Defending Last Generation Theology


(Spectrumbot) #1

Last Generation Theology is the Adventist message according to four of its defenders who spoke at the Sacramento Central SDA Church March 22 and 23 for a seminar sponsored by Last Generation for Christ. Norman McNulty, Larry Kirkpatrick, Dennis Priebe, and Gerard Damsteegt explained and defended the theology shaped by the Ellen White statement found in Christ’s Object Lessons, “When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He shall come to claim them as His own.” The organizers estimated that a thousand people attended at some point during the meetings that began on Friday evening, continued during the Sabbath morning worship service, and then went from 2 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. on Sabbath afternoon.

“It wasn’t God’s plan for us to still be here,” Dr. McNulty said in his opening address on “Why Jesus Waits.” A neurologist from Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, McNulty attributed Christ’s delay to the insubordination, unbelief, worldliness, and strife among the Lord’s people. We don’t often look at it from God’s point of view, he suggested, to realize that we might be delaying Him.

Turning to Christ’s Object Lessons (page 67), he reminded his listeners that “Christ is seeking to reproduce Himself in the hearts of men; and He does this through those who believe in Him. The object of the Christian life is fruit bearing — the reproduction of Christ’s character in the believer, that it may be reproduced in others.”

And so McNulty put forth a challenge to conservative Adventists to not be pushy, but to display meekness, joy, and peace; to not be Sadventists, but a generation that has love, joy, peace, and gentleness. “Stop being grumpy,” he said. How we respond to Christ is important, because the Adventist message is not one of time, but of character.

Dennis Priebe, an independent evangelist who sometimes works with Amazing Facts, called out the conservative Evangelicalism that he suggests has crept into the SDA church’s theology as problematic, as being the Trojan Horse that has sapped the life out of Adventism. As evidence of the evangelicalism, he named four recent books from three Adventist publishers: Reinder Bruinsma’s In All Humility published by Oak and Acorn, George Knight’s End-Time Events and the Last Generation and God’s Character and the Last Generation edited by Jiří Moskala and John C. Peckham with contributions from faculty at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary on the campus of Andrews University, both published by Pacific Press, and Salvation: Contours of Adventist Soteriology, edited by Martin Hanna, Darius W. Jankiewicz and John W. Reeve, and published by Andrews University Press.

The problematic ideas in these books, he said, are 1) the concept of involuntary sin, 2) the unfallen nature of Christ, 3) salvation by justification alone, 4) justification as declarative, not transformative, and 5) the imperfectability of Christian character.

He also disparaged American Evangelical conservatism for morphing into conservative politics, for seeing legislative coercion as a substitute for salvation. He criticized Evangelicalism’s view of religious liberty as something only for themselves. Seventh-day Adventists believe in religious liberty for all. “We desperately need to return to our Adventist roots,” he concluded.

Pastor Larry Kirkpatrick, from the Upper Columbia Conference, who runs the website greatcontroversy.org, distributed a handout to refute the charges against Last Generation Theology made in the book God’s Character and the Last Generation (list synthesized from pp. 16-19, 272-281). He cited:

1. Misrepresentation that LGT teaches the conclusion of the Great Controversy as dependent on humans; Christ’s work being insufficient. The Actual LGT view, according to the handout, “In his sovereign wisdom, God has chosen not to end the Great Controversy War without first demonstrating the effectiveness of His power to overcome sin in the lives of fallen humans. The power that overcomes is the power of Christ. Christ’s work is sufficient to atone, and even the cooperation of consecrated, fallen humans is in no sense meritorious.”

2. Disagreement with the charge that LGT teaches the fallen human condition can be transcended in this life. Sin is chosen; fallen human nature in itself does not condemn. For the actual LGT view, Phil. 4:13 — “I can do all things through Christ…; 1 Cor. 10:13 — God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able…; Jude 24 — “Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling…” are quoted.

3. Disagreement with the charge that LGT teaches justification has a more-than-forensic meaning. Here a quote from Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 114, serves as the answer: “God’s forgiveness is not merely a judicial act by which He sets us free…but reclaiming from sin. It is the outflow of redeeming love that transforms the heart.”

4. Misrepresentation of the idea that LGT teaches humans must attain absolute perfection and thus will no longer need Christ. “LGT does not teach the attainment of absolute perfection by fallen humans. Human perfection is always relative to and less than divine perfection….There will never be a time through all eternity when our need for Christ ends. We will forever need the forgiveness He has extended for sins we have already committed, forever need His power for overcoming, and forever look to His example and pattern. Jesus is eternally essential for overcomers.”

5. Misrepresentation of the LGT teaching that Jesus must have been just like us. “LGT has always differentiated how Jesus is like and unlike us. Adventists in our first century emphasized that Jesus’ humanity was like our own — something unthinkable in popular Christianity with its teaching that humans are guilty because of original sin, and which protects Jesus theologically from having our kind of humanity.”

6. Disagreement on the LGT teaching the Second Coming has been delayed by human unconsecration. To provide the actual LGT view, several biblical texts were listed: Numbers 14:33 — “Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness…;” 2 Peter 3:11-12 — “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness…”; Mk. 4:28-29 — “First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately He putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”

Weimar Institute Chamber Singers under the direction of Erwin Nanasi led the congregation in lively hymns between presentations.

During the panel discussion at the end of the day, one of the questions asked was the difference between perfectionism and perfection. Perfectionism is the same as legalism, while perfection is the act of God working in people’s lives. Only God achieves absolute perfection. Character perfection for humans comes by surrendering one’s thoughts and feelings to Jesus.

Just as the theological discussion of the day had emphasized the importance of the human response to salvation, the presenters told the audience that they were responsible to make these ideas live in the churches of Adventism. “You are the ones, you are the witnesses,” the presenters said to the audience to conclude the program.

This was the first such seminar to be held, according to Event Organizer Danny Strever of lastgenerationforchrist.org. He worked with the Sacramento Central SDA Church in putting the event together with funding from the offering that was taken during the seminar. His dream is to hold similar symposiums “on every continent, in every region, and in every city worldwide.”

The presentations are archived here: https://livestream.com/saccentral/events/3378356

Editor's Note: This article has been corrected. George Knight's book is published by Pacific Press, not Oak and Acorn as originally stated.

Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.

Image credit: http://www.lastgenerationforchrist.org/

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9513

(Elmer Cupino) #2

I’m sure Dr. McNulty, having passed the ABMS Neurology and Psychiatry boards, is well versed on the development of the mind. Does he really believe “Christ can reproduce Himself in the hearts of men?”


(Thomas J Zwemer) #3

Vote with your feet. be sure you have running shoes. Total blasphemy.
The most vindictive ones are those who embrace such nonsense. A purge mentality run a muck.

The current Avondale feasco is a prime example.


(Rusterholz) #4

I can only say that last generation theology is heresy. It destroys assurance of salvation, and having Jesus live in us every day through the Holy Spirit.


(Linda Nottingham) #5

" We will forever need the forgiveness He has extended for sins we have already committed…"

This appears to be a contradiction of what we know from the sanctuary doctrine. When the sanctuary was cleansed on the Day of Atonement, the confessed sins were removed from the sanctuary and placed by the High Priest on the scapegoat, which was released into the wilderness, symbolic of sins being placed on Satan who will eventually be thrown into the lake of fire.

Hebrews 10 states, “The old system in the law of Moses was only a shadow of the things to come, not the reality of the good things Christ has done for us. The sacrifices under the old system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But just the opposite happened. Those yearly sacrifices reminded them of their sins year after year.” vss 1-4 NLT

We will have the ‘perfect cleansing’ from Christ’s righteousness, imputed to us through His sacrifice…no more guilt!


#6

Sadly this ideas wont die.
Don’t they realize how catholic their view is?
Thomas of Aquin and others knew two kinds of grace.

  1. gratia gratum faciens
  2. gratia gratis data
    The first is an inhabiting grace, reconnecting me with Gods will and making me able to do good works - not myself, but God / Jesus in me. When I have all done that is possible for me, but are to limited to achieve perfection, “gratia gratis data” is freely given to me.

Tell me - where is the difference to Last Generation Theology?
They want to be saved by Jesus good works, done in and through them. = gratia gratum faciens
And then, they will receive full grace = gratia gratis data

And this imperfection of their human nature will remain in all eternity? What about the biblical teaching, that we all will be transformed? No more sin, no more tears, no more suffering?

If sin is only what I do and think - it means only correction of behaviour.
If sin is a state of separation from God and distrust - it means that this will be changed --> no more separation, no more distrust --> no more sinful works.

FGT will never let you feel saved, as you never know, when you have done all that is possible for you. You never know, if you have achieved. A very powerfull weapon in the hands of misleading leaders, pushing you further and further into desperation, enslaving and making willing to spend time, money, lifetime, happines, relationships etc.
I call this Glaubensvergiftung - poisenous faith.

When you wake up from this terror - you are no longer able to believe - you are destroyed.

Sources
https://books.google.ch/books?id=Grf9-seFcQMC&pg=PA103&lpg=PA103&dq=gratia+gratis+data+gratia+gratum+faciens&source=bl&ots=spd6ACco2Q&sig=ACfU3U2c0RYDgjVh6gaKL4AT69DyCFIzDQ&hl=de&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiV2Z205aXhAhVtwqYKHTd2DXUQ6AEwAHoECAEQAQ#v=onepage&q=gratia%20gratis%20data%20gratia%20gratum%20faciens&f=false

https://books.google.ch/books?id=53Xv6mihSx8C&pg=PA258&lpg=PA258&dq=gratia+gratis+data+gratia+gratum+faciens&source=bl&ots=-7D86mHb5C&sig=ACfU3U3sxAxCK_MPYLSSoB03bc-t3eHtCA&hl=de&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiV2Z205aXhAhVtwqYKHTd2DXUQ6AEwAnoECAQQAQ#v=onepage&q=gratia%20gratis%20data%20gratia%20gratum%20faciens&f=false


#7

(Ray Smith) #8

I learned the law in the Seventh-day Adventist church. I learned justification from Des Ford, Horatius Bonar and Charles Spurgeon. I learned grace from Philip Yancey. Far too late in life I learned sanctification from Andrew Farley from the Church Without Religion. These were the human elements through which the Holy Spirit worked for me. I learned that there is no assurance in trying to balance law and grace. It is by grace alone: God’s grace.

Christ is our scapegoat. He is the one who bore our sins in His own body on the tree and removed them from us as far as the east is from the west. For Christ to put my sins on Satan to bear the punishment is a denial of His sacrifice. Was Christ’s sacrifice not enough, so Satan has to share the punishment? May it never be.

The God of all grace keeps no record of sin because of Christ’s shed blood on Calvary. Calvary worked. We are now slaves of righteousness is how Paul puts it, totally forgiven, totally accepted even when we stumble and fall as we learn to live according to the new heart that the Holy Spirit created in us when we were born again.

I would challenge any LGT believer to seriously consider chapter 28 in Great Controversy and reflect on the work that Christ finished on the cross when He became sin for us. It’s the difference between total despair and the absolute assurance of salvation by grace through faith in our crucified and risen Lord.


(Elmer Cupino) #9

Mirror neurons are only good to the extent that we can imitate someone visibly. In absence of a visible “Christ,” who should we imitate, Pastor Ted Wilson?


(Kim Green) #10

"If sin is only what I do and think - it means only correction of behaviour.
If sin is a state of separation from God and distrust - it means that this will be changed --> no more separation, no more distrust --> no more sinful works."

Yes. Thank-you…it really is this simple.


(George Tichy) #11

LGT is nothing but the old wolf with a new skin. Perfectionism, this time disguised by a fancy name that most people don’t even know its meaning. The unwarry can easily fall for fancy names and being impressed by skilled preachers who speak as sheep.

I won’t even comment much right now. This issue has been discussed at length here in the past. Remember when Kevin Paulson (now a “millennial”…) used to come here to defend this horrific anti-Gospel Heresy? Yes, this is a disgraceful heresy!

This issue is same old, same old. Except that now the GC President is also an LGTarian. Apparently the bug (perfectionism) succeeded in being infiltrated at the top of the Church’s administration and contaminated those “black suited saints” upstairs. I wonder if there is any antidote that could be used? GC election in 2020 maybe?..

A major problem the defenders of the LGT heresy have to deal with is that their theory does not produce fruit. No fruits on the fig tree can be seen yet… Shouldn’t they introduce us some of their “perfect” people? It may be their own fault that people are not becoming perfect…


(Steve Mga) #12

How does LGT compare to the Gospel as presented in his letters to the
churches of Paul’s day??
James??
Peter??
John ??
I noticed that the major source for their material [at least exhibited by Bonnie’s
article] is Ellen White – Christ Object Lessons, Thoughts From The Mount of
Blessing.
The last 4 weeks I have been attending a Bible Study once a week on Paul’s
Letters. Romans, 1,2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Ephesians and Colossians was
this evening. I haven’t seen “sinlessness” outside of the grace and gift of God
by way of Christ’s death on the cross. 2 Cor.5:21 is “For God took the sinless
Christ and poured into Him our sins. Then, in exchange, He poured God’s
goodness, God’s righteousness into us!” --Living Bible.
Colossians 1:27 – the great MYSTERY among the Gentiles is “Christ in you, the
hope of glory.”

Do they ever present their material ENTIRELY from Scripture??
Just curious.

The ONLY reading I have read is Christ’s own words, and all He said just prior to
going to the Father was – “The End of the World will happen when this Gospel
of the Kingdom is preached to all the world.”
Nothing about the hearers being “perfect”.


(ROBIN VANDERMOLEN) #13

Apparently the foundation thesis for their distorted concepts are several quotes from EGW’s voluminous writings.

Deplorably, nobody knows which phrase / paragraph / page / passage is original with her, or which is borrowed, purloined , plagiarized, stolen, so these underpinnings are decidedly suspect.

EGW falsely claimed that God spoke directly,to her, but apparently He used circuitous channels through contemporary writers of her era, which she then “borrowed “ second hand.

So the burning question is are the EGW statements, quoted above, borrowed / bogus or bona fide?

There is no question that two millennia after the atonement on the cross, when Christ Himself declared IT IS FINISHED, mankind is still mired in misery. The inordinately delayed Second Coming leaves humanity in hardship, heartbreak, and hopelessness, despairing of ever seeing the Savior.

So no wonder despairing Christians concoct contorted concepts to explain the delay.


(jeremy) #14

this is one of those subjects in which opposing sides have become entrenched, and are both wrong in the final analysis…the LGTers have some things right, and some things wrong, as do the fordian gracers of the world…meanwhile, what the NT, but especially egw, teaches, is that sanctification, and the personal courage and effort it takes, is the condition for limitless justification…ultimately, there is no need to feel fearful of IJ or whether we will be saved when we are doing what we can…the reality is that under this circumstance, christ adds his perfection to our efforts, and none of the accusations of satan against us can have any weight…

christ justifies our faulty sanctification that is necessarily faulty due to the fallen nature we’re born with through no fault of our own…he doesn’t justify us just because we may want to be, and while we have no interest in any cross of self-denial, occasioned because living in harmony with god is so unnatural to our inherited fallen nature…he justifies us through his own perfection because we cannot equal that perfection, even when we want to be like christ, and do our very best to be like him through the power of the holy spirit…the awful reality is that the legacy of sin we’ve all received, whether we consciously sin or not, is that we’re so tarnished and corrupted that the miraculous power of the holy spirit will only and always produce a tarnished and corrupted result that falls short of the perfection the infinite law of god calls for…do any of us feel so tarnished and corrupted and utterly helpless…of course not…but this is merely a measure of how tarnished and corrupted we all truly are…like the legacy and evidences for a worldwide flood, our fallen nature is so extensive and pervasive, there’s no tangible measure in existence outside of that corruption that can serve as an objective standard for comparison…

but the good news, which is truly good news, is that however imperfect we are, when we are doing our best, that best is turned into the perfection required by god’s law…there is no room for boasting with this arrangement…on the one hand, if we are saved, it’s because we’ve received as a gift what we couldn’t ever generate on our own, or even on our own aided by divine power…on the other hand, if we are saved, we’ll receive a crown of glory because we truly will have been overcomers of something…if we sit on christ’s throne, it’s because we’ve overcome as he overcame, and not only because he overcame…

of course the down side to this good news is that because so few are interested in the self-denial called for by the straight and narrow way, most people will be lost, even while they name the name of christ, and believe they are justified…if we could be saved without some sacrifice on our part, most people would be saved…but because of that sacrifice, which can cut to the bone - ask the rich young ruler - most people won’t make it…they’ll find some pleasing fantasy to hang their hats on without doing what it takes to bring the perfection of christ into their very nature and character…

salvation is a heavy subject…it’s one of those things in which we have to be willing to look the good, the bad and the ugly full in the face…


(Cherilyn Clough) #15

These days, it’s getting too old to explain this false gospel. So many people are focusing on external behavior when Jesus looks on the heart.The best advice I have ever heard about this is to look to Jesus–the Author and Finisher of your faith. Oh! And the word perfect means complete or mature in the original biblical languages so it would be nice if people could use the actual meaning of the word rather than insisting on perfection.

There is one place I have found lots of balance and logic about these issues and that is the Come and Reason Class by Dr. Tim Jennings. It has been a blessing to me for over ten years.


(Harry Elliott) #16

I think better of God than to believe that sacrifices have any efficacy, period.


(jeremy) #17

i agree that the human heart is where any and all desire for holiness begins…without true love for jesus, occasioned through a felt realization of his deep love for us, no-one is going to take up their cross of self-denial and follow him when they begin to realize that that cross will cost them everything…after-all, jesus took up his own awful, most horrific cross out of complete love for and total identification with his father…we take up our cross out of love for jesus, but the point is, we do take up a cross…

there is such a thing as rigid discipline that lives according to an outward code of conduct, gleaned either from the bible or egw or both, but that isn’t the response of a deep-seated love for jesus…i think we can all see and feel this difference…


(Ray Smith) #18

Jeremy, I once believed this. I can only speak for myself but I now find no assurance in Christ adding His perfection to my efforts, no matter how good they are. This for me is not the gospel.

I mentioned Andrew Farley in an earlier post. I have found several of his books and his many sermons on the internet a valuable insight into this whole issue. “God Without Religion,” “The Naked Gospel,” “Relaxing With God” are well worth the read.

What I missed for most of my life was the miracle of the new birth that sanctifies us. Our baptism by the Spirit into the death, burial and resurrection of Christ means that our old sinful human nature was killed, crucified with Christ. It was replaced with a new heart created in holiness and righteousness of the truth. Ephesians 4:23, 24 in context is an amazing truth. Sin lurks in the flesh. We sin but it is never counted against us. Sin, past, present and future was dealt with on the cross - forgiven, taken away. Christ lives in our new heart through the Holy Spirit and that means power.

It’s Christ plus nothing. It’s all of grace, God’s grace that teaches us how to live and bear fruit. We are learning and growing every step of the way, never alone, never forsaken, never lost, even when we blow it. We hate the sin that besets us but Christ has that covered too.


#19

So LGT is not really LGT innit ? If it’s not really LGT, why call it LGT ? Old LGT people will hold on to their beliefs (from what I have read they are not completely discredited, there is leeway) and newcomers will hold on to the 2.0 version.
This things looks more like politics than theology. Come hither people under a new umbrella.
It also looks like exegesis of EGW rather than the Bible.

So we had to wait until 2019 to truly understand what being saved means ? We should take the bones of the Ethiopian Eunuch and rebaptise him in the light of this new theology.

Sadly, never have I ever seen somebody with LGT views bear fruits. I have seen these people hurt themselves, then… come back to their senses. It hurts to see people hurt. It’s wrong to teach this.

The poetic language of love " If…I would have come in a blitz second " is just that. Poetic. Can Evil can delay Jesus’ return ?
We are so linear, caught in time, we forget that God is not. He has already come, He has already won. We are so sinful we cannot fathom it. Get in the loop. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” Hebrew 12:2.

Yes we take up our cross, but it’s not being saved. Yes our character changes, it’s still not being saved.
It’s Christ plus nothing.
I will say here what I have say elsewhere, this theology is dangerous as it is pregnant with the sin of pride, lo and behold the only temptation for some few. This is perhaps the worst part of it.

LGT/LGBT I’m not following anymore, to much acronyms, one wonders who’s what… tongue in cheek.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #20

The final scene will be much like the test that Peter had by the fire. When accused how will we respond. Let us by Grace be able to say, Even if you slay me Yet will I trust Him! There has been a trail of blood from the Cross until the end of time. How strong will be the faith of the final generation not how pure is their blood.