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Exposing Adventism - Adventism's Mormon Bashing

The Seventh-day Adventist Church seems to have this penchant for every so often comparing themselves through various official ways with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church. Usually Adventism puts on its most favorable face, and then finds something negative regarding Mormonism to ridicule. To my knowledge, the Mormons have taken the "high road" and don't retaliate by bashing Adventism, a cultic belief system with a huge amount of membership turnover in its own ranks.

I have on my desk one such example of Adventist brotherly love -- an article in the official organ of the Seventh-day Adventist Church called the Adventist Review. I should mention that the equivalent magazine in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is called Ensign. While the name of neither periodical is that unique, it may come as a surprise to you to know that accessing the online edition of Ensign is completely free, while the Adventists charge an online "subscription fee" to access the "good news" they have to share. (Try accessing the October 1997 Adventist Review, for example.) After all, why should the Adventists allow the public to learn what the Adventist Review has to offer for free? Truth be told, its primary purpose is to keep the troops "pumped up", and feeling good about being Adventists. Isn't it wonderful to be an Adventist!

Today I would like to explore with you another of Seventh-day Adventism's Mormon bashing articles entitled, "What Happened to the Mormons" by Senior Editor William G. Johnsson, Adventist Review Editorial, October 1997, page 5)

What Happened to the Mormons?

A funny thing happened on the way to the kingdom. The Latter-Day Saints, commonly called Mormons, became not only respectable but acclaimed.

Adventists can only wonder: What happened?

On the surface, Adventists and Mormons have much in common. Both movements arose in America around the same time -- the 1820s to 1840s. Both claim a prophetic figure who received divine revelations. Both value extra-biblical writings. Both believe in the second coming of Jesus, with a timetable of difficulty preceding it. Both emphasize healthful living, with abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. Both have a strong missionary emphasis. Both claim about 10 million adherents. Both stand for clean living, moral behavior, and family virtues.

Small wonder that the public commonly confuses "SDA" and "LDS." Adventists get credit for "that wonderful choir in Salt Lake City," and Mormons probably for hospitals with top-quality health care.

Scratch beneath the surface, however, and you will find that Adventists and Mormons are as different as oil and water. Mormon founder-prophet Joseph Smith died at the hands of an angry mob, shooting and wounding three of them before he expired; his successor, Brigham Young, is thought to have had 27 wives. Ellen White, by contrast, was married to but one man and ended a long ministry as a revered leader and citizen. Adventists look to the Scriptures as the source of doctrine, standard of faith, and test of all other writings; Mormons add three books to the Bible and interpret it through these books. Although Adventism began in America, it has become a global religion, with more than 90% of its members outside the United States. Mormonism, however is basically an American religion: with 4.8 million members in the United States, it is the country's seventh largest.

Adventists and Mormons are even further apart in their respective beliefs. Adventists affirm the foundational truths of Christianity -- the Trinity and the atoning death of Jesus Christ. But the Mormons teach that God was once human and had a wife, and that humans may become Godlike. "as man is now, God once was; as God is now, man may become," said Lorenzo Snow, an early Mormon president-prophet. From a biblical perspective, such a claim is monstrous and echoes the first lie -- "You will be like God" (Gen. 2:5, NIV).

In 1846, 30,000 Mormons fled their dream city of Nauvoo, Illinois. Attacked in print and in person, they set out westward under the leadership of Brigham Young. A 1,000-mile trek brought them to the great Salt Lake of Utah, which Young called "the right place." There in the desert, cut off physically and socially from mainstream America, they built their kingdom.

This summer marked the 150th anniversary of their arrival. National television gave them prime-time coverage, and Time ran a laudatory cover story, "Mormons, Inc.," that dwelt at length on the wealth of the movement -- whose current assets total at least $30 billion. Mormonism's combination of virtues "may make it the religion of America's future," gushed Time.

But three years ago when Adventists celebrated their 150th year since 1844, the public hardly noticed. Ouch!

The transformation of the Mormons -- how did it happen?

First, through a studied public relations effort. A generation ago Mormons began a special effort to pitch themselves to the mainstream. At a time when society is falling apart, the Mormon standards of chastity, fidelity, honesty, and hard work resonate with many.

Second, because of a huge shift in American culture. This is a time when "anything goes" in theology, be it New Age, Mormon, or whatever; when even Christians don't know and don't care what they believe. And it's an age that has scant regard for history. If it did, the Mormons would find few takers: their fantastic accounts of a lost Israelite tribe in North America and huge battles on this continent strain credulity.

"By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt. 7:20), we often say glibly. But this test, like the "increase" one -- rapid growth -- isn't sufficient of itself. It is only valid within the larger context of: What do the Scriptures teach?

Isn't that an amazing position? There is just as much that could be written about the history, foibles and cultic doctrines of Adventism. Notice how William Johnsson likes to refer to Scripture as a guide for Adventism. And it is -- rightly interpreted. But that is not how Adventism uses it. Adventism adds to the Bible. It just doesn't do it the same way that Mormonism and the Jehovah's Witnesses do.

Is it really possible to deceive people using the Bible? How is that possible?

Seventh-day Adventist TV evangelists, such as Amazing Fact’s Doug Batchelor and 3ABN’s Danny Shelton, wave Bibles around, and claim to be a "people of the Word". The devil also could quote Scripture. So does Adventism. I do not fault the Adventist laity for being deceived, but lay the blame squarely with the organization and those who receive pay to promote its false teachings.

How is it that Adventism appears to be able to produce a quote in support of everything they teach, and yet it still promotes doctrines that are, upon further examination, unbiblical? How can this be?

It is precisely the method that Adventism uses that makes them much more dangerous than their siblings, Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

There are three primary cultic approaches to circumventing the truth of Scripture:

  1. Jehovah’s Witness approach: Re-write the truth out of it. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own translation of the Bible (in which the word "grace" has been removed or changed).
  2. Latter-day Saints approach: Add to it and cancel out the truth. Latter-day Saints have their addition to Scripture, — "another testament of Jesus Christ".
  3. Seventh-day Adventist approach: "Re-interpret" the truth out of it or Filter the truth out of it. Seventh-day Adventism adds "commentary" that teaches interpretations and interpretive principles (like viewing eyeglasses) which negate the plain truths of Scripture.

Many Christians (if not most) do not recognize #3, the approach Adventism takes. They are well-aware of #1 and #2, the JW & LDS approach… no re-writing Scripture, no additions to Scripture. But the SDA approach is equally cultic, although perhaps a bit more subtle. LDS attaches "new scripture", but SDA attaches commentary/interpretation, which has the same effect as LDS’s "addition", however it twists regular Scripture and uses Scripture to cancel out the truth of Scripture. Got that?

Perhaps General Conference President G. A. Irwin explained it best when he said,

"It is from the standpoint of the light that has come through the Spirit of Prophecy (Mrs. White’s writings) that the question will be considered, believing as we do that the Spirit of Prophecy is the only infallible interpreter of Bible principles, since it is that Christ, through this agency, giving real meaning of his own words." (from the tract The Mark of the Beast, p. 1, G. A. Irwin, General Conference President)

Seventh-day Adventist prophetess, Ellen White, elaborates still further:

There are many precious truths contained in the Word of God, but it is "present truth" that the flock needs now. (Early Writings, p. 63)

"In ancient times God spoke to men by the mouth of prophets and apostles. In these days He speaks to them by the testimonies of His Spirit. (Testimonies, Vol 4, p. 147)

So it is with many among our people who have drifted away from the old landmarks and who have followed their own understanding. What a great relief it would be to such could they quiet their conscience with the belief that my work is not of God. But your unbelief will not change the facts in the case. You are defective in character, in moral and religious experience. Close your eyes to the fact if you will, but this does not make you one particle more perfect. The only remedy is to wash in the blood of the Lamb. (Testimonies, Vol 5, p. 66)

One could just as easily take this narcissistic Mormon-bashing article and substitute Adventist for Mormon, elaborate on Ellen and James White's actions at the Israel Dammon incident in place of the early Mormon leaders womanizing, replace the extra-biblical Mormon doctrines with such bizarre Adventist doctrines as 1844 and the pre-Advent (in absentia) Investigative Judgment, as well as really strange teachings relating to the nature of Christ.

I'll bet that you didn't realize that Satan offered to help shoulder the responsibility for the plan of salvation! Where does it teach this in the Bible?

This has got to be one of Ellen White's most blasphemous statements.

Adventism teaches that Jesus could have sinned. It also teaches that Satan offered to help Jesus with the plan of salvation. Would that have then made Satan Jesus' redeemer?

Satan offered to shoulder the load for the plan of salvation.

As soon as the long fast of Christ commenced in the wilderness, Satan was at hand with his temptations. He came to Christ, enshrouded in light, claiming to be one of the angels from the throne of God, sent upon an errand of mercy to sympathize with him, and to relieve him of his suffering condition. He tried to make Christ believe that God did not require him to pass through self-denial and the sufferings he anticipated; that he had been sent from Heaven to bear to him the message that God only designed to prove his willingness to endure.

Satan told Christ that he was only to set his feet in the blood-stained path, but not to travel it. Like Abraham he was tested to show his perfect obedience. He also stated that he was the angel that stayed the hand of Abraham as the knife was raised to slay Isaac, and he had now come to save his life; that it was not necessary for him to endure the painful hunger and death from starvation; he would help him bear a part of the work in the plan of salvation. (Review and Herald, August 4, 1874)
Jesus could have failed his assignment. Ellen White tells us that Jesus was on probation.
"Christ On Probation – For a period of time Christ was on probation. He took humanity on himself, to stand the test and trial which the first Adam failed to endure. Had he failed in His test and trial, He would have been disobedient to the voice of God, and the world would have been lost." (SDA Bible Commentary, Volume 5, p. 1082; Signs of the Times May 10, 1869)

This is too blasphemous to even contemplate!

Perhaps Seventh-day Adventism needs to eliminate its own cultic doctrines before it concerns itself with bashing the Mormon Church.

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Unless otherwise noted, all original material on this ExposingAdventism.com website is 2007-2008 by Gilbert Jorgensen. Careful effort has been made to give credit as clearly as possible to any specific material quoted or ideas extensively adapted from any one resource. Corrections and clarifications regarding citations for any source material are welcome, and will be promptly added to any sections which are found to be inadequately documented as to source.