We take unreasonable comfort in thinking we’re the last generation

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Great question, Needs to be asked. What have we done to the least of these.?

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Each generation lives in the “last generation” after it “struts and frets its hour upon the stage”. Why do we need it to be the end of earth’s history to live in fellowship with God’s intent for our lives? In this case, the journey is the destination.


Going WITH God TO God.
That is the way it was with Israel on their Journey in the Wilderness.
That is the way it was with Abraham on his Journey.

What does vindicating the character of God mean to you? Who has vindicated who? Who has extended grace to the other? Man or God?

Colossians 2.
11. When you came to Christ, Christ performed a Spiritual procedure,
the cutting away of your sinful nature.
12. You were buried in Christ when you were baptized. And with Him
you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of
God, who raised Christ from the dead.
13. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful
nature was not yet cut away.
Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins.
14. He cancelled the record of the charges against us, the list of
commandments not obeyed. He destroyed this List of Sins by
nailing it to His cross.
15. In this way He took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin.
And God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at
cross where your sins were all taken away.

Does this place us in the Penultimate.
OR, does this place us in the Ultimate.

  1. Since you died, as it were, with Christ and this has set you
    free from following the world’s ideas of how to be saved – by
    doing good and obeying various rules.
  2. These rules may seem wise because they require strong
    devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But
    they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.
    They only make him proud. — New Living Translation
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Our song should be Amazing Grace. God is not the beneficiary, we are.


Question –
IS the “vindicating the Character of God” by humans ACTUALLY a
Biblical Teaching???
Please provide me a Bible Study on this. Thanks. – Steve

God IS “Love”. As Jesus clarified – God sends His blessings [as in
rain and sun] on the Just and the Unjust [sinners]. Those who worship
Him and those who do not and reject him. He provides for all.


Recently I’ve been reading History of the Origin and Progress of Seventh-day Adventist by M. Ellsworth Olsen and also Origin and History of Seventh-day Adventist by A.W. Spalding.

While we Seventh-day Adventist are at least familiar with the major figures of Adventist pioneers I’d venture to say most know very little of the pioneers with the exception of Ellen White. And even then most Adventist these days may read but little of her writings.

But what amazes me the most (besides the prolific writers among the pioneers) is the shear number of people involved in forwarding the movement after the demise of the pioneers. So many who dedicated their lives to furthering the work with the expectation of Christ’s soon coming. And since reaching retirement age, and with a few health issues, I myself am faced with the realization I may not be living when Christ returns. Somehow I must come to terms with all those years fretting over the time of trouble, the investigative judgement, etc. Seems these things crowed out having a life more abundant.

Thank you for a thought provoking article.

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No. Never was. Never will be.


It may not be Biblical but, as I’m sure everyone here knows, it is an SDA teaching that is a central part of the Great Controversy meta-narrative as EGW presents it. Just wanted to quickly highlight an argument against this teaching that I’m not sure is well known or considered.

I do think that the Great Controversy requires a kind of moral judgment of God and his actions by human agents. As I understand it, the point of Jesus’ redemption was twofold under this view. 1. To save humanity from sin. 2. To vindicate God’s character to the universe and demonstrate that he is morally “right” relative to Satan, who is morally “wrong.” As I understand it, the fundamental controversy is moral in nature. Satan has called God and his government into question, calling it immoral and unjust. Sin has been allowed to continue on this world in part as an object lesson, to provide evidence once and for all of which side is morally right, and justified in their actions.

The problem with all of that is moral ontology. What is it that makes a right thing right or a wrong thing wrong? SDAs typically believe in a divine command account of morality. God’s commands or his nature itself is what defines morally right actions. There is no other standard apart from God. I’m convinced that this view is logically incompatible with Great Controversy Theology.

If God is invoked as the foundation of all moral rightness, then how could humans EVER, even in theory, look at an action of God on this world and judge it to be immoral? It is logically impossible under a divine command theory view of morality. What god does is simply DEFINED as right, and there is no other standard or objective grounding we can use under this moral view to make that kind of judgment of God. If this is one’s moral view, then there can be no moral controversy over God’s character. The “controversy” is solved quite neatly in the very definition of morally right actions. The two beliefs are not just hard to make fit, they are logically incompatible. Either one may be correct, logically, but belief in both ideas at once is incoherent.

I’m trying to be brief for once, but if anyone is curious about a more fully formed argument I can track down some of my informal work on this.


Don, this is a profound question in a few simple words. Thank you.

Janelle and I have been talking a lot lately about the proclivity of our Church to be forward-focused in our personal attitudes and in our evangelism. We are more about populating a future kingdom of heaven than we are about enhancing a kingdom of heaven right now. Yet Jesus said 2,000 years ago that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” “The kingdom of God has come upon you.” “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” “The kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

Somebody gave me a CD by an obscure gospel quartet. I keep it because of one song: You’re So Heavenly Minded, You’re No Earthly Good.

So while we gaze into the mists of the future, trying to anticipate with precision what might happen, and trying to detect signals in the daily newscast, the kingdom of heaven on earth languishes. If we were active in the current kingdom of heaven, I suspect the future would take care of itself.


Matt –
You just gave us a BRIEF STUDY and overview of the emotional status
of the various writers of the 150 Psalms.
And who knows, perhaps the emotional responses to God are the same
causes for the writing down on “paper” with its reading and re-reading
that the Psalm writers had.
Take the story of Abraham and Sodom. The narrative just mentions the
2 cities that he and God bargained over. But actually there were 4 “cities”
that were destroyed in the horrific fire ball. NOT mentioned in the bargaining
But later recalled and mentioned by other Bible writers.
Being told to KILL with a sword every man, woman, child, baby, animal in a
certain location without being told WHY.

Writing down so something can be re-visited. That is what your post offers us
to do as we think about all the various aspects of humans in relationships with
God. And the call of Christ to pray for God’s will to be done on earth, for God to
feed us with Bread every day, and forgive when we fail and bring shame on our
Family name as a child of God.
2000 to 4000 years separate us in time and cultures and circumstances. But it
is obvious as we read the stories told by many different peoples that basics are
the same and don’t change. And we can take some comfort in that as we live
our lives and meet our challenges today.

Matt, you make a crucial argument here. How can mortal man vindicate God? The concept of God being vindicated in the IJ and the Great Controversy Theology were unheard of in Adventist theology for much of my life. I tend to think that these concepts were developed as an alternative to the graceless sanctuary doctrine as presented in The Great Controversy book that many of us grew up with. If these theologies were out there, we didn’t hear anything of them until relatively recent times. I think there was a trigger-point.

Paul was clear when he wrote to the Ephesians. We are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus for one purpose and that is In the ages to come (after Calvary) that God would show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness to us in Christ Jesus. It’s about grace, God’s grace.

It’s not about us. It’s all about God revealing His amazing grace, His kindness, His love in saving lost humanity who deserve nothing but death.

Anybody in God’s vast universe who understands God’s love and grace and kindness and glory revealed through the death and resurrection of our Lord would not even think about vindicating God, let alone through an investigative judgement.

We simply fall at His feet and worship when we see the glory of God’s amazing grace and kindness to us in Christ Jesus.


I might be the only one interested in dissecting this philosophically, but forgive me for pushing a little deeper here. You say that anyone who understands Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s grace wouldn’t think about vindicating God, but those are moral statements you are making about God. When you say God is “good” what do you actually mean? Good by what standard? This is the trouble with moral ontology and Divine Command Theory. If God himself by his very nature is considered to be the definition of moral goodness, then when we say God is good, we are actually saying “God is himself” or “God is what he is.” It becomes a tautology–meaningless.

This philosophical dilemma becomes a little clearer if we think about it in normal human terms for a minute. When we call a human “good” what do we mean? We all may have different foundations for our moral views (different ways to define goodness), but for most Christians the foundation is God’s nature or his commands, so let’s go with that. If I call a human “good” under this view, I mean that she is obeying God’s commands as I understand them. I reach this judgment based on observing her actions and behavior and then comparing it to that standard. Even if some disagree with that way of measuring and judging moral character, it’s still perfectly coherent and consistent. When I call that human “good” I am saying something meaningful about her. She might have behaved differently or lived a different life, but instead her actions and choices are “good,” meaning that they generally match God’s commands and principles.

Now suppose we are interacting with a being of vast, or even infinite power. Suppose, for the sake of argument, we have zero doubt about this being’s existence, and we also know with certainty that they are the creator of the cosmos. How would we come to understand the moral character of such a being? It seems to me that the process must be the same as our human example above. What other choice do we have? The only alternative is to simply ASSUME this entity’s perfect goodness as some kind of necessary fact. And what reason would we have to do so? We certainly wouldn’t do that for a human, so why for an infinitely powerful creator? Does power somehow necessarily imply moral goodness? It certainly doesn’t in human experience, so we don’t really have any cause to think so. So where does that leave us? If we are to have any rational foundation for a belief that God is good, we need to investigate his character by watching and judging his actions morally.

If I assume that the documents in the Bible are 100% accurate records of a real all-powerful entity’s interactions with ancient humans, I can use those actions by God/El/Yahweh as indicators of his moral character, just as I would with a human. So what’s the problem? Well, we’re back to that pesky question of moral grounding. I read about how Yahweh instructed genocide, legislated the ownership and sexual slavery of women, and told his chosen people to follow a moral code based in reciprocal justice. None of that FEELS intuitively moral to my modern conscience, but remember, my conscience isn’t the moral grounding here. We need to measure God’s actions against… God’s nature or commands. Well, God is perfectly moral and good, so anything he does or commands must be good, so… even though it SEEMS bad when he told his chosen people to murder babies, really it MUST be morally good. This makes “goodness” appear startlingly relative. Genocide is “bad” when God forbids it, and “good” when he commands it.

When God is the definition of moral goodness, it is logically impossible to judge any action of God’s and reasonably conclude that it is immoral. Maybe that’s fine with some people, but it has logical ramifications for your worldview. If God is the definition of moral goodness, then 1) we can’t judge God morally at all, 2) so the Great Controversy is impossible, and 3) Great Controversy or no, we also have no rational grounding at all for believing that God is morally good. We simply assume it.

In fact, if God is the foundation of morality, I don’t think humans have any way at all to make independent moral judgments. Morality, under this view, is simply blind obedience to an entity which we have no rational reason to believe is all-good. Consider again the Christian apologist who defends God’s command to racially cleanse the Amalekites. The typical defense goes something like this:
“Those people were already lost, and God, having perfect knowledge of the future–knew it! He knew that in the long run, killing all those women and children would be ‘better’ for everyone. We just have to trust that he is good and knows what he’s doing.”

The trouble here is that the apologist is using unknowable possible futures that only God could know as justification for apparent immoral actions in the present. This sets God up as a sort of “cosmic utilitarian” who might apparently wipe out millions and millions of lives at a time, but only because he knows that it will somehow be “best.” “Best” in this scenario simply means “whatever God wills or commands” because that’s still our standard here. So… how does any of that give me reason to believe that God has my best interest at heart, or humanity’s? More than that, if I truly believed that any action, by God or a human agent, could appear evil yet be good simply because God commands it, then I really do lose any ability to make moral judgments! The command from God is the only thing that matters, not the apparent consequences. This kind of obedience in the face of our own conscience and better judgment is apparently what God wants! See the story of Abraham and Isaac, for example. This kind of morality divorces our behavior from the consequences or harm. This kind of view is what makes it possible for religious believers to kill babies in Canaan and fly planes into the World Trade Center–yet claim that they are morally correct for doing so.

Sorry for the rambling. I just have such a hard time with the circularity of it all. It really does just come down to faith, I think, under this kind of moral view. We just have to give up any hope of making our own choices or listening to our conscience, and follow the letter of God’s law as best we can. It seems like that pretty much leaves us with authoritarian obedience, not true morality and ethical thought. That seems sad to me, and like a pretty poor recipe for a moral society. In my opinion these moral teachings have eroded evangelical Christianity to where it is today in the U.S. It seems like most Christians don’t really think about morality or ethics much. Instead it’s all about the rules and what your authority says to do. That’s left us with a whole bunch of people who have been taught to listen to authority over their own conscience. Seems directly connected to the legacy of Abraham and Isaac, if you ask me.

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I agree. Never heard anything about God being vindicated by man. Did read God vindicated Himself/law at the cross in the person of Christ. PP.68,69.
The other forms of “vindication” seem to be modern revisions that have sprung up around Andreason and G.Maxwell’s Great controversy views from opposite ends of the spectrum.:slight_smile:

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What, exactly, is the controversy about, if not morality and what is right and wrong?

“From the first the great controversy had been upon the law of God. Satan had sought to prove that God was unjust, that His law was faulty, and that the good of the universe required it to be changed. In attacking the law he aimed to overthrow the authority of its Author. In the controversy it was to be shown whether the divine statutes were defective and subject to change, or perfect and immutable.” (Patriarchs and Prophets, page 69)

All of that is obviously moral language that comes with moral judgments. What standard or definition is used to determine if “the divine statues were defective?” There is only one scenario where this type of judgment is even possible.We would have to believe in some moral standard or law that is external to God and Satan, and that is used to determine who is morally “perfect.” For example, we might decide that our ultimate value is the well being of humans. If that is our definition for what is “good,” then we can compare God and Satan’s recorded behavior and make a judgment as to who is “good.”

(As an aside, if I do this my personal judgment is that neither Yahweh or Satan seems to be acting in humanity’s interest all that much in the Hebrew Bible. Yahweh appears committed to the wellbeing of Israel within the strict context of the covenant, but the rest of humanity is treated as disposable. In the NT, I think Jesus had quite a few good ideas, but don’t see any evidence to support a belief that he was morally “perfect.”)

I was simply offering what Ray had likely heard in his life and not more modern SDA ideas… It wasnt about man vindicating God. But God vindicating Himself and His character and grace found in Christ our substitute.
You views are entirely up to you. It’s some of her foggy statements that are the fly in the ointment.:slight_smile:

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To inanely, and perhaps I’ll-advisedly respond to what may have been intended as drop-dead rhetorical question/argument, Genesis, as accurate as it may have been, doesn’t go far enough.
Yes, humans are made in god’s image.
But this fact necessarily implies that men have the power to make a god, or gods of their own.
So from the first day of our arrival on this planet, we humans go about the busy-ness of creating our creator, or creators.
And not surprisingly, given our prowess in this regard, we succeed in these efforts which means that in some sense—and perhaps the most definitive one—all gods are man-made.
So the easy answer to who graces whom with anything is that it is man who endows all of his gods with everything, up to and including their virtual, if unverifiable existence, and for no other reasons than to have gods we can recognize as our own, as well as making makers who will necessarily agree with everything we think or say.
But please, there’s no need to respond to this answer, or attempt further rhetorical dialogue, as I have no better reply to a question for which no real response was requested or desired.
More importantly, I suspect that the essence of such discourse would almost certainly include a somewhat predictable accusation of blasphemy on my part, just as the Jesus’ Contemporaries wanted to stone him when he tried to make a similar point, Which is to say that Jesus’ claimed his audience was populated with gods just as this can be said of the readers of this comment, whether they believe it or not, and despite any of their protestations to the contrary.

Bruce, I dont recall responding to you. Did I? What was the statement and my response. Sorry…