We indict Seventh-Day Adventism on four main counts, leaving out lesser (though none the less false) theories.
Indictment #1 – Attitude Towards the Atonement
Seventh-Day Adventism denies the Biblical Doctrine of the Atoning Sacrifice of Christ as the only means of man’s salvation.
This is the first serious indictment. We shall prove it from Mrs. White’s own writings, so that we may not be accused of misrepresentation or exaggeration:
The ministration of the priests throughout the year in the first apartment of the sanctuary (which sanctuary Mrs. White places in heaven and not on earth!-Ed.) . . . represents the work of ministration upon which Christ entered at His ascension…. For eighteen centuries this work of ministration continued in the first apartment of the sanctuary. The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptance with the Father, yet their sins still remained upon the books of record.-The Great Controversy.
Can it be unreasonable for us to inquire, What in the name of all that’s reasonable does this mean? Sins pardoned and yet still on the books!
(a) Seventh-Day Adventism denies the finality of the work of Christ on the cross, hence it makes Christ’s last cry on the cross, “It is finished,” to be a lie!
As in typical service there was a work of atonement at the close of the year, so before Christ’s work for redemption of men is completed, there is a work of atonement for the removal of sin from the sanctuary. This is the service which began when the 2,300 days ended (according to Mrs. White this was in the year 1844! Evidently the nineteenth century was more wonderful than we had imagined!-Ed.). At that time, as foretold by Daniel the prophet, our high priest entered the most holy to perform the last division, of his solemn work to cleanse the sanctuary . . . in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ, and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary . . . so the actual cleansing to cleanse the sanctuary. . . in the new covenant the sins of moval, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. But, before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation–a work of judgment. Those who followed in the light of the prophetic word saw that, instead of coming to earth at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844 (as Prophet William Miller had so dogmatically and widely proclaimed.—Ed.), Christ then entered in the most holy place of the heavenly, to perform the closing work of atonement preparatory to his coming.—Ibid.
We have given this extended quotation on purpose to show a fair specimen of Mrs. White’s writings and teachings. Here then are the facts–William Miller prophesied that Christ would come (hence the name Adventist) in 1844, but He did not! So Mrs. White steps in to save the situation. A mistake has been made–it was not to earth but to the “heavenly sanctuary” He came. Why? Her fertile imagination was equal to the question-to complete the work of atonement, and to carry on something she calls “investigative judgment,” all preparatory to His coming to earth at some later date! She assumes therefore; (i) there is a sanctuary in heaven, though the Bible says nothing about it being in heaven; (ii) there is sin in heaven, though the Bible says nothing about it; (iii) that in some mysterious way not explainable the sanctuary has to be a kind of “mediator” and bear the sins of the believer for at least a time; (iv) this sanctuary needs cleansing nevertheless; and (v) this cleansing and investigating began in 1844. We find it difficult to decide whether to be shocked at its rank heresy, or to pity the one who can write such balderdash. But there is worse ahead.
Indictment #2 – Satan the Sin-Bearer
Seventh-Day Adventism declares Satan to be the joint sin-bearer, and the vicarious substitute of the sinner.
It was seen also that while the sin-offering pointed to Christ as a sacrifice, and the high priest represented Christ as Mediator, the scapegoat typified Satan, the author of sin, upon whom the sins of the truly penitent will finally be placed. When the high priest by virtue of the blood of the sin-offering removed the sins from the sanctuary, he placed them upon the scapegoat. 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. The scapegoat was sent into a land not inhabited, never to come again into the Congregation of Israel. So will SATAN be forever banished from the presence of God and His people and he will be blotted from existence in the final destruction of sin and the sinner.–The Great Controversy
Dr. D. Anderson-Berry gives but a just estimate of this rigamarole in his book when he says:
We have the choicest doctrine of the Gospel, justification by faith, utterly contemned and set at naught. Nay, more, as if that were not enough to damn their doctrine, they dare to substitute for Christ’s finished work on the cross, SATAN’S vicarious suffering in bearing away the sins of the people of God into a land of utter annihilation. It does not lessen, the blasphemous grossness of the idea to say that it is wholly imaginary, the figment of the addled brain of a hysterical woman. It merely explains it!
If ever there was a “damnable heresy” (see 2 Peter 2: 1) surely it is here! Mrs. White professes to found all this teaching on Leviticus 23 and the book of Daniel. We confidently hand both books, yea, the whole Bible itself, to any mature, sane-thinking Christian and challenge him to find anywhere in the whole sixty-six books of the Divine Library, one jot or tittle of evidence or proof (set forth according to fundamental and eternal principles of exegesis), for such consummate trash. It seems an insult to offer such stuff for the serious consideration of a reasonable mind.
With this, compare the following few texts (selected out of a vast number) from the Word of God itself, and then ask yourself, reader, which you are prepared to believe and stake your soul’s destiny upon.
“without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb 9:22).
“it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17: 11).
“ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things . . .But with the precious blood of Christ. . .” (1 Pet 1:18-19).
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree. . .”
(1 Peter 2: 24).
“having made peace through the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20).
“But now in Christ Jesus . . .ye are made nigh by the blood of Christ”
“He that believeth on Him is not condemned” (John 3: 18).
“There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8: 1).
“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3: 24).
“The blood of Jesus, Christ His (God’s) Son cleanseth us from ALL SIN”
(1 John 1: 7).
Indictment #3 – Christ’s Humanity
Seventh-Day Adventists teach that the Lord Jesus Christ inherited a sinful, fallen nature.
It may surprise and pain the reader to learn that the above-statement is actual FACT. If such is a foundation-stone on which the Seventh-Day Adventist church is founded, how can it stand? Such is not the Christ we have learnt to know–not the Holy Lord of Holy Writ.
The following extract, taken from one of their own publications–Bible Readings for the Home Circle, makes this astounding statement (p. 115, 1915 edition):—
In His humanity Christ partook of our sinful, fallen nature. If not, then He was not “made like unto His brethren,” was not “in all points tempted like as we are,” did not overcome as we have to overcome, and is not, therefore, the complete and perfect Saviour man needs and must have to be saved.
In other words they say, If you do not accept our teaching on the “sinful, fallen nature” of Christ, you have no Saviour! This writer continues: —
The idea that Christ was born of an immaculate or sinless mother,* inherited no tendencies to sin, and for this reason did not sin, removes Him from the realm of a fallen world, and from the very place where help is needed. On His human side, Christ inherited just what every child of Adam inherits–a sinful nature. On the divine side, from His very conception He was begotten and born of the Spirit. And all this was done to place mankind on vantage-ground, and to demonstrate that in the same way everyone who is “born of the Spirit” may gain like victories over sin in his own sinful flesh. Thus each one is to overcome as Christ overcame (Rev. 3:21). Without this birth there can be no victory over temptation, and no salvation from sin, John 3: 3-7. (Their italics.)
*This, the writer perfectly well knows, is a doctrine which is held by no body of evangelical Christians–it is Roman to the core.
Let us examine somewhat carefully the above teaching.
The Scripture tells us that we are partakers of God’s holiness (Heb. 12:10); God and Christ are one (John 10: 30); yet above we are assured that Christ “partook of our sinful, fallen nature!” What a contemptuous denial of Scripture! Are we not distinctly told that He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners?” How could He be at once “Holy” and “undefiled” and at the same time partake of our “fallen nature;” inherit what we as sinners inherited, and yet be “without sin” (“sin apart,” R. V.; see Heb. 7:26; 4: 15)?
After publishing the above quotation with these and other comments in The Indian Christian for January, 1927, we received a letter from the Editor of Oriental Watchman, the official organ of the Seventh-Day Adventist people in India, in which he sought to explain the teaching which he says, is orthodox to the very core!” We can only give short extracts as the letter covers more, than five type-written pages. He says:—
I wish to affirm definitely just the contrary to your conclusion by saying that if Jesus did not take our fallen nature in His own person (his italics) by His incarnation, fallen humanity is left without a saviour…
There was but one kind of humanity in the world that Jesus could have taken, and that is fully described in Romans, chapter three, where Paul describes it as sinful and fallen, and beyond all hope if left to itself.*
He who was holy and undefiled, had sin imputed unto Him. The sinful nature which He bore was not that which came by the sins of His own doing, for it is written of Him: “Who did not sin, neither was guile found in His mouth” (I Pet. 2: 22), but they were the sins of imputation–sins committed by others which were laid upon Him.
*He apparently does not know that: “Sin is no property of humanity at all, but the disordered state of our souls” (Faussett).
W. Kelly says: “Not a trace of evil was in Christ. He was man as truly as the first Adam–Son of man as Adam was not, but Son of Man which is in heaven–a Divine Person, yet none the less a Man. But for these very reasons He was capable and competent, according to the glory of His Person, to be dealt with by God for all that was unlike Him in us. Had there been the smallest taint in Him this could not have been done. The perfect absence of evil in this one Man furnished the requisite victim; as in Himself and all His ways the divine nature found satisfaction and delight. Would He then bear all? Be willing to go down to the depth of the judgment of all men, according to God’s estimate of the evil of our nature? The entire, unbroken, unmitigated judgment of God fell upon Him in order to deal with it and put it away forever. No less, I believe, is the force of Christ’s death for us.”
He also quotes 2 Cor. 5:21, and draws attention to Isaiah 53.
So, then, we are to understand that Christ carried the burden of imputed sin His whole life long, not only on the cross, for it was at His birth He inherited His human nature.
Again if Christ inherited a sinful, fallen nature, when did He disinherit it? Do they teach that He who is the same yesterday and today and forever, has taken His “sinful, fallen nature” to God’s right hand?
Let us now turn to orthodox teaching on this point. Dr. I. M. Haldeman of New York says of Christ:—
He was begotten of God from the seed of the woman, by and through the Holy Ghost. That which was begotten was not a person, but a nature—a human nature. This human nature was holy, Scripture calls it “that Holy Thing.” It was the holiness produced by and out of the Holy Ghost. It was the holiness produced by and out of God. It was, therefore, in its quality the holiness of God. Since its quality was the holiness of God, there was no sin in it, and no possible tendency to sin. This holy, sinless human nature was indissolubly joined to the eternal personality of the Son.
Dr. Griffith Thomas on Romans 8: 3* says: “Observe the wonderful fulfilment of this verse. Thus we have the Deity of Christ, ‘His own Son,’ the Incarnation ‘in the likeness of sinful flesh,’ that is, He was like us in all things except sin—Christ’s flesh was not sinful, never the seat of sin; and His atonement ‘for sin,’ which means ‘as an offering for sin’.”
Dr. C. I. Scofield says: “Our sins were borne ‘in His body,’ but not in His nature.”
Were the teaching of-the Seventh-Day Adventist church true we would have a monstrosity—Deity inheriting a sinful nature!
If this could have been so there could have been no sinless sacrifice, no hope for sinners, no Saviour. And how could it have been written: “The prince of this world cometh, and hath NOTHING, in Me” (John 14: 30). Further the Scripture says, “In Him Is No SIN” (1 John 3: 5)!
*Rom. 8: 3 is nicely balanced. “Sinful” necessitates “likeness.” “Sinful flesh” would have meant that He Himself had needed a Saviour. “Likeness of flesh” would have meant that the Humanity of the Saviour was unreal—later the Docetic heresy (C. F. Hogg).
Indictment #4 – Soul Sleep
Seventh-Day Adventism believes in Soul-sleep after death and Conditional Immortality.
This indictment will not take up much of our time, as we deal with both these heresies elsewhere in this booklet (see separate articles). Mrs. White says:—
Upon the fundamental error of natural immortality rests the doctrine of consciousness in death, a doctrine like eternal torment, opposed to the teaching of the Scriptures, to the dictates of reason and to our feelings of humanity.
The theory of eternal punishment is one of the false doctrines that constitute the wine of the abominations of Babylon.
. . .They received it from Rome as they received the false Sabbath.
Will the Seventh-Day Adventists explain then why Paul could use such language as, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord”; and, “to be with Christ, which is FAR BETTER”? Will Mrs. White tell us what “natural immortality” means, and who is so foolish to preach it, when we see thousands dying around us every day? Will Mrs. White or any of her disciples dare to set up “the feelings of humanity” against the plain Word of the Living God-“These (i.e., sinners) shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal”? (See the article on Soul-sleep).
Indictment #5 – The Sabbath
The fourth indictment is that Seventh-Day Adventism tries to force the believer back under Law and so away from Grace, by their Sabbath teachings.
As the Seventh-Day Adventists materialized the sanctuary in heaven, they were forced to materialize everything. So besides an actual sanctuary in heaven, with candlesticks, curtains, table of showbread and ark, they were forced to add within the ark the two tables of stone, and call upon all to put themselves under the law. Mrs. White at first refused to believe that the Fourth Commandment was more binding than any other. Elder Bates urged its great importance until Mrs. White had a convenient vision, in which she asserted she was taken to heaven, and shown the sanctuary and its appointments! A description of her vision is given: “Jesus raised the cover of the ark, and she beheld the tables of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written. She was amazed as she saw the Fourth Commandment in the very center of the ten precepts, with a soft halo of light encircling it.
The Adventists have found a handle for their teachings in the erroneous way Christians speak about the first day of the week (the Lord’s Day) as if it were the Sabbath.
The Adventists claim that Christians being still under the Law of Moses, are bound to keep the “least of its precepts,” and therefore must keep the Sabbath. They also state that Protestants acknowledge that the Roman Catholic Church, away back in the year A.D. 364, at the Council of Laodicea, changed the Sabbath or Seventh day to Sunday or the First day. Neither statements are tenable when judged in the light of Scripture and early Church history.
The Sabbath was given as a “sign” and “perpetual covenant” between Jehovah and Israel, as is most clearly stated in Exodus 31: 12-18. The Ten Commandments, of which the law of the Sabbath is the fourth, were written with the finger of God on tables of stone. These commandments are called “the ministration of death” and “the ministration of condemnation,” “written and engraven in stone” (2 Cor. 3: 7, 9), which ministration, the Holy Spirit tells us, is “done away” and “abolished” (vers. 11, 13), and in its place we have “the ministration of the Spirit” and “the ministration of righteousness” (vers. 8, 9). Hence in Colossians 2: 16 we read, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.” See also Rom. 14: 5, 6. Again we read in Colossians that the “handwriting of ordinances” was “blotted out” and “nailed” to Christ’s cross (as of old, bills were nailed to the doorpost when when paid), for Christ has fulfilled the law on our behalf, met its every claim.
Further, Scripture emphatically teaches our position of freedom from the law, e.g., “Ye are not under the law but under grace” (Rom. 6: 14; see also Rom. 7: 4, 6; Gal. 5: 18); indeed the Epistle to the Galatians was written to establish this very thing. The rebuke given to those who sought to bring the Gentile converts under the yoke of the law as given in Acts 15, still holds good for legalizers, such as the Seventh-Day Adventists: “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” (v. 10).
The Adventists say:-
Christ further declares that whosoever breaks even so much as one of the least of the precepts of the law … shall be called the least . . . in the kingdom of heaven.” See Signs of the Times (Extra No. 15, p. 50).
If this still holds good, why do Adventists ignore circumcision? Again, if Christians are bound to observe “the least of the precepts of the law,” why did the great Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), when writing to the Gentile converts, declare their freedom from the law, and write of those who had sought to make them keep the law, as those who “troubled you with words subverting your souls” (v. 24)? If the keeping of the Sabbath was to be observed, why was it not enjoined here? Why was it never enjoined to believers in a single passage of the New Testament?
Before going further it might be well to note how the Sabbath was to be observed. Someone has put it thus:—
It was to be kept from sunset to sunset (Lev. 23: 32). If within twenty-four hours any burden was carried (Jer. 17: 21), any fire kindled (Exod. 35: 3), any cooking done (Exod. 16: 23), the Sabbath would be broken; the penalty for which was death (Num. 15). Were this law observed by Adventists they would all quickly be exterminated, as the above rules they consistently break. How very inconsistent lie is who preaches to others to keep the Sabbath when he does not keep it himself. Surely this man’s religion is vain.
D. M. Panton has well said: —
An honest, if uninstructed, error is very prevalent among the Churches of Christ, and affords the Seventh-Day Adventist the fulcrum for his lever. It is said that the ceremonial law, and the civil law of Israel, have been abolished but not the moral law, and that the Sabbath as occurring in the Decalogue, is part of the unrevoked moral law of God. But (1) most remarkably no inspired writer ever makes any such distinction between “moral” and “ceremonial” law; the ceremonial law (e.g., Lev. 19) contains laws as purely moral as any in the Decalogue, and had we been delivered from the ceremonial, while remaining under the moral, Paul would most surely have said so—an utterance he never makes. (2) The Sabbath, in-its nature, is itself a ceremonial law: the moral law is all law which appeals to the conscience, and needs no written revelation; but as to which day to observe, or whether to observe any day at all, conscience is silent. If we aye to distinguish between the moral and the ceremonial law, on the ground that one is passed, and the other still in force, then–as the Sabbath is purely ceremonial law–it is passed. But the most important point still remains. (3) I, as a Christian, obey all law that is moral in the Decalogue, not because it is in the Law, but because it is in the Gospel. Worship of God only is enjoined fifty times in the New Testament; idolatry is forbidden twelve times; profanity four times; honor of father and mother is commanded six times; adultery is forbidden twelve; theft six; false witness four; and covetousness, nine times. “The Ten Commandments,” as Luther says, “do not apply to us Gentiles and Christians, but only to the Jews.” So therefore, Paul, in all his fourteen epistles, never once names the Sabbath–except in a single passage where, classing it with the entire law, he declares it has been totally abolished. So the early Church held.
Now as to the second claim, viz., that at the Council of Laodicea the Roman Catholic Church changed the Sabbath from the Seventh to the First day. Whatever may have happened at that Council, we submit that the Sabbath was not changed. For no decree of man could or can change God’s covenant. What did take place, so far as we can learn, was “to in a manner quite abolish” the observation of the Sabbath for Christians. That is, that they made it illegal for Christians acknowledging the sway of Rome, to observe the Sabbath as their day of worship. But let it be well noted, large numbers of Christians were at that time, and long before, observing the first day of the week as their day of worship. The assertion of the Seventh-Day Adventists is entirely misleading as is proved from the following extracts:-
(i) The Epistle Of Barnabas about A.D. 100.
“Wherefore, also we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead.”
(ii) The Epistle Of Ignatius: A.D. 107.
“Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor -with old fables, which are unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish Law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace. . . . If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in. the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death.”
(iii) The Writings of Justin Martyr: A.D. 145-150.
“And on the day called Sunday all who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read. . . . But Sunday is the day on which we all hold a common assembly, because it is the First day of the Week on which God made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.”
(iv) Apostolic Constitutions: Church life in the 2nd Century.
“On the day of the resurrection of the Lord–that is, the Lord’s Day–assemble yourself together without fail, giving thanks to God and praising Him for those mercies God has bestowed upon you through Christ.”
(v) Irenaeus: A.D. 155-202.
“The Mystery of the Lord’s Resurrection may not be celebrated on any other day than the Lord’s Day, and on this alone should we observe the breaking off of the Paschal Feast.”* (Our italics all through).
*These quotations are taken from Dr. D. Anderson-Berry’s book Seventh-Day Adventism-he was a scholar of no mean repute. He states that these are “extracts all made by myself, so that ignorance of the context might not mislead me; the portions omitted I have omitted since they do not affect the sense, and merely cumber the pages.”
As a matter of fact, the first day of the week–the Lord’s Day–was selected not in place of the Sabbath, but as a day in which to celebrate our Lord’s death and resurrection. As a writer has well said: “It is a day of thanksgiving and liberty to the Christians, and a day which they delight in regarding as unto the Lord (Rom. 16: 6). It is the Lord’s Day, as John called it in Rev. 1: 10. On that day Jesus rose the Head of a new creation. On the Lord’s Day He appeared to His disciples. On the Lord’s Day the Holy Ghost was given. On the Lord’s Day the door of the kingdom was unlocked and 3,000 souls entered in. On the Lord’s Day the disciples came together to break bread in remembrance of Him (Acts 20: 7).”
In answer to the following question, The Witness (Scotland) gives the accompanying lucid reply from the able pen of the late David Baron, one of the most eminent and learned of Jewish believers:
How can a Hebrew Christian be shown that he must not keep the Seventh-day Sabbath seeing it is written: “The children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations for a perpetual covenant” (Exod. 31: 16)?
There is no necessity to “show” or teach the Jewish believers that they “must” not “keep the Sabbath” as if the Gospel made the non-observance of the Seventh-day rest compulsory or a condition of true discipleship. . . . When more fully instructed, and as he grows in grace and in the knowledge of Christ, he will be brought to see for himself that the Jewish Sabbath has no significance in this dispensation and in relation to those whose calling is a heavenly one, and whose destinies are bound up –not with time but with eternity….
The Sabbath is thus essentially connected with the old marred creation, with the imperfect Mosaic dispensation, and with the typical redemption from Egypt. But Christians are children of the new creation, and are in the dispensation not of the Law but of the Spirit. “With Christ’s resurrection,” says an old writer, “the Seventh-day Sabbath expired, transmitting its sanctity and its privileges to the new Sabbath–the first day of a new week, which became our day of -rest (and of worship) in the power of a new creation.”
The Editor of The Witness well says: “Sticklers for keeping the exact ‘Seventh Day,’ or Sunday, or ‘Lord’s Day,’ have a difficulty in the way days have been calculated and thrown about. In 1582 Gregory XIII found a miscalculation and decreed to drop October 5-14 and to drop 3 leap years in every century. In England 11 days (September 3-13) were dropped in 1752, in addition to other changes.”
1 A. J. Pollock, Seventh-Day Adventism