Traditional Seventh-day Adventists versus Neo Pentecostals
By Ron Corson
In a recent Endtimes Issues
Newsletter (#110,114) put out by Samuele Bacchiocchi,
Lloyd Grolimund, Senior pastor of
Since Grolimund does not bother to define Pentecostal worship we are left with only his implications.
Pentecostal worship is made up of powerful preaching, drama and Contemporary Christian music.
Pentecostalism is presented as a buzz word with the implication that it is evil and a virus entering the SDA
denomination. Pentecostalism is defined as:
1 : of, relating to, or suggesting Pentecost
2 : of, relating to, or constituting any of various Christian religious bodies that emphasize individual
experiences of grace, spiritual gifts (as glossolalia and faith healing), expressive worship, and evangelism
(© 1996 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated)
There is little doubt that aside from the aspersions Grolimund implies there are a number of things the SDA church has in common with Pentecostalism. Such doctrinal issues as the “Latter Rain”, “Time of Jacob’s Trouble” and acceptance of modern prophets are found mainly within the SDA church and Pentecostal denominations. The early SDA church also experienced a good deal of ecstatic phenomenon of a nature similar to glossolalia and being “slain in the Spirit” which can be found in various Pentecostal churches today. However it does not appear that these phenomenon are the focus of Grolimund’s article. Grolimund mentions a little about some of the excesses such as “Holy Laughter” and other aberrations which had a brief period of popularity about 10 years ago in the so called “Toronto Blessing” and “Pensacola Revival”. The phenomenon is well documented in The Counterfeit Revival by Hank Hanegraaff. If such activities were occurring in SDA churches it would certainly be a cause for concern. In fact it did make some inroads into some SDA churches at the time, though it seems to have died down now also as it has in many of the Pentecostal churches.
Grolimund makes the following claim: “Worship has always been the issue between Jesus and Satan. This point is very clear in the Bible. Who we worship determines our eternal existence. How we worship determines who we worship, likewise who we worship determines how we worship.” Traditional SDA’s love this type of equation. A truism followed by two unfounded statements that can be assumed to be true because the first statement was true. With the implication that Pentecostal worship is evil already presented Grolimund now shows us that since they are performing evil worship the how indicates that they must not be worshiping God. With only two choices to worship between if one is not worshiping God then that person must be worshipping the Devil.
Grolimund then presents his evidence as to why Pentecostalism is a false revival, He writes: “4. The Pentecostal movement is uniting the churches of Christendom into an ecumenical whole. Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, Seventh-day Adventists, Catholics – we all find unity in a common worship experience – a Pentecostal one. It is not unreasonable to expect this to play a large part in the ecumenical movement that will unite the churches and religions of the world just before the end of time.” Now to anyone who knows a bit of history he will know that in past years the worship services for Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists and SDA’s have been remarkably similar yet it did not lead to anything like the predicted ecumenicalism that is the fear of the Traditional SDA. Which should lead to the question, why should modern worship music and style lead to ecumenicism anymore than traditional worship music and styles? The answer is found in the superb power of prediction, since what is predicted is yet future no one can definitively say it will not happen. It is to this future that the Traditional SDA points with absolute confidence while carefully ignoring the many previous predictions that failed to come to pass.
Continuing to demonstrate the evil nature of Pentecostal worship Grolimund writes: “What makes the neo
Pentecostal movement so
subtle is its apparent compliance to the truth.1 However underlying
this faith is a set of doctrinal approaches that are neither compatible with
Adventism or the Bible.” The footnote Grolimund uses points us to a web site which
1. Total disregard and denial of the Sabbath – (Contrary to the law).
2. Rejection of the literal Second Coming of Christ – (Contrary to the testimony).
3. Immortality of the soul resulting at death in either eternal life or eternal hell – (Contrary to the testimony).
4. Baptism of the Holy Spirit separate to conversion and evidenced by speaking in tongues. (Contrary to the testimony)
5. Following the secret rapture there will be a period of 7 years called the tribulation. After this period Christ will return and personally establish his rule over the nations for a thousand years period known as the millennial reign” – (against the testimony).”
Using the numbering above we shall compare Grolimund’s assertions with the information from Hillsong’s web site.
We can see from the above list that Grolimund and his fellow traditional SDA’s are actively building walls between the rest of the Christian world and the SDA church. For a long time the SDA church was considered to be a cult because of her non traditional views. However the gospel is not about what any one denomination thinks is right or its assumption that any denomination that disagrees is wrong. The Gospel is irreducibly about a relationship with God who has revealed himself to us through Jesus Christ. The “how” of worship is not the “who” we worship. There are certainly things that every church does that hinder people’s relationship with God. It may be speaking in tongues or it may be a condemnation of those who don’t worship the way we like. Those are things each church should work on within themselves. On the other hand there are many things each church does that encourage a relationship with God. The Christian acting out of love should encourage those things which build up the Christian community. Pentecostal’s have theological problems just as Seventh-day Adventists have theological problems. But blanket condemnations will help no one and hurt everyone. Traditional SDA’s such as Grolimund though well intentioned no doubt have lost their focus upon Jesus Christ and allowed themselves to follow paths that do not build up the community of Christians but to tear it down instead.