We Seventh-day Adventists establish all our beliefs on the Bible alone. Our church doesn’t have a set creed. Instead, we have 28 fundamental beliefs that express what we believe the Bible teaches.
In this episode, Pastor Ted Wilson shares how these beliefs developed.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a movement that began the providential unfolding of the Bible prophecy to prepare people for Christ’s second coming. In the mid-19th century, God used a preacher named William Miller to proclaim the first angel’s message in Revelation 14.
It states, ”Fear God and give glory to Him for the hour of His judgment has come” (verse 7). Thousands accepted this message and believed that Christ was indeed coming. However, some professed Christian churches rejected the idea. Hence, ”Babylon is fallen, is fallen” (verse 8).
When Jesus didn’t come as they expected on October 22, 1844, many of them left the Advent movement. Fortunately, a small remnant remained. They determined to diligently study and understand the Scripture better. As a result, they saw that the end of the 2300-day prophecy in Daniel 8:14 didn’t culminate in Christ’s coming to earth. Instead, it ushered in a new phase of His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.
With continued prayer and study with open hearts and minds, these remnant believers uncovered more truths. One of which was the full meaning of the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14. Another was the importance of keeping the holy Sabbath day. Others were the non-immortality of the soul, the state of the dead, and the second coming of Christ.
About 10 years after the Great Disappointment, the small remnant had grown into almost 1,000 believers. They didn’t have an official name that time yet, but they had an official publication called The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald.
On the front page of the August 15, 1854 issue of this publication, these five ”Leading Doctrines Taught by the Review” were included:
”The Bible, and the Bible alone, the rule of faith and duty.”
”The law of God, as taught in the Old and New Testaments, unchangeable.”
”The personal advent of Christ and the resurrection of the just, before the millennium.”
“The earth restored to its Eden perfection and glory, the final inheritance of the saints.”
”Immortality alone through Christ, to be given to the saints at the resurrection.”
In 1863, the group officially named itself the Seventh-day Adventist. It reflects two prominent beliefs—the importance of the seventh-day Sabbath and looking forward to the Second Advent of Christ.
The church’s first formal statement of beliefs was published in 1872 entitled ”A Declaration of the Fundamental Principles Taught and Practiced by the Seventh-day Adventists.” Listed here were 25 points drawn from Bible study, beginning with the statement, saying, ”We wish to have it distinctly understood that we have no articles of faith, creed, or discipline aside from the Bible.” It explained that it was ”a brief statement of what is, and has been, with great unanimity, held by [Seventh-day Adventists].”
On June 4, 1874, the declaration of the Fundamental Principles was published again, this time in the first issue of The Signs of the Times. It was republished in 1875, and again in 1889.
The next statement of our beliefs came 42 years later. Some points were combined, making a total of 22. They were renamed ”Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists.” These were published in the 1931 Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook and the 1932 Church Manual.
Through the coming years, changes and minor revisions were made. By 1980, the fundamental beliefs included 27 points and were adopted at the 1980 General Conference Session in Dallas, Texas.
In 2005, the delegates to the GC session in St. Louis, Missouri voted to add ”Growing in Christ” to the fundamental beliefs, making a total of 28. These 28 beliefs are what we have now, though the present form was the result of further revisions in 2015.
Indeed, the Lord has led the Advent movement step by step into a more complete understanding of who He is, who we are, and what His wonderful plans for us are, as revealed in the Bible.
In the next episodes, Pastor Ted will discuss the 28 fundamental beliefs one by one. Stay tuned.