This recent headline from Christianity Today magazine caught my attention.
Many Adventists in Asia and Africa Believe You Must Be Vegan to Be Saved
The article by Rebecca Randall says that “Seventh-day Adventists around the world have heeded their co-founder’s teachings on eating a plant-based diet, (and) many adherents in parts of Asia and Africa have raised veganism to a place next to godliness.”
According to Adventist research teams from 13 regions around the world, their members believe salvation is ensured two ways: through Jesus Christ (92%), and through giving up meat, animal products, alcohol, and tobacco (80%).
Andrews University sociologist Duane McBride, lead author on a recent paper in the Review of Religious Research suggested the “Adventist Church leadership needs to engage in further member education to differentiate and avoid confusion between the benefits of adhering to the Adventist Health Message and the Church’s belief that the actual source of salvation is through Jesus Christ alone.”
The confusion and false doctrine stem from the teaching of Ellen G. White, The Seventh-Dat Adventists co-founder who taught “those who are seeking to become pure, refined, and holy” should not continue to eat “flesh foods” or “anything that has so harmful an effect on soul and body.” White cited health reasons for avoiding meat and dairy as well as spiritual reasons; the denomination’s veganism as part of efforts to set the church apart as a “remnant.”
Apparently neither Mrs. White nor the current church leadership has read the apostle Paul’s inspired writing on eating meat as recorded in Romans 14 and I Corinthians 8 and 10.
In New Testament times, pagans who converted to Christianity had a conscience problem of eating meat that had been offered to idols. While Paul affirmed that the idol was nothing, and there was only one God, yet if eating such meat offended the weak brother, causing him to sin, Christians ought not to flaunt their liberty.
The meat itself, however, had nothing to do with salvation. The apostle wrote, “But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse” (1 Cor. 8:8).
Now, the point of the post is not about healthy eating or a vegan lifestyle. It’s an illustration of an opinion or a denominational doctrine, not commanded in Scripture, but binding it as Truth.
There are so many examples of this error in the religious world, that their citation would fill volumes of encyclopedias. In fact, Ellen G. White’s health advice may be the least harmful spiritually of all her doctrinal dogmas.
Jesus affirmed in His prayer in the shadow of the cross that God’s Word was Truth (Jn. 17:17). And that He was sent by the Father as the one and only access to God–“the way, the Truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). He furthermore promised the apostles that upon His leaving, He would send the Holy Spirit to “guide them into all Truth” (Jn. 16:13). Paul affirmed that His writing was indeed a Divinely inspired revelation from the Lord (Eph. 3:3-5).
In the Word, we have “all things that pertain to life and godliness,” (2 Pet. 1:3). And it is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
You want to learn about salvation? Both God’s part? And man’s appropriate response? Then get into the Word. Read the book of Acts.
When they add to, subtract from, or contradict God’s Word, ignore denominational handbooks. Disregard papal edicts. Renounce church bylaws. Reject popular TV evangelists. Dismiss books of human origin. Repudiate modern-day religious fads. Rise above subjectivism and emotionalism. And spurn the injunctions of religious synods, conferences, and associations. Oh, and that would even include blogs like this one.
Paul’s first-century warning is still relevant in the 21st century. “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
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