Doctrine: An Adventist Stumbling Block

By admin On May 21, 2016 Under Seventh-day Adventist Issues

doctrine stumbling block

There are many within the Seventh-day Adventist church who have made the same mistake as the Jews of Christ’s time in holding up doctrine—doctrine that is often hard for even career Christians to get their minds around—as essential to salvation.

Confusing the Facts with Doctrine

Though we should not undermine the importance of personal study and discussion on theological subjects like Last Generation Theology, the nature of sin and Christ, the ins and outs of justification and sanctification, and perfection, we have placed far too much emphasis on understanding them in order to be saved. Daily looking on Jesus is the only thing that can save us.

Many have been discouraged, overwhelmed, and driven away from Jesus by a focus on good works and perfection. This emphasis is often a major source of discouragement to new Christians and a hindrance to those who desire to become Christians.

Looking Down Our Nose

Yet this has not been the only problem with our Pharisaical ways. We have driven a wedge between ourselves and other Christians, often referring to them as the “fallen churches.” In possession of “the truth,” we have forgotten that the only way to heaven is the cross of Christ. Distictive doctrine is helpful and even thrilling, but we know that there are many in the other churches who have lived and died trusting in the cross of Christ. These have been saved through a simple and sincere faith, even though they have not understood or agreed with our doctrine, even though they may not have understand our interpretation of the nature of Christ, the sanctuary, or Last Generation Theology.

snootysnoot_optIs it wise to alienate our brothers and sisters in Christ, to refuse to read their books or fellowship with them? Can we not see the striking similarities between the Jews of Christ’s time and us? They had “the truth,” but it was a curse to them because of the way they handled it.

A Stumbling Block

Our “cry aloud and spare nots” and “plain thus saith the Lords” are not endearing us to anyone (even God). Instead we should be gently pointing the lost to the cross of Christ. We should be rejoicing in this most important tenet with our brothers and sisters in other churches without making a big contentious deal out of our doctrine. We may believe that our doctrine is true, and that in the end it will be embraced by all, but in the mean time it shouldn’t be a stumbling block to friendships and unity under Christ’s cross.

We Have No Such Work To Do

This is the biggest problem with the sincere, but misguided conservative faction within our church. We overwhelm others with the essential and obligatory details of our doctrine and confused them on the one thing that is necessary for salvation: looking to Jesus. His Spirit is the one who will guide them in all truth (not us). We need to leave Him room to work and not choke or throttle others with our doctrine. Ellen White is clear about this:

“Lead the people to look to Jesus as their only hope and helper; leave the Lord room to work upon the mind, to speak to the soul, and to impress the understanding. It is not essential for you to know and tell others all the whys and wherefores as to what constitutes the new heart, or as to the position they can and must reach so as never to sin. You have no such work to do. All are not constituted alike. Conversions are not all alike. Jesus impresses the heart, and the sinner is born again to new life.” – Ellen White, SM1 177 (emphasis mine)

Relationship Is Greater Than Doctrinal Supremacy

We should not recant the unique tenets of the Seventh-day Adventist church—our understanding of the sanctuary, the Day of Atonement, perfection, etc.—but we should also firmly refuse to let those things get in the way of the work of the Holy Spirit or in the way of our relationships with others in the body of Christ.

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