Not Traditional, Original

Dietary Laws

Another dividing difference among Christians are the dietary laws of the Old Testament. The Seventh Day Adventist denomination stands out as an example of a church that goes against the mainstream thinking of the Christian body regarding the requirements to follow the Levitical dietary laws.

Simply put, most Christian churches and denominations believe that the following biblical passage demonstrates the early Christian message that all of the Levitical laws, including dietary laws, were no longer in force in the new Jewish sect called Christianity:

Now on the morrow, as they were on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour: and he became hungry, and desired to eat: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance; and he beholdeth the heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending, as it were a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth: wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts and creeping things of the earth and birds of the heaven. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean. And a voice came unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, make not thou common. And this was done thrice: and straightway the vessel was received up into heaven. Now while Peter was much perplexed in himself what the vision which he had seen might mean, behold, the men that were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood before the gate, (Acts 10:9-17)

In the above account Peter is praying, and had a vision. In the vision he saw all kinds of beasts that were forbidden to eat according to Levitical law. In the vision the Lord commanded Peter to kill and eat of these “unclean” animals. Peter replied that he had never eaten anything unclean. And the Lord answered Peter, saying, that he shouldn’t call things unclean that God has now made clean.

The vast majority use this verse as their biblical basis for saying that it is now acceptable to eat pork, birds, reptiles, and any other food that was previously forbidden under Levitical law. After all, in the vision the Lord instructs Peter that the animals are now clean and it is okay to eat them.

However, some churches, including the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, say that this verse does not refer to eating laws. They say that the clear context of this verse is who is acceptable to be saved. Previously, only Israel contained God’s chosen people.  Now they say, because of these verses which are an analogy, all people, even those who had previously been unclean, are eligible to be God’s people.  They say the verse is clearly an analogy used only to identify to Peter that the Gentiles he is about to meet are now “clean” and that he should witness of them just as he would to a Jew.

Furthermore, the dietary laws are presented as food guidelines that, like the principle of resting on the seventh day (the Sabbath), are simply principles that God instituted for the benefit of mankind.

© copyright 2011 Mark W Smith, all rights reserved.

February 21st, 2011 Posted by | Divisions | no comments

19.4.3 The Seventh Day Adventist Movement

The Seventh-day Adventist began as part of what was known in 19th century as the “Millerite” movement. That movement was based on the belief of one William Miller, a farmer in New York, who believed that the second coming of Jesus was going to happen about the year 1843. Miller based his conclusion on his study of the prophecies of Daniel.  Miller had been a Deist and had converted to Christianity as a Baptist.

The word “advent” means “coming” and followers of Miller were thus called Adventists.. The anticipated day of coming came and went; however, followers remained that believed in Jesus’ imminent coming.

The Seventh-day Adventist movement continued and was especially reinforced in the ministry of James and Ellen White. Ellen White was identified as having a ministry of prophecy, and her writings became the authoritative source for doctrine within the movement. Part of Ellen G White’s vision was concerning the dietary laws which eventually came out against the eating of unclean meats. [i]

Seventh-day Adventists are called so also because they believe in a Sabbath that goes from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

Besides baptism, Seventh-day Adventists adopted the ordinances of footwashing and Communion.

James White began publishing both the Advent Review and the Sabbath Herald. He established a publishing house in 1852.

In 1860 The Whites started establishing conferences of Churches thus creating a denomination.

Seventh-day Adventists focused on publishing and medical institutions.  These endeavors resulted in the creation of numerous schools and sanitariums which eventually became hospitals.  Their efforts started reaching abroad, and the greatest growth in the twentieth century resulted in a global organization that numbered about five million people in 1985.[ii]

[i] Religionfacts.com, http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/denominations/seventh_day_adventist.htm

[ii] DICTIONARY OF CHRISTIANITY IN AMERICA, Daniel G Reid, Editor, Intervarsity Press, Downer’s Grove, Illinois, 1990, p. 1076

© copyright 2011 Mark W Smith, all rights reserved.

February 21st, 2011 Posted by | Movements | one comment