There are many people who think that the “Fundamental Beliefs” of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have turned into a kind of creed or unchangeable set of doctrinal beliefs or Biblical interpretations that supersede the Bible itself in importance and authority. It has therefore been suggested that the Adventist Church is in danger of falling into the same trap that other Christian denominations and religious organizations have fallen into, of making human interpretations and traditions superior to the Bible as its own creed and interpreter.
Is this true? Has the Adventist Church truly diverged from the foundational Protestant statement, “We have no creed but the Bible”? Are the efforts of those of us who wish to promote, within our own schools and churches, the teachings and authority of the basic fundamental goals and ideals of the church, as an organization, way off base? Are they at conflict with the concept of the Bible as its own interpreter for each individual? There are those who think so. Consider, for example, the following comment:
I am happy for the church to state what they believe as well, but the minute the church starts … demanding orthodoxy as a test of fellowship and employment, then you have crossed over the line. The church no longer believes the “The Bible and the Bible Only”, because it is usurping the role of the Holy Spirit to interpret the Bible to each individual, and to bring conviction. Instead of allowing the Bible to be broadly interpreted as needed to meet peoples need, the creed limits the Bible to one narrow understanding which may not be where the Holy Spirit is going in some people’s lives. At the very least, the church is putting itself in the place of God by attempting to coerce thought and belief. Coercion is Satan’s tactic, not God’s
This individual is not alone in his concerns over this issue. This was also the basic concern of the founders of the Adventist Church. Many of the founding fathers, and mothers, of our church had been active and devoted members of other Protestant churches. When they had come upon what they believed to be new light from the Bible, which happened to conflict with the creeds of their own churches, they were removed from fellowship with the church families that they loved. They therefore originally thought of creedal statements, and even church organization, as entirely evil and fought very hard to prevent the early Adventist movement from organizing or forming official creedal statements of belief. This feeling has continued within our church to one degree or another and is often cited as a basis for allowing fundamentally divergent views to be preached and taught within our churches and schools.
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