Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Progressive Adventism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Evangelical Adventist" redirects here. For the early Millerite group, see Evangelical Adventist Church.

Progressive Adventists are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church who disagree with certain beliefs traditionally or commonly held by mainstream today in the church. They think of themselves as theologically progressive relative to the denomination's mainstream, and place an emphasis on the gospel. They are often described as liberal Adventism by other Adventists, however the term "progressive" is generally preferred as a self-description. This is partly because most are not liberal Christians (although a small portion actually are). This article describes terms such as evangelical Adventism, cultural Adventism, charismatic Adventism, and progressive Adventism and others, which are generally related but have distinctions.

Progressives typically question one or more of the church's more peculiar, or "distinctive" beliefs such as the investigative judgment, the remnant, a future global Sunday-law, or an overuse of Ellen G. White's writings. A major factor in its rise was as a result of Adventists mixing more widely with other Christians, which was sparked by the need for government accreditation for its educational institutions. However it is an emerging movement with an emerging definition, and its proponents resist drawing up any formal belief statement. (It also has many similarities with the emerging church movement).[1] Perceptions and definitions of it may differ somewhat depending on the author, although much in common is also clearly discernible.

The movement emerged from interactions with evangelical Christians in the 1950s, which included the publication of Questions on Doctrine. This period marked a shift in the broader Christian world's perception of Adventists, from a sect to more commonly viewed as a legitimate Christian denomination. However earlier streams are also evident in Adventist history. The label "progressive Adventist" was created in the mid-1960s by Spectrum magazine, according to one author.

One scholar wrote in 2001,
"It is only within the last few decades that the Adventist Review has recognized editorially that there exists within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, at least in North America, 'liberals,' 'liberal churches,' 'liberal colleges/universities' and 'liberal conferences.' Depending on the author and his/her agenda, Adventist liberals are compared and/or contrasted with 'conservative Adventists,' 'historic Adventists,' 'Bible-believing (or EGW-believing) Adventists,' 'traditional Adventists,' 'evangelical Adventists,' 'cultural Adventists,' and/or 'ecumenical Adventists.'"[2]
Many scholars of the church are progressive, and progressive Adventism has strong connections with Adventist higher education. In an 1980s survey of Adventist theologians, 45% described their beliefs as "liberal" compared to other church members; 40% as "mainstream", 11% as "conservative", and 4% did not respond to the question.[3] Numerous magazines and conferences also support the movement. A higher proportion of those in younger generations are more progressive.[4] As the church varies by the demographics of location, culture, ethnicity, age group and other factors, progressive Adventism has a stronger presence in some places (such as the West Coast of the United States) than others.[5] Additionally, there are trends corresponding with the number of generations one's family has been an Adventist. As a generalization, converts and their children are often strong supporters of their new faith, however the third generation often question many beliefs and practices.[6] One book labels this trend, which is also evident in financial upward mobility, the "revolving door".[7]


West Coast Religion Teachers' Conference
In the United States, Adventist colleges and universities on the West Coast are considered more progressive – such as Loma Linda University, La Sierra University, Pacific Union College and Walla Walla University. Academics meet at the West Coast Religion Teachers' Conference.


1 comment:

roger said...

My perception is that at least half of the pioneers of the post - disappointment advent movement were afraid organization would lead to hierarchy, creedalism & dogmatism. My perception is that those fears have been realized. It also seems likely, however, that there are people who as dedicated to the doctrines of salvation by grace alone through faith alone, the primacy of scripture, the nature of the church as consisting of believers in the Messiah, the identity of the church as modern Israel, the PRE - MILLENNIAL second advent of Jesus, the Seventh-day - Ness of the Sabbath and the unconscious state of the dead as the pioneers were but find that they cannot invite visitors to the meetings of the Adventist congregations of which they are aware because of the likelihood that the visitor will encounter so much dogmatism as to get the impression that virtually all adventists are dogmatists. Someone has suggested joining with Seventh-day Adventists who aren't even creedal to start another Seventh-day Adventist congregation. There might be places where that would be feasible. But what can be done in conferences where the only pastors the conference officers select are people who favor a hierarchical concept of the nature of the church and treat the list of Fundamental Doctrines as a creed?
Roger Metzger
Benzonia Michigan