Traditional and evangelical adventism : a comparative study of the two main theological perspectives among the Seventh-day Adventists
This dissertation presents the different interpretations that the main theological streams of the Seventh Day Adventist Church have given to the writings of Mrs. Ellen G. White on the Subjects of Righteousness by Faith, the Human Nature of Christ and the Heavenly Sanctuary. The writings have been interpreted to understand the nature of Mrs. White's theological beliefs on such subjects. Over the past fifty to ten years, the Seventh Day Adventist Church has experienced numerous significant changes, and what once was seen as a monolithic theology has suffered significant fractures. Adventist writers have stated clearly that within this church there are at least three different theological sects with different beliefs on the core doctrines or pillars of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. These sects are called the Historical, Evangelical and General Conference or Mainline Adventists. These theological sects have interpreted the writings of Mrs. Ellen G. White to serve as a basis for their beliefs. It is the goal of the researcher to attempt a non-biased interpretation of Mrs. White's writings, including her theological views and interpretations on the doctrines of Righteousness by Faith, the Human Nature of Christ and the Heavenly Sanctuary. This dissertation evaluates Mrs. White's work and how she has interpreted the doctrines stated before, and attempts to bring to light what she has said about them. The main aim of the study is to make a comparative study of Traditional and Evangelical Adventists in order to determine which represents true Adventism and to reconcile the two in the light of Scripture. To this end, the dissertation studies the historical evolution of the Seventh-day Adventists, the doctrinal position of Traditional Adventists, and the doctrinal position of Evangelical Adventists; compares Traditional and Evangelical Adventists and outlines the doctrinal differences between the two; and evaluates the two positions in the light of Scripture to determine whether the two can be reconciled with one another. The central theoretical argument of this study is that reconciliation and healing of the divisions in the Seventh-day Adventist Church is possible. This study was initially undertaken in quest of an academic understanding of the historical and contemporary theological doctrines and disputes in my Church, in the hope of resolving some of my own concern and confusion about what seemed to be difficult and often obscure tenets and teachings. As my readings and research progressed, however, the ultimate goal of the project changed somewhat; I came to the view that a final, absolute interpretation of Church doctrines and theological issues was not possible in purely human terms. Instead, I came to feel that a higher purpose could be served by my study, if it contributed in some way or another to the reconciliation and ingathering of the disputing schools within the Church. It is in this spirit that I present the work that follows-- not to pit these schools against each other or prove the correctness of one particular position or viewpoint, but to urge the leaders and members of the Church to enter into a new stage of historical development, where concerns about narrow areas of interpretation give way to a larger spirit of Christian fellowship and mutual acceptance.
- ETD@PUK