  • The first group centered around Hiram Edson and O.R.L. Crosier. The day after the disappointment, when they were walking through the fields, Edson received the "revelation" that the sanctuary, which had to be cleansed (Daniel 8:14) was not the earth, but the heavenly sanctuary. This doctrine of the heavenly sanctuary, coupled with that of the investigative judgment, was put forth by Crosier in the Day Star (1846). It was later accepted by Ellen G. White and other Adventist leaders.

  • The second group was led by Joseph Bates, who had accepted the seventh-day Sabbath. Moreover, he believed that this was the seal of God, which was given to the 144,000 who were sealed. Those who kept the first day of the week received the sign of the beast, which is the papacy.

  • The third group was formed around Ellen thus confirming the opinion of Edson. The Sabbath view of Bates was confirmed by a "vision" (April 7, 1847), in which she saw the heavenly ark with the tables of the law. There was a halo around the fourth commandment.

These three groups came together and adopted the name of Seventh-day Adventist (I860), although the first General Conference was not held until May 21, 1863.

Due to such proselytizing they have expanded in the whole world. They went from 114,557 members in 1913 to 1,307,892 members in 1961.

Their organization is patterned after the Jewish organization on Sinai. The General Conference stands for the council of seventy elders, while the President stands for Moses.

Are they Christians?β†β€’πŸ”—

There has been quite a difference of opinion lately concerning this question. Several authors, especially In the U.S.A., such as Martin, maintained that they are evangelistic Christians, while others, such as Hoeksema, Van Baalen and Gerstner deny this. It is mainly due to the fact that the S.D.A. Church is in a dilemma. On the one hand they want to be a Christian Church, accepting the doctrine's of historical Christianity, while on the other hand they cannot abandon their own peculiar doctrines and the writings of Mrs. White. The result is that there are a lot of inconsistencies in their teachings, especially if we compare their most authoritative work Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine with the works of Mrs. White and works of other authors, published by the S.D.A. press.

Our conclusion has to be that they are a non-Christian sect, because they deny many of the basic teachings of the Bible.

Their Doctrine of Scriptureβ†β€’πŸ”—

They accept the inspiration and authority of the Bible, but they have (as Kurt Hutten calls it) another Bible in their left hand. With this is meant that they have another "inspired" source of authority, namely the writings of Mrs. White. They say, however, that Mrs. White is not "in the same category as the writers of the canon of Scripture", but in the class of the non-writing prophets. Her writings are not an addition to the canon, according to Questions on Doctrine. But we can make several objections against these claims.

  • The "visions" of Mrs. White contain additions to the message of the Bible. She wrote for instance,

Then I saw another mighty angel to descend to the earth, to unite his voice with the third angel…The message of the fall of Babylon, as given by the second angel, is repeated with the additional mention of the corruptions which have been entering the churches since 1844…

This message seemed to be an addition to the third message.

  • The group of non-writing prophets included many persons whose utterances are found in the Bible. The point at issue is not whether they were writing or non-writing prophets, but whether they spoke what God told them or what a lying spirit caused them to say.

  • It has been proved that Mrs. White committed plagiarism.

  • The Book of Revelation pronounces a curse upon everyone who adds to the things mentioned in this book.

Although lately they have been playing down the works of Mrs. White, they cannot repudiate them, because several of their doctrines are based on them.

Their Doctrine of Deathβ†β€’πŸ”—

Starting with the belief that man is a unity and that he does not have a separate spiritual part that can exist after the body has died, they accept that death is the cessation of life for both body and soul. The first death, which is for all men, is temporary, while the second death, which is only for the wicked, is eternal.

They equate life with existence and death with non-existence. In connection with the first death, however, they say on the one hand that both body and soul cease to exist, while on the other hand they say that death is a state of unconsciousness or sleep. It cannot be both, but whatever they really believe does not matter very much, because both ideas are contrary to Scripture (Luke 23:43, 46; Acts 7:59; II Corinthians 5:1-10; Philippians 1:21-23). In connection with the teachings of Rev. B. Telder, many writings have been published refuting these doctrines of the S.D.A.

The Person of Christβ†β€’πŸ”—

They accept the doctrine of the Trinity (although they sometimes come very close to the teaching of three Gods) and they confess that Jesus Christ is very God, being of the same nature and essence as the Eternal Father. Yet their doctrine of Christ is in error on several points. Due to their wrong conceptions of man and death (they believe that man is really an animated body, which ceases to exist after death) they come to the teaching that it was really God who suffered the penalty for sin. Questions on Doctrine says for instance,

that His burden of guilt … was so great that human nature was inadequate to bear it … Christ, equal with God, gave the sufferings of a God.Β cf. Lord's Day VI

They also teach that Jesus, though remaining sinless, had a sinful human nature, thereby departing from the teaching that He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26).

If death is a cessation of life, they contradict their own teaching that Jesus is forever human, from His incarnation on. His human nature could not exist, according to their teaching, between His death and resurrection. Therefore they must either deny that Jesus did not cease to be man, (which they obviously do not want to do, because they recognize that this teaching is unscriptural), or they must change their doctrine that death is a cessation of being.

The Works of Christβ†β€’πŸ”—

In order to understand the S.D.A. doctrine of the Work of Christ, it is necessary to have a good knowledge of the O.T. Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16) and of the teachings of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

The Atonement of the Crossβ†β†°β€’πŸ”—

The Scriptural teaching concerning Christ's work is that He atoned on the Cross for the sins of His people. Jesus was at the same time priest and victim. He offered Himself on behalf of sinners.

In many S.D.A. statements we find the teaching that Christ began His priestly work when He ascended into heaven. However, they are not very consistent and sometimes, they say that Christ began His priestly ministry on the Cross. They do not believe that the Atonement was completed on the Cross.

The Heavenly Sanctuaryβ†β†°β€’πŸ”—

Edson received the "revelation" that the heavenly sanctuary had to be cleansed. This sanctuary into which Christ entered, according to Hebrews 8:1 is explained in analogy with the ceremony of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). They believe that this ceremony was necessary to cleanse the tabernacle from the sins of the people. In the same way, Christ has to cleanse the heavenly sanctuary of the sins which are there. Those sins are there in the form of the records of good and bad deeds of every person.

They believe that with the normal offering's during the year the sins of the people were transferred to the animals and from the animals to the tabernacle. On the Day of Atonement the sins were again transferred from the sanctuary to the second goat, which took them away.

They believe that in 1844 Jesus entered into the holy of holies of the heavenly sanctuary, there to investigate the records of the believers to see if they are worthy of the first resurrection. Those who are worthy have their sins blotted out.

This whole system of doctrine is completely unscriptural, because:

  • The Bible clearly teaches that believers have their sins blotted out already (Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 44:2:2; Acts 3:19).

  • They say that believers will not be present when they are judged, contrary to the biblical teaching that we all have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

  • The Bible states that the judgment will be after the second coming.

  • Their conception of the purpose of the Day of Atonement is wrong. Although burnt-offerings were brought every day, this was not the case with sin-offerings. The purpose of the Day of Atonement was to provide a sin-offering for all those sins, which were not yet atoned. They say that "Salvation for the people was, as usual, provided by the morning and evening sacrifice", but this is not correct, because the burnt-offerings were designed to show obeisance to God; they were not sin-offerings.

  • The belief that the Day of Atonement is a Day of Judgment is not taken from the Bible, but from Jewish sources of a later date.

  • The whole idea of the transfer of sins from the animal to the sanctuary cannot be based on Scripture.

  • Jesus offered Himself "once for all.” The sacrifice on the Cross is in Hebrews 9 compared with the Day of Atonement. This Day finished when our Lord said "it is finished.”

Several things in the teaching cocerning the investigative judgment are not clear.

  • Sometimes they say that Christ conducts the investigation, sometimes you read that the angels are doing it.

  • They do not say how the sanctuary is to be cleansed from the sins of those who are rejected.

  • The purpose of the investigative judgment is not clear in their teaching. On the one hand they say that the Lord will determine who have remained steadfast in their faith in Christ, feat on the other hand they say that its purpose is to show to all the inhabitants of the whole universe (they believe that there are intelligent beings on other planets) that God is just. The difficulty is that there is no opportunity for the wicked to see the records before they are annihilated, as all the wicked are (they do not believe in hell).

The Time of the Investigative Judgmentβ†β€’πŸ”—

S.D.A. accepts that this started in 1844. They derive this date from Daniel 8:14. The cleansing of the sanctuary, referred to in this text, is seen as the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. Furthermore it is assumed that the 2300 days are 2300 years and that the starting point is the same as in Daniel 9:25, which is taken to be the decree of Artaxerxes in 457 B.C.

This view is based on wrong conceptions and unproven assumptions.

  • They believe that in symbolical prophecy a day always stands for a year. This is based upon Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6. But, Numbers 14:34 does not apply to symbolical prophecy. Ezekiel had to lay on his side a day for a year, but this does not mean that this is applicable for all prophecy. They do not apply this principle in all cases. The assumption that a day in symbolical prophecy is always a year is therefore not correct.

  • It is not sure whether the 2300 "dailies" in Daniel 8:14 are meant as 2300 days or 1150 days.

  • The starting point cannot be 457 B.C., because the rise of the little horn of Daniel 8 must be later than Alexander the Great.

  • Daniel 8:14 does not occur in symbolical prophecy, but in an explanation.

  • The decree of Artaxerxes does not mention the restoring and building of Jerusalem (Ezra 7). Furthermore, the city was built before Ezra came. Even, if it is possible to predict dates by studying prophecy, then the date of 1844 would still be wrong.

The Scapegoat Teachingβ†β€’πŸ”—

S.D.A. is often accused of teaching that Satan is the sin bearer. But in Questions on Doctrine they deny that this is taught and call it an abhorrent thought. They explain their teaching in the way that Satan is the instigator of sin and as such must bear the responsibility for the sins of all the people (saints and sinners). But we can ask why they never openly reject statements such as:

When Christ, by virtue of His own blood removes the sins of His people from the heavenly sanctuary at the close of His ministration, He will place them upon Satan, who in the execution of the judgment, must bear the final penalty.Ellen G. White

The sins of the righteous having been transferred to Satan, he is made to suffer not only for his own rebellion, but for all the sins which he caused God's people to commit.Β A. J, Wearner

S.D.A. takes the Day of Atonement service as a type of the work of Christ and they come to the conclusion that the scapegoat is Satan. But this identification is wrong, because both goats in Leviticus 16 form one sin offering, and the second goat cannot represent Azazel (Satan), because the first one does not represent the Lord.

Their doctrine of salvation is not the biblical "by grace alone", but it has become a matter of bookkeeping; the good deeds and the evil deeds are investigated and they determine ultimately the final destiny of man.

The Last Thingsβ†β€’πŸ”—

The Great Tribulationβ†β†°β€’πŸ”—

They teach that the great tribulation is the time of the papal persecution between 538-1798 A.D: (cf. Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 13:5).

The little horn (Daniel 7) and the first beast (Revelation 13) are the papacy, which in 1798 received a deadly blow by the captivity of the pope. However, the Bible teaches us that both the little horn, and the first beast have their end with the second coming of Christ. Furthermore, the 42 months in Revelation 13 come after the deadly blow and not before it.

The Resurrectionsβ†β†°β€’πŸ”—

S.D.A. Reaches several resurrections.

  • The first resurrection of those "counted worthy" of it in the investigative judgment. This happens just after the second coming of Christ.

  • The resurrection of the wicked 1000 years later.

  • The resurrection at the time of Jesus' resurrection. Those who came forth at that time ascended with Jesus to heaven.

  • Just before the second coming there will be two special resurrections. One is of those wicked who were responsible for his death, while the other is of the believers who "died in the faith of the third angel message.”

The Bible, however, teaches that the resurrection of the believers and unbelievers will be at the same time, at the second coming of Christ.

The Millenniumβ†β†°β€’πŸ”—

They teach that during the (literal) millennium, the saints in heaven judge the unbelievers, who are all dead. This is the investigative judgment for the wicked. In that time Satan and his angels will be the only inhabitants of the earth. This makes the purpose of the binding of Satan quite meaningless, for if there are no nations to deceive, this sentence does not make sense.

The Everlasting Punishmentβ†β†°β€’πŸ”—

They believe that the second death implies total annihilation, for the wicked, who will never more be resurrected, Satan included. They reject the idea of everlasting punishing and say that only the result of the punishment will be everlasting.

This view is unscriptural. We could mention, many arguments against it, but will only point to the parallel in Matthew 25:31-46:

Come Ye blessed inherit the kingdom prepared for you. Depart Ye cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

The whole parallel indicates that if one is eternal in its result and in its duration, then the other will be too.

They make the annihilation of the wicked an act of God's mercy instead of the punishment upon sin.

The Sabbathβ†β€’πŸ”—

Seventh-Day Adventists make a distinction between the moral and the ceremonial law. The ceremonial law was given by Moses, while the moral law came in force at the time of creation. They hold that the Sabbath was instituted at the creation as a memorial of the rest of God and as a sign of the believer's rest from his own works of sin. In these points they are undoubtedly right; there is a difference between the moral and the ceremonial law, and the Sabbath is a creation ordinance. They make, however, two big mistakes in their teaching concerning the Sabbath.

The Seventh or the First Day?β†β†°β€’πŸ”—

They insist that the only day on which we can hold the Sabbath is on the seventh day. They insist that the words of the fourth commandment reject the 6 + 1 scheme, and that the ones who keep the first day of the week transgress the fourth commandment.

They are Wrong, because:β†β†°β€’πŸ”—

  • The word "sabbath" means rest, not seventh.

  • In contrast to their statement that the six-and-one-day postulate is untenable because this would be "subjective reasoning, unsupported by the wording of the fourth commandment" we can point to similar passages which have the 6+1 aspect, (Exodus 21:2; 23:10-11; 24:16; Leviticus 25:3, 4; Joshua 6: 3, 4).

  • Furthermore, if they were right we could ask the question how the fourth commandment would be worded if the 6 + 1 scheme was intended. Should the wording not have been the same?

  • Adam started to rest on his first day of existence. He kept the first day of his week as a day of rest.

  • The Old Testament redemption began on a Sabbath. On the day of rest did the Israelites leave Egypt.

  • The New Testament redemption begins on a Sabbath, but this is the first day of the week.

  • The New Testament show's that the first day of the week came in the place of the seventh day of the week. (John 20:1, 19, 26, Acts 2:1, 14, 41; 20:6, 7; I Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10).

  • History proves that the first day was kept in the Christian Church from apostolic times onward.

The Sign of the Living Godβ†β€’πŸ”—

They teach that the Sabbath-keeping on the seventh day is the sign of God, while the keeping of the first day is the mark of the papal beast. That the seventh-day keeping is the sign of God is derived from Exodus 20:10, 11, because the fourth commandment alone "reveals the name, authority and realm of the Author of the law.” I cannot see how they deduce from this that the sabbath is the sign of God. In contrast with the seal of God they believe in the mark of the papal beast, the Sunday-keeping.

Aside from the fact that this cannot be proved from Scripture, we find several contradicting statements.

  • According to them it is clearly stated in the Bible that the seventh day must be kept. Yet they make the statement that,

We believe that in the end of time, in the light of clear divine prohibition, all men will be brought face to face with a decision to accept or reject Sunday observance.

This seems to imply that they do not accept a clear prohibition, at the present moment.

  • On the one hand they say that the Sunday-keeping is not yet the mark of the beast, while on the other hand there are indications that they believe that the third angel's message has sounded already, implying that those who refuse to keep the seventh day will receive the mark of the beast.

They are Wrong on the Following Pointsβ†β†°β€’πŸ”—

  • They have not proved that the beast is the papacy.

  • The "evidence" they have is mainly based on the "visions" of Mrs. White.

  • Even if the papacy was the beast, then the Sunday-keeping can still not be its mark, because they admit that the Sunday was observed before the papacy arose.

In connection with their sabbath teaching they believe that they alone are the true church, the "remnant" church, because they alone keep the commandments of God.


As I have stated before, there are two forces at work in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. On the one hand there is the wish to be biblical and to accept the teaching of Scripture, but on the other hand there is the acceptance of the original, un-scriptural doctrines. As long as these doctrines, such as the inspiration of Mrs. White, the heavenly sanctuary doctrine, the teaching about the investigative judgment, the belief that Sunday-keeping is the mark of the beast, etc, are not officially denounced, so long we have to regard the Seventh-Day Adventist Church as non-Christian.

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