The Reformation and the Remnant: The Reformers Speak to Today’s Church

In this book lawyer and church historian Nicholas P. Miller, of the Seminary at Andrews University, addresses Adventism’s “identity crisis” by way of two rhetorical strategies. One is to claim Reformation backing for the understanding of Adventist identity that he favors. Another is to call his account “centrist” and to lump persons he differs with (none are named) into either the “liberal” or “fundamentalist” camp.

The result is both conventional and subversive. Miller would strike some readers as quite nearly fundamentalist himself, yet he is clearly hoping to pry the church away from sheer rigidity and thoughtlessness so that it can embark upon a more creative course, one that is not only more flexible but also more biblically responsive.

Miller wrote a dissertation on the contribution of dissenting Protestants to the development of religious liberty. It was published in 2012 under the title The Religious Roots of the First Amendment, and became a best-selling academic title from the Oxford University Press. The Reformation and the Remnant aims for a narrower, Adventist readership, but Miller again he shows himself to be at once clear and provocative.

In his Introduction, Miller says, more or less in passing, that the Reformers matter because we learn by listening to people not ourselves. He quickly moves on to marking out the “third option” or “middle way” he links with the Adventist pioneers, including Ellen White, and contends for himself. Here the theory of “verbal inerrancy” finds no support; here a “closed, self-righteous spirit” meets with criticism; here the church takes up an “activist stance” on social issues such as slavery and alcohol.

But after the 1919 Bible Conference the church, now lacking Ellen White and now fearful of “modernism” in religion, veered toward fundamentalism. It became more comfortable with “verbal inspiration” and less open to change, and began withdrawing into “Southern fundamentalist social and political conservatism.” Miller says most Adventists find this outlook—what he calls “the fundamentalist ditch”—tempting. But since the 1970s, with the revelation that Ellen White’s writings were not, in fact, the “product of verbal inspiration,” another outlook has emerged, what he calls Adventist “liberalism.” Today it regards Scripture as “ultimately” a “human product,” with the result, Miller contends, that liberals are now “ready” to deny “literal” understandings of Creation, question penal substitutionary atonement theory, welcome same-sex marriage and “jettison our view of the last days.” This dubious strain, both small and dangerous, has in this book no named representatives, but Miller, painting with a broad brush, says that it “tends to be restricted to academic institutions and large, urban churches.”

Chapter One invokes both Luther and Wesley in describing the place of scripture in Christian life. Jesus Christ, as Miller allows, is “the ultimate Word of God,” but what Jesus stood for is “consistent with” scripture, so the Bible itself may be thought of as the church’s “sole infallible authority.” Miller does introduce nuance, however, with his affirmation of the “Wesleylan quadrilateral.” Besides Scripture, reason, experience and tradition come into play, and all four of these matter. Scripture “only” would make no sense. Reason, experience and tradition are part of human culture. They inevitably shape our thinking, and may each generate, as Ellen White herself would agree, both insight and value. But if it’s important to grant all this, it’s equally important, Miller insists, to think of Scripture as the church’s “normative norm.”

Ten more chapters follow. One on the Great Controversy appeals to the lesser-known Dutch reformers Arminius and Hugo Grotius in defending free will and backing up the case for God as a “moral” governor whose “fairness” all “created beings” will come to agree upon. Another chapter defends the “literal” heavenly sanctuary as the administrative hub of God’s moral government of love and argues for the “legal” necessity of penal substitutionary atonement. Still another espouses “literal, six-day Creation,” invoking Ellen White against “‘delusive, scientific theories’” that would, Miller says, count against God’s “character of love.” But this chapter does echo the book’s two-“ditches” theme: if the liberal “quicksand” of elevating science over scripture is dangerous, so is the fundamentalist preoccupation with creedal formulas. This latter can distract people away from the “meanings” of creation, or even, as happened in both South Africa and the American South, underwrite “static” views of creation that buttress the “established” social order.

Chapters five and six argue that the direction of American policy on sexual orientation and the nature of the family constitutes a threat to the country’s “system of moral pluralism.” Miller repeatedly comes across as favoring social activism, but he affirms traditional sexual values and says the political Left wants to suppress “elements of the church’s morality and practice that conflict with secularist values.” Still, he opposes discrimination against gays and lesbians and is open to “civil unions for tax and insurance purposes.” Having said that, however, Miller maintains that today’s questioning of marriage as between a man and a woman amounts to an “end-time attack” on the “heart of God’s law.”

Then come two chapters that may surprise. One argues for the ordination of women. Miller’s point is not to hurry the practice into worldwide church policy but to grant that, excepting actual “deviations” from divine law, the Holy Spirit does allow adaptation to circumstances for the sake of mission. There are even “good reasons to avoid rigidity and coercion” in the enforcement of the conservative policy enacted at the 2015 San Antonio General Conference session. After this, Miller’s next chapter offers an argument for what he calls “positive ecumenism,” citing abolition and temperance as examples of pioneer cooperation with other Christians.

Chapter nine is a deeply conventional apology for Adventism’s end-time Sunday-law scenario. Here Miller appeals to the seventeenth-century Seventh-day Baptist Thomas Tillam, who located the Sabbath at the heart of what he called “‘the last great controversy.’” But in what may confound expectation, Miller in chapter ten severely rebukes those right-wing Adventists who advance conspiracy theories involving Jesuits and Masons and the like. And finally, in chapter eleven, he lashes out against the vision of “sinless perfection” associated with “last-generation theology.” Holiness matters, Miller declares; legalism and indifference to social concern make a mockery of holiness.

As is clear by now, in addressing Adventism this book addresses a community stamped by turbulent diversity. Saluting that fact in his concluding remarks, Miller harks back to his ordination chapter and says that religious liberty is about “relationships within the church” as well as outside of it. There “must be space in the church for disagreement on certain matters.” The last phrase, “on certain matters,” implies limits, however, on allowable domains of disagreement.

The two rhetorical strategies I mentioned to begin—the Reformation is with me; my position is, within Adventist life, the centrist one—suggest what Miller may be ruling out. Both occupy the reader in such a way as to keep modernity at bay. If the only post-Reformation thinkers you consider sympathetically are Adventists who overlook or dismiss modern intellectual developments, you have shied away from a major source of “crisis” for Adventist identity. Today a new “circumstance”—Miller uses this word in his argument on women’s ordination—is scientific consensus that people do not “choose” their sexual orientation. Another is that human life is vastly older than we used to think. Still another is that secular criticism of all religion seems to be gaining traction.

You can try to sidestep genuine engagement with such developments. You can even try to institutionalize (as in, for example, our schools) refusal to talk about them. But no self-constructed cocoon will perfectly enclose our children, nor even our friends who are adults. Despite what we may do or hope for, they come under the modern culture’s influence. Some may even elect to become scientists, and feel the shock that goes along with that. One way or another, whether in their universities, workplaces or social interactions, all will seek out, or stumble into, wider-ranging conversation than the cocoon provides. It is self-deception to think otherwise.

Miller’s “centrist” vision, at last as articulated in his book, protects this self-deception. It does, I think, subvert far-right madness in Adventism, not least because the author makes lengthy critiques of it. But in his determination to show no sympathy for those Adventists he calls “liberal,” he offers verbal swipes without really considering the nuance, the biblicism and the deeply-felt conviction that comes through in at least some of what they say or write. Nor does he engage—I mean grapple with—the intellectual context that calls forth these efforts.

Meanwhile, the cocoon will go on failing to keep modernity at bay.

Charles Scriven is Board Chair of Adventist Forum, the organization that publishes Spectrum.

If you respond to this article, please:

Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Reading the two reviews on this book raises multiple questions. But one that kept popping up in my mind was comparing the cultural, political, and religious climate that gave birth to Adventism with the far different world we live in today.

  1. What success would be granted to Adventism as it was when founded in the 19th century if it were introduced in the U.S. today?

  2. What reception could be expected today were the Great Controversy theme presented as it was originally?

  3. How would the idea of a remnant church identified by obedience to the Jewish Law be adopted by U.S. citizens today?

There are many more, but these are claimed by the church to be some of the distinguishing marks of the church that are usually seen as not conforming to the Christian religions with which they are familiar. and affects their willingness to make the necessary changes in their lives.

Could those be partial reasons why the U.S. has more 2nd, 3rd. and 4th generation members of the Adventist church while there are far fewer new adult members than in the third world?

Or, has the church essentially given up on attracting new adults in the U.S. and first world nations?


isn’t wonderful that we can read Paul and John for ourselves.Tom Z


Perhaps we have never had – Seventh day Adventism For The Modern Man.
Much of the time capsule each week at SDA houses of worship provide little in the way of equating the “28” to the needs of Modern Living, Modern Relationships in the Secular Environment of the 21st Century in the First World.
The New Sabbath Lesson Quarterly which begins July 2 is a good example if the Adult Teachers follow the standard way by going through READING page by page to the class and accepting the usual classical trite answers to the questions presented. It is supposed to be concerned with the Community surrounding the church. But will any members obtain a Vision by the end of September?
At the end of September, on October 1, will any of the churches have changed what they do so that it has something to offer the Secular Person make their life more joyful, and their joy more abundant as is promised in the Word?

EDIT— I wonder how this book compares to
"Grounds For Assurance And Hope", by Bryan W. Ball, of Avondale University, Australia.
I enjoyed it very much. Is available in the US on Amazon.
A very good religious history, and as it relates to our Founding Father’s and Mother’s religious thought.

EDIT-- James and Ellen White were afraid of developing a CREED. But that is what we have with the 300 pages of explaining the “28”.
It would be SO MUCH BETTER if we would have just adopted the 100+ words of the Nicene Creed.
All of our 28 are in those few words. And would make it much easier to explain our HOPE to the world.
In the end, we would be Embracing instead of Excluding. And would not have spent MILLIONS of wasted U.S. tithe and offering dollars on meaningless Conferences.
We could STILL have our Beasts and Images.
By the way, Rev 14:6-12 is in the Nicene Creed. Just in a different format.
The Most Holy Place is just in a different format.
Actually, IF we REALLY think about Revelation, Jesus AND the Father are STREET “People”. Walking the streets of Gold, visiting with the redeemed. There is NO TEMPLE. Jesus and the Father ARE the Temple. So where THEY are is where the Temple IS.
So, any park bench could be “the throne”.


I had a theology professor in college who was fond of saying, “The only thing in the middle of the road is a dead armadillo.” I’m not sure exactly how that applies here, but it seems apt. I’ll simply say that if Miller’s “centrist” way through current Adventist issues is anything like the “middle option” he tried to carve out on women’s ordination (which was more of an attempt at political compromise than a true theological position), his book is DOA. Such a move to the “center” is analogous to “establishment Republicans” who are now awkwardly trying to distance themselves from the populists on the far right, only to prompt headlines such as: “I’m With Racist.” I would contend that the middle ground of Adventism in the future may not be occupied by “moderate conservatives,” such as Miller, but by “moderate progressives” who are able to successfully grapple–as Scriven suggests–with the situation on the ground in a way that is both faithful, fearless, and forward-moving. I could be wrong, but that is my hunch.


Tom, you’ve nailed it good and proper as we say it here in Australia.

Maybe I can even push our freedoms a little further.

We can read the Apostolic Fathers and the early Church Fathers for ourselves.

We can read the history of Constantine for ourselves.

We can even download Socrates Scolasticus, “Ecclesiastical History” and read the real issues for ourselves.

We can read the history of Justinian and Napolean and all in between for ourselves.

We can now read the history of the Christian church through the eyes of the Eastern Orthodox as well as the Western churches.

We simply don’t need to visit distant libraries and wade through dusty tomes, which was impossible for many of us years ago.

To have such a vast array of world history at our fingertips on a daily basis is a wonderful freedom but very disturbing at times in light of some interpretations that some of us grew up with.

Perhaps if we stuck with Paul and John (and Peter) and their revelation of Jesus Christ we’d accomplish our purpose.


"This introduction raises a number of question. First of all, what kind of “moderate” reform are we talking about? I can see several:

Tinkering with the semantics of creedal statements so that church members who live in the 19th century believe that they have moved on into the 21st, and to reassure those who have abandoned the worldview of the 19th century have not abandoned the faith.

Reform the organisational structure so as to allow the church in every continent to live its faith in comfort, against the dark matter of its host culture, such as wich-craft, misogyny, feudal sexual rights as well as secularism. It would make the church creak like an ocean-going galleon, but noise apart, it might hold the ship together.

Review what a church is, either a a repository of sacred arcanae, especially the dogmatic passwords to eternity, who, when uttered with the right inflection, will cause the gates of Heaven to swing open.or a broad fellowship around a person who demonstrated what it meant to lead a life worthy of the Kingdom of God, which he believed must only be days or months away.

Evaluate the role of Pauline theology in light of its divisive heritage. In Gal 1:8 Paul unfurled the first flap of the roadmap to the Middle Ages by declaring that he didn’t give damn if James or Peter or an angel gave the Galatians a different interpretation of the role of Jesus in the divine scheme than he did. They were to be considered under the curse of God. The result was two thousand years of church history in which Christians put orthodoxy above ethics, cognition above morality.

The role of scripture. Our culture is full of monuments to our highest aspirations as basest behavior. Religous monuments and scriptures are as much a part of this colonnaded museum of human culture as the Pyramids (which of course are religious monuments). It is in our best nature to take care of our past achievement. We watch over statutes of deities we long since stopped believing in. The same goes for art that at one time blinded the spirit with its brilliance. But notice that we no longer regard these works of art as “present truth.” We make take our art students through a course in which they get to try their hand at copying Giotto (or more likely, Rembrandt), but no modern art school teaches its students to paint like the masters.

The same flexibility is rarely extended to the scriptural masterworks of the various religions. They are declared eternal verities, not lamp posts lighting the advancing path of the human spirit. What religious people often forget is that community precedes scriptures. The Mosaic, Christian and Muslim communities existed before their sacred scriptures materialized. The Christian creeds did not grow out of the scriptures revered by their community, but by the community itself. It is a fundamentall religious truth that community is a much a part of a religion as its scriptures.

So what do you do when the old lampposts, so faithfully polished through the ages, no longer provide the light you need. If you no longer believe that God has an interested in the future of your church, and that you are happy simply being a sympathizer with a waning cause, then there is not much you can do, If not, hope that some visionary will rise up and get the older embers to glow, not back in the backwoods of Maine and Cannandagua but on Areopagas itself. And it’s got to be “Present Truth.”

Regarding your opening query: Must have been a mistake; you do not have a comment on this article that was removed. -Website Editor


A gross mis-characterization of the facts. The Jewish ceremonial law ended when Jesus was crucified. There are a few misguided Adventists who are “feast-keepers,” but they have no credibility among mainstream Adventists. The 10 commandments are eternal, as is obvious by the statements of Jesus which amplified many of the principles contained within the Decalogue.

Based on the tone of the article, one can’t help but wonder what SDA doctrines the author actually believes, since he disparages some of the major ones: our eschatology, creation, and the SOP.

Addendum: thanks to Tony for responding to Elaine. Since no discussion is allowed here, I was unable to respond.



*Looking back at my religious posture as a teenager in High , I find that i was “extremely” (for want of a more extreme term) naive and ignorant . I was born and raised SDA all the way. Mom went to an SDA college; Dad married her I think as a step upward in social mobility, and as a vehicle to raise a productive family , thereby eschewing theloose family structure and instability he was raised in. But having done that , he never compromised his chosen Adventist vales at any time tioll his death, yet never forced his own views on anyone. He felt would be the judge and we humans could not see everything.So while he offered Bible readings and prayers to death row men found guilty of murder he did not condemn those who , using expletives to reject his offer. Who knows? such men may show public bravado, but may even tearfully pray after lights out to the creator? In High School I refused to talk to my Religious Knowledge teacher, a Methodist priest when he smilingly described the creation scenario in Genesis chapter 1 as a series of “myths”. If I even saw him approaching me on a corridor I would turn around and head another way. He would aways just smile and go his way. At university I learned about humans, and human behaviour et al esp from a young lecturer Phd Oxford and the recommended reading list of teachers sometime comprising over 200 texts.I say all that to say that I can now read NICHOLAS MILLER’S somewhat radical, if SDA - sympathetic ,book and gain some insight into his thinking. I have no desire to separate from the SDA church at all but my views of religion in general have become more probing . Christianity has indeed contributed to human welfare and the SDA church in particular is displaying the highest moral/ ethical values one can expect from humans ,who have grown up(as the rest of humanity) with flawed insight due to little understood effects on behaviour of the neuroplasticity of the brain, ( effects of all experiences from in utero forward and after birth) and the instinctual organs and programs with which we are born. However, our creators arer human as we are and have kindly established words of wisdom for our guidance in the for of inspirational holy writ warning of both compassionate and savage sides of human nature embedded in us. We are still struggling, as Miller points out , to make sense of it all. God is human(Gen 1:26) not supernatural; he even unleashed nukes on Sodom and Gomorrah in response to a challenge to his authority by Marduk ruler of Babylon. Radiation from this strike in 2024 BC. was carried far and wide and destroyed the land of SUMER which then disappeared as a force in world history. The elohim say they DISCOVERED(not made) the earth which they used as a lab to experiment with DNA manipulation and the creation of a sustainable ecology of hierarchical life forms. They (elohim scientists) started experimenting on their home planet, but they became overly ambitious and created monsters, some of which escaped and killed people. They were then ordered to either stop experiments or find an empty planet elsewhere. They searched this galaxy and found an empty earth.

1 Like

Readings this review, and reading a recent writing of Nicholas Miller’s in the Record (the official publication of the South Pacific Division) confirms in my mind that Nicholas Miller is neither as conservative as he believes he is nor as he appears to be occasionally. In his recent article in the Record, he seems to be promoting the view that the best path is somewhere in between the two extremes (e.g. when it comes to acceptance of homosexual practice), whereas often the Biblical path is what some would consider one of the extremes, which just shows how extreme the other extreme is.

1 Like

Please give a text for this. There was no, no division shown in the entire Bible that there are two separate laws: ceremonial and moral. Where is either called “moral”?

This is an artificial separation that came long after the canon was closed and became a convenient method for interpreting the solution to the Jerusalem controversy between the Jews and gentiles (Acts. 15:9-29). When the Jews attempted to force the new gentile believers to conform to the Judaism, Peter said: “It has been decided by the Holy Spirit not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essential: abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication.”

The Jews’ demanded the gentile believers be circumcised, which was a real burden to adults. Under the Jewish laws no one could obey their laws unless they had first been circumcised. Circumcision preceded any laws even before there were Jews, but became the first initiation required of all Jewish males.

Jesus said: " I have come not to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to complete them."

Was the purpose of Jesus’ death incomplete for man’s salvation? Was there yet something more He could do? was His message insufficient?


Liberal Adventism isn’t in a cocoon?

Let’s Tell the Truth about Ellen White: Charles Scriven Addresses a Critical Issue

Scriven also suggests that Adventist progressives should be willing to “tell the good stories and quote the best [EGW] quotes with open, grateful hearts. No one should roar into the Michigan camp meeting bent on sledgehammer iconoclasm . . . [However, we] can no longer listen uncritically [to EGW’s views], but we can still listen, and we should.

Her guts, for one thing, could inspire us to show some guts.”

In the final paragraph, he quotes the NAD President, Dan Jackson, that the “Seventh-day Adventist movement . . . Will. Not. Fail.”

Dr. Scriven comments that “it will fail—unless we tell the truth.”

And then he concludes with an answer to the question of “What Shall We Do with Ellen White?” His answer is: “We. Must. Tell. The. Truth.”

PS: While considering Dr. Scriven’s editorial, readers might also wish to consider the comments of Dr. James Londis in an article in the same issue of Spectrum, entitled “The Hermeneutics of Disappointment: What Does the ‘Delay’ of Jesus’ Coming Do to the Adventist Story?” In its own way, this article also asks a similar question “What Shall We Do with the Second Coming Concept?” A good answer suggested by Dr. Londis’ article is, “Tell the Truth About It.”

Adventism will continue trailing clouds of hermeneutical glory, one way or another, because “modernity” will desiccate Adventism completely, and few can face that.

But, I observe, the hermeneutical glory is wearing pretty thin when we’re down to admiring Ellen White for her guts.

Maybe my last two paragraphs are related. Maybe this post will be deleted. I don’t know.

Anyway, the present discussion reminds me of this Mormon article.

Trailing clouds of hermeneutical glory

While we believe we come “trailing clouds of glory” from a pre-mortal past, our scripture reading comes trailing clouds of interpretation from pre-Mormon centuries of hermeneutics.

Our spirits weren’t created ex nihilo, nor are our assumptions while reading. This might raise a few eyebrows, but it seems to me that we members of the Church mingle the philosophies of men with scripture on a fairly regular basis.

Not so much by incorporating particular ideas into our canon (though we do that too),1 but in the very way we approach scripture to begin with.

The ways we read scripture mingle the words on the page with our implicit assumptions. (…)

One thing we can do is become more aware of our assumptions. Like any good Mormon might, we can start by learning our hermeneutical genealogy. (…)

These suggestions won’t solve all the problems we face in utilizing scholarship in our church lives, and your mileage may vary.

Still, I think Wright makes an important point by identifying the need to “re-establish a hermeneutic of trust (itself a sign of the gospel!) in place of the hermeneutics of suspicion which the church has so disastrously [if understandingly and sometimes beneficially] borrowed from the postmodern world” (137).

If we’re going to mingle anyway we might as well try to mingle with awareness, in a way that improves the church, increases the faith, or provides fresh insights to old scriptures.

1 Like

Having been around Sabbath keepers many years I have become perplexed. How is it that the Sabbath is at the heart of the last message of mercy? My observation is that keeping a rest day does not create any character difference—more love, mercy, holiness, generosity, faithfulness or morality (godliness)—then non-Sabbath keepers. I fail to see that honoring the holiness of a Day makes the world a safer place or imparts special power to resist daily temptations. I really wish there was a spiritual magic on the Sabbath although I continue to respect this day from Creation.


Congratulations to Nicholas for a book that truly invites thoughtfulness, creativity, flexibility and biblical responsiveness in our Adventist beliefs!

Having read the two reviews of The Reformation and the Remnant on this site, and what may be read of it on may I make the following initial obsevations.

  1. I expect that I will personally appreciate much of what Nicholas has written.

  2. The centerist - left - right metaphor is helpful and understandable. Truly it is a warning against theological sirens that would seek to lure us to eternal ruin and deception on the rocks of an immature and stunted faith or alternatively on the hard places of sophistication and an acculturated faith
    Those advocating an immature and stunted faith borrowed from our fore-fathers but not assimilated for use in the C21st create faith that is little more than a museum full of splendid and useful artifacts. On the other hand, those itching for a sophisticated and acculturated faith search for a faith that is created in an ivory tower of ice. Such a structure can never withstand the ravages of time and weather because its basic construction material constantly morphs in its shape and loses all structural definition, as ice does!

  3. For me, an alternate description of one’s theology, other than centerist is much to be preferred. I refer to the term “practical theology.” This isn’t a reference to the sub-discipline of theology, labelled as such. Rather, it references the nature of the theological enterprise, determining that theology must have the practical intent of norming and forming our worldview. Randy Maddox, an American Methodist scholar has perhaps provided the best example os such “practical theology” in his book, Responsible Grace. The book describes John Wesley as a practical theologian, whose literary output may be be describes as “practical theology.” For decades and more, John Wesley’s theology was dismissed by many since it was not made in the ivory tower for fellow ivory tower inhabitants. Rather, such Wesleyian theology was admittedly designed as situation-related theological activity to norm and form the worldview of “Everyperson” yet sharing a demonstrable consistency in his theological judgements, even within differing contexts.

May I suggest that Adventist theology could well be thought of in the same manner. It was not made by systematizers or great theological and philosophical experts. Rather, it was fashioned by dedicated Bible students for the very practical purpose of norming and forming the worldview of believers.

One huge feature of both Wesleyian and Adventist theology, viewed as practical theologies is that they have an orienting concern. In the case of Adventist theology it is not difficult to discover what that is. This orienting concern is not “an architectonic Idea” from which all other theological affirmations would be deduced, or under which they must be subsumed, It’s role is not to be the fountain from which doctrines spring or the pattern into which they must fit, but the abiding interest which influences the selection, interpretation, relative emphasis , and the interweaving of theological affirmations and practices… It functions in theological reflection as a way of thinking that seems so natural and inevitable that it is seldom scrutinized. Instead, it is the light in whhich all else is scutinized." Maddox, Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology.

Most certainly, the orienting concern of Adventist theology is the Great Controversy Theme and its focus on the character of God and the nature of his government from the heavenly temple.

Hello Elaine, the word law was used for both the moral and ceremonial. The only way to distinguish which is being spoken of is the context:

For Christ has brought the Law to an end, so that everyone who believes is put right with God. (Rom. 10:4)

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow [fulfilled] of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. (Col. 2:16,17)

Paul also deals with this law in Galatians 3, quiet heavily mind you. Apparently some folks (Judaizers) wormed there way into the church and caused problems:

3:2. (1) How did you receive the Holy Spirit? This rhetorical question pointed to the time of their conversions, when they received the Holy Spirit (cf. 4:6). Thus Paul did not question their salvation but challenged them to consider whether they were saved and received the Spirit by faith or on the basis of works. It was of course by faith, when they heard Paul preach the gospel. As an essentially Gentile church they did not possess the Mosaic Law anyway. (Gal. 3:2 - The Bible Knowledge Commentary)

This non SDA commentary explains how Paul is not dealing with the moral law, but only the ceremonial law. Paul frustration is with what the Judaizers were promoting. We can see this more clearly in these following texts:

You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain. Gal. 4:10,11)

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. Gal. 5:2)

For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. (Gal. 6:13)

Again, context helps us to understand. There is nothing here about Gods moral law . However, to make this point more clearly Paul then also says in Romans 7:21-25:

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Bible Knowledge Commentary:

7:21–23. Paul was a person who tried to learn from his experiences, so now he concluded, I find this law at work. This is not the Mosaic Law, of course, but a principle drawn from experience. Also in 8:2 “law” (nomos) means principle. This law or principle is the reality of ever-present evil in an individual whenever he wants to do good. Paul held fast to the fact that, as he said, In my inner being I delight in God’s Law (cf. 7:25). “In my inner being” is literally, “according to the inner man.” (The “inner man” is used in the Gr. NT also in 2 Cor. 4:16 and Eph. 3:16.) Delight in God’s Law was the psalmist’s response, stated repeatedly in Psalm 119 (e.g., vv. 16, 24, 47; cf. Ps. 1:2). Because of regeneration, a believer has a new nature or capacity for loving spiritual truths. Yet, recognizing the facts of experience, Paul said he saw another law or principle at work within him. This is the principle of sin. Paul called it “sin living in me” (Rom. 7:17, 20), “evil” right there with me (v. 21), and “the sinful nature” (vv. 5, 18, 25).

You also have John, in Revelation 12:17 and 14:12, speaking of a people who have the faith/testimony of Jesus, and “those who keep the commandments of God.”

So in conclusion: We see Paul speaking about a law which was done away with, and then a law which he loves. We cannot say these laws are the same thing because we then pit Paul against Paul, and even Paul against John.



In my experience the “spiritual magic” of the Sabbath lies in it’s deeper message of equality, social justice and environmental abundance. This magic only comes with obedient practice. Sadly this has in many cases never even been tried.