Is Adventism a cult? The Adventist Record of December 3, 2016 bore a photo of a youngish, non-conformist looking woman with holes in her jeans and masses of blond hair. SHE HAD A ‘LOOK.’ Of ‘greens’ appearance or maybe of a ‘goddess cult.’ Then again a modern witch, maybe? The question was posed beneath the picture: ‘Is the Adventist church an apostate cult?

Looking odd is not necessarily a sign of cultishness. One need not be ‘an alternative’ to be captured in cultic culture. And whether the image was meant to portray this tincture of cultism one cannot say. But one need not be on the edge of society or a tree hugger to be in a cult. One may look identical to the suited Adventist in church on a Saturday or the head-banger huddled in smart casual wear around the study of ‘the lesson.’

The word of truth is righty discerned and exegeted through the Jesus lens. ‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth ( 2 Tim 2.15 NIV). We are approved of God when the Bible is interpreted through Jesus and the revealed plan of His new and living way: His Son. Any other ‘dividing’ distorts the gospel.

When the word of truth is divided not ‘rightly’ but according to special pleading instead of letting the Bible text speak for itself, we cannot hear God’s word because it is not the word of God. It’s now our word and the witness of
another spirit. For example we may consistently interpret the ‘rest of God’ in Hebrews as the Sabbath. But it is not. We enter God’s rest by entering Jesus. Hebrews speaks of a better rest and superior covenant where Christ is our life and we live in the Sabbath rest of Jesus Himself.

‘For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience’ Heb 4.8-10 NIV.

Liberated and resting from self-vindication and the labour of demonstrating our worthiness to God by our works, we are received into fellowship with the trinity despite our works and entirely on account of the work and person of Jesus. This is the result of the planning and enterprise of the trinity. It has nothing to do with any labour of ours. We do not have to earn intimacy with Jesus. We have it. Our opportunity is to receive our union with God with grace and perceive it as the love and nourishment that it is.

Rather than asking if Adventism is a cult we would be better off with another line of enquiry. Is Jesus the expression of the law or is He the ultimate representation of life in person. Jesus, Paul and John say the latter. And well they may. If Jesus is the expression of the law then the parts are more than the sum of the whole – which is impossible but a basic assumption of life bound in the knowledge of good and evil.

Despite the absence of evidence in the new testament, Ellen White places Jesus under the law and as living to vindicate the law. Such reductionism would speak for itself if so many of us had not been brainwashed into seeing this as normal. Look at it this way. If Jesus lives to vindicate the law, then law is an entity is higher than He. So law must be god? Not likely!

But if we are consistent with this position Jesus cannot be I AM and not God, firstly because He is subordinate to the law and secondly because He as a person is subordinate to an abstraction. But this was always so in the lie of the knowledge tree. In this conceit God is less than God and so are we.

The law-cult does not ‘speak according to this word.’ It obscures the issues of salvation and life – namely the absolute loving nature of our Father and His resolve in drawing us into His fellowship through Jesus to share in the Trinitarian exuberance of life to the full. The law cult
deifies law and makes the human spirit subordinate to that which is impersonal and inhuman. It obscures the truth of the spirit of sonship and renders it impossible to be worshipers in spirit and in truth because it robs us of the dignity that is ours as the created and redeemed sons and daughters of God.

You have a possession, a treasure that is your inheritance and life. This is Christ your life. Nothing can separate you from the love or the presence of God because you are in Him and He in you.

‘Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them’ John 14.23 NIV.