By Rick Barker
Over the years I’ve pondered what I consider to be the fundamental error of Seventh-day Adventism, and I believe I have come to a conclusion: Adventism has a weak God.
First of all, in Adventism, God is not all-knowing (omniscient). He was “surprised” by man’s fall, according to Ellen White’s accounting of pre-history, and He needed a last-minute plan urged on Him, pushed through by the semi-god Jesus who had been elevated to the position of His son.
Furthermore, the Adventist God doesn’t know who will be saved. Instead of having a Book of Life with names written in it from the foundation of the world, He needs to investigate whether people can be saved based on the history of their lives.
Second, the Adventist God is not all-powerful (omnipotent). Instead of His God-breathed word being the immutable, powerful revelation of absolute truth, Adventism believes Scripture contains errors just as the writings of His end-time prophet, Ellen White, are filled with errors. Moreover, in Adventism, God could lose His governance of the universe to Satan if He cannot demonstrate His fairness. In fact, the classic investigative judgment doctrine teaches that rather than God saving man, man saves God. This judgment sounds harsh, but the investigative judgment doctrine teaches that in order for God to be vindicated over Satan’s accusations and to maintain His rulership, God needs men who can demonstrate that His Law can be kept.
Third, within Adventism, it is also questionable whether God is present everywhere at the same time (omnipresent). Since “spirit” in Adventism is limited to breath (and sometimes conceptually extended to include the products of the mind such as thoughts and perhaps even character), God cannot exist as simply “spirit”; He must have a physical form and mind. (Ellen White was insistent on this physical-form-notion of God).
Fourth, Adventism rejects a consubstantial triune God. It teaches that the members of the Godhead are one in agreement and purpose, but not in substance or being. In fact, because Adventism believe that the Father has a physical form just like Jesus (and just like us), it is impossible for the Adventist God to be the One Being that the Bible teaches God is. Adventism’s rejection of the consubstantial Triune God is another aspect of its weak God who can only be one in agreement, not in being. Because they denied the consubstantial Triune God, Jesus wasn’t fully God (or in early Adventism, wasn’t really God at all). Even now we see substantial groups within Adventism that are returning to an Arian view of Jesus, and some that view the Holy Spirit as merely the power of God, and not as a distinct Person.
The death of a good man, however, can’t accomplish much. Perhaps it can inspire people to try to live as that man lived (moral influence theory of atonement); but it can’t pay the price of sin. So, without an almighty, eternal Jesus who is one substance with the Father and the Holy Spirit, Adventists are left with a weak, incomplete atonement. There is no double substitution taking place (His life credited to us as righteousness; our life and sin credited to Him; His reward given to us; our punishment taken by Him).
In short, Adventism has a weak God that cannot do what the Bible says He does. This unbiblical God is the fundamental error of Adventism. There cannot be truth built on top of a foundation that is a lie.