Seventh Day Adventist's View of Individuals with Disabilities

Article excerpt

"The only disability in the sight of God is sin. Any other disability is irrelevant." (1)

The Seventh Day Adventist Church is a denomination that grew out of the prophetic Millerite movement in the United States during the middle years of the nineteenth century. It considers itself a branch of Protestant Christianity, though differences in doctrine and practice have led some mainstream Christians to dispute that designation. The name of the church indicates its two main distinctive characteristics: Sabbath observation on the seventh day (i.e. Saturday) and an expectation that the end of the world is drawing near.

As of 2005, the Seventh Day Adventist Church had 12 million baptized members and about 25 million total members and adherents worldwide. The church is one of world's fastest growing organizations, primarily due to increases in third world membership. It now operates in 203 of the 228 countries recognized by the United Nations. (2) As of May 2007, it was the twelfth largest religious body in the world. (3)

SOME HISTORY

The Adventists movement has its roots in the 19th century "Millerite movement" which centered on the belief that Jesus would return on October 22, 1844. William Miller, a farmer who converted to Christianity, was convinced that the bible contained coded information about the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus. The prediction "... was based in large part on Daniel 8:14: 'And he said onto me, unto 2,300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.' Miller believed the 2,300 days referred to 2,300 years and that the countdown began in 457BC." (2) When this day passed uneventfully, many followers left the movement. Others who remained called themselves Adventists and taught their adherents that the return of Christ may occur very soon but with no specified date. (4)

There is no distinctive Seventh Day Adventist style of church architecture. The denomination's early churches were simple rectangular wooden structures following the model of the Washington, New Hampshire church built by the Christian Brethren in the 1840s where the first sabbatarian Adventist group worshipped. (Sabbatarianism is a movement that attempts to reconstruct the earliest forms of Christianity. It was an effort to combine the Old Testament laws of Judaism with Christianity.[(5)]) In more recent times, church construction tends to reflect regional and prevailing tastes of the period in which they were constructed. (6)

BELIEFS AND PRACTICES

The Seventh Day Adventist doctrine is rooted in the Anabaptist Protestant tradition (one that views baptism as a witness to a believer's conscious profession of faith, rejects infant baptism, believes in the separation of church from state, in the shunning of nonbelievers, and in simplicity of life). (4) Adventist doctrine resembles mainstream orthodox holy trinity Protestant theology with a few exceptions:

* Adventism--(from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming") is observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the imminent second coming of Jesus. (4)

* Ellen G. White--recognized as the Lord's messenger with her writings as a continuing and authoritative source of truth. In addition, the bible is the standard by which all teachings must be tested.

* State of the dead--Seventh Day Adventists believe that death is a sleep during which the "dead know nothing." The person has no conscious form of existence until resurrection. Seventh Day Adventists do not believe in hell and believe that the wicked will be destroyed at the end of time. (2)

They believe in a life of abstinence. This not only includes abstinence from alcohol, drug and tobacco, but it also includes the belief that animal meat is unclean. Many Seventh Day Adventists are vegetarians. In general they believe we should live a moderate and temperate life style. "This includes simple dress, no jewelry besides a watch and a simple wedding ring, and no dancing or movies. …