There is a growing clash in Seventh Day Adventism between those who want to move closer to evangelicals in worship style and shared beliefs and those pressing for maintaining Adventist identity, reports Christianity Today (January/February).
For more than a decade, there has been a movement of Adventists toward contemporary evangelical worship styles and closer cooperation with fellow Protestant believers. The trend toward assimilation was worrying enough for church president Ted N.C. Wilson to warn members against espousing “generic Christianity” and “Pentecostal worship styles” and members “independently” from the main church during his annual sermon last October. The warning came at a time when one of the church’s “most famous sons, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, is seeking evangelical support for a likely 2016 presidential bid,” writes Sarah Eehkoff Zylstra.
She adds “American secularization may be pushing Adventists closer to other Christians. Adventists have joined evangelicals, Catholics, and others on many amicus briefs in recent religious freedom cases involving contraception, tax-free clergy housing and other issues.” Wilson’s criticisms seem particularly aimed at the North American Division (NAD) of the church.
The NAD has overwhelmingly approved the ordination of women while the global church is adamantly opposed to the practice. The NAD recently announced that it will be moving out the global church’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., to focus “on our own unique message and strategies that are relevant and work in our territory,” says Daniel Jackson, division president. The NAD only has about one million members and is growing slower than the rest of the 18.1 million-member church; in 2014, for the tenth year in a row, the more than one million became Adventists.
(Christianity Today, 465 Gundersen Dr., Carol Stream, IL 60188)