Jerald Whitehouse Explores Invisible Remnant and Hermeneutical Community

Jerald Whitehouse, who served for thirty years in primarily Muslim countries such as Libya, Lebanon, Sudan, and Bangladesh, and for fifteen years as Director of the Global Center for Adventist-Muslim Relations, returned to the Roy Branson Legacy Sabbath School (RBLSS) in Loma Linda, California on September 16 to explore once again two concepts which he had introduced six weeks earlier. These were “Invisible Remnant” and “Hermeneutical Community.”

He had presented these ideas in his commentary on Chapter 7 in Where Are We Headed? Adventism After San Antonio by longtime editor of the Adventist Review William G. Johnsson. The title of this chapter is “Mission: Beyond Counting Heads.”

Whitehouse began by reading a brief paper. Appealing to his own experiences, as well as to the methods and successes of the earliest Christians, he concluded that the Gospel “can move into any culture, religious tradition, or political environment and transform people within their contexts by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Although it is true and important, this conclusion would not be controversial were it not for three words. These are “within their contexts.”

These three words mean that individuals or groups may become authentic disciples of Jesus without leaving their original communities of faith and culture. He explicitly states that a Muslim can become a genuine follower of Jesus without ceasing to be a Muslim and without openly identifying with any form of Christianity. By the same reasoning, it would seem that Buddhists can become Christians and remain Buddhists and that Taoists, Zoroastrianism, and the members of any other community of faith can do the same thing.

We must qualify this in at least two ways. The first is that Whitehouse thinks it best when talking with Muslims not to speak about “Christianity” because many of them think of it as “Christendom” and experience it as triumphal, colonial, imperialistic, plus culturally and morally decadent. The second is that, as one of the three Abrahamic religions, Islam is closer to Judaism and Christianity than it is to other religions.

Many Adventists think of themselves as belonging to the “visible remnant” or just plain “remnant.” They respond differently to the suggestion that there might also be an “invisible remnant” which is comprised of all those in other communities of faith, or no faith at all, who make every effort to know the truth and follow it wherever it leads.

Some swiftly accept this idea because it closely related to what they call the “universal church.” Others find it objectionable because it does not necessarily call people to “come out of Babylon” or anything else. It leaves them where they are, albeit transformed in positive ways by the Gospel.

Being a Christian or Adventist Muslim is not good enough for them. They believe that one must stop being a Muslim. They take this to be a matter of “either/or” whereas Whitehouse is more inclined to think in terms of “both/and.”

Whitehouse describes the “Hermeneutical Community” as a “community of learning” or “learning community.” The whole church, and not merely its theological experts, should determine what its theology will be. They should appeal to Scripture, rely on the Holy Spirit and consult with each other. The Holy Spirit will enable people in the “visible remnant” and “invisible remnant” to learn from each.

One person in the discussion enthusiastically commended Whitehouse for his interactions with Muslims over the years. Others gently challenged him. Unfortunately, the camera lingered too long over a person who was benefiting from a Sabbath rest.

WATCH: Jerald Whitehouse on "Exploring 'Invisible Remnant' and ‘Hermeneutical Community'"

Dr. David Larson is Professor of Religion at Loma Linda University.

Image Credit: Video Still

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Whitehouse explicitly states that a Muslim can become a genuine follower of Jesus, without ceasing to be a Muslim.

I personally find the Islamic god, “ Allah “, to be an implacable, violent deity, as exemplified by SHARIA LAW — a harsh, punitive, relentlessly cruel codification, that happily throws gays off ten story buildings , allows marital rape, female genital mutilation, and other misogynistic degradations.

The hijab-clad sister of one of the recent London Islamic terrorists, posted on her Facebook page : “ Congratulations, brother on entering Paradise “.

Therby endorsing his slitting the throats of helpless London citizens with a machete, thus gaining Allah’s favor with seventy virgins at his sexual disposal in the afterlife.

Is Adventism’s drift towards the heretical “headship “ dogma, an attempt to nudge us towards the Saudi normative, where females require masculine permission to engage in any normal daily activity ??

For me, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, and the Allah of Islam are virtually identical —-violent deities who rule by fear and not by love.

So I find it very difficult to accept that one can be a true adherent of Sharia Law, a Muslim, and also be loving, compassionate, merciful, kind and tender —the epitome/ quintessence of Christianity, and the antithesis of harsh Islamic Sharia Law.

Surely the two are incompatible.


The biggest hurdle the Muslim will face is the death and Resurrection of Jesus. Most do not believe He died on the cross, let alone was resurrected.

Islamic view of Jesus’ death

That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;-
— Qur’an, sura 4 (An-Nisa) ayat 157–158

However, some are challenging this interpretation, stating that there are other verses in the Quran which say otherwise:

Professor and scholar Mahmoud M. Ayoub sums up what the Quran states despite interpretative arguments:

The Quran, as we have already argued, does not deny the death of Christ. Rather, it challenges human beings who in their folly have deluded themselves into believing that they would vanquish the divine Word, Jesus Christ the Messenger of God. The death of Jesus is asserted several times and in various contexts.
— 3:55; 5:117; 19:33. [Will provide verses bellow]'_death

3:55. God said, “O Jesus, I am terminating your life, and raising you to Me, and clearing you of those who disbelieve. And I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return; then I will judge between you regarding what you were disputing.

5:117. I only told them what You commanded me: that you shall worship God, my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them while I was among them; but when You took me to Yourself, You became the Watcher over them—You are Witness over everything.

19:33. So Peace is upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the Day I get resurrected alive.”


The 5:117 verse seems a little iffy, but the other 2 are quite compelling. Let us hope and pray that these scholars can convince the Muslim world.

I think the point is not whether we follow certain rituals or certain days; or even if we believe this or that, but whether we accept the pardon granted through Christ - do we recognize our need for pardon. Myriads of people have gone to their graves without the Christian faith even having appeared on this earth; and not every nook and cranny of this globe has heard of Jesus enough, or at all, to have formed an opinion or a resolve to believe or not to believe.

It seems to me, the salient point is how we view ourselves and other people in our lives; what is our relationship to them. Had we stumbled across someone called Jesus of Nazareth, what would have been our response to a character like that. Would we have tenaciously held on to the accepted rituals of our feeble faiths, or would we respond with honest hearts. "“Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do to me.” - The way we relate to those around us, is how we would have related to Jesus. The details are irrelevant.

When Paul, in Romans, says that "Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law …in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts,their conscience bearing witness…". At this point, the law is basically LOVE GOD AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF.

This makes the “church invisible” the heart and soul of the church that IS visible; and puts meaning in the words of Paul “God does not dwell in buildings made with hands” - no matter how impressive the edifice.


Sirge,.you’ve just described the essence of true worship.

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Similar to Karl Rahner’s anonymous Christians?

This sounds more Buddhist in concept than Christian, to me. While one cannot equate belonging to a visible ecclesiastical structure to being a genuine follower of Christ, how can one get away from publicly and openly confessing his name as part of being his follower/ disciple? It’s all over the NT.

All of Jesus’s original followers, though Jewish, openly declared their allegiance to him. Peter publicly denied him, and needed to be reinstated. They did so at the risk of being ostracized from Judaism. Eventually, they were. Muslims take the same risk, especially in those countries. It is for this reason that one would not want to place such a demand upon Muslim followers of Jesus… out of compassion.

However, Christianity is built on Jewish monotheism recast in Jesus of Nazareth. Islam is not, though it claims the same tradition. How can such incompatibility be considered both/ and? And even more crucially, how would that ever be accepted within Islam, unless a person conceals their allegiance to Jesus?



or we could see adventist catholics, adventist anglicans and adventist lutherans…in which case maybe we should just drop the adventist part…

infiltrating other religions and effecting change from within probably does have the potential to be an effective strategy…i know some people believe our church has been infiltrated by jesuits pretending to be adventists, and that they’ve had some success, especially in our university communities…

And yet… Adventists have incorporated some Jewish beliefs and practices into their own lifestyles and practices. And many Adventists don’t seem to find the idea of Adventist Jews (or is it Jewish Adventists?) as abhorrent as a tolerance for some kind of Catholic/Adventist accommodation.

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It’s called sanctification. Remember that? “The work of a lifetime?” Doesn’t happen at the same speed for everyone. Demanding lockstep conversion stories is engaging in some pretty serious control issues, seems to me. I’m not the Holy Spirit. I don’t get to tell anybody when it is time to get up and confess Jesus openly. That’s his job, not mine.

I suppose because of the Sabbath and the OT dietary laws, many Adventists fetishize the Jewish tradition - even though Jews think our attempts at observing kashrut are a joke, and the few Jews who observe the Sabbath (a very small minority) don’t think much of our Sabbath-keeping.

I am afraid that this kind of view will prevents the genuine Muslims to know about Jesus.
The views that you are mentioned, were not represent their whole beliefs. Not all Muslims know
their beliefs well, hence they were susceptible to the perverted teachings of the radical ones.

I settled in Indonesia, where the moderate Muslims struggled with the hardline ones, at best our tolerance seemed tenuous yet still exists despite the frequent persecutions there.

While I dislike the attitude of the hardline groups , they are but a minority in Indonesia. There were more moderate Muslims than the hardline one. Among them, there were a genuine one who thirst for the truth of Jesus. What we need is the proper method to testify among them.

I apologize if my English is not very good.

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An excellent answer to Islam is seen at because Gabriel told Daniel, “The vision [chazon of ram and goat!] is at the time of the end.” verse 17. The Medes & Persians are Iraq & Iran, and we should understand that Zech 14:1,2 will make the goat angry so it clobbers Iran and from a decree to restore Jerusalem (after Zech 14:2) will be 69 weeks to an anointing for us if we understand the end-time application and are seeking it.
That decree to restore Jerusalem was what left Israel return from Persia in 456 BC, and we should take a lesson from Ellen White’s LAST title, “The Captivity & Restoration of Israel” that publishers sadly changed to Prophets & Kings (MEANINGLESS) when her title came from Jer 30:3–look it up as the context for the next New Covenant Promise chapter with an OVERLOOKED CONTEXT in Jer 31:8,10,16,17, but we must have that promise of a new heart before Christ comes. Laodicea is indeed blind, Rev 3:17. Please visit and if you might like the pdf, send me an email for “God Bless America?” to