The Adventist Church and War

Adventist Ministers in Nazi Uniform

http://www.audioverse.org/english/sermons/recordings/1342/adventists-and-the-military-part-i.html

http://www.audioverse.org/english/sermons/recordings/1344/adventists-and-the-military-part-ii.html

http://www.audioverse.org/english/sermons/recordings/1321/military-and-morality.html

Foreword

As Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives with His disciples almost two thousand years ago, His disciples asked Him about the signs of His coming, and the end of the world.  In Matt 24:6 (first part), He replied, “And ye shall hear of ways and rumours of wars.”

The 20th century has been a time of war – war on a scale never before seen in the history of mankind.  While Jesus’ disciples were concerned about the future, so today, all over this planet, thinking men and women see the horror and destruction of war, and are asking the same questions.  As we enter a new millennium, it is an opportunity to review the history of war, in the late 19th and 20th centuries, especially with regard to the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement. It is profitable to study history, because we can learn by the experience of our forefathers, and by God’s grace, receive wisdom to live according to His plan for our lives.  The attitude of Jesus toward war is very clear in scripture. Followers of Jesus Christ are called on to hold fast to the commandments by love and faith in Jesus, to take a stand against acts of bloodshed.

The compilers of this article pray that this information will strengthen the faith of the reader and fill each one with a desire to take part in a work of revival and reformation of God’s church.

Revelation 14:12 “Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”

Please note: Emphasis has been placed on selected parts of quoted text by means of italics, underlining and bold print. The editors have made this emphasis.

IMPORTANT DATES WITH REFERENCE TO THE CHURCH AND WAR

1861-1865:

“To His Excellency, Austin Blair, Governor, of the State of Michigan:

“We, the undersigned, Executive Committee of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist, respectfully beg leave to present for your consideration the following statements:

“The denomination of Christians calling themselves Seventh-day Adventists, taking the Bible as their rule of faith and practice, are unanimous in their views that its teachings are contrary to the spirit and practice of war; hence, they have ever been conscientiously opposed to bearing arms. If there is any portion of the Bible, which we, as a people, can point to more than another as our creed, it is the law of Ten Commandments, which we regard as the supreme law and each precept of which we take in its most obvious and literal import. The fourth of these commandments requires cessation from labor on the seventh day of the week; the sixth prohibits the taking of life, neither of which, in our view could be observed while doing military duty. Our practice has uniformly been consistent with these principles. Hence, our people have not felt free to enlist into the service. In none of our denominational publications have we advocated or encouraged the practice of bearing arms; and, when drafted, rather than violate our principles, we have been content to pay, and assist each other in paying, the $300 commutation money. And while that provision remained of universal application, we did not deem any public expression of our sentiments on this question called for.

“We further represent that Seventh-day Adventist, are rigidly anti-slavery, loyal to the government, and in sympathy with it against the rebellion. “But not having a long existence as a distinct people, and our organization having but recently been perfected, our sentiments are not yet extensively known. The change in the law renders it necessary that we take a more public stand in the matter. For this reason, we now lay before Your Excellency the sentiments of Seventh-day Adventist, as a body, relative to bearing arms, trusting that you will feel no hesitation in endorsing our claim that, as a people, we come under the intent of the late action of Congress concerning those who are entitled to the benefits of said laws.”

John Byington, J.N. Loughborough, George W. Amadon General Conference Executive Committee Battle Creek, Michigan, August 2, 1864”

Compare the above statement with the position of the church in (1861-1865)

“Membership? Would a Seventh-day Adventist lose his membership if he became a regular soldier? No. While the church position is that of non-combatancy, the individual must make his own decision in this matter, and the church respects the conscience of those who choose to bear arms.

“Signs of the Times (Australia), January 1, 1972, page 25.

This was affirmed by, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist in full session, held in Battle Creek, Michigan, May 17, 1865. They declared: “We are compelled to decline all participation in acts of war and bloodshed.”

ELLEN WHITE’S COMMENTS ON THE 1861-1865 CIVIL WAR:

I was shown that God’s people who are His peculiar treasure, cannot engage in this perplexing war, for it is opposed to every principle of their faith. In the army they cannot obey the truth and at the same time obey the requirements of their officers. There would be a continual violation of conscience. Worldly men are governed by worldly principles. They can appreciate no other. Worldly policy and public opinion comprise the principle of action that governs them and leads them to practice the form of right doing. But God’s people cannot be governed by these motives.” – Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, p. 361.

1914:

That the brethren of the General Conference were fully aware of the position taken by the European Division concerning the bearing of arms is clear in the following statement written by F.M. Wilcox, Editor of The Review and Herald, August 27, 1914:

“Particularly should the church of God today remember our European brethren who are now suffering adversity? Some have been forced into active military service; their lives are constantly menaced, and they are exposed to hardship and danger. Families have been broken up, and those left at home are anxious with fear for those who have gone to the front. The officers of some of our conferences and churches have been compelled to forsake their charges and join the national colors. It should be our earnest prayer that God will save His cause of truth during this trying period, and that He will safeguard the lives of His children. As to just what our European brethren should do under these trying circumstances only they alone in prayer to God can decide. Sometimes in our egotism and foolishness we feel that we can determine beforehand just what position we would take in every emergency, but we cannot know what we shall do until we are brought to the supreme test.”

A “Thus saith the Lord” was abandoned, and a “liberty of conscience” to break God’s law was put in its place. Had the church not yielded to worldly pressure, it would have undoubtedly lost its institutions and churches for the time being. But the course that was followed clearly demonstrated that the leading men and most of the members did not know Christ and His righteousness from personal experience. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Rev 12:11. Here was the crossroads, and worldly policy and government pressure become the determiners of church doctrine-of morality.

1915:

“Dresden, March 5, 1915

“To the General Commander of the 7th Army Corps in Dresden:

“Relative to No. 856, III of February 22, 1915, which forbade Adventist meetings to be held in Dresden, allow the undersigned to give the following explanation.

“For several years the undersigned have clearly set forth before Military Officials, both orally and in writing, that Military Service on Saturday (Sabbath) in times of peace always remained a question of the individual conscience

“But at the outbreak of the war the leaders of the Adventist Organization in Germany, of their own accord, advised all their military service members in all the land, under the pressing circumstances and need of the Fatherland, to do their duties required of them as citizens, according to the Scripture, and earnestly to do on Saturday (Sabbath) as other warriors do on Sunday. As proof, allow this enclosed copy of the document to serve the highly esteemed Prussian Minister of War, written on the 6th day of August 1914. This position, taken years ago, is supported by the attached signatures:

“For the European Division, Headquarters, Hamburg,

[signed] L.R. Conradi, President

“For the East Germany Union, Headquarters, Berlin,

[signed] H.F. Schuberth, President

“For the Saxon Association, Headquarters, Chemnitz,

[signed] Paul Drinhaus, President”

Death of Ellen White 16th July 1915.

The United States of America entered the First World War in 1917.

Ellen White had warned the Seventh Day Adventist people of impending war:

“The tempest is coming, and we must get ready for its fury, by having repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord will arise to shake terribly the earth. We shall see troubles on all sides. Thousands of ships will be hurled into the depths of the sea. Navies will go down, and human lives will be sacrificed by millions….The end is near, probation is closing.” (ST, April 21 1890)

“Very soon the strife and oppression of foreign nations will break forth with an intensity that you do not now anticipate.” (General Conference Bulletin, 1909, p.57)

1915:

“Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the out most fruitful branches thereof, saith the Lord God of Israel.” The Adventist Church was shaken mightily during the bitter crisis of World War 1. Only about 2% of the members continued to travel on the old historic path of Adventism.

1. Who left the church?

2. Who left the truth?

3. Who left the narrow road?

4. Who were the faithful?

The church that supported the open and willful transgression of the fourth and sixth commandments could no longer claim to be guardians of the sacred law, nor the remnant people of God.  On the other hand, those who obeyed the Ten Commandments, and did not participate in or support the destruction of human life can be considered “God’s faithful.”

Perhaps one of the reasons God allowed World War 1 to happen was for the purification of His church. Would His self-professed people remain true to His principles during the fiery trial of war? Or would they cling to the ordinances of men rather than placing their trust in their Almighty God? As gold is purified only after passing through fire, so God’s church was purified during this terrible time. Only a remnant, a fraction of the church, remained true to their God, choosing death rather than denial of their Lord. John the Revelator clearly describes the characteristics of the faithful.

“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17

Perhaps the following statement found in a German newspaper published in 1915 will shed additional light on the subject of separation in the Adventist Church.

“Since the beginning of the war there has been a division among the Adventist people. During the duration of the war, the majority wanted to see the fundamental teachings set aside, by force if necessary. The others asked that the sanctification of Saturday (Sabbath) be allowed them, even in these times of stress, The opposing faction finally brought about the disfellowshipment from the Organization of the followers of the original principles of their faith.”

The Pen of Inspiration records a description of the shaking that takes place from time to time. Such a shaking always causes a separation.

“I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this is what will caused shaking among God’s people.

“The number of this company had lessened Some had been shaken out and left by the way.”

At the close of the war, liberty was restored in Europe and the members who had been persecuted and disfellowshipped from Seventh-day Adventist churches all over Europe for refusing to participate in the war, contacted one another.  Their primary concern was to seek reconciliation with those who had left the original platform of truth.  Petitions were sent to the Adventist leaders expressing the Reformers’ desire for a hearing where the General Conference representatives would be present.

1918:

In World War 1 (1914-1918), an intensely critical  test developed and confronted the church.  The issue was clearly defined in Europe.  All churches, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church, were required to support the war efforts or be persecuted-the treat included loss of church property and life itself.  There were no provisions for exemptions.  What position did the Adventist leadership take?  The following documents show that the original principles were abandoned.

1915-1916:

“The Conference Committee of the German Union takes the stand that in regard to the bearing of arms or to military duties, it is a civil demand to which the established governments of God are entitled, according to 1 Peter 2:13,14 and Romans, 13:3-5.  This stand was also taken by the General Conference Committee in Nov 1915, while in session.” Zionswachter, March 20, 1916

The following statements are taken from the Seventh-day Adventist pamphlet, “The Christian and the War,” p. 18, printed in Dec 1915, and endorsed by the denominational leaders.

“In all which we have said, we have shown that the Bible teaches.

“Firstly, that the taking part in war is not a transgression of the sixth commandment.

“Secondly, that the war service on the Sabbath is not a transgression of the fourth commandment.”

The leaders of the church in Europe were not alone in setting aside the fundamental God-given principles.  This new position received the approval  of the General Conference in Washington, D.C. Proof of the endorsement of the position set forth in the foregoing documents is shown in the columns of the Zionswachter (Zion’s watchmen), March 20, 1916, an official publication of the church issued in Hamburg, Germany.

“The Conference Committee of the Germany Union takes the stand that in regard to the bearing of arms or to military duties it is a civil demand to which established governments of God are entitled, according to 1 Peter 2:13,14 and Romans 13:3-5.  This stand was also, taken by the General Conference Committee in November 1915, while in session. Speaking of these things, they said, “We grant every country in the world the full liberty to fit themselves into their fixed laws in the future as they have in the past.”

1914:

Outbreak of World War I letter dated 6th August 1914 written by H.F. Schuberth-President East Germany Union Seventh-day Adventists:

Charlottenburg, Aug 6, 1914

“Most Honourable Lord General and Minister of War:

“Since our point of view concerning our duty toward the Government, as well as our position in general military duty, and especially since our refusal to serve, in times of peace, on Saturday (Sabbath) is often regarded as fanatical, therefore I take the liberty, Your Excellency, to present to you the following principles of the German Seventh-day Adventists, especially now in the present war situation.

“While we stand on the fundaments of the Holy Scriptures, and seek to fulfill the precepts of Christendom, keeping the Rest Day (Saturday) that God established in the beginning, by endeavoring to put aside all work on that day, still in these times of stress, we have committed ourselves in defense of the “Fatherland” Under these circumstances we will also bear arms on Saturday (Sabbath). On this point we take our stand on the Scripture found in 1 Peter 2:13-17.

“We have given this resolution to our members, also asking them to organize prayer meetings to petition that God give the victory to the German arms. Should some among the drafted Adventist refuse to serve on the Sabbath, or object to the bearing of arms, we will be grateful, Your Excellency, if the then Commanding Officer has knowledge of our principles and resolutions…

“With the prayer that God, will give this righteous cause the victory. I have the honor, Your Excellency, to remain.

“[Signed] H.F. Schuberth-Pres.”

“There is a prospect before us of a continued struggle, at the risk of imprisonment, loss of property, and even of life itself, to defend the law of God, which is made void by the laws of men. In this situation worldly policy will urge an outward compliance with the laws of the land, for the sake of peace and harmony. And there are some who will even urge such a course from the Scriptures: ‘Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers…The powers that be are ordained of God.’ “ Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p.712.

1914-1918:

DISFELLOWSHIPMENT OF THE FAITHFUL

Evidence of the spirit of persecution manifested by the “former brethren” is shown in the following article, which appeared in a German newspaper in 1918:

“At the beginning of the war our denomination divided into two parts. While ninety-eight percent of our membership took the position on Bible grounds, that it was their conscientious duty to defend the Fatherland with weapons, and that also on the Sabbath, and this united position of the leaders was at once forwarded to the War Department; two percent, however, did not submit themselves to this united resolution and therefore had to be disfellowshipped because of their unchristian conduct.”

About 98% of the members in Europe were successfully drawn into apostasy, with only 2% remaining faithful. The leading brethren were responsible for disfellowshipping the faithful souls. These members did not walk out of the church. They stood firmly for the truth, not yielding or conforming to apostasy. And as a result of their conscientious adherence to moral principle, they were severely persecuted. Some of the faithful brethren were betrayed by their own leaders to the secret police, arrested, condemned, and finally martyred.

When the war eventually came to an end in 1918, there were two to three thousand disfellowshipped members outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

During World War I in Germany, Elder Oscar Kramer, a pioneer of the Reform Movement, witnessed the separation in the church. In his booklet, Rise and Progress of the Reform Movement, My Personal Experiences, he reminisces how faithful believers were disfellowshipped from their churches in Germany in 1914.

“Our elder, Brother Richter, was the first, or one of the first, to be disfellowshipped. Others named included Sister Riechers, Sister Schwarting, Sister Richter, Brother and Sister Hollman; and I believe also Brother Kuhlmann, our deacon. A little later my mother was also disfellowshipped, along with quite a few others whose names I cannot recall.

When these believers heard what was being done, they began to cry. It was heartbreaking for them, for they believed that the church had no right to act in such an unbiblical way. But still, we were cast out, whether we liked it or not. We loved the church beyond anything in this world, but we loved the truth even more. It was then that we began to have all-night prayer meetings, lasting many, many hours. How we cried to God to intervene and bring unity again with our dear brethren, whom we loved with all our hearts. But it seemed that the die was cast, and the way of return was barred against us…

“In the meantime, we were astonished to receive visitors from distant cities and towns. They came from all over Germany, and also from Austria-Hungary, etc. We could hardly believe it when they told us that everywhere scores of believers had been disfellowshipped by the leading brethren. In the Rhineland, two whole churches, elders and all, were crossed off the membership list – Wermelskirchen, where Brother Otto Welp was elder, and Coblenz, where Brother Woltz was elder. We no longer stood alone. In fact, there were hundreds who found themselves, practically overnight, cast out of the church which they loved with all their heart.”

1920:

In 1920, the President of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference attempted to sound the death knell for the Reform Movement, saying that “it would soon disappear in the sand.” But since that time, the work of Reformation has spread throughout the world.

“Since the beginning of the war there has been a division among the Adventist people. The majority wanted to see the fundamental teachings set aside for the duration of the war, while the rest requested to keep the Saturday sacred even in times of stress. The opposing faction finally brought about the disfellowshipping of the followers of the old faith from the denomination.” Kolnische Zeittung (Cologne News), September 21, 1915.

Many experiences were made by the faithful few. At the close of the war, liberty was restored in Europe, and the members who had been persecuted and disfellowshipped from Seventh-day Adventist churches all over Europe for refusing to participate in the war found each other. They banded together and referred to themselves informally as the S.D.A. – Reform Movement. Their primary concern was to seek unity with those who had left the original platform of truth. Petitions were sent to the Adventist leaders, expressing the desire for a hearing where the General Conference representatives would be present.

Such a hearing was finally granted, occurring July 20-27, 1920, in Friedensau, Germany. To prevent misunderstandings, minutes (called the “Protocol”) were kept so everyone would have a complete report of all that was said and done. Seventeen delegates from the Reform Movement in Europe were selected to present to the council the position of those who had been disfellowshipped. To make the discussion plain and simple, four questions were asked:

1. “How does the General Conference stand with reference to the position taken by the leaders in Germany in 1914 toward the fourth and sixth commandments?”

2. “What proofs are brought to us that we have not, from the beginning, taken the Biblical path?”

3. What is the position of the General Conference toward the Testimonies of Sister White? Are they inspired? Yes or no? Is health reform still the right arm of the message?”

4. Are our message and people, according to Revelation 14:6-12, national or international?”

Elder A.G. Daniells, President of the General Conference, answered these four questions with reference to the General Conference position.

Representatives of the Reform Movement at the Friedensau Hearing, July 21-23, 1920

Front row, left to right: H. Beckmann, unknown, W. Spanknobel, Vermeulen. O. Welp, E. Doerchler, Balbierer;

Middle row, left to right: Herdfelder, unknown, freyer, P. Waldschmidt, Koch, Riek, C. Spanknobel;

Rear row, left to right: W. Richter, H. Spanknobel, F. Muller.

Efforts were made to reunite with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Seventeen Reform delegates presented to the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference, both in Europe and in America, the position of those who had been disfellowshipped during World War I. No reconciliation between the two groups was achieved at this meeting. Here are the names of the brethren:

WHAT WAS THE OUTCOME OF THESE MEETINGS?

What was the outcome of this meeting? Elder Daniells and the other representatives of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, who were present, refused to unite with the Reform Movement, and the result of this decision was to set aside the 4th and 6th commandments, and lead the Seventh Day Adventist Church into further grievous error.

Elder Daniells made the following statement to delegates of the Reform Movement at this meeting: “and I tell you also in the name of the Lord that you will not succeed. These apostasy movements are not from God, and you will come to nought. … I know precisely this morning what the result of this will be, what it will be after 10 years, if the Lord has not come by then … finally the whole matter will run out like water in the sand.” See the minutes of this meeting contained in the booklet “Protocol” page 46.

History has proved Elder Daniells to be mistaken. 80 years have elapsed since this prediction was made, and the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement is alive and well, because truth never fails.

“Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; you may kick it about all day, like a football, and it will be round and full at evening.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes.

1922:

The following is a copy of the last appeal to Elder Daniells.

“San Francisco, California, May 22, 1922.

“Elder A. G. Daniells

General Conference San Francisco, Calif.

Dear Elder Daniells:

“Since several appeals for a hearing before the delegates of the General Conference in Session in regard to questions of conscience, as put forth in the enclosed “Open Appeal,” have remained unanswered, we take the liberty to ask you to be kind enough to give us at least an answer of yes or no to our many appeals.

“With best regards, we are your brethren in Christ Jesus,

[Signed] Otto Welp”

While anxiously waiting for an answer to this last appeal, the Reform Movement delegates met Elder Daniells in the Civic Auditorium, where they approached him personally and asked if a hearing would be granted before the delegates to the General Conference. His answer was:

“We could never permit these questions to come before the whole delegation of the General Conference. That would cause the greatest disturbance we have ever had.”

1923:

After the council held in Friedensau, Germany, and the refusal by the General Conference to grant a hearing in San Francisco, confusion among Adventists became greater. Many were fully convinced that the General Conference had taken the wrong position, and they joined the faithful people of God. Consequently, the leading men of the Seventh-day Adventist Church arranged for another council among themselves in Gland, Switzerland. At this council, a decision was made to grant each member liberty of conscience in regard to military service and bearing arms. The following resolution was passed on January 2, 1923.

“Our [S.D.A.] Position Toward the Government in Time of Peace and War

“We recognize earthly governments as ordained of God for the purpose of securing to their people the blessings of order, justice and tranquillity; that in the exercise of their legitimate functions such governments should receive the loyal support of their citizens.

“We assert the justice of rendering tribute, custom and honour to earthly governments as enjoined in the New Testament.

“We revere the law of God contained in the Decalogue, as explained in the teaching of Christ and exemplified in His life. For that reason we observe the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday) as sacred time; we refrain from secular labor upon that day, but engage gladly in works of necessity and mercy for the relief of suffering and the uplifting of humanity; in peace and in war we decline to participate in acts of violence and bloodshed. We grant to each of our church members absolute liberty to serve their country, at all times and in all places, in accordance with the dictates of their personal conscientious convictions.” [Italics ours.]

This new statement of faith had no more basis in Scripture than the course followed by Seventh-day Adventists in World War I. It advocated a false liberty of conscience – one which is not known to God or the church of Jesus Christ.

1924:

The following quotations from Seventh-day Adventist publications show the tragic results of the General Conference resolution granting liberty of conscience in the matter of bearing arms. An explanation given in Rumania in 1924, was aimed against the position of the reform movement.

“Military service, and partaking in war, is not making a covenant with the world, nor a characteristic of Babylon. Participating in war is a purely civil duty. In regard to war, our young people will also perform their duty on the Sabbath.”

– “False Prophets and false prophecy”, by P. P. Paulini, p. 39.

The following quotation appeared in a book published by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Yugoslavia in 1925:

The teaching of the Scripture which says, “Give unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s,” corresponds with the Adventists in every relation. They conscientiously serve their required military time with weapon in hand, in peace as well as in time of war. A large number of Adventists have proven themselves in the World War through their valour and many a breast is decorated with a medal of the highest recognition, due to their bravery.” – “Adventism.” P. 53.

A declaration sent to the Russian government by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1924 showed the same position.

We are convinced that God, through His providence, guided the heart of our never-to-be-forgotten W.J. Lenin and gave him and his fellow laborers wisdom to bring about the only progressive and timely state apparatus in the world today. For this reason the Seventh-day Adventists also want to be a rose in the bouquet of the believing citizens of the Socialist Federal Republic. The doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventists permits their members freedom of conscience in regard to military duty, and does not attempt to dictate to them as to how they should act, inasmuch as each person must be responsible for himself as to the military question, in accordance with his own conscience.”

President, H.J. Loebsack

Secretaries, W.S.Dyman, W.G. Tarasowsky

1932:

The following excerpt is quoted from Revista Adventista, an official publication of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, issued in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 5, 1932.

“At this moment there are about 200 of our church members, including teachers, evangelists [workers] and lay members, on the battlefield. I have recommended to all those with whom I spoke before my departure that they take with them pocket Bibles or Bibles with the New Testament, and that they not forget to do missionary work, even in the trenches. … During these four weeks of my absence from Bolivia, being on a vacation in Mollendo, Peru, I heard that many of our teachers and evangelists had to leave their church schools and churches to march to the front to participate in military operations. … During the time that sons of military age are marching into the battlefield, the older parents and younger brethren consecrate their lives anew to God.

1933:

The following is a letter written by Reinhard Heydrich Deputy Chief of Gestapo concerning the Seventh Day Adventist – Reform Movement.

This document shows the government’s view of Reformers.

“On the basis of edict No. 1 VO of February 28, 1933, by president of the Empire for the protection of people and state, the sect of the “Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement” is herewith dissolved and forbidden. (Empirical Law Journal 1, p. 83.) Their property will be confiscated.

“Violations of this order will be punished according to edict No. 4 VO of February 28, 1933.

“The “Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement” pursues, under cover of a religious garb, aims which are opposed to the world view of national socialism. The adherents of this sect refuse to give the German salute. They declare openly that they are international and that they consider all men as brethren.

“Because the conduct of this sect will create confusion among the people, it became necessary to dissolve them for the protection of people and state.”

“[Signed] HEYDRICH

[Witnessed] Officers of the Chancery”

1937:

“From the records of the special court, Cologne, March 24, 1937. In Aachen, the special court for the circuit of the high provincial court of Cologne sentenced nine defendants to prison for up to six months because they admittedly belonged to the forbidden sect of the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement.” The accused attended meetings of this sect, took part in prayer meetings and evening worship, participated in prayer in private homes and acquired calendars of this sect.” – Kolnische Zeitung (Cologne News), March 24, 1937.

The International Mission Society Seventh-day Adventist – Reform Movement remained loyal to God-given principles. Their decision was: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29. As a result, they were severely persecuted. Many brethren and sisters gave their lives for the truth’s sake. We thank God that He gave them strength to remain faithful unto death. Those whose lives were spared have kept the banner of faith aloft. The seed of those faithful witnesses is now springing up to bear fruit.

1938:

Johann Hanselmann, Alfred Muench, Thomas Slachetka, Gottlieb Metzner, Guenther Pietz, Gustav Psyrembel, Stanislav Rohlof

The eight men in these photographs all died at the hands of Nazis, because they stood for their faith.

Anton Brugger: “Born on April 9, 1911, in Karpun (Salzburg), Austria, and sentenced to death in 1943 by the Imperial War Department in Germany.

Here are a few lines brother Brugger wrote to his mother: “Even if I wanted to, I could not take the oath to the flag, because I would have obligated myself to serve with weapon in hand and commit actions which my Christian conviction of faith forbids me to do. I could not swear to a worldly power unconditional fidelity, for this I did at my baptism. Then I made a covenant with the Lord, promising Him to keep faithfully His commandments and follow Him under all conditions and difficulties in life. So there remained only two alternatives: either to remain faithful in all trials – even unto death – or else to become unfaithful by choosing the easier side. I chose death since I desire to attain to eternal life, for which Jesus Christ has called me by His Sacrificial death.” And Follow Their Faith, p. 47

FORBIDDEN WORSHIP

“On February 17, 1938, the court of the Empire declared that the order of the Prussian secret state police of April 29, 1936, whereby the sect of the “Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement” was dissolved, is valid. It is further decided by the German court that family worship is also forbidden and punishable when members of a family go beyond the purposes of worship and determine to keep alive this sect within the family circle as a seed for the future rebirth of this sect contrary to the order of the state.” – Der Schwaische Merkur (The Swabian Observer), June 6, 1938.

1936:

A photograph appeared in the January 1st 1937 issue of the official organ of the German Seventh-day Adventist Church, Der Adventbote (The Advent Messenger). This picture was taken in Friedensau, Germany, and shows Seventh-day Adventists in Nazi uniform. On October 16, 1936, the Adventist College was inspected by, several top German officials. The accompanying article declared that Friedensau was a community of Seventh-day Adventists and that as such all civil offices were in the hands of Adventists. The writer stated that Friedensau was very pleased at being favoured by a visit from such top political figures.

Relating the history of this community to the visitors, the brother explaining the administrative aspects of the community added: “Friedensau belongs to those communities which have voted 100 percent for the Fuehrer.”

The officials were so impressed with the report presented to them that the President of Saxony remarked before leaving, “I did not know that such a concealed but blooming violet existed in my province,” and the writer of the article added; “We desire this ‘concealed but blooming violet’ to continue to serve as a blessing in the work of the Lord.”

This statement shows the course followed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany. The church completely disregarded the instructions of the Spirit of Prophecy warning against unlawful connection with “the kings of the earth.” – The Great Controversy, p. 382.

Adventist ministerial students of the Friedensau Seminary in Nazi uniforms at inspection, October 16, 1936

“It is a mistake for you to link your interests with any political party, to cast your vote with them or for them. Those who stand as educators, as ministers, as laborers together with God in any line, have no battles to fight in the political world. Their citizenship is in heaven. The Lord calls upon them to stand as a separate and peculiar people.” Gospel Workers pp. 393, 395.

In 1936, when Elder C.H. Watson (formerly President of the General Conference) was questioned by a leader in Europe concerning Hitler’s regime, he gave the following answer: “we can praise God that we have the present government, Hitler received his power from God.” In reply to a question whether it was all right for Adventists to join the movement for freedom, he declared: “Why not?” – Extracts from Bible Studies, May 20, 21, 1936.

No doubt these statements by one of the leading men of the General Conference had tremendous influence. The leaders in Germany felt fully justified in the position they had taken, and they became all the more determined to pursue their own course. The following statements show a continual departure from just principles.

1938:

“As your co-workers in the publishing house and in the field, we thank you heartily for your interest in the past historical happenings by which our hearts are deeply moved. The eternal God has done more than we ever dared to hope and to believe. Austria has in the past years been thrown back systematically into the condition which existed in the middle ages … But in the last hour a strong and God-fearing arm has pulled this German land of bondage back from the abyss.

“On Monday I spoke to a woman from Linz who had personally witnessed the arrival of the Fuehrer. Her eyes shone with enthusiasm for the deliverer of Austria. She said: ‘Nobody knows what we have suffered. Oh, how we have prayed for this man!’ Yes, this is the mystery of success. The daily prayers of thousands of believers who were in great distress moved the arm of the Almighty. Through the election of God and by His assistance, our forceful Fuehrer, Adolph Hitler, became the liberator of Austria. Nobody else could and should accomplish this great task. … For the Christian who knows his national ties and fulfills his duties as a citizen, there is no question but to cast his vote in the coming election for Germany and the Fuehrer. Our unity as a people is a gift from God, and the political organization of this people is according to God’s order.” – Der Adventbote (The Advent Messenger), April 15, 1938.

“As citizens of the state, we are joined together in the union of the people, and it is the task of the school to foster the national socialist spirit. Most of our students belong to the Hitler Youth, the Organization of German Girls, and the Red Cross. Daily, between the third and fourth hours, teachers and students assemble in the school auditorium to spend time listening to after-school announcements and a daily description of the political and economic conditions, reading national socialist literature and singing German songs. This brief gathering also serves our national education.” – Der Adventbote (The Advent Messenger), November 1 1938.

This position was entirely contrary to the instruction given by the Spirit of Prophecy in Gospel Workers, p. 393:

“Those teachers in the church or in the school who distinguish themselves by their zeal in politics, should be relieved of their work and responsibilities without delay; for the Lord will not co-operate with them. The tithe should not be used to pay anyone for speechifying on political questions. Every teacher, minister or leader in our ranks who is stirred with a desire to ventilate his opinions on political questions, should be converted by a belief in the truth, or give up his work.”

1939-1940:

Here are some additional examples of Adventist positions during World War II in Europe:

“The Fuehrer found ways and means to make Germany, and thereby us, strong and great and free again. One who before saw decline and destruction everywhere now looks happily and with confidence to the future. We are filled with one thought and one feeling: overflowing thankfulness to God and our Fuehrer.” – Adventist Calendar, reading for January 30, 1939.

We are now in the midst of a storm of world moving events. A great age must find a great man. … Therefore we not only willingly submit ourselves but also gladly perform every required service. To those who will lose their life in so doing the words may be repeated: ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ John 15:13. Let us remember all our fighting men, and especially our brethren who are willing to risk their lives for the homeland and for those who are left behind. Let us also pray for the Fuehrer and his co-workers.” – Der Adventbote (The Advent Messenger), October 1, 1939.

“After months of sultry weather, the storm suddenly broke in the East and has quickly subsided. We have reason to thank God that the storm of war has so soon passed.

“Now peace has come to the East, Everything humanly possible will be done to establish and strengthen it. The powerful and tested forces of our people will be put to work for a cause that will rival the other great cultural aims of Germany. In the meantime, the Fuehrer has shown the way to peace in the West. When this Adventbote [Advent Messenger] reaches the reader, the die will have been cast. What will be the decision of the opposition? There is surely no German who, like the great Fuehrer or our people, does not desire peace.” – Der Adventbote (The Advent Messenger), November 1, 1939.

“Germany will never surrender to an enemy. The people are helping themselves. Therefore, make sacrifices for the war relief.” – Der Adventbote (The Advent Messenger), December 1, 1939.

“‘For all people will walk everyone in the name of his God.’ Micah 4:5. We again live to see a day, which gives our people cause for great joy. Thankfully and proudly we remember the day when a people was reborn from dishonor and distress to freedom. Our thanks go first of all to the Lord in heaven, who in His mercy and grace helped the will of man to glorious victory. And we thank our Fuehrer in this hour that he did not hesitate or waver in this great battle but, in the strength of his belief, lifted himself victoriously above the power of adversity. Through the dark, heavy clouds of internal division and opposition new light shone forth. The battle for recognition and acceptance of our people sounded forth in all the world and cut asunder the chains and bonds which have been placed upon our people. Unrighteous boundary lines were removed, and German brethren and sisters found a home again in the great Fatherland. Thankfulness fills our hearts today, for we have reason to be happy about the great protection of the German nation. And blessings to him who in this thankfulness does not forget to praise and honor Him under whose protection the Fuehrer has done his work. Let us remember that we are depended on God’s blessing, who must uphold the life and health of the Fuehrer and his co-workers.” – Adventist Calendar, reading for January 30, 1940.

“We thank God for the wise, powerful government that He has given to the German people. The Lord of history did not permit us to sink deeper into the abyss, as happened after we lost the First World War. Therefore, He has now chosen and sent us a deliverer, after so many successful undertakings, which contrary to all historical experience required but few sacrifices of blood, to lead our people through the hardest experience of our lives. The past year of our Fuehrer was blessed with great success, and we shall now unite our petitions that God may not fail him with His blessings in the coming year.” – Der Adventbote (The Advent Messenger), April 15, 1940.

1940:

“To the directors and ministers of the S.D.A. Church in Germany

Berlin W 50, April 4, 1940

Regensburgerstr. 22

“Dear Co-workers in the Gospel!

“Recently, responsible authorities have called to my attention the fact that certain members of our church who are assigned to work in military operations and operations essential for life have refused to work on Saturdays. These cases were isolated and, after consultation with the members in question by their ministers, have been explained and settled. Nevertheless, I feel obligated to ask you once again to make sure the church members are instructed to the obligations we have, based on the Holy Scriptures, in regard to our people and Fatherland as well as those in authority.

“Acceptance of military and war service, according to the Bible, includes the fulfillment of the obligations which result from it. I beg you to inform the church members in this matter that we are to serve your Fatherland in this time of war in an exemplary way, as the word of God emphasizes in 1 Peter 2: 13, 14, 16, 17: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” “As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”

“The more faithful and conscientious every Adventist is in doing his duty at the post assigned to him in this time of war, the more he may expect understanding and accommodation for his convictions of faith and conscience in times of peace.

“Ministers’ meetings are to be held at all the conferences until May 20. In connection with this it should be indicated that now, as before, we still consider the principle laid down in Romans 7:12 as obligatory: “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Moreover, it should be emphasized emphatically that in this time of war we judiciously submit ourselves to the observance of the instructions and laws of God and render likewise to those in authority the obedience commanded by the word of God (Romans 13:1-5) …

“Your brother in the faith and co-worker,

A. Minck”

These statements are sufficient evidence that Adventists in Germany were supporters of Hitler. In their terrible blindness, they believed Hitler was a man of God. By casting their lot with the powers of darkness, they partook of the same spirit and worshipped the god of war. Noncombatant principles were cast aside, and Adventists became regular combatant soldiers. This brought the issue concerning the question of war to the forefront again. The General Conference naturally tolerated this terrible condition of apostasy, because after the First World War they resolved to grant each church member absolute liberty to serve his country, at all times and in all places, in accordance with the dictates of his personal conscientious convictions.

1950-1953: KOREAN WAR

1957 – 1975: VIETNAM WAR

1971 – 1972:

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24

“When disagreement and debate on the military issue persisted among American Adventists, the General Conferences formed a Study Committee On Military Service in 1971. This large committee received and debated many papers, and remained deeply divided [interviews]. When Annual Council took up the matter in 1972, it chose to include both the militant patriots and the Adventist pacifists, declaring that military service was a matter of individual conscience. Its vehicle in this was the statement on military obligations voted by the General Conference Session in 1954 (quoted above), which it transformed by adding to it a new ending:

“This statement is not a rigid position binding church members but gives them guidance, leaving the individual member free to assess the situation for himself.”

The document then interpreted this by confirming that, for members in the U.S., the statement was best reflected in the traditional 1-A-0 (noncombatant) classification, but that the church would also facilitate members apply for a 1-0 (conscientious objector) classification. However, it then added:

“For those who conscientiously choose the 1-A classification (military service as a combatant), pastoral guidance and counsel should be provided in ministering to their needs since the Church refrains from passing judgment on them” [Annual Council, 1972].

Published in the Review of Religious Research, 37:3, March 1996, 97-122

Ronald Lawson, Professor Department of Urban Studies Queens College,

CUNY Flushing, NY 11367

Address for correspondence:

8 Glendale Rd, Ossining

NY 10562-1608; Phone (914) 941-1837; e-mail: rlawson@cloud9.net

This decision, then, represented a break with the position that had, in 1954, been declared a fundamental belief.

The new flexibility was tested and confirmed in Korea the very next year. It was noted above that young men there had endured beatings, imprisonment, and even death, rather than renege on their commitment to non-combatancy. However, as time passed younger Koreans began to question whether the costs were worth the stand, and increasing numbers of them opted to violate the recommended church policy in the late 1960s. Then, as the military situation in south Vietnam deteriorated, and Korean troops were withdrawn from there along with American troops, the Park regime panicked and insisted that all conscripts train with arms (which thus removed the noncombatant alternative previously available to some Adventists), and that such training be included within college curricula.

The latter demand placed the Adventist college in a dilemma: should it conform to the new policy or reject it and face closure? When Korean leaders contacted the General Conference seeking advice, the latter reversed the position it had advocated in the 1960s, arguing that it was not worth risking serious trouble with the government: training with arms should be a matter of individual conscience. The college consequently conformed to the government’s demand that it train students with weapons, and left the choice of whether they would comply to the individual consciences of the students, not urging them one way or the other:

“If the College had refused to do the training, the Ministry of Education would have closed it, unless the Lord performed a miracle… We decided that the college was more important than non-combatancy” [interview].

Published in the Review of Religious Research, 37:3, March 1996, 97-122

Ronald Lawson, Professor Department of Urban Studies Queens College,

CUNY Flushing, NY 11367

The result of this decision was that almost every Adventist student and conscript in Korea and thereafter trained with arms. Moreover, the church, which had formerly had a reputation with the authorities for taking a stand on training with weapons and Sabbath observance in the military, lost this reputation. The church’s abandonment of its noncombatant position was a wrenching experience for those who had earlier endured prison to stand up for it, and more than half of them have since cut their ties with it [interviews].

Published in the Review of Religious Research, 37:3, March 1996, 97-122

Ronald Lawson, Professor Department of Urban Studies Queens College

CUNY Flushing, NY 11367

1990:

“In contrast, any Adventist found to be smoking or drinking alcohol would be at least censured and possibly disfellowshipped. But none of the Ten Commandments bears directly on either of these!

Advance publicity for a special Servicemen’s Fund Offering in 1990, which quoted Calvin Rock, a Vice-president of the General Conference, put forward an unusually favourable view of the new generation of Adventist volunteer soldiers:

“… serving God and Caesar at the same time. … we can give our dollars to support and supply Adventist military personnel stationed around the world. As representatives of Caesar, they guard our borders, scan our skies, search our oceans, protect our investments, staff our embassies, transport our leaders and aid our allies; in short, help secure the precious freedoms we so easily take for granted. As Adventists they preach, teach and live the gospel of Christ … Adventists at bases, forts and camps around the world … pledge to continue their noble and necessary service …”

Published in the Review of Religious Research, 37:3, March 1996, 97-122

Ronald Lawson, Professor Department of Urban Studies Queens College

CUNY Flushing, NY 11367

1991:

“The General Conference Adventist Chaplainry Ministry assumes between 2,000 and 2,500 of the 500,000 U.S. troops in the Gulf War were Adventists. … One Adventist military chaplain estimates that 90 per cent of the Adventists in the U.S. military – including, presumably, those in the Gulf – are combatants bearing arms.” The Journal of the Association of Adventist Forums, March 1991

“The Defense Department estimates that one half of one percent of all U.S. military personnel are Seventh Day Adventist. Based on this figure, the General Conference Adventist Chaplainry Ministry assumes between 2,000 and 2,500 of the 500,000 U.S. troops in the Gulf war were Adventists. Of course, the United States now has a completely voluntary armed forces, so these Adventists chose to join the American military. It is possible to volunteer for non-combatant roles in the U.S. military, such as careers in health care, but there is along waiting list for these jobs.

Conversely, volunteers declaring that they are willing to serve in combat receive cash bonuses that sometimes reach $9,000. One Adventist military chaplain estimates that 90 percent of the Adventists in the U.S. the Gulf are combatants bearing arms.

The Chaplainry Ministries says that 16 of the 47 Adventist chaplains in the U.S. military by February 16 were on assignment in the Gulf. They serve Christians of any denomination in all services – the Air Force and Army in Saudi Arabia, and the Navy (including the Marine Corps) on board ships in the Gulf. The number of Adventist chaplains serving in the U.S. military is proportionally higher than the percentage of Adventists in either the U.S. military or the American population.”

1991:

Falkland Islands War

Adventists in Latin America also refrain from making an issue of military service. Church leaders in Brazil explained that this enables them to avoid conflict with the state and also the stigma and individual penalties that accrue to Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Adventist church cultivated ties to military regimes throughout the region, often forming exchange relationships with them [Lawson, 1991]. Students participate in military parades and compete in marksmanship. When a missionary teacher wanted to teach non-combatancy as part of an ethics course in the church college in Argentina, which ceased trying to train students for medical positions in the military three decades ago, he was discouraged from doing so. Church leaders there explained that training with arms did not worry them unduly, for they felt that Argentina would never fight a war. Argentine Adventists were therefore greatly surprised to find themselves fighting, and dying, in the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) War.

Published in the Review of Religious Research, 37:3, March 1996, 97-122

Ronald Lawson, Professor Department of Urban Studies Queens College,

CUNY Flushing, NY 11367

Burma:

The most remarkable involvement of Adventists with weapons and military conflict, however, is found among the Karen rebels against the Burmese government, who have declared an independent state of Cawthoolie along the Thai border. Adventists are the third-largest religious group among these Karens, behind Buddhists and Baptists, but they provide much of the military and political leadership. The general who heads the state, Bo (General) Mya, three of his top deputies, and several other leading military figures are Adventists. Since the Adventist churches and schools there cannot be linked to the denominational structure through Burma, they have been linked instead to the Thai structure. A missionary was stationed there for several years until recently, and church leaders in Thailand visit there frequently to nurture, evangelize, collect tithes and pay the salaries of clergy. Several of them reported having been asked to pray with soldiers before battles. Neither they nor leaders from the church’s Southeast Asia Union have taken a stance on the military issue – “We have not made bearing arms an issue at all, have not said they should not be shooting” – but have kept their role spiritual: “Our hearts are with them, but officially we cannot take sides – it would jeopardize missionaries elsewhere.” They have not had advice from the General Conference or the Far Eastern Division on how to handle this very unexpected situation, and leaders from these higher levels of the church structure have not visited Cawthoolie, Indeed, the church leaders at these levels seem nervous about the situation. They want to dissociate the church from Cawthoolie, and to keep missionaries and tourists away from there in order to prevent stories of Adventist-led armed struggle from surfacing.

Published in the Review of Religious Research, 37:3, March 1996, 97-122

Ronald Lawson, Professor Department of Urban Studies Queens College,

CUNY Flushing, NY 11367

1994:

Burundi: Seventh Day Adventists Reform Movement church members persecuted.

“I would like to tell you, about one experience made in Burundi which really struck me. The leader of a church of 38 members truly experienced the great hand of God over himself and three other members. One day, a group of Hutu commandos came to his home, and asked him to give them everything he had, as well as to join them in fighting against the Tutsis. Our brother explained to them that he could not, because he is a believer and follows the Biblical principles of non-violence and living at peace with everyone.

The men asked him to call the church leader, and he told them he was the leader. “Then,” they said, “you must all die.” They began beating him and the other members. They ordered four believers, including his wife, to follow them to a place where they would be executed. The believers were beaten further, and ordered to dig their own graves. But suddenly the commando leader said not to kill them there, but to take them back to their village, so a lesson could be given to others. So they went back to the village, where they were stripped and brutally beaten in front of people from other religious denominations, including Methodists, Baptists, and Adventists, who take a position toward violence and war that is different from that of the Reform Movement. The brethren were especially beaten on the arms and back (I personally saw the brutal scars on the arm of the brother who told me this story) and left to die. No one was permitted to help them or even give them a glass of water. Then the commandos left, promising to return in a few days to see if the four people were still alive and, if so, to finish the punishment.

People of other denominations were astonished at the mistreatment of such peaceful people who only wished to live according to their faith without hurting anyone. The brothers and sisters of our church who had not been mistreated helped to treat the believers’ injuries and given them food and water, even having to open their mouths to do so when they were weak and wounded. A few days later, the commandos returned to carry out their evil designs. It appeared that our four believers were in the last moments of life before the death sentence would be carried out.

But the Lord had other plans and would not permit His beloved children to suffer further; He intervened to save them. Still today, what happened is a mystery and inexplicable, for without human intervention (in fact, no person was seen), from a particular place in the camp a shotgun began to fire in the direction of the commandos who were drawing their weapons – and only on them! One after another, the commandos were struck by the bullets and mortally wounded right in front of the different Protestants, who were astonished. This inexplicable occurrence immediately removed the death threat, and set the dear brethren free. They had been severely tested, but now the Lord helped them at the very last moment. They praised God for saving their lives!

But this is not all; there was more to the miracle. Many people from all other churches had been called to witness the execution of our brethren, and were seized with fear and admiration. They saw unmistakable evidence of God’s hand. They also recognized that the position their churches had taken in participating in the tribal war was completely wrong. They realized that the position the Reform Movement had taken was the right one. ‘These people are truly God’s people.” “This church is God’s true church.” “This is the position the Lord wants us to take.” They said. After that, the pastor of the local Adventist Church changed his position and began to say to the members of his church: “We have been mistaken up to now. From now on, we must take the same position as the Reformers.”

In some cases, the Lord permitted the sacrifice of life. Ten members of the Reformation in that area died during the war; but their lives were not lived in vain, for they were blessed seed. Because of all that happened, people are steadily coming to the church and accepting the message. Before the war, there were 38 members in that local church; now there have been almost 50 baptisms, and many others are coming to receive Bible studies.

According to reports I received a the delegates’ meetings which I led in Burundi March 29-30 of this year (2000) 121 souls lost their lives in order to remain faithful; 25 were wounded; and 154 homes and 18 churches were burned. Furthermore, there are now 99 widows and 261 orphans who need help.”

The Sabbath Watchman May-June 2000 Page 16-17

1996:

Rwanda Slaughter:

SDA’s Massacre Their Own Members! – Part 1;By Roy Branson

Reprinted from Spectrum, Volume 25, Number 4, June 1996, page 2.

Adventism on the verge of the next millennium – that is the focus of this issue of Spectrum, and of considerable thinking by denominational leaders. But first there is this matter of Adventists killing Adventists. The evidence may not yet be conclusive, but it is already convincing: Some of the 10,000 to 40,000 (Seventh-day) Adventists killed in the Rwandan genocide died at the hand of fellow Sabbath keepers (Seventh-day Adventists). The president of the General Conference has deplored the killing in Rwanda. He has visited the refugee camps in neighbouring Zaire dominated by members of the former government that encouraged the Rwandan massacres. That is where many of the 100,000 Hutu Adventist refugees, including scores of (Seventh-day) Adventist pastors, have congregated.

1999:

A Seventh-day Adventist pastor from RWANDA will face the United Nations’ war crimes tribunal for his alleged involvement in that country’s 1994 genocide. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal in January by Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, 75, to block his extradition. U.N. prosecutors allege the pastor participated in the massacre of more than 500,000 people, mainly Tutsis, including those who sought refuge in his church and hospital compound. Ntakirutimana was arrested in the fall of 1996 in Laredo, Texas, where he was living with one of his sons.

NOTE: Today the Seventh-day Adventist Church sanctions the taking of human life in time of war. Is this biblical? Has the church the authority to give liberty to transgress the sixth commandment? Absolutely not!

“Men are not at liberty to make a standard of law for themselves, to avoid God’s law and please their own inclination. They must come to God’s great moral standard of righteousness.” The Adventist Home, page 342.

“God has given men no liberty to depart from His requirements.” Patriarchs and Prophets, page 634.

Conscience is not to take the place the place of ‘Thus saith the Lord’.” Mind, Character and Personality, Volume 1, page 322

1865: *
“We are compelled to decline all participation in acts of war and bloodshed as being inconsistent with the duties enjoined upon us by our divine Master toward our enemies and toward all mankind.” The Review and Herald, May 23, 1865
1867: *
“Resolved, That it is the judgment of this conference, that the bearing of arms, or engaging in war, is a direct violation of the teachings of our Saviour and of the spirit and letter of the law of God.” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald., May 28, 1867

* Compare 1991 and 1996 (1999) statement with 1865 and 1867 quotes (above)

“Satan delights in war, for it excites the worst passions of the soul and then sweeps into eternity its victims steeped in vice and blood. It is his object to incite the nations to war against one another, for he can thus divert the minds of the people from the work of preparation to stand in the day of God.” – Great Controversy, p. 589.

The Christian’s attitude toward war

Mark 12:17, “Render to Caesar what belongs to him”

Exodus 20:13, “Thou shalt not kill”

Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies”

Luke 3:14, “Do violence to no man”

Revelation 13:10, “He who kills with the sword will be killed by the sword.”

Revelation 16:13-16 “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

2 Peter 3:13,14. “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

We must be found in peace at Christ’s second coming not in strife, revolutions, the military, or the war of Armageddon.

“God has promised His people that if they would obey His voice He would go before them and fight for them; and He would also send hornets to drive out the inhabitants of the land.” – Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 436.

“A theocracy is a government which derives its power immediately from God. The government of Israel was a true theocracy. That was really a government of God …

“Since the kingdom of Israel passed away, God has never delegated authority to any man or body of man to execute His laws as such. ‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord,’ Romans 12:19. Civil governments have to do with the relations of man with man; but they have nothing whatever to do with the duties that grow out of man’s relation to God.

“I saw that it is our duty in every case to obey the laws of our land, unless they conflict with the higher law which God spoke with an audible voice from Sinai, and afterward engraved on stone with His own finger. “I will put My laws into their mind, and write them into their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people.” He who has God’s law written in the heart will obey God rather than men, and will sooner disobey all men that deviate in the least from the commandment of God. God’s people, taught by the inspiration of truth, and led by a good conscience to live by every word of God, will take His law, written in their hearts, as the only authority which they can acknowledge or consent to obey. The wisdom and authority of the divine law are supreme.” Testimonies vol. 1 page 361.

Every human being has been created in God’s image, and is infinitely precious in His sight.  It is wrong for a Christian to take the life of another human being, and for a Christian to kill a fellow Christian is an appalling violation of God’s law.  For any church authority to sanction the destruction of human life is contrary to the life, example and teaching of Jesus. James 4:4 states: “whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Trying to please men at God’s expense is not the way that Jesus would have us walk.  God is preparing a people on this earth, a faithful remnant, who by faith in Jesus will hold fast to His commandments.

Acts 3:20-21 “and He shall send Jesus Christ which before was preached unto you: whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Before Jesus returns, God is going to raise up a people who by their life and witness will faithfully keep all of God’s commandments, including the 4th and 6th commandments.

Followers of Jesus Christ are engaged in spiritual warfare. The weapons, which God has given His people, are far more powerful than guns, bullets and bombs.

With sword in hand, (the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God), they are on the attack. The gates of hell will not prevail against them. Their armour consist of the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. They have the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation.

Are we willing to put on the whole armour of God and take our stand under the banner of truth and love? By God’s grace we can endure hardness, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

The faith and love of Jesus Christ wins every battle.

Will your name be inscribed on the roll of honour, the Lamb’s book of life?

The victory is assured, all we need to do is to make the decision to follow Jesus all the way.

Further reading;

https://sabbathsermons.com/category/the-war-story/

Posted on July 23, 2010, in The Adventist Church and War and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Wonderful inspiring message. I am seeing this approach for the first time. Thankyou

  2. Elder Daniels didn’t even want to answer?

  3. “…had to be disfellowshipped because of their unchristian conduct.” urgh!!! ‘had to be’ – that’s disgusting!!! I’m so shocked to have read that. Talk about laodecian. Laodecian is actually a nice name really…pagan would be more appropriate 😦

  4. Please help me w/regard to terrorists/Muslims. Are we not to defends ourselves against them. Is there a difference between defending ourselves & war against them?

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