Journal of Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research


Burton, Kevin


The Seventh-day Adventist Church is one of the most racially and culturally diverse religious groups in the United States. With the church’s Biblical mandate to proclaim the Three Angels’ messages to all peoples, the need for a unity that acknowledges yet transcends individual and collective differences is imperative. However, racial and cultural tensions, particularly between Caucasians and African Americans, continue to hinder this aim. While theological discussions regarding such issues are common within the church, sociological nuances are not always clearly pointed out. This paper investigated sociological theories behind and challenges to multicultural religious settings, the obstacles Adventist history has posed regarding healthy Caucasian and African American relations, and sociological, theological, and practical considerations for attaining greater unity. It is concluded that the achievement of a transcendent identity lies not in ignoring racial or ethnic differences, striving blindly for more multicultural churches, or becoming too insular in the celebration of cultural identity, but in delving deeper into the reality behind such differences and their use in furthering the mission of the church.