Date of Award

1984

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Religion, Theological Studies PhD

First Advisor

Hans K. LaRondelle

Second Advisor

Raoul Dederen

Third Advisor

Robert M. Johnston

Abstract

Problem. In Seventh-day Adventist theology, the doctrine of original sin has received ambivalent treatment. Periodically voices within the church and outside of it have asserted that the doctrine has no part in SDA theology, yet other Christians have insisted that it is a Scriptural doctrine. It was the purpose of the present study to examine the theological roots of Adventism to determine the reasons for and the content of its treatment of the doctrine.

Method. Since Biblical and historical perspectives are indispensable to the critical process of theology, a brief developmental survey was done to reveal trends and models relevant to Adventism. In addition, the SDA expression from 1850 to 1900 was examined through church-issued publications. Norman Powell Williams' instrument for analyzing a doctrine of original sin was then applied to the SDA theological presentations.

Results. There is a discernible line of development from the English Enlightenment to the Adventist Movement. Through conditionalist views Adventism acquired a hamartiology similar to that of the nineteenth century New Haven theologians. According to this view man's inherited condition is not his responsibility and is not to be properly called sin.

Early Adventist concerns were anthropological, but these were superseded by a greater soteriological emphasis in the 1890s.

Conclusions. The SDA treatment of original sin was developed along Arminian and conditionalist lines and emphasized actual sin more than ontological sin (as Augustine and certain Reformers had).

While SDAs were located geographically, historically, and theologically, in an anti-Catholic, anti-Calvinistic tradition, they initially used the term "original sin," though in their own way. However, by the end of thenineteenth century they had virtually dispensed with all employment of the term as useful to convey their understanding of man's fallenness. This undoubtedly contributes to Adventist hesitancy toward usage of the term which persists to the present. Nevertheless, SDAs expressed a doctrine that is definable as a doctrine of original sin by theological and historical models.

Subject Area

Sin, Original, Seventh-day Adventists--Doctrines

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