Diet, Life Expectancy, and Chronic Disease: Studies of Seventh-Day Adventists and Other Vegetarians

By Gary E. Fraser | Go to book overview

1
Why We Study the
Health of Adventists

WHO ARE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS?
Who are Seventh-day Adventists, anyway? How can their lifestyle help others become more healthy?Seventh-day Adventists are a conservative religious group that includes more than 13 million members worldwide. They were first organized as a denomination in 1863 in the eastern United States. Their roots can be found largely in Methodism. While they share many of the doctrines of mainline Protestant churches, Adventists differ from most in their relatively strict observance of Saturday, rather than Sunday, as their day of rest. They also differ from some Protestants groups by:
Looking forward to a soon-to-occur, literal second coming of Jesus Christ
Believing that the dead remain in a state of unconsciousness until this event
Traditionally emphasizing the value of biblical prophecy
Being creationists

A key figure during the early years of the Adventist church was Ellen G. White. She was a forceful and talented speaker and, along with her husband James, a wise administrator. On numerous occasions she claimed to have received heaven-sent messages, several of which were related to lifestyle and health. These episodes would often occur during times of prayer, and they affected her profoundly, casting her into a trancelike state, sometimes for lengthy periods. She became a prolific writer (Goen, 1971), documenting her visionary experiences and also writing commentaries on most parts of the Bible.

In the same year that their church was organized (1863), the small Adventist group also began to emphasize the role of lifestyle in promoting health, happiness, and enhanced spirituality. Thus, Adventists have

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