Re-inventing the Adventist Wheel – God’s visible grace

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Icon of Christ Crucified, chapel of San Damiano, near Assisi

Icon of Christ Crucified, chapel of San Damiano, near Assisi

I have been invited to be a contributor on one of the progressive Adventist blogs out there in the Adventist blogosphere – Re-inventing the Adventist Wheel.

The blog is Adventist, and I am Catholic, and have never been Adventist.  Between this blog and my website, I deal with a lot of issues relating to Adventism from a Catholic perspective, and mostly from a defensive apologetics angle.

Re-inventing the Adventist Wheel is not the same brand of Adventism that puts up billboards claiming that the pope is the Beast of Revelation – the form of Adventism I first came across, that resulted in me wanting to publicly defend my faith.  Progressive Adventism has moved beyond the focus on the Beast and the Pope and Mary and the like, and focuses on their experience of the Gospel.

Since the Gospel is shared by both sides, this is an opportunity for both sides to discover what they really have in common, and to discover what aspects of the other side can legitimately be accepted by each tradition, and to clarify issues of misunderstanding that is all too common.  It’s like a breath of fresh air for me – a discussion instead of a continuous battle against misconceptions.

God’s visible grace is the title of my first post there.

Comments imported from the old blog:

Posted by Alexander on May 14, 2007, 6:33 pm
The billboard people are a tiny group of ahistorical Adventists. An Adventist in grad school, I live in an intentional community with a bunch of liberal and conservative Catholic seminarians. We have a great time. In fact, my thesis adviser is a Dominican priest. Almost all Adventists disagree with that old 19th century anti-Catholicism that pops up every once in awhile.

Posted by stephen on May 14, 2007, 8:16 pm
Perhaps a minority put up billboards, but I’m not so sure that only a minority cheer. My experience in South Africa, and the experience many contacts in the USA and Australia and the UK share, is that Adventism is still very strongly and vocally anti-Catholic. Perhaps that is skewed by the fact that the part that isn’t anti-Catholic isn’t so prominent to others. The Adventist services I’ve been to, and all my real-life Adventist friends and associates have that anti-Catholicism well-ingrained.

Hobbes’ Place – – on the other hand, is South African, along with Weiers Coetser’s blog at

It would be good to get stats on individuals and congregations.

Posted by Alexander on May 14, 2007, 11:22 pm
Sure, it may be a generation/education thing and there is no doubt that there is a latent anti-Catholicism in Adventist eschatology, but I can assure you that a “minority cheer.” I don’t mean to minimize that prejudice, and I applaud your efforts to note and change this problem.

Posted by jashmead on July 2, 2007, 10:24 pm

Your church practices a closed communion. The SDA church practices an open communion. As a Roman Catholic you can come to my church and share in the sacraments. I cannot do so at your church. It just seems to me that this anti-catholicism that you attempt to present cannot withstand scrutiny. You church teaches that I am in an imperfect union with Christ. Your church teaches that she is the only true church. I risk the fires of hell by refusing to join your church. In essence you cannot treat me as a brother in Christ because of the teachings of your church. I welcome you to my church to share the Lord’s communion. It is a shame that you cannot do the same with me. What is the real difference between a posted sign and pastoral letter condemning my christian faith journey that routinely emanates from the teaching magisterium. If I am mischaraterizing the teachings of your church I await your correction.

John, your brother in Christ

Posted by stephen on July 3, 2007, 5:46 am
Catholics recognise Adventists as fellow Christians, and we do not believe you’re risking hell if you remain outside the Catholic Church due to sincere disagreement.

We do believe that there is one visible Church – that is what we see created, presented, and defended in the New Testament. Those outside it must be in imperfect union, but they are still part of the Body of Christ. I doubt any Adventist would consider themselves in perfect union with Catholicism.

Closed communion – yes, but you have to consider our beliefs regarding the Eucharist. We believe that it is literally the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ – literally the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. For someone to take communion in the Catholic Church, whatever denomination they are, they should share that belief. Otherwise it would be disrespectful to the body and blood of Christ, as Paul says in 1 Cor 11. The early Christians also practiced closed communion. It was seen as a unifying sacrament, and for those who rejected their beliefs, especially their belief regarding the Eucharist, sharing communion did not make sense.

Adventists do not share Catholic belief about the Eucharist, and therefore it is unlikely that they would want to take part in a communion that explicitly expresses that. However, Adventists and others are welcome to participate in all other aspects of the Mass and the Catholic faith (except ordination, which is also closed to Catholics only). If they sincerely feel drawn to take communion at a Catholic Church, for reasons other than pride, they would be disposed to considering full unity.

See Why Does The Catholic Church Have A Closed Communion? [alternative link] and Mary and Communion

Posted by jashmead on July 3, 2007, 1:58 pm

I honestly believe that you are a Christian and striving to serve God to the best of your abilities. I hope my comments do not offend you. However, when these issues are raised with Roman Catholics I find that the answers I am given are not quite honest.

If your church teaches that justifying grace comes from God to the church through the sacraments and I reject these sacraments how are my sins forgiven? From you perspective this is not simply a sincere disagreement, I am rejecting the lead of the Holy Spirit. If I reject justifying grace from the church am I not lost and condemned to hell? Moreover, many Popes have posted pastoral letters urging and warning non-catholics to return to the bosom of the mother church while noting the consequences of such failures. Your claim that I am in an imperfect union with Christ simply on the basis that I am not a member of your church can only be described in terms of a discriminatory belief. It is no different from the claims made by the SDA church about the Roman Catholic church.

The point is that the respective beliefs of our church reflect the sincere theological conclusions of each church. To label the SDA church anti-catholic while at the same time ignoring similar positions in your own church is simple hypocracy.

I would have no problem taking the wine and bread at you church if permitted to do so. It would still be a symbol for me. I don’t need to share you particular belief to share the christian sign of our unity. However, your church rejects the unity that the sacrament calls for. Please ignore my typos. I am typing quickly and running off to work. God Bless.

Posted by stephen on July 3, 2007, 4:03 pm
Sacraments are things where God offers grace, and we can accept it. But if we do not know that grace is there, we cannot deliberately reject it, and so we won’t be held accountable, as we would have been if we knowingly and deliberately rejected something God offered.

That grace is not just offered through the sacraments – our whole relationship with God entails God blessing us and us accepting those blessings.

As for the “justifying” aspect of the grace – yes, the grace is justifying, but only to those already saved.

To a Protestant, that probably sounds very odd … but we see two aspects to Justification. First, there is the Yes/No aspect – you are saved, or you are not saved. That, in my understanding, corresponds to the Protestant concept of Justification. We all agree that this occurs through the initial act of faith. But Catholicism believes that there is another aspect – a quantitative aspect – to justification. Once we are justified, our justification increases – and that is what our relationship with God does.

So someone who rejects grace that increases justification because they don’t realise it’s there in no way changes their qualitative justification from “Yes” to “No”.

As far as describing non-Catholics as being in imperfect union, I’d consider that to be on a formal level. In one’s heart, things can be different – and Catholicism readily acknowledges that. One can be Adventist and be a true and faithful Christian – Catholicism doesn’t argue with that. Nor do we argue with the idea that one can be Catholic in name but unChristian in one’s heart. But if there IS one Church, as in the days of the Apostles, then there must be some who are in imperfect union with that Church today, if there are many denominations today.

If a denomination spends significant time attacking other denominations, and especially if those attacks are unjustified or not based on facts, calling them anti-X (e.g. anti-Catholic in the case of Adventism) is justified. Since Catholicism does not spend its time returning the sentiment, calling Catholicism anti-Adventist wouldn’t be justified. Unless, of course, Adventism is to be classified as anti-Jewish, anti-Islam, anti-Hindu, and a host of other anti’s, simply because it considers these religions to lack truth. Then all of Christianity – Catholicism and Adventism included – would be in the same pot. We’d be anti-every-religion-other-than-Christianity.

Taking communion at a Catholic Church, while believing it to be a symbol only, would be taken as an offence by many Catholics. In choosing to only allow those who believe that it IS Christ’s literal body and blood to take communion, we’re a) protecting the faith of those Catholics who would be offended and find it hard to deal with, b) making a stand for the truth, and c) preventing desecration of the Eucharist that might occur if someone didn’t recognise that it was the body and blood of Christ. To us, it does matter that the Eucharist be recognised for what it is, and someone thinking it was a symbol would not treat it as if it were real. The problem is that we believe that it IS real, no matter what the recipient thinks it is. If you have a valuable antique vase at home, you only let your children play with it when they realise its true nature – it won’t be replaceable just because they think it is. It’s not disrespectful to them – it’s protection of the vase. In our case, it’s ensuring appropriate respect towards God.

There cannot be true unity if the true nature of the Eucharist is not recognised by all – so pretending to have that unity would be a farce. It’s not merely a Christian sign of unity – it’s the actual presence of the sacrifice at Calvary. In a real sense, we’re present at the foot of the cross. I have no doubt that if you were at the foot of the cross, you’d be respectful, but it would be wrong – for us and for you – to place you at the foot of the cross without you realising you were there.

In the end, I think, it comes down to whether or not one has respect for the other faith, even if you’d do it differently if you were in charge. It’s never nice to be left out, but it’s always good to try to understand the other side’s reasons. If I took out my rosary to pray before an Adventist service started, it would be frowned upon for obvious reasons. If I have respect for Adventist sensitivities, I’ll be very welcome to participate fully as a non-Adventist, although I wouldn’t be able to do it my way. The same goes for Catholicism – non-Catholics are very welcome (they might not be greeted, but then most Catholics present won’t be either, in many places), but it is hoped that they will be respectful of Catholic beliefs and practices, even if they are not shared by the non-Catholics attending.

If I went to an Orthodox church, the chances are I’d not be allowed to take communion, even though we share the same beliefs about its nature, and they are allowed to take communion at Catholic churches. In such cases, humility and acceptance is a better answer than taking offence for perceived rejection, when none is really intended.

Posted by jashmead on July 3, 2007, 5:05 pm

I have just read your post. Do I remain ignorant of the channel for God’s grace, the Roman Catholic Church? Bill Cork, a Roman Catholic for many years has converted to the SDA church. Did his conversion make him ignorant of God’s grace thus relieving him of the obligation to seek grace through the sacraments of the church? How does Bill claim ignorance of the grace that flows from the church? He has knowingly reject the grace offered through the sacraments of the church. Is it not fair to conclude that he is bound for hell simply on the fact of his conversion to a church that is not in perfect union with the Roman Catholic church?

What is the grace that you suggest exist outside of the sacraments of the Roman Catholic church? Where is it found?

I just want to make sure I understand your position. I can reject membership in the true church, reject the justifying grace that increases my righteousness before God, desecrate his body and blood everytime I take my unsanctioned wine and bread, reject the authority of the Roman Catholic church and still be a true and faithful Christian in the eyes of the Roman Catholic church? Could you give some authoriative reference that supports this claim on your part.

Just to be clear, as I understand it, the Roman Catholic church does not even believe that the SDA church is a true church. Am I correct? Don’t you consider the SDA church a ecclesiatiacal communion as opposed to a church?

The teaching of your church is that all members of the SDA church should leave. The SDA church should stop desecrating the blood and body of Christ. We do not have a sanctioned clergy. We worship on the wrong day of the week. I believe during the middle ages a Pope stated that those who are Sabbath keepers are in league with the Anti-Christ. When you look at these teachings as a whole I don’t see how they differ in quality to statements made by the SDA church about the Roman Catholic church. If you describe one church Anti-X you must apply the same standard.

Finally, how do I desecrate the wine and bread? Is the wine and bread desecrated by how it is handled in the SDA church or simply by my failure to believe that it is the literal blood and body of Christ? Have you actually attended a communion service at an SDA church? It is not a party. It is a solemn service. How can I desecrate the wine and bread and not receive the curses spoken of in 1 Cor. 11? If this is what you truly believe then how can I be justified and cursed at the same time?

Posted by stephen on July 3, 2007, 5:36 pm
Yes, it would be grossly unfair to conclude that Bill Cork is off to hell. I doubt he left the Catholic Church believing that Catholicism taught the truth. He is most likely sincere in his conversion, which means that he has not knowingly rejected God. Someone who believes that Catholicism is the true faith, and chooses to reject it in spite of that continuing belief, is the one who has a problem. Not you. Not Cork.

One can only reject something one knows. If you walk past a flower without seeing it, you’re not rejecting it. If you see it, and deliberately step on it, you’re rejecting it.

Grace is found outside the Catholic Church in many areas – prayer, reading the Bible, worship, hymns, praise, and … yes … Protestant forms of communion, foot washing, etc. That’s just naming a few.

My position on the points you raise above:

  • if you are not convinced that the Catholic Church is the true Church, you’re not formally rejecting it if you don’t join.
  • if you take communion at an Adventist service, believing it to be a symbol, you’re not desecrating anything, because it is a symbol, not more than that, and you respectfully treat it as such. (In order for the Real Presence to occur, that must be the intent of the consecrator, who must be a validly ordained minister within the umbrella of apostolic succession. Adventism doesn’t consider it’s pastors to be such apostolic successors, nor does it believe in the Real Presence.)
  • I think the declaration on non-Catholic Christians from Vatican II and recent popes will be a good start for authoritative sources

Technically, Adventism is an ecclesiastical communion, yes. Unless Adventism subscribes to the Catholic definition of “Church”, Adventism shouldn’t really have a problem with being classified as such. If Adventism claims to be the one true Church, there would be a problem. Any Protestant denomination that considers the visible church to be non-essential, and only the invisible church to be essential, would also have no problem with a definition that includes a visible body under apostolic leadership.

I think there is a big difference between actively attacking other denominations and recognising that some faiths lack some truth. If you disagree, I hope you’re just as willing to declare Adventism to be anti-Jewish and anti-Islam as you are to declare Catholicism to be anti-Adventist.

Posted by jashmead on July 3, 2007, 6:51 pm
How does conversion make a person blind to the truth? Bill Cork publically and privately declared at a point in his life that the Roman Catholic church was the true church and accepted the sacrament of the Eucharist. He then rejected these firm beliefs and joined the SDA church.

When I am unconvinced of the truth taught by the Roman Catholic church do you believe I must not express me views regarding the church. If I am protected from condemnation because I am not convinced of the truth regarding the RC church why must I be described as Anti-Catholic for sharing those views?

Could you specifically identify a statement from Vatican ll that permits me to do the things I described in my previous post.

The Adventist church does not consider itself the only church nor do we subscribe to the definition of a church expressed by the RC church. This definition, in my view, is another instance of the RC church’s intolerance towards other communities of faith. If further supports my view that the RC church needs to clean her own house before you raise the spector of intolerance against another community of faith.

I want to make sure that I am clear on your position. I can create an invalid expression of the Lord’s supper and not incur the curses mentioned in 1Corinthians 11.

Is the grace that I receive in prayer and singings hymns sufficient for me to increase in my justification?

Posted by stephen on July 3, 2007, 9:59 pm
Conversion results from a change in mindset. That can be due to a change in faith due to increased insight into truth, but it can also be due to many other reasons, such as loss of faith leading to one looking elsewhere.

In my opinion, Catholicism today is not guilty of the type of intolerance Adventism is. We share the same intolerance towards Islam and Judaism by not recognising them as true religions, but Adventism goes further. I’m not saying you as an individual are anti-Catholic. I know many Adventists who are not. But Adventism, as a system, is.

Any growth in grace is just that – growth of your relationship with Christ, growing more like him. And yes, prayer does that.

I’m not going to continue this much … I am trying to explain as best I can, to clear up what I see as misunderstandings and misconceptions, but I seem to be angering you more. Perhaps another Catholic elsewhere can do better.

Posted by jashmead on July 3, 2007, 10:30 pm
I engaged you in conversation to present evidence that the SDA theology is qualitatively the same as the RC theology in terms of how it views other faith communities.

For you to provide as one of your reasons for excluding me from sharing in the Eucharist the possible loss of faith by RC believers really establishes my point of intolerance. Your church has concluded that I am unworthy to take the wine and bread from a RC priest. Your church has concluded that my church is in an imperfect union with Christ. Your church has concluded that my church is in fact not a church. Your church claims to be the only true church. Because of all these things you cannot treat me as a brother in Christ by washing my feet and eating the wine and bread with me.

Until your church practices an open communion there is no basis for you to call another church intolerant.

Stephen, I am not angry at you. Unfortunately the written word can come accross as harsh. And, I am responding quickly without editing my tone.

I do believe that you unfairly charaterize the SDA church. You use anecdotal evidence and paint with a broad brush. The individuals putting of billboard are not doing so on behalf of the SDA church. This not sanctioned behavior.

It would be unfair of me to say that the RC’s in Mexico who attacked SDA’s were doing so on behalf of the church. Individuals are responsible for their behaviors.

Posted by stephen on July 3, 2007, 11:40 pm
I won’t argue about whether or not I’ve portrayed the SDA church correctly, apart from saying that one only need go to one of the Revelation seminars around the world to get a taste of the prevalent anti-Catholic thought. I’ve done my best, though, to be fair, and while some will agree with you, others will disagree.

I do think you’ve misjudged Catholicism’s view of non-Catholic Christians. But as far as I see things, open vs closed communion isn’t about tolerance, it’s about theology and the Eucharist. It’s a sore point for many, though.

And yes, if I were at an Adventist service, I’d wash your feet. (Coincidentally, my next post on Reinventing the Adventist Wheel will focus on foot washing.) There’s no reason not to was a non-Catholic foot. I couldn’t take communion in good conscience, simply because I don’t see it as being what was intended. But I would encourage Adventists to, and would believe that they were blessed as a result.

Posted by Jared Olar on July 4, 2007, 1:56 pm

“Your church has concluded that I am unworthy to take the wine and bread from a RC priest.”

But that’s just the thing — according to Catholic doctrine, Roman Catholic priests have no wine and bread to give anyone. All they have to give is the sacrament of the very body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. You don’t believe anything the Catholic Church teaches. You think that if you received Holy Communion, all you’re doing is going through a meaningful but purely symbolic ritual, a “shadow show” like the typological sacrifices and ablutions of the Old Covenant. That means that if you were to present yourself for Communion at Mass, when the priest offered the Host to you and said, “The Body of Christ,” you would be lying when you said, “Amen” and received the Host into your body. Saying “Amen” means, “Yes, I agree that when I receive Communion, I am receiving the all-holy Body and most precious Blood of my Savior, and I desire that His Body and Blood be joined to my body and blood and my very soul.”

But you neither believe nor desire those things. So in your case, Holy Communion would not be an expression of the communion (sharing, participation) in the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, because you are not united in faith. With your body and your words you would be saying, “I believe everything the Catholic Church says, especially what She says about the Blessed Sacrament.” But in your mind you do not really believe. Therefore, if you were to receive Holy Communion, you would be telling God and everyone around you a lie. You claim the Catholic Church is intolerant because she does not want anyone to commit that sin, but is it wrong to be “intolerant” of sin?

Communion is the sacrament of unity, and Christians are to be one in faith and in the truth. Religious unity that does not include unity in the truth is not the unity that God desires for His People. How can there be open communion as long as the Catholic Church believes that the truth matters? The Catholic Church loves Adventists too much to permit them to misrepresent themselves before God and man by receiving Communion.

“Because of all these things you cannot treat me as a brother in Christ by washing my feet and eating the wine and bread with me.”

A brother in Christ strives to hear and obey all that his Father and his Mother say. If the Catholic Church did not believe what She believes, yes, it would be possible for non-Catholics to receive what would only be wine and bread, just as Catholics could receive the wine and bread of non-Catholic churches and sects. But if the Catholic Church is what She claims to be, then Christians who do not believe what She believes would commit a grave offense to eat what they think is nothing more than wine and bread.

To reiterate, when non-Catholics receive Catholic Communion, they send the false message, “I believe what the Catholic Church says.” And when Catholics receive non-Catholic bread and wine, they send the message, “I don’t believe what the Catholic Church says, but I believe what this sect says.” Maybe they believe what that sect says, maybe they don’t — if they do, then it would be incongruent and inappropriate for them to remain in the Catholic Church; but if they don’t believe what the sect says, then they are misleading everyone by proclaiming a unity that doesn’t really exist.

Now, all of these considerations do not enter into the question of whether non-Catholics should remain non-Catholic, whether they offend God with their non-Catholic communion services, etc. The Catholic Church distinguishes between objective sin and subjective sin. That is, because of the importance of the human conscience, there are any number of factors that can mitigate culpability for a wrong action. So, no, the Catholic Church doesn’t want non-Catholic Christians to remain apart from the Catholic Church or to believe things that are contrary to the Catholic faith. But the question of the salvation of non-Catholics isn’t a simple one from the Catholic viewpoint. Objectively, their separation from the Catholic Church is an evil that endangers their souls. Subjectively, one an individual-by-individual basis, we cannot judge who is truly hellbound and who isn’t. That’s God’s prerogative, not ours. In Bill Cork’s case, for example — no, we Catholics cannot think it is a good thing that he has gone back to Seventh-Day Adventism, and we can only believe that he is placing his soul in jeopardy by doing so. But we also cannot affirm that he is definitely on the road to hell and driving in the fast lane. There is so much that we aren’t in any position to know about Bill, that God alone can know and understand. So, we pray for his return and his repentance, and that’s all. But he can still be saved, in spite of his public adoption of teachings that contradict the Scriptures and the Apostolic Tradition. It may not be easy to envision the circumstances in which, if the Catholic faith is true, a man in Bill’s position could nevertheless be saved, but we’re not God, and we can’t know all the things He knows.

“Could you specifically identify a statement from Vatican ll that permits me to do the things I described in my previous post.”

Here is one statement, Lumen Gentium 8:

“This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as “the pillar and mainstay of the truth.” This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.”

Further on, there is Lumen Gentium 15:

“15. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God. They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.”

Posted by jashmead on July 4, 2007, 2:44 pm

It seems to me that you are completely ignorant of the structure of the Adventist church. The revelation seminars, for the most part, are created by local adventist ministers or lay people. They are not adopted as official teachings of the church and most are dated. If you want to learn what the church officially teaches then consult the book the 28 fundamentals of the SDA church or an Adventist Bible Commentary.

In fact, the people who put up billboards are not members of the SDA church. The SDA church has, on occassion, taken these individual to court for violating the church’s copyright.

It seems to me the basis of your label of anti-catholicism is that my theology is wrong so I am therefore anti-catholic. It would seem to me that you would need to demonstrate some malice or intent to attack the RC church.

The SDA church has adopted in principle the conclusions of the proptestant reformers life Martin Luther and John Calvin. Were they anti-catholic?

The problem for me with the communion is that your church precludes me from taking the wine and bread and prevents you from sharing in the wine and bread at my church. This is a conclusion that I am unworthy. 1 Corinthians 11 requires that a person not take the wine and bread unworthily. It does not suggest that a failure to believe that the wine and bread are the literal blood and flesh of Jesus precludes one from participating. Nor do we find support for your view that if I shared with you in your church my beliefs would desecrate the wine and bread. Paul seemed to able to share in the religous practices of those with whom he disagreed. At a minimum you should be able to share communion with me even if I can’t do the same with you.

I would submit to you that SDA’s and Episcopalians are not on the same page in our understanding of the wine and bread and yet we can mutually share the wine and bread together.

If your conclusion is that theology trumps claims of intolerance then why do you label Adventists intolerant for their sincerly held theological positions?

Posted by stephen on July 4, 2007, 5:52 pm

“The revelation seminars, for the most part, are created by local adventist ministers or lay people. They are not adopted as official teachings of the church and most are dated.”

Then I would challenge the General Conference to publicly state as much.

Until then, the Adventist congregations at the very least continue to be significantly anti-Catholic.

“It seems to me the basis of your label of anti-catholicism is that my theology is wrong so I am therefore anti-catholic.”

Actually, I explicitly stated otherwise.

Catholicism does not spend its time teaching about Adventism. So the label cannot apply.

Do you acknowledge that Adventism is anti-Jewish and anti-Islam?

Posted by jashmead on July 4, 2007, 3:26 pm

I just want you to know that I appreciate your responses. I think that your response establishe the point that I am trying to make.

My contention with Stephen is his labeling the Adventist church as anti-catholic.

The RC church teaches that she is the true church and all should return to her bosom. The Adventist church teaches that she is the Remnant church and all should come to her as well. The RC church does not deny the sincere Christian expression of Roman Catholics and other chuches. The SDA church affirms that there are true Christians in each Christian Church. The RC church affirms that those who are not members of the RC church are not in perfect union with Christ. The SDA church believes that a person can remain a faithful Catholic or Baptist and still be saved. I could go on and on. The point is that both faiths express their beliefs and theologies in a manner that could be labeled and anti-catholic or anti-sda. The issue is whether this is a fair label. I think that this label is used to marginalize the standing of dissenters and mute legitimate debate and arguements over complex theological issues.

Unlike Stephen, you have taken the RC church’s theology to it’s logical conclusion. So you would acknowledge that Bill Cork is in some jeopardy if he remains on his current course. You are correct in noting that he could again rejoin the faith that he now rejects.

Finally, in the book of Acts we see the Apostle Paul engaging in acts of ceremonial washing and presenting himself to the Elders in the Jerusalem Church. By doing so did he lie by engaging in these ritual practice when his theology clearly led him to conclude that these rituals were not the means of receiving God’s grace nor a continuing sign of God’s grace? It seems that he engaged in these pracitices for the benefit of unity. I don’t need to believe everthing your church teaches about the Eucharist in order to share this practice with you. Like Paul I would be acknowledging the come unity we have and Christ.

Posted by Jared Olar on July 5, 2007, 12:49 am

“I think that your response establishes the point that I am trying to make.”

“My contention with Stephen is his labeling the Adventist church as anti-catholic.”

Yes, and I have to agree with Stephen. Seventh-Day Adventism as a doctrinal package is inherently anti-Catholic, though of course individual Adventists may or may not be anti-Catholic in their attitudes and beliefs. But a religious system that maintains that the apostolic tradition of the Lord’s Day is a false, unbiblical, unauthorised and/or anti-Semitic innovation of later centuries is inescapably anti-Catholic. SDAism also has historically championed a pseudohistorical “Trail of Blood”-style narrative of contempt for orthodox Christianity. As Stephen has pointed out, there is no comparable animus or narrative regarding SDAism in modern Catholicism, nor has Catholicism ever had such a thing. The only thing comparable is the historical anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism that long plagued the Church along her history, but that is something the Church has definitively and irrevocably renounced. Many SDAs are also renouncing the essential anti-Catholicism of their religion, a development that can only be applauded and encouraged.

“The point is that both faiths express their beliefs and theologies in a manner that could be labeled and anti-catholic or anti-sda.”

Sorry, you have not shown that at all. SDAism is anti-Catholic in its origin and fundamental beliefs. The Catholic Church, and the wider mainstream of Christianity, serve as the foil against which SDAism historically has reacted as a purported restorationist reforming movement. Historically, many if not most SDAs have believed some variation of the radical Protestant doctrine of the Pope or the Catholic Church as the Great Whore or the Antichrist. But SDAism holds no such unique place in the tapestry of Catholic doctrine and the Church’s self-understanding. Frankly, most Catholics know nothing of SDAism, don’t even know it exists, so there’s no way we would expect Antichrist to arise from the SDA religion. So it’s simply erroneous to portray the Catholic Church’s disbelief in SDAism as anti-SDAism.

“Unlike Stephen, you have taken the RC church’s theology to it’s logical conclusion. So you would acknowledge that Bill Cork is in some jeopardy if he remains on his current course. You are correct in noting that he could again rejoin the faith that he now rejects.”

I don’t think there is any significant disagreement, if any disagreement at all, between me and Stephen regarding Bill Cork or anyone in a comparable situation.

“Finally, in the book of Acts we see the Apostle Paul engaging in acts of ceremonial washing and presenting himself to the Elders in the Jerusalem Church.”

I suppose you are referring to St. James’ counsel that St. Paul join some other Jewish Christians for the purification rite at the conclusion of a vow (presumably a Nazirite vow). We know that St. Paul, a Jew of the Tribe of Benjamin, who had belonged to the Pharisee sect before becoming a Christian, continued even after his conversion to observe many if not all of the Mosaic rites of his people, even though he made clear to all that such things were neither obligatory nor salvific.

“By doing so did he lie by engaging in these ritual practice when his theology clearly led him to conclude that these rituals were not the means of receiving God’s grace nor a continuing sign of God’s grace?”

No. The false rumor had spread that St. Paul was forbidding Jews from observing Jewish customs and rites. This was a good way to prove to everyone that the rumors were false. St. Paul was telling the truth about his beliefs — that he did not forbid those things at all, but participated in them himself. What St. Paul objected to was the claim that the Law of Moses was mandatory. He allowed Jewish Christians to continue to observe the Torah (or those parts of it that they chose to observe), but forbade them from imposing the Torah on Gentile converts.

“It seems that he engaged in these practices for the benefit of unity.”

Yes, and to squelch false rumors about him and his ministry to the Gentiles.

“I don’t need to believe everything your church teaches about the Eucharist in order to share this practice with you.”

If you don’t believe everything the Church teaches about the Eucharist, then you wouldn’t really be sharing it with me, appearances notwithstanding. It would be an outward show that contradicted the inner reality. Same thing if I were to eat bread and drink wine (or grape juice) at an SDA or Protestant communion service.

Posted by stephen on July 5, 2007, 6:22 pm

“But SDAism holds no such unique place in the tapestry of Catholic doctrine and the Church’s self-understanding.”

That is an important point. Catholicism is purely a positive religion, with a self-understanding solely in reference to Christ and his activities 2000 years ago. Protestant denominations, at least to some extent, invariably have a self-understanding based on Catholicism, in addition to the rest. That is encoded in their very name – “protest”. Adventism is a good example of such a case.

Further comments – they can go here:

Closed Communion and Catholic sacraments

The comments seem to be slowing this page down a lot, at least from my side, on two different PCs.

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