Beware of Advent Books

Mon, 02/10/2006 - 16:18 -- James Oakley
Seventh Day Adventists

One of the members of our church gave me an A5 piece of paper a few weeks ago. A copy of this had gone through the letter box of every house on his estate, and he wanted to know more about it.

The sheet came from an organisation called “Advent Books”, and invited the reader to send off for a free book entitled The Great Controversy and/or to sign up for a free postal Bible course.

Whenever I see the offer of free Bible courses, I always think of 2 Timothy 3:6-7:

For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

That’s not to say that a free Bible course necessarily teaches false doctrine. It is to say that one of the hallmarks of false teaching in the last days is that it will prey on those who are slow to reach conclusions. More precisely, it will pick on women who are like this. And it will offer them endless opportunities to learn.

What of Advent Books? They are a publishing / evangelistic arm of the Seventh Day Adventists in Britain. The Great Controversy is the story of world history – from Adam to bodily return of Christ – seen through their eyes. They claim at the outset that only the Scriptures are to be believed for learning sound doctrine, and that the Spirit will never lead the church to anything not found in the Scriptures.

But, as the various controversies (no relation, sadly) of the early centuries of the church show, claiming to be biblical is not the same thing as being biblical. In this case, their claim to be biblical is unpicked by what they teach.

In a nutshell… (with the exception of the one detail that, logically, could not have come from that source, all the following can be found in The Great Controversy)...

The adventists were started by a baptist minister by the name of William Miller in the early 1800s. He calculated, mainly from Daniel, that the second coming was due in 1844 – very exciting given how soon this was to come. It didn’t come that summer, which caused some trouble. But before long they decided that they had miscalculated the date when Artaxerxes ordered the temple rebuilding by a few months – the second coming was now due that Autumn.

Again, it didn’t come. At this point Miller repented. But one of his disciples Ellen White (nee Harmon) carried the torch enthusiastically. Jesus had indeed returned in 1844. But (being a premillenial group) they argued he returned not to earth but to the heavenly sanctuary. That did not mean that the period before Christ’s return when the door will be shut had begun. The way was still open for forgiveness. But it did mean you had to knock at a different door (to stretch the metaphor beyond the way they would, but quite helpfully). Christ has moved from heaven to the sanctuary, so if you ask for forgiveness of him in heaven there is no-one there to hear you. You need to ask him at the sanctuary now. Don’t ask for him at number 26, he’s moved three doors down to number 32.

What difference does this make? It means salvation is not open to anyone who is ignorant of what happened in 1844. Unless you are a 7th day adventist, you are knocking on the wrong door. Salvation is not open to “all who call on the name of the Lord”, but only to seventh day adventists who do.

To get to this they have had to teach against Scripture on lots of levels. Not least

  • End times – Nowhere did Jesus speak of a perio before his return when he would be in a different place and only reacheable by an elite
  • Christ’s finished work – He returned to the heavenly sanctuary, apparently, to cleanse it. But the work in that place is finished, once for all, and he sits beside his father to plead that work.
  • Christ’s teaching – in particular his claim that no-one will know the day or hour of “that day”.
  • The full significance of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Probably they should have calculated “70” instead of “1844”. So yes – Jesus has already returned as judge of Jerusalem, by the mediation of the Roman army. But no – he has not yet personally returned as judge of all.

So, if you (or someone you know) gets one of this group’s leaflets, please don’t be fooled. Please don’t get the book – the fact that they claim to be interpreting history through the Bible alone makes what they say all the more deceptive. This is not genuine Christianity being taught but a dangerous distortion.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquianted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Praise God that they are indeed able to do so!

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daren bonne's picture
Submitted by daren bonne on

Ah, did recive such a leaflet!

would be good if you had afollow on for thoese that are looking for the true way and strugling 

Thanks Daren

James Oakley's picture
Submitted by James Oakley on

Thanks for letting us know Daren. That's very interesting - this page is a blog post from 7 years ago, but in the past few days it's hard a load of hits. I think the 7DA have been having a fresh push in some parts of the country - can't see how else to explain it.

There's so much that could be said to those who are looking for the true way / the way out of 7DA / struggling to find the truth generally.

My overall #1 thought would be the importance of finding a good local church. One where the Bible is opened up each week from the front. One where people are committed to building deep relationships with one another, joining smaller groups midweek and so on. One where the church is outward looking, seeking to share the good news and serve its community - not in a cultish way but in a servant-hearted way.

Many people report that it's very hard to leave the 7DA once in. Emotionally, deep ties have been built which they are reluctant to let go of. The 7DA are also reluctant to let go of them, following people up potentially quite aggressively. This is why deep relationships with a local group of Christian people are so important. There is also a lot to be learnt from the Bible, carefully learning to distinguish truth from error, and working out what they've been previously taught is fine and what needs to be unlearnt. This is best done in the context of a church commuity where the Bible is the authority as to what is believed.

If you (or anyone reading this) wants to drop me an e-mail from the contact form, I'd happily see if I can't make a few more personally appropriate pointers.

Gracie-P's picture
Submitted by Gracie-P on

Its good to be critical thinkers as in the last days the bible tells us that there will be many a false prophet, however, the Advent message does not fit in that category as you may have painted in ur have half truth the other bit is distorted as Adventists teachings explains that Jesus Christ has His chosen people in all denominations, Methodist,Catholics, Baptist, Anglican etc, not only Adventists alone as you have implied.....Therefore, it would be highly illogical that Advent would selfishly believe that salvation is only open to their members alone.....we all make mistakes as we are humans after all, so while your intentions are good in trying to educate, you made a mistake when you made inferrences that Adventist states that Salvation is reserve only for their group of believers.....much blessing and respect to you though 

James Oakley's picture
Submitted by James Oakley on

Thanks for taking the time to reply and clarify that point. It's not my wish to mislead anyone, so I'm always grateful for people in the know who can clarify things.

Could I ask for a couple of points by way of further clarification?

First, where in the official teaching of the Adventists would I go to find this inclusive concept? I want to file this up, and always prefer primary sources where possible.

Second, when you say that there are true believers in all the main denominations, what exactly do you mean? Are those other believers people who, while being in other denominations, happen to believe some or all of the distinctive teachings of the Adventists? Or are you saying that the distinctive teachings of the Adventists have no bearing on whether someone is saved, and all who follow Christ taught commonly by all denominations are saved even if they subscribe to none of the distinctive teachings of the 7DA?

Jonathan Bennett's picture

Dear All

I have read these comments and I would say that it is easy to make mistakes but I would find that there are lots of factually incorrect information in this article.

I am actually a Seventh Day Adventist but by being called an SDA certainly will not save me, by having my name as a member will not save me.  The only thing which will save me is my relationship with my Saviour, accepting His free grace of Salvation and forsaking my past through His strength.

I believe each one of us should open the Bible and study it with Prayer and if we genuinly seek for the truth we will find it.  I have provided the link for the site advertised on the leaflet and I would encourage you to read online the material or order a free book.  However make sure you "Prove All things, hold fast that which is good"  1 Thes 5:21

Do not take the teaching of any church or any person without prooving it against the Bible.

Thank you everyone for your kind posts and may God richly bless each one of us as we walk with out Saviour, Jesus Christ.


James Oakley's picture
Submitted by James Oakley on

Thanks Jonathan

I've deleted some comments from this post in the past, because they've been spammy or flaming. Yours seems sincere, so it stays. Thanks for contributing.

I'd certainly agree that we must test everything, and not believe anything without the Bible teaching it. We must, of course, remember in this that the Bible is its own interpreter, and pay heed to the consensus reached by the worldwide church over the centuries - especially during its catholic period (the great ecumenical councils).

Now, you say that you are not saved by being an SVA, but saved by your Saviour through grace alone. I'm really glad to hear that. However it reminds me of the clarifications I asked of Gracie (see above your post), that never came. Are you therefore saying that it's not necessary to be an SDA to be saved - provided someone trusts the risen Jesus, that alone is what's required? And if you are saying that, then what status do the distinctive teachings of the SDA have? Do they have no impact at all on salvation?

If you could clarify (and answer the questions I asked Gracie), we'd be grateful.

Jonathan Bennett's picture
Submitted by Jonathan Bennett on

Hi James

Thank you for your reply and my apologise for not replying sooner, I don't recall seeing a email notification but maybe I missed it.

What I would like to clarify is there are some organisations who belive you need to be a member to be saved.  At least in my eyes I do not see that being a member of any church is going to save you, Christ came to die for us as individuals and what deems us to be saved is how we have lived our lives, repented of our sins and our relationship with Christ.  What I am happy to say is that our Saviour gives us all the power and strength to help us to overcome.

I hope you are well and you have a blessed weekend.

God Bless



Mary WINDSOR's picture
Submitted by Mary WINDSOR on

To one and all of you writing on this page. A well worn analogy springs to mind when dealing with churches and their members of what ever persuasion. In regards as to what constitutes a Christian and who will be saved etc: that analogy is, standing in a garage doesn't make me a car, anymore than going to church makes a person a Christian. Being a Christian is all about committing your life to Christ, it is a personal act of changing from ones old ways, and repenting of ones sins, thus that conversion experience that changes lives. I know plenty of ministers who are not Christians they do and say things that no Christian would do or say and to them their way of life is just a job. Sad but true. No whatever your persuasion, we are all different, the only thing I can say is that we accept each other's differences and don't make chasms out of minor things that in the long run will make no difference to our ultimate salvation. Our different ways of thinking  should not be an issue, what is important is that full and personal commitment to Jesus. 

No I do not go to any church of any denomination on a regular basis. I'm a rolling stone. I fellowship where and when I can. In the old days being a roller was considered bad. Please don't let me see any blogs from people who think that you have to be rooted to the spot to be a proper Christian. Christianity is how you live your life, not how often or where you go to church


James Oakley's picture
Submitted by James Oakley on

Hi Mary

Thanks for your comment. I'm curious to know what you were looking for that led you to this page - given your view, it seems an unlikely post to stumble across.

Your point is exactly mine: What matters is not which denomination someone belongs to, but whether they trust and follow Christ, and belong to his people. (Yes, salvation is salvating into the people of God, so belonging to the visible church on earth is an essential part of following the church's bridegroom. That's not to disagree wtih you at all - attending to church does not make you a member of Christ or his church; that comes through a living faith).

However your comment had the subject of "What does it matter?" Your comment actually answers the question. My reading of the primary texts from the 7DA says that they believe it does matter. They appear to teach (and nobody in this comment thread has yet shown me that this is not the case, it's just been stated a few times) that only those who belong to the church of the 7DA can be saved. If others are, it's by the skin of their teeth, but not to be regarded as normal at all - certainly the only way to be sure one is saved includes belonging to the 7DA (even if belonging to them is not enough on its own - cars and garages again come to mind).

At that point, you have one denomination saying that belonging to their denomination is a primary matter. It's the only (proper) way to be saved. Immediately they do that, as you put it so well, we must resist that claim. The denomination saying this has just made it a primary issue. We don't respond by saying, "No, you must belong to our church". We respond by saying, "No, there is no denomination that has the right to make such an exclusive claim - that's adding to the requirements of the gospel."

Mary WINDSOR's picture
Submitted by Mary WINDSOR on

HI James

                  I came across this site when looking into the subject of advent books. I had a suspicion that it was SDA so I wanted to make sure. Now I know I was right!

Now I guess there are many things that believers will tell us that we as Christians should to to honour our Saviour, but as far as I'm concerned Jesus told us to do only one thing in remembrance of Him and that was to "partake of my body and blood, this do in remembrance of me until I come again". That one thing and the SA don't do it because of issues with alcohol! Bad Mary! I'm not nit picking but to me it's very ironic. Where I came from, communion was a slightly different affair. It was a service that was a binding in a covenant of the members to each other and to our Saviour. Then they started with the old, old story. If you don't believe as we do, then you're not a good Christian. I couldn't accept that all those good clean living born again Christian friends of mine would go to hell because they didn't share a particular aspect of a belief system. Hence I say, what does it matter? Have your ideas and beliefs, just don't judge those who don't share them. My friends from the Covenant makers, have their salvation assured because despite everything they are genuine born again Christians. Their goodness precedes them and they are filled with love. It's just the dogma that lets them down! So the SDA believe that only they will be saved, if that is the case, they are mistaken. So why if they do believe that, do they deny that belief? Is this belief without conviction? Sounds like it to me, by what you guys have been saying, because with no conviction, it is a groundless and bottle less statement that even they do not truly believe, because if they did, they wouldn't deny it.

now just briefly. I am a Christian. As such I don't keep pagan festivals, i.e. Xmas, Easter, etc. Going back to what I said in the beginning our saviour never asked us to celebrate His birthday, which wasn't dec  25th. Nor his death, which wasn't during the pagan spring festival, He asked us only to remember Him by joining with each other in fellowship until He comes again.but if anyone does do all these things and more, it matters not to me. God is bigger than feast days! But I just want any part of those feasts on a personal level. My Christian friends say I'm boring!

every blessing


Gary cleverley's picture
Submitted by Gary cleverley on

Interesting  blog, I have received  this leaflet in the post, I'm in north cambridgeshire. I have requested  a copy of the book and hope to get back with any thoughts on this publication.

James Oakley's picture
Submitted by James Oakley on

I wrote this blog post 8 years ago. It sat there for 7 years with a good number of page visits, but with nobody leaving any comments. In the past 12 months, I've seen loads more views and there have been lots of comments. Most have been plain spam, probably representatives of the 7DA trying to put across a positive view, but without actually addressing any of the issues I raised. A few sought to engage with the issues, and I've tried to reply to those.

After having a year of very active comments on this thread, I'm closing it. I still stand by what I've written, even though I wrote it many years ago. I'm not against continued discussion, but with so few of the comments even on topic, and even the ones that are not really leading to a real dialogue, this post does not seem to be attracting constructive discussion.

If you want to get in touch with me privately about this post, there's a Contact page on this website - please do send me an email. Otherwise, if you've had similar invitations, I hope you find this background to be helpful material.

Truman Dulfhorn's picture
Submitted by Truman Dulfhorn on

I received this in my postbox this morning and knew something was fishy about it. I googled and found your article from 2006. I have to say though that the comment, "those who are slow to reach conclusions. More precisely, it will pick on women who are like this".

Really? Women? I am shocked, well not really, I guess it does match with most Christians misogynist outlook on the world. Remember that Jesus did not look down on women, brought them into decision making and protected them from sexist actions. You should read your bible a little more closely.

James Oakley's picture
Submitted by James Oakley on

Hi Truman

Thanks for getting in touch.

I’ve no wish to pick a fight with you over that. Clearly, you found my 2006 post to be helpful, and just felt that one line spoilt it slightly, so it would seem we broadly agree anyway.

Just to clarify however, I think you misunderstood what I was saying. I hope there’s no misogyny in me – I’d certainly be grateful for friends who can identify it and help me root it out if it does creep in. I was actually making the reverse point. I was quoting 2 Timothy 3. Paul warns of false teachers, who will sign up the undecided and the vulnerable for study courses, in the hope of slowly wearing them down and winning them around to their point of view. As Paul warns Timothy of this, he specifically says that such people will pick predominantly on women. It’s clear from Paul’s letters that he was no misogynist; he says some beautiful and very positive things about women. Indeed, this verse shows his concern that the women who are preyed upon in this way should not be taken advantage of; he’s protecting them, not endorsing their exploitation. So it is, in fact, the false teachers who have a low view of women and regard them as easy prey. Sadly, my experience would confirm this. It does indeed seem that those who would lead Christ’s church into error by winning individuals around to their cause do more often focus their energies on women than men. What a sad state of affairs that is.

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