World Church: Growing in Christ, New Belief Statement,
July 4, 2005 St. Louis, Missouri, United States .... [Mark
a movement that is drawing new members from societies where beliefs in "evil
spirits" continue to play a part, the Seventh-day Adventist Church's 58th
General Conference Session adopted, on July 4, a new fundamental belief
statement declaring God's power to help believers live a sanctified life.
|From left: Angel Rodriquez, director of the
Biblical Research Institute; William Johnsson, editor of the Adventist Review;
and Mike Ryan, director of Global Mission check the exact wording of the
proposed protocols for revising the Adventist statements of fundamental beliefs,
before answering a question from a delegate.[photo by Gerry
"Growing in Christ," as the new statement is called, links Jesus'
victory over demonic spirits with the struggles Christians face today.
"By His cross Jesus triumphed over the forces of evil," the statement
reads. "He who subjugated the demonic spirits during His earthly ministry has
broken their power and made certain their ultimate doom. Jesus' victory gives us
victory over the evil forces that still seek to control us, as we walk with Him
in peace, joy and assurance of His love."
It continues, "Now the Holy
Spirit dwells within us and empowers us. Continually committed to Jesus as our
Saviour and Lord, we are set free from the burden of our past deeds. No longer
do we live in the darkness, fear of evil powers, ignorance and meaninglessness
of our former way of life."
According to Michael L. Ryan, a general vice
president of the world church, overcoming evil is an important issue for members
in places where belief in evil spirits has previously dominated.
visited hundreds and hundreds of new congregations [in areas] where we have
never entered before," Ryan told the delegates. "And I find that many people
live in fear of evil spirits. The first question our frontline workers are asked
is, 'What is your God going to do about the evil spirits in our life?'"
Ryan, a veteran missionary who until recently headed the church's Global
Mission effort, said that some answers given by church workers were ones "that I
am not comfortable with," and that unless the church as a body addressed this
issue, "if time goes by for a few more years, I think we will be very surprised
at the church we find at that point" in those areas.
strengthening the church's expression of the liberating victory Christ won at
Calvary, the new statement is designed to encourage believers to stand firm in
"In this new freedom in Jesus, we are called to grow into
the likeness of his character, communing with Him daily in prayer, feeding on
His word, meditating on it and on His providence, singing His praises, gathering
together for worship, and participating in the mission of the Church," the
statement continues. "As we give ourselves in loving service to those around us
and in witnessing to His salvation, His constant presence with us through the
Spirit sanctifies every moment and every task."
In a candid assessment
of the need for a new fundamental belief, expressed in the proposal of the new
belief statement, the church said, "This new statement will sharpen the
Adventist understanding of the nature of a constant growth in Christ. This is
indispensable at a time when some church members are more interested in
theological discussion than in the spiritual impact of those doctrines in their
Getting from concept to reality for this belief took some
work. The process began in 2003 with a question of whether the overall
fundamental beliefs document needed some editorial insertions to address these
issues, or if a new fundamental belief statement was required. By 2004, it was
decided that a new statement was needed. It was drafted and discussed at Spring
Meeting, and moved forward for the 2005 world business session.
world meeting, the church also voted a formal protocol for initiating changes to
the fundamental beliefs statement. The process is designed to ensure
consideration of such proposals at all levels of the church, whether a change is
initiated at the world headquarters or at a unit in the world field. (See text
of protocol statement for specific details.)
Floor discussion of the
fundamental belief stretched over two days and included much discussion of the
nature of various elements of the document. Pastor Richard Elofer, president of
the church in Israel, and Claude Richli, secretary of the church's East-Central
Africa region, each raised questions about the use of the cross in the document,
given the interpretation of that symbol as an instrument of persecution and
crusade by Jews and Muslims.
Responding in both cases, Dr. Angel Manuel
Rodríguez, director of the church's Biblical Research Institute, explained that
while some have misused the symbolism of the cross in history, that is not the
Adventist Church's purpose.
The cross, he said, "is where Christ
defeated evil powers. It should free us to make us loving people. [This is a]
message of hope to the Islamic people [and to] the Jewish people. ... The cross
was the place where Christ defeated evil powers and freed us to love Muslims,
Jews, Buddhists and every person in the world."
Paul Petersen of the
South Pacific church region said that there was nothing about a "theology of
prayer" in the new statement, and questioned whether or not things can be
sanctified, as reflected in the "every moment and every task" clause of the
Responding, Dr. William Johnsson, editor of the Adventist
Review, the official church paper, said, "Throughout the Old Testament, places
are made holy by the presence of God. Almost the last verses of the Old
Testament talk about how even the pans, the vessels will be called holy to the
Lord. In the New Testament, [the Bible says] our bodies are temples of the Holy
Spirit. It seems very clear to me."
A range of comments, mostly
positive, came from people on the floor when asked about the new belief
Marija Trajkowska from Serbia said, "I don't see any problem
with adding an additional belief to the list of 27 -- as long as it is
accordance with the teaching of the Bible."
Daegeuk Nam from Korea said,
"Sticking to 27 beliefs is not particularly meaningful -- it's natural to add
more if we need them. If 'Growing in Christ' is not part of the existing list
then we need to add one more."
John Nengel from Nigeria told ANN, "I
don't know how many fundamental beliefs we had originally, but if after 25 years
there is need for another one which will deepen our perspectives, I don't see
any reason why it shouldn't be included. The frontiers of knowledge continue to
expand so an additional belief should be welcomed."
Enrique Becerra from
Chile said, "Because of the content of this new belief I think it is
appropriate. It's not a matter of numbers."
Frantz Garcon from New York
said, "Growing in Christ is what the Christian life is all about. It's a
lifetime's work, so really [this belief] should already be there."
church's General Conference Session in 1980 in Dallas, Texas, spent an entire
week on discussion and voting of the current statement of the 27 fundamental
beliefs. -Copyright © 2005, Adventist News
TRUTH IS... This is the Jesuit Pantheistic teaching of Piere
Tilliard de Jardin...