Moving away from exclusivity (Part I)
I have heard of inclusivity and exclusivity but never spend much time thinking about the implications of their meanings. I remember conversations in small church group as I came back to the Seventh-day Adventist church. I understood the premise of what was being said in these groups about those in our church who exclude others on the outside of our faith but putting exclusive behavior in a proper context was hard. I was after all a new creation in Christ. Though raised an Adventist, I spent ten years outside the church. In being outside the Adventist church my wife would drag me into churches on Sundays, once every few months and I would resist any involvement in corporate worship. In stupid disrespect I would not listen to the message of the pastor because he did not worship God on the correct day of worship as prescribed by the Bible. Forget that at the time I was drinking large amounts of alcohol, smoking tobacco, marijuana and other questionable activities. My only thought was the Remnant kept the commandments of God which included worshipping on the Sabbath. The application of truth to me only applies to Christian people inside or at least raised in the Adventist church. So what could this Sunday keeping Christian teach me?
Now in retrospect I understood what exclusivism was, it just took 7 plus years to vocalize it meaning. Exclusivism is the practice of excluding or of being exclusive. I didn’t want to admit that this definition qualified for what Adventist demonstrated to non-Adventist Christian. I know how Exclusivism looks in a religious setting. In a religious context exclusivism is the recognition of the diversity of world’s religions, believing that there own religion is true and that other religions are false insofar as they contradict their home religious. Now that I had a working definition of what exclusivism was, I prepared to compare the doctrine of the Remnant to see whether it could lead to exclusivism. In the church manual of the Seventh-day Adventist it says;
“The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent. This proclamation is symbolized by the three angels of Revelation 14; it coincides with the work of judgment in heaven and results in a work of repentance and reform on earth. Every believer is called to have a personal part in this worldwide witness.”
In the book Seventh-day Adventist Believe it says;
In John’s description of the dragon’s battle with the woman and her descendants, he used the expression “the rest of her offspring” (Rev. 12:17). That expression means “remaining ones” or “remnant” (Rev. 12: 17)…God commissioned the remnant to declare His glory and lead His scattered people throughout the world to His “holy mountain Jerusalem,” “Mount Zion” (Isa 37:31, 32; 66:20; cf. Rev. 14:1)
So defining and understanding the Adventist church doctrine of the Remnant exclusivism would be contained in the Adventist church understanding of themselves as the Remnant of Revelation. This understanding of the Remnant could lead to exclusivism of a subgroup of Christianity versus Christian at large.