On History and Prophecy: A Discussion About the Eurocentric Basis of Adventist Prophetic Interpretations

Rabbi A. J. Heschel, in his now classic text The Prophets, upon lucidly analyzing the consciousness of Israel’s ancient prophets, observes that a “prophet’s task is to convey a divine point of view, yet as a person he is a point of view. He speaks from the perspective of God as perceived from the perspective of his own situation. We must seek to understand not only the views he expounded but also the attitudes he embodied: his own position, feeling, response — not only what he said but also what he lived… the subjective side of the message.”1 The Rabbi’s project is also that of this essay. The intention of this essay is to understand the views and attitudes embodied in the Adventist interpretation of prophecy as well as to understand the subjective side of the Adventist prophetic narrative.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/views/2020/history-and-prophecy-discussion-about-eurocentric-basis-adventist-prophetic

Fascinating article…thank-you.

For the Native peoples of the US there has been, and still is, a struggle going on to survive on minuscule amounts of land that they ended up with after the European Invasion. Their language and cultures were stripped away or even objectified as “dangerous” and “pagan”. From their perspective what ended up becoming the “United States” was anything but “peaceful”.

Though not mentioned explicitly in the article, “Manifest Destiny” shaped the lens through which the European settlers saw the land and its resources. Therefore, the “New World” was their God-right and expansion and exploitation was therefore necessary.

It would have been impossible for the founders of Adventism to escape this commonly accepted idea that impacted and shaped Adventist belief.


Thank you Blessing for this eye-opening article! Obviously, we need people from Africa to remove our European cultural blinders in our preaching. This is a good example of how the diversity in the SDA church can be used to enrich us all. The question is, are such voices heard among us and is anything changing after they have spoken? Scary thing is that in this case our cultural blinder has to do with European colonial past. As a Christian, I do not want to have anything in common with that history of terror. But, it seems that it is hunting us even in our preaching.


I would certainly welcome a re-evaluation of the SDA Daniel and Revelation interpretation. After all, Rome, while a powerful empire, was never a “World Empire”. And while the Roman Empire has never been recreated, there have been many empires whose reach, strength, power, population and influence far exceeded that of the Roman Empire at its apogee.

Moreover, in this Eurocentric and anti-Catholic viewpoint, the big issue is prophecised to be between two competing versions of Christianity, while the vast majority of the world’s population, being non-Christian, does not figure into the scheme.

But if we do rethink SDA eschatology, the challenge of course, is (a) what to do with EGW’s endorsement of Uriah Smith’s interpreation and (b) what to do with “The Great Controversy”. Perhaps we can pass on the historical errors in the book, but we cannot jettison EGW’s eurocentric obsession with the papacy without calling into question the authority of her oeuvre writ large. But until the church is ready to confront the cult of EGW (and risk the inevitable split with the EGW loyalists), the official church will be locked into the Eurocentric/Americacentric eschatological paradigm, and will be waiting for a papal-protestant US “National Sunday Law” that will never come.


Maybe we can start with eliminating “the Great Controversy” as the 67th book of the Bible.


Thanks for the article–
The author does not mention the millions (one estimate is 12 million–half the number of Jews killed in the holocaust) of Africans imported to the ‘New World’ to help establish this lamb like beast! It took a bloody war between the states to free the slaves and it is continuing struggle even today to provide equal status by this Eurocentric lamb like beast!
Then there is the Trail of Tears . . .


Very good article. Now do the same with the Great Controversy book.


Thank you Pastor Blessing Mbele
for your profound, conscience raising exposé of the Eurocentric Adventist prophetic interpretations !

I myself , in a revulsion to apartheid, emigrated from South Africa in 1959.

Sirje, I applaud your comment about the GREAT CONTROVERSY as being, for Adventists. the 67th book of the Bible.

Uriah Smith’s Eurocentric interpretation of Revelation did make eminent sense to the white, colonial fellow Americans of his era, and was slavishly adopted / plagiarized by White for her GREAT CONTROVERSY thesis.

Mbele has stunningly dissected the imperfections of the Adventist position.

I myself have found the GREAT CONTROVERSY to be untenable for other reasons :

EGW delineates our theology as being an epic struggle between good / evil, Christ / Satan, for the edification / enlightenment of “THE UNIVERSE “
— those onlookers in heaven and “ unfallen worlds “ who become the JURORS in this trial.

If six millennia of egregious atrocities have not yet convinced “ the universe “ / the jurors that Satan is evil, what will ??

Since EGW’s demise we have had two world wars, the holocaust, Stalin’s gulag, Hiroshima, and Armenian, Pol Pot, Rwandan and Bosnian genocides — all so calamitous as to convince any “ jurors “ of rendering a verdict.

So why is this verdict / judgement so delayed ?

The “ good angels “ in heaven viewing the enormity of the Holocaust, must be mere automatons, without emotion nor feeling, not to be clamoring to God to curtail the carnage —stating, that since the horrors of Calvary, they had already been ready to vote their verdict !

As for the “ unfallen beings “ on other planets, they have to be either in total quarantine / black out censorship of events on planet earth , or they are of the mentality of aliens in the movie PLANET OF THE APES.

Any prospective “ juror “ in this epic controversy, who did not reach a verdict while viewing Calvary, is not worthy of participating as jurors in this supposed saga— the GREAT CONTROVERSY by EGW.

Furthermore, with huge swaths of the earth IMPERMEABLE to the Gospel / Christianity
— the one billion Muslims who disallow the bible, Christian churches in their territories
—- thé billion plus Chinese communists
—- thé billion plus Hindus who remain impervious to Christian doctrine
—— thé “ westernized “ supposedly “ judeo-Christian element becoming increasingly secular, non church / synagogue attending
— we can assert that this GREAT CONTROVERSY, currently has to be deemed a calamitous defeat for Christ and His followers !


That would be a start, but it’s not going to happen without an organizational split. Maybe the “women’s ordination” issue will be the catalyst for such a split, but even then, few pro-“WO” advocates are ready to admit that EGW got some stuff wrong - badly wrong.

So people who are not willing to accept “The Desire of Ages” as the fifth inspired Gospel, and who reject “The Great Controversy” as the inspired road map to the future, will continue to viewed as trouble-making heretics.


Besides the historical problems, there is the Americanization of the end time “signs” that are supposed tell the entire world that Jesus is soon returning. Like the Japanese or the Fiji islanders need to believe that God is signaling Christ’s return by the “falling of the stars, and the darkening of the sun,” which are supposed to be a global, if not, a cosmic events - by displaying them specifically over New England. Maybe the nineteenth century New Englanders thought it a big deal as the stars fell over Maine, but islanders in the Pacific didn’t know Portland from Pluto. It’s a bit ego-centric to weave your denomination’s identity into the biblical prophetic interpretation.


i think there’s is a bit of a non sequitur going on in this conclusion…establishing that uriah smith operated from a eurocentric ideology doesn’t necessarily cast suspicion on the prophetic narrative explained by seventh-day adventists…this is because uriah smith and other early adventists were humans, and all humans operate within the broad ideology surrounding them…what would have been suspicious is if uriah smith’s interpretation of Revelation 13 didn’t reflect a eurocentric, but a chinese, mayan or san ideology…

we see ideology operating within other biblical prophecies, as well…for instance, why was daniel obsessed with babylon and the medes and persians, and from a jewish standpoint, of all things…many other distinct, and even great, civilizations existed at that time, that see no definite mention in his visions…christ’s prophecy of jerusalem’s fall, presumably to rome, also a jewish obsession, also ignores many other ideologies that existed at that time…perhaps christ should have alerted his listeners to the disappearance of the nok culture in 200 AD…

political correctness doesn’t really feature in the bible, certainly not amongst its most important heroes…christ said the following to a non-jewish woman:

“Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” Jn 4:22.

strictly speaking, this is quite rude…yet it is something we believe the person we worship really did say…

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Wasn’t this a quote referring to Christ himself who was a Jew?

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yes, and this makes his statement even worse…not only was christ stuck on his race, he was stuck on himself…

With all respect to them, those beings’ IQ must be significantly low. How much more proof do they need in order to finally be convinced that the results of sin are calamitous?

If our Earthly tragedy, so far, was not yet enough to convince them that God is Love, what will? And why are they so suspicious of God that He has to vindicate Himself using human extreme and prolonged suffering as a proof?

Some dots can’t be connected. The White Estate needs to dig a little bit more deeper into that famous vault. Maybe there are still some hidden manuscripts that actually explain this issue thoroughly. I am sure they are there, somewhere…

Nough of this nonsense… :innocent:


Being just an heretic, like myself, is not a big deal, not a problem… It’s pretty much innocuous we all know that…

It’s the “trouble making heretics” that wreck the whole thing… They usually ask way too many questions ( just see this @ezbord guy’s post above…). Asking too many questions, or any question at all, is anathema in Adventism. People should live by faith only - no questtions needed… :roll_eyes: :innocent:


Very good read​:blush::blush: with some serious implications on the traditional sda interpretation of Rev 13. Since much of our end time Bible prophecy focuses on the US as a key player, the articles presents a theological dilemma. If we take away the US being the second beast of Rev 13, then we throw away our long held understanding on end time Bible prophecy. My questions are

  1. Do we need to relook at the way we have read Great Controversy and limitations therein
  2. Was not EG white also a victim of eurocentric ideology as a person which made her reproduce Uriah Smith’s views and endorse his book
  3. Is it time we reevaluate our prophetic understanding of end time issues, to take into account alternative views since we do not have a fundamental doctrine on Rev 13 or but an assumed/accepted understanding

What are you saying here? It sounds like you are saying that Jesus was a racist and a narcissist. What was your point in this comment? Thanks.

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…dig the hole a little deeper… :rofl:

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If we don’t, a couple of centuries from now, surely someone is going to have to.

Eurocentric ?

WelI, having te possibility to look at Turkish cannonballs from the Vienna siege in 1683 in fortress walls just in the neighbor town I dare to question this : Th GC only has western Europe in view, just as it was presented to us some decades ago “West of the Iron Curtain”. I invite you to look in (English !) Wikipedia for Habsburg - Ottoman Empire - Siege Vienna 1683 - 1529 - Karl Martel - - - Emperess Maria Theresia creating an armed border with German settlers in Transilvania / now Romania. - - Asia minor and the African coast of the mediterreanean (and Spain - ) had flourishing Christian churches until Mohmmed came - -

There was a continous threat by the Ottoman Islamic empire, up to WW II, the Habsburgs held their empire until 1918 after having reignet for 600 years, this in strong connection to the RCC, their emperors having the privilege to place their objection to the conclaves election of the Roman pope. as one of their last emperors, Franz Joseph (+1916) did ans a personal revenge to the person elected ! - - And the Muslims outreach far into Southeastern Asia ?

See Moscow and Kiew : The position of Russia in History, the both Patriarchs in these two cities claiming to be the superior and Putin following the policy conducted by Moscow through the centuries - with the help of the Russian Orthodox clergy : A good Russian nowadays again is a faithful follower of his national church and so a good citizen on “Mommy Russias” soil - - (Oh well, we are international ! - So an SDA from Moscow when I asked him - - ).