A Peruvian “Suma Qamaña” Eschatology

The book The Great Controversy constructs a particular eschatological vision—unique and persuasive—but which is not the only conceivable one. Different possibilities would, of course, accent special insights but also leave omissions. And that’s good because if one version tried to say everything, it would become unnecessarily verbose and without specific clarity. The uniquely Adventist version of “end times” is more apocalyptic than messianic, more based on judgment than on life, more about exclusion than inclusion. And this Christian plurality of eschatological perspective is possible because the Bible itself is pluri-vocal and not some sort of mathematical description. Therein lies its literary and theological greatness. But The Great Controversy tends instead to be more unambiguous and partisan. Our conscience—not only religious but also anthropological—convinces us that important and complex issues necessarily have various possible options. And it’s true as well for eschatology. There are many perspectives, noble and legitimate, that must learn to coexist and dialogue together.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12165

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction, ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

“Fire and Ice” - Robert Frost


This brilliant article articulates what I have increasingly believed. Thank you!

In Texas, where I grew up, we had a saying that ‘someone got hit with a brick wrapped in a towel’. It meant that someone got whacked, but they weren’t exactly sure how it happened, because they weren’t bleeding…figuratively, of course. This somewhat primitive concept is perfectly accomplished by this exceptional essay. The denomination’s deification of ‘The Great Controversy’ by EGW just got hit with a brick wrapped in a towel!

I enjoyed and savored every word of it…thank you, Dr. Gutierrez

Brilliant takedown of Adventist eschatology. Subtle but pointed.

Please explain how this is a “take down” of Adventist Eschatology??

Dr. Gutierrez has been writing insightful essays in Spectrum for some time already. This one, however, is not only insightful; it is an enlightened criticism of the myopic outlook of the no-nothing administrators of the institutional church who have been ignoring the community of faith that is the Adventist laity. We are blessed by the insightful essays of Dr Gutierrez. Yes, indeed, eschatology is not about telling you what is going on, and how God operates and brings about the ultimate punishment to those who disobey him. It is about how to live life in the human world in peace with your neighbor and faithful to God. That is the real goal of the life God has given to us. As Dr. Gutierrez point out, eschatology deals with a final judgment, and the judgment will have consequences. But its significance is not about the future; it is about the sovereignty of God.


Dear Hanz, the message of the book The Great Controversy can highlight the exclusivism/inclusivism dilemma of access to salvation at “end times”, in line with belonging to the remnant people. By placing the philosophical concept of the Aymara “Good Living” on the sociocultural scene, not only the exclusivist Adventist eschatology is challenged, but also its ecclesiology, soteriology and missiology. Regarding Adventist exclusivism, the director of the Biblical Research Institute said “The existence of the remnant does not mean that salvation is exclusively theirs. A biblical remnant ecclesiology presupposes that God is actively involved in the salvation of people outside the remnant. The work of the Holy Spirit reaches every individual even in the absence of a concrete expression of the people of God. We can suggest that the totality of God’s people is larger than the remnant This should put to rest once and for all any charges of exclusivism in Adventist ecclesiology and soteriology.” (AM Rodriguez). This makes more sense since the concept and wisdom of “Good Living” have official recognition in Political Science, Human Rights (collective, third generation), legal systems, public standards for health, environment and culture, in Andean and Amazonian territories. The ancestral concept of “Good Living/Living Together” includes the perspective and desire of the indigenous peoples rritories to live in plenitude a life in full harmony with all human beings, with God. with nature in its infinite manifestations, the spiritual forces, and with himself. It is identified in Aymara as Suma Qamaña (Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Argentina), in Quechua/Kichwa as Sumak Kawsayen (Peru, Ecuador, Chile) and in Mapudungun as Kume Monguen (Chile Argentina). “Good Living” values ​​cultural diversity, interculturality, plurinationality and the political pluralism. Diversity that does not justify or tolerate destruction of Nature, nor the existence of privileged groups at the expense of work and sacrifice of others, because it does not put the lives of the next generations at risk, accepting relationality and complementarity as the unifying axis. Two Andean countries, Ecuador and Bolivia, already included “Good Living” within the political principles and rights of citizens in the Political Constitution (Preamble and Art 18 Ecuador Constitution 2008, and in the Preamble and Art 8 of Bolivia Constitution 2009.). Political scientists explain that the philosophy of “Good Living” has arisen as a strategy to face the unwanted effects of the neoliberal economic model, which due to its anthropocentric logic of capitalism gave rise to predatory consumerist styles, with environmental and social devastation, and inequitable accumulation of material goods, moved by an endless competition between human beings. The philosophy of “Good Living” tends towards inclusivism, holistic harmonization, for the protection and well-being of the community and of the nature of its territory. Latin American Adventist theology has not ruled on the matter. Therefore, within a pertinent inclusivity contextualization, the words of E. White are valid: “Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God. (The Desires Of Ages 638)

You’re obviously correct, Darrell, this article does not refute SDA eschatology, once and for all.

But this is most likely the case solely due to the fact that it is impossible to do so.

Indeed, no article or book is capable of utterly rebutting Adventism given that not even an omniscient being can use logic to prove a negative. Thus, there is no way to disprove the claim that Sunday worship will one day become the law of the land, that the papacy is not the Antichrist, that Jesus will one day return in clouds of glory, etc.

So that’s the good news for Adventism.

The bad news is that neither this fact, nor any other assumptions based on an alternative compilations of facts, can or does do anything to establish the veracity of SDA eschatology. The sad fact about facts is that facts can never prove anything to an absolute certainty.

Even worse tidings is the reality that SDA “end time” speculations can be denied as easily as saying “I don’t believe it.” This because Adventism has not provided any tangible evidence to substantiate even one of its first principles.

That is, SDA’s have not proved that god is real, that the Bible is his word, that original sin is a “thing”, that Jesus is god’s only son, that Jesus is still alive, that Paul was Jesus’ apostle, that EGW had access to divine wisdom, etc.

And the worst news according to Adventism’s sensibilities, is the fact that about 99.997% of the world’s population currently does just that.

Most people’s eschatology continues to gainsay SDA “revealed” wisdom considering it instead to be simple torpidity, and holds that pointing to a book as tangible evidence of anything amounts to idolatry. Further, they will predictably remain confident in this assessment until such time as actual and overwhelming evidence forces them to reconsider even one, much less all of Adventism’s foundational-but as yet unsubstantiated-assertions.

I know.

Substantiation is coming.

And soon!

But in the meanwhile. most of the world is deciding, on a moment to moment basis, to adopt a “ wait and see” attitude and to inhale and exhale at a sustainable rate while “waiting for Godot”.

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