Correcting Mistakes: The B-Team and the A-Team

Correcting Mistakes: The B-Team and the A-Team

Oct 28, 2014

Correcting Mistakes: The B-Team and the A-Team

 Nick Kersten, Librarian-Historian


There are certain elements of the Seventh Day Baptist experience that are shared: the difficulties of accommodating your Sabbath convictions, the pounds gained from fellowship meals, the questions about why we keep Sabbath, and inevitably being confused by friends, family, baristas, and other complete strangers with Seventh Day Adventists. The space allotted for this column will likely not give sufficient space to provide detailed answers to any of those momentous topics (especially losing the weight from fellowship meals), but we can help provide some insight into the final difficulty: the widespread confusion about the relationship between Seventh Day Adventists (SDAs) and Seventh Day Baptists (SDBs). But over the nine years I’ve worked for the Historical Society, I have encountered a variety of mistaken claims about us which we now should clear up!


Delete "MISTAKE"


Claims: “Seventh Day Baptists came out of the Seventh Day Adventist movement.” OR “Seventh Day Baptists got the Sabbath from Seventh Day Adventists.” OR “Seventh Day Adventists came before Seventh Day Baptists.”


Facts: SDBs trace their origins to the English Reformation of the early 1600s. Our first known congregation was meeting in London in the early 1650s. Our first congregation in North America was in Newport, RI, in late 1671. The SDB General Conference was formed in 1802. The SDA movement came out of the Millerite movement of the 1830s and 40s, and their Conference was not founded until 1863. For this reason, it is a chronological impossibility that we came out of the SDA movement or that we “heard about the Sabbath” from them. We precede them by nearly 200 years!Claim: “Seventh Day Adventists were founded by disillusioned Seventh Day Baptists.”


Facts: As was stated above, SDAs as a people were part of a remnant of people who were part of the Millerite movement of the early 1840s. The leader of the movement, William Miller, began to teach in 1833 that Jesus was going to return on October 22, 1844. When that teaching did not prove true (the date is now referred to in SDA history as “The Great Disappointment”), some of the “disappointed” Millerites encountered a SDB woman named Rachel Oakes Preston, who introduced the Sabbath to them. From these Sabbath-exposed

Millerites, the SDA movement took root and grew over the following two decades. There is no evidence to suggest that Oakes Preston was disillusioned, but even if she was, the founders of the SDA denomination were not SDBs.


Claim: “SDAs and SDBs really believe the same things.”


Facts: There are broad general differences between

the established and historical doctrines of the two groups, including differences in opinion about church polity, prophecy, intermediate states of the dead, the significance of the Sabbath, the so-called “investigative judgment,” and a host of other issues. Both groups


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have had some drift in their positions over time, but the drift has not really brought the two groups closer on these core matters.


Claims: “Seventh Day Baptists aren’t growing because they failed to accomplish God’s purposes for them.” OR “Seventh Day Adventists are growing because they took over God’s role for Sabbatarians.”


Facts: To accept the first claim, we would have to be able to pinpoint a specific purpose God had for SDBs which we have uniformly failed to accomplish. There

is no unambiguous evidence to support this claim.

Furthermore, the claim assumes SDBs aren’t growing. Depending how you reckon growth, this is likely untrue. One hundred years ago, there were about 10,000 SDBs in the entire world. Today, though we don’t have an exact number, it is likely that we number at least 50,000 (500% growth over the century). That is hardly evidence that we are shrinking! To accept the second claim, we would have to believe there is only room in God’s economy for one Sabbatarian group. The vitality of both groups would seem to suggest that is not so!

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