How Healthy is Adventist Eschatology? An Endogenous Imbalance (1)


(Spectrumbot) #1

Eschatology is a major branch of study within Christian theology dealing with “last things”. Eschatology, from two Greek words meaning "last" (ἔσχατος) and "study" (λογία), is the study of “end things”, whether the end of an individual life, the end of the age, the end of the world or the nature of God’s coming Kingdom. Christianity is unintelligible without eschatology because Christ (Messiah), the center of it, is thoroughly an eschatological character. And Adventism is even more eschatological than most other Christian communities because it has integrated eschatology, not merely as a part but, as its load-bearing structure. Everything in Adventism is fashioned by eschatology: Sabbath, lifestyle, vegetarianism, mission, ecology, anthropology, philanthropy etc. This fact is visible in the very name: Adventism, which means “coming”, “arrival”; to earnestly wait for Jesus’ second coming. But unfortunately, to have an eschatology doesn’t mean to get it right. And I’ll try to describe Adventism’s eschatological imbalance “genotypically”[1] (this month) and “phenotypically”[2] (next month), in relation also to this quarter’s Sabbath School theme of eschatology. The Sabbath School booklet “Preparation for the End Time”, and for Adventists all over the world, has been prepared by Norman Gulley.

Eschatology, in a broad sense, is inseparable from anthropology because every human culture has articulated a particular attitude and understanding of the future. No human has ever resisted trying to forsee the future. “Mythical eschatology”, for instance, can be defined in terms of the “myth of the eternal return,” which posits a cyclic view of history. In religious festivals, the lost time of history is regenerated and eternity is represented. Through a repeated, ritualistic creation of the cosmos, the impression of transience is proved wrong. Everything is shown to remain in place, hope is inherent in memory, and future salvation is depicted as a return to the primordial origin or to an original golden age. In mythical eschatology, the meaning of history is found in a celebration of the eternity of the cosmos and the repeatability of the origin of the world.

“Historical eschatology”, on the contrary, is not grounded in a mythical primal happening but in events in time which provides a structure to history that is essential to its progress. Biblical and biblically influenced eschatologies are historical and directed toward the future. The future of history is final because history is unique and unrepeateable. Understood in this context, history is not chaos but a field of both danger and salvation. The meaning of history is thus found in its future fulfillment.

In a more specific sense, therefore, we can say that “Mythical eschatology” is not really an eschatology because it speaks, refers and deals with an overly “domesticated future”. For this reason eschatology, understood as a “readiness”, “eagerness” and “desire” for the future, is introduced only by Hebrew thinking. While the Greeks gave world culture the category of “Being”, it is the Hebrews who have given human culture the category of “Future”. And true future starts only with the Old Testament.

1. The Biblical Balanced Eschatology

In fact, the origin of “historical eschatology” can be traced back in Hebrew thinking. With the Old Testament the circle of time, as typically understood by Israel’s surrounding cultures – becomes a “line”. Dissimilar to all others, every event is unique. One of the best examples of this is incarnated in Abraham’s life and call. He is asked to leave his country and to go forward. His life cannot and must not be a repetition. There is no other direction to follow, no other way to go, but into the future. He faces a starting point to leave and an arrival point to reach. Only by following this line forward can he find meaning and fulfillment. Hebrew eschatology is a future-oriented eschatology while Christian eschatology is, at least in part, also a realized eschatology. But both are expressions of a historical eschatology concentrated on the future.

But what is foundational with the Old Testament is not only this opening to the future but also the “way” of describing it. In fact, eschatology in the Old Testament has two versions: Apocalypticism and Messianism.

“Apocalypticism”, or the apocalyptic worldview, is a distinctive combination of several core axioms, including a conviction in the imminent end of history related to the central category of “Judgment”. The first great explosion of apocalypticism dates from the Hellenistic era and includes for instance the early Enochic literature, but the apocalyptic worldview in reality is antecedent to this period. The major completed expression of it is found already in the biblical book of Daniel and even before, in the Prophets. All the Prophets have built partial Apocalypsis through the categories of “the Day of the Lord”, “Judgment” or “God’s Wrath”. That’s the case for instance with Isaiah’s so called “little apocalypse” (chapters 24-27).

“Messianism”, instead, represents the second way of understanding the future, which is not based in the category of “Judgment” but in the expectation for an end-time agent (Messiah) who plays a positive redemptive role. Therefore the main messianic categories are: “Fullness”, “Fulfilment” and “flourishing”. It’s important to mention that the Messianic worldview doesn’t start with Christianity. Messianism certainly explodes with Christianity because Christ is the long-awaited Messiah, but the messianic worldview is already present in all the prophets. And the most messianic Old Testament books is Isaiah (See Chapter 11:1-9).

Even though Apocalyptic and Messianic traces can be found already before, it’s only with the biblical prophets that we find for the first time Apocalypticism and Messinism articulated in a coherent and complete way. The explosion of Apocalypticism and Messianism in Hellenistic and Christian eras will introduce an ambivalent situation. Both worldviews will blossom but at the same time will tend to become unilateral and disconnected. Old Testament eschatology remains as a foundational paradigm not only for its openness to the future, but above all for its extraordinary capacity to maintain connection and balance between its two forms: Apocalypticism and Messianism. For this reason no eschatology can be balanced if it unilaterally privileges one of them. And perhaps the best example of this Old Testament balance is given by chapter two of Isaiah. There we find, in the first part (verses 1-5), a “Messianic” description of eschatology, and in the second part (verses 6-22) an “Apocalyptic” version of it. Both coexist side by side. And the New Testament will still wisely maintain this balance. The messianic aspect of Christianity is perfectly incarnated in the fourth gospels (Luke 4:16-21) and its apocalyptic dimension, not uniquely but mainly, is perfectly visible in the book of Revelation.

2. E. G. White’s Balanced Eschatology

In despite of all appearances this balance between Apocalipticism and Messianism is still present and visible in the work and thought of E.G. White. Her main eschatological publication is certainly the book “The Great Controversy” which has gone through various consistent editions and revisions (1884, 1888). The last was done in 1911.

It seems to me that this book has been twice misunderstood. First, because mainline Adventist reading – institutional and community-based – makes Adventism and not God’s Kingdom the center of “Last days events”. And that’s idolatrous. Second, because that book has been detached from E.G. White other eschatological books. And particularly from its twin-book, “The Desire of Ages”. E.G. White’s eschatology therefore is still a balanced one. The “Messianic” aspect of her eschatology is perfectly incarnated in her book “The Desire of Ages” while the “Apocalyptic” dimension, not uniquely but mainly, is perfectly visible in her book “The Great Controversy”.

3. An Apocalyptic Radicalization

What then has happened with Adventism? We are tempted to say that, since we follow the Bible and E. G. White, therefore our eschatology is ipso facto – balanced. That’s not the case. Biblical truth is not only a matter of correct declarations but above all of correlation, balance and coordination. Ours is certainly a ible-based eschatology yes, but still an “interpretation” of the Bible not the bible itself. And for this reason it doesn’t necessarily reflect the biblical eschatological balance. Between the Bible and our eschatological reading of it there is an unbridgeable difference. The first is sacred, the second not. And if that balance exists we must prove it.

What has happened is that our Eschatology, since the very beginning, has configured itself, for various reasons, as an “Apocalyptic” Eschatology, not as a “Messianic” one. And since our theology tends to be clear and pragmatic it has been almost impossible to preserve and maintain this foundational biblical paradox, i.e. the coexistence of an “Apocalyptic” and a “Messianic” eschatology – together in tension. We are allergic to complexity and paradox. For us both these categories are synonymous with compromise and unfaithfulness. We must resolve, choose and articulate a univocal eschatology. We have not been able to preserve this foundational ambivalence. But ambivalence doesn’t mean ambiguity. Confusing both has lead us to build up a superficial, pragmatic theology. A “healthy” and not only “true” theology instead can’t stop being ambivalent because, together with clarity, theological categories are always complex because they try to describe God, Humanity and the Cosmos.

This is what I called the “Endogenous Imbalance” of Adventist Eschatology. Since the very beginning our eschatology has been almost exclusively apocalyptic. With the passing of time it has become even worse. And David Koresh and the Davidians apocalyptic holocaust, twenty five years ago in 1993, is only a socio-political extreme manifestation of an “Apocalyptic Ethos”, typical of Adventism, that transversely is still cultivated and cherished in our churches and schools, very often seasoned with a naive dose of apocalyptic paranoia.

[1]genotype: the complete genetic constitution of an organism or group.

[2]phenotype: The observable physical characteristics of an organism, as determined by both genetic makeup and environmental influences.

Hanz Gutierrez is a Peruvian theologian, philosopher, and physician. Currently, he is Chair of the Systematic Theology Department at the Italian Adventist Theological Faculty of “Villa Aurora” and director of the CECSUR (Cultural Center for Human and Religious Sciences) in Florence, Italy.

Previous Spectrum columns by Hanz Gutierrez can be found at: https://spectrummagazine.org/authors/hanz-gutierrez

Image Credit: "The Shape of Water" - Official Trailer

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8761

Richard Rice Discusses “Re-imagining God: Peril or Promise?”
How Healthy is Adventist Eschatology? An Anthropological Imbalance (Part 5)
#2

This might be Gutierrez’s best contribution thus far to the conversation. He points to the crux of the imbalance in our theology. Thank you.


(André Reis) #3

Only an European theologian could be this candid about the shortcomings of our apocalyptic emphasis.

I’d take issue only with his assessment that EGW’s apocalyptic is “balanced.” Unfortunately, as she herself admitted in the introduction of the Great Controversy, the eschatology in that book is neither original nor “balanced” as the fruit of special revelation but was borrowed from Adventist authors of the time. With her imprimatur, their views became fossilized and with them the church’s understanding of the end-time.

One can only hope that a renewed interest in the practice of coherent biblical exegesis with an eye to the original authorial intent will restore eschatological truth and cure the insanity of histrionic interpretations.


(Allen Shepherd) #4

So… Adventist eschatology is unbalanced because it tends to downplay the Messianic part, and emphasize the Apocalyptic part.

Now there are some that do that. But to bring Koresh in as an example, one disfellowshipped for his positions seems to show a lack real engagement. He was a misguided fellow who was also an egomaniac. Painting the whole church as such is silly. Not only that, Koresh DID see himself as a Messianic figure. Was his theology the more balanced?

An emphasis on Jesus the Messiah is always hard for humans because we are so enamored with self, and Jesus was the one who emptied himself.

Perhaps the author has a better idea of what a balance theology would look like. I have studied some other church’s views on this. They do not have the power or credibility of the Adventist position.

Correcting is good, but your mention of Koresh colors your opinions unfavorably.


(Steve Mga) #5

I was at Madison College from 1960-1964. Pastor Normal Gulley was part of the
Religious Staff. He was a very good researcher. I had two classes under him.
Last Day Events and the Sanctuary. Both had well written and developed syllabus to
go with them.
Actually, the Sanctuary class was held in a very large class room as he allowed campus
persons to attend along with his students.
After Madison closed, professor Gulley joined the staff at Southern. He was the son in law
of Elder Minchin of the G.C. We had the privilege of having him speak to the Madison
campus SDA church a number of times.


#6
I’ve said many times that SDA soteriology and eschatology are like two tom cats tied in a gunny sack–ain’t never gonna git along.

I’ve also said that Adventist doctrine can be developed while still maintaining the basic topography.

I’ve also said (I know this is getting boring, bear with me, please), that nothing is going to change until our view of God changes.

If the following doesn’t make sense, Sirje will understand your frustration. I’ve tried to explain it for 15 years or more, and it’s always clear as mud to people.

Let’s rethink the Great Antitypical Day of Atonement.

(My brain is stalling out on me here, because, while it seems crystal clear to me, I can never get it across clearly to others…deep breaths…)

Let’s rethink what it means to “grow up into Christ, who is our Head.”

And, in the light of that, let’s rethink what The Remnant means.

Let’s rethink what this means:

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
–II Corinthians 5

Let’s rethink what this means:

When the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church.

When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.
https://text.egwwritings.org/publication.php?pubtype=Book&bookCode=COL&pagenumber=69

What is the character of Christ? What?

not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

God does His will, and “none can stay His hand,” according to Daniel.

Here’s the question: are we willing that any should perish?

Of course we are.

We are experts at preaching whole evangelistic meetings about “the wicked” and their fate.

Where is the compassion, the nights spent in groaning, struggling with God over this?

Nope. God said He’s going to burn that vermin alive, so, that’s that. Good riddance.

Let’s buy real estate in the mountains to save our sorry hides.

I believe in universal reconciliation because that’s the only denouement that makes sense to me, given the unfathomable greatness and kindness of the God of Creation and Life.

But I don’t believe in cheap grace.

Jesus had a Cross, and ours is the same Cross, if we could see it.

The only way our view of God is going to change is by experience.

Taste and see that the Lord is good

Remember David Larson’s Wesleyan Quadrilateral? Experience.

Experience comes at a price.

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
–Revelation 7

I believe loving each other is a distinct end-time message, and denotes a maturing of love that spreads like yeast throughout the world.

And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.
–Isaiah 60

(My only hermeneutics is the hermeneutics of the heart.

https://conversation.spectrummagazine.org/t/general-conference-meets-with-union-presidents-and-timeline-of-key-events-since-san-antonio/12762/90?u=cassie


I’ve always said that they’re like two wet tom cats tied in a gunny sack–ain’t never gonna get along.

This is the result of having an intellectual religion. The seed ideas are there, but the stiff necks and hard hearts are stony ground.

As Ellen White said, all true religion is heart religion.

https://conversation.spectrummagazine.org/t/alright-loungers-what-would-you-like-to-see-here/9161/4990?u=cassie

image

Love is fractal; it simplifies and compresses everything into One, while preserving identity.

The science of the heart is the science of the future! Love seamlessly nests everything!

For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

—Colossians 2



How Healthy is Adventist Eschatology? An Anthropological Imbalance (Part 5)
How Healthy is Adventist Eschatology? An Anthropological Imbalance (Part 5)
#7

Love is the Supreme doctrine of the scriptures, God’s universe, personality, and motivations. Paul and Jesus raise it above faith and any other Biblical concept. Love is the ultimate focus of Jesus’s cross, life and death. It is the standard for eternal life and trumps all concepts that humankind could ponder and study. Love is the expression of God’s holiness. Its aim is the purest and highest a human can express.


(Brad(Luna)) #8

Adventist eschatology is probably the only remaining historicist position left in the modern church. Historicism is basically the idea that eschatology is fulfilled in stages throughout history. It was born in the middle ages immediately following the First Crusade, based on the belief that the conquest of Jerusalem by the Latins was a major eschatological event.

It later got picked up by the Reformers as a useful tool to attack the Catholic Church.

Adventist preachers will commonly play this historicist position against the dispensationalist futurist position, however these aren’t the only two ideas out there. There is realized eschathology, preterism, idealism and a few others.


#9

The tension Hanz speaks of must first be individual, intrapsychic, I believe. Only when the tension is faced and processed within a critical mass of individuals can the hermeneutical community function as intended, surely.

This church faces schism if individual projections are not reabsorbed and processed intrapsychically, I believe.

And, yes, I’m glad Hanz chose the word ambi-valence.

ambivalence, from Latin ambi- (“in two ways”)+ valeō (“be strong”); equivalent to ambi- +‎ -valent.

Wiktionary




It brings to mind Hanz’ delightful phrase, “Enchanted Dialectical Theology.”


An Adventist pastor once told me I was “all heart and no head.” I’m pretty sure it was meant as an insult.

Another pastor, years later, told me, “If you want to be an Adventist, you need to grow about sixteen more layers of skin.” I’m pretty sure it was meant as an insult.

The head and heart must (literally!) work together: ambi-valence.

Feeling, physical feeling, must be revived and faced.

Feeling is the tacit dimension from which we may mine endless insight, if we can face into the onslaught of suppressed, individual and transgenerational disowned feeling.

Not for the faint of heart. Or for those who denigrate the Feminine in themselves and the Kosmos.

Enough said. I have work to do…


image


Enchanted Dialectical Theology:


Richard Rice Discusses “Re-imagining God: Peril or Promise?”
(Sirje) #10

Hey, that’s my life in a nutshell. Possibly minus the intelligence part since I can’t place the gospel together with SDA picture of last day events.

@Luna

None of us can ever see the whole picture.We are each running around on our own treadmill in our own cage, unaware of other wheels in other cages and imagine we’re actually going somewhere. We have pictures of history in our brains that don’t allow us to consider alternatives. No two cultures or even people work from the same historical background. Reality eludes us all - if there even is a reality beyond what we perceive. All we can do is stay true to the one we have; leave the other guy to work from his (unless he hurts someone I love more than him). This is why cultures with totally different histories can’t even talk to each other - no common fulcrum. Language doesn’t help ether - kindness can be translated as fear; and power can mean authority etc.

Back to Cassie: Realized, but, “not yet” eschatology goes right along with the definition and characteristics of TIME. If we could learn to work them in balance, as you say, we might make some progress on that wheel.


(Brad(Luna)) #11

Yes, we are certainly limited by our cultures, languages, values etc. That’s why understanding and education are so important. That being said, I don’t buy into the postmodern idea that there is no ultimate truth.

Just because it’s difficult to ascertain doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

(I’m not saying you are a proponent of this form of postmodernism, just responding to another tendency I see when people start talking about the difficulty of knowing truth).


(Sirje) #12

I try not to operate within boundaries set by labels, There has to be an ultimate truth, but I don’t believe we can find it this side of eternity.

“To thine own self be true”.


#13

Back to our all-important view of God, I think, Sirje.

And that is created by experience, experience, experience, I believe. Nothing substitutes for experience.

Ellen White said we have much to learn and much to unlearn.

I hope everyone will read this whole page of Ellen White quotes:

http://www.gilead.net/egw/books/misc/Counsels_to_Writers_and_Editors/index.htm?http&url=www.gilead.net/egw/books/misc/Counsels_to_Writers_and_Editors/6_Attitude_to_New_Light.htm

Only God can teach us, individually and collectively, what He is, and what He is not:



I don’t believe there is a wheel, or progress on that wheel.

As I see it, Sanctification is not the process of becoming more “perfect” in the usual Adventist sense (e.g., getting the victory over cheese, smoking and masturbation), but the process of becoming less resistant to the ever-flowing abundant Grace of God, and thereby incrementally becoming more all-inclusive, as God is All Inclusive.

In other words, simply learning to Stay Out of God’s Way.

Oswald Chambers:

image

One should not be surprised if this takes years of painful dealings with God and the world.

The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.

—Song of Songs




Call it Satan, call it our conditioned brain, call it strongholds, call it complexes…call it what you will, only God can set us free.

Watchman Née:

image


Ellen White: Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel’s message, and I have answered, “It is the third angel’s message in verity.”

—The Review and Herald, April 1, 1890



(Sirje) #14

Cassie,
“Making progress on the wheel” is not a work of perfection, if that’s what you think I meant. My personal experience on the treadmill has to do with balancing the God of love with the gross evil that fills the earth. It really bothers me, until I realize the picture of God I’m trying to reconcile with, what’s going on in real life was fed to me by particular religious belief that may or may not be true. I think we try to make ourselves believe what “they” say we should.

If we value the Christian picture of God, all we really have for a definition is Jesus. Years ago I remember reading something by Ellen W. that we should spend an hour every day contemplating Jesus. That sounded impossible. What could anyone have to think about- I wondered, clutching the four gospels. Over fifty years later, I’m still learning - the experiential part of that.


#15

Mine as well.

I really tried that, for a long time…until the wheels fell off.

True. But that doesn’t solve the theodicy problems, at least for me.

God and Nature (not to mention Seventh-day Adventists) are very wasteful of their children. Unless something else is the case. . . .

Same here. But maybe it’s about feeling, rather than thinking, tacit knowledge, rather than explicit knowledge?

One of my sons married the daughter of a doctor from the Mayo Clinic who was world renowned for his ability to diagnose unusual conditions. We must never underestimate the seeming magic of tacit knowledge, I believe!

Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

—Hebrews 5

So might it be that early Adventists seized upon an understanding of Christ’s priestly ministry before they were “of full age” to understand—in other words, eager, but, lacking experience, and therefore dull of hearing?

And might we possibly revisit our understanding now that we, the hermeneutical community, have more experience and knowledge, and (potentially) the means to unpack them adequately?

We can’t strip Christianity (or Adventism!) of eschatology. We have to do something with this quandary, and its heavy freight of theodicy problems, it seems to me.


#16

These are the days of your servant David, rebuilding a Temple of Praise:

“In that day I will restore David's fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name," declares the LORD, who will do these things.

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills.”

—Amos 9

http://www.wildolive.co.uk/david’s_tabernacle.htm

Ellen White:

God Will Finish The Work In Righteousness

When God would have a special work done for the advancement of the truth, He will impress men to work in the mines of truth with prayerful earnestness to discover the precious ore. These men will have Christlike perseverance. They will not fail or be discouraged. They will sink self out of sight in Jesus.

Men will go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way for the second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is their work to make crooked things straight.

Some things must be torn down, some things must be built up. The old treasures must be reset in a framework of truth.

They are to preach God’s Word; their testimony must not be molded by the opinions and ideas that have been regarded as sound, but by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. They are to lift up Christ and call sinners to repentance. They are to practice the graces of Christ, to pursue a straightforward course, breaking down skepticism and urging upon all their personal responsibility to be kind and courteous, to do good and to win souls to Jesus.

— 1888, p. 169.

The Lord is sending His angels, preparing the hearts of the people to receive the truth. And if we are only consecrated to His service, we shall be sent forth in the spirit and power of Elijah.

—5MR 72.

John the Baptist went forth in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way of the Lord and to turn the people to the wisdom of the just. He was a representative of those living in these last days to whom God has entrusted sacred truths to present before the people to prepare the way for the second appearing of Christ.

—Mar 118.

This Prophecy Will Be Fulfilled

There is to be in the churches a wonderful manifestation of the power of God, but it will not move upon those who have not humbled themselves before the Lord, and opened the door of their heart by confession and repentance.

In the manifestation of that power which lightens the earth with the glory of God, they will see only something which in their blindness they think dangerous, something which will arouse their fears, and they will brace themselves to resist it.

Because the Lord does not work according to their expectations and ideal, they will oppose the work. ‘Why,’ they say, ‘should we not know the Spirit of God, when we have been in the work so many years?’ — Because they did not respond to the warnings, the entreaties, of the messages of God, but persistently said, ‘I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.’

— 1888, p. 765.


The Adventist Bioethics Consortium (Day 2)
(Kim Green) #17

“Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor. 13:13

Amen…amen.


(jeremy) #18

this characterization isn’t accurate…in her GC intro, egw certainly does claim special revelation…and she goes on to explain that she uses adventist authors in the same way she uses secular historians: she either cites them or borrows from them when theirs is “a ready and forcible presentation of the subject”, GC:xii…in cases of unattributed borrowing, she specifically explains that she did so in order to avoid giving the impression that that source was an authority to which she turned for information…this is hardly “fossilizing” into irreductible perpetuity any existing church end-time understanding through her imprimatur…

this would be a meaningful point if it could be proven that the original author not only always understood the full significance of his words, but chose those words to convey that full significance…but we all know this isn’t the case…for instance, there is no chance that hosea knew that his recitation of israel’s exodus, recorded in Hos 11:1, was really evidence for jesus’ messiahship, nor is there any chance that he chose the wording of his recitation to convey this meaning…for that matter, none of matthew’s messianic proofs, offered at the beginning of his gospel, can be drawn from even the most generous exegesis of any of his OT sources…

and did abraham understand the plan of salvation when, in answer to isaac’s question, he assured Isaac that god would provide “a lamb for a burnt offering”, Gen 22:8…was this particular choice of words intended to convey that understanding…that is, are we to infer that abraham understood the typology hinted at in the book of Hebrews hundreds if not thousands of yrs later, and was choosing his words to convey that understanding…in reality, even moses likely did not understanding the eternal plan that would see a member of deity forever relinquish exclusive divinity, if he even understood the existence of the trinity in the first place…

but more to the point, daniel was specifically instructed to shut up his vision of the cleansing of the sanctuary because it applied to “the time of the end”, and wouldn’t be fulfilled “for many days”, Dan 8:17,26…even if we argue for a maccabean fulfillment for the time element in this vision - centuries after daniel’s demise - we are still looking at a situation where daniel, the original writer, certainly didn’t understand what he wrote, and couldn’t have been choosing words to convey any dispositive meaning…he specifically notes that “none understood” the vision, Dan 8:27, which can only be true if he himself also didn’t understand it…

it is so much better to recognize that inspiration, like god himself, is timeless, and that its meaning cannot therefore be restricted to a point in time in the past, and specifically to what the original writer could have been expected to understand…in fact, if it is true that spiritual understanding is incremental and progressive, Proven 4:18, it is necessarily the case that the original writer can never be in possession of a full understanding of his words…and because exegesis can only uncover what was originally meant, under the best of circumstances, this really means that it cannot be relied on to determine the real meaning of a timeless inspired text…only a subsequent inspired writer, like a matthew, or an egw, can be expected to uncover that meaning, at least for the purposes of his or her time…


(Sirje) #19

Our view of God is muddled. Without getting into a discussion of the various factions involved, the TRINITY was the product of the Council of Nicaea. It divided God into three persons.

We see God, sending His Son, Jesus, to earth as a human being; and He, in turn, sends the Holy Spirit, another actual spiritual person, to deal with each of us personally. Jesus dies a horrible death, and goes back to the Father to sit on a thrown, next to the Father (but, at the same time, also to minister in some outer court in heaven until 1844) the Father now satisfied - while the HS, divides ITSELF between millions of individuals on earth.

That would be the literalist view we are taught. That all sounds like a story out of Greek mythology without the battles between the three gods; although, there were battles, apparently, which resulted in God throwing the angel, responsible, down to earth, where He intended to place man into a garden - to do battle with this powerful angel - that managed to convince 1/3 of the angels to rebel against GOD.

We accept this picture as a package, but never really unpack the package to see if it hangs together. In this scenario, Jesus dies, but returns to heaven where He came from.

We have to ask, where is the ultimate sacrifice?
Why did God, the FATHER, need this horrible death?
What’s the difference between a three-person, and the multiple gods that came before?

How would the picture change if there is actually the ONE God, the creator of everything that is, who came to earth to gather His children to Himself, and show them His character that had been distorted and manipulated. The price God paid was to be killed by the very people He came to save, as the new Adam - to give them a legacy of obedience out of love, rather than fear - to set up His kingdom on earth, which its inhabitants would physically and spiritually destroy at some point. The pain God endured at the cross was less physical than it was the pain one experiences when they have been betrayed by your own. I know, Jesus prayed “to the Father” as he was dying, so there must have been two separate entities. God, as the second Adam (from Paul) became man with the same relation to His holy state as man has - (GOD and CREATOR) .

Like I said, our picture of God is muddled at best. These are issues difficult to put into word pictures. It’s more about relationships of SPIRIT, where life actually eminates from, as it’s played out in, what we call, life events. So, we call God the FATHER following Jesus’ example as He set the man-to-God spiritual relationship for us.

I think where it gets muddled even more, is that God loves the sinner; but hates the sin; and His WRATH is against the sin, not the sinner. If man comes into judgment, the verdict is for the sinner, but against the sin. We don’t get that. Like the workers in the field didn’t understand why those who just started working got the same pay they did after hours of labor. We don’t know what happens to our spiritual connections as life drains from our bodies and we face some spiritual truths, even if only briefly at the moment of death. Forgiveness for all?


#20

Good point. All attempts at conceptualizing Infinity are forever going to prove grossly inadequate, surely.

That’s why I like Hanz’ dialectical approach to theology. It allows for us to process experience, and refine what we collectively say about God over time (if I’m not misunderstanding him, which may be happening).

If we don’t have direct experience with God, however misinterpreted at the time, there is no material to refine conceptually, and our theology will remain sterile, and our words a pile of straw.

When we’re ready, God is ready. God was ready before the foundation of the world.

(I may be wrong, but then I’m stuck with intractable theodicy problems.)

The fruit of Revelation is about to fall in our laps, propelled by the inexorable force of Grace…will we catch it?


Evil: Ancient and Modern