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Sacred cows. We find them everywhere, a ubiquity which sometimes blinds us to the absurdities they represent. In religion they are embedded in doctrines and manifest in the hands-off approach to certain positions, warding them off as untouchables. Not because we are dedicated to their truisms but because we risk embarrassment by asking questions. So we build shrines to honor sacred cows pretending they are protected, self-evident truths.
In Adventism, we have two such beliefs that are practically non-negotiable and have enjoyed the sacred cow status throughout our history. The pioneers, esteeming these positions, enshrined them in our name: “Seventh-day Adventists”. But, as is often the case with names, while they seemed prescient at their conception, over time they gradually, inexorably, lost their original meanings and history. And with that loss sometimes their essence. In this essay I will subject the “Adventist” part of our name to scrutiny and question whether the hallowed status it has enjoyed since our founding is still warranted.
Examination - Subject - Name - Adventist - Sense
Such an examination would be offensive only if the subject is deemed sacrosanct. The name “Adventist” is not sacred in this sense. It was neither preordained nor delivered on Mosaic tablets from above. Before 1860, “Adventist” congregations had no uniform name. Facing the two pressures of incorporation and a unifying identity, 25 delegates from like-minded churches met in Battle Creek, Michigan, on October 1, 1860, to divine a name. It was at this meeting that a Battle Creek church delegate, David Hewitt, suggested “Seventh-day Adventists,” a name that perfectly captured the ethos of the nascent movement. It would be adopted by a 24-1 vote in a very human process necessitated by mundane human considerations. Some assert that the process was providential, an unassailable supposition. But if new circumstances call for newer approaches at self-definition and direction, it is unlikely...
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A pox on both their houses!