As we come to the close of another year, I am willing to admit that this year has been a tough one for me in Adventism. From both a personal and institutional perspective, things happened this year that troubled me with regard to how this church treats the least of us. These things trouble me because I have a long history with the Adventist Church. I was born into the church and baptized at eight years old. While I was in college, I took some time to explore other religions and denominations but stayed with Adventism. When I left my legal career to become an academic, the first thing I did was get a Master’s in Religion from the Seminary at Andrews University. Now I am sure that my archive on this website will prove that I do not love everything about Adventism. However, let this be abundantly clear. I do love my church. I do not think there is any other religious movement in Christianity that has the potential to be as dynamic as Adventism. It is my love of the church that leads to my criticism. I thought this year would be a good time to remind myself (and maybe some of you) of the reasons I love the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
We attempt the one thing most Christian denominations avoid -– unification of the Old and New Testament. This is not what I like the most, but I think it is the most telling. Most Christian denominations have tried to de-emphasize the Old Testament even as they say they are upholding it. Adventism takes a very unified look at the church of God. Hence, the seventh-day Sabbath, the health laws, etc. You do not find many other Christian denominations who believe in so much of the Old Testament.1
Adventism is more dedicated to truth than other denominations I have known. Adventists want to get it right. That is just a fact. It does not mean we always do, but we are invested in the effort. The church has spent almost two centuries combing through the word of God in order to discover the truth. You have to respect that. Therefore….
Adventism’s theology is the most consistent of the Christian denominations that I studied, both biblically and within itself. Because of this dedication, Adventism has done a better job of filling in the gaps. As a friend of mine once said, “Adventism just makes sense.”2
Adventism holds a lot of truths in tension: faith-works and law-grace. Some of the oldest disputes of Christianity, in which faiths have split on the question of either-or, Adventism has historically answered by saying, “both.” I like that.
The doctrine of Present Truth –- I love this doctrine. Adventism realizes (at least abstractly) that our understanding of truth is dynamic. So we have left space to revise the truth as we understand things better.
System and Order – The Adventist Church is organized … is it ever organized. I appreciate this because it does give members the sense that they are involved in a worldwide movement, which they are of course. It is great to know that there is a system that is supporting Adventism around the world, and that a member's contributions (monetary and otherwise) can go to assist brothers and sisters in Christ from all over.
Adventism has a positive effect on society – whether it is humanitarian aid, hospitals, schools, or local efforts, Adventism makes a determined attempt to influence societies where they are.
There you have it. Seven reasons why I love the Seventh-day Adventist Church. When things in your religion are not going the way you think they should, it is important to reach back and remember why God led you here. That is why I love this church and have no intention of leaving it.
1-- Of course this does not mean we have unified everything, but we try more than others.
2-- Of course this does not mean we do not have contradictions, but we are more consistent than others.
Jason Hines is a former attorney with a doctorate in Religion, Politics, and Society from the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University. He is also an assistant professor at Adventist University of Health Sciences. He blogs about religious liberty and other issues at www.TheHinesight.Blogspot.com.
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