Yesterday I wrote about a book that had been in several mailboxes by the title The Great Controversy. I’ve not read the book yet and probably won’t get to it any time soon. But here are some of my thoughts:
The author, Ellen G. White, is a really important figure in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) tradition. In the 1980’s there was a statement on how mainstream SDA’s think of her writings. They believe that she had the gift of prophecy and that her writings are “the product of that inspiration, are applicable and authoritative, especially to Seventh-day Adventists.” (For more on what they said, go to this website.) Interestingly even though a woman’s writings are a really important part of their tradition, they remain divided on the ordination of women as pastors.
While Lutherans and Seventh-day Adventists share a common belief in the Triune God, we also have some significant differences. For instance, SDA’s stress practices like tithing and Old Testament dietary laws as binding on Christians. Lutherans stress the freedom a Christian has because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Another important distinction is that Lutherans primarily gather on Sunday because this is the day Jesus rose from the dead (see Acts 20:7), while SDA’s believe that Christians are obligated to worship on Saturday.
When I talk with Christians from other traditions, you can often hear different things emphasized. For instance, Lutherans place a strong emphasis on God’s grace as a gift given to us. While that’s a theme that runs throughout the whole Bible, a lot of Lutherans I know will find great comfort in Paul’s writings in the New Testament.
SDA’s stress two books in the Bible that are about the end of the world – the Old Testament Book of Daniel and the New Testament book of Revelation. You can see glimpses of this on the back cover of The Great Controversy:
“Solemn and important… are the events taking place in our times. But what do all these really mean? Could these be warning signs, arousing us to some imminent danger?… The Great Controversy reveals that the world is a theater of conflict. The actors – you and me – are preparing to act our part in the last great drama. And our choices and actions have a part to play in the outcome of this agelong struggle.”
Notice the language of conflict that I mentioned yesterday. Also notice the emphasis on the end of the world (i.e. the last great drama.) Tomorrow I’m going to briefly offer a Lutheran response to this….