The Unanswerable Question

By Mark Swarbrick

Catholicism, Sola Scriptura, Adventism and the Unanswerable Question

Why can’t Seventh Day Adventists answer this one simple question? Here it is:

Where in the Bible can we find a command for gentile Christians to observe Saturday?

I have posed this question to many Seventh Day Adventists. None of them can answer it. They don’t even try. Usually, they respond to the question with another question or they spew forth inuendo about keeping the law. But one thing they do not ever do is answer that question. Why is this? This article will address the matter. To begin, we must understand the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, for that is key as to why Adventists refuse to answer such a simple question.

Sola Scriptura

Christians believe firmly that the Holy Bible contains all we need to know for Christian faith and practice. Indeed, Sola Scriptura was the protestant watchword for the reformation which set people free from the false teachings of Catholicism. When Martin Luther was put on trial for daring to defy the doctrines of Catholicism, he answered their arguments thus:

“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me.”

Sola Scriptura” is a Latin phrase that translates to “Scripture alone.” It is a principle or doctrine that holds that Scripture, specifically the Bible, is the sole and ultimate authority for Christian belief and practice. Simply stated, you don’t need popes, church councils, or some priest, or self-proclaimed prophet to guide you into truth. The Bible is sufficient.

According to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, the Bible is seen as the inspired Word of God and the final authority by which all matters of faith and doctrine should be evaluated. It asserts that the Bible contains all the necessary teachings for salvation and the proper understanding of God’s will.

Every cult violates the standard of Sola Scriptura, in that a cult will always have some extra-biblical source of authority. They typically will acknowledge the Bible as the Word of God, but say that you have to have this other “inspired” writing to go along with it. For example, the Catholic Church says you have to have their “inspired and infallible” church tradition and teachings to go along with the Bible. The Christian Scientists say you have to have Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, to “unlock” what the Bible means. Here is a chart showing the extra-biblical sources that typical cults consider to be equal to, or above, Scripture.


Cult Extra-Biblical Authority
Catholicism Church Tradition/Popes
Mormonism Book of Mormon/Church Prophets/Joseph Smith
Jehovah’s Witness JW Publishing House is considered their infallible prophet
Miscellaneous “Apostolic” Cults Some leader who is considered to be a prophet or apostle.

Whenever a group says, “Yes, we believe the Bible is the Word of God, but then try to bring in some other source to support their doctrine, you know you are likely dealing with a cult. Especially if they have some charismatic individual who they consider to be some sort of apostle or prophet and whose writings they consider to be inspired. In such cases you are certainly dealing with a cult.

Do Adventists Accept Solo Scriptura

The Seventh Day Adventist Church most certainly claims to follow Sola Scriptura. The Adventist News Network says, “Seventh-day Adventism is a…movement of belief centered in Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone)., under the heading, “What do Adventists Believe,” says:  “Upholding the Protestant conviction of Sola Scriptura (“Bible only”)…Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as their only creed.”

The Answer

Now, back to the question Adventists will not answer. Where in the Bible can we find a command for gentile Christians to observe Saturday? They do not want to answer that because they cannot do it from Scripture alone. They have to bring in external sources to fortify their argument. So while they claim to support Sola Scriptura, they really do not. They do not want to come right out and admit they don’t really believe the Bible alone is their sole rule for faith and practice. They are in a quandary, for while pretending to support Sola Scriptura, they also revere their deceased prophetess, the rich, but cranky and controlling, and somewhat unbalanced, Ellen G White. They consider her writings as also inspired by God.

So now we have the answer as to why Adventists cannot answer that question from the Bible alone. It is because they know there is no such command in Scripture. And they don’t want to admit that. They don’t want to confess that the Bible itself does not have the one thing that they think is the most important aspect of their gospel.

They don’t want to admit that they actually think the Bible is insufficient and that you must have the writings of Ellen G White to have the gospel. Indeed, they rely on her so much that one wonders how they imagine the twelve apostles got along without her! Like all cults, the Adventist religion has their own prophet (Ellen White), extra-biblical writings they think are inspired, and they consider themselves to be the one and only true church on earth, and they are the only ones going to heaven. The SDA is what is known as a “plus” cult. You need the Bible and Jesus, plus Ellen G White, plus keeping Saturday, plus avoiding Sunday, plus being a member of the one true church, the SDA. The Apostle Paul warned that adding conditions to salvation and trusting in your own works separates you from Christ. (Galatians 5:4)

A Hypothetical

The following hypothetical will establish that the SDA does not really believe in Sola Scriptura. Suppose a man falls overboard from a sailing ship and manages to survive by floating on ocean debris. He washes up on the shores of a deserted island – an entirely plausible scenario that has happened many times. Suppose as well, that just prior to this accident someone had given him a Bible that he had tucked in his pocket. Being the only reading material, he carefully dries it out and preserves it carefully, reading every page many times.

Can this man get saved if he responds with faith to the message in the Word of God?  Any Christian would say that such is possible. Any Christian who believes in Sola Scriptura would avow that he has all he needs in the Bible to not only bring him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but also to instruct and guide him in holy living.

Yet, if the Adventist gospel is correct, he cannot get saved, for there is nothing in the Bible to tell him that he must worship God on Saturday. So how can the Adventists claim to believe in Sola Scriptura?  They cannot do so with scholastic honesty. They must admit that the poor lost soul cannot get saved from the Bible alone!

Now suppose that a Seventh Day Adventist befell a similar fate and he washes up on the very same island. The first man marooned there is delighted to have some company. The Adventist is delighted to have someone to convert, for he soon discovers that the man with the Bible has no idea that Ellen G White taught that worshipping God on Sunday is taking the Mark of the Beast!

The Adventist informs the man that if he wants to be truly saved, he must observe Saturday, as Ellen G White said. The man, being an agreeable sort, and a tad gullible, doesn’t insist he be showed this Saturday command in the Bible. He doesn’t ask what sort of person Ellen White was or why a self-appointed prophetess from over a hundred years ago should be followed. He just believes what the Adventist tells him.

Okay, the Adventist says, “Now you are really saved. We shall worship together on Saturdays. By the way, I had swallowed saltwater and was in a delirium for a time. I was pretty out of it. What day is today?”

“You don’t know? Asked the first man, and then explained, “I too lost track of the days myself quite a while back. How are we going to know what days are Saturday and which days are Sunday? I sure don’t want to worship on the wrong day and have the Mark of the Beast on me!”

But, as fate would have it, another Adventist washes up on the shore from another shipwreck, and he knows what day it is! He says, “When our ship sank it was Friday morning. It has been one day, so today must be Saturday!”

“Praise the Lord!” the other two men exclaim. “We are saved! We know what day to worship God on and what day we must not worship! We are delivered from the Mark of the Beast! Let’s hold service and worship God.”

After a time of worship, the third man speaks up. “Wait a moment,” the third man says, looking worried. “Oh no! Stop worshipping! Let me think. Let’s see, my ship was a little southeast of the Marshall Islands when it sank!

“What’s wrong? Does that matter?” asked the first man.

“Oh yes, it does, very much so!” That is very close to the International Dateline. If we are on the western side of the line, it is Saturday. But I don’t know exactly where the ship was and I don’t know where we are now. We could very well be on the eastern side of the International Dateline; in which case it is not Saturday at all. The day changes when you cross that line. We must know where we are, or we might end up worshipping God on Sunday and then we have the Mark of the Beast!”

“Well,” says the second man. “That line follows the 180th meridian. Did anyone remember to bring a sextant before being shipwrecked?” Everyone shrugged their shoulders and the first man said, “If only we had a sextant, we could be saved.”

“That would not help around here,” said the third man. For in this area the dateline squiggles all around, varying as much as 2,000 miles. We need to know our exact location. Unless we have a GPS and an accurate map with GPs coordinates that charts this island with an arrow that says, ‘You are here.’ we cannot be saved and avoid the Mark of the Beast”

“So, the first man says, “Let me get this straight. Do you mean to tell me that we cannot be saved unless we have a GPS, a map marking where we are, and a calendar?”  Everyone fell silent.

“I have a question,” said the first man. Show me in the Bible where it says that worshipping Jesus on Sunday is the mark of the Beast. While you’re at it, show me also in the Bible where it says we have to worship on Saturdays?”

The two Adventists refused to answer and told him he was utterly deceived for not believing what the dead lady had taught over a hundred years ago.


Adventists have an extra-biblical source of authority, they do not believe in Sola Scriptura, they do not want to admit it, and they know there is no command in Scripture that says gentile Christians must observe Saturday. That is why they are afraid to answer the question. Nevertheless, I put the question out there:

Where in the Bible can we find a command for gentile Christians to observe Saturday?

All I hear is crickets.

The International Dateline varies by thousands of miles in several places on the globe.

Here are some more tough questions for Adventists…

Who established the dateline and when and by what authority?

Has the dateline been in other places in the past?  Answer, yes: Many places, such as the Canary Islands, Paris, and Berlin, to name just a few.

Will the dateline be moved someday in the future? Perhaps.

Can anyone prove that the dateline is where God wants it, or that it matters to Him?

Can anyone prove that the Dateline should traverse the Atlantic Ocean instead of the Pacific?

Can anyone prove that the Dateline was not considered by God to be in the Atlantic on creation week? That would make our Sunday actually Saturday.

Does anyone really believe that God is fickle to make salvation depend upon silly matters?


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