Adventists: The People of the Book?

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While most Christians would likely say that their faith has nothing in common with Islam, the truth is there are some commonalities. A recent (2018) presentation by Petras Bahadur—director of the Global Center for Adventist Muslim Relations— to the Global Missions Issues Committee examined these, along with the special potential that Adventists have in witnessing to Muslims.

While both Christians—specifically, Adventists— and Muslims claim that they are of the lineage of Abraham, we claim their heritage through Isaac, and Muslims claim their heritage through Ishmael. Additionally, both Adventists and Muslims have similarities in how they live out their faith. Both believe that they are a group living in the last days, both find their identity in their God, and both live out that identity through keeping his commands.

However, because the perception that there are only divisive differences between us, many Adventists dismiss the thought of interacting, much less ministering, to Muslims. The biggest hindrance to our mission to Muslims is our Christian identity. This is because the general Christian framework carries baggage from the past. As such, most Muslims view Christians in a negative light. They assume that Christians eat pork and drink wine – both prohibited by Islam. They assume that Christians go to church on Sunday, dress immodestly, and live immoral lifestyles. In other words, they believe that Christians do not keep the commandments of God and do not have faith in Jesus.

Yet God has given Adventists a new identity, and because of this, Adventists challenge these assumptions on almost every level. Adventists do not eat unclean meat, including pork, or drink wine or alcohol of any kind. They go to church on Saturday (the Sabbath), are concerned with modesty, and strive to live moral lives within the perimeters set within the Bible. This new identity frees us from many of the assumptions that Muslims negatively hold against Christians, which places us in a much better place to engage with and witness to Muslims.

Adventism is also unique because it not just another Christian church, but is a last-day movement of God. This movement is not an exclusive club, but rather invites people of every religion in the world, be it Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and even other Christian denominations, to accept the Good News. The end goal for Adventists is to prepare anyone and everyone for Jesus’ Second Coming, that all may be brought into the Kingdom of God.

In the Qur’an, there is reference to the “People of the Book:”

  • Had the People of the Book believed it were better for them.  Some of them are believers but most of them are transgressors. – Qur’an Surah Imran 3:110 (emphasis added)
  • Yet all are not alike: among the People of the Book there are upright people... – Qur’an Surah Imran 3:13 (emphasis added)

Through the years, many Muslim scholars around the world have looked for the true “People of the Book.” Some have claimed that Seventh-day Adventists are these people; as such, they are seeking out collaboration with the “People of the Book.”

This collaboration is reinforced in the Qur’an:

  • Allah is our Lord and your Lord. For us are our deeds, and for you your deeds. There is no need for argument between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and to Him is the final destination. – Qur’an Surah Imran 42:15 (emphasis added)
  • So if you are in doubt, O Muhammad, about that which we have revealed to you, then ask those who have been reading the Scripture before you. The truth has certainly come to you from your Lord, so never be among the doubters. – Qur’an Surah Imran 10:94 (emphasis added)

If Muslims are seeking a collaboration or relationship with the “People of the Book” – that is, Adventists—then this puts Adventists in a unique position to connect with people of this religion.