Republican presidential candidate and neurosurgeon Ben Carson continues to stay popular with right wing voters, and the public has become increasingly interested in Dr. Carson’s religious denomination, the Seventh-day Adventists. While this is a protestant Christian denomination, most people are unfamiliar with what this particular group believes, and it is worth noticing some of the differences from other mainline protestant Christian denominations.
1. The “Great Disappointment”
From the Millerite movement of the 1840s in upstate New York, several Adventist groups were formed as part of the “Second Great Awakening.” The largest of those groups was Seventh-day Adventists, a group who believed William Miller’s interpretations of Daniel 8:14-16 using the “day-year principle” meant Jesus would return on October 22, 1844. The day was to be the biblical Day of Atonement. That did not happen, and the day was relabeled the “Great Disappointment.” After that, most of Miller’s followers disbanded and returned to their original churches, while the remaining believers formed what became the modern Seventh Day Adventist church, believing that the event which took place that day happened in heaven instead of on earth. They now believe that God’s investigative judgement of his people, a continuing process of separating the true believers from the false ones, began on that day.
2. Seventh-day Sabbatarianism
As the name would suggest, Seventh-day Adventists follow Seventh-day Sabbartarianism, meaning that they consider Sunday to be the first day of the week and the Sabbath to actually occur between sunset Friday and sunset Saturday. They are not alone in this belief, as Seventh Day Baptists and the True Jesus Church also follow this idea.
Based off biblical texts such as Ecclesiastes 9:5 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Seventh-day Adventists believe that death is actually a state of unconscious slumber held until the resurrection. They teach that the resurrection of the righteous will occur at the second coming of Jesus. They also believe in Annihilationism which says that instead of an eternal hell for the wicked, the wicked will be permanently destroyed after the millennium of Revelation 20.
Co-founder of the church Ellen White is believed to have been inspired by God as a prophet. In the church’s 28 Fundamental Beliefs, it is stated of the writing’s of Ellen White, “her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.” Though it is to be noted that the amount of authority which should be attributed to her writings is widely debated among Seventh-day Adventists.
In recent years, many have made accusations about what current President Barack Obama believes or doesn’t believe religiously, and I think many have forgotten the controversy of 1960 when John F. Kennedy was possibly going to be the first Catholic president. Greater still, there is probably a very important question here: If a president is doing their job according to the Constitution of the United States, does it really matter what religion they follow?