Adventism's New Milestone

A look at how Adventists have been accepted by some Protestants as "born again" Christians.

L.C.K. is an associate editor of the Ministry

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.

While engrossed in a restudy of the prin­ciples of Bible interpretation as set forth by eminent Bible scholars of our day, we have been impressed with the variations in hermeneutical skill. These emphases of Bible interpretation are not between Jew­ish and Catholic interpreters alone; they are more pronounced between fundamen­talists and modernist scholars. Truly we humans may progress in our understand­ing of theology, and a methodology for teaching it, but we shall remain human until eternity lifts the veil and we shall know even as we are known! At best our research is limited, and defined laws for interpretation do not take care of all the problems involved in handling Bible the­ology. As one of our solicitous friends stated in another publication concerning his own group, "It hardly behooves any of us to throw stones at another group of Christian believers." And this should be our attitude also. We are not alarmed over these discussions pro and con, but rather we desire to become more conscientious as we seek spiritual guidance for thorough research. The shafts must sink deeper into the mine of Bible truth.

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.


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L.C.K. is an associate editor of the Ministry

April 1957

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