Adventism and institutionalism

Adventism, institutionalism and the challenge of secularization

Adventism has reached that critical point where it must deliberately choose and courageously act to reverse the patterns of institutionalization and secularization that threaten its heritage and mission.

George R. Knight is professor of church history, Theological Seminary, Andrews University, Berrien Springs,Michigan.

Churches in their second century face problems their founders never had to deal with. Two of those problems are institutionalism and secularization. Churches, like people and other organizations, pass from infancy through adolescence into adulthood and eventually have to face the problems of dysfunction that aging brings.

The early church fell into this pattern, as did the Reformation churches and the Methodist movement. The present article will examine the problems and challenges of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as it faces the same issues in its second century. In the process we will survey the life cycle of a church, some of the dilemmas that hinder reform, the "problem" of success, and the possibility of avoiding what appears to be the course of history as churches move from being movements to machines to monuments.

Before beginning our journey, it should be noted that this article is based upon sociological analysis. It is important to realize that sociological analysis is only one way of viewing the church. As such, it supplements other viewpoints, including the most important perspective—the biblical/theological. While sociological patterns do not predetermine religious history, it is significant that church after church has followed the same pathway to institutionalism and secularization. The challenge set forth in this article is to recognize those patterns as they apply to Adventism so that such knowledge, through God's grace, might be utilized deliberately to "correct" the course of Adventism. Whether Adventism will be successful in this respect remains to be seen. But one of the great lessons of church history is that such a course correction will not be the product of either accident or ignorance.

The life cycle of a church

David O. Moberg describes five stages in the life cycle of a church.1 His analysis sheds a great deal of light on the development and current status of Adventism, even though his model does not provide a perfect correlation.

Before examining Moberg's stages of development, I would like to suggest some qualifications. First, a church may exhibit the characteristics of several stages at the same time, even though it is predominantly in one or two stages at any given time. Second, different individual members, congregations, or ethnic or national subdivisions of a church may be at different stages at the same time. Third, my comments on Adventism will focus on generalizations regarding the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church, with an emphasis on the North American Division.

Stage I: incipient organisation. Moberg's first stage is that of "incipient organization." Sects, he claims, usually develop out of unrest and dissatisfaction with existing churches, often being stimulated by the lower classes who complain about the clergy, the "corruption" of privileged groups, or denominational complacency. The unrest may arise out of a crisis that the parent church has failed to meet satisfactorily.

With the rise of leadership, a new cult or sect emerges, often as a reform move merit within the parental body. Emerging sects are characterized by "a high degree of collective excitement," "unplanned and uncontrolled emotions" in public situations that "may lead to a sense of bodily possession by the Holy Spirit," and physical reactions. "Charismatic, authoritarian, prophetic" leader ship is characteristic of this state.

The stage of incipient organization is a fairly accurate description of Sabbatarian Adventism between 1844 and 1863. Arising out of the failure of the existing denominations to accept William Miller's premillennial views and the unwillingness of the majority of the post-disappointment Millerite Adventists to embrace the biblical truths of the seventh-day Sabbath and the ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, the Sabbatarian Advent band emerged as a separate "sect" between 1844 and 1850.

By that time, three strong leaders—Joseph Bates, James White, and Ellen G. White—had risen to bind the emerging group together through a series of conferences and a periodical. Their combined leadership may easily be characterized as having charismatic, authoritarian, and prophetic aspects. Formal organization was a taboo for most adherents during this period, with some claiming that the first step toward organizing a church was the first step toward forming another Babylon. Their leadership style would not fit well into the Adventism of the 1990s.

Beyond leadership styles, one doesn't have to read very far in the first volume of Testimonies for the Church or other early Sabbatarian Adventist literature to pickup the charismatic flavor of their worship. The work of the Holy Spirit was much in evidence through such manifestations as visions, healings, being slain by the Spirit, and even a few instances of speaking in tongues. 2 In many ways, if not most, the early Sabbatarian Adventists would find themselves distinctly uncomfortable in Adventism as we know it today.

Stage 2: formal organisation. Moberg describes the second stage as being characterized by formal organizational identity. The group formulates and publicizes its goals to attract new members, who in turn are asked to commit themselves by formally joining the group. The organization develops a creed "to preserve and propagate orthodoxy," and emphasizes the differences between the new sect and non-members. Symbols are developed that reflect the group's theological orientation.

Stage 2 often sees the development of an emphasis on behaviors that deviate from those of the surrounding society. Thus, writes Moberg, "the use of auto mobiles, neckties, tobacco, instrumental music, cosmetics, or wedding rings may be considered sinful; card playing, movie attendance, dancing, or military service may be tabooed. Thus codes of behavior are developed and enforced; these distinguish members from others and often draw persecution or ridicule that increases in-group feelings and strength." In addition, "agitational" leadership forms gradually abate as stage 3 is approached.

The stage of formal organization represents Seventh-day Adventist developments between approximately 1863 and 1900. The year 1863 saw the formation of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists—an organizational step that had been preceded by the formation of the first local conferences in 1861 and the choice of a name in 1860. Such a move was a giant step away from the freeflowing, "anti-Babylon" stance of many adherents in the previous decade.

Following rapidly on the heels of formal organization came Ellen White's June 6 health reform vision (just 15 days after the formation of the General Conference), which proved to be a mighty step forward in the development of a distinctive Seventh-day Adventist lifestyle package. In addition, the mid-1860s saw the denomination take its position on noncombatancy, take special interest in the issue of personal adornment, and establish its first health-care institution. The early 1870s saw the publication of Adventism's first formal statement of beliefs, the development of its first permanent educational institution, and the sending of its first foreign missionary. Persecution over the breaking of Sunday laws in the 1880s and 1890s and continuing adverse discrimination on the basis of its Millerite heritage helped strengthen the young denomination's ingroup feelings.

By 1900 Adventism's lifestyle and doctrinal position were well established, and the church supported a rapidly expanding system of missions, conferences, schools, hospitals, and publishing houses around the world. Beyond that, leader ship was becoming progressively more formal and "administrative," as opposed to being informal and charismatic. By the turn of the century, however, the denomination had outgrown its 1863 organizational structure. Reorganization was crucial if the church was to continue to operate effectively. This brings us to Moberg's stage 3.

Stage 3: maximum efficiency. If stage 1 is viewed as toddlerhood and stage 2 as childhood, then stage 3 in the life cycle of a church should be seen in terms of youthful vigor and young adulthood. Moberg labels the third stage as that of maximum efficiency.

During stage 3, statesmen dominate leadership and organization becomes increasingly rational. Formal structure rapidly develops as executives, boards, and committees are added to meet the needs of the growing organization. Official leaders perform their duties "enthusiastically and efficiently"; and rituals and administrative procedures, although regularized, are still viewed as means to the end rather than as ends in themselves. Programs of action tend to be formulated in light of rational consideration of relevant facts. Growth during the period of maximum efficiency is often very rapid.

Stage 3 also sees the rise of historians and apologists for the faith. This period witnesses the group move psychologically from the position of despised sect to one of near-equality with recognized denominations. Hostility toward other groups diminishes and "the fanatical resolution to maintain sharply different ways relaxes." As an illustration Moberg goes out of his way in the first edition of his book (1962) to point out the "the gradual acceptance of Seventh-day Adventists into fundamentalist circles (through the aid of Walter Martin and Donald Grey Barnhouse in the late 1950s)." 3

While Adventism may have been achieving public acceptance by the 1950s, the denomination undoubtedly had entered into Moberg's state of maximum efficiency in 1901, That year saw the administrative reorganization of the General Conference along a more rational line. It also witnessed the election of Arthur G. Daniells to denominational leadership. Daniells was the first president who could be viewed as a "statesman."

The 1901 General Conference session also witnessed the development of union conferences and the present departmental structure at all levels of the church. The departments replaced semi-autonomous organizations, whose varying programs had been impossible to coordinate. The appointment of the first vice-president of the General Conference took place the next year. Subsequent years and decades saw the development of numerous committees, boards, and other entities to forward the work of the church. The organizational changes begun in 1901 set the stage for unprecedented denominational growth around the world. The early decades of the twentieth century also saw the development of the denomination's historical/ apologetic literature under such writers as J.N. Loughborough, M. E. Olsen, A. W. Spalding, and F. D. Nichol.

If a specific date can be given for Adventism's arrival at "adulthood," it may best be seen as 1956, when the denomination had the "right hand of fellowship" extended to it by Donald Grey Barnhouse, editor of Eternity and a highly influential fundamentalist leader.4 The acceptance of that fellowship unfortunately (but predictably) split the Adventist ranks between those who viewed it as a step forward and those who saw it as a "sell-out" to the enemy.

Like it or not, the denomination did reach its adulthood. Evidence of that transition can be found in the fact that the late 1950s and early 1960s witnessed the capstone being placed on the church's educational establishment, with the creation of two universities, and the hope of developing Ph.D. programs. The important question now became whether the denomination would use its adulthood responsibly.

Even though it seems rather clear that Adventism arrived at the stage of maxi mum efficiency around 1901, it is much less clear where the denomination is in 1991. That may be partly because we lack enough distance from current events to evaluate the flow of recent history properly. It seems that at the present time the denomination may be largely in stage 3, but teetering on the brink of Moberg's stage 4. Another way of saying what needs to be said is that part of the church may be in stage 3, while other sectors are already in stage 4. This picture should become more evident as we discuss stage 4. What is important at this juncture, however, is not that we determine its position, but that we foresee the general pattern of the future if the denominational aging process is not successfully challenged.

Stage 4: institutianalism. Moberg presents stage 4 as one of great danger. During this stage formalism drains the group's vitality. Its leadership comes to be "dominated by an established bureaucracy more concerned with perpetuating its own interests than with maintaining the distinctives that helped bring the group into existence." Administration tends to center in committees and boards that often become self-perpetuating. The church becomes a "bureaucracy," with mechanisms of the group's structure largely having become ends in themselves.

For individuals at this stage, doctrinal platforms become "venerated relics from the past" and for most "worshipers" organized worship gradually degenerates into a repetitive ritual. At this stage the institution "has become the master of its members instead of their servant, making many demands upon them, suppressing personalities, and directing energies into serving the 'organization church.'"

Stage 4, claims Moberg, sees conflict with the outside world replaced by complete toleration. Conformity to social norms and mores is typical, "respectability" becomes a central quest, and membership standards are relaxed as the church seeks to bring more socially respectable people into its fold. Feelings of group intimacy decline as the growth in membership brings increased heterogeneity and varying dedication, sentiments, and interests. Membership be comes remote from leadership and increasingly passive. Interests and activities once considered "worldly" become major attractions as the church seeks to become a center of community activity. Sermons, meanwhile, become "topical lectures dealing with social issues, rather than fervent discourses" on sin, salvation, and church doctrine.

As noted above, current Adventism has a love/hate relationship with Moberg's institutional stage. Many Adventist leaders and members could find Moberg's thesis a source of temptation or fear or both. These ambivalent feelings are sometimes present in the same person or group of people simultaneously.

There are many indicators that the denomination at times enters stage 4.

These include: church-owned radio stations with almost exclusively classical/ cultural programming (except, of course, for the Sabbath hours); the deliberations at the 1989 General Conference Spring Council that set forth arguments for "community wages" for Adventist hospital administrators based on market premises rather than on dedication or denominational mission; and the fact that the church seems to be maintaining an increasing number of personnel and institutions that no longer appear to contribute to the fulfillment of its primary goals in the most effective manner. Vested interests and tradition loom larger and larger as the church wiggles its toes increasingly in the sands of stage 4.

One of the great challenges facing contemporary Adventism, as it teeters between stages 3 and 4, is to make a healthy adjustment. The church cannot go back to the "old ways" that were effective in the 1930s and 1950s; but to drift into stage 4 means eventual disaster, as we shall see in our discussion of stage 5. The only viable choice is to critique radically (yet rationally) the denomination's structures, procedures, policies, etc., and then to retool for reinvigoration at Moberg's stage of maximum efficiency. Such a procedure will take both guts and creativity. We will return to this challenge at the end of this article.

Stage 5: disintegration. Stage 5 in Moberg's taxonomy is disintegration. Its chief characteristics are over-institutionalism, formalism, indifferentism, obsolescence, absolutism, red tape, patronage, and corruption. In addition, the institutional machine's lack of responsiveness to the personal and social needs of members causes loss of their confidence.

During this stage many withdraw into new sects or drift without any formal church membership. Many of those who remain in fellowship with the parent body often ignore it in practice or con form to its teachings only halfheartedly. Meanwhile the denomination continues—supported by a leadership with vested interests and by a membership with emotional attachments.

While contemporary Adventism at certain times and places may penetrate the life cycle senility of stage 5, and while some of the denomination's more radical offshoot movements may perceive the church to exist at that level already, it seems that Adventism has a fair piece to go before it is firmly at stage 5. Of course, the better part of wisdom is renewal and reformation at the borders of stages 3 and 4, before further degeneration takes place.

Dilemmas and roadblocks on the road to reformation

Neither renewal nor reformation come easily, however, since religious organizations exist in part to provide stability. Compounding the difficulty is the fact that evolving tradition and structure are often confused with the pristine values of a movement's founders. Religious organizations typically desire to pass on the experience of the founders, their original doctrine, and the lifestyle they set forth as the ideal; but the outcome is often the passing on of the mere forms of the founders without the vitalizing spirit that gave those forms meaning.

Sociologist Thomas F. O'Dea presents five dilemmas that tend to frustrate the renewal and reformation of religious structures.5 These dilemmas are active to some degree in every stage of the life cycle of a church—from its vibrant infancy through decrepit senility; their dynamics help push the church down the path to Moberg's disintegration stage. Two of these dilemmas are especially pertinent to this essay, since they interact with the life cycle of the church.

O'Dea's first dilemma is that of mixed motivation—the Achilles' heel of social institutions. A movement typically be gins with a circle of disciples gathered around a charismatic leader. In the be ginning, both leader and followers are single-minded. They know their goal and do not deviate from it. They are not motivated by any external or internal re ward structures, such as prestige or benefits, for the simple reason that these do not exist for the new sect.

Subsequent leaders, however, begin to work for the movement for reasons other than merely fulfilling its primary goal. A professional clergy arises that gives stability to the movement, but with stability come many "perks": security, prestige, respectability, power, influence, and the satisfaction derived from the use of personal talents in teaching and leadership. Moreover, keeping these rewards coming tends to become a part of the motivation of the group.

That dynamic opens the door to men and women seeking leadership positions for reasons of self-interest. O'Dea has identified at least three aspects of the more advanced stages of the problem of mixed motivation that further the secularization of the movement as it experiences institutionalization: (1) the emergence of a careerism that is only formally concerned with the movement's goals; (2) bureaucratic growth that may be more concerned with maintaining and protecting vested interests than with accomplishing the movement's original goals; and (3) official timidity and lethargy in the face of problems and challenges, rather than a vital and progressive spirit that is willing to risk all for the accomplishment of the mission.

So while mixed motivation contributes to the survival of the church organization, it also tends to transform the church's goals and values. And that transformation nearly always moves the church toward secularization.

Mixed motivation is not merely a clergy problem. The dedication and motivation of members born into the movement are nearly always of a different type than those of members who have been converted into it as adults. As H. Richard Niebuhr puts it, children brought up in the church "could not be expected to receive the faith with the ardor their parents had manifested nor to experience in a second birth what had in their case been given them in large part with the first."6

There may be a vast difference between membership based upon heritage as op posed to membership stemming from conviction. For the first generation of a movement, membership tends to be based on a conversion experience, but for succeeding generations socialization of the young through the process of education and training often substitutes for the more dramatic conversion experience. For many, church membership may mean comfortable social relationships rather than a radical religious experience.

Every church, as it grows older, faces the dilemma of mixed motivation in both its laity and clergy. Adventism has not escaped that secularizing dynamic.

Let us now turn to the other dilemma O'Dea describes as impacting the secularization process—administrative order: elaboration versus effectiveness. As charismatic leadership is routinized in an aging organization, bureaucratic structure increases, and that brings a number of consequences. One of the most serious of those consequences is that structures that are erected to respond to a particular set of problems or opportunities are not dismantled when the reason for their creation passes. As these structures multiply, the movement's complexity increases. While originally the structures solved real problems, their continued maintenance may greatly hinder the solving of later problems.

Obsolete structures may even cause later problems as needed funds are drained off and spheres of competence and authority begin to overlap between departments or institutions. The problems created are considerably complicated by the parallel existence of mixed motivation. Thus "genuine organizational reform becomes threatening to the status, security, and self-validation of the incumbents of office."7

Seventh-day Adventism is currently feeling the combined effects of the administrative elaboration and mixed motivation dilemmas. Nearly everyone seems to agree that radical administrative and institutional reorganization, consolidation, and reform are imperative, but few appear to be willing to put their best judgments into action. The result is that a great deal of money and effort is expended in defending the existence of the status quo when these re sources might better be used to develop new structures and methodologies to reach the movement's original goals.

Moberg's institutional life cycle pattern and O'Dea's insights on the roadblocks to reform seem to describe inexorable processes. But as we shall see in our concluding section, they can be reversed if a movement senses its danger and is willing to act rationally and courageously.

Before examining possible cures to the "institutional disease," however, we should look at one more factor in the secularization of Adventism.

The "problem" of success

"Wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of true religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride... and love of the world in all its branches. ... So, although the form of religion remains, the spirit is swiftly vanishing away. "8

These words of John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) state the paradox faced by all religious groups that inspire their adherents to rigorous ethical standards. In their dedication to God, such people work hard and save. But their very dedication tends to lead them (or more often their children) to worldly success. That success, in turn, leads to more thought about this world than about the next.

These dynamics operate both in the lives of individual Christians and in corporate denominations. Thus Peter Berger can write that one way to prevent a society from becoming secularized is to keep it "in a condition of economic backwardness." Wesley's solution was that Christians should not only gain all they can and save all they can, but also give all they can, so that the kingdom of heaven would retain the allegiance of their hearts. Neither of these solutions, of course, is apt to be as popular as their alternatives.9

Seventh-day Adventism currently faces the secularization problems inherent in its success at both the individual and the corporate levels. Its success threatens its goal orientations. This syndrome is evidenced in Adventism when its "conference office types" proudly view their children's (or grandchildren's) graduation from Loma Linda Medical School (as opposed to ministerial training) as the ultimate mark of family accomplishment. On the corporate level the process is evident when maintaining or adding institutions and structures (including conferences) is confused with progress toward accomplishing the denomination's mission. Thus a recent book on Adventism can claim that "to visit the hospitals of the system today is to see an Adventism that is 'of an undenominational, unsectarian, humanitarian and philanthropic nature.'" 10

Is there hope?

Can we stop the drift toward secularization? Is there hope? The answer lies in the honesty with which the church faces the problem. Denial will lead to disaster. Defensiveness is even worse. H. Richard Niebuhr sees the "evil of denominationalism" to be "the temptation of making . . . self-preservation and extension the primary object" of its endeavor. Such an orientation merely makes the rise of sects that aim at getting back to the movement's original goals seem "desirable and necessary."11

One hundred years ago the Methodist Church in the United States faced the same drift toward success and secularization that Adventism faces today. To many sincere believers it seemed that that church was losing its goal orientation. As a result, the holiness groups arose to aid the denomination in refocusing on what they saw as Methodism's primary goals. The last thing that the first generation of holiness reformers wanted was separation from Methodism. In order to achieve their purposes, however, they began their own printing presses, educational institutions, and camp meetings, and they eventually acquired their own property. The second generation of holiness leaders, having been reared on semi-sectarian thought, took their movements out of Methodism to establish the various Nazarene and Wesleyan denominations. 12 The success of the denomination had called forth the sects.

Today Adventism, at 150 years of age, stands in an analogous position to Methodism at the same age. The next 10 years could quite easily see sectarian schism if the maturing denomination does not take corrective action to stem the problems of institutionalization with their secularizing effects.

Fortunately, something can be done if Adventism has the courage to do it. The church is not caught in the clutches of inexorable history.

In his valuable study of the early Christian church, Derek Tidball hints at the dynamics of reversing the institutionalization/ secularization process.13 Tidball turns to Paul's advice to Timothy and suggests that it arose partly from the apostle's desire to stem the problems inherent in an aging church. Tidball emphasizes three of Paul's admonitions.

First, Timothy was to guard the original aim, teaching, and life of the church (see 1 Tim 1:19; 4:16; 6:20; 2 Tim.1:14). Too often people hold firm to the wrong things. "We must hold firm to principles and revealed truths, not to forms, traditions, and structures which are vehicles that conveniently or aptly express those principles in any one age." 14 The church needs to evaluate constantly and critically its true goals and aims and to bring its structures and programs into line with those goals.

Second, Paul urged his younger colleague never to forget his "battle-torn" circumstances (see 1 Tim 1:18; 4:16; 6:12; 2 Tim. 2:4). The moment Timothy relaxed vigilance, all sorts of secondary issues would sidetrack him. Churches and their leaders need to maintain conscious alertness to what is happening to them. Only by recognizing the problems and challenges and taking efficient action can any church hope to succeed in its mission.

Third, Paul reminded Timothy that he must constantly renew the spiritual resources available to him and his fellow believers in order to maintain the stamina needed for battle (see 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6, 7).

Tidball concludes by asserting that to succeed the church needs "to be alert constantly to the peril of mixed motives, the threat of unwieldy bureaucracy, the lessening of standards, and the fossilization of principles." 15 Beyond that, he suggests that the church needs to be open to new leaders that God may wish to use for its reform and renewal.

The early church, of course, failed to learn the lessons that Paul sought to teach Timothy. In its second century it began to suffer the ravages of both institutionalization and secularization. Methodism also failed at that point in its second century.

The fate of Adventism in its second century awaits the ongoing process of history. The only thing that can be said with certainty is now that Adventism will be swept down the river by the same sociological forces unless it deliberately chooses and courageously acts to reverse the patterns of institutionalization and secularization that are part of the dynamics of an imperfect world. 16


1 David O. Moberg, The Church as a Social
Institution: The Sociology of American Religion, 2nd
ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984), pp.
118'125. All unattributed citations dealing with
Moberg's stage theory in this article are taken from
this source.

2 For the gift of tongues in early Adventism, see
the letters by Ellen G. White and Hiram Edson in
Present Truth, December 1849, in Early SDA
Periodicals, pp. 34-36. Ellen White's autobiographical
writings provide ample evidence of other charismatic
experiences in early Adventism.

3 David O. Moberg, The Church as a Social
Institution (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall,
1962), pp. 120, 121.

4 See Donald Grey Barnhouse, "Are Seventh-day
Adventists Christians?" Eternity, September
1956, pp. 6, 7, 43-45; T. E. Unruh, "The Seventh-day
Adventist Evangelical Conferences of 1955-
1956," Adventist Heritage 4 (Winter 1977): 35-46.

5 Thomas F. O'Dea, Sociology and the Study of
Religion: Theory, Research, Interpretation (New
York: Basic Books, 1970), pp. 240-255; Thomas F.
O'Dea and Janet O'Dea Aviad, The Sociology of
Religion, 2nd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-
Hall, 1983), pp. 56-64.

6 H. Richard Niebuhr, The Kingdom of God in
America (New York: HarperTorchbooks, 1959), p.

7 O'Dea, p. 248.

8 John Wesley, quoted in Max Weber, The Protestant
Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. by
Talcott Parsons (New York: Charles Scribner's
Sons, 1958), p. 175. '

9 Peter L. Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements
of a Sociological Theory of Religion (Garden City,
N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1969), p. 132; on Wesley,
see Weber, p. 176.

10 Malcolm Bull and Keith Lockhart, Seeking a
Sanctuary: Seventh-day Adventism and the American
Dream (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989), p.

11 H. Richard Niebuhr, The Social Sources of
Denominationalism (New York: New American Li
brary, 1957), p. 21.

12 See Charles Edwin Jones, Perfectionist Persuasion:
The Holiness Movement and American Methodism,
1867-1936 (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press,
1974); Timothy L. Smith, Called Unto Holiness:
The Story of the Nazarene, the Formative Years
(Kansas City, Mo.: Nazarene Publishing House, 1962);
Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Holiness Revival of the
Nineteenth Century (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow
Press, 1980).

13 Derek Tidball, The Social Context of the New
Testament: A Sociological Analysis (Grand Rapids:
Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), pp. 134-136.

14 Ibid.,p. 135.

15 Ibid, p. 136.

16 For more on the problem of institutionalism in
Adventism, see George Knight, "The Fat Lady and
the Kingdom, "Adventist Review, Feb. 14, 1991.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

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George R. Knight is professor of church history, Theological Seminary, Andrews University, Berrien Springs,Michigan.

June 1991

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