The Way to Democracy
Historically, principles of freedom of conscience were nurtured by Protestants in the face of Catholic domination after the middle ages. Thus, there developed an affinity between Protestantism and democracy.200 Since most of the Adventist pioneers had a Protestant heritage, the Adventist church, naturally held Protestant concept of freedom and democracy.
Democracy is based on the idea people should decide their own destination; the opinion of the largest number of people should be implemented in the case of critical decision. It also implied a kind of balancing, as of power and wealth.
Understood this way, the idea of democracy seems compatible with the beliefs of Christianity. Christians hold the Bible as their standards of belief and practice. The Bible warns that at times the majority can lead the people to appose God. Therefore Christians need to be wise and alert with an outlook based on democratic principles that reflect biblical values.
The Seventh-day Adventist church made advances in implementing democratic principles even within the church, after the reorganization of church administration in 1901. A more democratic organizational structure was then introduced as the Church entered in twentieth century.
The new structure discouraged one-man rule within the denomination, warning future leaders who might have autocratic proclivities. Organizational control was decentralized.201 Indeed, democracy is the only best option for the present day, especially in the government system. Tyranny, on the other hand, consists of rulers who “give the reins to their lust, and think all things lawful to themselves” (Dan. 2:5). This is why Calvin supported and encouraged democratic resistance; tyranny was a breakdown of law.202
In the case of fundamentalism, also, “a democratic society seems very difficult to anticipate, because fundamentalism excludes pluralism, which is indispensable to democracy.”203 This kind of rule violates the principle of Christian freedom.
According to Calvin, the primary duty of “civil government” is to “cherish and protect the outward worship of God,” and “to defend sound doctrine of piety and
the position of the church.”204
Adventist pioneers were involved in social and humanitarian activity. E. G.
White similarly “opposed oppressive combinations of any sort that would restrict the freedom of Christians to serve God. “205
In later years, it seems that Adventists played a lesser role in regard to social and humanitarian work. One area in which Adventists might return to their roots in regard to social concern is the matter of Adventist who face being required to work on Saturday in the amidst of increasing capitalism.
Another potential area of social endeavor is in poverty reduction in developing countries. At the beginning of twenty-first century, Adventists continue face authoritarian and dictatorial regimes around the world, with correspondent restriction of freedom of religion. Those who are under authoritarian regimes, along-with other types of humanitarian crisis, are especially in need of the concern of their fellows.