Eschatological Analphabetism (Illiteracy?)

Apocalypticism and Messianism are perfectly represented in the Gospel…see Jesus’ command in Luke 24:47…“Take this message…forgiveness is available”. We need forgiveness because we will be judged and forgiveness is available because Jesus, the Messiah, received the judgment in our place.

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The assumption underlying this article (an article that offers many good insights), is that Adventist eschatology, though distorted and wrongly emphasized in practice, is true. An eschatology that revolves around compliance with holy time observance, and a remnant based on such.

I entered Adventism years ago partly on the basis of being given all the studies on its peculiar eschatology, that assumed the above. I didn’t know the Bible outside of this particular view. I’ve since come to understand the Bible and continue to understand it differently…as have thousands of former and dissident Adventists.

The gospel was and is the end time message of the NT. The new creation has already dawned in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the messiah. The calling of followers into unity in him and his spirit that transcended the normal cultural, social, ethnic, religious, and gender boundaries in faith, hope, and love, were the signs that the age to come has already commenced, as believers await its consummation, in the midst of this present age and the present order of things.

Thus, Revelation is not a time line of events pointing to a showdown regarding sabbath vs. Sunday. It was a message to Jesus followers that exhorted them to live faithfully amidst the current pressures of empire in their time, in light of the future fulfillment of God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, still a relevant message for all believers today. No timeline is given, as Jesus indicated in his own parables, and to his original disciples…Always be ready, because you don’t know the day nor the hour.

Eschatology is not about parsing signs or having special knowledge concerning timelines and events. It’s about living as the sign in the world that we belong to God, and that his spirit moves us to live creatively, in care and love for one another and for and with others. It is this type of love lived out that is the greatest sign that God has served notice to the rulers and powers that be of this world that their time is up. It began with Jesus. It is to continue with us, his body, as imperfect as we are. For as long as time lasts…however long or short that may be.

We can trust God with the timing.

Thanks,

Frank

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Hanz says: There are two kinds of truth – Is this “really” true? Or maybe just “kind of truth” (pun intended). Let’s start with some definitions we can all agree with hopefully:

  • Bible Definition of truth
  • God is truth – John 14:6, 16:13
  • God the Father and God the Son are one – John 10:30
  • The Spirit of God is truth – John 16:13
  • God’s Word is truth – John 17:17, 2 Tim 3:16-17
  • God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are one – 1 John 5

So let’s count: God the Father + God the Son, + God the Holy Spirit + God’s word = 1 truth – what am I missing here? Where is the second one?

  • Hanz definition of truth
  • Truth of coherence: All elements are internally harmonious – quick and logical, so far so good
  • Truth of correspondence: This is a little more complicated but solvable. He says: “the accent is instead placed on the relationship of the internal elements (of truth) with the external world”. This is where the “second” truth comes in I guess?. He admits there is tension between these two opposites (internal truth and external world) but he says it is all positive and we need it to help us know how to live (well) – I couldn’t find this alternate definition of truth in the Bible so hmmmm….

Let’s count again: Internal truth = 1 + relationship of internal + external world = 2

Dictionary Definition
So let’s dig a little deeper into the definition of “correspondence”. To analyze his statement, we need to use the transitive verb associated with it: “to correspond”. From the dictionary definition we read:

  • To be in agreement, in harmony, or conformity
  • To create parallels
  • To be equivalent in quantity, origin, structure, or function

So using our dictionaries the result is not as eloquent as Hanz (maybe), because something in his construct seems subtly dissonant: (1) Coherent truth is harmonious and (2) truth of correspondence (harmony, agreement, etc.) with the outside world is tension (this sounds incoherent). Hanz definition of correspondence is certainly NOT equivalent in either origin, structure or function, Etc.

Hanz proposed Solution
“Adventism has built its identity according to a strong call for consistency and coherence. This is a good thing, but today that is not enough…”

Biblical Solution
So let’s go back to the Bible and see if it can solve this paradox for us:
God = 1 + the World = enmity – Gen 3:15

This is quite a blanket statement Carol, How can you be sure without going into each case? who decides if their “biblical” reasons as you say were not just their opinion, confusion, Etc.? Can you at least summarize a few of the reasons?

Well, I have no problem with you and others having an opinion, but again, what do you based that on? Can you provide at least one comparison or example?

OK, so this goes right back to my original statement, lack of faith in the Bible. We dont get to make our own Bible, and what you call " Adventist peculiar doctrines" each be very much confirmed to be fully biblical, take your pick, and we can look into it.

I have no issues with believing EGW wrtings in the proper context, but I dont need her to believe in any of the so-called peculiar Adventist doctrines. To say that EGW adds very strange teachings to the Word is an opinion and a long strech that requires much proof on your part.
Ultimately the Adventist church does not force anyone to become members, just as God gives us free will.

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Every once in awhile I will read something theological that makes my head hurt because after reading it once then reading it again I go “Huh? this just makes my head hurt.” This and the subsequent discussion mostly does that.

Growing up in Adventism, leaving Adventism and then coming back and heading toward old age in the church my theology each year gets simpler and simpler. It makes me wonder at so much of what I deemed important when I was younger that now seems trivial. It makes me wonder so much at what the church deems to be important today and seems so trivial.

When you look at the teachings of Jesus not very much of his teaching was about “truth” and theology. It was profoundly simple:

  • We live in a world that is sinful, manifest by pain and people who are selfish.

  • A Christ follower life is 100% about serving others.

  • Traditional Adventist theology is profoundly narcissistic, when I am scared to death that I won’t make it to heaven because I am a sinner, how can I have time to even notice the needs of others, let alone d something about it.

  • Sometimes serving others makes it look like the one doing the serving is breaking the rules (or maybe they really are breaking the rules). But the highest order is serving others, looking out for their best interest.

  • Serving is the single best way to expose people to the Jesus way of living (not sure how a billion GC’s does that).

  • I proudly start my theology conversations with the gift of Sabbath, because it slows me down and every single person I know needs slowing down.

  • Living healthy is good but living well and interacting with people who need to know Jesus is better.

  • My simple theology allows to to talk about teaching Junior Sabbath School in any business setting. It allows me to post a photo of me telling children’s story. It allows me to sit in a bar (at a conference) and talk to a young Baptist who loves Jesus about how to share one’s faith in a secular world.

Most importantly it never or almost never offends.

What bothers me most is that I would never ever invite a new or exploring Christian to walk into a random Adventist church, fearing they would mostly make Jesus look bad. I have done it too many times while traveling. Where I was either pounded from the pulpit with the picture of an angry unloving God and/or felt like I was invisible.

Yet for all that, Adventism has so much to offer. Sabbath, a balanced lifestyle and heaven.

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The problem with most of the above, not in conceptual but rather existential sense, is that modern culture already lead us to develop cultural orientation in which we serve each other. And that scope of organization and service is better than anything church could provide.

So, gradually, church had been pushed to be a charity that relieves existential anxiety crises, and recites orthodoxy which people already learn in schools and culture.

So, the real crisis is in asking “Does church help you to become more caring and thoughtful human being?”. Church exaggerates the severity of this issue. It insists that culture is generally evil misanthropic, and that Church is what fixes the culture.

BUT, culture progressed to be much more concerning and oriented towards taking care of those on margins, that existence of the church for many becomes and exercise of engaging in past Orthodoxy to relive familiarity and nastalgia.

Is the church a beacon of cultural morality?

The answer is resounding no.

So, what is the church for then? It seems to me , the church becomes a “vending machine for tickets to Afterlife” in which it implies that association with the church and “correct belief” becomes the difference that get one past mortality on Earth.

As such it’s not surprising at all that the composition if the church are largely of people who are near death, and who don’t really do anything different in scope of service, and in fact it becomes a flip side of culture serving virtually all of their needs, while many insisting on culture being selfish and evil.

That’s the crisis that young people see. And that cognitive dissonance is the dominant reason why they don’t see an exercise of going through stressful Saturday with their young children to be unnecessary after a hard week of work.

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So church has to be hard and miserable to be good? It has to make people feel worse not better?

My New Testament shows me a Jesus who lifted the oppressive legalism of the church of his day. You make it sound like serving others is easy. It is not and it is uncommon. It is the story of good Samaritan. It is the message of my yoke is easy.

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there’s a lot of misrepresentation of adventism within adventism, every bit as much as you see misrepresentation of spiritual things in other denominations…but if people go to the inspired sources of the bible and egw, and study for themselves, without academic help, they’ll get it…actually if they go to either the bible or egw by itself, without academic help, they’ll get it…

the key to understanding inspiration really is a willing, open spirit…and this is what’s often missing…many times, inspiration is studied from an academic standpoint exclusively, or from a starting point of a set of defined, accepted doctrines or conceptual pathways…this can easily become why the spiritual connection never takes place…so it isn’t the inspired sources that are the problem, but it very often is the person seeking to access that inspiration that’s the problem…they’re accessing inspiration in an invalid way, and therefore the connection with the divine, and the all-important internal witness that forms, never happens…

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I would agree with what you are saying to an extent. In the developed world this may ring true, but how about the underdeveloped world? Does government and society provide service to the needy? Has culture progressed there to where those on the margins are taken care of? Does the church, and can the church, provide what government and society at large may not do there?

And, is this really a blanket truism in the developed world? We have a nation divided on how to treat immigrants, legal or illegal, from “undesirable” nations. This isn’t limited to the U.S., but is also a huge issue in Europe. Unfortunately, as you’ve pointed out, the church has either done little or even contributed to the negative and nationalistic rhetoric. In that way, it is not a unified beacon of cultural morality in this way.

We also have an empire building nation that seeks to enforce its national interest throughout the world at the point of a sword. This is exactly what Jesus, and the gospel he modeled and taught, speaks against. The empire of God is to be anything but. Its controlling principle is to be a lived out love…for the other, the foreigner, the undesirable, and even for the enemy. A bringing together of diverse peoples into a unity that can happen through the spirit. While the church has fallen short and often colluded with those that wield the sword, and the money, and their divisive power, the principle of the gospel still stands in opposition to this ordering of the world. What’s needed is for we, the church, to seriously live this out in the world. A lived out order that turns the way of worldly power and divisive order upside down.

If this enterprise is being taken up by other groups, it proves what Jesus said, “The children of this world are wiser than the children of light.” These principles are embedded in the gospel and the NT. The enlightenment and progressive thinking have taken off from the revolutionary thought and practice that was afoot in the first century, through Jesus, and later Paul.

That the church has not acted this out consistently in the past, doesn’t mean that this is canceled out into the future, or that there is no need for the church in the world to be the church in these ways.

Frank

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I’m basing my statement on the fact that I’ve read of, heard them speak, and know of, a lot of SDA’s who left because of doctrine. I’m sure that there are many more who never post on line, most that I don’t know, and many, many more who don’t tell their story in a particularly public venue. I’m extrapolating to some degree. A lot of Adventists (from my knowledge, and the reports of current and former SDA’s) attend churches where the members in church each week, is 1/4 to 1/3 of the membership on the roles. The SDA church is, and has shrunk drastically in NA and Western Europe. Of course that doesn’t mean that all of these people left because of studying out the doctrines ,compared them to what scripture says, and started attending more orthodox Christian churches. But, the doctrines can, and do, drive people out of the church. Some just wash their hands of it (and Christianity), others go to other Christian churches.

So…people who don’t believe the SDA doctrines have a lack of faith in the bible? I would, of course, strongly disagree with such a statement. I don’t want to look into it here. I’ve done that very thoroughly many years ago. Since I’ve already shown a lack of faith in the bible (according to you), it would be a huge waste of my time, and yours.

Once again, I don’t have the energy to go into EGW’s writings. Suffice it to say that I don’t believe that SDA’s are the remnant, that the end time test will be about Saturday vs. Sunday, I don’t believe that all of her rules and regulations regarding everything under the sun are biblical, I don’t believe that she is a prophet, and certainly not the Spirit of Prophecy. The spirit of prophecy in scripture is not a person.

Of course not. But, it certainly does all it can to indoctrinate people into believing (as did EGW) that all others are deceived and only the SDA church has “the truth”. And that leaving 'the truth" can endanger your salvation.

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It depends what you are comparing to. Take a country like Argentina that struggled with economic issues and corruption.

If you transported people to Israel theocracy in 5th century bc, and then to modern Argentina… I’m fairly certain they’d pick modern Argentina as higher score on “people take care of each other”

Yes! This is so true.

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My experience as well.

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As a 4th-generation Adventist, I stay because most of my family and friends are church members, but I see so much hypocracy and exceptionalism in the church, along with the good parts, that I wonder if I might otherwise leave. Sometimes I think there is more real Christian brotherly love in some of the other churches.

Ted’s plan to distribute GC smacks to me of the idea that all we have to do is warn people, and then we have fulfilled our responsibility. Surely he must realize that probably 99% of them will simply be thrown away. I don’t want to see my tithe wasted in such a way.

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Carol,

When political ideologues run the church, this is what happens.

Thanks,

Frank

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Carol,

There are good reasons to leave a church…and there are bad reasons. But I bet that most of those leaving for bad reasons will say that they left for biblical reasons.

Christ centered churches? According to whom? The Bible or their personal convictions?

Also, I am sure that these churches experience losses of membership since it is a general trend (except maybe for non denominational churches which seem to gain memberships according to the statistics).

Israel of old had Scripture… and also prophets. So there is nothing abnormal in having prophets above all if we consider that prophecy is one of the gifts of the spirit mentioned by Paul in 1 Cor 12.

In Ephesians 4:11-13 it is written:

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

Is the work of the ministry over? Are the saints perfected? Are we all in unity of faith?

If the answer is no, then it means that we still need pastors, and teachers, and even prophets.

I am sure that you have no problem with the churches having pastors or teachers, right? So why do you have a problem with prophets?

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I’ve not met those people, nor have I encountered them elsewhere. I know it’s almost impossible for an Adventist to believe that anyone can leave the SDA church based on biblical reasons…but they do. People leave for different reasons, but leaving for biblical reasons happens a lot. Why is that so hard for you to understand?

They are convicted by understanding what is in the bible compared to their experience in the SDA church. So, both. How many times have I been to church and heard from the pulpit “I’m so thankful for the Sabbath” or “What would we do without the Sabbath?”. It was always about the Sabbath. Rarely about Jesus, about being the Lamb of God, our Savior, our Redeemer. It was mainly that He kept the Sabbath., He kept the Law. Very law focused, SDA focused. Not gospel focused at all.

As to prophets, I don’t believe that Ellen White is a prophet. That’s the issue.

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Yes! The irony is that the NT, and especially Paul’s letters, never even talks about Christ as a perfect law keeper in our place. It says a lot about Jesus’s faithfulness to God, but not about him as a perfect law keeper. It’s such a legalistic construct. Fits with Adventist theology.

Frank

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I have.

My point was that it is easy to say that one leaves for biblical reasons. But it is not necessary so even if I say so. I am sure that the disciples who left Jesus had some “biblical” reasons to leave him above all after what He said. I am sure that the Pharisees who didn’t want to follow Jesus had some “biblical” reasons too above all when He didn’t conform to their expectations.

By the way, I am not saying that there is no reason for leaving a church. But it is important to know if I am leaving simply because I disagree on some doctrines or if I am leaving for real biblical reasons. Me simply disagreeing doesn’t mean that my departure is based on biblical reasons.

The Sabbath is supposed to be a day of delight and a blessing. So what is wrong in expressing your joy of experiencing a blessed day? Experiencing the Sabbath correctly means that you are having a special day with Jesus, the lord of the Sabbath. Also, the Sabbath representing the rest that God wants to give His people, it is not surprising that God’s people speak about the Sabbath…on the Sabbath day (after all, no one would find it strange that people speak about Christmas on Christmas’ day, right?). Finally, being a day of rest, it is not surprising that people are expressing their satisfaction for not working (this is America, right? the country of overworked people :smiley:).

This being said, I wonder where you went to church because what you described has never been my experience either here in the US or in France. Of course, I have seen some individuals who were laser focused on the law (like the Pharisees) but it was just that, individuals, not the churches in general. So, I wonder if there is not a generalization of some bad experience here.

It is unavoidable that some local churches are better some others. Also, it is unavoidable to have some disagreements in the body of Christ as not everybody agrees on everything or on every decision taken by the church (as we don’t have the same priorities, visions, understanding, sensitivities, same experiences, same walk with Christ). We can see that in the book of Acts for example.

Now, are these reasons to leave the church? Maybe, if it is unbearable. People don’t have to be Adventists in order to be saved (I know, some people think - or used to think - that way). But it is better to recognize that it is normal to have differences and to use these differences for the glory of God.

In all times, prophets have been criticized, despised, marginalized, persecuted, and even killed. Heck, people doubted Jesus when he was on earth, even his own family. So, there is nothing new under the sun.

I can understand that you are being cautious. Nothing wrong with that. But I have a few questions:
1 - do you believe that prophecy is one of the gifts of the Spirit as described by Paul?
2 - do you believe that these gifts are to be found in the body of Christ until the end?
3 - is there any reason why there should not be any prophet in the Christian churches in the end times whereas they existed in Israel (and in the beginning of the Christian church)?

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Your staying in the church doesn’t mean it’s based on biblical reasons, either. It is to you. You can’t be convinced otherwise, nor can you see why others would be just as convicted otherwise, based on what they feel are solidly biblical reasons. Iow, you’re assuming that your biblical reasons are valid and theirs aren’t. This is an absolute dead end.

In the end, Christian faith is not defined by who has the correct set of doctrines, it’s about a way of being in the world that is ultimately defined by faith, hope, and love…the greatest being love. If we all pursued self giving love as our way of life, this type of doctrinal oneupmanship all begins to fade into the background, and we’d all be a lot better off.

Frank

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