In the World but Not of the World

Blog April 25, 2017

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

– John 17:15-19 (NIV)

There’s no doubt about it: the world is changing and fast! Popular culture tells us that many lifestyles, personal choices, and actions are “okay” – things that even 10 or 20 years ago wouldn’t have been accepted. As Christians, many times it’s hard to balance being “in the world but not of the world.” 

This can be especially hard for young people. Peer pressure, the image they present on social media, and a strong desire to fit in can easily compromise their values. Because of this, it is vital that the Church take a strong position on tough topics and instill a strong belief system in it’s young people so that they will not be shaken when worldly pressures come their way.

While some factors would indicate that there are few active youth within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, research shows that that is not the case. Our last blog (found here) looked at the active body of young people within the Church. However, within this body of youth, one might ask how closely their views reflect the traditional teachings of the Adventist Church.

The Adventist Connection Study (ACS) was commissioned by the General Conference Future Plans Working Group and conducted by the Robert H. Pierson Institute of Evangelism and World Missions at Southern Adventist University in 2013. It surveyed 1,153 individuals who graduated between the years of 2001 and 2012 from three North American Adventist universities: Southern Adventist University, Oakwood University, and Pacific Union College. This research focused on the sense of connection recent graduates of Seventh-day Adventist universities feel to their local churches and to the wider Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Survey respondents were asked about their views on the inspiration of the Bible. When asked to select a statement that most closely reflects their views, almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents indicated that they believe that God revealed His will to the writers of the Bible, and they wrote it down in words of their own choosing. An additional 18% indicated that they believe that the writers of the Bible had a personal experience with God, which helped them explain God’s will, using their own ideas. Nearly one in ten respondents (9%) indicated that they believe God dictated the Bible word for word. Only 4% believe that God did not inspire the writers of the Bible.

Respondents were also asked to share their views on the Bible’s authority. Over half (58%) indicated they believe that when the Bible instructs us on an issue, we must figure out the principles involved and apply to our situations. An additional quarter of respondents (24%) stated that they believe that when Bible instructs us on an issue, we should obey it. Five percent of respondents believe that while the Bible is illustrative of God’s relationship with humans, it is not authoritative.

Another set of issues facing many Church youth today is that of non-Biblical sexual practices. Survey respondents were asked about their acceptance of non-practicing homosexuals, practicing homosexuals, and couples whom cohabitate. 

  • While 84% of respondents indicated they would accept a non-practicing homosexual as a church member, 63% indicated they would accept a non-practicing homosexual as a church leader.
  • Nearly half (49%) of respondents indicated that they would accept a practicing homosexual as a church member, while about one in five (21%) of respondents indicated they would accept a practicing homosexual as a church leader.
  • Almost one third (31%) of respondents indicated that they would accept a cohabitating couple as church members, while 13% indicated they would accept them in church leadership positions.

It is interesting to note that 82% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the following statement: “Marriage was established in Eden by God to be a lifelong, loving union between a man and a woman” (see our previous blog on young adults’ agreement with Adventist doctrines here).

God is eager that we walk with Him daily and that we join Him one day in Heaven after the Second Coming of Jesus. If we do not get to know Him and the things He values, as well as the things He disdains, while we are here on Earth, how can we truly have a relationship with Him? It is vital that we get to know God through His Word and understand His nature, the things He holds as important and the things He asks of us, and try to comprehend the beautiful gift of salvation. 

To view the full report, click here.

Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.