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Dr. Edwin Hernandez, (an Adventist sociologist) summarized parts of a book Acts of Faith, written by social scientists in 2000: “Recent research shows that as mainline denominations relaxed their traditional observance of [Sunday] Sabbath and other time-consuming practices, members were deprived of the benefits of belonging to such a religion-the distinctive sense of identity and communal belonging.”

“Dr. Hernandez asks: ‘Will relaxing the standards [of the SDA church] in order to make them more reasonable and palatable- thus less costly- to modern sensibilities lead to a more vibrant faith?’

Examining the considerable evidence social scientists have collected over the past thirty years as they have looked at these other denominations, Hernandez correctly and categorically concludes that the results of lowering standards indeed ‘devastating.’

Before the above scientific analysis was done, a Methodist preacher Dean Kelly wrote a book called Why Conservative Churches are Growing. A decade later, in 1982, Kelly was invited to present a paper at Andrews University essentially the same issue. He opened his remarks with: ‘It's a little ironic, I think, that somebody from one of the declining churches should come to talk about church growth to a body that is growing at a very significant, precisely consistent rates.’ Later in his presentation Pastor Dean Kelly made the following tongue- in- cheek observation:

‘If Adventists want to stop growing and begin declining like everybody else, all they have to do is emphasize that abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine isn't really essential to Salvation. Decide that vegetarianism isn't actually all that important, and foot washing ,is a little tacky… Recognize that tithing, like the requirements already mentioned, can be a form of righteousness by works. And (I am almost unable to mention this) introduce the idea that one can worship as well on Sunday as on Saturday.’

In simple terms, Dean Kelly was saying: ‘If you want your church to die, then get rid of your standards and be just like the rest of us.’” (Ron du Preez, No Fear for the Future, 2006, 193-194)

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