Dale Ratzlaff is the founder of Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., and owns LAM Publications, LLC. He served as an Adventist pastor for 13 years, seven at Monterey Bay Academy where he taught Bible. He and his wife Carolyn left the Adventist church in 1981 when he realized he could no longer teach the investigative judgment in clear conscience. He has authored several books on Adventism that are available through his website, LifeAssuranceMinistries.com. The Ratzlaffs reside in Camp Verde, Arizona.
The Adventist great controversy paradigm shaped by Ellen White’s (EGW) vision of the same name is built—not on Jesus the cornerstone—but on its own cornerstone of the law. The motif of law-keeping found throughout the writings of EGW and throughout Adventism’s teachings, especially in its evangelism, is necessary because it provides the undergirding to support their claim to be the remnant church of Bible prophecy—the only true church. By defining the “law” as the Ten Commandments and then elevating the importance of the fourth commandment above the other nine, calling Sabbath the “the seal of God”, the Sabbath completes the Adventist “gospel”. For Adventists, therefore, keeping the seventh-day Sabbath becomes the badge demonstrating that they are keeping the law of God. Within the great controversy paradigm, Sabbath-keeping “proves” the Adventist church is, indeed, the true church.
Unwittingly, however, this Adventist paradigm not only undermines the New Testament gospel of grace in Christ that was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), but it also serves to condemn them. Ultimately, Adventist Sabbath-keeping projects a shadow on the character and nature of God.
Within contemporary Adventism it matters not so much how one observes the Sabbath as that one observes it. In fact, Adventist Sabbath practices vary widely from culture to culture and even from family to family.1 The one thing of unifying importance among them, therefore, is that they attend church (or otherwise worship) on the Sabbath. By exalting the Sabbath (which we believe to be a ritual law given only to Israel)2 in relation to the other nine commandments (which contain moral principles), the Adventist organization has demonstrated less interest in the Bible’s moral principles than in the Mosaic ceremonial observance of Sabbath.
For example, Adventism’s support of abortion in their denominationally owned hospitals3 brings into question their obedience to keeping the law, “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13). Likewise, their cover-up of the shut door visions and teachings of Ellen White4 and their deceptive scholarship in supporting their investigative judgment doctrine5 demonstrate willingness to compromise the ninth commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex. 20:16).
Not only does the focus on law and Sabbath undermine the biblical gospel of faith in Christ, but in reality, this focus destroys all the underpinnings of the very message the great controversy motif seeks to establish. Adventists want to show to the “unfallen worlds” that by their law-keeping they are vindicating the character of God. However, their failure as a denomination to follow two of the nine moral principles of the law in addition to their failure to adhere to the laws of Sabbath-keeping found in Scripture—to say nothing of their corporate failure to observe the many additional pages of Sabbath laws laid down by Ellen White who speaks with “prophetic authority”—will prove but one thing: their entire law paradigm is a failure. The law was designed to point out sin, not to provide righteousness.
Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20).
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested (Rom. 3:21).
For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law (Rom. 3:28).
For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation (Rom. 4:14-15).
But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed (Gal. 3:23).
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15:56).
The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more (Rom. 5:20).
For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace (Rom. 6:14).
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Rom. 10:4).
Copyright 2015 Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., Camp Verde, Arizona, USA. All rights reserved. Revised May 25, 2016. Contact email: email@example.com
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VOLUME 16, ISSUE 4