The Story Behind the 27 Fundamental Beliefs

Speaker: Categories: Apr 08, 2000


[1hr, 19min, 35sec / 1hr, 15min, 29sec]


Istruthprogressive? Is it everRE-gressive? If the identified and publicized beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church vary from just two in 1861 to twenty-seven in 1941, 1950, and 1980, does that suggest aprogressivetruth? But how about the changes from thirty in 1894 down to twenty-two in 1931 and then down even further to just twenty-one in 1932 -- does that suggest aRE-gressive truth? Does not associating the number"27"with the term"fundamental"pose a curious anomaly?

Are you aware that it was not until the 1980 statement of beliefs that the topics ofMarriage and the Familyand Unity in the Body Christwere included? And did you know that the 1894 statement (numbering a total of thirty entries) included such items asEnemies of the Flesh,Modest Attire,Modern Spiritualism,Civil Government. . . , andHealthful Living-- none of which were"included in any prior or future statements?” Twenty years ago this month,"notes Dr. Fritz Guy,"the General Conference session in Dallas, Texas, adopted a revised version of the officialFundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists. The process of revision and adoption was the most broadly-based theological discussion in Adventist history; but the outcome -- perhaps not surprisingly in a time of theological ferment -- was met with something less than universal acclaim. Some were unhappy with what it said; others were unhappy with what it didn't say; still others thought the whole process might be used to enforce some sort of theological conformity."Many readers can probably recall some of the comments made during and after April, 1980. Some might even have noted what essential beliefs of SDAs were toned down, perhaps omitted. A few might have compared this 1980 rendition with their baptismal certificates and wondered if this was the same church in which they were members!

Dr. Guy states,"In the intervening two decades, there have been, inevitably and appropriately, numerous interpretations of the 1980 statement -- as seen in a series of articles in theAdventist Review, inMinistry, and, most notably, in the 392-page book,Seventh-day Adventists Believe... , published in 1988 by the General Conference Ministerial Association."

This month's anniversary of such a milestone event provides a valuable setting not only"to recall the process which produced the statement, but also to consider the place and function of such a statement in Adventist faith and life,"suggests Fritz Guy.

Three very qualified and knowledgeable persons will share in the presentation of this topic: Larry Geraty, Ron Graybill, and Fritz Guy, all of whom in various ways were personally and actively involved in the revision process twenty years ago. Geraty and Guy were members of the Andrews University faculty committee which was asked to review the work of a General Conference subcommittee but which ended up drafting a quite different document. Graybill introduced the preamble which is often regarded as the most important part of the entire statement.


Larry Geraty is completing his eighth year as president of La Sierra University. A graduate of Pacific Union College and Andrews University, he received a Ph.D. in archaeology and the history of antiquity from Harvard University. Before coming to LSU, he was professor of Old Testament at Andrews University and president of Atlantic Union College.

Ronald D. Graybill is community benefits coordinator at the Loma Linda University Medical Center. He is a graduate of La Sierra College, Andrews, and Johns Hopkins University. His Ph.D. is in American religious history. He has served as assistant director of the Ellen G. White Estate and associate professor and chair of the department of history at La Sierra University.

Fritz Guy, professor of theology and philosophy at La Sierra University, has been a member of the faculty there for almost twenty-seven years. Educated at La Sierra, Andrews, and the University of Chicago, his Ph.D. is in Christian theology. He has been a teacher at Andrews and a pastor in the Southeastern California Conference.

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