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SDA Fundamentalism


Gregory Matthews
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1922: The Rise of Adventist "Fundamentalism, written by the head of Archives, Statistics & Research for the NAD & the General Conference is one of the most interesting and important books that has come off the SDA press in recent years.  It is important for the typical NAD SDA members as well as those who educate and inform others.  The following are two quotes from near the end of the book.

" . . . the temptation to a rigid and narrow reading of Ellen White, one that prioritizes her writings above scripture, is a temptation that the church continues to face."  Page 114.

" . . . history over the past century has demonstrated, Adventists fundamentalism, not modernism, has reliably been the key temptation that Adventism has struggled with, and the way a person understands and interprets inspired writings matters a great deal;"    Page 116.

 

 

 

 

 

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Just got the book and read the first chapter. Fantastic!!! May I recommend people to read this with the book on 1919 Bible Conference, and the W. W. Prescott and A. G. Daniels biography, the introduction to Great Controversy and the article from Selected Messages on Inspiration. 

Mrs. White tried to bring us to a balanced view of inspiration. But we are so afraid of Modernism that we run into the welcoming arms of Satan's deception at the other extreme. 

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For a 30 minute video interview with Michael Campbell, see:

 

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Mrs. White's last great battle was against Fundamentalism. She died while fighting it and she lost the fight. At best she got most of us on the liberal end of the spectrum of Fundamentalism. But she had a balanced view between both Modernism and Fundamentalism. 

In the book on the 1922 General Conference, it pointed out that a big part of the rising ideas of Fundamentalism was a decrease in women's leadership roles in the church.

We know that in the 1800s out west when Elder Loughborough would raise up churches and leave them in the best hands whether they were men or women, and he would ordain them as the pastors, and some churches back East were planning to ordain some women pastors in the first decade of the 20th century. But due to the increasing influence of Fundamentalism, Elder Daniels requested that the eastern conferences wait a little bit until the church was educated to know that it was indeed Biblical to ordain women, and for those who were ordained in the west, they received licensing papers that omitted the word "Ordination" again it was just to be a temporary measure due to the number of members who were not yet comfortable with women being ordained. Mrs. White started to educate here, but events caused her to change her focus on to the larger problem of Fundamentalism and how inspiration really worked. As I started with, this was her last great battle, a battle that she died while still fighting, and a battle that she lost and the closest she came to success was to get us, not to her balanced view, but to embrace Fundamentalism, but at best from the more liberal end of the Fundamentalism spectrum. While others embracing a more militant spectrum of Fundamentalism. 

While Elder Campbell did not mention this in his book. our early work was to share Seventh-day Adventism to our Christian neighbors. Then our first missionaries went to Europe and shared Adventism with their Christian neighbors; but also ran into Jewish communities. The church met them by offering them a Jewish version of Adventism. When I was in Israel in 1982 and back for a class on Christmas break 1983-84, there were still some of these Seventh-day Adventist Jews still alive, but they were in their 80s and 90s. (sadly, I did not meet any, only learned about them from the church and some student missionaries who did work with the churches where they were members). Along with the different issues that are described in Campbell's book, our church decided to only be a "Christian" church. That those who were Seventh-day Adventists Jews did not need to convert to Christianity, but if any other Jew wanted to become a Seventh-day Adventist that they would first need to convert to Christianity. 

It has been 100 years since the 1922 General Conference, yet we are still fighting the same battle. 

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Kevin H
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Richard Rice is an Adventist theologian and the leading proponent of open theism, which contradicts the writings of Ellen White. At the same time, there's nothing in the 28 Fundamental Beliefs which says that an Adventist must reject open theism. There's not even anything in the 28 Fundamental Beliefs which mentions the national Sunday law, which is also contained in the writings of Ellen White.  

This suggests to me that there's room for difference of opinion on matters that aren't mentioned in the 28 Fundamental Beliefs. 

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There are even differences on the matters that are mentioned in the 28 Fundamental Beliefs. A. Graham Maxwell pointed out that while creeds are designed to define what a group believes, traditionally, when the Seventh-day Adventist gave lists of our beliefs, such as the 27 (later 28) we have traditionally used fairly vague language to include the different shades of Adventism. Instead of ours being a fence defining us, ours is more of a generalized neighborhood where most of us more or less are. 

Our pioneers came from different backgrounds and agreed on a handful of "landmarks" and outside of these there was freedom to follow their understanding of the Bible; a freedom to discuss as long as they were not fanatical, nor insistence of forcing for what the church members may not be ready for. (Pork started out like this, and later became more accepted. Many, maybe even most of our pioneers had similar questions about the trinity as we see in some other groups at the time. But while those other groups made their questions about the trinity a test of fellowship, our pioneers did not make it a test of fellowship. They saw the trinity as open to discussion. While James White may have been more vocal when he was younger, as he got older people noticed that while he would freely discuss on topics, when the trinity was discussed he became quiet, only listen, and not discuss until the topic moved on. Then towards the end of his life he wrote that he was starting to find the arguments for the trinity more convincing than the arguments against it.  While in Australia, Mrs. White asked Elder Daniels to do a study on just who Jesus is, and similarly asked Elder Prescott to do a study on who the Holy Spirit is. Neither of them entered the study as a trinitarian. Daniels became convinced that Jesus was indeed God, and Prescott came to the same conclusion of the Holy Spirit and when the two of them reported to Mrs. White they realized that between the two studies, they had the doctrine of the trinity. And the trinity moved into the center of Mrs. White's Great Controversy philosophy. )

During the events that lead up to 1888 the Review and Herald was our conservative press and the Pacific Press was a more liberal press. Some church leaders wanted the Review to take over the Pacific Press and make then toe the line. Mrs. White said that we need both perspectives and to leave the Pacific Press alone.

As for Richard Rice's open theism, this can be a bit tricky: Often truths are a oneness of what may superficially appear to be opposites. As Eli Siegel described in his poem "The Print"  

Does dark and light show wrong and right

-And round and straight show love and hate

-And dim and clear show hope and fear

When Jesus said that no one knows when that day will be, not even the son, but the Father only, it shows a oneness in the idea of part of God experiencing our day to day events and the ideas of Rice's openness view, but also something that sees the end from the beginning, transcending time and space.  One of my college professors was on the reading committee for as to print Rice's book or not. He said that what Rice wrote is half the truth and a neglected half of the truth, and therefore recommended it being printed, despite the professor's strong views on God seeing the end from the beginning. 

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