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Ellen White & the Bible


Gregory Matthews
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An interesting and forthright article that, from my perspective, identifies the SDA's position of affirming sola scriptura while at the same time claiming a magisterial authority based on the SDA tradition of their distinctive doctrines being "demonstrated by the Holy Spirit" through Ellen White. 

In Catholicism, once a matter has been officially "defined", the faithful are required to accept the definition as accurate or infallible. The SDA Church modeled itself in a similar fashion by asserting that those doctrines brought in by individuals that were "defined" as truth by Ellen White are indeed beyond question - even Scripture is subservient to "the demonstration of the Holy Spirit" (Ellen White). 

I'll try to explain what I'm seeing and if anyone else sees it. 

Ellen White
At that time one error after another pressed in upon us; ministers and doctors brought in new doctrines. We would search the Scriptures with much prayer, and the Holy Spirit would bring the truth to our minds. Sometimes whole nights would be devoted to searching the Scriptures and earnestly asking God for guidance. Companies of devoted men and women assembled for this purpose. The power of God would come upon MEand I was enabled clearly to define what is truth and what is errorAs the points of our faith were thus established, our feet were placed upon a solid foundationWe accepted the truth point by point, under the demonstration of the Holy Spirit. I would be taken off in vision, and explanations would be given me. I was given illustrations of heavenly things, and of the sanctuary, so that we were placed where light was shining on us in clear, distinct rays.--Gospel Works, p. 302. {3SM 32.1}"

As numerous SDA apologists have pointed out - Ellen White didn't invent any doctrines, other folks brought those doctrines in. Ellen claims she was given special power by God to determine WHICH of those new (AKA distinctive) doctrines were true Bible teachings - or erroneous ones. The headline here is that Ellen claimed SHE was the one clearly enabled to "define what is truth and what is error". 

Many if not most of the visions Ellen White documented were confirmations of the distinctive doctrines "brought in" by individuals modern SDA Scholars would identify as uneducated and anti-Trinitarian. I'm speaking specifically of the foundational or pillar doctrine of God the Father having a body of flesh, bones, etc. that was in the shape of a hominid, Jesus being a "Being" separate from The Father, etc. 

Eventually, there would be those within the SDA Church that would come forward with "piles" of Scripture verses that would seem to contradict something that was previously revealed to the SDA's "under the demonstration of the Holy Spirit" - in other words SOMETHING that was previously defined as "truth" was being challenged. You can see the rubric below: 

Ellen White
We are NOT to receive the words of those who come with a message that contradicts the special points of our faith. They gather together a mass of Scripture, and pile it as proof around their asserted theories. . . . And while the Scriptures are God's word, and are to be respected, the application of them, IF such application moves one pillar from the foundation that God has sustained these fifty years, is a great mistake. He who makes such an application knows not the wonderful demonstration of the Holy Spirit that gave power and force to the past messages that have come to the people of God” (1SM 161; CW 32; The Early Elmshaven Years 426).

The above statement is explicitly saying that the distinctive points [doctrines] of the SDA Church were already proven to be truth by none other than the Holy Spirit THROUGH Ellen White. Therefore, no matter how many Scriptures I may bring to the table if by applying those Scriptures contradicts ANYTHING Ellen White confirmed by a vision or statement the SDA is to reject ANY interpretation that calls into question any distinctive doctrine God defined through Ellen White. 

Below we can see the application of this mechanism whereas Father God having a flesh body and being a separate Being from Christ is concerned. 

 

"Those who seek to remove the old landmarks are not holding fast; they are not remembering how they have received and heard. Those who try to bring in theories that would remove the pillars of our faith concerning the sanctuary or concerning the personality of God or of Christ, are working as blind men. They are seeking to bring in uncertainties and to set the people of God adrift without an anchor." {MR760 9.5}

I have not compiled a list of "distinctive" SDA doctrines but would guess that soul sleeping, the sanctuary, the Personality of God, going to Church on Sunday is the mark of the Beast, Lucifer putting God into a legal pickle, etc. are examples of distinctive teachings according to Ellen White. 

Loren Seibold writes: 

As a church, we are free to use the writings of Ellen White however we want to. But what I became aware of as I monitored the discussion about Sunday laws was that many Adventists know what they believe, but appear confused about the source of those beliefs. Even pastors scolded me for saying that The Great Controversy’s scenarios aren’t spelled out clearly in Revelation 13 and 14. Yet when I asked them to prove it to me from the Bible alone, they just gave me the familiar prophetic concepts as interpreted by Ellen White, as though they didn’t know the difference between the Bible and The Great Controversy.

This is embarrassing coming from men and women with seminary degrees."

 

I read each one of the "methodologies" Sibold identified but was left with the unmistakable concept that all of this is simply the SDA's Churches attempt to have one foot inside the sola scriptura camp and the other outside of it in something roughly representative of what I believe - i.e. that God has always had an ordained religious authority in both the Old and New Testament. I reject sola scriptura as a shibboleth and according to my understanding of the article I may not be the only one that does...

 

 

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"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” - George Orwell, Animal Farm

Yes, I agree. The SDA church has a Magesterium and Tradition comparable to the Catholic Church in every respect.

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5 hours ago, pierrepaul said:

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” - George Orwell, Animal Farm

Yes, I agree. The SDA church has a Magesterium and Tradition comparable to the Catholic Church in every respect.

But, are you saying this as an SDA in good standing with the Church? 

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I'm a cultural SDA (and not a very good one at that, since I do enjoy an occasional scotch (Deuteronomy 14:26) and I enjoy seafood (Acts 10)).

I find the various religious traditions invented by man and the attendant mythmaking endlessly fascinating, whether it's the Catholic tradition, the Adventist tradition or others. They are all badly flawed philosophical systems, and in my opinion, their portrayals of the supernatural don't come anywhere close to describing an objective reality.

All religions suffer the same flaw in that they rely on unsubstantiated and dubious assertions made by alleged prophets, but not all are equal. Religion motivates some men to the highest ideals and others to the basest vices. Endlessly fascinating!

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10 hours ago, pierrepaul said:

I'm a cultural SDA (and not a very good one at that, since I do enjoy an occasional scotch (Deuteronomy 14:26) and I enjoy seafood (Acts 10)).

I find the various religious traditions invented by man and the attendant mythmaking endlessly fascinating, whether it's the Catholic tradition, the Adventist tradition or others. They are all badly flawed philosophical systems, and in my opinion, their portrayals of the supernatural don't come anywhere close to describing an objective reality.

All religions suffer the same flaw in that they rely on unsubstantiated and dubious assertions made by alleged prophets, but not all are equal. Religion motivates some men to the highest ideals and others to the basest vices. Endlessly fascinating!

Ok, I think I get it. 

I have come a long way in my understanding of of how things work in the SDA Church. Now that I have the "Big Tent" concept understood I can see and appreciate your agreement with my point even more. I think more outsiders would give the SDA Church significantly more slack on certain things if they knew about the Big Tent. The SDA Church is very much structured like Judaism at the time of Christ - i.e. they were all Jews but the Sadducees didn't accept anything past the 1st 5 Books of Moses, other sects of Jews operated their Feasts on different days, etc. etc. etc. HOWEVER, at the end of the day they were all Jews and rubbed shoulders together at the Temple ( Big Tent ). 

I also happen to enjoy an occasional scotch from time to time! 

 

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There's the old joke about Golda Meir and Richard Nixon. Nixon was complaining that his job was so much harder since he was the president of 150 million Americans while Meir was the president of only 5 million citizens. Meir responded something like "yes, you are the president of 150 million citizens, but I'm the president of 5 million presidents."

Protestantism has the same characteristic with its ethos that all men ought to study the scriptures for themselves. But while the Protestant revolution of the 17th century was led by churchmen like Luther and Calvin, the 19th century Americans took it a step further and proclaimed that any man can be a theologian - and that the fanciful views of a man like William Miller, largely unaware of the views of the Church fathers, largely unaware of theology, were just as valid as those held by orthodox Christians.

So in the SDA church you have your mix of those for whom the "28 Fundamentals" are holy writ, for others EGW is the final arbiter of Bible truth. Others are sola scriptura or prima scriptura and reserve for themselves the right to dissent on any established SDA doctrine, from the Trinity to the "Investigative Judgement" to the nature of Christ to the purpose of the sacrifice, etc. So out of this tradition of "every man is his own theologian" you get all manner of teaching and belief; we saw one of the more outlandish versions of this on this forum with those fanciful predictions by those who mistakenly think that Revelation is about popes and US presidents. "Official" SDAism establishes EGW's writings as the discerner of truth and error in scripture, but many SDA members don't really accept this. Some fancy themselves as a modern day Luther or William Miller, on the cusp of discovering some new truth or receiving some new insight into the ancient texts.

And then you have the masses of SDAs who attend out of custom or habit, because of family ties, or because they enjoy the music, or out of a sense of tribal belonging. Many of these people will affirm a belief in SDA teachings without having thought about them very deeply and without being particularly concerned about them. Millions of SDAs who affirm a belief in EGW's visions and writings are blissfully unaware about the problematic passages about "amalgamation" or the 12 moons of Jupiter (and the giants living on Jupiter) or the nonsense about Orion or the historical inaccuracies in The Great Controversy. Yet others know and don't care, since they enjoy the fellowship and the music.

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2 hours ago, pierrepaul said:

There's the old joke about Golda Meir and Richard Nixon. Nixon was complaining that his job was so much harder since he was the president of 150 million Americans while Meir was the president of only 5 million citizens. Meir responded something like "yes, you are the president of 150 million citizens, but I'm the president of 5 million presidents."

Protestantism has the same characteristic with its ethos that all men ought to study the scriptures for themselves. But while the Protestant revolution of the 17th century was led by churchmen like Luther and Calvin, the 19th century Americans took it a step further and proclaimed that any man can be a theologian - and that the fanciful views of a man like William Miller, largely unaware of the views of the Church fathers, largely unaware of theology, were just as valid as those held by orthodox Christians.

So in the SDA church you have your mix of those for whom the "28 Fundamentals" are holy writ, for others EGW is the final arbiter of Bible truth. Others are sola scriptura or prima scriptura and reserve for themselves the right to dissent on any established SDA doctrine, from the Trinity to the "Investigative Judgement" to the nature of Christ to the purpose of the sacrifice, etc. So out of this tradition of "every man is his own theologian" you get all manner of teaching and belief; we saw one of the more outlandish versions of this on this forum with those fanciful predictions by those who mistakenly think that Revelation is about popes and US presidents. "Official" SDAism establishes EGW's writings as the discerner of truth and error in scripture, but many SDA members don't really accept this. Some fancy themselves as a modern day Luther or William Miller, on the cusp of discovering some new truth or receiving some new insight into the ancient texts.

And then you have the masses of SDAs who attend out of custom or habit, because of family ties, or because they enjoy the music, or out of a sense of tribal belonging. Many of these people will affirm a belief in SDA teachings without having thought about them very deeply and without being particularly concerned about them. Millions of SDAs who affirm a belief in EGW's visions and writings are blissfully unaware about the problematic passages about "amalgamation" or the 12 moons of Jupiter (and the giants living on Jupiter) or the nonsense about Orion or the historical inaccuracies in The Great Controversy. Yet others know and don't care, since they enjoy the fellowship and the music.

That was very helpful for me in getting a deeper understanding. THANK YOU! 

 

Giants living on the planet Jupiter???? I'd like to know more about this.

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19 hours ago, pierrepaul said:

Millions of SDAs who affirm a belief in EGW's visions and writings are blissfully unaware about the problematic passages about "amalgamation" or the 12 moons of Jupiter (and the giants living on Jupiter) or the nonsense about Orion or the historical inaccuracies in The Great Controversy. Yet others know and don't care, since they enjoy the fellowship and the music.

There is quite a number of things that EGW said, but actually did not say. Sorry, going to have to call you on this one as just another one of those false beliefs regarding what EGW may have said. You will need to provide a reference if you wish to maintain credibility!

Looking thru the records, EGW would go into vision and describe planets she was seeing. She did describe a planet with four moons. She described what might have been Jupitor, Saturn, and one of the other great giant planets, but she did not name them! Joseph Bates listening to her describe them named them. "Oh! she is describing Jupiter!" (The planet said to be Jupiter, she only saw four moons, for clarification.) If she had ever said there were giants living on Jupiter, believe me, I would have heard of it a long time ago, but this is the first time I ever heard this one.  (Add that one to the list of things EGW did not actually say!)

One of the problems is, you can make up stuff like this, attribute it to EGW, and others will assume she actually said such a thing.

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Is there an "oral Tradition" of things Ellen White taught within the SDA Church which expand on certain things she put in writing? I remember reading somewhere ( I think it was here on this forum ) about how a medical Doctor skeptical of Ellen White's supernatural charism  approached Ellen White when she was "in vision", turned pale and reported she wasn't breathing

The above would be an example of someone other than Ellen White providing testimony of something about Ellen White - is the "Giants on Jupiter" something similar to this or was this story claimed by someone who was known to dislike Ellen White and wanted to discredit her? I have read Ellen White where she indeed described visiting alien planets with aliens  on them that "observed the ten commandment law" and the 7th day Sabbath. I know Ellen did that but have interest in the giants on Jupiter possible doctrine. 

 

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10 hours ago, B/W Photodude said:

There is quite a number of things that EGW said, but actually did not say. Sorry, going to have to call you on this one as just another one of those false beliefs regarding what EGW may have said. You will need to provide a reference if you wish to maintain credibility!

Looking thru the records, EGW would go into vision and describe planets she was seeing. She did describe a planet with four moons. She described what might have been Jupitor, Saturn, and one of the other great giant planets, but she did not name them! Joseph Bates listening to her describe them named them. "Oh! she is describing Jupiter!" (The planet said to be Jupiter, she only saw four moons, for clarification.) If she had ever said there were giants living on Jupiter, believe me, I would have heard of it a long time ago, but this is the first time I ever heard this one.  (Add that one to the list of things EGW did not actually say!)

One of the problems is, you can make up stuff like this, attribute it to EGW, and others will assume she actually said such a thing.

Exactly!!

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2 hours ago, phkrause said:

Exactly!!

BWphotodude,

How does one say something and it [what was said] can be interpreted to not say something? 

 

 

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Here is some additional information from the White Estate:

https://whiteestate.org/about/issues1/mistaken/writings-falsely-attributed/inhabited-planets-our-solar-system/

Contrary to some reports, Ellen White did not identify by name any of the "worlds" that she was shown in vision. Joseph Bates, a retired sea captain with a special interest in astronomy, was present during at least one of these visions, and he is reported to have identified the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus as being among those described. Some have mistakenly linked Elder Bates' remarks to Ellen White's description of a "place" inhabited by "noble" and "majestic" beings. In Ellen White's own account of her vision, however, she says only that she was taken to "A PLACE" that was bright and glorious" (emphasis supplied). She does not identify "the place" as Jupiter, Saturn, or any other planet in our solar system. Here is her description: "The Lord has given me a view of other worlds. Wings were given me, and an angel attended me from the city to a place that was bright and glorious. The grass of the place was living green, and the birds there warbled a sweet song. The inhabitants of the place were of all sizes; they were noble, majestic, and lovely. They bore the express image of Jesus, and their countenances beamed with holy joy, expressive of the freedom and happiness of the place." Early Writings, pp. 39, 40.

https://whiteestate.org/about/issues1/unusual/scientific-issues/astronomical-statements/

Attention has been called to statements that seem to show that Ellen White made grievous errors regarding scientific issues. Prophets are not called to update encyclopedias or dictionaries. Nor are prophets (or anyone else) to be made "an offender by a word" (Isa. 29:21). If prophets are to be held to the highest standards of scientific accuracy (every few years these "standards" change, even for the experts), we would have cause to reject Isaiah for referring to "the four corners of the earth" (Isa. 11:12) and John for writing that he saw "four angels standing at the four corners of the earth" (Rev. 7:1).

Some point to the phrase, "As the moon and the stars of our solar system shine by the reflected light of the sun," charging that Ellen White was untrustworthy in scientific matters. [1] But most readers would recognize this use of "stars" for "planets of our solar system" as a non-technical description easily understood by laymen.

Some have declared Ellen White was in error when she allegedly said that she had visited a "world which had seven moons," [2] and that the planets visited were Jupiter and Saturn. In point of fact, she never named the "world which had seven moons." But there is more to the story.

Less than three months after she and James were married in 1846, she had a vision at the Curtis home in Topsham, Maine, in the presence of Joseph Bates. Although Bates had seen Ellen White in vision on several occasions, he still had doubts about her prophetic gift; but through the Topsham vision he was convinced that "the work is of God." [3] James White reported that, in this vision, Mrs. White was "guided to the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and I think one more. After she came out of vision, she could give a clear description of their moons, etc. It is well known, that she knew nothing of astronomy, and could not answer one question in relation to the planets, before she had this vision." [4]

What was it that convinced Bates, the old sea captain and amateur astronomer, that Ellen White was "of God"? After the vision, she described what she had seen. Knowing that she had no background in astronomy, Bates said, "This is of the Lord."

Obviously, what Bates heard corresponded to his knowledge of what telescopes showed in 1846. Almost certainly this vision was given in Bates's presence to give him added confidence in Ellen White's ministry. If she had mentioned the number of moons that modern telescopes reveal, it seems clear that Bates's doubts would have been confirmed. [5] (See "Avoid Making the Counsels 'Prove' Things They Were Never Intended to Prove.")

[1] Education, p. 14 (same statement, The Desire of Ages, p. 465).

[2] Early Writings, p. 40. This vision was first described in the Broadside, To those who are receiving the seal of the living God, first published Jan. 31, 1849.

[3] A Word to the Little Flock, p. 21, cited in F. D. Nichol, Ellen G. White and Her Critics, p. 581.

[4] Ibid., p. 22. Ellen White wrote: "I was wrapped in a vision of God's glory, and for the first time had a view of other planets" (Life Sketches, p. 97; see also Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, p. 83). No evidence exists that this is the same vision described in Early Writings, p. 40. See pages 144, 145.

[5] Further information regarding this 1846 vision is found in Loughborough, The Great Second Advent Movement, pp. 257-260. For a discussion of how Loughborough's memory of his conversation with Bates many years earlier fits into this memorable moment for Bates, see Nichol, Ellen G. White and Her Critics, pp. 93-101.

[Adapted from Herbert E. Douglass, Messenger of the Lord: the Prophetic Ministry of Ellen G. White (Nampa, Idaho.: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1998), pp. 490, 491.

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There is an oral tradition of stories that has developed over time about Ellen White. Some of this involves stories of her doing something that was beyond the ability of normal people.  One example is the story that while in vision she would sometimes hold a large and heavy Bible above her head while turning the pages to verses that she cited.    In another story it is alleged that while in vision she often did not take normal breaths. And other stories give her a physical strength that was beyond that of a normal human female. These are stories that probably have received the most attention.  Other stories involve family events and relationships and the more common things of life.

It should be acknowledged that proof of an alleged supernatural event associated with a vision of Ellen White is not proof of the validity of that vision.  Supernatural events are not always of a divine nature.  If it is true that she did, at times hold a large Bible above her head, while paging through it that in itself is not proof that God was involved in her doing that.    Stories of such should not be considered to be proof that God inspired her.

But such stories do not all meet the same standard of proof that they actually happened.  Perhaps they did happen.  Perhaps they did not.  This story of the Bible is considered by some to be lacking in proof that it actually happened.

My personal position is that whether true or not, those stories are not helpful in establishing whether or not one should accept the ministry of Ellen White as being a gift of God.

 

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Is there evidence anywhere in the record of one or more of Ellen White's religious contemporaries that believed in giants or aliens living on Planet's other than earth? Ellen generally had visions that confirmed the belief of others so naturally one would suspect this belief of alien life ( which I support ) was held by one or more individuals of significance in the early SDA Church. 

 

 

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The question that Gustave has asked is an important question. It has been asked by others in various forms.  Dr. Fred Veltman did a comprehensive review of the EGW book, Desire of Ages, and published a statement of his findings in a document that exceeded 2,100 pages.  I believe that the following website provides you with a pdf of his report.

https://ia802303.us.archive.org/25/items/FredVeltmanLifeOfChristResearchProject1988/1988_veltman_lifeOfChristResearchProject.pdf

Modern SDA scholarship has developed the question that Gustave asked, into two forms.  In one form the asked question relates to the extent to which the views of Ellen White reflected the views of contemporary, non-SDA people living in her day.  In its second form, the question asked relates to the extent to which the views of Ellen White reflected the views of other SDA leaders who disagreed with the then current views of non-SDAs living in her day.  These are two different questions which differ from each other in some respects.

I am currently reading a 2020 book published by the SDA Avondale Academic Press in which four different academic scholars discuss the historical development of SDA ideas on geological issues associated with the Genesis flood.  In one of the chapters written by three of those scholars, it is suggested that the views of Ellen White on those issues were influenced primarily by SDAs who had rejected the standard geological understanding of the non-SDA scholars in her day.

I suggest that the question that Gustave has asked only covers one aspect of the basic question that should be asked.

I am not aware of any scholarly attempt to investigate this issue that “Gustave has raised.

 NOTE:  If you are looking for the book I mentioned, be sure you get the 2nd edition of the book.

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17 hours ago, Gustave said:

How does one say something and it [what was said] can be interpreted to not say something?

Ae you asking BW/photodude?? It does seem that way!!

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I realize that the following article isn't written by folks that necessarily believe in religion but it does raise an interesting point about timing of the introduction of alien life enters religious writings. This article combines the Mormon's, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormon's in the subject matter due to the discovery / invention of the telescope.

"Seventh-day Adventism's flexibility with regard to aliens might be a product of the time in which the religion was founded (the 19th century). During the 1700s and 1800s, there was a strong popular belief in extraterrestrial life, Weintraub said. The telescope (a relatively recent invention) finally allowed astronomers to peek at other planets and moons in our solar system, but scientists didn't yet fully understand that these celestial bodies were barren. And perhaps it's no coincidence that the religions that began at that time — Mormonism, Seventh-day Adventism, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Baha'i Faith — all have a strong belief in extraterrestrial life, Weintraub said".

Would Finding Alien Life Change Religious Philosophies? | Live Science

The Sabbath School lesson does speak of "other worlds" with aliens living on the surface of planetoids. 

SS18930401-02.pdf (adventistarchives.org)

 

And as early as 1845 Adventist publications were mentioning planets other than earth hosting intelligent aliens. 

WMC18451122-V08-07,08.pdf (adventistarchives.org)

 

It's an interesting topic and in light of CBS' 60 minutes from last month it appears to be a worthy topic. 

Navy pilots recall “unsettling” 2004 UAP sighting - YouTube

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9 minutes ago, phkrause said:

Ae you asking BW/photodude?? It does seem that way!!

BWphotodude, you and anyone else that may have input. 

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As to current SDA belief.  I think that it can be said that SDAs do not believe in intelligent life on any planet in this solar system other than the Earth.

However, they are likely to believe that such intelligent life exists outside of this solar system.

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 6/13/2021 at 2:27 PM, Gregory Matthews said:

As to current SDA belief.  I think that it can be said that SDAs do not believe in intelligent life on any planet in this solar system other than the Earth.

However, they are likely to believe that such intelligent life exists outside of this solar system.

Many people are being conditioned to believe that extraterrestrials have been visiting our planet for thousands of years.  The Government even admits to UFO's.  It will be easy for the world to accept these beings as benevolent visitors who are here to help humanity evolve to the next level.  It will eventually involve getting the Mark of the Beast or being eliminated.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/10/2021 at 10:29 PM, pierrepaul said:

I'm a cultural SDA (and not a very good one at that, since I do enjoy an occasional scotch (Deuteronomy 14:26) and I enjoy seafood (Acts 10)).

 

How does being not a very good cultural Adventist compare with being barely Adventist? 

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