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Wealth Divide: The Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Poor

  • Zdravko Plantak
Chapter

Abstract

Widespread popular opinion is that the millennarian movements of the mid-nineteenth century, working in conditions of intolerable discomfort and poverty, understood and interpreted sections of the Bible as the anticipation of the destruction of the present world and the early coming of Jesus Christ.1 However, contrary to this view, the Seventh-day Adventist church emerged in the mid-nineteenth century from a relatively affluent middle-class society of farmers and other independent artisans. A recent study of the socioeconomic status of early Adventist believers has shown that in the 1860s they were ‘generally white, occupationally independent, distributed in a wide spectrum of economic statuses, but favouring the upper side of that spectrum’.2 They were found to be ‘a lot more wealthy’ than was previously believed. Ronald Graybill, drawing on three essential studies of the economic status of Adventists,3 noted that members have been economically upwardly mobile ever since their modest beginnings in the 1850s. However, this upward economic mobility, Graybill concluded, did not prevent them from being concerned with improving the socio-economic status of others, as can be witnessed in a number of areas of church life and its ideology. We shall look at this through an historical sketch.

Keywords

Disaster Relief Church Member Mission School Wealthy Nation Welfare Activity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 3.
    Walter R. Goldsmith, ‘Class Denominationalism in Rural California Churches’, American Journal of Sociology 49 (January, 1944): 351Google Scholar
  2. Gary Schwartz, Sect Ideologies and Social Status (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1970), pp. 9–17Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Ellen G. White, Welfare Ministry (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1952), p. 270Google Scholar
  4. 24.
    Richard William Schwarz, John Harvey Kellogg, M. D. (Nashville, Tennessee: Southern Publishing Association, 1970), p. 163.Google Scholar
  5. 26.
    Richard W. Schwarz, ‘Adventism’s Social Gospel Advocate John Harvey Kellogg’, Spectrum 1: 2 (Spring 1969): 19.Google Scholar
  6. 31.
    Jonathan Butler, ‘Ellen G. White and the Chicago Mission’, Spectrum 2: 1 (Winter 1970): 47.Google Scholar
  7. 34.
    Richard Rice, ‘Adventists and Welfare Work: A Comparative Study’, Spectrum 2:1 (Winter 1970): 57.Google Scholar
  8. 73.
    World Development Report (World Bank, Washington, D.C., 1978), p. iii, as quoted in Stott, (1984), p. 213. See also a report on poverty in David B. Barrett (ed.), World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982).Google Scholar
  9. 75.
    H. J. Luukko. ‘ADRA’s Role’, Light 37 (February 1987): 2.Google Scholar
  10. 82.
    Andrew Purvis, ‘No Particular Place to Go’, Midweek 17 (March 1988): 10–11.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Zdravko Plantak 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zdravko Plantak

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