“I understand that you are an elder and preacher in the Churches of Christ, but you have mentioned the Advent Christian Churches several times. I have never heard of that group. Would you please tell us something about them?”
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I first met the Advent Christians after the 1982 publication of my book titled The Fire That Consumes, a painstakingly-thorough investigation of the biblical doctrine of final punishment. My conclusion there that the wicked will be destroyed both body and soul in the Second Death (hell) happened to confirm what Advent Christians have taught for 125+ years, and they quickly claimed the book as an “outside” source of support for their long-cherished but often-maligned position.
The AC folk are the Sunday-meeting descendants of the William Miller “Adventual” revival of the mid-19th century which also spawned the larger and better-known Seventh-day Adventists. Almost all I have met are very warm-hearted, Bible-minded and Christ-centered, although I have encountered a handful who reminded me of a few in my own Churches of Christ in their sectarianism and “hobby-riding.”
(Few people are aware of the fact that the William Miller revival of the mid-1800s was responsible for awakening American and British Christians of all denominations to the reality that Jesus can return at any moment. Before Miller’s preaching, it was commonly thought that Jesus would not return until after the millennium, which Alexander Campbell, for example, believed would be ushered in by the conversion of the entire world to Christ.)
Advent Christian doctrinal emphases are solidly evangelical. They also stress (as I believe Scripture does, though, unfortunately, not most evangelicals) the natural mortality of mankind and “life only in Christ,” as well as the eternal destruction of the lost. They teach a cosmic eschatology of New Heavens and New Earth rather than an individual emphasis on “going to heaven” (which they correctly note is non-biblical), the Kingdom of God (not dispensational, some are historic premillennial, many are not). They have a great variety of thinking as to classic issues (Reformed/Arminian, charismatic/-non-charismatic, etc.) and are quite tolerant with each other over those differences.
Their churches range in style from classic fundamentalist to very seeker-oriented, church-growth models. They have regional superintendents (several I know personally) who are spiritual bishops with pastoral hearts but only moral authority, and churches have much freedom vis-a-vis the denomination. Advent Christians baptize believers by immersion, stress a lively piety of life, and are out there trying to be Christians and win souls for Christ. As one from an a cappella church tradition, I have enjoyed their vigorous congregational singing, which they do quite well even with instrumental accompaniment.
During the past quarter-century, I have been privileged to speak at numerous AC churches, regional and national conferences from coast to coast, and I now count many wonderful and dear Christian friends among these gentle and humble people. They seem to flourish on the coasts — East and West — but are not widely known between. If you should happen to encounter an AC pastor or church, I invite you to get to know them. You will probably enjoy some good Christian fellowship.