What’s Fundamental about the Twenty-Seven?

Speaker: Categories: Sep 12, 1998


[1hr, 18min, 42sec / 56min, 2sec]


Some readers may remember back to 1980 and the publication ofFundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, the set of twenty-seven tenets, often referred to as the Dallas statement, resulting from the meeting of the General Conference in session. It was reported then, and ardently affirmed today, that thesetwenty-sevenwere not and are not to be taken or thought of as a creed. They were/are a statement of the beliefs held by the churchas of that point in time. These beliefs, then, might be understood as an expression ofpresent truth, not a set of belief statements to be revered and retained for ever and ever.

A brief review of the church's statements of belief over time indicates that the content and number has not remained static as noted by the number offundamental beliefsin the following years: 1872 = 25 belief statements; 1889 = 28 statements; 1931 = 22 statements; 1980 = 27 statements. For some it proved interesting and informative during the last two quarters of 1988 to devote twenty-seven weeks to the study of the Dallas Statement, theTwenty-seven Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, in the adult Sabbath School Lesson Quarterlies. As you may have studied thosetwenty-seventhen, and perhaps when they were first made public following the 1980 General Conference, what was your reaction? As you reviewed these statements, adopted by the General Conference in session which has been regarded by many as God's highest authority on earth, did you find any belief missing, . . . any repeated, ... any different from what you had been taught? How didthese twenty-sevencompare with the tenets of faith on the back of your baptismal certificate? Were these statements adopted at the recommendation of Bible scholars, of church administrators, of a representative sampling of laity?

So, what's happening on September 12 when the San Diego Forum next meets? What's the purpose of a panel discussion looking at thosetwenty-sevenand asking what’s fundamental about them? Should some of thesetwenty-sevenbe considered essential or core beliefs, while others could/should be viewed as peripheral? Does associatingtwenty-sevenof anything with the concept offundamentalsuggest a possible oxymoron? Should all employees of the SDA church sign-off on these beliefs, affirming their acceptance of all, as a condition of employment?

On September 12 Dr. Eldon Stratton will guide the panel in a discussion of these beliefs, especially focusing on which of thetwenty-seveneach panelist views as essential, which as peripheral. An effort has been made to avoid any comparison of notes among the panelists prior to the session so that what the Forum audience hears will befresh from the heartand not influenced by what another panelist  -- or panel moderator -- might feel about these statements.


Robert Fawke, graduate of La Sierra College (now University) and Golden Gate University School of Law, has served as San Bernardino district attorney. He is currently San Bernardino Superior Court Judge and an active member of the Southeastern California Conference Executive Committee.Ginger Hanks-Harwood, a graduate of Chico State College, PhD Iliff School of Theology, and the University of Denver where she earned her joint Ph.D. in Religious and Theological Studies, is currently Assistant Professor of Theology at La Sierra University.Thomas Mostert, Graduate of Southern Missionary College, B.A. in Theology, and Andrews University, M.A. in Systemic Theology, has served as a pastor, as Ministerial Director, as president of three Conferences, and as Pacific Union Conference President for the past twelve years.Eldon Stratton, graduate of Wall a Wall a College, SDA Seminary, and the University of Oregon where he earned his Ed. D., has recently retired from serving as Imperial County Vocational Education Director. His earlier experiences included pastoring in the Oregon Conference, Dean of Students at Columbia Union College, and Principal of Lynwood Academy. These participants, with their very varied professional and academic backgrounds, will bring together an array of perspectives on the fundamentals of thefundamentals.

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