Faith Communities Today
New Fact Information
Adventist congregations are much less likely to hear sermons on issues of social justice than are most churches in America. In fact, 51% of Adventist pastors report that they seldom or never preach on topics related to social concerns.
This seems to be a "blind spot" for Adventists, which is odd considering the founders of the denomination in the mid-19th century were heavily involved in such social justice issues as abolishing slavery, prohibition, health reform and improving the role of women. John Byington, the first GC president, engaged in civil disobedience to help free the slaves. Joseph Bates in his autobiography tells of his decision to join the antislavery movement with the rueful comment that he worried about losing his friends, but he felt that he had already lost most of them when he helped found the American Temperance Society a few years earlier. James White was a pastor in the Christian Connection, the first denomination to ordain women. Ellen White advocated that Adventists take a pacifist stance during the Civil War. (See 1T, 355-368.) If you have an old copy of "Bible Readings for the Home" published before 1922, you will find that it includes studies on such social justice topics as "Our Duty to the Poor."
What has happened to modify the Adventist message over the years? Is it a good thing for us to preach sermons that rarely if ever touch on the practical, social implications of the gospel? Are there issues of social justice that we should be teaching our people to consider from Bible principles, such as world hunger, race relations, etc.? Given the fact that Adventism is a diverse denomination with Americans making up less than 8% of a worldwide movement, shouldn't we be saying more about the poor and oppressed around the globe?
1. How often do we hear sermons on social justice in our local church: every Sabbath, often, some times, seldom or never?
2. Are there issues in our community that we should provide a Bible basis for our members to consider? If so, which ones should we address?
New FACT Information, Center for Creative Ministry