An Eschatological Critique of the Present

The Great Controversy is undoubtedly an important eschatological book, but one must know how to read it. Like every prophetic-narrative description, it uses various literary styles. Consequently, before reading literally, one must know how to interpret these descriptive strategies. They include:


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11592
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This I think is the root cause of failure in the Adventist church in its lack of growth and loss of members.

We have failed to provide education that allows us to understand the world around us. Our schools do not improve our literacy of cultural context i.e. ancient writers sensibilities and cultural context. Adventist schools and culture teach us to fear and shun literature, music, art and science that is outside 19th century level of thinking rather than providing the ability to understand it (literacy).

This article demonstrates that the church has remained static in mid-19th century thinking and anything beyond that point is of little value at best and at worst will lead us to perdition. The paradox is that we have ignored White’s own thoughts on the necessity and natural progression of our understanding which will make us change our “view on things”. Instead, many staunchly refuse to accept the “new light” as it is revealed to us. So many misconceptions and misunderstandings are being illuminated now, but this “new light” is being rejected simply because it was not known to 19th century Adventists or to the Bible’s ancient peoples.

We must constantly and prayerfully evaluate our cherished beliefs to be sure that they are actually on a secure foundation. Only in this way will we be open to the Spirit’s leading as more light is revealed to us and avoid the fate of the Israelites.

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If how we relate to food, medicine, and nature is evidence of our postmillennial tendencies, then we could perhaps shore up our premillennial beliefs through unhealthy dieting, abandonment of our hospital system, and advocating for the destruction of nature.

Well, it might also be important to list the multiple writers, editors, fact-finders, cleaner-uppers, writers borrowed-from and everybody else involved in the production of this fund-raiser book called the Great Controversy. All that mish-mash makes it tough to take GC seriously even in an article by a respected person such as Hanz Gutierrez.

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A candid reader would never recommend this book for public distribution. More so if it is compared with the Bible teachings on some fundamental doctrines. This book is only fit within the denomination.

How many Adventists really know what this book teaches on the Resurrection of the last day (which is eschatological)? Her teaching is not in harmony with the bible. here are some points to note:
That Ellen white will be alive to see Jesus come in the clouds along with the 144, 000, and the sabbath keepers of her time (according to EGW Estate, includes all the sabbath keepers of all time)

“Soon our eyes were drawn to the East, for a small black cloud had appeared about half as large as a man’s hand, which we all knew was the Sign of the Son of Man. We all in solemn silence gazed on the cloud as it drew nearer, lighter, and brighter, glorious, and still more glorious, till it was a great white cloud” (A Word to the Little Flock, p. 14, 1847).
“Soon there appears in the east a small black cloud, about half the size of a man’s hand. It is the cloud which surrounds the Saviour and which seems in the distance to be shrouded in darkness. The people of God know this to be the sign of the Son of man. In solemn silence they gaze upon it as it draws nearer the earth, becoming lighter and more glorious, until it is a great white cloud” (GC, p. 640).

“Graves are opened, and “many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth … awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2. All who have died in the faith of the third angel’s message come forth from the tomb glorified, to hear God’s covenant of peace with those who have kept His law. “They also which pierced Him” (Revelation 1:7), those that mocked and derided Christ’s dying agonies, and the most violent opposers of His truth and His people, are raised to behold Him in His glory and to see the honor placed upon the loyal and obedient” (GC, p. 637.1, 1911). See GC, pp. 640, 644).
The above describes the events to take place before the second advent, before the general resurrection. This is not what the New testament teaches on the subject.

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Re the “pre-resurrection”: I read that recently and understood for the first time that EGW indicated there would be a resurrection preceding the general resurrection described in Scripture. I would love to hear one of our SDA theologians explore and discuss this difference. I don’t feel free to share that idea as I don’t see how it can be proven Biblically.

That would remain a dream. It is accepted as a revelation from God, thus ends futher study on this issue. Ellen White Estate upholds Ellen White’s interpretation. Making any changes of this doctrine in the Great Controversy book would tarnish the prophet’s credibility and the church’s as well. So no Adventist theologian would dare contradict it.

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Christopher,
I find that sad really.
AJ

Or as Kris Kristofferson wrote and Janis Joplin sang “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Sadly the time “for nothing left to lose” for some Adventist theologians comes at retirement or at a time when denominational employment is valued less than speaking freely.

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Yes, retirement with benefits in place, then comes some push back against the status quo.

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Yes, but it would be difficult to make employment decisions that would adversely affect family.
Ed.- On the other hand, some other religious institutions have benefited by employing Adventist theologians that no longer fit comfortably into an Adventist mold.

I know that we are all familiar with this quote.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

Or, in the Adventist world, to admit he understands something until after retirement. I understand the employment issue, but when it comes to spiritual issues it seems more problematic.

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There are so many problems with this statement, it’s hard to know where to begin:

  1. The ossification and paralysis of growth in eschatology comes not just from the post White church. It stems also from White herself. She made many statements having to do with lynchpin teachings of the church, and platform of truths, that could not and should never be moved. She spoke of her own authority in absolute terms, that if one were to oppose it, they were of Satan. That seals off any change in SDA eschatology coming from official circles. If one attempts to change understanding of any of the immovable planks, they are opposing not only SDA eschatology, they are opposing the prophet herself who endorsed such things in detail during her lifetime, and in her writings. See the outcome for those who have taken such stances say on the IJ…Ford comes to mind.

  2. How does one distribute a book that has many historical and interpretive errors and distribute it wisely…or not be endorsing religious fanaticism? The GC endorses the idea of a world wide eschatological showdown over the sabbath versus Sunday. This was born out of Protestant American anti-Catholic hysteria in the 19th c. The fact that we live in an increasingly religiously pluralistic and secularized nation in 2022, never mind large swaths of the world that have nothing to do with questions over Christian days of worship (see Saudi Arabia, Yemen, China, India, and many more), reveals that the climactic showdown in the GC makes zero sense. This doesn’t even account for how to reconcile the GC scenario with a reading of Revelation within its original 1st c. context, not to mention the Pauline view of the covenants.

To distribute this book wisely and without fanaticism would be to first remove or put a huge asterisk next to the content that promotes such a sabbath/Sunday apocalyptic showdown. It would largely cut the legs out from under the denomination’s public evangelism, and its self identification as the remnant church of bible prophecy that sets itself apart by seventh day sabbath observance, etc. It would also show that large portions of White’s eschatological narrative were merely culturally conditioned musings. What would that do to her supposed prophetic status, in addition to all the other problems that have come up around her writings?

This article seems to be another by a learned Adventist scholar who keeps trying to reconcile the scriptures, and a contextual reading and a healthy modern application of them, with what is simply more and more indefensible. It truly makes me wonder about how much the push and pull of denominational culture and the prospect for continued employment within it influences our scholars. So, once again, instead of declaring that the emperor has no clothes out of the gate, the fault is not with EGW herself, but lies only with those who come later.

How about the root produces the fruit…at least in Jesus’s thinking and words?

Frank

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Does anyone know where this comes from? Not scripture, at least as far as I’ve seen.

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this small black cloud is likely an allusion to 1Kings 18:44:

“And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down that the rain stop thee not.”

some conservative groups see the cloud that presaged the rain Elijah prayed 7 times for, to end the famine he had predicted, as a type of the “sign” of christ’s coming mentioned, but not identified, in
Matt 24:30…they believe this sign is the small black cloud mentioned in egw…

It proved right in this case. The root–William Miller, the stout shoot that grew out of it-- Ellen White, – the church, her branches, bearing the fruit of its kind!

Very valid question for consideration. I tried to find the source of this for a long time, finally I found it. Thanks for bringing it out. She copied it form William Miller’s sermon. Miller called it a small bright cloud, Ellen White, a black cloud, just to show that she was original! Compare the following accounts:
As reported by Burlington Free press, Vermont, Friday February 17, 1843: “His (William Miller (1872-1849) last fancy sketch will confirm his followers and amuse the curious. It seems the person is gradually edging off his followers from indulging too high expectations of the month of April.*

During his first lecture he [William Miller] gave substantially the following description of the MANNER of the Second Advent. A small bright spot will appear in the east, which will gradually expand as it approaches the earth. Bye and bye, a small cloud will appear before the luminous ball, and between it and the earth. On the cloud will be seen the Son of Man, standing erect, his figure plainly visible to the spectators on the earth. At the sound of a trumpet (or some other signal,) the bright spot having gradually illuminated the whole heavens, the righteous dead shall rise from their resting places – and the risen and the living saints shall together be caught up and meet the Saviour in he air, when they will instantly be changed and clothed with immortality. The saviour then will present them to the father, whose presence is denoted by this luminous mass, perfect without spot or wrinkle. The Father will then give the saints, by marriage covenant, as a bride to the Son of God. They will then be constituted the New Jerusalem, and, together with the saviour, will descend to the earth, which during their absence has been purified by fire, and the wicked burned up, where the saints will dwell with Christ forever” (Reported by Burlington Free press, Vermont, Friday February 17, 1843).*

Ellen White: “Soon our eyes were drawn to the East, for a small black cloud had appeared about half as large as a man’s hand, which we all knew was the Sign of the Son of Man. We all in solemn silence gazed on the cloud as it drew nearer, lighter, and brighter, glorious, and still more glorious, till it was a great white cloud… And on it sat the Son of Man…And the angels struck a note higher and sung again while the cloud drew still nearer the earth. Then Jesus’ silver trumpet sounded, (this was copied from Apocrypha) as he descended on the cloud, wrapped in flames of fire. He gazed on the graves of the sleeping saints, then raised his eyes and hands to heaven and cried out, Awake! Awake! Awake! ye that sleep in the dust, and arise. Then there was a mighty earthquake. The graves opened, and the dead came up clothed with immortality… and in the same moment we were changed and caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air” (To the Little Remnant Scattered Abroad, April 6, 1846).

Ellen White: “And fire was breathed from God upon them and consumed them… The same fire from God that consumed the wicked purified the whole earth… Then we inherited the whole earth made new” (Ms 14, 1850.15).

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