We begin our examination of the Seventh-Day Adventist beliefs with the first Fundamental Doctrine, which is as follows:
The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God, given by divine inspiration through holy men of God who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In this Word, God has committed to man the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the authoritative revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God's acts in history.
At first glance, there is nothing wrong with this statement. Indeed, all Catholic should agree with the heart of the statement, namely that the Scriptures are both Human and Divine, the Word of God through human words, phrases, cultural circumstances, etc. Most aggravating about the Scriptures is that they are what God chose to reveal to us, not what we necessarily want to know. Scripture is what we need, not always what we want. How many of us wish for an account of Jesus’ life between his birth and his public ministry (minus the crucial passage concerning His finding in the
From there, however, one notices a troubling line in the Adventist Belief, particularly in light of their other beliefs, concerning the Scriptures, as noted in the closing sentences: “The Holy Scriptures are the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the authoritative revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God's acts in history.” Adventists, like most Protestant groups, hold that Scripture is the sole source of Revelation. They do not provide a place for any sort of Magisterium, or even Sacred Tradition. Why go through an interpreter, the belief goes, when you have the original before you? All one needs to do is read. The Fathers of the Church and the Magisterium might give interesting insights into some passages, but that does not mean God somehow safeguards their teachings. One needs only oneself to understand the Bible. This approach, unfortunately, is extremely dangerous. If there isn’t a set authority who says what is and isn’t a legitimate interpretation of Scripture, then erroneous and contradictory interpretations result. One might hold one belief about the story of the Good Samaritan that is the polar opposite of someone else’s belief; the two beliefs contradict, yet are both held as correct. Can such a scenario be true? No. It is similar to saying that something is both alive and dead, sinful yet sanctifying. Worse, such an understanding does not provide for correction. A man could persist in his problematic understanding of the Good Samaritan without any correction or redirection.
Yet at its core, the first belief of the Adventists is orthodox, compatible with the Church. On the importance and centrality of Divine Revelation we both agree. From this firm ground, we depart into deeper, more controversial facets of Adventist theology, namely their doctrinal beliefs about God. As we will see in the next few parts of this series, the Adventists devote four fundamental doctrines to God and the Trinity, each based solely on interpreting the Scriptures. Whether it is a correct interpretation will be discussed in the next part of this series.