"On The Margins": Reinder Bruinsma’s Facing Doubt

Let me say right off that for decades now I have known and liked Reinder Bruinsma. We have worked together on a few occasions, and I especially remember one fond time on the Island of Malta 20 years ago when we both were in religious liberty work. He is smart, articulate, charismatic, and committed to the church—at least as he understands it.

Which is precisely the problem: his understanding of the church is reprehensible.

Facing Doubt was written, ostensibly at least, to help Adventists “on the margins” not to jump ship. That’s fine, except that, given his views on what the church should be—in contrast (thank God) to what it is—Why would anyone with those views want to belong to it to begin with?

Though Bruinsma had been open, even before retirement, about his positions, in this book he seems to covering himself. Instead of flat out saying this is what I don’t accept, he talks about the Seventh-day Adventist teachings and beliefs that those “on the margins” struggle with, even though he does admit that “I am extremely worried about a number of developments and have serious questions about some of the official beliefs I am supposed to subscribe to.”

What, then, are the “official beliefs” that either he and/or those “on the margins” find so troubling?

For starters, since I have known him, Bruinsma has expressed doubts about the Adventist understanding of last-day events, especially the role of Rome in biblical prophecy. He has dissed our end-time prophetic scenario, deeming it just nineteenth century nativism and, as such, of no relevance today. Besides, many on the margins find this stuff, he says, “a major source of unease and doubt.”

The only problem? The Seventh-day Adventist understanding of papal Rome is founded not on nineteenth-century American bigotry, but on the prophecies of Daniel interpreted through the historicist method, the method that the texts themselves demand. The chronological sequence of Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome prove that the prophecies unveil a successive progression of world history, which is why the historicist interpretation had been used by Jewish and Christian scholars centuries before Adventists adopted it.

In the statue of Daniel 2 itself, Babylon (gold), Media-Persia (silver), and Greece (bronze) are all followed by the iron in the legs that extends through the toes to the end of time. What power comes up after Greece and, though eventually changing form (the iron mixes with clay in the feet and toes), remains the same power until supernaturally destroyed at the end of time? Of course, it’s Rome—solely, totally, and only Rome, which rises after Greece and ends only when the world does.

In Daniel 7, after Babylon (lion), Media-Persia (bear) and Greece (leopard), a fourth beast appears, one that comes up after Greece and extends to the end of time when supernaturally destroyed, just like the iron in Daniel 2 (the little horn power that arises in the head of the fourth beast is still part of the fourth beast). What power comes after Greece and remains (in another form) until the end?

Solely, totally, and only Rome.

In Daniel 8, after Media-Persia and Greece (which are named!), another power arises and remains until destroyed “without hand” (verse 25). What power comes after Greece and endures until the end?

Again—solely, totally, and only Rome. And because Scripture often depicts pagan and papal Rome as one power, and because the pagan phase has long disappeared, papal Rome alone remains the entity unmistakably depicted—and condemned—in Scripture.

Bruinsma simply brushes this off, taking the über-dubious (though über-popular) position that this power is not Rome but Antiochus IV Epiphanes—even if in all three chapters in Daniel that power is an entity of global proportions that remains to the end of the world, while Antiochus (a local hegemon only) vanished 150 years before Christ.

How seriously does Bruinsma take Daniel, anyway? In other context, one about the “extremely shaky” assumptions behind our 1844 doctrine, he wrote that that even though Daniel dates itself in Persian period (about sixth century BC), “most experts on the book of Daniel believe that this section of the book was actually written in the second century BC.” Daniel puts itself in the sixth century, the “experts” put it in the second.

Also, were he correct about Antiochus in Daniel 8, then the entire sanctuary message, including the justification for our church’s founding, and Ellen White’s credibility—it all, of necessity, gets flushed down the toilet. Which (one gets the impression) is where he thinks most of that should go anyway, even if, in talking about EGW, he conceded that her books, at least the ones that aren’t compilations, should be treasured “as devotional reading for the enrichment of our spiritual life.”

Bruinsma also bemoans the fact that Adventists are falling back into what he calls “enemy thinking,” a pejorative way of depicting our end-time scenario—which warns about persecution, violence, and apostasy. Sure, conspiracy nuts exist in the Adventist church, and anti-Catholic billboards do us no favors. But does not the book of Revelation, in the context of final events, warn about religious violence, persecution, and even a decree (Revelation 13:15; see also Rev. 12:17; 13:16-14; 14: 9-11; 16:16; 17:1-7)? All this apocalyptic stuff, he worries, gets in the way of Adventists forming “any close ties with other Christians communities or inter-church organizations.” In other words, our end time message doesn’t help foster ecumenical relationships, which seem so important to him.

Referring to Adventists who, unlike him, actually believe in our end-time scenario, he asks: “Should I not rather focus on Christ as my Friend than on other Christians as my enemies?” A catchy but cheap caricature of the vast majority of members who take our prophetic message seriously.

Bruinsma also wrote about “another tragic example of the steady slide into an utterly fundamentalist reading of the Bible” that he fears has been overtaking our church. What, pray tell, is this “tragic example?” It was the vote, in San Antonio, in 2015, to strengthen the language of Fundamental Belief #6, regarding creation. The Adventist Church, in session, thought that maybe those who take the name Seventh-day Adventist ought to actually believe the name that they take for themselves. And because the “Seventh-day” in our name points to the six days of the creation and the seventh-day Sabbath rest, the idea that you can reject this belief in favor of billions of years of evolution and still be a Seventh-day Adventist, is not only illogical—it is dishonest, and it is wrong.

Also, if the “Seventh-day” in our name can be spiritualized away, what about the “Adventist” part? To be consistent, shouldn’t that too be allegorized into something radically different than what the texts themselves say? Also, at the Second Advent, the dead are resurrected. Is this an instantaneous re-creation, or will God use billions of years of evolution, this time to recreate us, as He (supposedly) did when He created us the first time? And, if not, and He does resurrect us “in the twinkling of an eye,” (1 Corinthians 15:52) then why didn’t He do it like that the first go around?

Facing Doubt, however, gives the impression that Bruinsma doesn’t worry about much of this because he doesn’t believe much of this. In a very troubling section entitled “Miracles,” he questions the validity of the biblical stories about miracles. Lest I be accused of taking him out of context, here is the complete final paragraph in that section:

“Most all of these biblical stories,” he asks, “really be taken at face value? including the ‘mother-of-all-miracles,’ the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Or is there perhaps another way of looking at what happened to Jesus? Must the resurrection perhaps be understood in a spiritual sense? Could it mean that, in spite of the tragic death of their Master, the disciples began to understand the great significance of what he had taught them and the values he represented, and that, as a result, Jesus became alive again, as the Christ, in their hearts?”

He spends a lot of time on what the Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches that he doesn’t agree with, or that he has doubts about. Toward the end of the book, though, Bruinsma does give a summary of what his own Fundamental Beliefs would look like—things like belief in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that Jesus came to earth and has” radically solved the sin problem through His death and resurrection” (even though, as we just saw, he has some interesting views on just what the resurrection means).

His list also includes the statement “that, together will all true Christians, I can be a member of God’s church,” even if he hasn’t said what “false” Christians, as opposed to “true” ones, are. (What? Reinder might have doctrinal criteria that could marginalize others the way that he and other like-minded ones are marginalized by the Adventist Church?) Though nothing’s here that any three-martini-a-day Episcopalian couldn’t agree with, conservative Baptists might wonder why he said nothing about the biblical teachings of sin and judgment (Acts 14:25; Ecclesiastes 12:14; James 1:15; Matthew 12:36; Romans 6:16). The only thing distinctly “Adventist” is when he writes: “that every seventh-day Sabbath I have the unique opportunity to experience the rest that God provides.” Well, at least that’s something, but it hardly sounds as if God commands this rest. It’s just, well, an opportunity that He gives. Thus, even Bruinsma's one distinctly Seventh-day Adventist belief is turned into Pablum. Nothing in his Christianity seems countercultural, nothing in his faith causes him, it appears, to challenge the Zeitgeist. The sentiment seems to be: This is what our culture is now into, so let’s find a way to make our religion fit it, period.

As does most left-wing writing in the Adventist Church, Facing Doubt gives us a fascinating insight into how early Christianity—compromising with the culture instead of challenging it—switched from Sabbath to Sunday. We can see the same principle, right now, play out before our eyes, Facing Doubt being one of the more in-your-face manifestations.

In short, this book confirms what I’ve believed for decades: the Seventh-day Adventist Church would be better off burnt to the ground and rebuilt from scratch than to have an iota of the left-wing’s vision implemented in it. And, as far as all his talk about reaching out to those on the margins, that’s a joke. These people are not “on the margins”—they’re out of the ball park.

Bruinsma is too; he just needs the intellectual honesty and moral integrity to finally admit it.

See also Tom de Bruin's "Facing Doubt: A Review."

Clifford Goldstein is Editor of the Adult Bible Study Guide.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7609

Clifford’s agressive, “take no prisoners,” writing style reminds me very much of Justin Martyr’s writings. However, even with his assertiveness, Martyr manages to insert elements of grace into what he is arguing. Perhaps we would all do well to temper any temptation to ire with a remembrance of how far we ourselves have strayed from time to time but have returned, not driven by harsh rhetoric, but by love. It is possible to call out the evils we see and yet be kind and compassionate in doing so. If it were not possible then my own daily struggles in that arena would be in vain. But in light of Paul’s counsel in 1 Corinthians 13, I have to believe that the struggle to be charitable is not vanity, but entirely possible. May we all find sufficient grace to be graceful to those we disagree with.


From his soap box Cliff Goldstein delivers a passionate defense of the 19th century and a correspondingly harsh condemnation of the 21st, as represented by Reinder Bruinsma. Both men are able defenders of their chosen century, and while I favor the arguments in favor of the 21st, I can readily understand those who like Goldstein, defend dogmas hewn with a prophetic chisel into the rock face of 19th century New England.

Reinder Bruinsma points out the obvious: for the Adventist church to survive in the 21st century you can no longer attribute eschatological meaning to the effects of a forest fire that darkened parts of New England in 1790. Nor can you tell educated people that the Chinese and the Israelis are going to conspire with the Vatican and North American evangelicals to force people to go to church on Sunday on penalty of death. And if you want to discredit the Adventist faith completely, try telling people with a college education that in 2500 BC God drowned every living thing on earth, except eight humans and millions of animals cooped up in a floating crate–and that this flood miraculously spared Egypt, Mesopotamia and China (as well as the rest of the world).

What Bruinsma seems to favor is for Adventists to climb down from their sectarian pinnacle and abandon the church’s self-imposed Messianic role in order to take their place as humble believers in the world-wide Christian church. This of course is anathema to the likes of Goldstein. To give up the church’s Messianic self-understanding–which has tended to substitute for Gospel from the very beginning of the movement, is to 19th century Adventists the same as apostasy.

Bruinsma’s theology is not without serious problems. Religious faith is a frail plant in this century, and when it becomes hard to differentiate between God and his alter ego, No God, most people will prefer the less substantial deity. But Goldstein and the 19th century face even greater problems. Let’s just take his dismissal of a late date for Daniel and the dismissal of Antiochus as “the little horn.”

The fundamental weakness of Goldstein’s soap box view is that while Antiochus today is an historical nobody (which he shouldn’t be), he was an overwhelming apocalyptic personage to the Hasmoneans who fought him. To insist that the writer of Daniel had the privilege of writing from the perspective of 2000 years of distance to his subjects is anachronistic in the extreme. The Book of Daniel was not written in a 19th century marinated in Anti-Catholic conspiracy theories. And to argue that the Roman empire never fell, that it continued in the shape of the western half of Christianity is ludicrous in the extreme. I could go on.

To Reinder Bruinsma I would say: You could not have gotten a better recommendation than Goldstein’s review.


"A catchy but cheap caricature of the vast majority of members who take our prophetic message seriously."
I have observed that Goldstein is an expert on catchy, but cheap caricatures.


Goldstein writes:

“The only thing distinctly “Adventist” is when he writes: “that every seventh-day Sabbath I have the unique opportunity to experience the rest that God provides.” Well, at least that’s something, but it hardly sounds as if God commands this rest. It’s just, well, an opportunity that He gives. Thus, even Bruinsma’s one distinctly Seventh-day Adventist belief is turned into Pablum.”

I haven’t read the book, but this criticism by Goldstein gave me the impression that Goldstein (like many of our Adventist family) has a very arbitrary picture of God. Why we have this discrepancy between legalism where the Sabbath is merely commanded and the Sabbath is a gift given from the heart of our gracious and non-arbitrary God has been a great puzzle to me. How can a gift be commanded? And why does this turn it into pablum? Why is the Sabbath not an opportunity that God gives?

Along with the Sabbath, God gives us freedom. The offering of the Sabbath does not preclude our freedom. We always, ALWAYS have the right to choose it and God himself would have it no other way. I thought Jesus made that clear when he said, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.” -Mark 2:27

It seems Bruinsma is merely reflecting what many are thinking and his book is allowing a place to get the conversation started. God doesn’t get upset over our questions. He has infinite patience and grace and he wants us to use our freedom to look for the answers. If we can’t discuss our differences and judge those who ask the hard questions, we will turn into a generation of robots following what our theologians tell us to think. God desires a heart relationship with each of us and the Bible reveals over and over again how God cares about our hearts and meets people where they are. There are no doctrines greater than God’s love and desire to have a relationship with us. If we are such guardians of the doctrine that no one can ask questions, then how will anyone grow into a deeper knowledge of God?

When I read articles like this one, I wonder if perhaps it really is the second coming of the Pharisees–hopefully Jesus won’t be far behind!


Goldstein’s Victorian Religion
Mr Goldstein:

1.How come Adventist Old Testament scholars paid by the Church do not peddle the classic Adventist views of Daniel and Revelation? Do you actually know any that actually truly believe the classic Adventist views of the 8:14 and 1844 and write on it? I don’t.

2.I actually agree with you that Bruinsma’s view doesn’t have a chance. It is for people who cannot admit with William Miller that it was all one big mistake yet crave to be relevant in the 21st Century

3.However your Victorian religious views don’t have a chance in the 21st Century. It is easy to be an Adventist attack dog in the Adventist alternative universe. Come and spend some time in the UK. Witness the death of Anglo Saxon Adventism. It might provide you with some humility. Ted Wilson loves to go to Rwanda. ‘Easy pickings’ Ted Wilson and his father came to Derry Northern Island for 3 weeks in 2004 to “evangelize”. Zero baptisms.

4.The only hope Adventism has is to accept reality, admit that what brought it into being was a small group of people who could not admit they were wrong and so started cobbling esoteric doctrines together and declaring themselves God’s chosen. Think about it. The Adventist Church is built on nothing. Nothing tangible. At least the Mormons had Golden plates until they conveniently were repossessed by an angel. Adventist believers have to say "we grew out of a mistake where do we go from here’

5.My suggestion for an Adventist future will NOT happen. Denial is so strong. So time will tell as to what will happen. I remember 40 years ago going to the center of Bracknell with a group to witness “Jesus is coming soon”. Even had a banner. The only thing I remember is some old guy saying “He better hurry up. The shops shut at 5:30pm” And Jesus still has not come.

6.Bruinsma has big problems. But Mr Goldstein. So do you. I agree with what you write “what I’ve believed for decades: the Seventh-day Adventist Church would be better off burnt to the ground and rebuilt from scratch” Best wishes, Edgar


Clifford Goldstein
Reinder Bruinsma’s Facing Doubt is unequivocally transparent and unambiguous in it’s considerations of the problems facing Adventism.

In sharp contrast to the Adventist Review, which William Johnsson who edited that publication for over two decades, now has denounced as “muzzled”.

I recall that you have been a ubiquitous poster to this “muzzled” magazine.

It is woefully apparent to any educated reader of the Review, that only “doctored” articles see the light of day, and that church problems of both doctrine and news items are “swept under the rug”.

The White Estate exhibits similar problems in suppressing unsavory details about EGW.

Long suppressed, have been her inflammatory racist comments, where she emphatically declares that whites and blacks should not " socialize with each other" nor should they “worship under the same roof”.

Did EGW envision a Caucasian heaven? With millions of black converts in Africa and other non-white adherents, it becomes more and more likely that EGW’s heavenly mansion will be surrounded by non-whites.

Question: will she socialize with her non-white heavenly neighbors? Was she “white” in both name and racist attitudes ??

As to Adventist doctrines of ROME, Daniel’s “beasts” have been vastly augmented and amplified in EGW’s Great Controversy dogma and so are tainted and suspect. More particularly, since Protestant anti-papal sentiment was prolifically prevalent in her era. Who knows which contemporary Protestant author of her time, provided the pages, paragraphs, and anti-papal pronouncements plagiarized by Ellen??

My critique of EGW’s GREAT CONTROVERSY, appeared in Spectrum’s article featuring Tom de Bruin’s recent review of Bruinsma’s book. My posting was number four, following de Bruin’s review and elicited multiple endorsements (likes).

My remarks were clearly so cogent and credible that neither you, nor the White Estate, posted a plausible protest, a reasonable refutation, nor a rational rebuttal. I doubt you will not to this current posting either, since my remarks are irrefutable!

Bruinsma attests that EGW’s writings should be treasured as “devotional reading for the enrichment of our spiritual life”.

Regrettably, EGW’s most devotional book, Desire of Ages, is heavily “borrowed” from other sources. EGW’s vastly diminished credibility, is self inflicted, due to her prolific plagiarism. More recent revelations, have revealed the robust participation of her entourage of "literary assistants " who penned many of her pronouncements.

Bruinsma’s eloquent and forthright confrontation of Adventism’s problems are clearly troubling to the entrenched establishment.

Clifford, you are the epitome of this entrenched establishment and will no doubt continue to hide behind the facade of your “muzzled” magazine, the run-of-the-mill and unresponsive Review.


Clifford, your “review” is nothing but a diatribe against the clear facts that culture has changed within the First World Countries and Adventism is greatly suffering here. If this were not so, I doubt that you would have spent your valuable time on this “review” because there would be no truth in it.

But as you have so aptly said: “And, as far as all his talk about reaching out to those on the margins, that’s a joke. These people are not “on the margins”—they’re out of the ball park”.

To even say such a thing is to be a horse traveling down the road with blinders on. It is entirely dismissive of you to “marginalize” the “margins” whether or not they are not even in the “ball park”. I wonder if this is the “Christian” way of treating this issue?

Perhaps you would prefer that those on the “margins” shut their mouths and leave the church…it might be easier (and much more tidy after all).


Cliff, you are a “new” convert to our church, with all the fiery enthusiasm and dogmatism of such people. I am a fourth generation Adventist and would like to think this is still “my” church, too. One of the cardinal teachings of early Adventists concerned “present truth,” which meant truth which is relevant to the current times - what people are ready to accept and understand. Jesus told his disciples that he would send his Spirit to guide them into all truth, and this work of the Spirit continues today. We do not live in the same world as Mrs. White, and what was relevant in her day may not be so in ours.

I went through Adventist schools from 1st grade on up, and learned the typical prophecy interpretations. It was not until I was much older and began reading history that I realized Rome was not the last world empire, by any means. In fact, in many ways, my Adventist education was lacking in an accurate world view, and I feel that lack today. If we cannot understand God in a bigger picture than what I learned, we are truly handicapped.

I think there are many, many Adventists, whose education has gone beyond what they were taught in school, who have questions and doubts that Dr. Bruinsma has addressed, and if our church is not to become irrelevant in today’s world, the church needs to address them too.


the SDA Church is not the best pathway to an experience with God through Christ and His Spirit. It is a mighty detour at best. I cherish my friendship with Christain Adventists. Cliff and Ryan Bell present the two extremes that Adventism creates. The task is to find a Christain pastor not a denomination. With its own scaffolding. TZ


Can’t help but weigh in agreeing with Carrol Grady. Yes.

I’m a fifth generation Adventist. I agree with Carrol Grady.

For me religious ideology/dogma in many respects are simply “present truth” or “approximations” for that time.

Present truth is now. Trying to live and move back to a 19th century melange of misunderstandings of reality is a waste of time and an affront to our intelligence.

What matters far more than “dogma” is how we treat one another.

You can believe what you want, but how you take care of community, including those not the “margins” (who may be right in the middle of the church) is more important than adhering to an often antiquarian belief system of narrowly focused dogmas, in essence making that one’s god.

For me Jesus’s message was about love, forgiveness, and the fleshy tablets o of ther heart, AND NOT worshipping a current systematic theology/legal system in any time and any place, but rather G*d All Mighty.

As a Jew will remains a Jew in fact outside and with choice and maybe genetics, I too have been positively blessed by forebears who saw an Adventist message through prisms of love rather than the legalism/systematic dogmatic religion. It is in my genes. No one can throw me out of the Movement even thought they might try based heterodoxy buried in my cranium.

I believe that the Advent Movement if it can get beyond many of the ridiculous, outdated, outmoded versions of “present” truth that date from miss-approximation in the 19th century, the Movement can be a positive healing influence in the world for a long time to come. And, even if it doesn’t, like the Catholic church it can still fill a healing role in the world.

My connection to this movement on several sides are deep and wide, and no fatuous leader or local congregation can right me out of this on heterodoxy as far as I’m concerned. My great great grandfather, Andrew Couey, came home form the Civil War and Andersonville to find that his parents had become Seventh-day Adventists. After the carnage of the Civil War, much of the Advent message must have made a whole lot of sense----particularly about community, healing, and non-violence.
In these areas of practical action, not simply metaphyical notiions, and in Torah, the Messiah’s love—an in the Adventist equivalent of Tikun Olam–we can be ready for the Advent, however, we understand it, each in our own time and place.

Richard Goldstein is being presumptuous to think that the movement/church should kowtow to some 19th century body of mishmash.

In fact, if that’s what he meant, the vary idea of wiping out the claims to the Advent heritage of some is an insult. We went to Adventist schools from early grade school and university. By study, money, and influence, we own our institutions…we are our institutional heritage.

AS such I think we can greatly benefit from those who live on the margins as well as in the heart of the movement. As every classroom has a range of students and belief so doth a church—a global classroom. Where growth and meaning often grow and are found, I believe, is where the Remnant are.

So that’s my rant. And, Richard Goldstein considering the national situation, I would think getting back to a concentration on religious liberty would be a good move for you.

So, hopefully this is what counts most: Blessings to all of us that we may learn, discover, and rest in G*d.

The Shema and Torah is central to our message. So is the Messiah, and the need to submit. For That Day, whenever will come.

That Day may be tomorrow for some of us. And, frankly, I believe the unity of our community in G*d, love, frankly, far transcends our “denominational” boundaries, but includes all people who want to proceed to the Kingdom in submission to the One, to His law, and the Grace bestowed. Where thoughtful discussion takes place with foundations of Kindness, the remnant is found. Always has, always will be.

Next year in Jerusalem.:).


Seventh-day Adventist OT scholars do believe in Seventh-day Adventist Church teachings concerning Daniel 8:14 and 1844. Somehow a notion has gained a measure of prevalence in the Church that our OT scholars (there’s not that many of them, by the way) are besieged with doubt. They aren’t. I converse with them on various occasions and am impressed with their inquisitiveness and willingness to follow the biblical evidence wherever it leads. Just over the weekend I enjoyed reading some email correspondence between a provocateur and Roy Gane that found its way onto the Internet. In my opinion, Gane is a world authority on Leviticus. He teaches at the Seminary at Andrews University. His discussion about Daniel 8:14 and how a day can be a year in prophetic time, as informed by the particular contexts of the texts in question, reads as meticulously as a legal brief. Having opined on various occasions (with a little cheekiness, I admit) that our theologians are not hermeneutists, I was taken aback by a depth of knowledge about hermeneutics I discerned in his writing. I recommend that one way to deal with doubt is to learn from the very few individuals in the Church who actually know what they are talking about.


There is no doubt that an OT scholar in the Adventist church would substantiate “how a day can become a year” would be one of few in the Church who know what they are talking about.

He would not be at the Seminary if he openly disagreed. When esteemed OT scholars NOT in the SdA church agree with this important pillar of the SdA church, it might have more credibility. It is an arbitrary decision based originally by the pioneers that cannot be validated as the only interpretation and is based solely on faith that others have interpreted it correctly. How many members if asked to expain this belief in detail could do so? How many recent sermons have been based on this founding belief?

The majority of OT scholars are in agreement that Daniel’s prophecies were written no earlier and no later than ca 150 B.C., give or take a few years. They also agree that the book of Daniel in our Bible was likely separated by 3 or more centuries.

While Adventists from the beginning adopted the Catholic creed, also known as the Nicene creed, they also reflected the anti-Catholic sentiment prevalent then. They are singly the only religious denomination promoting Daniel’s prophecy as pointing to a heavenly event 2,000 years into the future. This doctrine assumes that humans can know God’s actions in heaven, based on earthly time.

If there are prominent OT scholars in other seminaries who have written in agreement with what Adventists proposed, please give names and more information.


While I appreciate sharing this big tent known as SDA with Mr. Goldstein, I wonder why his SDA mindset if different from mine. I too like @carrolgrady am a product of an SDA line of believers, being a third generation adventist. I too like Carrol am a product of the SDA educational system. I too like Carrol continue to be in good standing in the church. I too like Carrol continue to worship the Lord among the SDA believers. But unlike Mr. Goldstein, I do not consider those who do not share my SDA beliefs to be “out of the ball park” who so need “intellectual honesty and moral integrity.” The only possibility that could explain our different mindsets are the points of origin where we each started our life journey. I can only surmise that his life experience influenced his need to be exclusive while my life experience influenced my need to be inclusive. This has nothing to do with reading the “bible plainly” or SDA hermeneutics but everything to do with “life baggages.” I can only look forward to the day when the Lord changes us “in a twinkling of an eye.”


You can tell when you are getting close to the core of a narcissist.

He (or she) starts to pour on the attack–the sarcasm, vitriol and defensiveness. Compassion goes out the window, and he never takes a moment to consider what life or faith might be like in the shoes of another. He blows his own trumpet of self-righteousness, giving no credit to others, and imagining that he has all the answers to the problems or questions raised by them. “If only you would agree with me,” he screams, “the world’s problems would be solved.” He imagines himself the savior of the doubting and rescuer of the ill-informed. Half-truths stand in for reasoned and reflective discourse.

I am speaking , of course, of Donald Trump, whose displays of narcissistic rage and have polluted our screens for months, as he seeks to hoodwink the American people into believing he can save the world, save America, save the Republican party, and save your soul.

Any resemblance to the current or any other Spectrum writers is purely coincidental.


I read Clifford Goldstein’s so-called ‘review’ of my book with interest. The book must have a certain importance to get Goldstein to write for Spectrum. But I applaud the fact that the editor decided not only to publish the (perhaps too) laudatory review but Tom de Bruin, but also the scathing piece that Goldstein has submitted. It is only fair that readers are presented with different perspectives.

If one wants to get a well-written sample of prose, Goldstein is your man. If you want nuance you should go elsewhere, as his article clearly demonstrates.

After reading his ‘review’ I wondered whether he has actually read the entire book and whether he has actually tried to understand what I set out to do. My main feeling after reading what he says is not so much one of anger but one of sadness. Goldstein shows that he does not, in any way, take serious the questions and concerns that so many have and the struggle so many go through to decide whether they can still in good conscience stay with the church.

Since the book appeared a few weeks ago I have been flooded with messages from people who have thanked me for writing it. Many have told me that they have recognized themselves in this book and have been encouraged by reading it. Many have stated that it will probably help them to stick with their Adventist faith and their church. But for Goldstein these people do not seem to matter. In fact, he seems to feel that nothing would be lost if they simply detach themselves from the church.

Small wonder that Goldstein feels I myself should have the intellectual honesty and moral integrity to also pack up and say farewell to Adventism. Well, I won’t. The Adventist Church may be Goldstein’s church but it is also my church. And, fortunately, Goldstein does not get to decide whether I remain a member in good and regular standing with valid ministerial credentials.And I trust that at least some will see proof of my intellectual honesty and moral integrity in the book that has recently been published.

A few issues in his review really bother me. One is the fact that he does not give a fair appraisal of the entire book. The second, more importantly, is that he misinterprets my statement about the miracle of the resurrection. He could not have read in the book that I personally doubt that Christ was bodily resurrected after his three-day stay in the tomb! If that were not the case I would abandon the Christian faith in whatever shape or form.

When in the past I visited Silver Spring on church business, Clifford Goldstein would often take me to one of his favorite Italian restaurants—in spite of our theological differences. I am not planning to be in Silver Spring any time soon, but if it were to happen, I wonder whether he would still go with me for a meal. I would hope so, and that he would at some point be willing to recognize that he must at least tolerate (the biblical command even calls for showing ‘love’) the likes of me who differ from him in a number of theological areas. I would like to sit down and explain to him that in the eyes of many of those who are ‘on the margins’ he is, in fact, part of the problem. His approach to anyone who disagrees with his supposedly only true version of what Adventist belief should look like, chases many people ‘on the margins’ away rather than bringing them back. And this—making people stay or bringing peopl back—is my ultimate goal. I hope and pray that my efforts will meet with some success and will experience the kind of blessing that Goldstein cannot possibly imagine I may receive.


Reinder. Of course I would take you there (if you would go). As I said I have always said I like you in a personal level and I told my wife that were I to go back to Holland I think you’d still be friendly. I just don’t know how you can expect to take the provacative positions you do and not expect pushback from those of us in the church who are here precisely because of the doctrines you deride. As far as your position on the resurrection, if I misrepresented it, I apologize. I just quoted you but if I missed something later it was inadvertently. But I can’t apologize on the idea of people holding the views you do lacking moral integrity or intellectual honesty. Why remain in a church whose almost every distinctive view you reject? It makes no moral or intellectual sense. If you want to respond we can do by emai (I got your first one).


Thanks Clif. Apologies accepted.


Good–lunch on me at Pepino’ next time you’re in SS. And you can take me to your favorite Pannenkoeken house when I’m back in theNetherlands.


Clifford Goldstein’s review and Reinder Bruinsma’s book, ”Facing Doubt” both do a great service in shedding light on the ”Great Controversy” facing Adventism internally.

Both Clifford and Reinder focus on the phenomenon of Adventism. They are both involved in a struggle about the core foundation of the church, and its ”truth”. And in each their own way, they talk about the same thing. Reinder candidly admits that it is hard to follow one’s conscience, and still believe the classic, literal interpretations. Clifford responds with a colorful, defensive vendetta coupled with a call to leave the fellowship.

“Unfortunately”, the truth in all great literature, in the magnificent tales of the ages, with divinely inspired pictures, is not in their literal interpretation, but in the truth of the human heart caught in the struggle between good and evil. Reinder does the church a service by nudging it in that direction.

And Clifford hits the nail on the head, when he complains about “spiritualizing” the Biblical stories. The sparks flying from his hammer unwittingly demonstrate how discussing the phenomenon of our doctrines, instead of their impact in our lives, sidetracks us from what really matters.

But I believe it is high time that we spiritualize the great stories and prophecies of the Bible. When I read the story of creation I stand back in awe and wonder of a God who has created life that can survive and adapt and multiply and fill the earth. I celebrate the beauty of the seven-day symbolism that spotlights our weekly cycle of work and rest. I want to worship a God who is not constrained by years or weeks and or days, but lives where time transcends human understanding. I need to bow to my creator who gently tries to use human language to help me see a glimpse of the incomprehensible.

It is time that we understand that prophesies are gripping pictures of the struggle in our hearts. It is time that we grasp that the salvation already given us, can free us from selfishness, which is miraculously transformed to a grace and love for others–all others–especially those we may despise or disagree with.

If we don’t spiritualize the Bible’s great stories, then the Bible loses its impact in our lives. If we only seek literal interpretations, we will participate in a spectator sport, distracted from God’s engaging love and freedom.

When Reinder shares his inner thoughts and doubts, I feel a comfort in his company. When he candidly explores his Christianity, he takes us on a walk where there are no forbidden words or thoughts. Because Jesus on the cross could cry the forbidden words: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”, I feel safe in questioning and exploring, because I know that His love and tolerance is far greater than mine.

At first it may be unsettling to change our focus from the epic battles of history to the Great Controversy in our hearts, our daily Armageddon. But as time has mellowed many of us, God’s grace has led to that conclusion. And it is a mind-blowing experience, a road-to-Damascus conversion.