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Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine (generally known by the shortened title Questions on Doctrine, abbreviated QOD) is a book published by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1957 to help explain Adventism to conservative Protestants and Evangelicals. The book generated greater acceptance of the Adventist church within the evangelical community, where it had previously been widely regarded as a cult. However, it also proved to be one of the most controversial publications in Adventist historyand the release of the book brought prolonged alienation and separation within Adventism and evangelicalism.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination which is distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the seventh day of the week in Christian and Jewish calendars, as the Sabbath, and its emphasis on the imminent Second Coming (advent) of Jesus Christ. The denomination grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the mid-19th century and it was formally established in 1863. Among its founders was Ellen G. White, whose extensive writings are still held in high regard by the church.
Protestantism is the second-largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than also by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.
Evangelicalism, evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide, trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace, solely through faith in Jesus's atonement. Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or "born again" experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God's revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message. The movement has long had a presence in the Anglosphere before spreading further afield in the 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries.
Although no authors are listed on the title of the book (credit is given to "a representative group" of Adventist "leaders, Bible teachers and editors"), the primary contributors to the book were Le Roy Edwin Froom, Walter E. Read, and Roy Allan Anderson (sometimes referred to as "FREDA").
In Adventist culture, the phrase Questions on Doctrine has come to encompass not only the book itself but also the history leading up to its publication and the prolonged theological controversy which it sparked. This article covers all of these facets of the book's history and legacy.
The publication of Questions on Doctrine grew out of a series of conferences between a few Adventist spokespersons and Protestant representatives from 1955 to 1956. The roots of this conference originated in a series of dialogues between Pennsylvania conference president, T. E. Unruh, and evangelical Bible teacher and magazine editor Donald Grey Barnhouse. Unruh was particularly concerned because of a scathing review written by Barnhouse about Ellen White's book, Steps to Christ . Unruh had sent him a copy of the book in 1949. In the spring of 1955 Barnhouse commissioned Walter Martin to write a book about Seventh-day Adventists. Martin requested a meeting with Adventist leaders so that he could question them about their beliefs.
Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the Northeastern, Great Lakes, and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.
Ellen Gould White was an author and an American Christian pioneer. Along with other Sabbatarian Adventist leaders such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White, she was instrumental within a small group of early Adventists who formed what became known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Smithsonian magazine named Ellen G. White among the "100 Most Significant Americans of All Time.
Steps to Christ is an evangelistic book written by Ellen G. White, pioneer and prophetess of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It was first published in 1892 by Fleming H. Revell Company. The copyright was purchased by Seventh-day Adventist publisher Review and Herald Publishing Association in 1892, and was first printed there in 1896. A new first chapter, "God's Love for Man" was added per request of the Seventh-day Adventist publishing house in the United Kingdom in 1893 in order to secure a copyright. This is perhaps the most popular and widely read book by the author, printed in more than 150 languages worldwide.
The first meeting between Martin and Adventist leaders occurred in March 1955. Martin was accompanied by George Cannon and met with Adventist representatives Le Roy Edwin Froom and W. E. Read. Later Roy Allan Anderson and Barnhouse joined these discussions. Initially both sides viewed each other with suspicion as they worked through a list of 40 questions. Central to these concerns were four alleged items of Adventist theology: (1) the atonement was not completed at the cross; (2) salvation is the result of grace plus the works of the law; (3) Jesus was a created being, not from all eternity; and (4) that Jesus partook of man's sinful, fallen nature at the incarnation.
The theology of the Seventh-day Adventist Church resembles that of Protestant Christianity, combining elements from Lutheran, Wesleyan-Arminian, and Anabaptist branches of Protestantism. Adventists believe in the infallibility of Scripture and teach that salvation comes from grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The 28 fundamental beliefs constitute the church's official doctrinal position.
Salvation is being saved or protected from harm or being saved or delivered from a dire situation. In religion, salvation is the saving of the soul from sin and its consequences.
Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.
By the summer of 1956 the small group of evangelicals became convinced that Seventh-day Adventists were sufficiently orthodox to be considered Christian. Barnhouse published his conclusions in the September 1956 issue of Eternity magazine in the article, "Are Seventh-day Adventists Christians?"In it, they concluded, "Seventh-day Adventists are a truly Christian group, rather than an anti-Christian cult." This greatly surprised its readers, and 6,000 canceled their subscriptions in protest.
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.
Following this announcement, Adventists were gradually invited to participate in Billy Graham's crusades.
William Franklin Graham Jr. was an American evangelist, a prominent evangelical Christian figure, and an ordained Southern Baptist minister who became well-known internationally in the late 1940s. One of his biographers has placed him "among the most influential Christian leaders" of the 20th century.
In Barnhouse's article it was stated that most Adventists believed in the sinless human nature of Christ and those who did not were part of the "lunatic fringe."[ citation needed ] M. L. Andreasen, a conservative Adventist theologian, took exception to this statement.
Further debate broke out between Andreasen and Froom in February 1957 after Froom published an article on the atonement in Ministry magazine. In this article Froom argued that the atonement was a "full and complete sacrifice."He furthermore asserted that "the sacrificial act on the cross [is] a complete, perfect, and final atonement for man's sins." Froom's articulation of the atonement still held to the Adventist belief in Christ's work in the heavenly sanctuary going into the Holy of Holies to begin a final atonement for humanity.
Seventh-day Adventists have always believed in a complete atonement that is not completed.
Venden points out that the atonement must have been complete at the cross—the sacrifice was sufficient. When Jesus died for man's sin it was enough to purchase man's salvation and man cannot add anything to it. Yet, the atonement involves more that just sacrifice. The process of redemption, the restoration of man's broken relationship to at-one-ment with God, was not completed at the cross, else there would be no more sin or sickness or pain or sorrow or separation or battered children or hospitals or funeral trains or tombstones or broken hearts. It is the winning of men back to a love relationship with God that is not yet completed.
Andreasen articulated a three-phase understanding of the atonement. In the first phase Christ lived a perfect life despite having a fallen nature. During the second phase the death of Christ on the cross occurred. And finally, during the third phase (the focal point of his theology), Christ demonstrates that man can do what He did. Satan was not defeated at the cross but would be defeated by the "last generation" in its demonstration that an entire generation of people could live a sinlessly perfect life.
Questions on Doctrine intensified the tensions over these issues because it brought more weight to the death of Jesus as a complete work of atonement and that though Jesus possessed Adam’s physical human nature after the fall, he did not inherit Adam's fallen spiritual nature. "When Adam Came from the Creator's hand, he bore, in his physical, mental and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker—God created man in His own image."
He [Jesus] had a sinless spiritual nature, the same as Adam had before his fall, concerning propensity or tendency to sin. Therefore it was natural for Jesus to be good. [As a child of the fallen Adam], I was born with a sinful spiritual nature and it's natural for me to be bad.— Morris Venden, 1978, Salvation by Faith and Your Will p. 86
As a consequence, Andreasen embarked on a campaign against QOD. He published a series of responses to Froom in 9 papers written in 1957/1958 and in a series of booklets entitled Letters to the Churches (1959). On April 6, 1961, Andreasen's ministerial credentials were suspended by the church because of his ongoing public protests against church leadership[ citation needed ]. But a few months later on March 1, 1962, after Andreasen died on Feb. 19, 1962, the General Conference executive committee revoked its earlier decision on his ministerial credentials.
In 1960, Walter Martin published his own response to Questions on Doctrine, entitled The Truth About Seventh-day Adventism, [ citation needed ] From June 1960 till July 1961 Adventist magazine Ministry published a long series of responses to Martin's book, which are available online. Other evangelicals besides Martin who argued for the acceptance of Adventism as an evangelical Christian group were Donald Barnhouse, E. Schuyler English, and Frank Mead.which had wide circulation. The book carried with it a disclaimer that only those Adventists whose theology agreed with Questions on Doctrine were true members of the body of Christ.
Many conservative Evangelicals disagreed with Martin and Barnhouse's positive assessment of Adventism. The leaders of this view included a large amount of Reformed writers. Differences associated with the Calvinist-Arminian dispute were a major part in the debate (Adventism is soteriologically Arminian), but Martin did not regard conformity to Calvinism as a test of Christian orthodoxy.[ citation needed ] In 1962 Norman F. Douty published Another Look at Seventh-day Adventism and Herbert Bird, Theology of Seventh-day Adventism, both of which argued that Adventists were still a cult. Dutch Calvinist theologian Anthony Hoekema grouped Adventism together with Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Science in his 1963 publication The Four Major Cults. In this book Hoekema praises Adventists for moving away from Arianism, but argues that Questions on Doctrine failed to truly repudiate the doctrine of Christ's sinful nature, and similarly failed to remove ambiguities and inconsistencies regarding the atonement.
Questions on Doctrine has proven to be divisive for many Adventists in the latter half of the twentieth century. Church historian George R. Knight has written that "Official Adventism may have gained recognition as being Christian from the evangelical world, but in the process a breach had been opened which has not healed in the last 50 years and may never heal."Conservative Herbert Douglass agreed, "most, if not all, of the so-called 'dissident' or 'independent' groups of the last 45 years are direct results of the explicit and implicit positions espoused by [Questions on Doctrine] on the atonement and the Incarnation."
Around 138,000 to 147,000 copies of QOD were circulated, but the book was so controversial that it was placed out of print in 1963.Throughout the following decades, the two Adventist camps—those who supported and opposed QOD respectively—continued to struggle with the issues it brought up which was not eased by "the ambiguous stance taken by General Conference leadership on Questions on Doctrine".
Much of the controversy had centred on the nature of the incarnate Christ and the Augustinian doctrine of Original Sin. Regarding the Nature of Christ on earth, the prelapsarian position was accepted by the authors of QOD as a 'sine qua non' for acceptance with the Evangelicals. Froom had attempted to support this in QOD with a number of quotations from the writings of Ellen White. He used a "cut and paste" technique before digitisation was available. In 1978, Dr Ralph Larson published a short pamphlet entitled "The Fraud of the Unfallen Nature", in which he painstakingly dissected out the clauses pasted together by Froom and decisively demonstrated that in almost every instance the excerpts taken from her writings, in context, said exactly the opposite. He went on to show that Ellen White endorsed the postlapsarian position, either directly or by implication in over 400 quotations. The main use of her writings to endorse the opposite position had come from the famous "Baker Letter", written by EG White to a Tasmanian pastor who had taken a Christological position of Adoptionism, which was a variant of Arianism. At that time (1890s) the SDA position on the Trinity was moving away from the Arian position of some of the pioneers, such as Uriah Smith. Whilst supporting the equality and divinity of the three members of the Godhead, Ellen White prudently avoided using the term 'Trinity', as the term had variable interpretations by different religious groups, including Catholicism. She had simply warned Baker to be careful how he described the human nature of Christ, lest people were to believe that He was a created being, and therefore take the position that He was a sinner. Larson later published "The Word Was Made Flesh" in which he devoted a chapter to the misquoting of Ellen White on Christology (available at https://www.amazon.com/Word-Was-Made-Flesh-Seventh-Day/dp/1572580321).
Meanwhile, evangelicals were concerned that the withdrawal of QOD signified a doctrinal retreat by Adventists and called for the book to be reprinted. In an interview around 1986 with Adventist Currents , Martin himself said
QOD was not republished until Andrews University Press independently chose to reprint the book in 2003 as part of their "Adventist Classic Library" series. This new edition contained annotations and a historical introduction by George R. Knight.The text of the original book had also been available online for several years prior to this republishing, through a private website. One review is by Nancy Vyhmeister.
"It's a very positive and aggressive statement of Adventist beliefs", according to George Knight."This book played an important role in the history of the Adventist Church", according to Gerhard Pfandl. Questions on Doctrine generated a theological movement which backs the theology of Andreasen and opposes the teaching set forward in the book. These "historic Adventists" perceive Questions on Doctrine as representing a major departure from traditional Adventist teaching, and believe that its publication has been harmful to the church. Other Adventists feel that Questions on Doctrine represents a courageous and insightful restatement of Adventist theology, while acknowledging that the book is not free from fault. For instance, it is clear that the authors pushed the facts too far with regard to Adventism's historic understanding of the Trinity, and present data about the human nature of Christ in a way that presents a false impression.
Evangelical Kenneth Samples has described four unique perspectives of Walter Martin given by Adventist friends of Samples. A more evangelical Adventist told him, "I really like Walter Martin. He stood up for us." A more liberal Adventist said, "Who's Walter Martin that he should ever question our orthodoxy?!" A more fundamentalist Adventist said, "Walter Martin poisoned our church." A cultural Adventist friend said, "Who's Walter Martin?"!
Walter Martin considered his impact on evangelicals' perception of Adventism one of the highlights of his career[ citation needed ].
A scholarly conference marking the 50th anniversary of the book's publication was held from October 24–27, 2007 at Andrews University in Michigan.It was precipitated by Julius Nam's 2005 doctoral dissertation on the book. Scholars, church leaders and pastors from widely varying positions on the Adventist theological spectrum gathered with non-Adventist evangelical scholars interested in Questions on Doctrine for dialogue. Prior to the event, General Conference administrators including incumbent president Jan Paulsen had voiced reservations and even outright opposition to the conference, fearing that it might reignite a firestorm of controversy within the denomination. In spite of this, the conference was hailed as a success by participants from all sides, and was felt to have promoted "healing".
The organizers of the conference were Julius Nam, Michael W. Campbell and Jerry Moon, Adventist scholars specializing in Adventist history. Three institutions co-sponsored the event: Andrews University, Loma Linda University and Oakwood College. The keynote speakers were conservative theologian Herbert Douglass, Adventist historian George Knight, and Biblical Research Institute director Ángel Rodríguez. Presenters included Roy Adams, Arthur Patrick, Jon Paulien, Richard Rice, A. Leroy Moore and Woodrow Whidden. The "conservative" position was represented by Larry Kirkpatrick, Colin and Russell Standish as well as Douglass. In addition there were contributions from non-Adventist scholars Kenneth Samples and Donald Dayton.
Questions on Doctrine addressed the following topics:
Walter Ralston Martin, was an American Baptist Christian minister and author who founded the Christian Research Institute in 1960 as a para-church ministry specializing as a clearing-house of information in both general Christian apologetics and in countercult apologetics. As the author of the influential The Kingdom of the Cults (1965), he has been dubbed the "godfather of the anti-cult movement".
Desmond Ford was an Australian theologian who studied Evangelicalism.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church had its roots in the Millerite movement of the 1830s to the 1840s, during the period of the Second Great Awakening, and was officially founded in 1863. Prominent figures in the early church included Hiram Edson, James Springer White, Joseph Bates, and J. N. Andrews. Over the ensuing decades the church expanded from its original base in New England to become an international organization. Significant developments such the reviews initiated by evangelicals Donald Barnhouse and Walter Martin, in the 20th century led to its recognition as a Christian denomination.
Criticism of the Seventh-day Adventist Church includes observations made about its teachings, structure, and practices or theological disagreements from various individuals and groups.
Last Generation Theology (LGT) or "final generation" theology is a religious belief regarding moral perfection achieved by sanctified people in the last generation before the Second Coming of Jesus. Although not a part of official Seventh-day Adventist theology, some hold that there will be an end-time remnant of believers who are faithful to God, which will be manifest shortly prior to the second coming of Jesus, as suggested by the 144,000 saints described in the Book of Revelation of the New Testament.
The investigative judgment is a unique Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, which asserts that the 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 Ellen G. White as one of the pillars of Adventist belief. It is a major component of the broader Adventist understanding of the "heavenly sanctuary", and the two are sometimes spoken of interchangeably.
The 28 fundamental beliefs are the core beliefs of Seventh-day Adventist theology. Adventists are opposed to the formulation of creeds, so the 28 fundamental beliefs are considered descriptors, not prescriptors; that is, that they describe the official position of the church but are not criteria for membership. These beliefs were originally known as the 27 fundamental beliefs when adopted by the church's General Conference in 1980. An additional belief was added in 2005. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary is a significant expression of Adventist theological thought.
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. Adventists have traditionally equated this "remnant church" with the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.
Progressive Adventists are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church who prefer different empheses or disagree with certain beliefs traditionally held by mainstream Adventism and officially by the church. They are often described as liberal Adventism by other Adventists, the term "progressive" is generally preferred as a self-description. This article describes terms such as evangelical Adventism, cultural Adventism, charismatic Adventism, and progressive Adventism and others, which are generally related but have distinctions.
The 1888 Minneapolis General Conference Session was a meeting of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in October 1888. It is regarded as a landmark event in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Key participants were Alonzo T. Jones and Ellet J. Waggoner, who presented a message on justification supported by Ellen G. White, but resisted by leaders such as G. I. Butler, Uriah Smith and others. The session discussed crucial theological issues such as the meaning of "righteousness by faith", the nature of the Godhead, the relationship between law and grace, and Justification and its relationship to Sanctification.
Historic Adventism is an informal designation for conservative individuals and organizations affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church who seek to preserve certain traditional beliefs and practices of the church. They feel that the church leadership has shifted or departed from key doctrinal "pillars" ever since the middle of the 20th century. Specifically, they point to the publication in 1957 of a book entitled Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine; which they feel undermines historic Adventist theology in favor of theology more compatible with evangelicalism. Historic Adventism has been erroneously applied by some to any Adventists that adhere to the teachings of the church as reflected in the church's fundamental beliefs such as the Sabbath or the Spirit of Prophecy. They misapply those who hold to mainstream traditional Adventist beliefs as synonymous with Historic Adventist.
Milian Lauritz Andreasen, was a Seventh-day Adventist theologian, pastor and author.
George Raymond Knight is a leading Seventh-day Adventist historian, author, and educator. He is emeritus professor of church history at Andrews University. As of 2014 he is considered to be the best-selling and influential voice for the past three decades within the denomination.
Le Roy Edwin Froom was a Seventh-day Adventist minister and historian whose many writings have been recognized by his peers. He also was a central figure in the meetings with evangelicals that led to the producing of the Adventist theological book, Questions on Doctrine.
Edward E. Heppenstall was a leading Bible scholar and theologian of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A 1985 questionnaire of North American Adventist lecturers revealed Heppenstall was the Adventist writer who had most influenced them.
A. F. Ballenger (1861–1921), was a Seventh-day Adventist Minister who started the "Receive Ye the Holy Ghost" movement which helped inspire the Holy Flesh movement in the Seventh-day Adventist Church which Ellen White rebuked, and later was dismissed from the church.
Reuben Richard Figuhr was the 15th President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church General Conference. He was born in Superior, Wisconsin, United States October 20, 1896. He served as Adventist President between 1954 and 1966. He married May Belle Holt. Figuhr died in Napa, California on October 28, 1983.