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Much of the theology of the Seventh-day Adventist Church corresponds to common Protestant Christian teachings, such as the Trinity and the infallibility of Scripture. The world church is governed by a General Conference, with smaller regions administered by divisions, union conferences, and local conferences. It currently has a worldwide baptized membership of over 20 million people, and 25 million adherents. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is the largest of several Adventist groups which arose from the Millerite movement of the 1840s in upstate New York, a phase of the Second Great Awakening. Hiram Edson and other Millerites came to believe that Miller’s calculations were correct, but that his interpretation of Daniel 8:14 was flawed as he assumed Christ would come to cleanse the world. These Adventists came to the conviction that Daniel 8:14 foretold Christ’s entrance into the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary rather than his Second Coming.
As the early Adventist movement consolidated its beliefs, the question of the biblical day of rest and worship was raised. The foremost proponent of Sabbath-keeping among early Adventists was Joseph Bates. For about 20 years, the Adventist movement consisted of a small, loosely knit group of people who came from many churches and whose primary means of connection and interaction was through James White’s periodical The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. The church was formally established in Battle Creek, Michigan, on May 21, 1863, with a membership of 3,500. The denominational headquarters were later moved from Battle Creek to Takoma Park, Maryland, where they remained until 1989. 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 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. The church’s beliefs and doctrines were first published in 1872 in Battle Creek Michigan as a brief statement called “A Synopsis of our Faith”. The official teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination are expressed in its 28 Fundamental Beliefs. Adventist doctrine resembles trinitarian Protestant theology, with premillennial and Arminian emphases. Law of God is “embodied in the Ten Commandments”, which continue to be binding upon Christians. Sabbath should be observed on the seventh day of the week, specifically, from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.
Jesus Christ will return visibly to earth after a “time of trouble”, during which the Sabbath will become a worldwide test. The Second Coming will be followed by a millennial reign of the saints in heaven. Humans are an indivisible unity of body, mind, and spirit. The wicked will not suffer eternal torment in hell, but instead will be permanently destroyed. Humanity is involved in a “great controversy” between Jesus Christ and Satan. At his ascension, Jesus Christ commenced an atoning ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.
In 1844, he began to cleanse the heavenly sanctuary in fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. 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 will affirm who will receive salvation, and vindicate God in the eyes of the universe as just in his dealings with mankind. There will be an end-time remnant who keep the commandments of God and have “the testimony of Jesus”. As with any religious movement, a theological spectrum exists within Adventism comparable to the fundamentalist-moderate-liberal spectrum in the wider Christian church and in other religions. 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. The Biblical Research Institute is the official theological research center of the church.
The church has two professional organizations for Adventist theologians who are affiliated with the denomination. Adventists may gather for Friday evening worship to welcome in the Sabbath, a practice often known as Vespers. 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 and other activities that are compassionate in nature are encouraged. The major weekly worship service occurs on Saturday, typically commencing with Sabbath School which is a structured time of small-group study at church. Adventists make use of an officially produced “Sabbath School Lesson”, which deals with a particular biblical text or doctrine every quarter. After a brief break, the community joins together again for a church service that follows a typical evangelical format, with a sermon as a central feature.
Adventist churches usually practice communion four times a year. It commences with a foot washing ceremony, known as the “Ordinance of Humility”, based on the Gospel account of John 13. Since the 1860s when the church began, wholeness and health have been an emphasis of the Adventist church. The pioneers of the Adventist Church had much to do with the common acceptance of breakfast cereals into the Western diet, and the “modern commercial concept of cereal food” originated among Adventists. John Harvey Kellogg was one of the early founders of Adventist health work. National Institutes of Health has shown that the average Adventist in California lives 4 to 10 years longer than the average Californian. Adventists practice vegetarianism or veganism, according to a 2002 worldwide survey of local church leaders.
Adventists’ clean lifestyles were recognized by the U. 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.