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Denominational Heritage
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Seventh-day Adventists have historically been against tradition as a source of religious authority, but as time goes on it appears that this may be changing. "Adventist heritage" is "absolutely foundational" or "very important...as a source of authority in worship and teaching" in the local church, report three out of four pastors and first elders in the Faith Communities Today (FACT) survey. Compared to all faiths across America, denominational heritage is much more important to Adventists as a source of religious authority.

Denominational heritage is not as important in Adventist churches as a source of religious authority as is the Bible, the Holy Spirit and the writings of Ellen G. White, but it is more important than human reason and understanding or personal experience and common sense. (See graph 5.2 in Adventist Congregations Today.) This could be seen as somewhat different than the view of the founders who saw "the Scriptures and plain reason" as the two most important sources of authority in preaching and teaching, to quote James White.

Clearly, there is a strong sense of Adventist heritage in almost all of our congregations. Only 3% of local churches in the U.S. consider Adventist heritage as having little or no importance. 

Discussion Questions:

1. How important is Adventist heritage as a source of authority in the worship and teaching of our congregation: absolutely foundational, very important, somewhat important, or of little or none?

2. Is Adventist heritage more or less important than the Bible, the Holy Spirit, Ellen White's writings, human reason and understanding, or personal experience and common sense?

3. Does "Adventist heritage" mean the same thing as "tradition" in the Adventist Church?

4. Are you comfortable with the extent to which our denominational heritage or tradition is used as a source of religious authority in our congregation?

5. How can we help our members better understand the roles of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, Ellen White's writings, human reason and understanding, or personal experience and common sense in making decisions about doctrine and practices in the church?

New FACT Information, Center for Creative Ministry