Alden Thompson: SDAs and the Charismatic Experience

Ellen Gould White vor 1900
Ellen G. White
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Since I grew up as an SDA and later got involved in a somewhat charismatic stream within Methodism, I found this article by Alden Thompson pretty interesting. It’s not surprising, however, that the SDA movement, which arose in the mid 1800s, had some charismatic elements.

The funny thing for me in reading this is that I did actually read the passages from Ellen White’s Testimonies when I was younger, and simply didn’t understand what some of those phrases meant, so I never made the connection.

One thing that has puzzled and interested me since I left the Seventh-day Adventist church is the way in which Adventists tend toward the respectable side of religion even though they’re a bit out of the Christian mainstream. It seems as if SDAs prefer that in everything except their specific doctrinal distinctives they be seen as solid and respectable. Those who do not seek distinction from other Christian churches (and interesting split in the church in my view), tend to seek acceptance with conservative evangelicals, not mainline Christians who might be more willing to listen.

(Note: I’m publisher of Dr. Alden Thompson’s book Who’s Afraid of the Old Testament God?, which will soon be released in a new edition. [Some slightly damaged copies are still available.] I’m also publisher of another book on the SDA experience, Finding My Way in Christianity: Recollections of a Journey by Dr. Herold Weiss.)

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One Comment

  1. Great Article.

    Nice blog.

    I too grew up, for the most part, SDA and am now part of a
    non-denominational charismatic Christian church.

    I left simply because through what is emphasized in
    understanding the true role of the Holy Spirit I was finally able
    to shed a ton of baggage and have a real relationship with Christ.

    Now I also don’t believe in searching for a true denomination,
    the only truth is Christ, the way the truth and the life (John 14:6).
    I believe that the denominations are parts of a body and as
    specialized doctors focus on an area of our body so do denominations (Romans 12).

    I believe there is a plan for everyone to be saved through a
    denomination, it’s up to someone to surrender their heart and seek
    God and he will point the way(Matthew 6:33 and Joel 2:13). I have met saved people in
    nearly every denomination. Folks who have truly changed and never turned back.
    God doesn’t need denominations/missions he calls us to and he uses them but they are
    just conduits. I’ve been touched by many testimonies that I’ve heard of lately where
    he’s just been appearing to people himself in other parts of the world (http://www.afshinjavid.com/bio.html).

    I have not come to the same conclusion that most people whom practice
    their faith as an adult in a different denomination from their upbringing do:
    that their legacy denomination is wrong and is leading people to hell.

    It’s clear that each denomination has an important talking point to bring to
    the Christian conversation and we would benefit from an exchange. All denominations
    are vulnerable to the same problem that Jesus challenged the pharisees with:
    the process and laws that I gave you where to flow from an inner understanding
    to outword actions (faith AND works) instead for just religious outward actions
    (Matthew 23, Hebrews 11:6, James 2:14-26).

    So the cristism that I see people give to denominations is really not unique to that
    denomination but can happen in any denomination/church.

    I think SDAs bring two important things to the conversation: the sabbath and the health message.

    But the vulnerability that no denomination is immune to can creep up and both talking points become
    religious and rejected.

    Firstly the health message is way ahead of it’s time but I grew up in a church where it
    was sinful to eat pork. This is an old debate again with the pharisees: Matthew 15:1-16.
    But clearly Jesus ate Jewish mandated clean foods but for the right reasons (works and faith).

    You mentioned in an earlier blog that ex-adventists subscribe to 1 of 2 theories.
    I subscribe to the latter. I don’t believe Sunday replaces Saturday. I just don’t also believe
    that all that Seventh-Day Adventism encompasses is the only instantiation of the 4th commandment.
    I take it easy on Saturdays and enter the rest in my heart.

    Here is an interesting wikipedia entry on Charismatic Adventism and the Ralph Mackin case that
    Ellen White refuted: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charismatic_Adventism

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