The Shaking of Adventism
Geoffrey J. Paxton
This is not a general book about Seventh-day Adventism. Rather it is an examination of the real heart of the movement—namely, its conviction that those within it constitute God's special last-day propagators of the gospel in such a way as to make them the only true heirs of the Reformers.
From this perspective, the first section opens with an analysis of Seventh-day Adventists and their claim to be the special heirs of the Reformation. Then the heart of the Reformation itself is elucidated with the purpose of establishing the norm that will be used to judge the Adventist claim.
The second section looks at the way the gospel was handled by Adventism prior to 1950. However, since the main focus of the book is on the modem period, the 1844-1950 era is not dealt with exhaustively Instead, the major trends and developments are presented as concisely as is consistent with accuracy.
The third section, covering the years from 1950 to the present, is the main part of the book. The three decades included in this period furnish the reader with helpful divisions, since they conveniently coincide with the actual stages of development in Adventism. A primary object of this section is to let the historical facts speak for themselves. I have resisted a personal evaluation until the conclusion.
The title, The Shaking of Adventism, will be highly significant to Seventh-day Adventists. They will think of the eschatological "shaking" through which they understand the church must pass before she finally accomplishes her mission. As the editors of the general church paper, the Review and Herald, have recently pointed out,(1) this concept and expectation of shaking is deeply rooted in the Adventist consciousness. Further, it is also believed that the shaking will take place over the concept of righteousness by faith.
The reader may wonder why I have not appraised the work of Ellen G. White on this subject.(2) I have thought it best to confine myself to the way the general body of the movement in North America and Australia has handled the gospel of the Reformation. Besides that, it has become clear to me that Adventists are divided on how they ought to read Mrs. White on this topic. Why should I attempt to explain such a controverted area when they are not agreed on it themselves? For a non-Adventist Protestant, the facts concerning the way Adventists treat the gospel today must speak for themselves. It is up to Adventists to decide whether the way they have spoken of the gospel is true to Mrs. White or not.
Frequent footnotes have been included to enable the reader to check the foundations for the things I say. This book is a serious attempt to evaluate the heart of the movement rather than to deal with side issues, irrespective of how important they might be in a more general treatment.
1. See Review and Herald, 16 June 1977, p. 11; 30 June 1977, p. 2; 7 July 1977, P. 2.
2. Mrs. Ellen G. White (1827-1915) helped found the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the middle of the last century As a charismatic leader, she is recognized by Seventh-day Adventists as "the Lord's messenger" who gave the Lord's counsel and guidance to the fledgling church.