Seventh-day Adventist world church leadership today announced their decision to remove "The Rich Man and Lazarus" from Luke 16, but agreed to explore the possibility of supporting similar creative storytelling.
The decision came after carefully reviewing the parable Jesus told, which dramatizes the eternal fate of two individuals. Seventh-day Adventist church leaders from different parts of the world and the world headquarters evaluated the parable, participated in the discussions and the decision-making process.
"Seventh-day Adventist world church leadership is committed to using and developing creative methods of outreach that are faithful to Scripture and Seventh-day Adventist ideals to reach segments of the population that will never be impacted by traditional evangelism," said world church president, Ted N. C. Wilson.
"The Rich Man and Lazarus" tells the story of two men who died after living very different lives on earth. In Jesus' story, the rich man goes to Hades, while Lazarus, who had been a beggar during his earthly life, lands in Heaven. A conversation follows between the two, in which the rich man begs Lazarus to send messages to his earthly family who are still alive, warning them about what is to come.
Seventh-day Adventist Church theology sees the state of the dead as an important teaching, one that is central to making sense of what happens after this life.
The church's Biblical Research Institute provided a biblical analysis of some of the problematic and theologically inaccurate matters raised in Jesus' parable. In addition, church leaders were looking for a much more accurate portrayal of the church's understanding of what happens after death
While Jesus prepared Bible studies to accompany the parable and encourage further study, according to the Biblical Research Institute, the content of "The Rich Man and Lazarus" would have put the church in the difficult position of endorsing the misrepresentation of biblical truth while at the same time offering studies which conflicted with the parable. This would invite misunderstandings and cause confusion.
Church leaders at the world headquarters expressed their continued desire to produce creative stories that would be in harmony with Scripture and capture the attention of people seeking divine truth.