by Monte Sahlin

Statement of The International Missionary Society, Seventh-day Adventist Church Reform Movement Concerning the Confession and Apology of the Seventh-day Adventist German Unions

July 1, 2014

1. Acknowledgement and Appreciation. During the Symposium on "The Impact of World War Ion Seventh-day Adventism" held at Friedensau Adventist University, an official copy of a "Statement of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany regarding the centennial anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War," which had been issued and published by Seventh-day Adventist German Unions, was translated into English, read publicly, and given to the Reform Movement representatives. The Seventh-day Adventist German Unions made a courageous and noble step toward a noncombatant position. They acknowledged the Adventist Church's involvement in the Great War and that it was wrong for Adventists leaders and members to endorse "military service" with "weapons," even "on the Sabbath," from the outset of the war in 1914 through its termination in 1918. They conceded that some Adventists leaders had their former "members … pursued by the authorities." Their formal and public petition asking the "Reform Movement for forgiveness" is received with sincere thanks and praise to God. We concur that the "children of God are called to be a people of peace,and to reject every form of violence…" [1]
 

2. Origin and Organization. The faithful Adventists who protested starting in August 1914 were not motivated by personal ambitions, time-setting, dreams, or fanaticism. As a past Adventist General Conference President, Robert Pierson, wrote in 1977: "During World War 1, … some … believers were by church discipline disfellowshiped from the church, even though they themselves would not have separated, nor had they rejected the fundamental principles of the church. New organizations were formed in order to gather the believers that were separated in this manner." [2] After the war ended, the faithful Adventists initially adopted the name in 1919 of "lnternationale Missionsgesellschaft der Siebenten Tags Adventisten Alte seit 1844" (International Missionary Society of the Seventh-day Adventists Old Movement since 1844). During their first international conference in 1921, and again during their attempted appeal to the delegates in session of the General Conference world assembly held in 1922, in the City of San Francisco, the name International Missionary Society, SDA Reform Movement was used.
 

3. Christ is the Center.  The separation in Adventism, the Laodicean message, the needed Reformation [3] and the predicted war crisis were not unrelated to the message of 1888 which presented Jesus as Christ Our Righteousness. [4] As an eyewitness of that memorable conference in Minneapolis wrote: "The reason for all division, discord, and differences is found in separation from Christ. Christ is the center to which all should be attracted; for the nearer we approach the center, the closer we shall come together in feeling, in sympathy, [and) in love." [5]
 

4. Suffering and Sinfulness of War.  While we appreciate and acknowledge the confession of the German Unions' involvement in the division that occurred 100 years ago, the new Adventist combatant position adopted during the Great War was not an issue limited to Germany, nor to World War I, but has permeated many countries up to this day. Adventist members supported by the church in serving as combatant soldiers have suffered injury and continue to die on the battlefield. On the other hand, conscientious objectors have suffered imprisonment, torture, and loss of life with minor or no recognition. As our mutual pioneers preached, taught, and wrote in the context of the American Civil War, bearing arms, engaging in war, and causing human bloodshed is "sinful." It is transgression of the law of God (Exodus 20:8-11,13,15), lack of faith, and contrary to the spirit of the New Testament. [6] John 18:36. The General Conference resolved in 1868: "Believing that war was never justifiable except under the immediate direction of God … we cannot believe it to be right for the servants of Christ to take up arms to destroy the lives of their fellow men." [7]
 

5. Pacifism. Therefore, it has ever been the position of the International Missionary Society, Seventh-day Adventist Church Reform Movement worldwide that all members as conscientious objectors abstain from participating in war, and promote peace. [8] James 3:17,18. Its doctrinal teaching is that true Christians must not seek the death of others of like or different faith by fighting in the armed forces, and that the Sabbath is to be kept holy under all circumstances by God's grace, following the example of Jesus Christ, who advocated pacifism as the Prince of Peace. Matthew 5:43-48.
 

6. Apology. We concede that nominal Reformers in the past have acted improperly with a wrong attitude, such as emphasizing personal sins of Adventists and Reformers, thus diminishing the influence and the power of the present truth message and its principles. May God forgive us for not doing more to reach out to our Adventist brethren and the world with the pacifism principles and the message of the peace-loving "lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." [9] John 1:29.
 

7. Praise and Prayer. looking back across the nearly 100 years of this Reform Movement's existence, we humbly praise the Lord, who has preserved us to see this day. We encourage all who uphold pacifism and nonviolence within the Adventist Church and throughout the world. During this centennial of the Great War, may everyone bearing the name of Adventist understand the experiences and sacrifices of the faithful survivors and martyrs so as to inspire every child and youth to be prepared for future crises, trusting the Almighty God. Revelation 12:11. It is our desire and prayer that Adventists in other countries, as well as the brethren at the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference in Silver Spring, Maryland, return to the historic position of Adventism in its first love, as it resolved: "That it is the judgment of this [General] Conference, that the bearing of arms, or engaging in war, is a direct violation of the teachings of our Saviour, and the spirit and letter of the law of God." [10]
 

"Blessed [are) the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9.
 

For the International Missionary Society, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Reform Movement, General Conference, Inc., info@sda1884.org and www.sda1844.org, Cedartown, Georgia, U.S.A.
 

[signed]

Pastor Idel Suarez, Ph.D., President
Elder Woonsan Kang, Ph.D., Secretary
Pastor Tzvetan Petkov, M.A., Ministerial Director
[v.8]

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1. Johannes Naether and Gunther Machel, "Schuld und Versagen," Adventisten heute, May 2014, p. 17.
2. Robert H. Pierson to believers who at this time are not members of the Seventh-day Church, Washington, D.C., February 1977, p. 2.
3. "Unless there is a decided reformation among the people of God, He will turn His face from them." Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8 (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1948), 146.
4. "Since the time of the Minneapolis meeting, I have seen the state of the Laodicean church as never before." Ellen G. White, "The Righteousness of Christ," Review and Herald, Vol. 67, No. 33 (August 26, 1980), 1. "I thought of the future crisis, and feelings that I can never put into words for a little time overcame me." Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, Vol. 12 (Silver Spring, MD: E. G. White Estate, 1993), 16.
5. Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book 1 (Washington DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1958), 259.
6. Uriah Smith, Compilation of Extracts from the Publications of Seventh-day Adventists, Setting Forth their Views of the Sinfulness of War Referred to in the Annexed Affidavits (Battle Creek, MI: Steam Press of the Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, 1865).
7. J. N. Andrews and U. Smith, "Sixth Annual Session of the General Conference of the Seventh-days" (Business proceedings, Battle Creek, MI, May 14, 1868).
8. "In the army they cannot obey the truth and at the same time obey the requirements of their officers. There would be a continual violation of conscience." Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8 (Mt. View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1948), 361.
9. "God's remnant people, standing before the world as reformers, are to show that the law of God is the foundation of all enduring reform … constrained by the love of Christ." Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1943), 678.
10. J. M. Aldrich and U. Smith, "Fifth Annual Session of the General Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventists" (Business proceedings, Battle Creek, MI: May 14, 1867).