By Colleen Tinker
Adventism: The humanitarian front hiding an unbiblical worldview
Adventist evangelism is burgeoning internationally because of carefully planned community programs and services with an emphasis on health and religious freedom. To illustrate this reality, we will look at three stories from the past week that show some of the ways the public is disarmed before they realize who is serving them.
Norwegian Health Professionals Organize
First, young Norwegian Adventist health professionals officially organized a new association at the Nordic Health Congress in Oslo two weeks ago. One hundred fifty doctors, nurses, physical therapists, dieticians, and pastors voted to form the Seventh-day Adventist Health Professionals’ Association to coordinate teaching their patients “sound health practices” and to “meet human needs”.
This group is “committed to the highest ethical standards in meetings people with health needs. Adventists want to give care and help because it is the right thing to do as followers of Jesus, not for ulterior motives.” In fact, this underlying motive was expressed by Peter Landless, the director of the Adventists’ Health Ministries Department at the General Conference headquarters.
The Adventist Review expresses the church’s true feelings about this new organization: “The association will certainly enhance the image and visibility of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Norway.”
Moreover, the president of the Adventist organization in Norway, Pastor Reidar Kvinge, said, “The new association will undoubtedly help us to become more focused and efficient in serving our local communities. We want to make a difference to the people of Norway.”
The director of Health Ministries for the Trans-European Division, Dr. Troben Bergland, articulated the underlying drive to proselytize that motivated the conference when he said, “We wanted to rekindle the passion for health ministry among health professionals, pastors and others, and inspire them to engage in it with enthusiasm. Health ministry should be guided by evidence-based research and practices, the Bible and the insights of Ellen White, and we are taking a comprehensive perspective that encompasses much more than the diet only. What we as Adventists offer members and the public, must be balanced and make life richer.”
While events such as the Norwegian conference appear to meet the needs of the local communities, in reality the motive that underlies such events is always the same: teach the public the ascetic diet and lifestyle patterns outlined by Ellen White and engage people with Adventism before they realize what has happened.
Zimbabwe Government Applauds Adventists
On a different continent in a different hemisphere, Adventists are leaving their mark on the education and health of the population in Zimbabwe. At the Adventist Health Professionals Conference, the country’s Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Aldrin Musiiwa praised Adventism “for its significant role in the development of the country’s education and health sectors.” Moreover, he stated that the Adventists have “always partnered Government in promoting health and education.”
The Adventists who conducted the Health Professionals Conference invited health providers from across the African continent to come and learn about “various health issues, which include non-communicable diseases, infection control and public health ethics.”
Today the Adventists have 146 primary and secondary schools and a university in Zimbabwe—the highest number of educational institutions in the country apart from the government itself.
French Adventist College opens Religious Freedom Center
February 4 marked the opening of the new International Center for Religious Freedom and Public Affairs at the Adventist college in Collonges-sous-Saléve in France. This opening was not a localized campus event, but it was attended by Adventist church leaders, United Nations representatives, and academics as well as students.
Two of the dignitaries who addressed the crowd at the event were Ambassador Ibrahim Salama, the director of the Division of Treaties Relating to Human Rights at the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Office at the United Nations in Geneva, and Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief who sent a video message.
The Adventist director of Public Affairs and Religious Freedom, Dr. Ganoune Diop, said, “It is important to recognize religious freedom as a ‘compound freedom’; religious freedom presupposes many other freedoms: the freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom to choose or to change one’s religion, philosophy or belief. All human rights are interdependent and indivisible, and religious liberty is foundational, undergirding all other freedoms.”
Dr. John Graz, the former director of the Adventists’ Public Relations and Religious Liberty department, is the director of the new center. He hopes that it will help to create a new generation of Adventist peacemakers. “Both inter religious dialogue and dialogue with secular authorities is vital,” Graz says; “it is through communication that we can both share what makes us, as Adventists distinct, and find common values and goals.”
Healthcare, Religious Freedom, and Unbiblical Beliefs
These three news stories released by the Seventh-day Adventist organization in the past week are mere demonstrations of the consistent goal of Adventists’ interactions with the public. While the underlying goal is always there—to convert people to Adventism—there is a concerted effort for them to be seen as humanitarian leaders internationally.
The health services and the human rights emphases sound good on the surface. Under the hood, however, the Adventist agenda is not the biblical gospel; rather, it is to become known as a religion where various beliefs and practices are protected.
For example, in the 2008 book The Abortion Controversy, the late John V. Stevens, Sr., formerly the religious liberty director for the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists based in Southern California, and the founder, president, and executive director of the council on Religious Freedom, said, “The right to believe differently about life and death is a non-negotiable necessity in a free nation.”
Stevens expresses the real Adventist belief about life and immortality. While Norwegian health professionals are organizing to bring Adventist values and practices to a trusting community, and while Adventists religious liberty directors are working to assure that all religions are equally valued, in reality Adventists define life and death completely differently from the way Christianity understands it.
Stevens further articulated the Adventist belief about life on page 181 of his book:
“The popular belief that personhood begins at conception, and not at birth, lays the groundwork for then ensoulment of an immortal, invisible intelligence merging with the fertilized egg. Such a concept accepts the false teaching of the natural immortality of the soul, founded on Satan’s lie. The Bible has Eve saying, ‘God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.” Then the serpent said to the woman, “you will not surely die.”’ From that origin, the teaching of the natural immortality of the soul found its way into paganism and in turn, into most Christian churches through Roman Catholicism.”
In fact, Stevens says plainly on the same page, “The breath in the nostrils brings life. When breath is extinguished, death results. The same word is used for mankind and the animal world. They utilize the same oxygen.”
Adventism is posing in increasingly visible places as the kind, accommodating, humanitarian religion that accepts all people’s beliefs and practices as equally important. Moreover, they pose as a Protestant denomination carrying on the tradition of the Reformation.
In fact, however, Adventism is a leader in religious liberty because it is committed to avoiding being marginalized and persecuted for its own practices—including its observance of the seventh day. They are creating an impression and a protective umbrella of accommodating policies where their own non-Christian beliefs about the basic nature of man, of life, and of death may hide.
While they offer humanitarian, agenda-free healthcare, they quietly perform abortions and rationalize the deaths by saying a body that has not breathed is not yet living.
While they lobby for religious freedoms, they internally teach that worshiping on Sunday will be the mark of the beast. While they protect their rights to hold to their unique worldview, they externally profess Protestantism and claim the name Christian not because they teach the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sin and the destruction of death, but because of their stated commitment to following the example and the teachings of Jesus.
Adventism is growing by meeting the felt needs of the public, but those who join the organization find themselves caught in a spiritual web from which only the true gospel of the Lord Jesus can free them.
Only in Jesus is there healing, freedom, and assurance. Adventism does not teach this reality.