Here is an example of aberrant Christian thinking in all it’s glory (HOTAIR h-t):
(Crossposted at THE WORD ON THE WORD OF FAITH group-blog) This is an import from my old blog as well as an updated video file of a post I did in March of 2009 in regards to a couple of heretics, John Crowder and Benjamin Dunn. A medical professor (from UCLA) we knew from a life-group my wife and myself were part of many years back responded to a question of mine in regards to a specific miraculous claims made by these two yahoos, what is known as the “pee-pee miracle.” In the following video you will see a travesty of the GOSPEL message in action.
In the background you can hear a girl laughing… I think they are laughing at the expense of these foolios. The Gospel didn’t visit those garbage people that day, entertainment did:
Islam has entered the NEW AGE UFO CULT category via the Ayatollah. Remember, the Nation of Islam is already in this category (among others)…
For the full conversation with the SDA can be found HERE.
I have been saying this for a while, and that is, there is a dysfunction in a portion of the black community regarding racist, nationalistic cults and theology. The shooter that just shot the cops this morning, was also into the Nation of Islam as well as Black Liberation Theology. Just like with MICAH X. JOHNSON, I was expecting this:
What worries me is that Democrats give this type of radicalism a pass! Obama was in a church for TWENTY YEARS that taught this junk. In fact, prior to Obama’s election in 2008, I made a video discussing this issue. Generations of this crap in the black community instead of the grace and love found in Jesus has made these chickens come home to roost!
The reason for this post is to respond to the idea that the NAZIs were in any way Christian or were supported by the Church or that Hitler was friends with the church. This post should be connected with my updated post, “GOD vs. HITLER.” As well as a post discussing Luther’s anti-Semitism and the distinction between [conservative] Confessing Lutheran’s in Germany at the time and the more socially liberal socialist [state-run] Lutherans: Defending “Lutheranism” from Martin Luther’s Fall from Grace
Between these three posts one should be equipped to respond to this lack of knowledge in regards to history.
Here is another book speaking to what could be considered demonic forces at work in Hitler’s life. Earlier I posted an episode witnessed that also hints at that: Some of Hitlers Demonic Episodes Penned In a 1940 Book
(See also “The Secret Wartime Report on the Mind of Hitler.”) While reading another book, I came across some smaller excerpts, of which I include slightly larger swaths of (getting a used edition of the 1940 book, The Voice of Destruction, it has to do with an expansion of how Hitler viewed the Church as well as what could be understood as demonic episodes:
My prediction is that these murderous individuals were involved in -or- involved in a combination of these political organizations or racist cults: Nation of Islam, Five-Percenters, Marxist organization, Black Lives Matter, Democrats, or the like.
Gay Patriot rightly notes that…
- #BlackLivesMatter, properly understood, is a racist hate group that has long been a proponent of violence against police (although they claim that the death threats chanted at their rallies are “just a joke.”)
We also know, again, know who funds the Black Lives Matter movement (H-T FREE REPUBLIC):
It is a bit ironic, but I posted a *snip* of mine after posting a liberal Brit woman crying about leaving the EU and saying she didn’t think her country was like racist, hateful America:
This post is a continuation of an earlier excerpt (really, the same chapter) about the THE DISTINCTIVE TRAITS OF CULTS, by Hoekema. Below, he applies that basic criteria to Seventh-Day Adventism
- Anthony A. Hoekema, The Four Major Cults: Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Seventh-Day Adventism (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1963), 388-403.
I included pages 136 and 129-130 in the footnotes feeling they were important enough to add… as well as adding a few pages from the appendix (jump) from the chapter on Seventh-Day Adventism [pp. 151-153]. Hoekema referred to his own chapter quite a bit… I either removed the reference or italicized it. REMEMBER, he only lightly deals with Adventism here by applying his previous 5-points. But the entire chapter on it (pp.89-169, not included) is a thorough dealing with it as I have ever seen, to say the least.
IS SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISM A CULT?
We must now turn to a question which has been considerably discussed of late: whether Seventh-day Adventism is to be considered as belonging to the cults, or as a denomination which may be classed with the evangelical churches. In a series of articles which appeared in Eternity magazine from September, 1956, to January, 1957, Donald G. Barnhouse and Walter R. Martin advanced the view that Seventh-day Adventism is not a cult, as had long been believed, but a branch of evangelical Christianity, though distinguished from other churches by certain peculiar ideas. In 1960 Martin published his Truth About Seventh-day Adventism,” in which he reasserted this position. In this volume he discusses and criticizes such Adventist teachings as “the sleep of the soul,”28 the annihilation of the wicked, the seventh-day Sabbath, the investigative judgment, the scapegoat doctrine, the remnant church, and the recognition of Mrs. White as the “spirit of prophecy,” In spite of his strictures on the above teachings, however, he asserts, “Not one of the deviations in Seventh-day Adventism is a deviation from the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith which are necessary to salvation” (p. 229). Martin therefore pleads with the members of the evangelical denominations to exercise spiritual fellowship with Seventh-day Adventists:
We hope that many who have looked upon Adventists as dangerous non-Christian cultists will revise this view. In the providence of God, and in His own good time, we trust that evangelical Christianity as a whole will extend the hand of fellowship to a group of sincere, earnest fellow Christians, distinguished though they are by some peculiar views, but members of the Body of Christ and possessors of the faith that saves (pp. 236-37).
By including Seventh-day Adventism in a volume entitled The Four Major Cults, I have already implied that I do not share the evaluation of this movement given by Barnhouse and Martin. While not denying that the Adventists teach certain doctrines in common with evangelical Protestant churches and in distinction from most of the cults (for example, the doctrine of the full deity of Jesus Christ), I am of the conviction that Seventh-day Adventism is a cult and not an evangelical denomination. In support of this evaluation, I propose to show that the traits which we have found to be distinctive of the cults do apply to this movement.
(1) An Extra-Scriptural Source of Authority. Seventh-day Adventists do have an extra-Scriptural source of authority in the writings of Ellen G. White, which are accepted by them as “inspired counsels from the Lord”…. That this is so has been shown on pages 100-108, above; the argumentation there given will not be repeated here. The reader is further invited to page through such Seventh-day Adventist publications as The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Principles of Life from the Word of God, and Questions on Doctrine to note how frequently a doctrinal position or the exegesis of a Scripture passage is based on a quotation from Mrs. White. We conclude that Seventh-day Adventists interpret the Bible in the light of the writings of Mrs. White, and that the books and testimonies of Mrs. White are for them, therefore, a source of authority superior to the Bible. This type of procedure, however, as we have seen, is a distinctive mark of the cult.
(2) The Denial of Justification by Grace Alone. Here we encounter one of the real problems involved in evaluating Seventh-day Adventist teachings: the baffling fact that the Adventists often theoretically take a certain position but then proceed to repudiate that position in the further elaboration of their theology. Regarding the doctrine in question, we find Seventh-day Adventists theoretically agreeing that we are justified by grace alone and not at all by obedience to law…. Yet we also find them teaching that one’s forgiveness can be cancelled after it has been bestowed, and that forgiven sins are not immediately blotted out because subsequent deeds and attitudes may affect the final decision…. Adventists further teach that it is possible for a person through subsequent sinful deeds and attitudes to lose the justification he once received. This teaching implies that one can only be sure of retaining his justification if he continues to do the right kind of deeds and to maintain the right attitudes throughout the rest of his life….
(i) The Investigative Judgment. It has already been shown that the Adventists’ doctrine of the investigative judgment (a doctrine which has no basis in Scripture) is not consistent with their claim that they teach justification by grace alone…. This is actually the Seventh-day Adventist position: (a) The investigative judgment determines who of the myriads sleeping in the dust are worthy of a part in the first resurrection.29 (b) What is examined in the investigative judgment are the lives of the individuals in question: particularly their faith in Christ, their confession of every single sin, and their faithfulness in keeping the law’s requirements.30 (c) What therefore determines whether a person will be saved is not primarily what Jesus Christ has done for him on the cross, but primarily what the individual has done in his life. He must have kept the law’s requirements, must have continued to do the right kinds of deeds so that his forgiveness has not been cancelled, and must have confessed every single sin. It is thus clear that what determines whether one is saved is the kind of life the investigative judgment reveals him to have lived, particularly his blameless keeping of the law’s requirements. And this position contradicts the Scriptural assertion that one is justified by grace alone.
How can anyone “faithfully keep the law’s requirements”? Do we not all fall very far short of keeping these requirements? Does not the Apostle John say, “If we say that we have no sin [and to have sin means to fail in some respects to keep the law’s requirements], we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (I Jn. 1:8)? The Apostle Paul, in fact, makes it unmistakably clear that no one can ever “faithfully keep the law’s requirements” when he says, in Romans 3:19 and 20:
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it speaketh to them that are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God; because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.
He then goes on to say, “But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe…” (vv. 21, 22). He ends this brief exposition of the way of salvation by saying, “We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law” (v. 28). Elsewhere Paul tells us that he counted all things to be loss that he might gain Christ, “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Phil. 3:9). Paul, therefore, knew that he was saved, not on the basis of a future heavenly investigation of his keeping of the law, or of his own personally achieved righteousness, but on the basis of the righteousness which he had received from God through faith! How, then, can Seventh-day Adventists teach that man is saved on the basis of his “faithful keeping of the law’s requirements” as revealed by the investigative judgment?
The doctrine of justification by grace alone teaches that a person is saved because of what Christ has done for him. The doctrine of the investigative judgment, however, teaches that Christ does not know whether a given individual has been justified until his life has been investigated. If, as the Bible teaches, “the Lord knoweth them that are his” (II Tim. 2:19), and the Good Shepherd knows His own (Jn. 10:14, 27), why should Christ not know apart from this investigative judgment who are to be raised in the resurrection of the just? The only possible answer is: because he does not fully know what kind of lives these individuals have lived. But if this is so, what is decisive in determining whether one is to be saved is his faithful keeping of the law’s requirements. This position, however, vitiates the doctrine of justification by grace alone!
(ii) The Keeping of the Sabbath. It has also been shown above that Seventh-day Adventist teaching on Sabbath-keeping is inconsistent with the doctrine of justification by grace alone…. The Adventist position, briefly, is as follows: In the last days, after the world shall have been enlightened concerning the obligation of the true Sabbath, anyone who shall still refuse to keep the seventh day as the Sabbath shall receive the mark of the beast and be lost. It is clear that at that time at least, salvation will not be determined only by faith in the atoning work of Christ, but by faith plus works — specifically, the work of keeping the seventh-day Sabbath.
Let us see how Mrs. White describes the crucial role of Sabbath-keeping in the drama of the latter days. Just previous to Christ’s return, so she writes, there will appear in the sky a hand holding two tables of stone folded together. In this way “that holy law, God’s righteousness, that . . . was proclaimed from Sinai as the guide of life, is now revealed to men as the rule of judgment.”31 The hand opens the tables, the words of which are so plain that all can read them. This public display of God’s law brings consternation to the hearts of those “who have trampled upon God’s holy requirements”; what is particularly called to the reader’s attention, however, is the despair of those who “have endeavored to compel God’s people to profane His Sabbath.” “Now,” it is said, “they are condemned by that law which they have despised.”32 It is therefore particularly failure to keep the seventh-day Sabbath which will be the unpardonable sin of—the last days!
To the same effect are the following words:
The enemies of God’s law, from the ministers down to the least among them, have a new conception of truth and duty. Too late they see that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is the seal of the living God. Too late they see the true nature of their spurious sabbath, and the sandy foundation upon which they have been building. They find that they have been fighting against God. Religious teachers have led souls to perdition while professing to guide them to the gates of Paradise.33
The point is clear: religious leaders have led souls to perdition by failing to teach them to observe the seventh-day Sabbath! They and their people, therefore, will be consigned to perdition, not because they failed to believe in Jesus Christ as Saviour and as the Atoner for sin, but because they failed to keep one of the ten commandments!
Next, according to Mrs. White, there comes the voice of God from heaven which declares the day and hour of Jesus’ coming and delivers the everlasting covenant to His people. “And when the blessing is pronounced on those who have honored God by keeping His Sabbath holy, there is a mighty shout of victory.”34 Thus the primary reason why God’s true people, here called “the Israel of God,” are blessed is not that they have trusted in Christ as their Savior, but that they have properly kept the fourth commandment!
Even if we should grant (which we do not) that Seventh-day Adventists are right in observing the seventh day as the Sabbath, we would still emphatically reject their contention that a sin against one of God’s commandments, committed by people who have always trusted in Christ for salvation and have always tried to serve Him sincerely, can be the basis for their everlasting perdition — since this is a sin committed in ignorance, and a sin which is repented of.35 Conversely, neither is it in harmony with Scripture to affirm that one must keep at least the fourth commandment perfectly in order to be saved.36 For the Scriptures teach that we all continue to fall short (husterountai, a present indicative), of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), and that no one can keep God’s commandments perfectly (I Jn. 1:8). We are saved, not because of our faithfulness in keeping any of God’s commandments, but because of what our Savior has done for us, and because His perfect righteousness has been imputed to us! We conclude that, though Seventh-day Adventists claim to teach justification by grace alone, their doctrine of the investigative judgment and their views on the Sabbath command are inconsistent with that claim.
(3) The Devaluation of Christ. At this point we must first acknowledge with gratitude that Seventh-day Adventists do not, like Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Scientists, deny the full deity of Jesus Christ or the doctrine of the Trinity. Though some earlier Adventist writers had contended that the Son was not wholly equal to the Father, Seventh-day Adventists today affirm Christ’s complete equality with the Father, and the pre-existence of the Son from eternity…. Adventists also accept the doctrine of the Trinity, and that of the personality and full deity of the Holy Spirit….
As far as the work of Christ is concerned, Seventh-day Adventists teach the vicarious, substitutionary atonement of Christ…. Yet there remains some ambiguity in their teachings on the question of whether the atonement has been finished on the cross, since Mrs. White says on more than one occasion that Christ is making atonement for us today and frequently refers to a “final atonement” after the one completed on the cross….
While appreciating the Adventists’ recognition of Christ as fully divine, however, we must reluctantly observe that there are aspects of Seventh-day Adventist teaching which detract from the splendor of Christ’s deity and do in fact constitute a devaluation of Him:
(i) Christ is said not to have been able to blot out sins previous to 1844 but only to have been able to forgive them…. The forgiveness of sins only means, however, that these sins remain on record in the heavenly sanctuary; this forgiveness may be cancelled later if a person’s subsequent deeds and attitudes prove unacceptable…. This view, which was discussed and criticized in Appendix B (see … pp. 151-53), robs Christ of His divine prerogatives. The Pharisees accused Jesus of speaking blasphemy when He said to the paralytic, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” “For,” they said, “who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Lk. 5:20, 21). In Romans 8:33 and 34, moreover, we read, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth?” The clear implication of the latter passage is that when God the Father has forgiven a sinner, his sins have been permanently blotted out; no one can bring charges against him any more. If the forgiveness of sins which Christ could bestow, however, only meant the placing of such transgressions on record in the heavenly sanctuary and did not mean the complete blotting out of those sins, Christ’s power to forgive was considerably less than the Father’s. By this teaching, therefore, Seventh-day Adventists are guilty of devaluating Christ.
(ii) Jesus Christ does not know who are His, since He must conduct an investigative judgment to determine “who… are worthy of a part in the first resurrection….37 In Appendix B it was pointed out that this Seventh-day Adventist teaching leaves us with a Christ who must do homework before he can determine who are entitled to the benefits of His atonement…. Surely this doctrine, too, robs Christ of His sovereignty and thus devaluates Him.
(iii) The very nature of the investigative judgment implies, as we have seen, that it is not one’s unbreakable connection with Christ that determines whether one is saved, but one’s deeds while on earth. In Seventh-day Adventist teaching, therefore, what is ultimately determinative for salvation is not Christ’s work but man’s work. This teaching, too, devaluates Christ.
(iv) The crucial importance attached to the keeping of the fourth commandment after the final enlightenment likewise detracts from the saving power of Christ. To quote Mrs. White once more, “When the blessing is pronounced on those who have honored God by keeping His Sabbath holy, there is a mighty shout of victory.”38 What is here all-important and all-determinative for salvation is not the atoning work of Christ in our stead, but the keeping of the fourth command! This exaltation of Sabbath-keeping and minimizing of the work of Christ also constitutes a devaluation of Christ.39
(v) Seventh-day Adventists teach that the sins of all men will be laid on Satan just before Christ returns, and that only in this way will sin finally be “eradicated” or “blotted out” of the universe. This teaching also detracts from the all-sufficiency of Christ. While we appreciate the Adventists’ insistence that Satan is not a sin-bearer and that he does not make atonement for sin, it must be pointed out that they do, however, assign to Satan an indispensable role in the blotting out of sin from the universe…. But this, as was also pointed out in Appendix B (see above, pp. 158-60), is to ascribe to Satan what should only be ascribed to Christ: the obliteration of our sins. If Christ completely bore our sins in His body on the tree, as I Peter 2:24 tells us, why should Satan still have to help eradicate these sins from the universe?
We conclude that, in these various ways, Seventh-day Adventists are guilty of devaluating Christ, and that the full deity which they officially ascribe to Christ is overshadowed by certain teachings which detract from His majestic sovereignty.
(4) The Group as the Exclusive Community of the Saved. Here again, we appreciate the insistence of the authors of Questions on Doctrine that Seventh-day Adventists do not believe that they alone constitute the true children of God, or that they are the only true Christians in the world, or the only ones who will be saved.40 At the same time, however, the Adventists do call themselves the remnant church, for two reasons: because they keep the commandments of God, particularly by observing the seventh-day Sabbath; and because they have the “spirit of prophecy” in the person of Ellen G. White….
At this point we should ask ourselves exactly what Seventh-day Adventists mean by the remnant church. It was pointed out above, on pages 128-29, that according to Adventist teachings the remnant church means the last segment of the true church left on earth. This judgment is confirmed by a statement found in a Seventh-day Adventist Bible-study textbook: “What, then, would be the ‘remnant church’? The last church, what is left at the end of time of God’s church on earth.”41 If this is so, the Seventh-day Adventist claim that they are the remnant church really means: we are the last true church left on earth, and all other groups which claim to be churches are not true but false churches.
Do Seventh-day Adventists actually teach that they are the true church of God? Yes, they do. This will become evident from the following quotations from the writings of Mrs. White, their inspired prophetess:
The decree that will finally go forth against the remnant people of God will be very similar to that issued by King Ahasuerus against the Jews. Today the enemies of the true church see in the little company keeping the Sabbath commandment, a Mordecai at the gate.42
I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers; and that the Sabbath is the great question to unite the hearts of God’s dear waiting saints.43
When the final warning shall be given, it will arrest the attention of these leading men through whom the Lord is now working, and some of them will accept it [the message about the seventh-day Sabbath], and will stand with the people of God through the time of trouble.44
To those who reverence His holy day the Sabbath is a sign that God recognizes them as His chosen people. It is a pledge that He will fulfill to them His covenant.45
The keeping of the Sabbath is a sign of loyalty to the true God.46
As the Sabbath was the sign that distinguished Israel when they came out of Egypt to enter the earthly Canaan, so it is the sign that now distinguishes God’s people as they come out from the world to enter the heavenly rest. The Sabbath is a sign of the relationship existing between God and His people, a sign that they honor His law. It distinguishes between His loyal subjects and transgressors.47
In the light of the above statements, what conclusions must we draw with respect to the other churches of Christendom? We are compelled to conclude that, according to Mrs. White, these other churches are not part of the true church, are not the true Israel of God, are not God’s chosen people, are not loyal to the true God, are not God’s loyal subjects, but transgressors. In fact, Christians who belong to churches which keep the first day as the Lord’s Day are said to be the victims of one of Satan’s most intensive campaigns against God’s law: “Satan strives to turn men from their allegiance to God, and from rendering obedience to His law; therefore he directs his efforts especially against that commandment which points to God as the Creator [the fourth].”48
We go on now to ask: Does Seventh-day Adventist teaching about the remnant church mean that those who are not members of this remnant group cannot be saved? In other words, do Seventh-day Adventists believe that their group is the exclusive community of the saved?
With respect to people who will be living on earth after the great enlightenment about the Sabbath day has been given…, when the final test of loyalty with regard to Sabbath-keeping shall have come,49 the Adventists do teach that all who then remain outside their group will be lost. Seventh-day Adventists contend that “before the final hour of crisis and testing all God’s true children — now so widely scattered — will join with us in giving obedience to this message [the one brought by the Seventh-day Adventist movement], of which the seventh-day Sabbath is a basic part.”50 On the other hand, those who then refuse to join the remnant church in keeping the seventh-day Sabbath will receive the mark of the beast and be lost:
…When Sunday observance shall be enforced by law, and the world shall be enlightened concerning the obligation of the true Sabbath, then whoever shall transgress the command of God, to obey a precept which has no higher authority than that of Rome, will thereby honor popery above God…. As men then reject the institution which God has declared to be the sign of His authority, and honor in its stead that which Rome has chosen as the token of her supremacy, they will thereby accept the sign of allegiance to Rome — “the mark of the beast.”51
It is clear, therefore, that Seventh-day Adventists do consider that their group will be the exclusive community of the saved at the time of the end, since all who then remain outside their group will be lost. We conclude that at this point the Adventists do reveal one of the distinctive traits of the cult.
With respect to people who are living now, the question is more complicated. It will be remembered that, according to Adventist teaching, those who fail to keep the seventh day as the Sabbath are transgressing the most important commandment of the decalogue…. The question now arises: Can Christians who repeatedly break this most important commandment still be saved?
Seventh-day Adventists answer: yes, since these Christians who are members of the other churches of Christendom are breaking this command in ignorance. For it is said by the authors of Questions on Doctrine, “Seventh-day Adventists firmly believe that God has a precious remnant, a multitude of earnest, sincere believers, in every church, not excepting the Roman Catholic communion, who are living up to all the light God has given them.”52 The implication is that these Christians do not have the full light on the Sabbath question which God has given to the Adventists and hence can be temporarily excused from the obligation of keeping the fourth commandment properly. Note the following statement by Mrs. White:
But not one is made to suffer the wrath of God [visited upon those who shall refuse to keep the Creator’s rest day] until the truth has been brought home to his mind and conscience, and has been rejected. There are many who have never had an opportunity to hear the special truths for this time. The obligation of the fourth commandment has never been set before him in its true light.53
According to this statement, one cannot be punished for failing to keep the Sabbath law until the truth about this law has been brought home to his mind and conscience and has been deliberately rejected.
This means, then, that Christians outside the Seventh-day Adventist communion today can be saved even though they continually break the fourth commandment because they are still transgressing this command in ignorance of the truth which is recognized and taught by Seventh-day Adventism. This, however, puts the so-called recognition of the universal church of Christ by Seventh-day Adventists in a rather uncomplimentary light: there is such a universal church, to be sure, but it is completely in error in its understanding of and obedience to the most important commandment of the decalogue!
If, furthermore, the salvation of those outside Seventh-day Adventism depends on their remaining in ignorance of God’s real Sabbath requirement, the implication would seem unavoidable that, if these people wish to be saved, they should remain in ignorance of the Sabbath law. As we saw above, Mrs. White said that no one shall suffer the wrath of God “until the truth has been brought home to his mind and conscience, and has been rejected.” Suppose, now, that a Christian had heard the Seventh-day Adventist message about the seventh day but had concluded that this teaching was erroneous — could he after this still claim to be “transgressing” the fourth commandment in ignorance? In 1847 Mrs. White wrote, “And if one believed and kept the Sabbath and received the blessing attending it and then gave it up and broke the holy commandment, they would shut the gates of the Holy City against themselves, as sure as there was a God that rules in heaven.”54 The people here described were lost, obviously, because they “sinned” against better light. But what about people who have examined the evidence Seventh-day Adventists advance and have rejected it? Would not their salvation be equally in jeopardy?
If the situation is as the Adventists picture it, would it not be far better for those in the regular churches of Christendom to come out of those churches and to join the Seventh-day Adventists? This is precisely what is held before us as the goal toward which Christ is working: “The Great Shepherd of the sheep recognizes them [God’s true children now outside the Adventist fold] as His own, and He is calling them into one great fold and one great fellowship in preparation for His return.”55 If this is Christ’s great purpose, it is clear that true children of God now outside Adventism who have come into contact with Seventh-day Adventism and yet remain in their churches are going contrary to Christ’s purpose.
We conclude that though theoretically granting that people outside their community can be saved Seventh-day Adventists actually undermine that concession by their teaching on the remnant church. Since they claim to be the remnant church, in distinction from all other Christian bodies, they do manifest the cultist trait under discussion, though in a somewhat ambivalent manner.
(5) The Group’s Central Role in Eschatology. It will not be difficult to show that this distinctive mark of the cult is prominently and clearly discernible in Seventh-day Adventism. In analogous fashion to the other cults studied, Seventh-day Adventism claims to have been called into existence to fill a particular gap in the truth. Adventists assert that God raised them up “for the completion of the arrested Protestant Reformation and for the full and final restoration of gospel truth.”56 God has brought the Adventist movement into being, so they allege, to bring His last great message to mankind.57 The rise of Seventh-day Adventism therefore marks the beginning of the final climax of sacred history.58 This movement has been called into being in order to prepare the church of the last days to meet her returning Lord.59
As we look more closely at the Seventh-day Adventist delineation of the events preceding the return of Christ, we note that they
place their own movement in the very center of the eschatological drama. We find these events pictured in great detail in the closing chapters of Mrs. White’s The Great Controversy. The announcement of the fall of Babylon (which designates various forms of apostate religion)60 is followed by the call, “Come out of her, my people”; this is the final warning given to the inhabitants of the earth.61 The various powers of the earth, including civil powers, Papists, and Protestants, now make a decree that all shall “conform to the customs of the church by the observance of the false sab-bath.”62 After this decree has been promulgated, all who, in opposition to Seventh-day Adventism, continue to observe “the false sabbath” [Sunday], shall receive the mark of the beast, whereas those who keep the true Sabbath, in obedience to God’s law, will receive the seal of God.63
Those opposing the seventh-day Sabbath will now inaugurate a terrible persecution against keepers of the true Sabbath [Seventh-day Adventists and those who have joined them].64 Now comes the “close of probation,” when Christ ceases His intercession in the sanctuary, after which there is no further opportunity for anyone to receive mercy and be saved.65 There now follows the “time of trouble” predicted in Daniel 12:1, during which frightful plagues will be poured out on the enemies of God’s people [that is, those who refuse to keep the seventh day].66 Just when these enemies are about to wipe the Sabbath-keepers off the face of the earth, God sends deliverance, and strikes terror into the hearts of the would-be murderers.67
Now occurs the “special resurrection,” in which two special groups are raised from the dead: those who were responsible for the trial and crucifixion of Christ, and those who died in the faith of the third angel’s message — that is, faithful Seventh-day Adventists and others who have been keeping the seventh day who have died since 1846.68 Note that at this point Seventh-day Adventists are given a special position of privilege: they shall be raised from the dead before other believers, so that they may be able to see Christ return to earth!
The doom of the wicked is now declared from heaven, producing consternation in the hearts of those who have been breaking the law of God.69 God’s commandment-keeping people, however, who have sacrificed all for Christ, and have evinced their fidelity to Him, now sing a triumphant song.70 Opponents of the true Sabbath realize too late that they were wrong, whereas blessing is pronounced from heaven on those who have honored God by keeping His Sabbath holy.71 Now Christ returns,72 and calls forth the other believers from their graves.73 The living righteous are now transformed,74 whereas the wicked are all put to death.75 God’s people are now taken up to heaven for the millennium which follows…; after the annihilation of the wicked they will everlastingly inhabit the new earth….
For Seventh-day Adventists, therefore, eschatology is the arena in which the glorification of their own movement completes itself and in which they shall be completely vindicated over against their enemies. Since “the Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty” in the last days,76 we see that the antithesis between God and Satan becomes in the end the antithesis between Seventh-day Adventism and those who refuse to follow its special teachings. We conclude that since Seventh-day Adventists do picture themselves as playing a central role in eschatology this distinctive trait of the cult is also clearly applicable to their movement.
An Appeal to Seventh-day Adventists. It is recognized with gratitude that there are certain soundly Scriptural emphases in the teaching of Seventh-day Adventism. We are thankful for the Adventists’ affirmation of the infallibility of the Bible, of the Trinity and of the full deity of Jesus Christ. We gratefully acknowledge their teachings on creation and providence, on the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, on the absolute necessity for regeneration, on sanctification by the Holy Spirit, and on Christ’s literal return. It is, however, my conviction that the Adventists have added to these Scriptural doctrines certain unscriptural teachings which are inconsistent with the former and undermine their full effectiveness. It is also my conviction that, because of the Adventists’ acceptance of these additional teachings, Seventh-day Adventism must be classified, not as an evangelical church, but as a cult. The reasons for this judgment have been detailed above.
This does not mean, however, that there cannot be true children of God among the Seventh-day Adventists. This I would be the last to deny. What must be criticized, often severely, are the teachings of this group, not the individuals who hold to these teachings. Teachings we can and must evaluate in the light of God’s Word; individuals we must leave to the judgment of God, who alone can read the hearts of men.
In a spirit of Christian love toward members of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, therefore, and with grateful recognition of the soundly Scriptural elements in their teaching, I plead with my friends, the Adventists, to repudiate the cultic features and unscriptural doctrines which mar Seventh-day Adventism and to return to sound, Biblical Christianity. Whether the Scriptural emphases in Seventh-day Adventism will eventually gain the victory over these unscriptural teachings, or whether those in the group who wish to be loyal to Scripture alone should come out of it, is a question which only God can answer. But false teachings which cast a shadow over the faith once for all delivered to the saints must be repudiated by all who truly love the Lord.
28 As has been pointed out, however, this is not an accurate way of describing Seventh-day Adventist teaching, which affirms, not that the soul sleeps after death, but that after death the soul ceases to exist (see above, p. 136).
PAGE 136 The same position is taken by the authors of Questions on Doctrine (pp. 511-32). It is therefore not quite accurate to say, as some do, that the Seventh-day Adventists teach the doctrine of soul-sleep, since this would imply that there is a soul which continues to exist after death, but in an unconscious state. A more precise way of characterizing their teachings on this point is to say that the Adventists teach soul-extinction. For, according to them, soul is simply another name for the entire individual; there is, therefore, no soul that survives after death. After death nothing survives; when man dies he becomes completely nonexistent. Seventh-day Adventists do teach that there will be a resurrection of all men. The authors of Questions on Doctrine state that the time interval between death and the resurrection is negligible, since there is no consciousness in the so-called “intermediate state”: While asleep in the tomb the child of God knows nothing. Time matters not to him. If he should be there a thousand years, the time would be to him as but a moment. One who serves God closes his eyes in death, and whether one day or two thousand years elapse, the next instant in his consciousness will be when he opens his eyes and beholds his blessed Lord. To him it is death – then sudden glory (pp. 523-24). Conditional Immortality. Article 9 of the Fundamental Beliefs sets forth the Adventist position on immortality: That “God only hath immortality” (I Tim. 6:16). Mortal man possesses a nature inherently sinful and dying. Eternal life is the gift of God through faith in Christ (Rom. 6:23)…. Immortality is bestowed upon the righteous at the Second Coming of Christ, when the righteous dead are raised from the grave and the living righteous translated to meet the Lord. Then it is that those accounted faithful “put on immortality” (I Cor. 15:51-55). Seventh-day Adventists thus believe in conditional immortality: immortality is bestowed upon believers at the Second Coming of Christ. Man possesses no inherent immortality, and man has no immortal soul. Immortality in the absolute sense is possessed only by God. Immortality in a relative sense is bestowed only upon certain people — namely, those who believe. Unbelievers will be raised from the dead after the millennium, but they will not receive immortality. They will be raised only to be annihilated.153 153 Jehovah’s Witnesses, as we shall see, take virtually the same position on the intermediate state as do Seventh-day Adventists. Note that acceptance of the doctrine of conditional immortality implies a denial of eternal punishment. In Appendix E these doctrines (soul-extinction, conditional immortality, and the annihilation of the wicked) will be critically evaluated.
The same position is taken by the authors of Questions on Doctrine (pp. 511-32). It is therefore not quite accurate to say, as some do, that the Seventh-day Adventists teach the doctrine of soul-sleep, since this would imply that there is a soul which continues to exist after death, but in an unconscious state. A more precise way of characterizing their teachings on this point is to say that the Adventists teach soul-extinction. For, according to them, soul is simply another name for the entire individual; there is, therefore, no soul that survives after death. After death nothing survives; when man dies he becomes completely nonexistent.
Seventh-day Adventists do teach that there will be a resurrection of all men. The authors of Questions on Doctrine state that the time interval between death and the resurrection is negligible, since there is no consciousness in the so-called “intermediate state”:
While asleep in the tomb the child of God knows nothing. Time matters not to him. If he should be there a thousand years, the time would be to him as but a moment. One who serves God closes his eyes in death, and whether one day or two thousand years elapse, the next instant in his consciousness will be when he opens his eyes and beholds his blessed Lord. To him it is death – then sudden glory (pp. 523-24).
Conditional Immortality. Article 9 of the Fundamental Beliefs sets forth the Adventist position on immortality:
That “God only hath immortality” (I Tim. 6:16). Mortal man possesses a nature inherently sinful and dying. Eternal life is the gift of God through faith in Christ (Rom. 6:23)…. Immortality is bestowed upon the righteous at the Second Coming of Christ, when the righteous dead are raised from the grave and the living righteous translated to meet the Lord. Then it is that those accounted faithful “put on immortality” (I Cor. 15:51-55).
Seventh-day Adventists thus believe in conditional immortality: immortality is bestowed upon believers at the Second Coming of Christ. Man possesses no inherent immortality, and man has no immortal soul. Immortality in the absolute sense is possessed only by God. Immortality in a relative sense is bestowed only upon certain people — namely, those who believe. Unbelievers will be raised from the dead after the millennium, but they will not receive immortality. They will be raised only to be annihilated.153
153 Jehovah’s Witnesses, as we shall see, take virtually the same position on the intermediate state as do Seventh-day Adventists. Note that acceptance of the doctrine of conditional immortality implies a denial of eternal punishment. In Appendix E these doctrines (soul-extinction, conditional immortality, and the annihilation of the wicked) will be critically evaluated.
29 Fundamental Beliefs, Article 16.
30 Questions on Doctrine, p. 443; Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View: Pacific Press, 1911), pp. 482, 490; William H. Branson, Drama of the Ages (Nashville: Southern Pub. Co., 1950), p. 351. Note particularly Branson’s statement: “A Christian who through faith in Jesus Christ has faithfully kept the law’s requirements will be acquitted; there is no condemnation, for the law finds no fault in him. If, on the other hand, it is found that one has broken even a single precept, and this transgression is unconfessed, he will be dealt with just as if he had broken all ten.” It will be remembered that Mr. Branson was president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists from 1950-1954.
31 The Great Controversy, p. 639.
32 Ibid., pp. 639-40.
33 Ibid., p. 640.
35 Both of these points are implied in the quotations just given from pp. 639-40 of The Great Controversy. These individuals, it is there said, “have a new conception of truth and duty,” implying that they did not understand the truth or know their duty before this time. If these people are true believers, they will repent of their sin as soon as it is pointed out to them. Further, since it is specified by Mrs. White that these individuals will include ministers and religious teachers, we may assume that these are people who have been faithfully worshiping God on the first day of the week all their lives. Do Seventh-day Adventists mean to say that such people will be sent to perdition solely because, though they did keep the fourth commandment, they unintentionally kept it on the wrong day?
36 As a matter of fact, how can Seventh-day Adventists be so sure that all who do keep the seventh day as the Sabbath are properly keeping the fourth commandment? Would Jews who reject Christ as the Messiah but keep the seventh day thus be saved, while Christians who accept Christ as Savior but keep the first day are lost? Christ Himself often severely rebuked the Pharisees for their misinterpretation of the Sabbath command, even though they did observe the seventh day (Mt. 12:1-8 and parallel passages; Mt. 12:9-14 and parallel passages; Lk. 13:10-17, 14:1-6; Jn. 5:10-18, 7:22‑24, 9:13-16). Surely, therefore, no one may naively assume that the mere observance of the right day (if Adventists are correct about the day) in itself guarantees the proper keeping of the fourth commandment!
37 Fundamental Beliefs, Article 16.
39 For it is presumed that thousands of those who at this time receive the mark of the beast for failing to keep the seventh day did believe in Christ as their Savior.
40 Pp. 187, 191-92; (see above, p. 129).
PAGE 129-130 This, of course, brings up immediately the question of whether Seventh-day Adventists believe themselves to be the only true people of God, to the exclusion of all others, including all the major denominations of Christendom. To this question we get an ambiguous answer. On the one hand, the authors of Questions on Doctrine assert that they have never sought to equate their church with the church invisible — “those in every denomination who remain faithful to the Scriptures” (p. 186). Seventh-day Adventists, these authors further point out, do not believe that they alone constitute the true children of God (p. 187), that they are the only true Christians in the world, or that they are the only ones who will be saved (pp. 191-92). Elsewhere the authors say: “We fully recognize the heartening fact that a host of true followers of Christ are scattered all through the various churches of Christendom, including the Roman Catholic communion” (p. 197). On the other hand, however, these authors contend that the Protestant Reformation was incomplete, that God wants certain new truths to be emphasized now which were not proclaimed at the time of the Reformation (p. 189), and that God has given these new truths to the Seventh-day Adventist movement. The heart of this new message is the proclamation of the seventh day as the Sabbath (p. 189). This new message must now be brought to all, even to those orthodox Christians who accept the teachings of the Reformation, for only in this way can Christians prepare for the great test of loyalty which will come in the last days (p. 195). Do Seventh-day Adventists now really believe that the vast majority of Christians who observe the first day of the week instead of the seventh belong to the universal church of God’s true people? Theoretically, they do. We appreciate their willingness to make this statement, which Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are unwilling to make. But, once again, we find that their doctrines are not consistent with this statement. For if the seed of the woman spoken of in Revelation 12 is the Christian church, and if the remnant of her seed is the last segment of that seed, and if the Seventh-day Adventist Church is that last segment, what conclusion can one arrive at except that other Christian groups are not members of the seed of the woman? If they are, why don’t they belong to the remnant? Furthermore, if the message of the seventh-day Sabbath is now so important that God has raised a special people for its proclamation, and if the keeping of this day is now God’s will for all His people, how can men and women who refuse to heed this message still be counted as God’s true people? How can Seventh‑day Adventists say that there are people “in every denomination who remain faithful to the Scriptures” (p. 186), when these people fail to obey the most important commandment of the Decalogue? How can Adventists contend that these alleged members of the true church outside their fold are “living up to all the light God has given them” (p. 192)? They have the Bible, do they not? Doesn’t the Bible give sufficient light on the matter of the seventh day? The authors of Questions on Doctrine try to get out of this dilemma by saying, “We respect and love those of our fellow Christians who do not interpret God’s Word just as we do” (p. 193). This statement gives the impression that the question of the first day or the seventh is a minor matter on which differences of interpretation may be tolerated. But on another page we are told that Seventh-day Adventists have been raised up by God precisely for the purpose of proclaiming to the world the message of the seventh-day Sabbath! This implies that those Christians who interpret the Word as permitting a first-day Sabbath are dead wrong! How, then, can such utterly mistaken and misguided people be recognized as being faithful to the Scriptures and as belonging to the true church of Jesus Christ?
This, of course, brings up immediately the question of whether Seventh-day Adventists believe themselves to be the only true people of God, to the exclusion of all others, including all the major denominations of Christendom. To this question we get an ambiguous answer. On the one hand, the authors of Questions on Doctrine assert that they have never sought to equate their church with the church invisible — “those in every denomination who remain faithful to the Scriptures” (p. 186). Seventh-day Adventists, these authors further point out, do not believe that they alone constitute the true children of God (p. 187), that they are the only true Christians in the world, or that they are the only ones who will be saved (pp. 191-92). Elsewhere the authors say: “We fully recognize the heartening fact that a host of true followers of Christ are scattered all through the various churches of Christendom, including the Roman Catholic communion” (p. 197).
On the other hand, however, these authors contend that the Protestant Reformation was incomplete, that God wants certain new truths to be emphasized now which were not proclaimed at the time of the Reformation (p. 189), and that God has given these new truths to the Seventh-day Adventist movement. The heart of this new message is the proclamation of the seventh day as the Sabbath (p. 189). This new message must now be brought to all, even to those orthodox Christians who accept the teachings of the Reformation, for only in this way can Christians prepare for the great test of loyalty which will come in the last days (p. 195).
Do Seventh-day Adventists now really believe that the vast majority of Christians who observe the first day of the week instead of the seventh belong to the universal church of God’s true people? Theoretically, they do. We appreciate their willingness to make this statement, which Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are unwilling to make. But, once again, we find that their doctrines are not consistent with this statement. For if the seed of the woman spoken of in Revelation 12 is the Christian church, and if the remnant of her seed is the last segment of that seed, and if the Seventh-day Adventist Church is that last segment, what conclusion can one arrive at except that other Christian groups are not members of the seed of the woman? If they are, why don’t they belong to the remnant?
Furthermore, if the message of the seventh-day Sabbath is now so important that God has raised a special people for its proclamation, and if the keeping of this day is now God’s will for all His people, how can men and women who refuse to heed this message still be counted as God’s true people? How can Seventh‑day Adventists say that there are people “in every denomination who remain faithful to the Scriptures” (p. 186), when these people fail to obey the most important commandment of the Decalogue? How can Adventists contend that these alleged members of the true church outside their fold are “living up to all the light God has given them” (p. 192)? They have the Bible, do they not? Doesn’t the Bible give sufficient light on the matter of the seventh day? The authors of Questions on Doctrine try to get out of this dilemma by saying, “We respect and love those of our fellow Christians who do not interpret God’s Word just as we do” (p. 193). This statement gives the impression that the question of the first day or the seventh is a minor matter on which differences of interpretation may be tolerated. But on another page we are told that Seventh-day Adventists have been raised up by God precisely for the purpose of proclaiming to the world the message of the seventh-day Sabbath! This implies that those Christians who interpret the Word as permitting a first-day Sabbath are dead wrong! How, then, can such utterly mistaken and misguided people be recognized as being faithful to the Scriptures and as belonging to the true church of Jesus Christ?
41 Principles of Life from the Word of God (Mountain View: Pacific Press, 1960), p. 395.
42 Prophets and Kings (Mountain View: Pacific Press, 1917), p. 605 [italics mine, in this and in the next five quotations].
43 Taken from a letter to Joseph Bates written on April 7, 1847; found in A Word to the “Little Flock” (1847), pp. 18-19.
44 The Great Controversy, p. 611.
45 Testimonies, Vol. VI, p. 350; quoted in Principles of Life from the Word of God, p. 131.
46 The Great Controversy, p. 438.
47 Testimonies, Vol. VI, p. 349; quoted in Principles of Life from the Word of God, p. 135. It is to be noted that statements like these do not agree with what is said by the authors of Questions on Doctrine, “we do not believe that we alone constitute the true children of God – that we are the only true Christians – on earth today” (p. 187). Since the statements quoted above were made by Mrs. White, Seventh-day Adventists cannot in good conscience repudiate them.
48 The Great Controversy, p. 54. We appreciate the fact that the authors of Questions on Doctrine seem not to wish to draw all these conclusions. Yet what is said in the above paragraph is clearly implied by the statements of Mrs. White quoted previously. The authors of Questions on Doctrine will therefore either have to admit that Mrs. White was mistaken when she made these statements, or that her words did not mean what she apparently intended them to mean. On the question of the attitude of Seventh-day Adventism toward other churches, see N. Douty, Another Look at Seventh-day Adventism (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1962), pp. 193-203.
49 The Great Controversy, p. 605.
50 Questions on Doctrine, pp. 195-96.
51 The Great Controversy, p. 449, quoted in Questions on Doctrine, p. 184. See also The Great Controversy, p. 605. Since those who receive the mark of the beast, according to Rev. 14:9-11, will be tormented with fire and brimstone, we conclude that people who fall into this category will be eternally lost.
52 P. 192.
53 The Great Controversy, p. 605.
54 Letter to Joseph Bates, April 7, 1847, found in. A Word to the “Little Flock,” pp. 18-19; quoted in Douty, op. cit., p. 77.
55 Questions on Doctrine, p. 192.
56 Ibid., p. 615.
57 Ibid., pp. 190, 194, 195.
58 Ibid., p. 617.
59 Ibid., pp. 615-617.
60 The Great Controversy, p. 381.
61 Ibid., p. 604. In the light of the entire context (see particularly pp. 606-607), it is obvious that Babylon here stands for churches which, among other things, continue to teach that Sunday is the day of the Lord.
62 Ibid., p. 604; cf. p. 606.
63 Ibid., p. 605.
64 Ibid., pp. 608-610.
65 Ibid., pp. 613-14. This “close of probation” is supposed to be indicated by Rev. 22:11 (p. 613). Cf. pp. 428, 490-91.
66 Ibid., pp. 613-34.
67 Ibid., pp. 635-36.
68 Ibid., p. 637…
69 The Great Controversy, p. 638.
70 Ibid., pp. 638-39.
71 Ibid., p. 640.
72 Ibid., p. 641.
73 Ibid., p. 644…
75 Ibid., p. 657.
76 Ibid., p. 605.
Hoekema was born in the Netherlands but immigrated to the United States in 1923. He attended Calvin College (A.B.), the University of Michigan (M.A.), Calvin Theological Seminary (Th.B.) and Princeton Theological Seminary (Th.D., 1953). After pastoring several Christian Reformed churches (1944-56), he became Associate Professor of Bible at Calvin College (1956-58). From 1958 to 1979, when he retired, he was Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
(BTW, Hoekema was an Amillennialist. I do not personally hold this position. Likewise, this position has very little impact on the whole of these “traits” of aberrant beliefs… if any. A good 9-minute challenge to a main portion of his “Kingdom” view is HERE.)
- Anthony A. Hoekema, The Four Major Cults: Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Seventh-Day Adventism (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1963), 377-388.
[p.377>] THE DISTINCTIVE TRAITS OF THE CULT
In setting forth what I believe to be the distinctive traits of the cult, I do not wish to give the impression that not the slightest trace of these characteristics is to be found in the churches. If we are honest with ourselves, we shall find vestiges of these characteristics in the churches too. I venture to affirm, however, that [p.378>] the traits which will now be described are so uniquely characteristic of the cult that any group in which they play a leading role can no longer be recognized as belonging to the true church of Jesus Christ.
(1) An Extra-Scriptural Source of Authority. As the first of these distinctive traits of the cult, I instance the presence of an extra-Scriptural source of authority. Hutten aptly calls this trait “a Bible in the left hand.” Recalling the ordination of a Sweden-borgian minister, who held a Bible in his right hand and one of Swedenborg’s books in his left, Hutten observes that every cult has such a “Bible in the left hand,” which actually supersedes the Bible in the right hand. It should be added here that the cults face a kind of dilemma with respect to the question of authority. Since, in distinction from non-Christian religions, they claim to be Christian groups, they must somehow appeal to the authority of the Bible. Yet in order to justify their peculiar doctrines they must either correct Scripture, reinterpret Scripture, or add other sources of authority to Scripture. Their attitude toward Scripture is therefore always an ambivalent one: a mixture of apparent subjection to its authority and of arbitrary manipulation of its teachings.
That this matter of ultimate authority is of determinative importance in evaluating the cults has already been implied by the inclusion of a section on “Source of Authority” in the discussion of each of the cults treated in this volume. It was found that every cult discussed did, indeed, find its ultimate ground of authority in some extra-Scriptural source. Mormons, it was seen, consider the Bible to be full of errors and in dire need of supplementary material; hence their ultimate source of authority is found not in the Bible, but in the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. If there should be a contradiction between what is taught in the Bible and what is taught in these. supplementary sacred books, it is the teachings of the latter which are determinative for Latter-day Saints (see above, pp. 18-30), For Christian Scientists, the final source of authority is Mrs. Eddy’s Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures; although the Bible is read at their Sunday services, it is Science and Health which determines how the Bible is to be understood (see above, pp. 182-86). Though Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that the only basis for their teachings is the Bible, it has been seen that their New World Translation is a biased rendering of the Scriptures [p.379>] into which they have smuggled many of their own heretical teachings, that their method of using Scripture is to find passages which seem to support their view and to ignore passages which fail to provide such support, and that they insist that the Bible may only be understood as it is interpreted by the leaders of the Watchtower Society (see above, pp. 237-48).
The reader is reminded of the discussion found on pages 30-33, above, where it was pointed out that the Bible itself condemns the attempt to supplement it with any additional source of authority. These “Bibles in the left hand” are never innocent appendages to Scripture; they always overmaster and overshadow the truth of Scripture. Whenever a cult raises a book or a set of books to the level of Scripture, it does violence to the Word of God. God is no longer allowed to speak as He does in the Bible; He may now speak only as the sect deems proper. Thus the Word of God is brought under the yoke of man.
The claim of the cults to have a source of revelation beyond the Scriptures – for that is what these “Bibles in the left hand” really amount to — is a claim which places them outside the pale of Christian churches. It may be added, by way of warning, that whenever a denomination of Christendom gives so much veneration to a human teacher or group of teachers that he or they are thought to be virtually infallible, it is in this respect manifesting a trait of the cult! People in the Corinthian Church who said that they belonged to Paul, Apollos, or Cephas were rebuked by Paul as being carnally minded; they were told, instead, that Paul, Apollos, and Cephas belonged to them! (I Cor. 3:21-23). Christians today who might be tempted to say that they belong to, say, Calvin or Luther, should learn from this passage that the Biblical way of expressing our relationship to human leaders is this: they (the human leaders) belong to us, but we belong to Christ. If these leaders belong to us, their writings may never be considered superior in authority to the Word of God. Sola Scriptura must remain the motto of every truly Protestant Church!
(2) The Denial of Justification by Grace Alone. A second distinctive trait of the cult is the denial of the doctrine of justification by grace alone. Grace is no longer considered the free gift of God to the unworthy sinner, but a reward which has been earned by the faithful keeping of various conditions and requirements. Hutten, in fact, calls this trait the most basic character- [p.380>] istic of the cult. The Reformation, he contends, asserted the principle of solo gratia: man is saved by grace alone. Salvation, the Reformers taught, does not depend on any human or ecclesiastical co-operation with God. The concept gratia implies that salvation is given freely by God apart from any conditions which man may fulfill or which the church may make available. Even those responses to the Gospel which take place in man through the working of God’s Spirit — his faith, his conversion, his works, and his walk — are not meritorious, since they are all the fruits of God’s grace. Precisely because salvation is all of grace, it can never be a ground for Pharisaic pride but must always move us to deep humility and gratitude.
This demand for humility, however, goes against the grain of human nature. Man wants to be his own lord and master. This is especially so in the matter of his salvation. He shrinks from taking the leap of faith — a leap in which he must trust wholly in God for his salvation. He prefers to take his future destiny into his own hands; he does not wish to surrender this destiny to a strange, unknown power. This fundamental human drive, Hutten continues, is the real root of the cult’s protest against the church. The basic antithesis of the cult to the church is therefore the cult’s antipathy toward the central message of the Reformation: the message of justification by grace alone and by faith alone (.cola gratia, solo fide). Though there are variations in the degree to which the different cults reject this doctrine, they all do reject it. As a matter of fact, Hutten adds, the church must always be on its guard against slipping into this cultic manner of thinking about the way of salvation. Only when the church has completely conquered this cultic tendency within its own borders, will it have the strength to oppose the cult on this point.
It will not be difficult to show that the trait described above is found in the cults we have studied. Mormons, as has been seen, reject the doctrine of justification by faith as a pernicious doctrine which has exercised an influence for evil in the church. They further teach that individual salvation (entrance into one of the three Mormon heavens) is to be merited by man through his own acts, and that one can only become eligible for the highest degree of salvation by keeping the commandments of the Lord in all things (see above, pp. 59-62). Christian Scientists decisively reject justification by grace alone; for them, salvation from sin is accomplished when one ceases to sin, or when one stops believing that there is such a thing as sin — on either interpretation salva‑ [p.381>] tion is achieved by human works and not by the grace of God (see above, p. 212, and compare pp. 209-12). Though Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that salvation is of grace and that all credit for salvation belongs to Jehovah (see above, p. 283), a careful study of their writings will reveal that they, too, reject justification by grace. In the case of the 144,000, man saves himself by exercising faith, repentance, and dedication to Christ (functions in which he is said not to be dependent on God), by showing himself worthy of being selected as a member of the anointed class, and by carrying out his dedication to Jehovah faithfully until death (see above, pp. 282-83; compare pp. 279-83). In the case of the other sheep, these, without having had their natures renewed, are able to exercise faith in Christ, to dedicate their lives to him, and to remain faithful to the end — this faithfulness to be revealed chiefly by diligent witnessing (see above, pp. 283-85). After the millennium has begun, these other sheep, whether as survivors of Armageddon or as resurrected beings, are to be judged on the basis of their obedience to Jehovah during the millennium. If they continue to obey God during Satan’s final battle, they will be “justified,” that is, given the right to perfect life on the new earth — this “justification,” however, is based not on faith, but on works. As far as others are concerned, billions of those who, though sincere in their belief, lacked an opportunity to learn of righteousness from God will be raised during the millennium, will be instructed in God’s law, and will receive everlasting life on the new earth if they now obey God’s commandments.
It is clear, therefore, that these three cults definitely and deliberately reject the doctrine of justification by grace alone. Though they may speak of the grace of God, their theologies have no room for grace in the real sense of the word. For, as the Bible says, “If it [the remnant according to the election of grace] is [saved] by grace, it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace” (Rom. 11:6). Note also the severe judgment leveled by Paul against this position in Galatians 5:4, “Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace.” Crystal clear is Titus 3:5: “Not by works done in righteousness which we did ourselves, but according to [p.382>] his mercy he saved us….” By taking the position sketched above, therefore, the cults deny one of the cardinal teachings of Scripture.
(3) The Devaluation of Christ. In the third place, all cults are guilty of a devaluation of Christ. Hutten points out that, since the cult has assumed a determinative role in the distribution of salvation, the result is bound to be a minimizing of Christ as the only Mediator. This, he adds, does not need to mean a complete denial of Christ’s mission and work; it may express itself simply in a shifting of emphasis. We shall see this tendency revealing itself in a twofold way: in a devaluation of the Person of Christ and in a depreciation of His work. The latter is particularly characteristic of the cult; since salvation for the cult is not determined by the grace of God revealed at the cross of Christ, that cross is robbed of its unique soteriological significance.
Let us see how this trait can be found in the cults we have studied. Mormons teach that Jesus Christ was the firstborn of the spirit-children of Elohim; since, however, all men are spirit-children of Elohim, it is evident that the difference between Christ and men (even, for that matter, between Christ and Satan) is one of degree but not one of kind (see above, pp. 53-54). Christ is considered by Mormons not to be equal to the Father; he shared with other pre-existent spirits like Adam and Joseph Smith the task of “creating” this earth, and his incarnation is not unique, for other gods before him were incarnated on other earths (see above, p. 54). In fact, Christ’s incarnation was only illustrative of what happens to every man who perfectly fulfills all the ordinances of the Gospel: he, too, was once a pre-existent spirit, is now incarnate, and will some day be a god (see above, pp. 54, 61-62, 72). As far as the work of Christ is concerned, Mormons affirm that the atoning death of Christ was necessary to deliver all men from death, and did provide for all the right to be raised from the dead (see above, pp. 57-58). As was just observed, however, Christ’s atonement does not provide individual salvation for man since this is to be merited by man’s own acts; thus the Mormon Christ does not save in the full sense of the word but only gives man an opportunity to save himself (see above, pp. 58-61).
According to Christian Science, Jesus was not God but only a man, whereas Christ is the name for a certain divine idea: the idea that sickness and sin can be healed through Christian Science (see above, pp. 200-202). Jesus was therefore simply a man who demonstrated a divine idea. So unimportant, in fact, is Jesus in [p.383>] Christian Science that Mrs. Eddy could say that if such a person as Jesus had never existed, it would make no difference to her! (see above, p. 203). As far as the work of Jesus is concerned, Christian Scientists deny that he atoned for our sins by shedding his blood on the cross — after all, since sin has no real existence, why does it need to be atoned for? Jesus’ work was rather that of demonstrating the truth of Christian Science and of setting us an example of the kind of life we must live. Even this example, however, is not uniquely distinguished from that of the apostles (see above, pp. 207-9).
What Jehovah’s Witnesses do with the person of Christ is well known: he was, for them, not equal to Jehovah, but the first creature of Jehovah. In his prehuman state he was a created angel; during his stay on earth he was nothing more than a man; and after his stay on earth he was again nothing higher than a created angel, though now endowed with immortality. In none of these three stages, therefore, was or is Christ equal to Jehovah (see above, pp. 270-76). As regards the work of Christ, the Witnesses teach that Christ did lay down his human life for his people as a ransom. By means of this ransom Christ redeemed man from inherited sin and from the prospect of eternal death as a result of that sin (see above, pp. 276-77); his ransom provides a resurrection from the dead for all except certain classes of people (see above, p. 317). Christ did not, however, earn the right to everlasting life in heaven for the 144,000 since he earned only a perfect human life with its rights and earthly prospects; the 144,000 must themselves earn the right to heavenly life by sacrificing their earthly prospects (see above, p. 283). As for those who will spend eternity on the new earth, they, as we saw, will receive this blessing only if they have obeyed Jehovah’s commandments during the millennium. Neither the 144,000 nor those who will inhabit the new earth, therefore, are really saved by the work of Christ; Christ’s ransom has only served the purpose of enabling them to earn their future blessedness, either in heaven or on earth, by their own achievements.
It is quite clear, therefore, that the cults leave us with a Christ who is not the Christ. Neither in his person nor in his work is the Christ of the cult the Christ of the Bible. For the cultist, it is not really Christ who saves but man who must save himself. This position, however, cuts the very heart out of the Bible: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). The words of Paul to the Galatians, directed against those who in that day taught that one was saved partly [p.384>] through faith in Christ and partly through performing certain works of the law, are equally applicable to the cults of our day: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:8).
(4) The Group as the Exclusive Community of the Saved. A fourth distinctive trait of the cult is that it absolutizes itself as the exclusive community of the saved. Hutten points out that the anti-ecclesiastical polemic which is so characteristic of the cult is but the converse side of its own self-justification. Since the cult is convinced that it is the only true community of God’s people, it must try to show that the church is either an apostate organization or an actual instrument of the devil. There is among the cults no appreciation for the Biblical doctrine of the “one holy catholic Church” — that is, of the universal church of Christ, composed of Christ’s true people of all the ages and from all the nations. Every cult says, “We alone are the people of God.” The cult, so to speak, takes God by the arm, insisting that His evaluation of people must agree with its own.
Let us see how this trait is found in the cults we have studied. Mormons contend that the church of Jesus Christ was in a state of apostasy until God revealed Himself to Joseph Smith in 1820; when Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods from heavenly messengers in 1829 and 1830, the Restoration of the Church took place. The Mormon Church is therefore the only true church — because it alone has the Priesthood of the Almighty, and it alone since the time of Christ has received and may still receive divine revelation. One of the early apostles of the Mormon Church claimed that non-Mormon churches have no right to call themselves Christian since Christ has nothing to do with them, and a recent Mormon writer has said that there is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see above, pp. 62-64). It may be noted that the possibility of salvation for those who died in ignorance of Mormon teaching only confirms the point under discussion since such people can be saved only if Mormons have been baptized for them (see above, pp. 64-66).
Christian Science also claims to be the only true church. Since Mrs. Eddy is said to have received the final revelation of the divine principle of scientific mental healing, and since Science and Health is said to be the voice of truth uncontaminated by [p.385>] human hypotheses, it follows that, according to them, no group outside of Christian Science has or knows the truth (see above, pp. 183, 212-13). Though individual Christian Scientists may express appreciation for other Christian groups, it is clear from the statements just alluded to that the views of all other churches about the Bible and the way of salvation must officially be considered basically erroneous while Christian Science is held to be unerring and divine (see above, p. 184).
In Jehovah-Witness ecclesiology we reach the ultimate in bigotry. It is said by them that Jehovah’s Witnesses alone are God’s true people and that all others, without exception, are followers of the devil. The Watchtower Society is now the only instrument or channel whereby Jehovah teaches His people on earth (see above, p. 247). The “great whore” of Revelation 17 is organized religion, Christian as well as heathen. The visible part of the devil’s organization on earth includes all of Christendom, Protestant as well as Roman Catholic. The religious clergy are, in fact, the direct link between mankind and the demons (see above, pp. 285-86). At Armageddon all of earth’s inhabitants except Jehovah’s Witnesses will be wiped out of existence (see above, p. 311). Only Jehovah’s Witnesses, therefore, will survive Armageddon; during the millennium non-Witnesses who are raised from the dead will be given an opportunity to save themselves in response to the preaching and teaching of the princes, prominent among whom will be those who occupied leading positions with the New World Society on earth (see above, pp. 318-21).
Whenever a group takes the position that it is the only community of the saved, however, it violates an important aspect of Scripture teaching. Christ Himself warned against this type of bigotry when his disciples said to Him, “Master, we saw one casting out demons in thy name, and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us.” Jesus replied, “Forbid him not; for he that is not against you is for you” (Lk. 9:49, 50). We should therefore remember that whenever a denomination slips into a kind of thinking similar to that described above, it reveals a tendency toward cultic behavior.
(5) The Group’s Central Role in Eschatology. The last distinctive trait of the cult I would like to mention is this: the cult plays a central role in the eschatological climax of history. The cult is convinced that it has been called into existence by God for the purpose of filling in some gap in the truth which has been neglected by the ordinary churches. The birth of the cult thus marks the final climax of sacred history, the beginning of the [p.386>] latter days. Eschatology thus plays a determinative role in the
theology of the cult: it becomes the arena in which the glorification of the cult will complete itself. The cult is therefore the messenger and way-preparer for the imminent return of Christ; it is God’s partner in the drama of the end-time; it is the ark of safety for the coming flood; it is the instrument of divine judgment on unbelievers; it shall finally triumph in the sight of all the world as the group particularly favored by God.
This type of procedure Hutten calls a cultic perversion of Biblical eschatology. Whenever the cult has developed an eschatology, he continues, it places itself in the very center of it. The drama of the last things thus becomes the means whereby the cult is glorified and all its enemies are overwhelmingly defeated. Though the cult may now be small and insignificant, when the final climax of history arrives, it will receive from God the place of honor it deserves as a reward for its faithfulness to His commandments. The antithesis between God and Satan which has run through history will in the last days reach its climax as an antithesis between the cult and the rest of mankind, particularly the church.
As we attempt now to see how this trait is revealed in the cults we have studied, we must first make an important exception. Because of the absence of a real historical dimension in Christian Science, the latter has no general eschatology; hence it cannot be precisely fitted into the category just described. Christian Science denies that there will be a literal Second Coming of Christ, a general resurrection, a final judgment, and a new earth (see above, pp. 219-21). Though there is a kind of individual eschatology in this system, there is no general eschatology in the sense of a final, dramatic climax of history. Yet Christian Scientists do manifest a trace of the characteristic in question, since Mrs. Eddy contended more than once that what the Bible calls the Second Coming of Jesus Christ actually coincided with the rise of Christian Science (see above, p. 219). By statements such as these Mrs. Eddy did, in a sense, place Christian Science in the center of eschatology.
[p.387>] It will not be difficult to show the presence of the trait under discussion in the other two cults being considered. Mormons very definitely place themselves in the center of the eschatological drama, giving themselves a position of special privilege in it. The Mormons, God’s “Latter-day Saints,” consider themselves the bearers of the Restored Gospel – the Gospel which must now be proclaimed by them to all the world as God’s last word to mankind (see above, pp. 62-64). Before Christ returns, there will be a series of gatherings. Ephraim or the Ephraimites must be gathered first to prepare the way for the rest of the tribes of Israel when the time comes for them to be gathered to Zion. Since most Mormons today are said to be Ephraimites, it is obvious that the gathering of Ephraim is going on at the present time. Ephraim is being gathered to Zion, the gathering-place on the
North American continent. The “lost ten tribes” will later be gathered to Zion, where they will receive “crowning blessings” from Ephraim – that is, from the Mormons. During the millennium Christ will rule over the Mormon Zion as well as over Jerusalem in Palestine (see above, pp. 67-69). At this time Mormons on earth will be joined by a heavenly group, the City of Enoch (see above, p. 69). Also during the millennium Mormons will preach to non-Mormons who are still alive, and will be baptized for the dead who have lived from the beginning of time (see above, p. 70). In the final state Mormons who have fully kept the commandments of the Gospel will enjoy the highest grade of blessedness in the celestial kingdom; non-Mormons can enter the celestial kingdom only if Mormons have been baptized for them (see above, pp. 66, 72-73). Most non-Mormons, however, will spend eternity in one of the two lower kingdoms, the terrestrial or the telestial (see above, pp. 73-74).
Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that the kingdom of God was not established until A.D. 1914, that this kingdom is now the ruling part of God’s universal organization, and that this kingdom is comprised of Jesus Christ and those members of the 144,000 who are now in heaven (see above, pp. 295-97). These heavenly members of the anointed class (who were, for the most part, Jehovah’s Witnesses on earth) not only rule with Christ now, but are actually changed from human beings to divine beings (see above, p. 304). Between 1918 and the Battle of Armageddon, a judgment of the nations is taking place, in which all those who do not accept the Jehovah-Witness message and who show no kindness to its bearers are doomed to destruction at Armageddon [p.388>] – a destruction from which there will be no reawakening (see above, pp. 306-7). The Battle of Armageddon will therefore be a stupendous victory for Jehovah’s Witnesses, who will be the only survivors of this worldwide catastrophe (see above, p. 311). Armageddon survivors will have a favored position on the renewed earth during the millennium; many of them will be made princes (see above, pp. 311, 314, 318). Jehovah’s Witnesses who have died before Armageddon will have the privilege of being raised from the dead before the rest of earth’s inhabitants. Those who were active in the New World Society before the millennium will take a leading part in instructing newly-resurrected people in the laws of Jehovah (see above, pp. 318-19). For Jehovah’s Witnesses, therefore, the climactic antithesis of history will be that between God’s true people, the Witnesses, and all others, including the churches of Christendom.
Whenever a religious group places itself in the center of the eschatological drama, it makes itself guilty of spiritual pride. Overlooking its own shortcomings and sins, it magnifies the sins of others. It blandly assumes that because of its own superior worthiness it has become God’s special favorite. When Christ came across a similar kind of pride among the Jewish leaders of His day, He rebuked it in no uncertain terms: “I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast forth into the outer darkness. . .” (Mt. 8:11, 12).