Even at the Door?

President Ted Wilson, in his inaugural sermon in Atlanta/2010, said the following:

Signs of Christ’s coming are increasing in frequency and intensity every day. Destructive events in nature, the great confusion of world politics, the pervasive and compromising activities of ecumenism, the dramatic increase and influence of spiritualism, the deterioration of world economies, the disintegration of societal and family values, the disbelief in the absolute authority of God’s Holy Word and the ten commandments, rampant crime and moral decay, wars and rumors of war, on and on. All point unmistakably to the climax of earth’s history and the Lord’s return to take us on the final journey home to heaven.

Five years later, in his San Antonio post-re-election sermon, he made essentially the same points:

I am more convinced than ever that Jesus’ return is near, even at the door! … We know the signs of Matthew 24 and realize political challenges are now beyond the control of most governments today, economic conditions are fragile and untrustworthy, natural disasters are increasing in intensity and destruction, social changes are challenging the very Word of God, ecumenism is rapidly growing in its false, non-biblical and neutralizing influence on society and yet we are still here.

These ideas are familiar and core Adventist belief since the church began, post 1844. And, as the most visible and representative spokesperson of Adventist belief, Wilson’s statements are unsurprising, even expected. But they are problematic.

Two Problems

1) They are framed as a possibly circular argument. That is, he says that because of: destructive nature, political confusion, economic deterioration, etc., therefore: the 2nd Coming is at the door. However, no justification for these premises is given. And one would not expect that in the context of a sermon. But much more central is the reality that justification for these presumed causes is never really explored substantively within Adventism. They are just assumed to be true – because of longstanding Biblical and Ellen White interpretations. Then stated and re-stated because this general argument has always been a part of Adventism.

But the correctness of all these premises is not obvious to those not already persuaded. Each of Wilson’s stated premises (e.g. moral decay, war), need to have been initially conclusions, supported by their own unique, specific rationale. And those arguments, I assert, are frequently in the implicit form of: because we know the Advent is very near [premise], we expect:increasing social, economic, political and religious unrest [conclusion]. But what this two step process then amounts to is a circular argument. Thus validation of the “signs of the times” is often because of faith in the Adventist position that Jesus’ coming is “even at the door”. Then those now presumably valid signs become premises to generate the conclusion that “All point unmistakably to the climax of earth’s history and the Lord’s return”.

2) Unsupportive data. Are Wilson’s premises [disaster, politics, economy etc.] defensible on grounds other than belief that they must be true because we are at the end of time? If so the circularity charge can be removed. That is, if Wilson is asserting “end-ness” based on a faith-position alone, his above-quoted statements – if considered by the listener as an argument – are circular. However, if grounded by evidence, they are not. Thus much depends on this. But the evidence is problematic.

Evidence

While a robust examination of what events and/or metrics God has in mind as tipping points to the 2nd Coming would be most welcome, that would far exceed my space limitation. Instead I will consider here a small sample of at least plausible data.

If the world is getting worse, let alone “unmistakably” at the end of time, one might expect the life situation of a world citizen to be also getting worse – on average. Yet consider:

This graph shows real (not nominal) Gross Domestic Product since A.D. 0. Note the dramatic increase in productivity, notably for the past 150 years. And average individual prosperity correlates to this dramatic increase. Especially in the past 30 years. Places like China and India have seen an astonishing rise in the middle class, and overall economic gain, as shown here:

(apologies for the tiny size - the website has size restrictions on graphics uploads)

The above graph shows the steady, then accelerating, decline of poverty from 1820 – 2011. The Y axis moves upward from 0% to 100% world poverty. The X axis moves from year 1820 to 2011. Yellow line shows world poverty, red line shows extreme poverty, black line show % of the world living on less than $1.25/day.

Along with more per capita income one might expect to see an improved living standard translate into better health. It is undeniable that there has been an explosion of medical knowledge in the past 150 years. And, indeed:

The worldwide GDP curve (1st graph, above) looks quite similar to the increase in an individual’s lifespan, which ought to suggest better average overall health. These metrics obviously make one wonder whether a persuasive case can be made that the world is instead actually getting better, not worse.

Next, consider world conflict. Pastor Wilson, quoting Matt 24:6, mentioned “wars and rumors of war”. However:

There are spikes correlating to the Korean and Vietnam War timeframes. Perhaps the 1980’s rise is due in part to the Cambodian genocide. But the dramatic downward trend is obvious.

Each of the graphs show shifts which have occurred during the timeframe that Adventism has presented the warning that Elder Wilson articulates above. But the directions seem to be at odds with the expected Adventist conclusion.

Some other end-time categories/events mentioned by Wilson are also commonly considered significant within the Adventist community, including:

- Economic deterioration. There was, of course, the recent 2008 “melt down”. That must be solid evidence, right? Except that I doubt very much whether those typically propounding this opinion have done any macro economic analysis. It is just “bad” and “scary” and on the news a lot. Digging into the actual underlying issues[1] would not produce anything as simplistic as the person-in-the-pew is likely to have in mind when forming an opinion about economic risk.[2]

- Religious liberty. But, at least in America, the so-called “Religious Right” has (arguably) less clout than in the former, Jerry Falwell / Pat Robertson days. And Christianity overall is in decline[3] in the U.S. Consider[4]:

This disturbing trend seems at odds with the Great Commission being fulfilled any time soon.

- The Catholic Church. But Francis is not making many obvious beastly pronouncements these days. Would his words be suspect to Adventists if he were not pope? We risk circularity again here. If whatever the pope says gets interpreted in a way that “confirms” an Adventist view of Catholicism’s eschatological role, then those interpretations can morph into “evidence” that the end is near.

- Natural disasters. We have more people these days and better reporting mechanisms. But, for example, has modernity had anything comparable in physical size/scope to the Krakatoa eruption[5] in 1883? Or the Tambora eruption[6] of 1816 resulting in the “year without a summer”?

Reactions

What reactions might there be, among Adventists, to what I’ve presented here? There are many possibilities, including but certainly not limited to:

1. Believing I have bad motives for casting doubt on the traditional Adventist assertion that we are in the “last days”. I would deny this but, far more importantly, motives are irrelevant, and to shift discussion from what the possible end-time indicators might be, to the character of anyone who raises questions – is an example of ad hominem. Still, this is a frequent reaction people have when an important, but perhaps under-examined belief is questioned.

2. I am cherry-picking data. Are there are different data out there that, had they been presented, would corroborate President Wilson’s assertions? To this question/possibility I would say – make the case. Provide the additional conflicting data and let’s all begin the investigative process.

3. I have chosen wrong or at least incomplete metrics. Again, I would welcome any responsible exposition of this possibility. It brings into view the broader, yet even more important and problematic, question of just what is God waiting for?

4. President Wilson is speaking purely on a faith basis, sans analysis, and perhaps premature in his estimation of where we are in time. This to me is the most plausible, because the data I’ve shown above can be considered damaging to his conclusion and somewhat persuasive toward the opposite view, at least in absence of any other metrics and plausible scenarios.

Conclusion

My intent in this brief essay is not to disprove anything. Certainly not that the 2nd Coming doctrine is false, or even that it is necessarily not in the near future. My goal is much more modest. Adventists have been making assertions about being in the last days for a very long time. We usually have anecdotal evidence in mind to buttress the belief. And likely a loose and shifting set of categories that we deem significant end-time markers.

I am suggesting a possible disconnect between some of our end-time assertions and reality on the ground. If the economy, religious liberty, Catholicism – or anything else – is relevant, we should try to think this whole subject through and propose rationale that correlates with the data. We should not go from GC to GC saying the same thing without supporting our assertions. The only ones willing to accept this would be those who already uncritically believe and are sufficiently invested in that belief (for a wide variety of sometimes problematic reasons) to find any scrutiny unwelcome. Thus a circular argument suffices. But if we hope to be honest with ourselves and persuasive to potential converts – we have to do better than this.

Rich Hannon is Columns Editor for SpectrumMagazine.org.

If you respond to this article, please: Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7238
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The author has unwittingly done just what Peter said skeptics would do in II Pet. 3:3, 4. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

Adding a disclaimer at the end does not change the gist of the article, which seems to be to minimize the signs of the times as just “business as usual.”

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To respond to a well prepared article with a trite comment should be beneath me, but here goes.

The beastly power has arisen. It is in the form of the Adventist church. It exerts its power over 17 million members, and denies basic human rights. It will coerce the U.S. To follow its command, through the influence of Ben Carson or Ted Cruz. No action will be taken against ISIS, as this thing can’t happen because it hasn’t been prophesied, further hastening the end of the world.

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Or, someone has been watching too much CNN.

I think Ted and the Millerites forgot to read this. Have you?

From Matthew 24:36 - 44, NRSV:
“But about that day and hour [of Jesus return] no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. …for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. … the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

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I am within 4 months of my 91st birthday. From the four grade on I have heard the refrain of Christ’s return. I experienced a near dead episode just one year ago. For me Christ coming is very near. That is why the Gospel is so important to me. The Ted offensive is fear based and egocentric pronounced. I find my perfection in Christ. This I share with great rejoicing. Even so come Lord Jesus. Tom z

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This tactic of fear has been used by the Adventist church since it was founded. Like Chicken Little, “The sky is falling”; for Adventists it has been "The Catholics are coming to bring persecution to God’s People, a.k.a. Sabbath-observing or the Adventist church.

Each time used it becomes less effective. The same old message for years has no correlation with actual facts; but who needs them with EGW for support?

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One day (I believe soon), there will be an author, such as this, saying things such as he has and the end will come. I don’t think an “oops… sorry, I was wrong” will make much difference then… or now.

ADDENDUM:

“Before His crucifixion the Saviour explained to His disciples that He was to be put to death and to rise again from the tomb, and angels were present to impress His words on minds and hearts. But the disciples were looking for temporal deliverance from the Roman yoke, and they could not tolerate the thought that He in whom all their hopes centered should suffer an ignominious death. The words which they needed to remember were banished from their minds; and when the time of trial came, it found them unprepared. The death of Jesus as fully destroyed their hopes as if He had not forewarned them. So in the prophecies the future is opened before us as plainly as it was opened to the disciples by the words of Christ. The events connected with the close of probation and the work of preparation for the time of trouble, are clearly presented. But multitudes have no more understanding of these important truths than if they had never been revealed. Satan watches to catch away every impression that would make them wise unto salvation, and the time of trouble will find them unready.” ~ {GC 594.1}

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Let’s not tie Rich to the stake yet… For those who read Edward de Bono, this article functions as a “provocation” to get people to think. Don’t know if you read de Bono Rich, but…well done. Thomas Z is right, Jesus is our focus and our salvations… not “end time” predictions. Rene Gale

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It should come as no surprise that Ted Wilson or any other Seventh-day Adventist would continue to make these claims. The church was founded on these claims and it does not exist in the absence of these claims. Who would want to continue as a Seventh-day Adventist without making these claims? What would be the point of it?

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We all know that by constant repeating of a dreadful message it becomes less dreadful. Most of leading Adventists know it also (just of Ted W. I’m not so sure), but they keep on repeating it because they think that if they stop they won’t be Adventists anymore. Wrong. Nothing more abates the message of the shepherd than his constant cry: “There is wolf, there is wolf!” It’s like thinking: “If I don’t know for sure, it’s better to cry all the time than to miss the wolf.” But you know the end of the story.

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Indeed it is difficult to gauge the “wickedness” of any given generation, because each one has their “increasing” problems. Too, the signs of the times are a curious focus. When the disciples asked about the signs of Christ’s coming Jesus didn’t give any signs about wars (they will come, end not, yet) or famine, pestilence, earthquakes (just beginning of sorrows). Nothing about those things indicating the “soon coming.” Jesus does say the love of many will wax cold, and that there would be the erection of the “abomination of desolation” (which apparently was the destruction of Jerusalem). But Jesus didn’t dwell on the “signs” nor indicated they were signs." Why? Well, His first words to the disciples question was “let no man deceive you.” Later He repeats the same and adds that they will show “great signs and wonders” that will deceive the masses. Jesus didn’t give any signs of His soon coming in Matthew 24 except the event itself. “then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

The metrics given in this article could support certain other statements about the last days. If we take the Laodicea church representing the last church in church history, then the increased wealth would apply to their contented state that left them mediocre (rich and increased with goods). As to faith dropping in America, Jesus said, “Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, will he find faith in the earth?” Or the one about the much lower numbers of deaths by war could be met with "when they say ‘peace and safety’ then sudden destruction will result.

As to Jesus’ coming, He is. As to His coming soon, He will. As to the times and the seasons, it is not for us to know. What we should be doing is meditating on the six parables Jesus gave in Matthew 24 and 25, from the parable of the fig tree that actually ends with “heaven and earth will pass, but My words will not” and ending with the Sheep and the Goats. Applying those to our daily lives will keep us in time with His timing. Our activity should be constant in reaching the lost, because Jesus said, “when this gospel shall be preach in all the world for testimony to all nations, THEN shall the end come.” Not going anywhere until the gospel goes everywhere. Our activity in seeking and saving the lost should be based upon the need to reach others, because when others die that time for Jesus’ come has come.

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I agree with the basic thrust of the article, that all too often SDA’s, especially in leadership point to an item or two in current events to make their point about religious doctrine (in my youth it was “backward masking” of rock and pop music as a tool of Satan to corrupt young minds, we had many a lecture on the evils of this music, along with “evidence” showing all the subliminal messaging - you don’t really hear about that in Adventist circles anymore). Of course this isn’t limited to SDA’s. All groups are happy to point to a specific set of facts to support their various positions. Facts that may have no link to cause and effect.

Economics. If this were true, why did the Lord not come during the great depression?

Wars. If this were true, why did the Lord not come during WW2? Wasn’t the extermination of 6 million of God’s original chosen people not enough calamity? Or when the 1 million were killed in Rwanda in 1994?

Natural disasters. As the author noted. Which ones? How about the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti which killed 200,000 people in 2010? Or the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in that killed 280,000 in Southeast Asia? Or the 1931 floods in China that killed between 1-4 million? Or do disasters only count if they happen to Western countries?

The Pope. Seems to me that both TW and Doug Batchelor are convinced that FINALLY they have a Pope who qualifies as the Anti-Christ. The reason this is so is because this Pope says such deceitful things as we ought to put caring for the poor ahead of doctrine. I guess the Bible like in Matt:7:16 is only literal some of the time.

As a Christian, I elected, by faith to become a follower of Jesus Christ. The events of the world ought to have no bearing on either my relationship with Jesus or how I interact with my fellow man. God will come when he chooses to. Therefore I must live my life as if He is either coming today, or sometime long after I am dead.

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i’m not sure the timing of the second coming is amenable to variables that can be plotted on charts…if we accept the inspiration of egw, and i do, christ could have come before any of us were born…however he hasn’t, because his professed followers have never been ready…this highlights a prime consideration with respect to the timing of the second coming: in proportion to the readiness of the church, the horrors of the last days are allowed to unfold…in other words, the timing of the second coming isn’t contingent on the unfolding of events and conditions on earth that are running and developing in their course unsupervised…it is contingent on the spiritual condition of the people of god…as i see it, this is the teaching in the symbolism of the four angels holding the four winds of the earth until god’s people are sealed, in revelation 7:1-3…until any of us ascend into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary and read the records of god’s assessment of his people, their spiritual condition, from an earthly perspective, will always remain unknown and unknowable…therefore the timing of the second coming must also always remain unknown and unknowable…

but a secondary consideration is the fact that if conditions in the world leading up to the second coming were plottable, and it became clear within reasonable scientific limits of certainty that the very supernatural, intrinsically unscientific, event of the second coming was imminent, adherents wouldn’t necessarily be acting from faith…this is because faith cannot be nurtured in the presence of observable, proven fact…for those destined to be lost, it likely doesn’t matter that they aren’t exercising faith when and if they subscribe to the second coming…but for those destined to be saved, the lack of an opportunity to develop faith is a critical setback, given that no-one can be saved without genuine faith…i don’t think god will ever allow evidence of the second coming to become so clear cut that faith isn’t required to respond to it, or that scoffers will have no good reasons to scoff…

yet a third consideration is the integral relationship between prophecy and the second coming…strictly speaking, the second coming is adventism’s ultimate prophecy, with all other prophecies running tributary to it…while it is clear that there are conditional prophecies, such as the prophecies against sodom and ninevah, there are also unconditional prophecies, such as the timing of christ’s first advent and the investigative judgement…curiously, the second coming appears to be a mixture of both…that is, the second coming comes when god’s people are ready, but god’s people become ready through events associated with the second coming…there is an aspect to this equilibrium that is essentially unknowable, both in terms of its component mixture and rate…there is no way to know which events on earth are contributing to the preparation of god’s people, and how much, or how quickly…

in view of these considerations, calls such as ted wilson’s need to be evaluated, not on the basis of a graph, but on the impact it has on god’s people…this is also how biblical and egw calls to be ready for the “soon” coming need to be evaluated…when these calls combine with events on earth to produce a certain response in a critical mass of god’s people, everything will experience an unstoppable domino effect, culminating in the second coming…those who responded to the various calls to prepare, before the onset of the domino effect, will go on to be saved…those who didn’t, won’t…in general, i think it’s fair to say that the doctrine of the second coming, and its timing, is probably our most solemn teaching…

The only timetable that we know for sure…is at our death for at that time- the Second Coming will come!

As also stated by others in this thread, the only way to serve is as Christ did- feeding the hungry, taking care of the orphan and widows, sharing what we have with others. This is the only reason that we are here, to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus. If we do this, then we are truly being Christians and we should have no fear of the Second Coming.

God knows when and where it will happen and it is up to us to do the work that he left us to do. Not these endless arguements about the Signs of the Times or other like-minded fruitless endeavors such as EGW interpretations that never go anywhere (which can’t be proved until they happen). We should let God attend to His own business and we should just do ours…

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Thank you Rich for this great, insightful and faith building article .

Since 1844 the Adventist have been waxing lyrical, and in fever pitch about his soon coming , always soon and more soon.

Soon means; quickly and has many synonyms ; anytime now, before long, presently , in a minute, pronto, shortly , ere- long, hastily, instantly, . May we we should ask when soon is not soon.

One could say Adventist have been actively perpetuating lies about the SOON coming. It is a big sin to bear false witness and tell lies it’s in the Ten Commandments.

Wilson’s continual and antagonising perpetuation of this dreadful lie about the “soon coming of Jesus” is creating serious dissonance amongst critical thinking educated Adventist, and a laughing stock amongst secular society.

Yet the Batchelors, Wilsons and all who receive salary from their hands will perpetuate in bastardizing of the word SOON, so that it is no longer the word that it is meant to be. Adventist have clearly changed the word , haven’t they ?

Will there a a second coming? I believe so, most likely at my death and when I wake up, I believe this by my “faith mind” but not my science mind.
How’s the a Dutch Government spending 12 Billion US dollars this year in heightening and strengthening their Dikes in preparation for the rising of the sea level due to Climate Change , no , not SOON but in 20 to 30 years hence. Have a good day my thinking friends .
P.S. Just as well Wilson is not the Dutch Prime Minister or they’d be in big strife -:slight_smile:

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Looking back - -

I cannot evaluate the atmosphere of irritations given by technology, Science, social development in 19th century USA; I just know about the fears aroused by increasing RC immigration and the immigrants position as laborers in the new industries, the Nigara Conference, National Guards against laborers on strike - - but have no - so to say - personal relation to this matter.

The first Adventists in Europe emerged out of a similiar shakening of the total environment. The first Adventist sermon ist dated with August 18, 1848 - the very year of the civil revolution spreading over all Europe. It is political - seing forward to the Kingdom to come soon with Christs right and justice , their view of the Millenium. It was delivered in a circle of “Getaufte Christengemeinde” - later on they joined the SDA after seeking the contacts to Andrews and Erzberger. They were self - sufficient weavers with their tools in the livingroom, experiencing the threats from landlords and official “Staatskirche”. They were bewildered about the weaving industries out there in Solingen, a competition for them in their remote Wuppertal valley, employing masses of workers with no crsaftsmanship and a production cheaper than their products and so endangering the basics of their austere enonomical state - and their religious " liberty ": The self - sufficinet weaver could keep the Sabbath and .sit on his loom on Sunday. ( see Ellen G. White, diary, May 26. to 31, 1887) They had to exclude the official “Schulmedizion” and the Social Security measures promoted by Left - liberal pathologist and politician Virchow, at first covering the needs of the proletarians out there - and therefore cherished “Lebensreform”. Then amidts officila mainlines to Naturalism they maintained basic philosophies of Romanticism - the backlash for Enlightenment - for Family Values and Nature as the godgiven Healler. Souinds familar to you ?

Then the wars begun. Down there in the Near East , against the Osmanian Empire, Krim War - - and then right in their frontyard. And now we have war everywhere and continuously. The climate breaks down, fossiles are seen no more as neverending source of our increasing requrement of energy and for our daily goods - what all - invcluding tupperware and railroad trains - is made ourt of “plastic” - - - -

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Christ could come at any moment. I believe that with all my heart—not because of what I read in the newspapers, or what Ted Wilson or Ted Cruz say, but because of what I read in Scripture.

The recent article in Spectrum Even at the Door? On December 15, 2015, where Rich Hannon said: “I am suggesting a possible disconnect between some of our end-time assertions and reality on the ground….But if we hope to be honest with ourselves and persuasive to potential converts – we have to do better than this.” This article can be a reminder to avoid “excess”. In light of our history as a church (William Miller, 1844, etc.) one could argue that what constitutes “reality on the ground” for one person may seem excessive to another. Jesus clearly states that no one will know the exact time and date of His return; “It is not for you to know the times or dates the father has set (Acts 1:7).” Yet it has not been uncommon for certain persons to actually give dates and times and enter the domain "excess”
The knowledge that Christ’s return is imminent should turn our hearts heavenward, “from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20).That is why it is so important to cultivate a watchful expectancy for the imminent coming of Christ. The point is not to make us obsessed with earthly events. In fact, if our interest in the return of Christ becomes a consuming fixation with what is happening in this world, you have utterly missed the point.
“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14).
The teaching of Christ’s return is a central biblical theme that is meant to provide great comfort, motivation and encouragement for Christians.

The return of Jesus to this earth is not a “Santa Return” at Christmastime fantasy. “he’s making a list and checking it twice to find out if you have been naughty or nice”. The alarmist expectation of Christ’s return as a substitute for the actual joy and reality of the Second Coming is a tragic error. There have been some unfortunate ramifications of this kind of errant teaching. One of those is that many Christians, with a desire to separate themselves from such fanatics, avoid the topic altogether. As a result they do not follow Paul’s injunction “to encourage each other with these words.” While the reaction is understandable it is not without effect. When we fail to keep in the forefront of our thinking that Christ may return at any moment, we can lose a sense of anticipation, hope, urgency and eternal perspective: we can become mired in the here-and-now.

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Thanks Rich for such a realistic, healthy, and provicative article.

For thinkers who are Biblically oriented, the article makes sense and is nothing but the description of reality.

However, for the traditional, conservative Adventist who is Whiteistically oriented and prone to mystical thinking, the article will certainly represent nothing but heresy and apostasy. “How did you dare to question the Church’s traditional (and way too old) teaching that Jesus’ return is imminent?”

Worse than that, mentioning Ted Wilson and his repetitive defense of the Adventist teaching is actually unacceptable… :smirk: The man “inspires” millions of Adventists, successfully keeping them captive to the traditional thinking that this Church is unique, the only one, and therefore there is nothing wrong with announcing Christ’s imminent return for ca. 170 years. Apparently this Church is so special that it can afford some teachings/practices that are even un-Christian, e.g., discrimination of women.

No wonder that those who consider themselves the bastions of the SDA faith, like Pici @blc (first comment above) and a few other commenters, take offense by this article!

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Nice article Rich, notwithstanding…

In religion, there must exist a disconnect between a denomination’s “end-time assertions and reality on the ground,” otherwise it won’t be religion but philosophy. And as religion involves spirituality, which in itself is based on belief, why should there not be a “disconnect” with reality? There is just no way these two can be reconciled physically but as long as it fulfills a psychologically need, the cognitive distortions are tolerated in return for a state of mental “well-being.” In a study published in the NEJM 2001, 90% of Americans turned to religion to cope with the Sept 11, 2001. Religion is also a protective factor for depression. An informal study of 991 patients admitted to a medical center showed a lower percentage (17%) of depression among those highly religious compared to those who were not religious (35%). In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, church attendance was identified as a protective factor for suicide with a lower incidence of suicide among regular attendees compared to those who seldom attended church. A study on older individuals with memory problems showed a dramatic improvement in attention and ability to focus after 12 weeks of 12 minutes a day of meditation.

So the question is “Are the cognitive distortions worth the disconnect?” After all religion is not a science but all about coping skills.

Honest with faith? Or honest with reality? Two different domains and mutually incompatible, just ask @blc

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I think generally ALL Christians are caught between Two Views of Living.

  1. Behold! [See! Look!] I am coming quickly!
    and
  2. Occupy till I come. Like the servants in the parable waiting for the Master to return. And,
    A. Putting their money [talents] to work. To make a profit from Usury [which was not allowed by Jews].
    And we all have to make sense of these two issues.

God comes in two ways. His glorious return. Through death. For some the “return” is sudden. Like an unsuspecting accident, sudden life taking failure of a body part, or the end of a lingering illness.
It has been like this since [according to Ussher] for 6000 years. [Jude says it was proclaimed by Enoch, Jesus and Paul and John and Peter were the last ones.]
At my Sunday church we vocalize as a group of believers this statement each week
"We Proclaim----
His Death
His Resurrection
His Coming Again."
Jesus came not to change God’s view about human beings, but to change human beings VIEWS about God. Perhaps we are not doing a very good job at continuing this task.

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