End-Time Events and the Last Generation: An Interview with Dr. George Knight


(Spectrumbot) #1

Dr. George Knight, well-known historian, theologian, educator, speaker, and writer has recently released End-Time Events and the Last Generation: The Explosive 1950s. This is the 93rd book either written or edited by Dr. Knight—(48 authored, 45 edited)! His books have made their way into just about every country of the world.

Question: Dr. Knight, the tone of this book seems to indicate that the subject is a very personal one for you. Why is that?

Answer: In many ways, the book is extremely personal since I have struggled with these issues ever since I became an Adventist in 1961. At first, I heartily accepted "last generation theology" and soon after my baptism promised God I would be the first perfect (sinless) person since Christ. After eight years on that journey, I gave up, left the ministry, and thought I was finished with both Adventism and Christianity. But after six years in a "far country" I was converted to Christ as a Savior rather than primarily as an Example. The next year found me teaching at Andrews University for a 30-year stint during which a great deal of my writing dealt with topics related to last generation theology and helping people see its fallacies.

In a sentence or two, why should someone read this book?

People should read this book because it unmasks a very powerful deception that has led many Adventists into wrong paths. It should be read not only to escape a destructive belief system but to understand the controversial issues at its center.

What is the number one thing you would like readers to take away from this book?

The most important take-away is a firm understanding that Christ is our perfectly sinless Savior in all ways and that He wants to develop His loving character in each of His followers.

Do you see any parallels between the issues you deal with in this book and issues the church has had to deal with in the past?

The issues in this book are both present and historical. In one way or another, Adventism has been struggling since the 1890s with false ideas of perfection and the role of the last generation in relation to the Second Coming. We need to rely less on Adventist tradition and more on the Bible's clear teachings.

You have spent your life speaking and writing about Adventist history. Have you seen changes over the years in how church members view our heritage? If so, are such changes having an effect on what is happening in the church today?

The good news about our heritage is that Adventism has become more open to looking at the facts of Adventist history rather than excitedly proclaiming apostasy on every side when someone does not line up with what have often been false understandings. In the past 50 years we have become less fearful of historical facts, even if they disagree with the "party line."

What do you think the Adventist Church will look like 50 to 100 years from now if the Lord hasn't returned by then?

If the Lord does not return for 50 or 100 years and if we continue on the same path, Adventism will be the most highly structured denomination in world history, our infighting will be more entrenched and institutionalized, and we will still be avidly proclaiming that we are God's remnant. But we will still be on earth.

Given your knowledge of the church's past, what do you feel is the most crucial issue facing the church today?

The most crucial issue facing Adventism today is authority. My impression is that, for a large sector of the church, the foremost authority is Adventist tradition, followed by administrative authority, the authority of the writings of Ellen White, and finally the authority of the Bible—in a descending order. Of course, no one openly admits the existence of such a hierarchy, but just listen to the ongoing discussion and you will see the flow of the argument.

What advice would you give to church leaders today as they seek to steer the church through the early 21st century?

My advice to church leaders today is to focus on the evangelistic mission clearly spelled out in Scripture and to spend less energy on defensiveness. After all, it is evangelistic offensive strategies that will win the war rather than rearguard defensiveness.

Ellen White has been, and continues to be, of tremendous significance to the Adventist Church. During her life, she played a crucial role in all kinds of issues then facing the church. Two questions: If she were to have appeared in the church today, rather than at its beginning over 150 years ago, would she be able to play a similar role today as she did during her life? Would she be accepted today as she was then? Secondly, if Ellen White were exercising her prophetic voice in the church today as she did back then, what do you think she would see as her most crucial message to the church?

In terms of Ellen White, I do not believe she would find acceptance if she were to appear today. We are too wrapped up in our traditions and administrative procedures. She would face off with Adventist leaders, tell them to stop playing games, and point us to our biblical mission—and even to new ways to accomplish it. I think her most crucial message in 2018 would be for Adventist members and leaders to quit their ongoing bickering and get back to gospel outreach through the power of the Holy Spirit.

End-Time Events and the Last Generation: The Explosive 1950s is available at your local Adventist Book Center, from the ABC online, and on Amazon. Click here to read the first chapter online for free.

Dale E. Galusha is president of the Pacific Press Publishing Association. This interview was provided by Pacific Press and originally appeared in its e-newsletter.

Image courtesy of Pacific Press.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8807

#2

I found the last question sort of missed the mark. A better question would have been what do you think EGW would have to say about the last generation theology today. I can’t help but think that the entire reason it exists as a doctrine is due to EGW. I think the LGT people would embrace that idea and those who reject LGT would negate the idea that it is due to EGW. Perhaps that difference is the main problem in Adventism today.

Lest the readers try and decide which side I am on from the above paragraph let me say that most of the problems that afflict Adventism come from EGW.in my humble opinion.


(Cfowler) #3

I agree. But, there wouldn’t be an SDA church without EGW.

Was the SDA church needed? Or, was it just another sect that sprang up at that time during the 1800’s?


(ROBIN VANDERMOLEN) #4

Hard to separate the wheat from the chaff when digesting EGW writings .

Much of her output is spiritual/uplifting/sublime, but some is absolutely crackpot and not authenticated by modern science/events.

It is impossible to know which phrase/paragraph/page/chapter is original with her or what is borrowed/stolen/plagiarized.

If she would appear in the church today, the most significant question I would pose for her, is the role of women in the Adventist church, since she has become, for some, Adventism’s “Virgin Mary”, placed high on her pedestal, while all other women are viewed as second class citizens !


(Peter) #5

Dr. Knight’s clear honesty here is both enlightening and frightening to me. I agree with what he has wisely said, but it is sad because I have loved many things about being an Adventist. I’m looking forward to reading this book.

The discussion about LGT on this blog in recent months has caused me to do a lot of thinking. My conclusions are these:

  1. I’m grateful for Jesus Christ who is perfect for me while I pray to be as much like Him as possible to bless others.

  2. LGT seems to be primarily self / inward focused which contradicts what I believe we should do: Go out and be a blessing to others. Try to make more Adventists does not achieve that, IMHO, although conversion might be a byproduct.


#6

CFowler @cfowler , I very much agree with your question was the SDA church needed. The answer is yes, but in the 1800’s to establish the relevancy of a historicist mindset. Preterism/Futurism is very present in today’s “mindset”.

God, is looking for a group to people to abide in and be in tune with the “gospel of Jesus”. LGT’ers “define this as” … “living without a mediator”… which pre-supposes “complete” and “perfect” obedience, But there is a deeper meaning to your question…

What did the followers after the 1844 disappointment seek? (the driving force was God’s soon return and to prepare and be ready). That call still exists today (even though its striated into multiple sects, groups, and “camps of thought” within the SDA cultural dynamic … that being said.

EGW validated alot of historical facts regarding prophecy, and brought thru her influence and pen, increased focus on the end time and the issues we now face.

Unfortunately, for fiscal, identity, and governance reasons – the gospel message no longer “resides” in the structure of the average SDA. Conformity, (not ONLY to EGW related doctrinal authority), but also church authority, stifles and (SEPARATES) the fellowship of all true believers in Christ (whatever denominational tag they are “under”)

An example would be for me to read all of EGW’s writings and truly believe it. I may be knowledgeable of the facts, but I would not possess the experience of “going thru” the discovery (of truth). The true gospel means “contact time” with Jesus, and it’s where we realize, in a daily walk, what “present day” truth means.

What questions are you asking regarding truth? How does relate to my knowing and discovering God?

When I receive a crown, it will contain the gems that (represent the unique, special, and actions/motives and self aware moments) that I am “connected” in faith with him. That means i cannot ever be jealous of another persons crown (because each person has a diadem of their own).

with kind regards,


#7

How is that any different from Christ followers before 1844? And after, were those that were “in the know” about something in 1844 more prepared and seeking more the second coming than those not Adventist? IOW, those sharing the gospel before and after 1844 commonly include His soon return for His church so what is it that signified the exclusivity after that date?


#8

Good point @Paul62, i was trying to give relevance to end of time focus for the preparedness of the Gospel (not just the “Adventist” view of SDA being the “self fulfilling” prophecy for the “without a mediator” 1844 focus). I didn’t delineate the correctly. thanks for pointing that out.

with kind regards,


(Rohan Charlton) #9

I think EGW would call the church BACK to Last Generation Theology…As she was one of the main proponents of it.


(Frank Peacham) #10

Something is not logically matching up. Knight says that Adventism is on track to becoming “the most highly structured denomination in world history,” which is just the opposite of developing the loving character of Christ in his followers. Does love for others allow room for theological difference? The organized ordained church leaders are pulling in the opposite direction of what God desires to accomplish in his followers. All our high claims of being the true church that leads the way to God and truth is brought into question.


(George Davidovich) #11

When I read this from a respected historian I can’t help but question his objectivity. How is this even remotely possible in the context of 2,000 years of religious history (not including Judaism) and in considerations of denominations such as the various Muslim and the RCC denominations? How is this comparison being made? Ecclesiastical authority structure? Or perhaps worship ritual structure? how about tradition structure affecting doctrine?.

Frank had an interesting point in this regard but then again, he seems to agree with Dr. Knight’s statement by charging the SDA leaadership with selfish motives. The only true denominational structure I believe in is docrinal purity, we must teach the truth, bring the true Jesus to the world, which by definition incudes bringing His sword, and that is based on our love for others.


(Frank Peacham) #12

“Doctrinal purity” would sure be nice! But at this present time it’s impossible. After several years of study the church could not reach a consensus on a common theology of ordination. Both sides of WO appealed to the Bible to support their strongly held convictions. What kind of message does this give to the world, when we can’t say for sure what the Bible teaches on WO? Onlookers would wonder what else are we confused about?


(George Davidovich) #13

Frank,
It is a ery complex issue as you know and I can see how either side would feel disenfranchised with a negative outcome. The SDA church is not the only denomination going through this, but in our case you can’t blame the leadership for it, it was a vote by the church at large.


(Frank Peacham) #14

Ture. Yet the leadership has not helped the situation. They are seen squarely on the side opposing WO. Instead they should be seeking concessions, reconciliations, accommodations and religious tolerance over this non-salvation issue. Sooner or later women will be ordained, due to the young generation rising into positions that in general would support WO (as I see it).

Remember that the Protestant movement was deeply divided everafter by Martin Luther’s unwillingness to give any consideration toward Calvin and company that held communion service as only ceremonial. What division are we facing, due to the GC leaderships failure to permit differences of opinion.


(reliquum) #15

Um, no, it was no such thing.
It was a “heads I win, tails you lose” set up.
A setup, by leadership that stacked TOSC, then tossed it completely (even though stacked, it delivered undesireable conclusion). A set up the leadership has furthered, via its efforts to inflict painful punishment. A set up that the real power held by the church has not yet called to accountability the “hillaryesque” leaders who continue (who can’t believe they lost despite wielding their power illicitly).

Imagine the mess we’d have now if the GC (through the attempt to give Divisions authority properly-and still- in the province of the Union constituencies) already had hierarchical inversion of power.

No, we dodged a bullet, and the “church at large” will correct the direction taken by the “vote-rocking captain”.


(George Tichy) #16

As I always say, watch out people, and don’t become a victim of this heresy called LGT.
The LGTarians are working hard to infiltrate the fallacy in our Church. We need to fight back, and the Church did in the past.


(reliquum) #18

Male headship is another grave phallusy that has infiltrated even most holy place.


#19

LOL! I saw what you did there.


(Tim Teichman) #20

I don’t think there are Muslim or RCC denominations.

Denominations are uniquely a product of Protestantism.

Um, no. It was a vote by delegates, and one orchestrated by the GC leadership for no apparent reason. It has had the effect of further polarizing the church, and so from a leadership POV is a complete failure.


#21

What it should tell people is that the Bibles says nothing about ordination, that is is a human tradition and as such the Bible will not settle the issue as to how people use tradition.