In the last presidential election, many who claimed that they would only support a Christian candidate rallied behind Dr. Ben Carson, a very likable and well known Seventh Day Adventist. During this time, I heard many extol Dr. Carson as a “True Christian” and “brother-in-Christ”. I do not claim to know Dr. Carson’s level of participation with the Seventh Day Adventist doctrines or their gospel, but I would suggest that no true Christian could affirm either.
Most know that the Seventh Day Adventists have some pretty strong dietary views, are egalitarian rather than complementarian, and worship on Saturday rather than Sunday. If these serious, but possibly secondary, errors were the only real differences between the Seventh Day Adventists and historic Christianity, we might call them “barely” Christian. Their errors, however, are not limited to these secondary issues.
To begin with, all Seventh Day Adventists reject the Bible’s doctrine of Hell in favor of a form of annihilationism (1). In their view, Satan, the fallen angels, and all damned sinners will be consumed by fire and cease to exist. The Biblical teaching, however, is that Hell is a place of eternal conscious torment (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:41; 46; Revelation 20:10). In the light of such clear biblical proclamations concerning hell, the church has, in general, affirmed denials of hell as being equal to denials of the Bible itself (2).
But worse yet, all Seventh Day Adventists teach a different gospel. In Seventh Day Advent-ism, Jesus, in the 1844, moved from one room in heaven to another, and began what they call the “investigative judgment”. The investigative judgment is a process in which their Jesus applies his blood to men to reveal those who are worthy to be saved, because they chose to believe in him and live godly lives (3). In addition to this, they teach that God’s justice is vindicated in this “investigative judgment”. By this, they teach that God is just to save the ones revealed in the investigation because they truly had a righteousness of their own, which merited their salvation. Lastly, while they teach that Jesus died on the cross to make atonement for sin possible, in Seventh Day Adventist theology, Jesus is currently at work placing the sins of those who will be saved upon Satan (4). In Seventh Day Adventist theology, it is Satan who pays for the sins of the redeemed, not Jesus (5).
In the true gospel, which was once for all delivered to the saints, Jesus bears in full the sins of His people upon the cross (Isaiah 53:11-12; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:28). The Father’s wrath is satisfied for His elect because of this (Romans 3:25-26; 4:24-25; Isaiah 53:10; 2Corinthians 5:21). God the Father does not need to be vindicated for justifying the elect by grace because Jesus is the propitiation for their sins. The elect have no righteousness of their own to allow God to vindicate justifying them, rather, they stand clothed in the alien righteousness of Jesus credited to them.
In conclusion, I would answer the question, “Are Seventh Day Adventist Christians?” in the negative. The Bible is clear that anyone who would preach another gospel is under the curse of God (Galatians 1:6-9). The difference between the gospel of the Seventh Day Adventists and the true gospel is the difference between justification by grace alone and a justification by works.
[Guest Post by Justin Hoke]
For further research, we recommend the following sermon by Phil Johnson: Is Seventh-Day Adventism a Cult?