The question is asked, When did we first officially adopt our "Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists"?
The first of what might be termed an official statement of our beliefs was provided for in a General Conference action on December 29, 1930. The action reads as follows:
A request was presented from the African Division that a statement of what Seventh-day Adventists believe should be printed in the Yearbook, since they feel that such a statement would help government officials and others to a better understanding of our work.
Voted, that the chair appoint a committee of which he shall be a member, to prepare such a statement for publication in the Yearbook.
Such a committee was appointed, which drew up a statement according to the instruction of the General Conference Committee.
The next reference we find to the statement appears in the January 14, 1932, minutes and reads:
Voted, That we request the Review and Herald to print in tract form the statement which is published in the Yearbook on "Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists."
The same year this statement was printed in our Church Manual.
On June 13, 1946, at a General Conference session, the following action was taken regarding this same matter:
That the Statement of Fundamental Beliefs now found in Section XI [of the Church Manual], be placed at the beginning of the Manual as Section I.
That no revision of this Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, as it now appears in the Manual, shall be made at any time except at a General Conference session.
This statement appears in the present Church Manual, 1951 edition, on pages 29-36.
It is true that in 1872 a "Declaration of the Fundamental Principles Taught and Practiced by Seventh-day Adventists" was printed, but it was never adopted by the denomination and therefore cannot be considered official. Evidently a small group, perhaps even one or two, endeavored to put into words what they thought were the views of the entire church. The very first paragraph of that statement makes this clear:
In presenting to the public this synopsis of our faith, we wish to have it distinctly understood that we have no articles of faith, creed, or discipline, aside from the Bible. We do not put forth this as having any authority with our people, nor is it designed to secure uniformity among them, as a system of faith, but is a brief statement of what is, and has been, with great unanimity, held by them. We often find it necessary to meet inquiries on this subject, and sometimes to correct false statements circulated against us, and to remove erroneous impressions which have obtained with those who have not had an opportunity to become acquainted with our faith and practice. Our only object is to meet this necessity.
When the denomination did officially adopt a statement of fundamental beliefs, certain sections appearing in the one printed in 1872 were left out, notably the one on the atonement. Further light from the messenger of the Lord on the matter of the atonement seems to have cleared up certain aspects of this subject, and this portion of the 1872 declaration was not included. Today it is difficult to secure copies of the 1872 declaration, as it has long been out of print.
Seventh-day Adventists have long held that the path of the just, which "shineth more and more unto the perfect day," must not be circumscribed by any formal denominational creed. While truth is progressive, the great fundamental doctrines of salvation are proclaimed in the unchangeable "everlasting gospel" of God, and are wholeheartedly accepted by all Seventh-day Adventists.