Embedding Last Generation Theology in Sabbath School Lessons


(Tom Loop) #281

This woman was a speaker at the Gay christian Network conference last year. I found her obnoxious, irreverant and profane. she swore and used filthy language from her speaker’s podium. I couldn’t believe the loud applause she got. I walked out in disgust and for the first time didn’t donate any money to GCN, now Q christian Fellowship.


(Tom Loop) #282

They already have him.


(Tom Loop) #283

It’s easy George. If you break the “rules” it’s a serious sin, but if they do it it’s a mere “mistake.” Just a shift in definitions of sin, you see. (Note: from time to time we need to identify LGT as Last Generation Theology, so folks don’t think the acronym stands for “lesbian, gay, transsexual”)


(Kim Green) #284

" Perfection cannot be attained by focusing on perfection, so there is no point in thinking about it. Always look to Jesus. Sinless perfection is looking to self and will fail."

Wonderfully stated, Kevin. “Perfection” is such a spiritual trap- a ceaseless focusing on something that cannot be understood nor truly defined. Look to Jesus and do what he did. This is true spirituality without the self aggrandizement of “Perfection”.


(Kim Green) #285

" the gospel says that we have now become pregnant with this divine Seed of new creation life in the spiritual sense. Our task, as was hers, is very important. It is to nurture this Seed of Christ."

Beautiful analogy, Dave. I believe this to be literally and metaphorically true. It cuts through “theology” and arrives at “service” just as our Lord and Savior did.


(reliquum) #286

@GeorgeTichy, this sounds much like Abraham negotiating with God in Gen 18…
but the3re was no one. Not Lot, not the husband of the laughing woman…not one.

Why do we think we can do it better, the further we get down this rabbit hole?

It all depends on our (flawed) definition of both righteousness and sin.
As we corporately attempt to refine our definitions, as we have via our massaging the FB’s, we assume the blasphemic throne. Doesnt bode well.


(Shane Anderson) #287

My schedule is limited, so I am not able to participate on this thread as dynamically as I would like. But nonetheless, after spending at least some time here, I am a bit puzzled:

As I stated clearly in a previous post, I am not an adherent of classic LGT. LGT, though sincerely intended, was flawed when spawned and remains so today in that it attached (intentionally or otherwise) salvific merit to behavioral perfection; tended strongly to take one’s focus off of Christ and place it on one’s sins instead; replaced the joy of holiness in Christ with the desperation of behavioral attainment; etc. Where classic LGT includes these and other flaws, I can agree with others on this thread that it is not a healthy construct and that it has done considerable damage to many.

That said, it appears–and I need to emphasize the word appears–that a majority of commentators on this thread who decry classic LGT may have gone to the other extreme. They do not merely believe that classic LGT is wrong; they further believe that the notion that “known” sin (defined as the willful, overt breaking of God’s law) can be overcome–in any meaningful sense–is decidedly wrong, as well.

Is this true? Or am I seeing something that’s not there?

Please note what I’m asking. I’m not speaking of “sin” here as meaning having sinful tendencies, being flawed, being immature in the faith, etc. I’m instead speaking of the classic–how to put it?–perhaps I could say, the classic I Jn. 3:4 definition of sin: known, premeditated, willful breaking of God’s law. (Hopefully, you can see the distinction I’m making; my apologies if I’m being unclear.)

If this is indeed true–that in general on this forum, the overcoming of known, overt sin is seen as an impossibility–then I am doubly confused in regard to the following:

This forum has been deeply critical of Elder Ted Wilson on numerous occasions. Yet implicit in each one of these critiques is not only that Elder Wilson should do better, but that he can do better–and if he doesn’t, he ought to be removed from office (or worse, depending on the commentator).

And here lies the crux of my confusion: If someone who is (at least according to some on this forum) as evil, untruthful, ruthless, despicable, kommunist, etc., etc., as Elder Wilson supposedly is is still to be held accountable for overcoming his overt, known sins… then why would the notion of overt, known sin being overcome in the general Christian/Adventist populace be objectionable?

And if indeed that’s not objectionable, then why would the idea of people having overcome such overt, known sin at the end of time (again, not to be saved, but as the inevitable result/fruit of being with Christ after accepting His salvation) be objectionable?

If Elder Wilson ought and can do it, then why not the rest of us?

Genuinely puzzled by what seems to be a contradiction.


(Johnny Carson) #288

I think the problem here, Shane, is that you confuse/conflate sin and relationship, as far too many evangelicals seem to do, with the focus solely on the sin at the complete expense of the concept of relationship.

Sure, a person can pay lip service to relationship but all the while emphasizing sin and sinlessness. It’s a self deception at best. Relationship is not about sin. It is about abiding and growing and fulfilling a dual communion. When you focus on sin and being sinless you destroy any chance of meaningful relationship.


(Matthew Quartey) #289

Shane, I think you’re splitting hairs and setting up a straw man. The crucial issues with LGT, and what many find viscerally incomparable with Christianity is the idea that “God is waiting for a group of individuals among his followers to attain sinlessness,” the kind that makes them stand before God in no need of Christ’s righteousness. They make it on their own. The LGT premise replaces what Christ accomplished on our behalf inconsequential. We get saved by our own merits, and worse, God is now dependent on these sinless few to attain this sinless state in order to return a second time as scripture attests.

No Christian I know of advocates lawlessness. The GC president could attain any level of lawful perfectibility or behavioral goodness. That’s all well and good for him. Admirable, actually. But what many on this forum contend is that such personal goodness have any bearing on our salvation. Paul tried it and decried his state. In Matthew 25, those who were commended had no idea they were doing any good deeds. Anytime we concentrate on good doing, invariably we keep score and compare ourselves against others. Which is a downward spiral into self centeredness and contentment.


(Kim Green) #290

"That said, it appears–and I need to emphasize the word appears –that a majority of commentators on this thread who decry classic LGT may have gone to the other extreme. They do not merely believe that classic LGT is wrong; they further believe that the notion that “known” sin (defined as the willful, overt breaking of God’s law) can be overcome–in any meaningful sense–is decidedly wrong, as well."

"Is this true? Or am I seeing something that’s not there?"

How do you know that it is the “majority”, Shane? You would need to take a poll.

"If this is indeed true–that in general on this forum, the overcoming of known, overt sin is seen as an impossibility–then I am doubly confused in regard to the following:

No, not all of us believe that “overt sin is seen as an impossibility”…

This forum has been deeply critical of Elder Ted Wilson on numerous occasions. Yet implicit in each one of these critiques is not only that Elder Wilson should do better, but that he can do better–and if he doesn’t, he ought to be removed from office (or worse, depending on the commentator)."

Yes, some of us believe that he hasn’t been a good President for a world-wide denomination.

" And here lies the crux of my confusion: If someone who is (at least according to some on this forum) as evil, untruthful, ruthless, despicable, kommunist, etc., etc., as Elder Wilson supposedly is is still to be held accountable for overcoming his overt, known sins… then why would the notion of overt, known sin being overcome in the general Christian/Adventist populace be objectionable?"

Who has said this?

"And if indeed that’s not objectionable, then why would the idea of people having overcome such overt, known sin at the end of time (again, not to be saved, but as the inevitable result/fruit of being with Christ after accepting His salvation) be objectionable?"

Who said it was “objectionable”…some of us believe that it isn’t something that will happen according to the Bible.

"If Elder Wilson ought and can do it, then why not the rest of us?"

What should Wilson “ought and can do it”?..what are you talking about?


#291

It sounds as if he is saying, “If Elder Wilson can attain sinlessness, then surely the rest of us, can, too.”


(Kim Green) #292

The Socratic method Shane is using ain’t working here.


(reliquum) #293

Thank you for this!

This statement perhaps highlights a sin far greater (i know, i know) than any of those doctrinal or deed based acts of the head and hand.

If this is so, I cannot think of a more succinct definition of sin.
Head, hand, or heart? Relationship defines identity: who, and whose you are.
Study Jesus last words -none about deed or doctrine, all about relationship.
Note the prodigals fathers response at the restoration of relationship-not a word about deed or doctrine. Does this imply lawlessness? I think not.

I suggest anything we do that divides us, that dismisses, separates, dare I say divorces us from each other (and God ultimately) may actually be the sin, and may be what God desires to save us from.

Who has your heart? Your adherence to your deeds, your doctrines (and the commensureate judging anothers deeds and doctrines)? Then you are under law, which pays wage.
God? Then you are under grace, and receive the “rest” found in the promise of gift nonpareil.
And if you are under grace (unlike the elder brother in the prodigal story) you extend that kinship, invitation, grace to your brother and sister unmeasured.

God hates divorce, lets celebrate the promised reconciliation!


(Shane Anderson) #294

Historicism as generally practiced in Adventism has no problem recognizing that most of the prophetic material in the Bible is of the forthtelling variety rather than the foretelling variety. But this does not deny that certain portions of biblical prophecy are indeed foretelling and thus did not make complete (and at times, made only extremely limited) sense to their contemporary audiences. Such prophecies were instead left for future generations of Christians to more fully decipher and apply (see Daniel 8:27–or more broadly, Daniel 2, 7, 8, 9, 11; Rev. 6-9, 12-17, etc.). One of preterism’s weaknesses is that ignores the clear textual indications that a prophecy goes beyond the present. The recognition of such textual indications is one of historicism’s strengths.

Historicism does pretty well, historically speaking–which is why I’m puzzled that you pick Luther as an example. Luther was not and is not recognized as anything like a rigorous practitioner of historicist interpretation. He instead was (with apologies to Martin) a hobbyist at best when it came to Bible prophecy and–like many of his contemporaries–freely appropriated various prophetic points as fit his needs without regard to following anything approaching a strident historicist hermeneutic.

Miller’s failure was that he did not take into account other possible interpretations of the “sanctuary” in Daniel 8:14. This, in my opinion, though obviously important, is a far cry from an indictment of historicism in general. I hope we can agree that errors on the part of practitioners of a philosophy do not of necessity make that philosophy invalid.

With respect, this seems to me to be an extreme statement in need of documentation.
To say that the “Adventist historicist framework has been totally revised…” since Uriah Smith’s day? That’s an extremely encompassing statement, one that I think a re-reading of Smith’s book “Daniel and Revelation” would show to be inaccurate. To be clear: Smith did NOT get everything right (as EGW herself made clear even in Smith’s lifetime). But as with Luther and Miller, his errors hardly automatically invalidate historicism.

Again, I would gently ask: To whom are you referring? Some more recent scholars, such as Ranko Stefanovic, have indeed been reluctant to “name names,” as it were (such as saying the Roman Catholic Church is identified as the endtime antichrist power). But a scholar here or there who expresses a different viewpoint does not amount to wholesale change in what is a very well-developed, well-documented, and (I believe) biblically faithful tool like historicism. With respect, it seems that you are making too much of isolated deviations.

This, in my opinion, cuts at least close to the heart of the matter. As I’m sure you know, you are not alone on this forum (or on AToday, for that matter) in critiquing Adventism’s historicist approach to prophetic interpretation. And sometimes, when I read the reasons for the critiques (such as isolated church leaders using their version of historicist interpretation to raise funds for a ministry project), I can sympathize with their concerns.

But that said, the notion of a prophetic application point (such as the Sabbath being an issue in the endtimes) having a subjective, current-events-based expiration date is difficult for me to agree with. For instance: You say above that, “Speaking plainly, I just don’t see the Sabbath any longer as the issue in Revelation”–and if I’m understanding you correctly, because you don’t see it, it must no longer be a valid application of prophecy.

Do you really mean this in the way I’m describing? Or perhaps I am misunderstanding you?

If your (or, for that matter, my) personal assessment of the feasibility of this or that interpretation of prophecy in light of current events is the deciding factor with regard to the certainty of the interpretation’s future fulfillment, then I see great cause for concern.

Case in point: What of the Jews and their messianic expectations? How many thousands of Jews gave up all expectation of an Isaiah 53-style messiah coming when (for instance) the Medes and Persians overran them, or when the Greeks or the Romans overran them? Is this not precisely why they invented a new interpretation (that of a military/conqueror messiah)? In other words, they looked at their interpretation of current events and said, “No, that kind of messiah is not possible. We will look for another kind.”

And they were wrong.

To me, the lower quality question to ask of predictive prophecy is, Do I think such an interpretation is possible in light of current events? On the other hand, I think a much better question is, What does the text point to, as best I can ascertain, taking into account the original context, grammatical considerations, other parallel portions of scripture, etc., etc., as being the best interpretation?

Agreed.

I respectfully disagree, as historicism is rarely practiced this way in mainstream Adventism, and certainly does not require such an exclusionary approach.

Again, there’s no doubt that some Adventist expositors have gone too far, predicting things supposedly based on scripture that are unwarranted. But even your statement that “many [of historicist’s dates, timelines, signs, etc.] are questionable, sometimes changeable, and subjectively derived” tacitly acknowledges that not all of the historicist’s dates, timelines, signs, etc. are wrong. Please, I’m not trying to pick your words apart to make them say something you don’t intend. Rather, I am trying to better understand your position, and to better explain my own. You have seen or experienced people in the church who pressed historicism too far–perhaps even grossly and irresponsibly too far. I can sympathize with that and join you in protesting against such excesses. But at the same time, I would suggest that not all of Adventism is doing this (I would even suggest most of Adventism is not doing this). In other words, historicism, though abused at times, is not thereby a bankrupt hermeneutical tool.

Thanks,
Shane


(George Tichy) #295

Yep, this must surely be it… :wink:


(Shane Anderson) #296

I heartily agree, Johnny, well said.

Hmmm, I respectfully disagree–in large part because what you say next is very much what I’m advocating for! For instance:

Yes! Agreed! I find this incompatible with Christianity, as well.

Yes, right on, we agree: Being saved by one’s own merits is an impossibility. And God can come when He chooses.

This is what I was after. Thanks for answering the question I placed in my post, Matthew, I appreciate it. And though we still have disagreements, your specific answer to my question helps me to take the arguments in your article more seriously. Thanks for the clarification.

As I have said before, and still emphatically believe, biblical Christianity is not about doing good to be saved, but about being with Jesus! And, it just so happens that one of the results of that is more of the fruits of the Spirit being born and grown in one’s life–not to be saved, but as a result of being with Christ after having already received His salvation. If I understand your position correctly, Matthew, you would agree with this, correct?

Too true. Such a life stinks. Been there, not going back.

Actually, I like the results quite well, so far. But I am sorry it doesn’t hit the spot for you–I will strive to do better, Kim, have patience with me! :slightly_smiling_face:


(Michael Wortman) #297

Well… perhaps those on both sides of the LGT debate could agree to this statement without reservation. It certainly is a big “if.” :slight_smile:


(Shane Anderson) #298

Some genuinely beautiful thoughts here, Ray, thanks for posting. Again, I don’t think there’s much I disagree with in your response (well, there is one objection: Really, now, who doesn’t know Greek fluently?? :wink: LOL!) I think your comments generally line up well with what I last posted, though we may have some lingering differences on how growth in grace takes place. Thanks for the response!


(Kim Green) #299

I am glad it works for you, Shane.

I have been patient so far! :grin:


(Frankmer7) #300

Shane, I understand that individual prophetic passages can point past the present to future fulfillments. Many of the OT Messianic prophecies do so, while originally still largely making sense to their original audiences, albeit with a different meaning. Hosea 11:1 is a good example.

However, in the case of a historicist reading of Revelation, we are now talking about the great majority of the book not making sense to its original hearers. It was addressed as a circular letter to them. You don’t see a problem with this? What other biblical book, prophetic or not, functions in this way as a whole? What biblical letter, and Revelation is that, too, is addressed to an audience that can largely not make heads or tails of it? What doesn’t make sense here?

That isn’t the point. The Adventist church makes the point over and over that the reformers believed in the historicist method of interpretation as validation for the system. Luther was no exception. He reflected this. He saw Laodicea as the church in his day. So did Miller. Now, Adventism does. Taking seven literal churches in 1st c. Asia Minor, the obvious way to read the text, and turning them into seven ages of church history by the historicist lens, sets up a case of moving goalposts. This is an example.

No one interpreted Daniel 8:14 as the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary then, Shane. William Miller owned up and admitted that he was in error with his date setting. The early Adventists, spurred on by an unverifiable “vision” in a cornfield did not. The exegesis of this passage is very controversial, and has caused such within the history of the denomination. It is also not even recognized by any serious biblical scholars outside of the denomination. But, this is a whole different can of worms!

The point I am making was that Miller, through his hyper historicism, also saw the church of his day as in Laodicea…as did Luther, as does SDAism. Again, moving goalposts.

Just read Tonstad’s article on this site, Shane, in which he talks about the move to the new historicism within Adventism over the past fifty years, away from the errors of Uriah Smith. While Revelation seminars and prepared bible studies don’t seem to reflect this, I’m guessing he’s talking more about the currents within the seminary and higher education in general. His point was that the move to identifying some of the symbols within the book as materialism, secularism, atheism, etc., is another case of revising the interpretation of those symbols in a less than satisfying way, and in contrast with a more solid exegesis of the text. He is pointing, once again, to problems with the whole historicist method.

I’ve been making a case for both in our discussion, Shane. I have shared why I think the historicist method is not the best way to interpret Revelation in its original context, and what its deficiencies are.

I’ve also raised the idea that current movements in our culture and the world at large make the 19thc. Adventist take on Revelation much less plausible. The issues are not about the coming of the Messiah. They are about events leading up to his appearing. Futurism is out to lunch, as I think you would agree. But, historicism leads to a locked in scenario of mapped out events.

That scenario is dependent upon the USA being the dominant global power until the end of time in order to enforce an international blue law death decree, and the papacy to be the catalyst. This is the way it has been, and continues to be put forth in our church.

If any of these factors change, the picture gets blown up. With the continuing ascendency of China, a more multi lateral world than ever, the continual scandals rocking the RCC, and the nearly total secularization of the West, this blow up is a possibility. The 19thc. interpretation of Revelation may have not simply been based on the text, it may have reflected the cultural landscape from which it was birthed…a culture and world that was religiously and politically far different from ours today. This needs to be taken into account when evaluating interpretive outcomes, for this is what this surely is, interpretation…not done in a cultural vacuum.

In the end, Jesus himself, in his eschatological statements and parables warned against focusing on signs that weren’t signs, and times and seasons for the coming of the kingdom. His appearing could be later or earlier than we think. To those who were looking for the signs of the times to be fulfilled he once said, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observances. But, the kingdom is in your midst.”

Historicism grew out of, and encourages just what Jesus was cautioning against. We can be so caught up with Revelation’s symbolism, signs of the times, and end time scenarios, that we miss what God is doing in the world now, and discount that he is free to bring the fullness of his kingdom at any time and in any way he chooses…just as he came independently of human doing and activity the first time. It is why Jesus also said, “Always be ready, because you don’t know the day nor the hour.”

Thanks for the discussion, Shane.

Frank