Seventh-day Adventism

Seventh-day Adventism was born out of the idea that God created earth and all that live on it, over six days (similar beliefs exist in other traditions) and rested on the seventh. ‘To rest from labour’ was understood in Hebrew as ‘shabbath’ which nowadays translates to ‘Sabbath’, hence since God rested on the seventh day (according to the Torah/Old Testament) Christians and Jews recognise the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath (a holy day of rest). While many Christians observe the Sabbath on the first day of the week (which according to most Western/European calendars is Sunday), seventh-day adventists maintain the Sabbath on the seventh/last day of the week, as do Jewish people and other christian denominations. Hence the meaning of the word Saturday in many languages is derived from the term Shabbath, which itself is said to be derived from ancient Babylonian astrology.

Danial-1-12

The term adventist refers to the belief in the advent of the second coming of Jesus (the second coming). Seventh Day Adventism formed in response to the “Great Disappointment” of October 22, 1844. This was the date that William Miller (who was the most prominent advocate of adventism at that time) predicted the second coming of Jesus. Miler’s failed prediction involved a literal interpretation of a biblical vegetarian legend DanielUnto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed(chapters 8:14).

Miller had believed and predicted that the earth was the sanctuary due to be cleansed by the second coming of Jesus – that God would come from the sky, take away everything and make everybody feel high. Note, this theory was threatened by Galileo’s discovery that the earth revolved the sun and was round opposed to being flat, as the idea that “every eye shall see” the second coming, could only occur on a flat earth where everyone could see his majesties landing. Hence Galileo’s imprisonment. However, many maintained this belief and  Miller made no room for alternative views/interpretations by fellow adventists such as Hiram Edson who reasoned that the sanctuary to be cleansed was not earth but was rather in heaven. Edson’s belief in the heavenly sanctuary was accepted by other adventists and later became one of the two foundations of Seventh-day Adventism, the other foundation being the Saturday Sabbath. A strong advocate of the latter was a man by the name of Joseph Bates. Bates had served time in prison for opposing his forced deployment to the british navy, but eventually became Captain of his own ship on which he embraced Christianity. Moreover Bates was a vegetarian abolitionist who also pushed for health reforms including the prohibition on caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.

These two foundations were embraced by fellow adventists James Springer White and his wife Ellen Gould White who came together with Bates, Edison and someone called John Andrews to founder the Seventh-day Adventist Church by 1st May 1863. The SDA is now one of largest religious institutions in the world, much of which can be attributed to Ellen White who worked tirelessly throughout her days to set the core foundations and disseminate ‘the true word of God’. Like Joseph Bates Ellen was a furthered Christian who not only treated health with the utmost importance, (resulting in todays multi billion dollar adventist health

system) but also championed equality between men, women and all the races, including the recognition that animals were not mans food and were equally worthy of respect.

Ellen G White & The Spirit of Prophecy

ellen-white“Talk unbelief, and you will have unbelief; but talk faith, and you will have faith. According to the seed sown will be the harvest”

The following quotations taken from various works of Ellen White stand testament to the spirit and prophecy with which she brought forth into her ministry. We’ll first look at her stance against racisim (taken from wikipedia) before considering what she says about health, diet and  other animals. Ellen White wrote the following before the American Civil War:

  • “When the laws of men conflict with the word and law of God, we are to obey the latter, whatever the consequences may be. The law of our land requiring us to deliver a slave to his master, we are not to obey; and we must abide the consequences of violating this law. The slave is not the property of any man. God is his rightful master, and man has no right to take God’s workmanship into his hands, and claim him as his own.” Testimonies For The Church Volume 1, p. 201-202

Ellen White was a strong proponent of abolition her entire life. She met, lectured with and was friends with Sojourner Truth [109] as well as other leading abolitionists like Frederick Douglas. She influenced the Adventist church to be so strongly abolitionist that her husband James White could write:

  • “Those of our people who voted at all at the last Presidential election, to a man voted for Abraham Lincoln. We know of not one man among Seventh-day Adventists who has the least sympathy for secession.” Review and Herald, Aug. 12, 1862.

At a later conference that Ellen White was involved in, it was voted:

  • “Resolved, That in our judgement, the act of voting when exercised in behalf of justice, humanity and right, is in itself blameless, and may be at some times highly proper; but that the casting of any vote that shall strengthen the cause of such crimes as intemperance, insurrection, and slavery, we regard as highly criminal in the sight of Heaven.” Ibid., May 23, 1865.

Ellen White not only abhorred slavery as a demonic invention, but preached full equality of all races, something that was still not widely accepted even much later during Martin Luther King’s time.

  • “The black man’s name is written in the book of life beside the white man’s. All are one in Christ. Birth, station, nationality, or color cannot elevate or degrade men. The character makes the man. If a red man, a Chinaman, or an African gives his heart to God in obedience and faith, Jesus loves him none the less for his color. He calls him His well-beloved brother.” The Southern Work, 8, written March 20, 1891. * “The Scripture has been perverted, and the people have been perverted, and the people have been so instructed as to be easily seduced by evil spirits. Mind as well as body has been long abused. The whole system of slavery was originated by Satan, who delights in tyrannizing over human beings. Though he has been successful in degrading and corrupting the black race, many are possessed of decided ability, and if they were blessed with opportunities, they would show more intelligence than do many of their more favored brethren among the white people.” The Southern Work, p. 60. Review and Herald, January 28, 1896, par. 7

She also understood the wrong of economic caste injustice:

  • “True, there are many difficulties to be met in presenting the truth even in Christian England. One of the greatest of these is the difference in the condition of the three principal classes, and the feeling of caste, which is very strong in this country. In the city the capitalists, the shop-keepers, and the day laborers, and in the country the landlords, the tenant farmers, and the farm laborers, form three general classes, between whom there are wide differences in education, in sentiment, and in circumstances. It is very difficult for one person to labor for all classes at the same time. Wealth means greatness and power; poverty, little less than slavery. This is an order of things that God never designed should exist.” Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 164 (1886).

In 1891, she wrote:

  • “You have no license from God to exclude the colored people from your places of worship. Treat them as Christ’s property, which they are, just as much as yourselves. They should hold membership in the church with the white brethren. Every effort should be made to wipe out the terrible wrong which has been done them” (The Southern Work, 15).

However, a couple years later she wrote,

  • “In regard to white and colored people worshiping in the same building, this cannot be followed as a general custom with profit to either party–especially in the South. The best thing will be to provide the colored people who accept the truth, with places of worship of their own, in which they can carry on their services by themselves” (Testimonies for the Church, 9:206).

And, in 1896 she wrote,

  • “Common association with the blacks is not a wise course to pursue. To lodge with them in their homes may stir up feelings in the minds of the whites which will imperil the lives of the workers. . . .(The Southern Work, 95, 96).

Also, Ellen White stated the following near the end of the 19th century

  • “Walls of separation have been built up between the whites and the blacks. These walls of prejudice will tumble down of themselves as did the walls of Jericho, when Christians obey the Word of God, which enjoins on them supreme love to their Maker and impartial love to their neighbors. The religion of the Bible recognizes no caste or color. It ignores rank, wealth, worldly honor. God estimates men as men. With Him, character decides their worth. And we are to recognize the Spirit of Christ in whomsoever He is revealed.” The Review and Herald, December 17, 1895, Testimonies for the Church Vol 9 p. 223.
  • saint-ellen-white-icon-226x300“It is a mistake to suppose that muscular strength depends on the use of animal food. The needs of the system can be better supplied, and more vigorous health can be enjoyed, without its use. The grains, with fruits, nuts, and vegetables, contain all the nutritive properties necessary to make good blood. These elements are not so well or so fully supplied by a flesh diet. Had the use of flesh been essential to health and strength, animal food would have been included in the diet appointed man in the beginning.” (1905)
  • “God gave our first parents the food He designed that the race should eat. It was contrary to His plan to have the life of any creature taken. There was to be no death in Eden. The fruit of the trees in the garden was the food man’s wants required.” (1864)
  • “Vegetables, fruits, and grains should compose our diet. Not an ounce of flesh meat should enter our stomachs. The eating of flesh is unnatural. We are to return to God’s original purpose in the creation of man.” (1903)
  • “God gave our first parents the food He designed that the race should eat. It was contrary to His plan to have the life of any creature taken. There was to be no death in Eden. The fruit of the trees in the garden was the food man’s wants required.” (1864)
  • “The diet of animals is vegetables and grains. Must the vegetables be animalized, must they be incorporated into the system of animals, before we get them? Must we obtain our vegetable diet by eating the flesh of dead creatures? God provided fruit in its natural state for our first parents. He gave to Adam charge over the garden, to dress it, and to care for it, saying, “To you it shall be for meat.” One animal was not to destroy another animal for food.” (1896)
  • “Those who eat flesh are but eating grains and vegetables at second hand; for the animal receives from these things the nutrition that produces growth. The life that was in the grains and the vegetables passes into the eater. We receive it by eating the flesh of the animal. How much better to get it direct by eating the food that God provided for our use!” (1905)
  • “The moral evils of a flesh diet are not less marked than are the physical ills. Flesh food is injurious to health, and whatever affects the body has a corresponding effect on the mind and the soul. Think of the cruelty to animals that meat eating involves, and its effect on those who inflict and those who behold it. How it destroys the tenderness with which we should regard these creatures of God!” Ministry of Healing, pg. 315
  • “Animals are becoming more diseased and it will not be long until animal food will be discarded by many besides Seventh-day Adventists. Foods that are healthful and life sustaining are to be prepared, so that men and women will not need to eat meat.” (1902)
  • “Flesh was never the best food; but its use is now doubly objectionable, since disease in animals is so rapidly increasing.” (1902)
  • “Animals are often transported long distances and subjected to great suffering in reaching a market. Taken from the green pastures and travelling for weary miles over the hot, dusty roads, or crowded into filthy cars, feverish and exhausted, often for many hours deprived of food and water, the poor creatures are driven to their death, that human beings may feast on the carcasses.” (1905)
  • “The intelligence displayed by many dumb animals approaches so closely to human intelligence that it is a mystery. The animals see and hear and love and fear and suffer. They use their organs far more faithfully than many human beings use theirs. They manifest sympathy and tenderness toward their companions in suffering. Many animals show an affection for those who have charge of them, far superior to the affection shown by some of the human race. They form attachments for man which are not broken without great suffering to them.” The Ministry of Healing, pgs. 315, 316
  • “Those who profess to love God do not always consider that abuse to animals, or suffering brought upon them by neglect, is a sin. The fruits of divine grace will be as truly revealed in men by the manner in which they treat their beasts, as by their service in the house of God. Those who allow themselves to become impatient or enraged with their animals are not Christians. A man who is harsh, severe and domineering toward the lower animals, because he has them in his power, is both a coward and a tyrant. And he will, if opportunity offers, manifest the same cruel, overbearing spirit toward his wife and children.” (1880)
  • “What man with a human heart, who has ever cared for domestic animals, could look into their eyes, so full of confidence and affection, and willingly give them over to the butcher’s knife? How could he devour their flesh as a sweet morsel?” Ministry of Healing
  • “He who will abuse animals because he has them in his power is both a coward and a tyrant. A disposition to cause pain, whether to our fellow men or to the brute creation, is satanic. Many do not realize that their cruelty will ever be known, because the poor dumb animals cannot reveal it. But could the eyes of these men be opened, as were those of Balaam, they would see an angel of God standing as a witness, to testify against them in the courts above. A record goes up to heaven, and a day is coming when judgment will be pronounced against those who abuse God’s creatures.”
  • “Let our ministers and canvassers step under the banners of strict temperance. Never be ashamed to say, “No thank you; I do not eat meat. I have conscientious scruples against eating the flesh of dead animals.” (1901)

Seventh-day Adventists are now making efforts to reveal the extent in which this system of abuse, is not only destructive to animals and the human soul but how this cycle of violence is now contributing to the destruction of the planet. Marianne Thieme here presents: Meat The Truth

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SDA Reference / Lookups:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marianne_Thieme
http://spectrummagazine.org/article/marianne-thieme/2013/05/01/sabbath-spectrum-caf%C3%A9-marianne-thieme
http://spectrummagazine.org/article/2015/06/11/adventist-vegetarianism-czech-way-%E2%80%93-european-adventism-iii
http://spectrummagazine.org/article/interviews/2008/02/18/platform-compassion
http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_290/servingup.html
http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/jun/23/vibrant-vegan/
http://spectrummagazine.org/article/alexander-carpenter/2010/03/26/more-adventist-leaders-speak-womens-ordination
http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/faith/sda_rsoa_2011_2.pdf
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