Seventh-day Adventist Church
Overview
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 denomination
Religious denomination
A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name, tradition, and identity.The term describes various Christian denominations...

 distinguished by its observance of Saturday
Saturday
Saturday is the day of the week following Friday and preceding Sunday.Saturday is the last day of the week on many calendars and in conventions that consider the week as beginning on Sunday, or the sixth day of the week according to international standard ISO 8601 which was first published in...

, the original seventh day
Days of the week
The names of the days of the week from the Roman period have been both named after the seven planets of classical astronomy and numbered, beginning with Monday. In Slavic languages, a numbering system was adopted, but beginning with Monday. There was an even older tradition of names in Ancient...

 of the Judeo-Christian
Judeo-Christian
Judeo-Christian is a term used in the United States since the 1940s to refer to standards of ethics said to be held in common by Judaism and Christianity, for example the Ten Commandments...

 week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming (Advent)
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

 of Jesus Christ. The denomination grew out of the Millerite
Millerites
The Millerites were the followers of the teachings of William Miller who, in 1833, first shared publicly his belief in the coming Second Advent of Jesus Christ in roughly the year 1843.-Origins:...

 movement in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 during the middle part of the 19th century and was formally established in 1863. Among its founders was Ellen G. White
Ellen G. White
Ellen Gould White was a prolific author and an American Christian pioneer. She, along with other Sabbatarian Adventist leaders, such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White, would form what is now known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.Ellen White reported to her fellow believers her...

, whose extensive writings are still held in high regard by the church today.

Much of the theology of the Seventh-day Adventist Church corresponds to Protestant Christian teachings such as the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 and the infallibility of Scripture
Biblical infallibility
Biblical infallibility is the belief that what the Bible says regarding matters of faith and Christian practice is wholly useful and true. It is the "belief that the Bible is completely trustworthy as a guide to salvation and the life of faith and will not fail to accomplish its purpose...

.
Encyclopedia
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 denomination
Religious denomination
A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name, tradition, and identity.The term describes various Christian denominations...

 distinguished by its observance of Saturday
Saturday
Saturday is the day of the week following Friday and preceding Sunday.Saturday is the last day of the week on many calendars and in conventions that consider the week as beginning on Sunday, or the sixth day of the week according to international standard ISO 8601 which was first published in...

, the original seventh day
Days of the week
The names of the days of the week from the Roman period have been both named after the seven planets of classical astronomy and numbered, beginning with Monday. In Slavic languages, a numbering system was adopted, but beginning with Monday. There was an even older tradition of names in Ancient...

 of the Judeo-Christian
Judeo-Christian
Judeo-Christian is a term used in the United States since the 1940s to refer to standards of ethics said to be held in common by Judaism and Christianity, for example the Ten Commandments...

 week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming (Advent)
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

 of Jesus Christ. The denomination grew out of the Millerite
Millerites
The Millerites were the followers of the teachings of William Miller who, in 1833, first shared publicly his belief in the coming Second Advent of Jesus Christ in roughly the year 1843.-Origins:...

 movement in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 during the middle part of the 19th century and was formally established in 1863. Among its founders was Ellen G. White
Ellen G. White
Ellen Gould White was a prolific author and an American Christian pioneer. She, along with other Sabbatarian Adventist leaders, such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White, would form what is now known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.Ellen White reported to her fellow believers her...

, whose extensive writings are still held in high regard by the church today.

Much of the theology of the Seventh-day Adventist Church corresponds to Protestant Christian teachings such as the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 and the infallibility of Scripture
Biblical infallibility
Biblical infallibility is the belief that what the Bible says regarding matters of faith and Christian practice is wholly useful and true. It is the "belief that the Bible is completely trustworthy as a guide to salvation and the life of faith and will not fail to accomplish its purpose...

. Distinctive teachings include the unconscious state of the dead and the doctrine of an investigative judgment
Investigative judgment
The investigative judgment is a unique Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, which asserts that a divine judgment of professed Christians has been in progress since 1844. It is intimately related to the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was described by the church's prophet and pioneer...

. The church is also known for its emphasis on diet and health, its holistic understanding of the person, its promotion of religious liberty, and its conservative principles and lifestyle.

The world church is governed by a General Conference
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is the governing organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is located in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, where it moved in 1989...

, with smaller regions administered by divisions, union conferences and local conferences. It currently has a worldwide baptized membership of about 16.3 million people. As of May 2007, it was the twelfth-largest religious body in the world, and the sixth-largest highly international religious body. It has a missionary presence in over 200 countries and territories and is ethnically and culturally diverse. The church operates numerous schools, hospitals and publishing houses worldwide, as well as a humanitarian aid
Humanitarian aid
Humanitarian aid is material or logistical assistance provided for humanitarian purposes, typically in response to humanitarian crises including natural disaster and man-made disaster. The primary objective of humanitarian aid is to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain human dignity...

 organization known as the Adventist Development and Relief Agency
Adventist Development and Relief Agency
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency International is a humanitarian agency operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the purpose of providing individual and community development and disaster relief...

 (ADRA).

History

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is the largest of several Adventist
Adventist
Adventism is a Christian movement which began in the 19th century, in the context of the Second Great Awakening revival in the United States. The name refers to belief in the imminent Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It was started by William Miller, whose followers became known as Millerites...

 groups which arose from the Millerite
Millerites
The Millerites were the followers of the teachings of William Miller who, in 1833, first shared publicly his belief in the coming Second Advent of Jesus Christ in roughly the year 1843.-Origins:...

 movement of the 1840s in upstate New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, a phase of the Second Great Awakening
Second Great Awakening
The Second Great Awakening was a Christian revival movement during the early 19th century in the United States. The movement began around 1800, had begun to gain momentum by 1820, and was in decline by 1870. The Second Great Awakening expressed Arminian theology, by which every person could be...

. Miller predicted on the basis of and the "day-year principle
Day-year principle
The day-year principle, year-day principle or year-for-a-day principle is a method of interpretation of Bible prophecy in which the word day in apocalyptic prophecy is symbolic for a year of actual time. It is used principally by the historicist school of prophetic interpretation...

" that Jesus Christ would return to Earth between the Spring of 1843 and the Spring of 1844. In the summer of 1844, Millerite Adventists came to believe that Jesus would return on October 22, 1844, understood to be the Biblical Day of Atonement for that year. When this did not happen
Great Disappointment
The Great Disappointment was a major event in the history of the Millerite movement, a 19th-century American Christian sect that formed out of the Second Great Awakening. Based on his interpretations of the prophecies in the book of Daniel The Great Disappointment was a major event in the history...

, most of his followers disbanded and returned to their original churches.

Some Millerites came to believe that Miller's calculations were correct, but that his interpretation of Daniel 8:14 was flawed as he assumed it was the 'earth that was to be cleansed' or Christ would come to cleanse the world. These Adventists arrived at the conviction that Daniel 8:14 foretold Christ's entrance into the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary rather than his second coming
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

. This new awareness of a sanctuary in heaven became an important part of their thinking. Over the next few decades this understanding developed into the doctrine of the investigative judgment
Investigative judgment
The investigative judgment is a unique Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, which asserts that a divine judgment of professed Christians has been in progress since 1844. It is intimately related to the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was described by the church's prophet and pioneer...

: an eschatological
Eschatology
Eschatology is a part of theology, philosophy, and futurology concerned with what are believed to be the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world or the World to Come...

 process commencing in 1844 in which Christians will be judged to verify their eligibility for salvation and God's justice will be confirmed before the universe. This group of Adventists continued to believe that Christ's second coming would be imminent. They resisted setting further dates for the event, citing Revelation 10:6, "that there should be time no longer."

Development of Sabbatarianism

As the early Adventist movement consolidated, the question of the biblical day of rest and worship was raised. The foremost proponent of Sabbath-keeping among early Adventists was Joseph Bates
Joseph Bates (Adventist)
Joseph Bates was an American seaman and revivalist minister. He was the founder and developer of Sabbatarian Adventism, a strain of religious thinking that evolved into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Bates is also credited with convincing James White and Ellen G...

. Bates was introduced to the Sabbath doctrine by a tract written by Millerite preacher Thomas M. Preble
T. M. Preble
Thomas Motherwell Preble was a Free Will Baptist minister in New Hampshire and a Millerite preacher. After accepting the teachings of William Miller, Preble was excommunicated from his church....

, who in turn had been influenced by Rachel Oakes Preston
Rachel Oakes Preston
Rachel Oakes Preston was a Seventh Day Baptist who persuaded a group of Adventist Millerites to accept Saturday, instead of Sunday, as Sabbath. This Sabbatarian group organized as the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1863.Born in Vernon, Vermont, Rachel, daughter of Sylvanus Harris, first joined...

, a young Seventh Day Baptist
Seventh Day Baptist
Seventh Day Baptists are Christian Baptists who observe Sabbath on the seventh-day of the week in accord with their understanding of the Biblical Sabbath for the Judeo-Christian tradition...

. This message was gradually accepted and formed the topic of the first edition of the church publication The Present Truth (now the Adventist Review), which appeared in July 1849.

Organization and recognition

For about 20 years, the Adventist movement consisted of a small loosely knit group of people who came from many churches whose primary means of connection and interaction was through James White's periodical, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. They embraced the doctrines of the Sabbath, the heavenly sanctuary
Heavenly sanctuary
In Seventh-day Adventist theology, the heavenly sanctuary teaching asserts that many aspects of the Hebrew tabernacle or sanctuary are representative of heavenly realities. In particular, Jesus is regarded as a High Priest who provides cleansing for human sins by the sacrificial shedding of his...

 interpretation of , conditional immortality and the expectation of Christ's premillennial
Premillennialism
Premillennialism in Christian end-times theology is the belief that Jesus will literally and physically be on the earth for his millennial reign, at his second coming. The doctrine is called premillennialism because it holds that Jesus’ physical return to earth will occur prior to the inauguration...

 return. Among its most prominent figures were Joseph Bates, James White
James Springer White
James Springer White , also known as Elder White was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and husband of Ellen G. White...

, and Ellen G. White
Ellen G. White
Ellen Gould White was a prolific author and an American Christian pioneer. She, along with other Sabbatarian Adventist leaders, such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White, would form what is now known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.Ellen White reported to her fellow believers her...

. Ellen White came to occupy a particularly central role; her many visions and spiritual leadership convinced her fellow Adventists that she possessed the gift
Spiritual gift
In Christianity, spiritual gifts are endowments given by the Holy Spirit. These are the supernatural graces which individual Christians need to fulfill the mission of the church. They are described in the New Testament, primarily in , , and . also touches on the spiritual gifts...

 of prophecy
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

.

The church was formally established in Battle Creek, Michigan
Battle Creek, Michigan
Battle Creek is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan, in northwest Calhoun County, at the confluence of the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Rivers. It is the principal city of the Battle Creek, Michigan Metropolitan Statistical Area , which encompasses all of Calhoun county...

, on May 21, 1863, with a membership of 3,500. The denominational headquarters were later moved from Battle Creek to Takoma Park, Maryland
Takoma Park, Maryland
Takoma Park is a city in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States. It is a suburb of Washington, D.C., and part of the Washington Metropolitan Area. Founded in 1883 and incorporated in 1890, Takoma Park, informally called "Azalea City," is a Tree City USA and a nuclear-free zone...

, where they remained until 1989. The General Conference headquarters then moved to its current location in Silver Spring, Maryland
Silver Spring, Maryland
Silver Spring is an unincorporated area and census-designated place in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States. It had a population of 71,452 at the 2010 census, making it the fourth most populous place in Maryland, after Baltimore, Columbia, and Germantown.The urbanized, oldest, and...

.

Until 1850 the church looked at those veterans of the 1844 experience as a saving remnant. But in 1848 Ellen White had a vision in which she saw the Three Angels' Messages going "like streams of light... clear round the world." As the Millerite movement had not been significantly multinational, her vision clearly showed that new converts could be made to the movement. The denomination in the 1870s turned to missionary work and revivals, tripling its membership to 16,000 by 1880 and establishing a presence beyond North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 during the late 19th century. Rapid growth continued, with 75,000 members in 1901. By this time the denomination operated two colleges, a medical school, a dozen academies, 27 hospitals, and 13 publishing houses. By 1945, the church reported 210,000 members in the US and Canada, and 360,000 elsewhere; the budget was $29 million and enrollment in church schools was 140,000.

For much of the 19th century, the church struggled as it formed its core beliefs and doctrines especially as a number of the Adventist leaders came from churches that supported the doctrine of Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 (although Ellen G. White was not one of them). This, along with the movement's other theological views, led to a consensus among conservative evangelical Protestants to regard it as a cult
Cult
The word cult in current popular usage usually refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre. The word originally denoted a system of ritual practices...

. However, the Adventist Church adopted the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 early in the 20th century and began to dialogue with other Protestant groups toward the middle of the century, eventually gaining wide recognition as a Protestant church.

Beliefs

The official teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination are expressed in its 28 Fundamental Beliefs. This statement of beliefs was originally adopted by the General Conference
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is the governing organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is located in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, where it moved in 1989...

 in 1980, with an additional belief (number 11) being added in 2005. Acceptance of either of the church's two baptismal vows
Adventist baptismal vow
The Seventh-day Adventist baptismal vow is a list of 13 belief statements which a person joining the Seventh-day Adventist Church accepts and given at baptism. In Adventist understanding baptism, which is a public display of faith in Christ, is associated with officially joining the Adventist...

 is a prerequisite for membership. The following statement of beliefs is not meant to be read or received as a "creed" that is set in theological concrete. Adventists claim but one creed: “The Bible, and the Bible alone.”

Adventist doctrine resembles trinitarian Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 theology, with premillennial
Premillennialism
Premillennialism in Christian end-times theology is the belief that Jesus will literally and physically be on the earth for his millennial reign, at his second coming. The doctrine is called premillennialism because it holds that Jesus’ physical return to earth will occur prior to the inauguration...

 and Arminian
Arminianism
Arminianism is a school of soteriological thought within Protestant Christianity based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius and his historic followers, the Remonstrants...

 emphases. Adventists uphold teachings such as the infallibility of Scripture
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, the substitutionary atonement, the resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the Dead is a belief found in a number of eschatologies, most commonly in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Zoroastrian. In general, the phrase refers to a specific event in the future; multiple prophesies in the histories of these religions assert that the dead will be brought back to...

 and justification
Justification (theology)
Rising out of the Protestant Reformation, Justification is the chief article of faith describing God's act of declaring or making a sinner righteous through Christ's atoning sacrifice....

 by faith alone
Sola fide
Sola fide , also historically known as the doctrine of justification by faith alone, is a Christian theological doctrine that distinguishes most Protestant denominations from Catholicism, Eastern Christianity, and some in the Restoration Movement.The doctrine of sola fide or "by faith alone"...

, and are therefore often considered evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

. In common with certain other Christian churches, they believe in baptism by immersion and creation
Creationism
Creationism is the religious beliefthat humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being, most often referring to the Abrahamic god. As science developed from the 18th century onwards, various views developed which aimed to reconcile science with the Genesis...

 in six literal days
Young Earth creationism
Young Earth creationism is the religious belief that Heavens, Earth, and all life on Earth were created by direct acts of the Abrahamic God during a relatively short period, sometime between 5,700 and 10,000 years ago...

. (The modern Creationist movement started with Adventist George McCready Price
George McCready Price
George McCready Price was a Canadian creationist. He produced several anti-evolution and creationist works, particularly on the subject of flood geology...

, who was inspired by a vision of Ellen White.)

In addition, there is a generally recognized set of "distinctive" doctrines which distinguish Adventism from the rest of the Christian world, although not all of these teachings are wholly unique to Adventism:
  • Law (fundamental belief 19)—the Law of God is "embodied in the Ten Commandments
    Ten Commandments
    The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

    ", which continue to be binding upon Christians.
  • Sabbath (fundamental belief 20)—the Sabbath
    Sabbath in Seventh-day Adventism
    Sabbath is an important part of the belief and practice of seventh-day Christians. These believers observe Sabbath on the seventh Hebrew day of the week, from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, in similar manner as in Judaism, rather than Lord's day on Sunday like a most forms of Christianity...

     should be observed on the seventh day of the week, specifically, from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.
  • Second Coming and End times (fundamental beliefs 25–28)—Jesus Christ will return visibly to earth after a "time of trouble", during which the Sabbath will become a worldwide test. The second coming
    Second Coming
    In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

     will be followed by a millennial
    Millennialism
    Millennialism , or chiliasm in Greek, is a belief held by some Christian denominations that there will be a Golden Age or Paradise on Earth in which "Christ will reign" for 1000 years prior to the final judgment and future eternal state...

     reign of the saints in heaven. Adventist eschatology is based on the historicist
    Historicism (Christian eschatology)
    Historicism is a method of interpretation, in Christian eschatology, by associating biblical prophecies with actual historical events as well as identifying symbolic beings with historical persons or societies. In prophetic theology, the main texts of interest are apocalyptic literature such as the...

     method of prophetic interpretation.
  • Wholistic human nature (fundamental beliefs 7, 26)—Humans are an indivisible unity of body, mind and spirit. They do not possess an immortal soul and there is no consciousness after death (commonly referred to as "soul sleep"). (See also: Christian anthropology)
  • Conditional immortality (fundamental belief 27)—The wicked will not suffer eternal torment in hell
    Hell
    In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

    , but instead will be permanently destroyed. (See: Conditional immortality, Annihilationism
    Annihilationism
    Annihilationism is a Christian belief that apart from salvation the death of human beings results in their total destruction rather than their everlasting torment. It is directly related to the doctrine of conditional immortality, the idea that a human soul is not immortal unless it is given...

    )
  • Great Controversy (fundamental belief 8)—Humanity is involved in a "great controversy
    Great Controversy theme
    In Seventh-day Adventist theology the Great Controversy theme refers to the cosmic battle between Jesus Christ and Satan, and also played out on earth. The concept is derived from many visions the author claimed to have received, scriptural references, and is delineated in the book The Great...

    " between Jesus Christ and Satan
    Satan
    Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

    . This is an elaboration on the common Christian theory that evil began in heaven when an angelic being (Lucifer
    Lucifer
    Traditionally, Lucifer is a name that in English generally refers to the devil or Satan before being cast from Heaven, although this is not the original meaning of the term. In Latin, from which the English word is derived, Lucifer means "light-bearer"...

    ) rebelled against the Law of God.
  • Heavenly sanctuary (fundamental belief 24)—At his ascension, Jesus Christ commenced an atoning ministry in the heavenly sanctuary
    Heavenly sanctuary
    In Seventh-day Adventist theology, the heavenly sanctuary teaching asserts that many aspects of the Hebrew tabernacle or sanctuary are representative of heavenly realities. In particular, Jesus is regarded as a High Priest who provides cleansing for human sins by the sacrificial shedding of his...

    . In 1844, he began to cleanse the heavenly sanctuary in fulfillment of the Day of Atonement
    Yom Kippur
    Yom Kippur , also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue...

    .
  • Investigative Judgment (fundamental belief 24)—A judgment of professed Christians began in 1844, in which the books of record are examined for all the universe to see. The investigative judgment
    Investigative judgment
    The investigative judgment is a unique Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, which asserts that a divine judgment of professed Christians has been in progress since 1844. It is intimately related to the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was described by the church's prophet and pioneer...

     will affirm who will receive salvation, and vindicate God in the eyes of the universe as just in his dealings with mankind.
  • Remnant (fundamental belief 13)—There will be an end-time remnant
    Remnant (Adventist)
    In Seventh-day Adventist theology, there will be an end time remnant of believers who are faithful to God.The remnant church is a visible, historical, organized body characterized by obedience to the commandments of God and the possession of a unique end-time gospel proclamation...

     who keep the commandments of God and have "the testimony of Jesus" . This remnant proclaims the "three angels' messages
    Three Angels' Messages
    In Seventh-day Adventist beliefs, the "three angels' messages" is an interpretation of the messages given by three angels in Revelation . The church teaches that these messages are given to prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus Christ, and sees them as a central part of its own...

    " of to the world.
  • Spirit of Prophecy (fundamental belief 18)—The ministry of Ellen G. White
    Ellen G. White
    Ellen Gould White was a prolific author and an American Christian pioneer. She, along with other Sabbatarian Adventist leaders, such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White, would form what is now known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.Ellen White reported to her fellow believers her...

     is commonly referred to as the "Spirit of Prophecy" and her writings are considered "a continuing and authoritative source of truth", though ultimately subject to the Bible. (See: Inspiration of Ellen White
    Inspiration of Ellen White
    Seventh-day Adventists believe church co-founder Ellen G. White was inspired by God as a prophet, today understood as a manifestation of the New Testament "gift of prophecy", as described in the official beliefs of the church...

    )

Theological spectrum

As with any religious movement, a theological spectrum exists within Adventism comparable to the fundamentalist-moderate-liberal
Liberal Christianity
Liberal Christianity, sometimes called liberal theology, is an umbrella term covering diverse, philosophically and biblically informed religious movements and ideas within Christianity from the late 18th century and onward...

 spectrum in the wider Christian church and in other religions. A variety of groups, movements or subcultures within the church present differing views on beliefs and lifestyle.

The conservative end of the theological spectrum is represented by historic Adventists, who are characterized by their opposition to theological trends within the denomination, beginning in the 1950s. They object to theological compromises with evangelicalism, and seek to defend what they consider to be traditional Adventist teachings such as the human post-fall nature of Jesus Christ, an investigative judgment
Investigative judgment
The investigative judgment is a unique Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, which asserts that a divine judgment of professed Christians has been in progress since 1844. It is intimately related to the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was described by the church's prophet and pioneer...

, and character perfectionism
Last Generation Theology
Last Generation Theology or "final generation" theology is a belief system of overcoming sin held by some conservative members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which claims that perfection will be achieved by some people in the last generation before the Second Coming of Jesus much like the...

. Historic Adventism is represented by some scholars, is also seen at the grassroots
Grassroots
A grassroots movement is one driven by the politics of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures...

 level of the church and is often promoted through independent ministries
Independent ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a number of supporting, parachurch, independent, self-supporting and other such organisations that work adjunct to the official church....

.

The most liberal elements in the church are typically known as progressive Adventists (progressive Adventists generally do not identify with liberal Christianity
Liberal Christianity
Liberal Christianity, sometimes called liberal theology, is an umbrella term covering diverse, philosophically and biblically informed religious movements and ideas within Christianity from the late 18th century and onward...

). They tend to disagree with more traditional views concerning the inspiration of Ellen White, the doctrine of the remnant
Remnant (Adventist)
In Seventh-day Adventist theology, there will be an end time remnant of believers who are faithful to God.The remnant church is a visible, historical, organized body characterized by obedience to the commandments of God and the possession of a unique end-time gospel proclamation...

 and the investigative judgment
Investigative judgment
The investigative judgment is a unique Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, which asserts that a divine judgment of professed Christians has been in progress since 1844. It is intimately related to the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was described by the church's prophet and pioneer...

. The progressive movement is supported by some scholars and finds expression in bodies such as the Association of Adventist Forums and in journals such as Spectrum
Spectrum (magazine)
Spectrum is the official publication of Adventist Forums, published four times a year. It was established "to encourage Seventh-day Adventist participation in the discussion of contemporary issues from a Christian viewpoint, to look without prejudice at all sides of a subject, to evaluate the...

and Adventist Today
Adventist Today
Adventist Today is a bimonthly Christian magazine representing a progressive Seventh-day Adventist perspective. First published in 1993, it is currently edited by J. David Newman, the former editor of Ministry...

.

Theological organizations

The Biblical Research Institute
Biblical Research Institute
The Biblical Research Institute is a service department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church with the three stated functions of research, apologetics , and service to the church. It serves as a theological consultant to the General Conference...

 is the official theological research center of the church. The church has two professional organizations for Adventist theologians who are affiliated with the denomination. The Adventist Society for Religious Studies
Adventist Society for Religious Studies
The Adventist Society for Religious Studies is a Seventh-day Adventist scholarly community whose purpose is "to provide intellectual and social fellowship among its members and encourage scholarly pursuits in all religious studies disciplines, particularly with reference to the Seventh-day...

 (ASRS) was formed to foster a community among Adventist theologians who attend the Society of Biblical Literature
Society of Biblical Literature
The Society of Biblical Literature, founded 1880, is a constituent society of the American Council of Learned Societies , with the stated mission to "Foster Biblical Scholarship"...

 (SBL) and the American Academy of Religion
American Academy of Religion
The American Academy of Religion is the world's largest association of scholars in the field of religious studies and related topics. It is a nonprofit member association,...

. In 2006 ASRS voted to continue their meetings in the future in conjunction with SBL. During the 1980s the Adventist Theological Society
Adventist Theological Society
The Adventist Theological Society is an international nonprofit organization of Seventh-day Adventist scholars and lay-people. The society holds its annual meeting in connection with the Evangelical Theological Society. It describes its theology as "balanced and conservative Adventist theology"...

 was formed to provide a forum for more conservative theologians to meet and is held in conjunction with the Evangelical Theological Society
Evangelical Theological Society
The Evangelical Theological Society is a professional society of Biblical scholars, educators, pastors, and students with the stated purpose of serving Jesus and his church by advancing evangelical scholarship. It was established in 1949 in Cincinnati. The number of members in 2005 was over 4,200...

.

Culture and practices

The General Conference has posted an introspective view on Adventists worldwide. This was done as an answer to frequently asked questions Adventist members and the church receives. The article is entitled, "Your Adventist Neighbor".

Sabbath activities

To keep the weekly Sabbath holy, Adventists abstain from secular work on Saturday. They will also usually refrain from purely secular forms of recreation, such as competitive sport and watching non-religious programs on television. However, nature walks, family-oriented activities, charitable work
Charity (practice)
The practice of charity means the voluntary giving of help to those in need who are not related to the giver.- Etymology :The word "charity" entered the English language through the Old French word "charité" which was derived from the Latin "caritas".Originally in Latin the word caritas meant...

 and other activities that are compassionate in nature are encouraged.

Much of Friday might be spent in preparation for the Sabbath; for example, preparing meals and tidying homes. Some Adventists gather for Friday evening worship to welcome in the Sabbath, a practice often known as Vespers
Vespers
Vespers is the evening prayer service in the Western Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran liturgies of the canonical hours...

.

Saturday afternoon activities vary widely depending on the cultural, ethnic and social background. In some churches, members and visitors will participate in a fellowship (or "potluck
Potluck
A potluck is a gathering of people where each person or group of people contributes a dish of food prepared by the person or the group of people, to be shared among the group...

") lunch.

Worship service

The major weekly worship service occurs on Saturday, typically commencing with Sabbath School
Sabbath School
Sabbath School is a function of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Seventh Day Baptist and some other sabbatarian denominations.-Program Context:...

 which is a structured time of small-group
Small group learning
Small group learning is a useful educational approach. The group work has to be carefully planned and frequently requires a facilitator to ensure group progress. In addition the group function and the learning that takes place needs to be assessed and evaluated. The material learned is just as...

 study at church. Most Adventists make use of an officially produced "Sabbath School Lesson", which deals with a particular biblical text or doctrine every quarter. Special meetings are provided for children and youth in different age groups during this time (analogous to Sunday school
Sunday school
Sunday school is the generic name for many different types of religious education pursued on Sundays by various denominations.-England:The first Sunday school may have been opened in 1751 in St. Mary's Church, Nottingham. Another early start was made by Hannah Ball, a native of High Wycombe in...

 in other churches).

After a brief break, the community joins together again for a church service that follows a typical evangelical format, with a sermon
Sermon
A sermon is an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy. Sermons address a Biblical, theological, religious, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law or behavior within both past and present contexts...

 as a central feature. Corporate singing, Scripture readings, prayers and an offering, including tithing (or money collection), are other standard features. The instruments and forms of worship music
Worship Music
Worship Music is the tenth studio album by American heavy metal band Anthrax. It is their first album of original material since 2003's We've Come for You All and the first to feature original singer Joey Belladonna since 1990's Persistence of Time...

 vary greatly throughout the worldwide church. Some churches in North America have a contemporary Christian music
Contemporary Christian music
Contemporary Christian music is a genre of modern popular music which is lyrically focused on matters concerned with the Christian faith...

 style, whereas other churches enjoy more traditional hymn
Hymn
A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification...

s including those found in the Adventist Hymnal
Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal
The Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal is the official hymnal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and is widely used by English-speaking Adventist congregations...

. Worship is known to be generally restrained.
Holy Communion

Adventists usually practice communion
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 four times a year. The communion is an open service
Open communion
Open communion is the practice of Christian churches that allow individuals other than members of that church to receive Holy Communion...

 that is available to members and Christian non-members. It commences with a foot washing ceremony, known as the "Ordinance of Humility", based on the Gospel account of . The Ordinance of Humility is meant to symbolize Christ's washing of his disciples' feet at the Last Supper
Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...

 and remind participants of the need to humbly serve one another. Participants segregate by gender to separate rooms to conduct this ritual, although some congregations allow married couples to perform the ordinance on each other and families are often encouraged to participate together. After its completion, participants return to the main sanctuary for consumption of the Lord's Supper
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

, which consists of unleavened bread
Unleavened Bread
Unleavened Bread is a 1900 novel by American writer Robert Grant....

 and unfermented grape juice.

Health and diet

Since the 1860s when the church began, wholeness and health have been an emphasis of the Adventist church. Adventists are known for presenting a "health message" that recommends vegetarianism
Christian vegetarianism
Christian vegetarianism is a minority Christian belief based on effecting the compassionate teachings of Jesus, the twelve apostles and the early church to all living beings through vegetarianism or, ideally, veganism...

 and expects adherence to the kosher
Kashrut
Kashrut is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha is termed kosher in English, from the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew term kashér , meaning "fit" Kashrut (also kashruth or kashrus) is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha (Jewish law) is termed...

 laws in . Obedience to these laws means abstinence from pork, shellfish, and other foods proscribed as "unclean
Unclean animals
Unclean animals, in some religions, are animals whose consumption or handling is labeled a taboo. According to these religion's dogmas, persons who handle such animals may need to purify themselves to get rid of their uncleanness.-Judaism:...

". The church discourages its members from the use of alcohol
Alcoholic beverage
An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits. They are legally consumed in most countries, and over 100 countries have laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption...

, tobacco
Tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

 or illegal drugs (compare Christianity and alcohol). In addition, some Adventists avoid coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

, tea
Tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

, cola
Cola
Cola is a carbonated beverage that was typically flavored by the kola nut as well as vanilla and other flavorings, however, some colas are now flavored artificially. It became popular worldwide after druggist John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886...

, and other beverages containing caffeine
Caffeine
Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that acts as a stimulant drug. Caffeine is found in varying quantities in the seeds, leaves, and fruit of some plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding on the plants...

.

The pioneers of the Adventist Church had much to do with the common acceptance of breakfast cereal
Breakfast cereal
A breakfast cereal is a food made from processed grains that is often, but not always, eaten with the first meal of the day. It is often eaten cold, usually mixed with milk , water, or yogurt, and sometimes fruit but sometimes eaten dry. Some cereals, such as oatmeal, may be served hot as porridge...

s into the Western diet, and the "modern commercial concept of cereal food" originated among Adventists. John Harvey Kellogg
John Harvey Kellogg
John Harvey Kellogg was an American medical doctor in Battle Creek, Michigan, who ran a sanitarium using holistic methods, with a particular focus on nutrition, enemas and exercise. Kellogg was an advocate of vegetarianism and is best known for the invention of the corn flakes breakfast cereal...

 was one of the early founders of Adventist health work. His development of breakfast cereals as a health food led to the founding of Kellogg's
Kellogg Company
Kellogg Company , is a producer of cereal and convenience foods, including cookies, crackers, toaster pastries, cereal bars, fruit-flavored snacks, frozen waffles, and vegetarian foods...

 by his brother William. In both Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, the church-owned Sanitarium Health Food Company
Sanitarium Health Food Company
The Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing Company is the trading name of two sister food companies . Both are wholly owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church....

 is one of those countries' leading manufacturers of health and vegetarian-related products.

Research funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health
National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health are an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and are the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. Its science and engineering counterpart is the National Science Foundation...

 has shown that the average Adventist in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 lives 4 to 10 years longer than the average Californian. The research
Adventist Health Studies
Adventist Health Studies is a series of long-term medical research projects of Loma Linda University with the intent to measure the link between lifestyle, diet, disease and mortality of Seventh-day Adventists....

, as cited by the cover story of the November 2005 issue of National Geographic, asserts that Adventists live longer because they do not smoke or drink alcohol, have a day of rest every week, and maintain a healthy, low-fat vegetarian diet that is rich in nuts and beans. The cohesiveness of Adventists' social networks has also been put forward as an explanation of their extended lifespan.
Since Dan Buettner
Dan Buettner
Dan Buettner is an American explorer, educator, author, public speaker and co-producer of an Emmy Award-winning documentary who also holds three world records for endurance bicycling. He is the founder of the online Quest Network, Inc., which provides opportunities for students to interactively...

's 2005 National Geographic story about Adventist longevity, his book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest, named Loma Linda, California
Loma Linda, California
Loma Linda is a city in San Bernardino County, California, United States, that was incorporated in 1970. The population was 23,261 at the 2010 census, up from 18,681 at the 2000 census...

 a "blue zone" because of the large concentration of Seventh-day Adventists. He cites the Adventist emphasis on health, diet, and Sabbath-keeping as primary factors for Adventist longevity.

An estimated 35% of Adventists practice vegetarianism, according to a 2002 worldwide survey of local church leaders.

Adventists' clean lifestyles were recognized by the U.S. military in 1954 when 2,200 Adventists volunteered for Operation Whitecoat
Operation Whitecoat
Operation Whitecoat was the name given to a medical research program carried out by the US Army at Fort Detrick, Maryland during the period 1954–1973. The program involved conducting medical research using volunteer enlisted personnel who eventually became nicknamed "White Coats"...

 to be human test subjects for a range of diseases the effects of which were still unknown:

The first task for the scientists was to find people willing to be infected by pathogens that could make them very sick. They found them in the followers of the Seventh-day Adventist faith. Although willing to serve their country when drafted, the Adventists refused to bear arms. As a result many of them became medics. Now the U.S. was offering recruits an opportunity to help in a different manner: to volunteer for biological tests as a way of satisfying their military obligations. When contacted in late 1954, the Adventist hierarchy readily agreed to this plan. For Camp Detrick scientists, church members were a model test population, since most of them were in excellent health and they neither drank, smoked, nor used caffeine. From the perspective of the volunteers, the tests gave them a way to fulfill their patriotic duty while remaining true to their beliefs.

Ethics and sexuality

The official Adventist position on abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 is that "abortions for reasons of birth control
Birth control
Birth control is an umbrella term for several techniques and methods used to prevent fertilization or to interrupt pregnancy at various stages. Birth control techniques and methods include contraception , contragestion and abortion...

, gender selection, or convenience are not condoned." At times, however, women may face exceptional circumstances that present serious moral or medical dilemmas, such as significant threats to the pregnant woman's life or health, severe congenital defects in the fetus, and pregnancy resulting from rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 or incest
Incest
Incest is sexual intercourse between close relatives that is usually illegal in the jurisdiction where it takes place and/or is conventionally considered a taboo. The term may apply to sexual activities between: individuals of close "blood relationship"; members of the same household; step...

; in these cases individuals are counseled to make their own decisions.

According to official statements from the General Conference, heterosexual marriages are the only biblically ordained grounds for sexual intimacy. Adventists do not perform same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

s and practising homosexuals cannot be ordained. An extramarital affair
Affair
Affair may refer to professional, personal, or public business matters or to a particular business or private activity of a temporary duration, as in family affair, a private affair, or a romantic affair.-Political affair:...

 is one of the sanctioned grounds for a divorce
Divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

, although reconciliation is encouraged whenever possible. Adventists believe in and encourage abstinence
Abstinence
Abstinence is a voluntary restraint from indulging in bodily activities that are widely experienced as giving pleasure. Most frequently, the term refers to sexual abstinence, or abstention from alcohol or food. The practice can arise from religious prohibitions or practical...

 for both men and women before marriage. The church disagrees with extra-marital cohabitation
Cohabitation
Cohabitation usually refers to an arrangement whereby two people decide to live together on a long-term or permanent basis in an emotionally and/or sexually intimate relationship. The term is most frequently applied to couples who are not married...

. The New Testament texts are interpreted to teach that wives should submit to their husbands in marriage.

The Adventist church has released official statements in relation to other ethical issues such as euthanasia
Euthanasia
Euthanasia refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering....

 (against active euthanasia but permissive of passive withdrawal of medical support to allow death to occur), birth control
Birth control
Birth control is an umbrella term for several techniques and methods used to prevent fertilization or to interrupt pregnancy at various stages. Birth control techniques and methods include contraception , contragestion and abortion...

 (in favor of it for married couples if used correctly, but against abortion as birth control and premarital sex in any case) and human cloning
Human cloning
Human cloning is the creation of a genetically identical copy of a human. It does not usually refer to monozygotic multiple births nor the reproduction of human cells or tissue. The ethics of cloning is an extremely controversial issue...

 (against it while the technology is unsafe and would result in defective births or abortions).

Dress and entertainment

Adventists have traditionally held socially conservative attitudes regarding dress and entertainment. These attitudes are reflected in one of the church's fundamental beliefs
28 Fundamentals
The 28 Fundamentals are a core set of theological beliefs held by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Traditionally, Adventists have been opposed to the formulation of creeds. It is claimed that the 28 Fundamentals are descriptors not prescriptors; that is, that they describe the official position of...

:
For the Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 to recreate in us the character of our Lord we involve ourselves only in those things which will produce Christlike purity, health, and joy in our lives. This means that our amusement and entertainment should meet the highest standards of Christian taste and beauty. While recognizing cultural differences, our dress is to be simple, modest, and neat, befitting those whose true beauty does not consist of outward adornment but in the imperishable ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit.


Accordingly, many Adventists are opposed to practices such as body piercing
Body piercing
Body piercing, a form of body modification, is the practice of puncturing or cutting a part of the human body, creating an opening in which jewelry may be worn. The word piercing can refer to the act or practice of body piercing, or to an opening in the body created by this act or practice...

 and tattoo
Tattoo
A tattoo is made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment. Tattoos on humans are a type of body modification, and tattoos on other animals are most commonly used for identification purposes...

s and refrain from the wearing of jewelry, including such items as earrings and bracelets. Some also oppose the displaying of wedding bands, although banning wedding bands is not the position of the General Conference. Conservative Adventists avoid certain recreational activities which are considered to be a negative spiritual influence, including dancing, rock music and secular theatre. However, major studies
Valuegenesis
"Valuegenesis" is a research study into the faith and values of young people attending Seventh-day Adventist high schools in North America in the three areas of family, school and church. The first survey was conducted in 1990, a second major survey was conducted in 2000, and a third is taking...

 conducted from 1989 onwards found the majority of North American church youth reject some of these standards.
Some Adventists cite the writings of Ellen White, especially her books, Counsels on Diet and Foods, Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, and Education as inspired sources for Christian deportment. The Adventist church officially opposes the practice of gambling.

Pathfinders

The Youth Department of the Adventist church runs an organization for 10- to 16-year-old boys and girls called Pathfinders
Pathfinders (Seventh-day Adventist)
The Pathfinder Club is a worldwide program organized and directed by the Youth Department of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church...

, which is similar to the Scouting
Scouting
Scouting, also known as the Scout Movement, is a worldwide youth movement with the stated aim of supporting young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development, that they may play constructive roles in society....

 movement. After a person becomes 17 or older he or she is no longer considered a Pathfinder but considered staff. Pathfinders exposes young people to such activities as camping, community service, personal mentorship, and skills-based education, and trains them for leadership in the church. Yearly "Camporees" are held in individual Conferences, where Pathfinders from the region gather and participate in events similar to Boy Scouts' Jamborees.

"Adventurer" (ages 6–9), "Eager Beaver" (ages 4-5), and "Little Lambs" (ages 3-4) clubs are programs for younger children that feed into the Pathfinder program. Those above 16 are eligible to become "Master Guides" (similar to Scout Master) and will begin to take on leadership roles within the club.

Youth Camp

The Seventh-day Adventist Church operates youth camps all over North America and many other parts of the world. Each camp varies in the activities they manage but most have archery, swimming, horses, arts and crafts, nature, high ropes challenge course, and many other common activities. In addition to regular camps some have specialty camps, or RAD camps, which vary from either a week of surfing, waterskiing/wakeboarding, rock climbing, golf, skateboarding, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, cycling, basketball, and many others.

Structure and polity

The Seventh-day Adventist church is governed by a form of democratic
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 representation which resembles the presbyterian
Presbyterian polity
Presbyterian polity is a method of church governance typified by the rule of assemblies of presbyters, or elders. Each local church is governed by a body of elected elders usually called the session or consistory, though other terms, such as church board, may apply...

 system of church organization. Four levels of organization exist within the world church.
  1. The local church is the foundation level of organizational structure and is the public face of the denomination. Every baptized Adventist is a member of a local church and has voting powers within that church.
  2. Directly above the local church is the "local conference" or "local mission". The local conference/mission is an organization of churches within a state, province or territory (or part thereof) which appoints ministers, owns church land and organizes the distribution of tithes and payments to ministers.
  3. Above the local conference is the "union conference" or "union mission" which embodies a number of local conferences/missions within a larger territory.
  4. The highest level of governance within the church structure is the General Conference
    General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
    The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is the governing organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is located in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, where it moved in 1989...

     which consists of 13 "Divisions", each assigned to various geographic locations. The General Conference is the church authority and has the final say in matters of conjecture and administrative issues. The General Conference is headed by the office of President; in June 2010 Dr. Jan Paulsen
    Jan Paulsen
    Dr. Jan Paulsen was elected President of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists on March 1, 1999, at the age of 64...

     retired leading to the selection of Ted N.C. Wilson by the General Conference Nominating Committee. The General Conference head office is in Silver Spring, Maryland
    Silver Spring, Maryland
    Silver Spring is an unincorporated area and census-designated place in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States. It had a population of 71,452 at the 2010 census, making it the fourth most populous place in Maryland, after Baltimore, Columbia, and Germantown.The urbanized, oldest, and...

    .


Each organization is governed by a general "session" which occurs at certain intervals. This is usually when administrative decisions are made. The president of the General Conference, for instance, is elected at the General Conference Session
General Conference Session
The General Conference Session is the official world meeting of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The first session was held on May 20, 1863 with 20 delegates in attendance, and it is now held quinquennially ....

 every five years. Delegates to a session are appointed by organizations at a lower level. For example, each local church appoints delegates to a conference session.

The gathering together of local or regional church members along with experienced leaders has been valued as a source of unity. When these "sessions" take place, often presentations are scheduled to benefit the spiritual development of those in attendance.

Tithes collected from church members are not used directly by the local churches, but are passed upwards to the local conferences/missions which then distribute the finances toward various ministry needs. Within a geographic region, ministers receive roughly equal pay irrespective of the size of their church.

The Church Manual gives provisions for each level of government to create educational, healthcare, publishing, and other institutions that are seen within the call of the Great Commission
Great Commission
The Great Commission, in Christian tradition, is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples, that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. It has become a tenet in Christian theology emphasizing missionary work, evangelism, and baptism...

.

Church officers and clergy

The ordained clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 of the Adventist church are known as ministers
Minister of religion
In Christian churches, a minister is someone who is authorized by a church or religious organization to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community...

 or pastors. Ministers are neither elected nor employed by the local churches, but instead are appointed by the local Conferences, which assign them responsibility over a single church or group of churches. Ordination is a formal recognition bestowed upon male pastors after usually a number of years of service. Women may not be given the title "ordained", although some are employed in ministry, and may be "commissioned".

A number of lay
Laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

 offices exist within the local church, including the ordained
Ordination
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

 positions of elder and deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

. Elders and deacons are appointed by the vote of a local church business meeting or elected committees. Elders serve a mainly administrative and pastoral role, but must also be capable of providing religious leadership (particularly in the absence of an ordained minister). The role of deacons is to assist in the smooth functioning of a local church and to maintain church property.

Membership

The primary prerequisite for membership in the Adventist church is baptism by immersion
Believer's baptism
Believer's baptism is the Christian practice of baptism as this is understood by many Protestant churches, particularly those that descend from the Anabaptist tradition...

. This, according to the church manual, should only occur after the candidate has undergone proper instruction on what the church believes.

As of October 2009, the church has 16,049,101 baptized members. More than one million people joined the Adventist church in the 12-month period ending June 30, 2009 (inclusive), through baptisms and professions of faith. The church is one of the world's fastest-growing organizations, primarily due to increases in membership in the developing nations. Today, less than 7% of the world membership reside in the United States, with large numbers in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 as well as Central
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 and South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

. Depending on how the data was measured, it is reported that church membership reached 1 million between 1955 and 1961, and grew to five million in 1986. At the turn of the 21st century the church had over 10 million members which grew to over 14 million in 2005, and 16 million in 2009. It is believed that over 25 million worship weekly in Seventh-day Adventist churches. The church operates in 202 out of 230 countries and areas recognized by the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, making it "probably the most widespread Protestant denomination".

Jeffrey MacDonald reports that the SDA church is the fastest growing church in the United States. "Newly released data show Seventh-day Adventism growing by 2.5% in North America, a rapid clip for this part of the world, where Southern Baptists and mainline denominations, as well as other church groups are declining."

The church has been described as having close social network
Social network
A social network is a social structure made up of individuals called "nodes", which are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.Social...

s, and has been described as "something of an extended family", and as having "two-degrees-of-separation
Six degrees of separation
Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of, "a friend of a friend" statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer...

 social networks".

Church institutions

The Biblical Research Institute
Biblical Research Institute
The Biblical Research Institute is a service department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church with the three stated functions of research, apologetics , and service to the church. It serves as a theological consultant to the General Conference...

 is the theological research center of the church.

The Ellen G. White Estate
Ellen G. White Estate
The Ellen G. White Estate, Incorporated, or simply the White Estate, is the official organization created by Ellen G. White to act as the custodian of her writings, which are of importance to the Seventh-day Adventist Church...

 was established in 1915 at the death of Ellen White, as specified in her legal will. Its purpose is to act as custodian of her writings, and as of 2006 it has 15 board members. The Ellen G. White Estate also hosts the official Ellen White website whiteestate.org.

The Geoscience Research Institute
Geoscience Research Institute
The Geoscience Research Institute , located on the campus of Loma Linda University in California, is an official institute of the Seventh-day Adventist Church which engages in creation science, and serves the church in the areas of research and communication...

, based at Loma Linda University
Loma Linda University
Loma Linda University is a Seventh-day Adventist coeducational health sciences university located in Loma Linda, California, United States. The University comprises eight schools and the Faculty of Graduate Studies...

, was founded in 1958 to investigate the scientific evidence concerning origins.

Adventist mission

Started in the late 19th century, Adventist mission work today reaches people in over 200 countries and territories. Adventist mission workers preach the gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

, promote health through hospitals and clinics, run development projects to improve living standards, and provide relief in times of calamity.

Missionary outreach of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is aimed at both non-Christians and Christians from other denominations. Adventists believe that Christ has called his followers in the Great Commission
Great Commission
The Great Commission, in Christian tradition, is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples, that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. It has become a tenet in Christian theology emphasizing missionary work, evangelism, and baptism...

 to reach the whole world. Adventists are cautious, however, to ensure that evangelism
Evangelism
Evangelism refers to the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. The term is often used in reference to Christianity....

 does not impede or intrude on the basic rights of the individual. Religious liberty
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

 is a stance that the Adventist Church supports and promotes.

Education

The Adventist Church operates 7,598 schools, colleges and universities, with a total enrollment of more than 1,545,000 students and approximately 80,000 teachers. It claims to operate "one of the largest church-supported educational systems in the world". In the United States it operates the largest Protestant educational system, and is second only to that of the Roman Catholic Church. The Adventist educational program is comprehensive, encompassing "mental, physical, social and above all, spiritual health" with "intellectual growth and service to humanity" as its goal.

The largest (in terms of population) Seventh-day Adventist University in the world is Northern Caribbean University
Northern Caribbean University
The Northern Caribbean University is a tertiary level academic facility in Mandeville, Manchester, west-central Jamaica run by the Seventh-day Adventist Church...

, located in Mandeville, Jamaica.

Health

Adventists run a large number of hospitals and health-related institutions. Their largest medical school and hospital in North America is Loma Linda University
Loma Linda University
Loma Linda University is a Seventh-day Adventist coeducational health sciences university located in Loma Linda, California, United States. The University comprises eight schools and the Faculty of Graduate Studies...

 and its attached Medical Center
Loma Linda University Medical Center
Loma Linda University Medical Center is a teaching hospital on the campus of Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, United States. The medical center serves as a level I trauma center for San Bernardino County and the rest of the Inland Empire. It is one of two closest trauma centers for...

. Throughout the world, the church runs a wide network of hospitals, clinics, and sanitariums. These play a role in the church's health message and worldwide missions outreach.
Adventist Health System is the largest not-for-profit, Protestant, multi-institutional healthcare system in the United States. The health system is sponsored by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and cares for over 4 million patients yearly.

Humanitarian aid and the environment

For over 50 years the church has been active in humanitarian aid through the work of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency
Adventist Development and Relief Agency
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency International is a humanitarian agency operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the purpose of providing individual and community development and disaster relief...

 (ADRA). ADRA works as a non-sectarian relief agency in 125 countries and areas of the world. ADRA has been granted General Consultative Status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council
United Nations Economic and Social Council
The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations constitutes one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and it is responsible for the coordination of the economic, social and related work of 14 UN specialized agencies, its functional commissions and five regional commissions...

. Worldwide ADRA employs over 4,000 people to help both provide relief in crises and development in situations of poverty.

The church is committed to the protection and care of the environment as well as taking action to avoid the dangers of climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

:

"Seventh-day Adventism advocates a simple, wholesome lifestyle, where people do not step on the treadmill of unbridled over-consumption, accumulation of goods, and production of waste. A reformation of lifestyle is called for, based on respect for nature, restraint in the use of the world's resources, reevaluation of one's needs, and reaffirmation of the dignity of created life."

Religious liberty

The Adventist church has been active for over 100 years advocating freedom of religion for all people, regardless of faith. In 1893 its leaders founded the International Religious Liberty Association
International Religious Liberty Association
The International Religious Liberty Association is a non-sectarian and non-political organization promoting religious freedom. It was originally organised by the Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders in 1893 to campaign for religious freedom for all when the danger of restrictions from blue laws...

, which is universal and non-sectarian. The Seventh-day Adventist Church State Council serves to protect religious groups from legislation that may affect their religious practices. This is primarily achieved through advocacy. Recently the organization has been fighting to pass legislation that will protect Adventist employees who wish to keep their Sabbath.

Media

Adventists have long been proponents of media-based ministries. Traditional Adventist evangelistic efforts consisted of street missions and the distribution of tracts such as The Present Truth, which was published by James White
James Springer White
James Springer White , also known as Elder White was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and husband of Ellen G. White...

 as early as 1849. Until J. N. Andrews
John Nevins Andrews
John Nevins Andrews , was a Seventh-day Adventist minister, missionary, writer, editor, and scholar...

 was sent to Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 in 1874, Adventist global efforts consisted entirely of the posting of tracts such as White's writings to various locations.

In the last century, these media based efforts have also made use of emerging media such as radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 and television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

. The first of these was H. M. S. Richards
H. M. S. Richards
Harold Marshall Sylvester Richards, Sr. , commonly known as H.M.S. Richards, was a well known Seventh-day Adventist evangelist and author....

' radio show Voice of Prophecy
Voice Of Prophecy
The Voice Of Prophecy is a long-running Seventh-day Adventist religious radio broadcast founded in 1929 by H.M.S. Richards, Sr.. Initially aired on a single radio station in Los Angeles it has since grown to numerous stations throughout the United States and Canada and more recently has begun...

, which was initially broadcast in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 in 1929. Since then Adventists have been on the forefront of media evangelism, and one program, It Is Written
It Is Written
It Is Written is an internationally broadcast Christian television program founded in 1956 by George Vandeman. Its title comes from the Gospel of Matthew: "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'" The programs are produced by the...

, founded by George Vandeman
George Vandeman
George Edward Vandeman , was a Seventh-day Adventist evangelist who founded the It Is Written television ministry.#- Biography :...

, was the first religious program to air on colour television and was the first major Christian ministry to utilize satellite uplink technology. Today the Hope Channel, the official television network of the church, operates 8 international channels broadcasting 24 hours a day on both cable and satellite networks. Hope Channel also has 3 internet channels.

Recently, a number of satellite broadcasted live evangelistic events have been undertaken by evangelists such as Doug Batchelor
Doug Batchelor
Doug Batchelor is an evangelist of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and author of several books including The Richest Caveman. His primary ministry is Amazing Facts - a worldwide television and radio broadcast ministry based in Sacramento, California. He also pastors the Sacramento Central...

, Mark Finley
Mark Finley
Mark A. Finley is the former speaker/director of It Is Written , for which he traveled around the world as a televangelist, and spoke on the weekly television show It Is Written...

 and Dwight Nelson
Dwight Nelson
Dwight K. Nelson is a Seventh-day Adventist evangelist and author.He has been the senior pastor of Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of Andrews University since 1983. Before coming to Andrews he served as a pastor in Oregon for ten years. He was the preacher for the Adventist satellite...

, addressing audiences in up to 40 languages simultaneously. John Carter is another leading Adventist evangelist.

Additionally, there exists a range of privately owned media entities representing Adventist beliefs. These include the 3ABN
3ABN
Three Angels Broadcasting Network, or 3ABN for short, is a nonprofit, 24-hour television and radio network that primarily focuses on Christian and health-oriented programming...

 and SafeTV networks. Amazing Facts
Amazing Facts
Amazing Facts is an American Christian ministry. Beginning as a single radio program in 1966 it has expanded into television programming, training, health, prophecy seminars and online Bible study ministries. Its theology is largely that of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.-History:Amazing Facts...

and The Quiet Hour are two other radio and television programs.

One of the flagship tertiary Institutions of the Adventist Church, Northern Caribbean University, operates a TELEVISION station (Channel 188 on the FLOW Network) and a RADIO station (NCU 91.1, 91.3 FM) and can be heard online at http://www.ncumediagroup.com .

Publishing

The Adventist Church owns and operates many publishing companies around the world. Two of the largest are the Pacific Press
Pacific Press Publishing Association
The Pacific Press Publishing Association, or Pacific Press for short, is one of two major Seventh-day Adventist publishing houses in North America. It was founded in 1874 by James White in Oakland, California, and is now located in Nampa, Idaho. Its titles include theological works as well as...

 and Review and Herald
Review and Herald Publishing Association
The Review and Herald Publishing Association is one of two major Seventh-day Adventist publishing houses in North America and is the oldest institution of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The organization publishes books, magazines, study guides, CDs, videos and games for Adventist churches,...

 publishing associations located in the United States. The Review and Herald is located in Hagerstown, Maryland
Hagerstown, Maryland
Hagerstown is a city in northwestern Maryland, United States. It is the county seat of Washington County, and, by many definitions, the largest city in a region known as Western Maryland. The population of Hagerstown city proper at the 2010 census was 39,662, and the population of the...

.

The official church magazine is the Adventist Review, which has a North American focus. It has a sister magazine (Adventist World
Adventist World
Adventist World is a monthly international magazine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church published by the Review and Herald Publishing Association...

) which has an international perspective. Another major magazine published by the church is the bimonthly Liberty magazine, which addresses issues pertaining to religious freedom.

Ecumenical activity

The Adventist Church generally opposes the ecumenical movement
Ecumenism
Ecumenism or oecumenism mainly refers to initiatives aimed at greater Christian unity or cooperation. It is used predominantly by and with reference to Christian denominations and Christian Churches separated by doctrine, history, and practice...

, although it supports some of the goals of ecumenism. The General Conference
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is the governing organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is located in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, where it moved in 1989...

 has released an official statement concerning the Adventist position with respect to the ecumenical movement, which contains the following paragraph:

"Should Adventists cooperate ecumenically? Adventists should cooperate insofar as the authentic gospel is proclaimed and crying human needs are being met. The Seventh-day Adventist Church wants no entangling memberships and refuses any compromising relationships that might tend to water down her distinct witness. However, Adventists wish to be "conscientious cooperators." The ecumenical movement as an agency of cooperation has acceptable aspects; as an agency for the organic unity of churches, it is much more suspect."

While not being a member of the World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

, the Adventist Church has participated in its assemblies in an observer capacity.

Criticism

The Adventist Church has received criticism along several lines, including its allegedly heterodox
Heterodoxy
Heterodoxy is generally defined as "any opinions or doctrines at variance with an official or orthodox position". As an adjective, heterodox is commonly used to describe a subject as "characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standards"...

 doctrines, in relation to Ellen G. White
Ellen G. White
Ellen Gould White was a prolific author and an American Christian pioneer. She, along with other Sabbatarian Adventist leaders, such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White, would form what is now known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.Ellen White reported to her fellow believers her...

 and her status within the church, and in relation to alleged exclusivist attitudes and behaviour.

Doctrines

Critics such as evangelical Anthony Hoekema (who felt Adventists were more in agreement with Arminianism
Arminianism
Arminianism is a school of soteriological thought within Protestant Christianity based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius and his historic followers, the Remonstrants...

), argue that some Adventist doctrines are heterodox
Heterodoxy
Heterodoxy is generally defined as "any opinions or doctrines at variance with an official or orthodox position". As an adjective, heterodox is commonly used to describe a subject as "characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standards"...

. Several teachings which have come under scrutiny are the annihilationist
Annihilationism
Annihilationism is a Christian belief that apart from salvation the death of human beings results in their total destruction rather than their everlasting torment. It is directly related to the doctrine of conditional immortality, the idea that a human soul is not immortal unless it is given...

 view of hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

, the investigative judgment
Investigative judgment
The investigative judgment is a unique Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, which asserts that a divine judgment of professed Christians has been in progress since 1844. It is intimately related to the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was described by the church's prophet and pioneer...

 (and a related view of the atonement), and the Sabbath; in addition, Hoekema also claims that Adventist doctrine suffers from legalism
Legalism (theology)
Legalism, in Christian theology, is a sometimes-pejorative term referring to an over-emphasis on discipline of conduct, or legal ideas, usually implying an allegation of misguided rigour, pride, superficiality, the neglect of mercy, and ignorance of the grace of God or emphasizing the letter of...

.

While critics such as Hoekema have classified Adventism as a sectarian group on the basis of its atypical doctrines, it has been considered more mainstream by Protestant evangelicals since its meetings and discussion with evangelicals in the 1950s. Notably, Billy Graham invited Adventists to be part of his crusades after Eternity
Eternity (magazine)
Eternity was a monthly conservative Christian magazine published from 1950 to 1988. It included major contributions from such well known individuals as F. F. Bruce and others.- History :In 1931, Donald Barnhouse started Revelation...

, a conservative Christian magazine edited by Donald Barnhouse
Donald Barnhouse
Donald Grey Barnhouse Th.D , was an American Christian preacher, pastor, theologian, radio pioneer, and writer.-Career:...

, asserted in 1956 that Adventists are Christians. Walter Martin, who is considered by many to be the father of the counter-cult apologetics movement within evangelicalism, authored The Truth About Seventh-day Adventists (1960) which marked a turning point in the way Adventism was viewed.
Later on Martin planned to write a new book on Seventh-day Adventism, with the assistance of Kenneth R. Samples. Samples subsequently authored "From Controversy to Crisis: An Updated Assessment of Seventh-day Adventism", which upholds Martin's view "for that segment of Adventism which holds to the position stated in QOD, and further expressed in the Evangelical Adventist movement of the last few decades." However, Samples also claimed that "Traditional Adventism" appeared "to be moving further away from a number of positions taken in QOD," and at least at Glacier View seemed to have "gained the support of many administrators and leaders".

Ellen G. White and her status

Ellen G. White
Ellen G. White
Ellen Gould White was a prolific author and an American Christian pioneer. She, along with other Sabbatarian Adventist leaders, such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White, would form what is now known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.Ellen White reported to her fellow believers her...

’s status as a modern day prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

 has also been criticized. In the Questions on Doctrine era, evangelicals expressed concern about Adventism's understanding of the relationship of White's writings to the inspired canon of Scripture. However, the church makes clear in belief #18 of the 28 fundamental beliefs
28 Fundamentals
The 28 Fundamentals are a core set of theological beliefs held by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Traditionally, Adventists have been opposed to the formulation of creeds. It is claimed that the 28 Fundamentals are descriptors not prescriptors; that is, that they describe the official position of...

, that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.

A common criticism of Ellen White, widely popularized by Walter T. Rea, Ronald Numbers and others, is the claim that she plagiarized
Plagiarism
Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work, but the notion remains problematic with nebulous...

 material from other authors. An independent lawyer specializing in plagiarism, Vincent L. Ramik, was engaged to undertake a study of Ellen G. White's writings during the early 1980s, and concluded that they were "conclusively unplagiaristic." When the plagiarism charge ignited a significant debate during the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Adventist General Conference commissioned a major study by Dr. Fred Veltman. The ensuing project became known as the "'Life of Christ' Research Project." The results are available at the General Conference Archives. Dr. Roger W. Coon, David J. Conklin, Dr. Denis Fortin, King and Morgan, among others, undertook the refutation of the accusations of plagiarism. At the conclusion of Ramik's report, he states:


"It is impossible to imagine that the intention of Ellen G. White, as reflected in her writings and the unquestionably prodigious efforts involved therein, was anything other than a sincerely motivated and unselfish effort to place the understandings of Biblical truths in a coherent form for all to see and comprehend. Most certainly, the nature and content of her writings had but one hope and intent, namely, the furthering of mankind's understanding of the word of God. Considering all factors necessary in reaching a just conclusion on this issue, it is submitted that the writings of Ellen G. White were conclusively unplagiaristic."

Exclusivism

Finally, critics have alleged that certain Adventist beliefs and practices are exclusivist in nature and have raised concern about the Adventist claim to be the “remnant church
Remnant (Adventist)
In Seventh-day Adventist theology, there will be an end time remnant of believers who are faithful to God.The remnant church is a visible, historical, organized body characterized by obedience to the commandments of God and the possession of a unique end-time gospel proclamation...

”, and the traditional Protestant association of Roman Catholicism and other denominations with "Babylon
Babylon (New Testament)
Babylon occurs in the Christian New Testament both with a literal and a figurative meaning. The famous ancient city, located near Baghdad, was a complete unpopulated ruin by 275 BC, well before the time of the New Testament...

". These attitudes are said to legitimize the proselytising
Proselytism
Proselytizing is the act of attempting to convert people to another opinion and, particularly, another religion. The word proselytize is derived ultimately from the Greek language prefix προσ- and the verb ἔρχομαι in the form of προσήλυτος...

 of Christians from other denominations. In response to such criticisms, Adventist theologians have stated that the doctrine of the remnant does not preclude the existence of genuine Christians in other denominations, but is concerned with institutions.
Ellen White also presented it in a similar light:

Independent ministries

In addition to the ministries and institutions which are formally administered by the denomination, numerous para-church organizations and independent ministries
Independent ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a number of supporting, parachurch, independent, self-supporting and other such organisations that work adjunct to the official church....

 exist. These include various health centers and hospitals, publishing and media ministries, and aid organizations.

A number of independent ministries have been established by groups within the Adventist church who hold a theologically distinct position or wish to promote a specific message, such as Hope International
Hope International (Seventh-day Adventist)
Hope International is an independent organization, operated by members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church who hold very conservative beliefs. It is based in Knoxville, Illinois. The official Adventist church has criticized it for being disruptive.- History :...

. Certain of these ministries solicit funding from members. A number of the independent ministries have strained relationship with the official church, which has expressed concerns that such ministries may threaten Adventist unity. Some independent ministries, like many of the Protestant reformers have identified the Roman Papacy as the Antichrist. However, the church does not condone any behavior by members which may "have manifested prejudice and even bigotry" against Catholics.

Offshoots and schisms

Throughout the history of the denomination, there have been a number of groups who have left the church and formed their own movements.

A well known but distant offshoot is the Branch Davidian
Branch Davidian
The Branch Davidians are a Protestant sect that originated in 1955 from a schism in the Davidian Seventh Day Adventists , a reform movement that began within the Seventh-day Adventist Church around 1930...

s, themselves a schism within the larger Davidian movement. The Davidians formed in 1929, after Victor Houteff
Victor Houteff
Victor Tasho Houteff was a religious reformer and author.Houteff was born in Raicovo, Bulgaria, and as a child baptised as a member of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. As a young man, he was engaged in the mercantile trade...

's book The Shepherd's Rod
Shepherd's Rod
The Shepherd's Rod is a message believed and adopted by Davidian Seventh-day Adventists or Davidians, and authored by Victor T. Houteff . Davidians have claimed themselves a part of the Seventh Day Adventist Church but the majority were disfellowshipped because they follow the interpretations by...

was rejected as being heretical
Christian heresy
Christian heresy refers to non-orthodox practices and beliefs that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. In Western Christianity, the term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by the Catholic Church prior to the schism of...

. A succession dispute after Houteff's death in 1955 led to the formation of the Branches. Later, another ex-Adventist, David Koresh
David Koresh
David Koresh , born Vernon Wayne Howell, was the leader of a Branch Davidian religious sect, believing himself to be its final prophet. Howell legally changed his name to David Koresh on May 15, 1990. A 1993 raid by the U.S...

, led the Branch Davidians until he died in the 1993 siege
Waco Siege
The Waco siege began on February 28, 1993, and ended violently 50 days later on April 19. The siege began when the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms attempted to execute a search warrant at the Branch Davidian ranch at Mount Carmel, a property located east-northeast of Waco,...

 at the group's headquarters near Waco, Texas
Waco, Texas
Waco is a city in and the county seat of McLennan County, Texas. Situated along the Brazos River and on the I-35 corridor, halfway between Dallas and Austin, it is the economic, cultural, and academic center of the 'Heart of Texas' region....

.

Following World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, a group known as the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement
Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement
The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement is a Protestant Christian denomination, part of the Sabbatarian adventist movement, and formed as the result of a schism within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Europe during World War I over the position its leadership took on proper Sabbath observance...

 was formed as a result of the actions of L. R. Conradi and certain Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an church leaders during the war, who decided that it was acceptable for Adventists to take part in war. When attempts at reconciliation failed after the war, the group became organized as a separate church at a conference from July 14–20, 1925. The movement officially incorporated in 1949. In 2005, the mainstream church tried to make amends and apologized for its failures during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Crisis, persecution, and compromise in the Soviet Union produced the group known as True and Free Seventh-day Adventists
True and Free Seventh-day Adventists
The True and Free Seventh-day Adventists are a splinter group of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The group formed in the Soviet Union as a result of religious persecution. TFSDA members believed that the Seventh-day Adventist Church had apostatized and had become "Babylon"...

. This highly secretive splinter group rejected compromises of necessity that were made by the "Official" Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Soviet Union. The group refused to send their children to school on Saturday, refused to join the Soviet military, and called the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists "Babylon". The group remains active today (2010) in the former republics of the Soviet Union.
A controversy within Adventism was the Glacier View controversy
Glacier View controversy
In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Sanctuary Review Committee was a group of biblical scholars and administrators which met to decide the church's response to theologian Desmond Ford, who had challenged details of the church's "investigative judgment" teaching...

 of 1980. This crisis centered around the 900-page research paper by Dr. Desmond Ford
Desmond Ford
Desmond "Des" Ford is an evangelical Christian and an Australian theologian. He is the father of pornography gossip columnist Luke Ford....

 entitled Daniel 8:14, the Investigative Judgment, and the Kingdom of God. The paper questioned the church's position on the investigative judgment
Investigative judgment
The investigative judgment is a unique Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, which asserts that a divine judgment of professed Christians has been in progress since 1844. It is intimately related to the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was described by the church's prophet and pioneer...

. At the meetings at Glacier View Ranch
Glacier View Ranch
Glacier View Ranch is an alpine Christian retreat and conference centre located near Boulder, Colorado in the United States. During the summer holidays, it runs summer camps for children and teenagers in the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists...

, near Estes Park, Colorado
Estes Park, Colorado
Estes Park is a town in Larimer County, Colorado, United States. A popular summer resort and the location of the headquarters for Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park lies along the Big Thompson River. Estes Park had a population of 5,858 at the 2010 census...

, the church rejected Ford's proposals and ultimately resulted in Ford being removed from teaching and having his ministerial credentials revoked. Some Adventists also left the church as a result. In the years since, Ford has worked through the independent ministry Good News Unlimited.

A number of Adventists such as former ministers Walter Rea and Dale Ratzlaff left the church and have become critics of the church's teachings and particularly of Ellen White. The official position of the church related to the prophetic gift of Ellen G. White remains unchanged.

SDA Kinship International, was formed in 1976, and is a social network that is not officially associated with the church for individuals who are or former Adventists who are gay
Gay
Gay is a word that refers to a homosexual person, especially a homosexual male. For homosexual women the specific term is "lesbian"....

, lesbian
Lesbian
Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females. The word may be used as a noun, to refer to women who identify themselves or who are characterized by others as having the primary attribute of female homosexuality, or as an...

, bisexual, and transgender
Transgender
Transgender is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles....

 (LGBT
LGBT
LGBT is an initialism that collectively refers to "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" people. In use since the 1990s, the term "LGBT" is an adaptation of the initialism "LGB", which itself started replacing the phrase "gay community" beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s, which many within the...

). The Adventist church filed a 1987 lawsuit for trademark infringement against Kinship International to stop their use of the name—District Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer ruled that Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International, Inc. did not infringe on the Adventist church's use of the name and therefore could continue to use the identifying name.

See also

  • Adventist
    Adventist
    Adventism is a Christian movement which began in the 19th century, in the context of the Second Great Awakening revival in the United States. The name refers to belief in the imminent Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It was started by William Miller, whose followers became known as Millerites...

  • Adventist and related churches
  • General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
    General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
    The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is the governing organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is located in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, where it moved in 1989...

  • Canadian Adventist History and Freedom of Religion
  • List of Seventh-day Adventists
  • List of Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities
  • List of Seventh-day Adventist hospitals
  • List of Seventh-day Adventist medical schools
  • List of Seventh-day Adventist secondary schools
  • Millerites and comparable groups
  • Sabbath in Seventh-day Adventism
    Sabbath in Seventh-day Adventism
    Sabbath is an important part of the belief and practice of seventh-day Christians. These believers observe Sabbath on the seventh Hebrew day of the week, from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, in similar manner as in Judaism, rather than Lord's day on Sunday like a most forms of Christianity...

  • Seventh-day Adventist Church in India
    Seventh-day Adventist Church in India
    The Seventh-day Adventist Church is present in India. The headquarters of its Southern Asia Division is in Tamil Nadu. Among the other states of India with presence of the Seventh-day Adventist Church are Kerala, Jharkhand, Manipur, Bihar, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.Adventist missionary...

  • Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nigeria
    Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nigeria
    The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a major Christian denomination with a significant presence in Nigeria.Eastern Nigeria Union Mission and North-Western Nigeria Union Mission exist. They have more than 100,000 members each...

  • Seventh-day Adventist Church Pioneers
    Seventh-day Adventist Church Pioneers
    The Seventh-day Adventist Church pioneers were members of Seventh-day Adventist Church, also known as Millerites, who came together after the Great Disappointment...

  • Seventh-day Adventist eschatology
  • Seventh-day Adventist interfaith relations
    Seventh-day Adventist interfaith relations
    This article describes the relations between the Seventh-day Adventist Church and other Christian denominations and movements, and other religions. Adventist resist the movement to full ecumenical integration with other churches, believing that such a transition would result in a renouncing of its...

     – for relations with other Protestants and Catholics
  • Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement
    Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement
    The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement is a Protestant Christian denomination, part of the Sabbatarian adventist movement, and formed as the result of a schism within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Europe during World War I over the position its leadership took on proper Sabbath observance...

  • Seventh-day Adventist theology
  • Seventh-day Adventist worship
    Seventh-day Adventist worship
    This article describes worship practice in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.The Seventh-day Sabbath is seen as an important aspect of worship....

  • Young Earth Creationism
    Young Earth creationism
    Young Earth creationism is the religious belief that Heavens, Earth, and all life on Earth were created by direct acts of the Abrahamic God during a relatively short period, sometime between 5,700 and 10,000 years ago...


Further reading

  • Baker, Benjamin. 2005. Crucial Moments: The 12 Most Important Events in Black Adventism. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald.
  • Bull, Malcolm and Keith Lockhart, Seeking a Sanctuary: Seventh-day Adventism and the American Dream
    Seeking a Sanctuary
    Seeking a Sanctuary: Seventh-day Adventism and the American Dream is a book about the Seventh-day Adventist Church coauthored by Malcolm Bull and Keith Lockhart...

    . (2006, 2nd edn). Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press
    Indiana University Press
    Indiana University Press, also known as IU Press, is an academic publisher at Indiana University that specializes in the humanities and social sciences. It was founded in 1950. Its headquarters are located in Bloomington, Indiana....

    . A sociological study
  • Edwards, Calvin W. and Gary Land. Seeker After Light: A F Ballenger, Adventism, and American Christianity. (2000). 240pp online review
  • Morgan, Douglas. Adventism and the American Republic: The Public Involvement of a Major Apocalyptic Movement. (2001). 269 pp.
  • Morgan, Douglas. "Adventism, Apocalyptic, and the Cause of Liberty," Church History, Vol. 63, No. 2 (Jun., 1994), pp. 235–249 in JSTOR
  • Neufield, Don F. ed. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (10 vol 1976), official publication
  • Numbers, Ronald L. Prophetess of health: a study of Ellen G. White (3rd ed. 2008)
  • Pearson, Michael. Millennial Dreams and Moral Dilemmas: Seventh-day Adventism and Contemporary Ethics. (1990, 1998) excerpt and text search, looks at issues of marriage, abortion, homosexuality
  • Schwarz, Richard. Light Bearers: A History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (3rd ed. 2000)
  • Vance, Laura L. Seventh-day Adventism Crisis: Gender and Sectarian Change in an Emerging Religion. (1999). 261 pp.
  • The Adventists film, by Martin Doblmeier

External links

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