Frequently Asked Questions
Who are “Adventists”?
Seventh-day Adventists are Christians who trace their roots to Methodism, to the Anabaptist tradition, and to the failed apocalyptic movement of the 1840s known as the Millerites (after Baptist preacher William Miller). Almost all of the Adventist pioneers were young people from New England with strong abolitionist sympathies and pacifist leanings. They were also deeply skeptical of organized religion, which they believed tended inevitably toward oppression and moral and spiritual corruption. Nevertheless, after intense debate they adopted an official name and organizational structure in 1863, in part in order to register with the U.S. government as conscientious objectors who would not bear arms in the American Civil War.
The name they chose reflected their commitment to keeping the seventh day (or Saturday) as Sabbath in accordance with the teachings of Hebrew Scripture and example of Christ in the New Testament, as well as their belief in the soon return (or advent) of Christ. These theological and ethical convictions led early Adventists to a radical critique of the American civil religion and the violence of the American Empire. Another core belief of the early Adventists was their commitment to what they called "progressive truth": a rejection of dogmatism and creedalism in favor of an open-ended and ongoing search for greater understanding. Without seeking to uncritically repeat or defend all of the beliefs of nineteenth-century Adventists, the APF is committed to these core values and spirit of the Adventist pioneers.
How is the APF related to the Adventist church?
The APF is an independent, strictly non-proselytizing, non-profit organization comprised of Adventists and friends of Adventists who are dedicated to work for peace and social justice. While many distinguished church leaders, pastors, and scholars have joined our network, we are not officially affiliated, funded, or controlled by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in any way. We do not speak or act at the church's behest or on its behalf.
Why did the APF choose its name?
The name "Adventist Peace Fellowship" was chosen to express our shared commitment, as a free association of like-minded individuals, to principles of conscientious objection and peacemaking in the spirit of the Adventist pioneers in times of war. We also wanted to situate our work within a long history of lay-organized advocacy and activism for peace, nonviolence, and social justice spanning diverse religious traditions, including: the Jewish Peace Fellowship, the Muslim Peace Fellowship, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, the Catholic Peace Fellowship, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, the Methodist Peace Fellowship, the Lutheran Peace Fellowship, and the Baptist Peace Fellowship.
Do I need to be an Adventist to join the Adventist Peace Fellowship?
No, you do not. The APF is a network of Adventists and friends of Adventists who are committed to constructive dialogue and partnerships for peace and justice. We welcome all who want to work with us to create a better world for all persons, regardless of their beliefs.
Do I need to be a pacifist to join the Adventist Peace Fellowship?
Some members and supporters of the APF have resisted the label of "absolute pacifism," seeing a place for limited use of force as a measure of last resort to prevent greater evils. Yet a realistic assessment of the violence of the modern nation-state suggests that wars today are fought not to achieve the global common good of all human beings but to advance "the national interest." Even those who support the idea of "just war" in theory must acknowledge that few if any wars in practice live up to the high moral standards of the "just war" tradition. Further, soldiers cannot exercise true moral judgment when conflicts erupt but must fight, kill, and die at the orders of politicians without question since there is no allowance in the military for selective conscientious objection.
In this situation, the APF holds to a position of "practical pacifism." We recognize the moral seriousness of debates about pacifism and war, but we see no place for Christians voluntarily participating in the military as an institution that first and foremost serves national power objectives rather than "the healing of the nations." We believe that amid all of the tensions and ambiguities of life, which leave none of us with completely "clean hands," there are still ways to resist evil and help create more just social realities without taking the lives of our fellow human beings made in the image of God.
Is the APF part of the Social Gospel movement?
While the Christian Gospel (euangelion or “good news”) is certainly concerned with more than political and social ethics, it is not concerned with less than these. We reject any anti-social “Gospel” that claims we can know the meaning of Christ’s life without engaging with matters of peace and social justice in our communities.
How can I become a part of the APF?
The APF is an informal network of people that is open to all who wish to self-identify with the broad values of peacemaking, dialogue, and social justice expressed throughout this website. To join the APF, simply send us your name and contact information.