by Monte Sahlin
By AT News Team, July 28, 2014
Most Adventists are simply not aware of the fact that there are a few, small Sabbath-keeping Adventist denominations besides the Seventh-day Adventist Church with headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. One of the largest of these small movements that have felt the need to leave the larger denomination at some point is the International Missionary Society Seventh-day Adventist Church Reform Movement. It was first organized in Europe during World War I over issues related to the traditional Adventist stand against participating in the military.
As Adventist Today has previously reported, a symposium was convened at Friedensau Adventist University in Germany earlier this year to examine the impact of World War 1 on the Adventist faith and organization after 100 years. At that time the two union conferences in Germany joined in releasing a statement that included an apology for the behavior of some European church leaders during the second decade of the 20th century and reached out to the Reformed Adventists. Speakers from the Reform movement were included in the symposium.
Now Adventist Today has the exclusive opportunity to publish a seven-point statement from Reformed Adventist leaders in response to the statement of the German union conferences. The statement begins with an expression of "appreciation" for points in the statement from the German union conferences. It also explains why the separation occurred in the past, asserting that "the faithful Adventists who protested starting in August 1914 were not motivated by personal ambition, time-setting, dreams, or fanaticism … nor had they rejected the fundamental principles of the church." It quotes from a 1977 statement by former General Conference president, Pastor Robert Pierson, who shared this assessment. The items listed are often given as reasons for splinter groups and independent ministries by those who are critical of them.
The statement also affirms that "Christ is the center" of Adventist faith and specifically "the message of 1888 which presented Jesus as Christ Our Righteousness." It includes a quote from Ellen G. White that when "Christ is the center … the closer we shall come together in feeling, in sympathy, … in love" despite differences of opinion on various issues. The statement concedes that some reformers "have acted improperly with a wrong attitude" placing too much emphasis on "personal sins of Adventists," and expresses the wish to do more to communicate with "our Adventist brethren."
It asserts again the key point that led to separation in 1914; that early Adventists, including a voted statement by the General Conference in session, taught "that all members as conscientious objectors abstain from participating in war and promote peace. (James 3:17-18)" The statement appeals for a recognition of the "suffering and sinfulness of war." It points out that this original teaching of early Adventists has been widely disregarded and is for many in today's generations largely lost.
The Reform Adventists continue to stand for pacifism and urge that it be seriously considered by all Adventists everywhere as an integral part of the original message of the Remnant Church. It is a key part of "the truth" in their convictions and should be taken seriously, especially in today's world where violence of many kinds has become institutionalized in many places.
The full, seven-point statement without any redaction can be seen here: [LINK]
The statement of the two German union conferences can be seen here: [LINK]