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What is the Core of Adventist Identity?

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The Adventist News Network quotes Dr. Paul Peterson (Link No Longer Available) as saying, “We preach a message that is distinct, but if it is not relevant it will not be perceived as part of my personal identity, which means when I am faced with a crisis it won’t help me…”? At a Bible Conference that explored Adventist Identity.

Later, Peterson?emphasizes that while the truth does not change, the environment changes and thus we need to explore what this unchageable truth means in this changing culture.

Dr. Niels-Eric Andreasen, president of Andrews University, presents the following definition of an Adventist as “a Christian who waits for Jesus to come”

Such a definition seems to be too simple to be of any value, but the struggle to come up with a simple definition of what it means to be an Adventist in todays world would help the Preacher immensely as the preacher seeks to make the Gospel as understood by Adventists relevant.

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  • Josue says:

    Very interesting point, Sherman.

    My question is: do we need a global Adventist identity? Maybe it is the preacher’s call to figure out his/her level of identification with the gospel, more than waiting for an official Adventist definition.

    IMHO, a continuous emphasis on the Adventist church role as the remanent church in the last days causes to focus the denomination on itself, trying to keep faithful to the pioneers’ modus operandi. This may have slowed down our denomination’s relevancy in this changing world.

    I applaud Dr. Adreasen approuch: it’s short, simple, to the point and with great ramifications. A Christian that is waiting for Jesus to come cannot hide his excitement! At the same time, it is becoming more and more difficult to be a faithful disciple nowadays, so our Christian journey in this “almost there but not yet” struggle is relevant to a postmodern society. They need to see our day by day experience with Jesus before they decide to “sign up.”

    What do you think?

  • Lasse Bech says:

    One good thing about Andreasens definition is that it is inclusive. It invites other Christians to be open to the input we might have about the return of Jesus.

  • admin says:

    The postmodern in me wonders if one can create a comprehensive definition…I wonder if we either will end up with a generic essential that says close to nothing or a more specific essential that leaves out more than we want to leave out…

    I just wonder how valuable such a generic statement truly is….Is this really an identity that says anything? But I do believe that the struggle for such a comprehensive and yet simple definition can be helpful to a preacher…

  • It seems to me that “waits” is to passive a word. Perhaps “prepares” would be better. Other than that I like the definition.

    I agree, Sherman, that such inclusive definitions can verge on meaninglesness. I see it more as a starting point from which to define what Adventist means in my context.

    In the culture where I minister, it is not uncomon for a man to spend 100 to 300 straight work days in a bush camp. So in my culture I would define and Adventist as someone who Waits for Jesus to come and takes a weekly Sabbath.

  • UrbanGriot says:

    Well, when we look at being Christians..our only identity is within the context of what the Bible says.

    Once we look at things like “Adventism”, “Republicanism”, “The Boy Scouts”, etc….identity is a collaborative effort between the thought leaders, historians, special interest group leaders, and laypeople of that particular group.

    Within the context of Adventism as a socio-religous group, a corporate religious organization, a business engaged in the practice of spreading religion – having an identity particular to that group is perfectly acceptable, and recommended – even if just for the purposes of enhancing the feeling of “belongingness” to it’s adherents.

  • John McLarty says:

    Seventh-day Adventists are Christians formed by the practice of Sabbath and the promise of judgment. Sabbath offers strong assurance of our present place in God’s heart. The message of judgment is a powerful caution against participating in oppression or other evil and gives hope of rescue for the oppressed.

  • Julius says:

    I really appreciate your point that a global definition may not work anymore. Yet the question remains as to what it is that definitionally or descriptionally ties worldwide Adventism together. I wonder if what a rabbi told me about Judaism might end up being the pithy description of Adventism: Deed over Creed. It’s what we do together, rather than the specifics of beliefs, that ties us together. I’m not sure if that’s really the direction, but it’s another way of looking at it. I talked about this question in my recent post on my blog. I’d appreciate your feedback/criticism.

  • John Martin says:

    I think brother Peterson is missing something on this Adventist identity thing. When people see us, hear us, or speak to us they need to know what we have been with God. If there wasn’t a heaven to wait for would we still have an identity? A true Adventist would still imitate his Savior in every part of life. So maybe instead of being a “a Christian who waits for Jesus to come” we should be a Christian who is like Jesus.

  • admin says:

    Interestingly enough the idea that an adventist is one who is like Jesus, as you define, makes it almost indistinguishable between Adventists and other Christians. That may be all right with you, but at least the author’s definition attempts to come to terms with the origin of our movement.

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