The Statement of Fundamental Beliefs is a summary of what Seventh-day Adventists believe to be the most important elements of the biblical message to be proclaimed to the world before the second coming of Christ. I will share with you some thoughts on its nature and purpose.
1. UNDERSTAND BIBLICAL TRUTH AS DYNAMIC
Biblical truth deals with the intellect, as well as with the very fiber, of our relationship with God and others. Therefore, truth redefines our self-understanding, our perception of the world, and our view of others. This explains why our Fundamental Beliefs statement incorporates not only matters of theology (e.g., the Godhead, Christology), but also practical aspects of the Christian life (e.g., stewardship, marriage), reflecting a wholistic biblical approach to life and reality. Biblical truth is directly related to cosmic truth. Our Fundamental Beliefs are framed by this overarching theme, thus providing a better understanding of the presence of sin and death, joy and beauty, in the world.
2. THE CENTER OF THE SYSTEM IS CHRIST
Although the cosmic conflict frames our Fundamental Beliefs, what gives meaning to the whole is Christ’s work for us. He is the Warrior God who fights for us against evil powers and defeats them, reveals the loving character of God, and died to redeem us. Filled with biblical hope, we look forward with joy knowing that His coming is certain. Every facet of our Fundamental Beliefs statement is interconnected through the mystery of the life, ministry, death, and present work of Christ for us. Each one reveals an important dimension of His saving work. Consequently, we should always seek to find Him in our study of those biblical truths.
3. A STATEMENT OF TRUTH AND FAITH
Adventists claim that our only creed is the Bible and differentiate between a creed and our Fundamental Beliefs. Both are considered to be an abbreviated expression of the biblical message. Adventists have understood creeds to be fossilized teachings that are practically impossible to change. Besides, the Scripture and Christian history demonstrate that creeds often incorporated nonbiblical elements. Since they are hardly open to correction, creeds tend to perpetuate false teachings. Adventists are open to biblical truth and to its role in judging matters of faith and practice. Accordingly, the study of the Bible could lead the church to rephrase or add to its Fundamental Beliefs. Hence, the authority of our Statement of Fundamental Beliefs is located in its faithfulness to the Bible. New converts are not required to submit to a creed, but to Christ and His teachings as found in the Bible. With respect to our Fundamental Beliefs statement, they should confess that they have “found these beliefs to be what the Bible teaches.”
4. COMMON IDENTITY AND MISSION
Since our Fundamental Beliefs summarize the consensus of the world church, acknowledged and reaffirmed at General Conference sessions, they contribute directly to the common identity of the church as a global movement. Persuaded by the fact that through the Bible and the work of the Spirit our community of believers came to a shared understanding of our faith, we find in them a common identity and purpose. This provides the community with a strong sense of mission and of our particular role within the religious world. Our Fundamental Beliefs witness not only to the fact that this is what we believe, but that this is what we teach. This teaching role of our Fundamental Beliefs calls us to proclaim these truths from the pulpit, when giving Bible studies, to nurture church members spiritually, and to pass the faith on to new generations.