Anthony Hoekema; Adventists And Walter Martin, Part I

Comment on excerpts from, ‘Kingdom of the Cults’, by Walter Martin – Bethany House Publishers, 2003.

p. 535. As an explanation for the inclusion of a chapter in a book on cults entitled, “The Puzzle of Seventh-day Adventism,” (Appendix B), Walter Martin said, “In a volume such as this, dealing with non-Christian cults, the question might logically be asked, “Why include Seventh-day Adventism, especially as the writer has classified them in a full length volume as a Christian denomination?”

p. 536. Because Seventh-day Adventists have not been recognised by many as being orthodox, an opposing view is still held by some Christian apologists (including the late Anthony Hoekema). So Walter Martin, “felt it necessary to include here Seventh-day Adventism as a proper counterbalance – presenting the other side of Adventism and representing the theology of Adventism as the Adventists themselves believe it and not as many critics have caricatured it;” which I thought was very gracious of him seeing it put him at odds with other Christian apologists.

Many Adventists found themselves pleased with what they saw as Walter Martin’s honest assessment and defense of Adventists, even if they disagreed with some of his views. Others were not as generous in their response to Martin’s conclusions on Adventists. Anthony Hoekema held that Seventh-day Adventists have teachings that give them a cult status.

On pages 537-8 Walter Martin explains that because there are some Seventh-day Adventists who do not share all that Seventh-day Adventists church believe and teach in their Fundamental Beliefs, and may hold some teachings that are not considered fully Christian doctrine, it does not mean that all Seventh-day Adventists should be judged by the few, as would apply to Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans etc, where followers may hold contrary teachings to the general church body. So here was a fair and just statement made on behalf of Seventh-day Adventists.

However, I must say, I found a sting in the tail with Martin’s assessment of Adventists, which I will defer to a later post. I felt that he could himself be indicted for which he indicts Anthony Hoekema. But, first, let’s see what criticism he has of Hoekema’s indictment of Adventists which I will take in this and the next post. I will of course be open to any criticism of my criticisms of Walter Martin. But I have no criticisms of Dr. Martin in this and the next post. I see him in full defense of Adventism against Hoekema who he considers being very unfair in his assessment of Adventists.

On p. 551 from the section: Adventist Theology and Classical Orthodoxy, Martin writes,

It is unnecessary to document at great length the fact that Seventh-day Adventists adheres tenaciously to the foundational doctrines of Christian theology as these have been held by the Christian church down through the centuries. Dr. Anthony Hoekema, who believes that Seventh-day Adventism is a non-Christian cult, makes this interesting admission, and since Dr. Hoekema is no friend of Adventism, his testimony on this point could hardly be called prejudiced:

“I am of the conviction that Seventh-day Adventism is a cult and not an evangelical denomination. . . . It is recognised with gratitude that there are certain soundly scriptural emphases in the teaching of Seventh-day-Adventism. We are thankful for the Adventists’ affirmation of the infallibility of the Bible, of the Trinity and of the full deity of Jesus Christ. We gratefully acknowledge their teachings on creation and providence, on the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, on the absolute necessity for regeneration, on sanctification by the Holy Spirit, and on Christ’s literal return.”

Says Martin, “It is puzzling to me, as a student of non-Christian cult systems, how any group can hold the above doctrines in their proper biblical context, which Dr. Hoekema admits the Adventists do, and still be a non-Christian cult. However we shall deal with this aspect of the critics of Adventism at the end of the chapter; therefore, suffice it to say that the Adventists do have a clean bill of health where the major doctrines of Christian theology are concerned.”

More of Walter Martin on Hoekema in the next post.

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