Good morning, Johnny.
So, I was going to simply go about my day doing some of the planning and organizing I had really hoped to accomplish before the onset of the weekend, however alas, my mind keeps going to 1 Peter 3:15 “But Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” I know this is very long. I am sorry, and I thank you for taking the time to read it.
I am not always good at meekness (the ‘on her tongue is the law of kindness’ bit convicts me every time I read it), but judging from what I have read of your blog, I think it may be something both of us have struggled with in the past. There’s hope, and with that, please pray before you continue reading, as I prayed before I started writing.
Lets start with what a Christian is. According to Dictionary.com (we gotta start somewhere) a Christian is “ A person who believes in Jesus Christ; adherent to Christianity; A person who exemplifies in his or her life the teachings of Christ”. Based on the first definition, I can call myself a Christian. Based on the second definition I can pray that Christ in His mercy, with the Holy Spirit, will transform me into a Christian.
Now, you said “Since we don’t believe in the same Jesus, you cannot be a Christian - at least, not in the same way that I am.” You would be right, if we believed in different Jesuses (I have never seen that name written in the plural form, and I have a feeling that the capitalization on a plural form of that word just seems strange). So let me tell you first about the Jesus I believe in. As to not reinvent the wheel, I am taking this straight off of the SDA fundamental belief website:
There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation. (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Tim. 1:17; Rev. 14:7.)”
God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Through Him all things were created, the character of God is revealed, the salvation of humanity is accomplished, and the world is judged. Forever truly God, He became also truly man, Jesus the Christ. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived and experienced temptation as a human being, but perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God. By His miracles He manifested God’s power and was attested as God’s promised Messiah. He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and in our place, was raised from the dead, and ascended to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf. He will come again in glory for the final deliverance of His people and the restoration of all things. (John 1:1-3, 14; Col. 1:15-19; John 10:30; 14:9; Rom. 6:23; 2 Cor. 5:17-19; John 5:22; Luke 1:35; Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 2:9-18; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4; Heb. 8:1, 2; John 14:1-3.)”
“Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ:
In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life, and the whole creation may better understand the infinite and holy love of the Creator. This perfect atonement vindicates the righteousness of God’s law and the graciousness of His character; for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness. The death of Christ is substitutionary and expiatory, reconciling and transforming. The resurrection of Christ proclaims God’s triumph over the forces of evil, and for those who accept the atonement assures their final victory over sin and death. It declares the Lordship of Jesus Christ, before whom every knee in heaven and on earth will bow. (John 3:16; Isa. 53; 1 Peter 2:21, 22; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4, 20-22; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15, 19-21; Rom. 1:4; 3:25; 4:25; 8:3, 4; 1 John 2:2; 4:10; Col. 2:15; Phil. 2:6-11.)”
In all of this, I see nothing that presents a problem to what I think you believe in other than the “and ascended to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf” bit; to which I will say 1) Does that Change who we believe Jesus Christ is, or is it superfluous when compared to the principles of salvation by grace through faith in Christ? and 2) Hebrews 8 and 9 (Christ is our high priest and our sacrifice, entering into “the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man”, the ultimate and perfect sacrifice to bridge the separation between us and God caused by our sins, once and for all and forever our mediator of the new covenant).
Do you believe in that Jesus? I truly, with all my heart, hope so, because that Jesus has saved my life, and without that Jesus, I have no reason to continue living.
Now, while we are on the subject of what Adventists believe that may or may not make them heretical Christians, there are two places I would like to go with this. The first is simply to clarify, in your blog, you have a “Statement of Faith”, in which you say “If you deny the doctrines below, you deny Historical Christianity, and are not a Christian”. Biblical Christianity, my friend (solo scriptura) is not necessarily Historical Christianity, and when choosing between the two, I will choose Biblical Christianity(which is why I liked the way you answered my questions on Catholicism). And I believe that you agree with that statement. As for these things, I agree with your statements of faith A-E. When it comes to point F, I agree that Jesus is the judge, and I agree that His saved people will have eternal life. I also believe in a resurrection of the dead in the last days into a glorified body, which logically defies the idea that these same individuals were already in heaven prior to the end days. It also ties into a lengthy Bible study on the state of the dead and Hell. Both of which Adventists have interesting views on, both of which we get from our Bibles, And both of which do not determine whether or not we are true believers in Jesus Christ. How do you see these views as a) Salvation issues or B) contrary to who Christ is? So I will move on.
The second is to go to a book written in the 1950’s by the ‘main stream’ Christians of their time called “Questions on Doctrines” in which many church leaders sat down with leaders of the Adventist church to see if they could consider them Christians or not. Again, I will not reinvent the wheel. I will use this book to some degree to address your concerns, and, just to skip to the end, they decided we are Christians.
1. What is the actual teaching of Seventh-day Adventists regarding the “scapegoat” in the sanctuary service? Do you hold that the sins of the righteous are rolled back on Satan, so that in the end he becomes your sin bearer?
We take our stand without qualification on the gospel platform that the death of Jesus Christ provides the sole propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2; 4:10); that there is salvation through no other means or medium, and no other name by which we may be saved (Acts 4:12); and that the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone brings remission for our sins (Matt. 26: 28). That is foundational…
2. It has been charged that Seventh-day Adventists hold the same belief as do the Jehovah’s Witnesses concerning Michael—that Michael the archangel was Jesus Christ prior to His incarnation, and that he was a created being. Is this accusation valid? If Michael is Christ, how do you explain Jude 9?
"We emphatically reject the idea set forth in this question, and the position held by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We do not believe that Christ is a created being. We, as a people, have not considered the identification of Michael of sufficient prominence to dwell upon it at length either in our literature or in our preaching. But we do have clear views on the subject, and are prepared to set them forth. And our views concerning Michael, it might be added, have been held by various eminent scholars through the centuries. We are therefore not alone in our understanding…"
3.Sorry to be so generic with this one, but aside from the fact that I don’t believe you can call my faith heretical for having a conviction that God has a specific Sabbath day in mind when He laid the principal of Sabbath, this question can take awhile to answer. Because it is not central to the question of what Christianity is, I will simply link you to the question from the book which I think will most thoroughly explain our beliefs on the subject. : The Christian world generally holds (1) that the moral law is eternal and has not been abolished; (2) that the Sabbath principle, anchored to the creation week, especially in the distinction between the six-and-one days—marking them off by divine authority for different purposes—is likewise permanent and eternal; (3) that the specific seventh-day time element is but ceremonial and typical, and therefore temporary—being fulfilled and abrogated by Christ at the cross; and (4) that there is a clear continuity between the Sabbath of Old Testament times, based on creation, and the Lord’s day of the New Testament, based on redemption, with the redemption rest greater than the creation rest. What is the position of Seventh-day Adventists on these four points?
4. I am going to put this one on hold due to my own personal studies on this subject (and to some degree the lack of enough of them) and because the answer is going to be a lot bigger than 12 words and a specific date in a sentence.
5,6,7, and 9. Again, I will say that I do not believe these issues are issues which would constitute defining a set of beliefs as Christian or not Christian, and because they are all interconnected, and I’m on 3 pages now, I will not address those at this moment.
As for number 8, have you heard of Akiane, the child prodigy who (as most believe) gets her inspiration from God? If God will give such an amazing and inspiring gift to this child, is it so strange that God would still give the gift of prophecy? Its true, I do believe that Ellen White was gifted with the gift of prophecy, and my prayer is that as the Holy Spirit is poured out on Christians in the end days, she will not (and probably is already not) the only person since John the Revelator to receive this gift. The gift of prophecy is a gift of the spirit, and also is a very Biblical principal.
So this is long, I’m curious what you will think of it, and I think I will have to just post it as a blog entry, because I doubt it will fit into your ask box.