Adventist Theologians Approve Statement on Biblical Eschatology

Seventh-day Adventist theologians and administrators from around the world meeting in Rome, Italy, for the Fourth International Bible Conference from June 11-21, 2018, voted a Consensus Statement at the closing of the event on June 20. The conference theme was biblical eschatology, or the study of last-day events according to the Bible. The document voted reaffirms the Adventist understanding of biblical prophecy, end-time events, and its missiological implications for the church. Below is the full text of the document approved.

CONSENSUS STATEMENT Fourth International Bible Conference

Introduction

The Fourth International Bible Conference was held in Rome, June 11-21, 2018, with the theme of “Biblical Eschatology.” Almost four hundred Adventist scholars, pastors, educators, and church leaders, sharing a deep commitment to Scripture and a biblical worldview, gathered from around the world to explore biblical, theological, historical, ethical, missiological, and scientific perspectives on eschatology. The goal of the Conference was to affirm and explore biblical eschatology, foster fellowship and unity, and to bring about a renewed sense of the times in which we live so as to be better equipped to serve the Lord and His Church. We have been spiritually and intellectually enriched through Bible study and worship, seasons of prayer, lectures, discussions, and educational tours to significant biblical, historical, and archaeological sites.

As Seventh-day Adventists, we are impelled by the personal and profound conviction of the nearness of Christ’s coming as a literal, visible, personal, and worldwide event. We are keenly aware of the challenges being made to the historicist approach to biblical eschatology. These challenges include preterist, futurist, and idealist approaches to the books of Daniel and Revelation, scientific cosmologies that breed skepticism toward a divine supernatural resolution of the problem of sin and death, and speculation regarding things that have not been revealed.

Statement of Affirmation

Committed to the principles of sola and tota Scriptura, we hereby affirm that the Seventh-day Adventist Church, raised up in fulfillment of Bible prophecy near the end of earth’s history, has an eschatological perspective as an integral part of its theology, message, and mission.

We affirm that eschatology has its origin in the triune God. When the predicted time was fulfilled God the Father sent His Son Jesus Christ in order to redeem and adopt us as His children (Gal 4:4-5) and advance His plan of salvation, which will culminate in Jesus' glorious reign after His Parousia.

We affirm that Jesus Christ with His life, death, and resurrection is the center of our eschatological hope. Through the Holy Spirit He confirms individual believers as being God’s children and heirs, while they eagerly wait for the final liberation from all corruption (Rom 8:14-25). Through the Holy Spirit, Christ also guides His church to rightly understand and interpret the Scriptures towards the fulfillment of its mission and leads us to a joyful obedience of His word.

We affirm that biblical eschatology represents God’s historical, and complete resolution of the problems caused by the entrance of sin into the universe.

We affirm that in biblical eschatology God confirms His promises and encourages His people to live meaningfully in light of the eschaton.

We affirm the historical accuracy of the biblical account of creation, the fall, and the global flood as essential to a proper understanding of biblical eschatology.

We affirm that the apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation are foundational for the understanding of biblical eschatology and that the historicist method is the proper approach to interpreting them.

We affirm the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14, with their interconnected truths of the everlasting gospel, Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, the commandments of God, including the seventh-day Sabbath, and the testimony of Jesus, the pre-Advent judgment, the second coming of Christ to resurrect and redeem His people from the earth, followed by the millennium in heaven, the final judgment upon sin and sinners with their destruction in the lake of fire, which is the second death, and God’s re-creation of this earth as His people’s eternal home.

We affirm that we are responsible to care for God’s creation, including our body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, and to reflect God’s character of love to all people, urging them to accept this final message of hope for a dying world.

Missiological Implications

All members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church should share with the world this eschatological vision. Amid increased skepticism toward this future hope and futile attempts to build a paradise on earth, we accept the challenge of proclaiming this biblical eschatology within our varied contexts and dedicate ourselves to the work of finding effective approaches to meet these challenges.

This statement was written by the Biblical Research Institute and originally appeared on EUD News, the official news service of the Inter-European Division. Photo by Andreas Mazza, courtesy of EUD News.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8855

The statement on “historicism” as it is practiced in Adventism ignores decades of studies by committed Evangelical scholars. Historicism is virtually dead in serious academic circles because it is simply a no-man’s hermeneutical landscape; there are no textual controls and no coherent method. It’s like a board game: the “historicist” who can plug the most “historical” events into fulfillment holes, wins. Historicism as it is practiced in Adventism today is the especially as applied to the book of Revelation is fruit of allegorical approaches dominating Christianity throughout the Middle Ages. This method was then encased in inerrancy in the works of Ellen White and the church is forever tied to this deficient methodology.

This is not to say that prophecy is not “fulfilled” in history. This is an unescapable reality otherwise prophecy would be meaningless. The book of Daniel clearly deals with history. The problem is “how” do we see this fulfillment: as referring to precise events and characters or as containing overarching principles of the kingdom of God? This is especially relevant when studying the book of Revelation, a unique Christian text which draws from ALL OT prophecies, not only from Daniel and rereads them in light of the “Christ event.” What must occur “soon” (Rev 1:1) had in a way already started in Jesus.

Until we take Bible prophecy seriously in its original historical-religious setting, Adventism will continue to rely on questionable historical “fulfillments” meant largely at self-validating our corporate creed.

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Did the original recipients of John’s letter from Patmos to the seven churches in Asia Minor understand the “beasts” and the “image of the beast” correctly?

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The Kings dream in Daniel 2 was interpreted in a historicist manner. The first great apocalyptic vision is done that way to guide future interpreters. One can add other interpretations, but that basic viewpoint seems quite stable a foundation for further thinking, regardless of the decades of studies by committed folk.

In Revelation, John quotes extensively from the OT, giving clues to his meaning. But it is a difficult but inspiring book. I am not ashamed of Adventists’ work in that regard. An attendee stated the conference was a good one.

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I think everyone would agree that Daniel 2 can only be interpreted in a “historicist manner.” But in saying this we miss the greater lessons.

1st We should hastate to draw any time line from this first prototype vision. The majority of the world’s history since Rome has been in the toes, the smallest part of the stature. Medo-Persa was not really a kingdom, like Rome. It was a one-man-operation that ended at his short life, about 10-12 years.

2nd We should look at the Stature not so much from nation building but cultural and social influences. For instance, Greek culture, philosophy and ideals has, from the thighs, influenced nearly every human society. Baylon with its thirst for gold and grand displays of wealth, is the driving forces of every western society.

Gold still Rules: “And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.”

3rd We must be guarded in drawing any date or time for any future Biblical events. All the time charts for the end of time are pure speculation. Historicist interpreters tend to draw conclusions with dates that are subject to events. Perhaps the purpose of the stature has little to do with nation building–but instead world influences.

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Sola Scriptura? Hmm. If I read the Bible, ‘as it reads’, I get none of the above.

If I read EGW however…

@elmer_cupino @GeorgeTichy

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The vote was in favor of job security.

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God is not a historicist. The Bible is not a historicist book. There is no biblical and historical support for the claim that the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation provide a factual chronological account that covers the historical period between the Creation and the Second Advent. Historicism, as an Adventist doctrine, makes sense only if we understand that the SDAs are just Millerites “under new management.”

In the document, “Adventist Historicism Reexamined and Critiqued” (posted on Academia.edu) I provide ample evidence that the “Adventist historicism” is based on an erroneous interpretation of Daniel and Revelation and that the claimed (and false) “historical landmarks” go no further than 1840 – the date when Litch predicted that the Ottoman Empire would collapse – a failed prediction but which Ellen White approved and declared to be “another remarkable fulfillment of prophecy.” Historicism is dead, and so is the SDA interpretation of Daniel and Revelation.

See also the document, “The Year-day Principle Reexamined” (also on Academia.edu) that demonstrates beyond doubt that the claimed “year-day principle” has no biblical or linguistic basis and should have been discarded long ago as a prophetic “rule” or “equation” (as Shea and others have liked to call it) that has been wrongly used to “decode” the “time periods” in Daniel and Revelation.

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I’m never sure how this is said with a straight face.:wink:

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FISHY & ITCHY!!!

Very strange event …
I am thinking about the process, not the content ("I really don’t care! Do you?"). Yes, I really don’t care about the content because it actually makes no difference if those invited special guests (all expenses paid for) voted in favor of it or not. But, as usually, the process may be disturbing and may have been corrupt in its intent.

1st - “Voted a Consensus Statement” -

Was it a secret ballot? Or was it just “everyone in favor say ‘I’ or ‘raise your hand’?” If it was the latter, the voting is fake. Having everything paid for, to stay 10 days in Rome…, just imagine who would in public dare to raise their hands for a “nay?”

2nd - “This statement was written by the Biblical Research Institute and originally appeared on EUD News, …”

It appears obvious that he “statement” was actually produced long time before this event by the BRI.

  • So, if the conference was about it, were there some discussions on the subject, or was the conference just a series of lectures on the subject?
  • Did the “theologians AND administrators” have any input on the final product?
  • The term “BRI” is vague. Who are those who prepared the original document? How many theologians, how many administrators, or other scientists?

3rd - Did the “theologians and administrators” have to sign any document in support of the “Consensus Statement?”

4th - Where is the list of names of those who participated? It’s vague to say “theologians approve.” Which theologians???
I wonder if Spectrum can obtain and publish such a list of names?! @webEd This is a must to validate this conference.

5th - We have to beware of “conferences” like that. Remember TOSC? Cape Town???

6th - It’s absurd to take those people to Rome for 10 days, in an era where the easiest thing to do is to have a WEBINAR conference, at a minimal cost to the “sacred coffers.” (Yes, it works in any country… :wink: )

7th - What is actually NEW in that document? Isn’t it just the same collection of official beliefs affirmed by the Church for a long time anyway? And if it is not…, hmmm…

I better stop at the “perfect number,” # 7. It’s already enough to suspect that there is something “fishy & itchy” (not tichy… :slight_smile:) about that conference. Those of us who have paid close attention to the moves of this GC administration, we have to always try to figure out what was the REAL purpose of the event. And let’s be very attentive, to see how this “document approved by theologians” will be used in the future. This is the main issue: what did the administration have in mind when they called for such an unusual (actually unnecessary) conference?

Fishy,… very fishy! And itchy as well!!!

@elmer_cupino @rohantocharles @areis74 @harrpa et al!

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George –
Is this PHASE II of the UNITY as proposed by President Wilson.
Tightening up on world wide denominational employees to prevent
ANY independent thinking, independent study, independent questions
asked as they read and study Scriptures at home and pose them to
“public” groups they hob-nob with?

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Just this sentence it basically enough to raise all eyebrows in the world. It’s the MOST HYPOCRITICAL and :upside_down_face: statement in that document. It’s incorrect, deceitful, dishonest, and misleading. It gives me the impression that there was (is) an intent to further use this document for some yet undisclosed purpose. As DT often says, “We will see, we will see!” … :wink:

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George –
You weren’t around when there was a huge 2foot by 3foot chart of End Time Events
printed and passed around in the early 1960’s.
I wonder if THIS will be reprinted to post in every church. Especially that NOW there
is No More to know about Eschatology – the End Time events from now until Christ
returns.
This August Committee voted it so it must be true.

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Exactly…it’s always the same thing…over and over and over.

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AKA perpetuating traditions over biblical context.

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Guess the love affair with the professors at Andrews is over. Many from the seminary were there, along with many biblical scholars from all walks of life and divisions. Both sides of the “Spectrum” were represented.

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Maybe if your were given free airfare, 5 star hotel, free meals and time to visit the holy places in Rome, all the while you are still drawing paycheck, would increase your chances to agree with your supervisors opinions. Would that do it for you?

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Nope…never in a million years!

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Slam dunk, Andre!

These apocalyptic works do concern “overarching principles” of God’s kingdom.

Did the conference (and the BRI) even acknowledge problems in our own life associated with historicism?

The most egregious, I suppose, was German Adventism’s admiration for Hitler (see numerous historical studies) even as conventional Adventist gnosis about the end-time continued to hold sway in (most of) our congregations.

Misleaders continue to wear, and to promote the wearing of, blinders. But that is harsh. So where is the evidence that saying something so harsh is misguided?

Chuck

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In my particular S.S. class we are finishing up 1Thessalonians. The teacher has to be
away, and I was asked to finish up Chpt. 5.
Chpt. 4 and 5 discuss Christ’s return.
But so does 2Thessalonians 2:1-15. In there Paul talks about the Man of Sin has to be
revealed. Paul said the Mystery of Sin was beginning to work in 50A.D.
Paul said the Man of Sin will be working at Christ’s appearing.
Seventh day Adventists have preached this Man of Sin is the Catholic Pope of 1500
years ago.
But from looking at Paul’s wording here, there is a Man of Sin yet to come.
So have we SDAs MADE A MISTAKE???

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