Who Are Adventists?
An Encyclopedic List of Seventh Day Adventist Groups
Overview

Although it traces its origins back to the founding of the New Testament Church by Jesus Christ in the first century, and ultimately back to the relationship between God and mankind in the Garden of Eden, Seventh-day Adventism arose under that particular name, and adopted its particular doctrinal positions, in the middle-to-late 1800s. Since that time, it has become a fast-growing, global religion that seeks to restore the true worship of God to the world by continuing the work of the Reformation, which insisted on a Bible-only approach to the determination of religious beliefs and observances.

Although Adventism in general does believe in the continuing voice of prophecy, and has accepted the writings of certain individuals as inspired, it maintains that the Bible is the only standard by which to evaluate truth, and must be the foundation for every dogmatic element of the Christian faith. In light of its various beliefs and reforms, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and those groups that have come forth from it at various times, and for various reasons, uphold the following common doctrines (to varying degrees of significance):

  • The Bible is the Word of God, and the foundation for all true doctrines
  • The soon return (i.e., Advent) of Jesus Christ to resurrect the faithful, gather the living saints and desolate the earth
  • Adherence to the 10 Commandments of the Old Testament, notably the fourth, which involves observance of the Sabbath on the 7th day of the week
  • The summarization of the Gospel for the present generation as three angels’ messages, outlined in the Book of Revelation, chapter 14, and verses 6 through 11
  • The composition of the soul as the union of body and spirit; i.e., the soul is not a “spiritual entity” that is independent of the body
  • Conditional immortality/annihilationism; the entire souls (body and spirit) of the unsaved completely destroyed in the lake of fire following the judgment of mankind
  • The writings of Ellen White held as inspired testimony
  • An avoidance of “unclean meats,” and the encouragement of a vegetarian lifestyle
  • Abstinence from alcoholic drinks, caffeinated drinks, and tobacco products

In addition, various groups under the umbrella of “Adventism” have maintained beliefs and practices that distinguish them based upon their understanding of some key doctrinal points. What follows below is a list of Adventist groups, and some information about each one, including those religious doctrines and observances that are not common to all, and those positions or reforms for which each group is particularly known.

 

The Seventh-day Adventist Church

Founded: 1863
Parent Group: The Millerite Movement
Organizational Structure: The Church is headed by a General Conference, headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland. The General Conference oversees fifteen worldwide Divisions, which in turn are responsible for local conferences composed of individual Churches.

Doctrinal Beliefs:

  • The Sanctuary doctrine: Jesus Christ is currently in Heaven performing the final functions of His priestly office in the Heavenly Sanctuary, after which He will return to the earth as a conquering King
  • The Investigative Judgment: The judgment of all Christians began in 1844 with the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary. The judgment begins with the dead, but at some point will pass to the living, so that by the point at which Christ returns, every case will have been decided
  • A Trinitarian view of the Godhead
  • A National, and later Global, Sunday Law is on the horizon, which will force Christians to decide whether they will remain faithful to God by continued observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, or reject him in favor of the world. This choice will decide the ultimate destiny of those who are alive during the last days
  • Social Conservatism in dress, entertainment, and lifestyle, although the degree of conservatism varies among groups within the Church that identify themselves as “conservative” or “progressive”
  • A seasonal (4 times a year) observance of the Last Supper, at which point an open communion and foot washing ceremonies are held
Further information: www.adventist.org

 

The International Association
of Free Seventh Day Adventists


Founded: Early 1900s
Parent Group: The Seventh-day Adventist Church
Organizational Structure: Various

Doctrinal Beliefs: As a network composed of a number of self-supporting Seventh-day Adventist Churches, the beliefs of individual groups within the association may vary. What are included here are those beliefs, found in most forms of Adventism, which are commonly held for the purpose of membership within the organization in addition to those listed in the overview:

  • A Trinitarian view of the Godhead
  • The Sanctuary doctrine: Jesus Christ is currently in Heaven performing the final functions of His priestly office in the Heavenly Sanctuary, after which He will return to the earth as a conquering King
  • The Investigative Judgment: The judgment of all Christians began in 1844 with the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary. The judgment begins with the dead, but at some point will pass to the living, so that by the point at which Christ returns, every case will have been decided
  • A National, and later Global, Sunday Law is on the horizon, which will force Christians to decide whether they will remain faithful to God by continued observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, or reject him in favor of the world. This choice will decide the ultimate destiny of those who are alive during the last days
  • A spirit of compromise has entered into the doctrines and teachings of the “mainstream” Seventh-day Adventist Church, leading to changes in beliefs and practices, and prompting a rise in the number and population of “free” Seventh Day Adventists, who are able to promote the Gospel message without the control or restrictions of other men
Further information: www.freesda.org

 

The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement

Founded: 1925/1951
Parent Group: The Seventh-day Adventist Church
Organizational Structure: Although first founded in 1925, a major division took place in 1951, and by the following year two distinct factions had arisen calling themselves the SDA Reform Movement. One group is governed by a General Conference headquartered in Roanoke, Virginia, and the other, which calls itself the International Missionary Society, Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement, is governed by a General Conference headquartered in Cedartown, Georgia. Despite several attempts to reconcile both with each other and the mainstream Church, the two divisions continue to be separate to this day.

Doctrinal Beliefs: Note that the 1951 division, resulting in the creation of two separate organizations, was primarily due to tensions concerning organizational leadership rather than doctrinal positions; therefore, the doctrinal beliefs listed here are common to both factions:

  • A Trinitarian view of the Godhead
  • The Sanctuary doctrine: Jesus Christ is currently in Heaven performing the final functions of His priestly office in the Heavenly Sanctuary, after which He will return to the earth as a conquering King
  • The Investigative Judgment: The judgment of all Christians began in 1844 with the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary. The judgment begins with the dead, but at some point will pass to the living, so that by the point at which Christ returns, every case will have been decided
  • The mainstream Adventist Church has erred in a number of its positions, including a rejection of the 1888 message of righteousness by faith, and the question of military service
  • The communion service is celebrated in a “closed” manner; that is, it is shared only among members of the Church in good standing
  • Marriage is intended to be for life; therefore, individuals who have previously been married, but have since divorced, are not allowed to remarry while maintaining good standing within the Church
  • A Christian cannot engage in any military service; members of the SDA Reform Movement are strict pacifists, who may not serve in armed forces, even in a medical capacity
  • A vegetarian diet is an important element of heath reform, and is expected of Church members
  • The 144,000 mentioned in the Bible is the literal number of individuals who will be redeemed from the earth by the teaching of the Three Angels’ Message since the year 1844
Further information: http://www.sdarm.org (Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement) and http://www.sda1844.org (International Missionary Society, Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement)

 

The Davidian Seventh Day Adventist Church
(a.k.a. The Shepherd’s Rod)


Founded: 1930
Parent Group: The Seventh-day Adventist Church
Organizational Structure: The Church is governed by an Executive Council consisting of four officers (President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary) and three non-officers. The Council operates according to a document entitled The Leviticus of the Davidian Seventh-day Adventists, which indicates that the President is chosen directly by God, with no other human intervention, citing Exodus 3:10, 15, 16, Exodus 4:17, Ezekiel 3:17 and Luke 6:13

Doctrinal Beliefs: Note that the 1951 division, resulting in the creation of two separate organizations, was primarily due to tensions concerning organizational leadership rather than doctrinal positions; therefore, the doctrinal beliefs listed here are common to both factions:

  • A commitment to preparing the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the coming judgment of God
  • The Sanctuary doctrine: Jesus Christ is currently in Heaven performing the final functions of His priestly office in the Heavenly Sanctuary, after which He will return to the earth as a conquering King
  • The Investigative Judgment: The judgment of all Christians began in 1844 with the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary. The judgment begins with the dead, but at some point will pass to the living, so that by the point at which Christ returns, every case will have been decided
  • The prophetic gift given to Seventh-day Adventism ceased in 1915, and was restored in 1930 through the testimony and writings of Victor A. Houteff
  • The “tares,” the unsaved who are listed as members within the Church, will be destroyed prior to the return of Jesus Christ
  • The National Sunday Law, which most Adventists believe will be passed in order to restrict Biblical Sabbath observance, is not the test of the Churches; but the last generation of saints will be “sealed,” or fully prepared for Heaven, before this law appears. After that, some who formerly kept Sunday as a holy day will be filled with the Holy Spirit and come into the company of the redeemed as the “Great Multitude” mentioned in the Book of Revelation
  • A pre-millennial, “Davidian” Kingdom that will be established between the onset of the time of trouble and the return of Jesus. From this Kingdom will come the “loud cry,” the final message of mercy to the world that will cease when all the remaining saints are gathered into this Kingdom
Further information: http://shepherds-rod.org

 

Historic Seventh Day Adventism

Founded: 1957
Parent Group: The Seventh-day Adventist Church
Organizational Structure: Various

Doctrinal Beliefs: The title “Historic Seventh Day Adventism” does not indicate a particular religions movement or Church. Instead, it is the title given to those individuals, groups, and organizations associated with, but sometimes separate from, the mainstream Church, while maintaining the traditional teachings of Adventism. Some of those teachings, many of which have been altered or rejected outright by the modern, mainstream Church, include:

  • The belief that the mainstream Adventist Church has adopted what is termed “the new theology,” indicating doctrinal shifts in several critical areas, such as the nature of Christ, the emphasis placed on justification at the expense of focus on sanctification, and a de-emphasizing of Ellen G. White’s writings as a source of doctrinal authority
  • The belief that Jesus Christ possessed a fallen nature while in human form, and was capable of sinning, but chose not to
  • The atonement through Christ not only forgives sins, but also cleanses the character of sin for all who accept Him as Savior
  • The last generation of believers will obtain a state of sinless perfection in the final period of time before Jesus’ second advent
  • The writings of Ellen White, while designated the “lesser light,” are nevertheless considered by some historic Adventists to be infallible, and of similar spiritual authority to the Bible
  • The King James Version of the Bible is considered by many historic Seventh Day Adventists to be the most accurate English translation, and some promote it as the only “correct” version to use

 

The Lord Our Righteousness Church
(a.k.a. Strong City)


Founded: 1987
Parent Group: The Seventh-day Adventist Church
Organizational Structure: The Church’s members follow the teachings of its leader, Wayne Bent, who claims to be the returned Messiah, Jesus Christ

Doctrinal Beliefs:

  • The mainstream Seventh-day Adventist Church has become corrupt, and is condemned as one of the daughters of “The Great Harlot” identified in the Book of Revelation
  • The return of Jesus Christ, as predicted in the Bible, is a “spiritual” rather than physical/visible event, and has already been fulfilled in the person of Wayne Bent, in preparation for the judgment of the world
  • Wayne Bent, now known as Michael Travesser, is the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the embodiment of God
  • The Day of Judgment began on October 31st, 2007
  • Those who reject the testimony of Michael Travesser will be left in their sins, and ultimately lost
  • Those who accept the work of Jesus Christ (now Michael Travesser’s testimony) receive the gift of instant sinlessness
  • Everything in the universe operates by absolute cause-and-effect; blessings and curses, including injuries or disease, come to individuals entirely due to their own actions and choices
  • Christians who are truly free from sin do not become ill, and will never die
Further information: http://www.strongcity2.info (Note: This website is now largely dedicated to the legal issues concerning Wayne Bent’s conviction for criminal sexual contact with a minor, and currently contains little to no information about the organization’s beliefs and practices)

 

The Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church

Founded: 1991
Parent Group: The Seventh-day Adventist Church
Organizational Structure: The Church is governed directly by its worldwide membership. Official meetings are held in which votes are taken when decisions of Church-wide importance are made.

Doctrinal Beliefs:

  • Adherence to the 10 Commandments of the Old Testament, notably the fourth, with an emphasis on the “spirit” as well as the letter of the Law, which involves – in the case of the Sabbath – perfect spiritual rest through abiding in Christ
  • Victory over all known sins by the believer at the point of conversion, and a life of sanctification thereafter that involves the identification of, and repentance from, all sin in preparation for the Heavenly society
  • The Sanctuary doctrine: Jesus Christ is currently in Heaven performing the final functions of His priestly office in the Heavenly Sanctuary, after which He will return to the earth as a conquering King
  • The Investigative Judgment: The judgment of all Christians began in 1844 with the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary. The judgment begins with the dead, but passed into to the living 144 years later, in 1988, and the cases of all the living are currently being decided
  • The work of the Church in gathering the “144,000,” the final group of saints, from the present generation into Covenant membership
  • A Non-Trinitarian view of the Godhead; Jesus Christ is the “only begotten” of the Father, brought forth in Eternity, but of no lesser glory
  • The Holy Spirit is the personal Presence of the Father and Son, and the very “life of Christ,” but not an independent, co-equal entity
  • The mainstream Seventh-day Adventist Church has become corrupted due to its adoption of pagan doctrines and worldly practices. In uniting with the United States government, and through its subsequent legal persecution of other Christian groups, the main Church has “fallen,” and God is actively calling faithful individuals out if it into the reformed Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church
  • The trademarking of the word “Seventh-day Adventist” and acronym “SDA” by the mainstream Seventh-day Adventist Church constitutes a betrayal of the divine origin of this distinctive name, and a rejection of Protestant principles, constituting a “Mark of The Beast,” which the Bible warns against accepting or supporting
  • Social Conservatism in dress, entertainment, and lifestyle, with an emphasis on maintaining both the standards of Christ’s character and individuality in religion
  • The observance of the annual, Biblical feast days, in particular the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles, as times of spiritual refreshing
  • The observance of the New Moon once a month at the astronomical conjunction as a “festival of humility,” during which no work or financial transactions are performed
  • A monthly observance of the Last Supper on the New Moons, at which point a closed communion and foot washing ceremonies are held
  • A preference for the use of the Biblical names of the Father and Son: Yah/Yahweh and Yahshua respectively
Further information: http://93.88.247.151/index2.html

 

The Eternal Gospel Church

Founded: 1992
Parent Group: The Seventh-day Adventist Church
Organizational Structure: The Church is pastored by Rafael Perez, who has been engaged in a worldwide campaign to promote the Gospel for over 20 years

Doctrinal Beliefs:

  • The Sanctuary doctrine: Jesus Christ is currently in Heaven performing the final functions of His priestly office in the Heavenly Sanctuary, after which He will return to the earth as a conquering King
  • The Investigative Judgment: The judgment of all Christians began in 1844 with the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary. The judgment begins with the dead, but passed into to the living 144 years later, in 1988, and the cases of all the living are currently being decided
  • A Trinitarian view of the Godhead
  • The Eternal Gospel Church was raised up to bring forth a worldwide revival based on the Three Angels’ Message of Revelation 14, and is now proclaiming the final message to the world through publishing, radio, newspapers, billboards, and foreign missions
  • The mainstream Seventh-day Adventist Church has compromised with the world, and is no longer promoting the saving truths for the end-time with necessary emphasis on distinctive Adventist doctrines
  • A National, and later Global, Sunday Law is on the immediate horizon, which will force Christians to decide whether they will remain faithful to God by continued observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, or reject him in favor of the world. This choice will decide the ultimate destiny of those who are alive during the last days (Note: This is a belief that is held by many Adventists, including those in the mainstream Church, but the Eternal Gospel Church has placed greater emphasis on it than some other groups)
Further information: http://eternalgospelherald.com