Recently a thrilling chapter in the history of Adventism was written. We feel that our denomination, for so long looked at askance by some Protestant leaders, is on the road to better relationship. It would indeed be unwise for us to go overboard about this experience, but we would certainly be remiss if we failed to recognize the significance of having reached this milestone. The point is that the confusion about Adventism's classification with some of the more "undesirable cults" has been clarified. Without taking the initiative in this significant gesture, we have been accepted by a fundamentalist sector of Protestantism as "born again" Christians.
The main issue in question seemed to be whether Adventists believed in the deity and divinity of Christ, in His atoning sacrifice, and in a finished work on the cross. While some among us wonder why these facets of our faith have not been discovered sooner it might be well for us to weigh the significance of such changes of feeling. We must assume that the readers of THE MINISTRY have kept pace with the articles and special theological features of recent months. We would merely point up a few of our own impressions relative to these recent theological investigations.
It appears that this (on our part) unsought discussion of our doctrines with Evangelical brethren has been most profitable. Adventists recognize such experiences as providences. It does not go to our heads; it rather humbles us as we try to learn some lessons from this recent stir in the ranks of our Evangelical brethren in Christ, whose motives we wish to recognize as pure and solicitous. Truth can bear investigation and it speaks for itself when God's time comes.
In this connection we turn to an appropriate text for guidance. "Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward" (Deut. 2:3). In the experience of the Israelites at Mount Seir (which means "rough") we recognize ourselves. As a denomination we have wandered around the obstacle of misunderstanding long enough, and we do well to now turn northward to God's throne. At times the Christian is placed where he must contend earnestly for the faith, but contention as between Christian groups should be avoided. If these recently gained impressions of Adventism will help Protestants to become more unified, then we may rejoice together.
Let us give a little consideration to our "isolated ways" as related to our unique doctrines, which, in the thinking of some, are responsible for our drawing away from fundamentalist Protestantism. We question the accuracy of this appraisal on the point of our isolationism, for we are much alert on Christian thinking, and especially on prophetic interpretation. Protestant Bible interpretation developed out of the doctrinal conflicts of the Reformation, but what Protestant would venture to say that the movement as such was heretical? The voices of the Reformers had a variety of emphases, but the Reformation was still the work of God. Adventists feel that they, too, have a right to startle fellow Christians with some distinctive views on the ministry of Christ, the judgment, the return of our Lord, and so forth. These, however, must be more than traditional doctrines; they must be interpreted as convictions in the lives of believers. So in our zeal for Protestant unity, let us leave room for diversity, allowing the other mah also to exercise his conscience, provided he knows his Saviour.
God wonderfully led in the rise and progress of the Advent Movement. Honest scholars everywhere have given study to the truth and timeliness of its message to the world. We have gained many friends by our humanitarian works, as well as with our forthright distinctiveness. With all other Christian believers who cherish the hope of Christ's imminent return, we are preparing for the greatest event of the ages. In this we are not exclusive. If we have failed at times in satisfactorily interpreting our doctrines, we have nevertheless been sincere in our purpose. Our exclusiveness has not been from choice; perhaps earlier in our history it was the lack of response on the part of fellow Christians regarding this "blessed hope" that produced the Adventist way of life.
We are a people with convictions, but we seek fellowship with all true Christians. Let us now ask one another: Has the full purpose of the Protestant Reformation been accomplished, or should we unitedly continue its forward march until Christians everywhere are conscious of, and have prepared themselves for, the soon return of our Lord? We must continue to uphold God's ten-commandment law as the standard of life. Jesus taught this in the Sermon on the Mount. Our lawless age indicates that Christianity should raise its standard higher and higher. Through the grace of Christ and by the power of the indwelling Spirit, God's law will be written in the hearts of all who are looking for the return of our blessed Saviour.L. C. K.