Seventh-day Adventism originated in the United States and was officially organized in 1863. With a strong belief in biblical authority, an early emphasis on the books of Daniel and Revelation resulted in a belief in the imminent coming of Christ, hence the name Adventist.
An influential woman, Ellen White, never held any church office but she was a visionary. Her approximately 2,000 visions are in her writings: 45 books and about 4,000 articles. Although maintaining that the Bible is the sole rule of faith, many of the beliefs and practices of Adventists either come from, or were confirmed, by White's visions.
As their name tells us, Seventh-day Adventists worship on Saturday instead of Sunday. Adventists believe that the change to Sunday by the early Church was a violation of Scripture.
Adventists agree with some basic Christian doctrines. They believe in the Trinity and the divinity of Christ, as well as original sin and Baptism. There is no need for a hell of eternal punishment as they do not believe in immortal souls. At the end of the world, all will be resurrected, the good taken to heaven and the wicked destroyed.
Adventists believe that we should care for our God-given bodies and are very conscious of healthy eating. They follow Old Testament dietary rules, refraining from pork, ham or shellfish. They are encouraged to follow a vegetarian diet or eat meat sparingly. In addition, they must refrain from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea and narcotics.
Body care extends to a healthy lifestyle. Adventists must avoid gambling, dancing, attendance at theatres and card playing. Both men and women are warned using jewelry for display, something which would not be in keeping with the simplicity urged by Scripture.
It obviously requires a strong commitment to live as an Adventist.
In the beginning, White advised Adventists to avoid medical doctors. Later, she had a medical school set up in Loma Linda, Calif. It's to their first medical doctor, John Kellogg, that we owe the development of corn flakes.
Adventists have a vast network. Today, they are in over 200 countries with a membership close to 15 million. They use 885 languages in their publications and oral work.
They have 7,000 schools of all types with a total enrollment of about 1.5 million. They operate television and radio stations and have almost 100 publishing houses. In addition, the church financially supports 1,000 full-time missionaries.
Adventists operate many hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, orphanages and other medical institutions. In addition, they have developed relief agencies in needy countries.
Adventists are required to tithe, some giving as much as 20 per cent of their income to the church. This enables them to support the extensive missionary activity as well as the educational, publishing and health programs.
Adventists are considered Christian as they believe in the Bible and have some principal beliefs the same as other Christians. However, the Catholic Church, while accepting the Baptism of most Protestant churches, considers Adventist Baptism to be of questionable validity. Preaching on Scripture and singing are the mainstay of their Sunday services.
Heart of Catholicism
Catholics also believe in the Bible as the basis of the faith but it is paired with the living tradition of the early Church from whom the Bible arose and through whom it came to us. The heart of Catholicism is sacramental: the celebration of the Mass and the sacraments.
Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus brought and continues to bring us gifts of grace and vitality, allowing us to live in praise and thanksgiving to God while bringing God's healing and loving presence to the world around us.