REDLANDS, California—May 15, 2013—“Every year that passes increases Adventism’s embarrassment that they’ve failed to get Jesus to return,” says Richard Tinker, president of Life Assurance Ministries, an Arizona-based organization of former Seventh-day Adventists.
To outsiders, May 18, 2013 appears to be the official Sabbath of celebration commemorating the 150th anniversary of the approximately 18 million-member Seventh-day Adventist Church. But according to Adventist General Conference president Ted Wilson, it’s a day of shame as the faithful face their failure to bring about the second coming of Christ.
“This is a very sad anniversary,” Wilson told members of the world church’s Executive Committee on April 13. “We should have been home by now! The Lord has wanted to come long before this. Why celebrate any more anniversaries when we could be in heaven?”
Born out of William Miller’s failed prediction that Jesus would return on October 22, 1844, Seventh-day Adventism was shaped by a handful who turned their “Great Disappointment” into a new religion. Over the next 15 years these founders—led primarily by prophet Ellen G. White, her husband James White, and Joseph Bates—developed a set of beliefs they claimed had been forgotten since the founding of Christianity.
Today, Adventists claim that Ellen White was inspired exactly as were the Bible writers, explaining that her words are “a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction” (Seventh-day Adventists Believe, 2005 edition, pp. 11, 247).
The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has always been to disseminate its distinctive doctrines to the world so that Jesus can finally return. Adventists claim that their message is defined by the three angels of Revelation 14:6-10:
- God’s judgment has begun (the “investigative judgment” in heaven that started on October 22, 1844).
- True worship of God is defined by keeping the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday).
- Babylon—churches that worship on Sunday—has fallen. Those who do not leave them and worship on Saturday will receive the mark of the beast.
Further, Ellen White prophesied that “Sunday-keepers” will eventually hunt and kill Sabbath keepers—legally. For Adventists, Sabbath observance—not Jesus—is what ultimately separates the saved from the lost.
Ellen White also stressed that if Adventists had successfully taught these three points, Jesus would have already come.
The church’s 150th anniversary, then, is not a cause for celebration within Adventism. Rather, it is a cause of corporate embarrassment and renewed commitment to its mission, as general conference president Ted Wilson sternly reminded his Adventist subordinates.
“Why must we wait on this earth any longer?” asked Wilson. “Why must we observe more anniversaries of the establishment of the General Conference?” Emphasizing the movement’s view of itself as fundamentally different from all other churches, he further declared: “This message will not pass to another group or church.…There will not be another remnant church. You and I are part of the final church God has prepared.”
Adventism has a multi-faceted proselytizing program, frequently aimed at active Christians from other denominations, which includes:
- Publishing houses/labels such as Review and Herald, Pacific Press, Autumn House Publishing, and Andrews University Press. In addition, there are 57 language-specific publishing houses around the world.
- Health Lectures, vegetarian cooking schools, and blood pressure screenings often conducted at local Adventist churches promoting themselves as Community Health Centers.
- Revelation Seminars promoting Ellen White’s end-times scenarios.
- A global effort in 2012 that put Ellen White’s book The Great Controversy (often called The Great Hope)—translated into many languages—into over 166 million homes.
- Radio and television programs introducing Adventist doctrines and health principles. Programs include It Is Written, Amazing Facts, The Voice of Prophecy, Faith for Today, Breath of Life, LifeTalk Radio, La Voz de la Esperanza, Amazing Discoveries, and many more local productions.
- Satellite and internet television channels such as The Hope Channel, 3 Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN), 3ABN Latino, 3ABN Russia, 3ABN Australia, 3ABN Proclaim, 3ABN Dare to Dream Network (targeting African Americans), and Loma Linda Broadcasting Network (LLBN).
- Adventist Book Centers (ABC) market themselves locally as Christian bookstores.
The truth about Adventism
Adventism received a “free pass” when acclaimed evangelical apologist Walter Martin, the founder of Christian Research Institute and author of The Kingdom of the Cults, refused to classify the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a cult in the 1950’s. Since that time, however, several Adventist historians and leaders have admitted that church representatives deliberately misled Martin during conversations with him so he would not recognize the Adventist doctrines of an incomplete atonement and an unorthodox understanding of the nature of Christ and of man.
Martin himself stated on The John Ankerberg Show in 1985, “I fear that if they [Adventists] continue to progress at this rate, that the classification of a cult can’t possibly miss being re-applied to Seventh Day [sic] Adventism.” (Transcript from The John Ankerberg Show, “Who’s Telling the Truth About Seventh Day Adventism?”, 1985, p. 26.)
As the Christian world watches the Adventist Church commemorate its 150th anniversary this year, observers should take note that there is no celebration of this milestone. Instead of rejoicing, guilt-ridden Adventists are committing to renewed efforts to propagate their Adventist gospel to the world—and especially to unsuspecting Christians who don’t understand what really lies behind the whitewashed face of Adventism.
Life Assurance Ministries (LAM), founded by former Adventist pastor Dale Ratzlaff, is a leading authority on Seventh-day Adventism from the viewpoint of former members. LAM publishes the quarterly magazine Proclamation! edited by Colleen Tinker and mailed to nearly 30,000 addresses internationally in addition to its online distribution. LAM also maintains 10 websites. Richard Tinker is the president.
- Adventist News: No More Anniversaries, Wilson Says in Spring Meeting Sermon
- Adventist Web: From Great Disappointment to General Conference
- Proclamation! blog: More Information on Adventist Guilt
- Proclamation! article: Did Adventist Leaders Lie to Walter Martin?
- Proclamation! article: The Great Controversy: Living in a Worldview of Deception
- Download: Why Seventh-day Adventism Is Not Evangelical by Dr. Louis T. Talbot
Editor, Proclamation! Magazine