Reading and Misreading the Bible

Official instincts about prop­er Bible reading continue to be partly right yet crucially wrong. One problem is that, for lack of willingness to converse—to speak and to listen, we continue to talk past one an­other. This lack baffles me. It hurts everyone and everything, not least discipleship itself.

In the “Week of Prayer” issue of Adventist World, NAD Edition, dated November 2017, General Conference President Ted Wilson lauds those daring Reformers who took the risk of trans­lating Scripture into the languages of ordi­nary people. In several cases, they gave their lives for doing so, such was the fury of the church authorities, who distrusted the mem­bership at large and thought access to the Bi­ble would make them wander into heresy.

The instinct behind such praise is right, incontestably; so is the instinct behind quot­ing, as the president does, Ellen White’s dec­laration that Christians should not “depend on the minister” to read the Bible for them. Formal authority gives no certain advantage in interpretation. Every voice counts. No single voice or group of voices can have the last word.

Trouble comes, however, when the idea of the “plain reading of the text” joins itself, as in the article, to the implication that our “critical” capacities give no help in the inter­pretation of Scripture. Here I insert the word “implication” because in official theology the word “critical” is never (at least to my knowl­edge) straightforwardly anathematized. It’s just that the conventional invective against the “historical-critical” method, here trotted out as usual, creates misgivings about it. The “historical-critical” approach to the Bible is associated (plausibly, I might add) with skep­tical assumptions about the reality of God. But a good bit of it is useful even when, as with every community of Adventist Bible read­ers that I know, such skeptical assumptions are themselves called into question.

“Plain reading” without “critical” assess­ment is verifiably disastrous, principally because it prompts fixation on fragments of Scripture that, taken apart from their im­mediate or overall context, offer seeming support to one or another of our prejudices. This way of reading, let’s remember, gave us Bible-backed anti-Semitism and genocide in Europe, Bible-backed apartheid in South Africa, Bible-backed slavery in the American South. It’s tiresome to have to constantly repeat the point that these doctrines de­pended on the “plain reading” of small bits of the Bible, just as it is tiresome to have to bring up, again and again to plain readers, such a passage as Psalm 137:7, 8, where the beleaguered poet screams revenge against Israel’s “devastator” Babylon. For this poet, payback, even against children, brings hap­piness. “Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!” Would a “plain reading” of these words, without help from our “critical” capacities, be at all edifying? If my finger fell by chance on these verses, would they be directly in­structive for what I think of God or how I live my life?

I believe, with the author of 2 Timothy, that all scripture is “useful for teaching, for reproof, for cor­rection, and for training in righteousness” (3:16). But that can be so only if we also confront another of the official instincts about Bible reading that turns out, in fact, to be true, again incontestably. The Bible is “vital­ly important,” says the General Conference president, “because it brings us face to face with Jesus Christ.” Yes. But his remarks, as is undeniably conventional in Adventism, and also undeniably misleading, fail to pay serious attention, or any attention, to Hebrews 1:1–3. In these verses the Good Book declares that God spoke in the past “through the prophets,” but has now spoken “by a Son” who is “the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being” (italics mine). And if words so crucial for biblical hermeneu­tics go unnoticed, so do equally crucial words from Jesus’ Gospel Commission in Matthew: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (28:18). The same perspective on Christ’s authority, Zane Yi shows in the latest issue of Spectrum, comes through in the story of the Transfiguration. Again, however, it doesn’t register.

But here, surely, is the true heartbeat of the idea that the Bible brings us face to face with Jesus Christ: He is the one point, the only point, at which the will and way of God come into perfect focus. That makes Him the lens you look through for authentic Christian application of any biblical insight or story. Now, knowing Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, you can consider, for example, the revenge theme in Psalm 137 and say (as C. S. Lewis did) that if such revenge is the “natural re­sult” of suffering injury, it is nonetheless “profoundly wrong.” Its inclusion in Holy Writ may be God’s re­minder that of all “bad men,” those who are religious are “the worst.” In any case, this psalm, in most ways so beautiful and mesmerizing, actually is, in its en­tirety, “useful” for teaching, correction, and training in righteousness. We get a reminder of how piety can go wrong.

At the November annual meetings, in Boston, of two of the church’s theological associations—the Adventist Society for Religious Studies and the Adventist Theo­logical Society—speakers turned often to the theme of scriptural interpretation. At a Friday evening joint session, both presidents addressed the Bible, and one of them, Olive Hemmings, of ASRS and Washington Adventist University, made a point similar to the one I am making. The right understanding of the Reforma­tion sola scriptura principle, she said, upholds Christ as “the logos, the Truth, and the telos” of the written word. She was suggesting that Christ is the divine word, the divine reality, the divine purpose—made flesh. Christ alone, and no inanimate object, whether of wood or stone or paper, is God incarnate.

Again, and again, I tell myself: this should be the simplest of lesson in biblical hermeneutics. The Bible is a challenging book, encompassing different strands of thought and many kinds of stories. But the climax of its thought and stories is—Jesus, the “exact imprint” of divine being. Either this does not sink in, however, or conventional Adventist thinking simply doesn’t believe it, doesn’t believe that Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God, is the final criterion of Christian life and convic­tion. How can this be? How can it go on?

I myself wrote one of the papers presented in No­vember. Shortly afterwards it hit me that I would per­sonally speak to the need for more conversation about these matters. There is scholarly backing for a view similar to the one the General Conference president disseminates in his many articles and sermons. There is an official pronouncement, in the church’s State­ment of Fundamental Beliefs, on the authority of the Bible. And in too much of what is said, reference to Christ is either inadequate or, as in the official state­ment of belief, missing altogether. So, I hereby an­nounce that I am going to encourage representative people, along a wide range of opinion, into tangible, or public, conversation, either in print or in person, about these differences of hermeneutical outlook. I imagine something small, but I also imagine some­thing real: something truly honest and forthright and something fully and appropriately responsive to the wisdom Jesus set down in Matthew, Chapter 18. I will move forward in hope, and, in time, I will report on what happens.

At my age and in my station, I am fully aware that the effort may be feckless or quixotic. But why should that matter? We are not called to success, but to witness. Surely we can agree, all of us, on that.

Charles Scriven is Board Chair of Adventist Forum, the organization that publishes Spectrum. Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Further Reading: Why Hermeneutics is Our Biggest Problem — a Spectrum interview with David Ripley, Ministerial Secretary for the Northern Asia-Pacific Division Forgotten Homework: The 2020 Study in Hermeneutics — by Spectrum columnist Matthew Quartey

If you respond to this article, please:

Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Thank you Charles for your stand for truth in Jesus Christ. I have taken this quote for a reason. A glaring case in point is the topic of the Great Controversy Theme. Marvin Moore wrote a book to prove the investigative judgment doctrine from Scripture alone. He made the statement that the IJ doctrine depends on the context of the GCT. He then proceeds to write a whole chapter on the GCT. Calvary, Christ’s death and resurrection does not even get a mention. Why is it that Christ crucified and risen, the wisdom and power of God, does not permeate the whole theme? Without the centrality of Christ’s death and resurrection, the GCT is purely an academic exercise in futility in my opinion. Sadly, many other articles I have read in official church papers over the years are not much better. We must remember that God was in Christ on the cross, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting our sins against us. 2 Cor 5 contains the message of reconciliation that we have been given as ambassadors of God.

We simply want to see Jesus in all His glory as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. We want to know more about His life amongst us, His death, resurrection, ascension and ministry for us in the very presence of His Father. We want to know more of His love and grace and to know what it means for Him to live in us every moment of every day through His Holy Spirit. And we want to share this love, to learn to love the way He loved us and still loves us.

Gideon, maybe it depends on your understanding of Jesus and who He is. Eph 4:6: “one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” Col 3:11: “but Christ is all and in all.” I note that Christ is God. 1 Cor 1:4-9: “that in everything you were enriched in Him (Jesus Christ), in all speech and in all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift…” Heb. 1: “God… in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things … And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of his nature…”

And there’s more. Is Jesus not enough? Christ is all and in all. I can believe that. The Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word became flesh, lived among us, died, rose again and returned to the Father. What more do we want? Nobody to my knowledge says “It was all finished on the cross.” However, Christ did say, “It is finished.” Then He bowed His head and died. Surely it’s our challenge to discover exactly what was finished and to live by it. Therein lies the glory of the gospel of grace that Christ ministers to us continually through His Holy Spirit who lives in us. And by the way, He has promised never to leave us.

I have no qualms about saying that Jesus is enough. If I have Jesus I have everything that is of any value.

As others have mentioned in this thread, when Peter suggested that they build three tabernacles, God cut Him off mid-sentence. God could not allow Moses and Elijah to be put together with Jesus. There is no declaration more important in Scripture: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,; listen to Him.”

Not Moses, not Elijah but Jesus. When the disciples finally came to, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone. That’s what it’s all about.

I wonder what our Christian scientists think of John Lennox’s approach to science and faith in God - Christ as the Creator God and Christ as the Redeemer God?

YouTube: The Question of Science and God Parts 1 and 2


“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” – John 5:39 (NLT)

When Jesus was glorified on the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter exclaims, “Let us make three huts. One for Jesus; one for Moses; and one for Elijah.” Peter presumed to elevate Jesus to the same level as Moses and Elijah (the law and the prophets). But God the Father had a correction: “This [Jesus] is my beloved Son. Listen to Him” (Matt 17, Mark 9, Luke 9).

Jesus is not one among equals. Jesus is the one we listen to. Jesus is the lens through which we must see, hear, and interpret all of scripture. Our Christology demands this of our hermeneutic.


Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the Prophets to the Israelites. If we continue on with the verses,

7And there was a cloud that shadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.

8 And suddenly they looked round about, and saw no more any man save Jesus only with them.

This was showing them that Jesus was replacing the Law and the Prophets, they must give way to the Son. The new was replacing the old. He was the fulfillment of the law and the prophecies in the old testament.


Thanks Chuck!

I note with interest that although many on this blog have shown their distaste for the subject of biblical hermeneutics, with seemingly little stomach for a refining of hermeneutical principles by the General Conference and/ or the BRI, you seem to have no such compunction.

I have quoted the following from your offering above because to my mind, it makes a great deal of sense.

However, allow me to suggest that there is a third way. On the one hand, the Bible student can work with a “plain reading” of Scripture which builds on the smallest bits of Scripture chained together. The end product of such a method is dry doctrinal propositions. On the other hand, historico-critical methods have traditionally been occupied with philological, critical and historical analyses and data connected with detached bits and pieces of Scripture and not having proper regard to the real context and the coherent story. Here, the big grand narrative of Scripture is lost as the Bible is chopped into little pieces.

The third way of understanding and interpreting Scripture is done by seeking to read Scripture as the unified and massive grand narrative, a story of God structured in multiple stages. Here, Scripture is understood to be story and most truly His story. Stories are embedded within stories until the full mosaic is complete. This really makes sense as one should seek to understand the meaning of his or her own story against the backdrop of Scripture.

Interestingly, Ellen White in her most systematic statement on the nature of Scripture and how the Scripture is to be understood suggests as much as I have outlined above. She does this in Education page 123ff. Here she recommends searching beneath the surface to understand Scriptures great system of truth and its great whole. She speaks here of “the complete structure [of truth].”

God’s word. His words.

  1. When you walk, they will lead you
  2. when you lie down, they will watch over you
  3. when you awake, they will talk with you
    Proverbs 6:20-23
    20 My son, keep your father’s commandment,
    _ and forsake not your mother’s teaching._
    21 Bind them on your heart always;
    _ tie them around your neck._
    22 When you walk, they will lead you;
    _ when you lie down, they will watch over you;_
    _ and when you awake, they will talk with you._
    23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
    _ and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life_
    Verse 22 really speaks to my soul. Those three phrases describe exactly what I’ve been experiencing: Those things happen for me every day. And the good news is: everyone can have it. The Bible is easy to understand with God’s help and my willingness to “trust and obey”.
    Nehemiah 8:8
    So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
    John 8:31-32
    “…if you remain in My Word, you will truly be My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”

90% or more of churchgoers have never read the whole bible…I wonder what % of Spectrum posters fall into that group.

I am seeing the typical trending,contemporary, trapped in the SDA box notions here that smack of …“It’s all about Jesus”, “Jesus is enough”, “It was all finished at the cross”, throw out everything with the bath water except Jesus.

If any pastor had perfect hermeneutics, would it really matter since they were on the receiving end of typical cut & paste, proof text, apologetic, topical sermons as they grew up?

Charles makes some good points in this article which seemed convoluted when I first read it.

I waited to see how the responses would come first before I commented on some parts.

The first bible verse that came to mind was…

“If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” Jn 7:17

A major issue is… how can one do the will when so many preachers don’t even teach, from the bible, what it is?

SAVED–“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Pet 3:9
SPIRIT FILLED–Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,
SANCTIFIED–"For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality
SUBMIT TO AUTHORITIES–Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 1 Pet 2:13-15
SUFFER–"For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. "1 Pet 3:17
REJOICE, PRAY, GIVE THANKS–Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess 5:16-18

For instance…

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Is 1:18

Does God accept,allow or permit white, snowy, woolly sins?

As long as preachers continue their pic n choose, cut n paste topical sermons instead of verse by verse expository sermons, this “disastrous” teaching that promotes & perpetuates fanaticism and the tendency to avoid personal bible reading will continue.

I would suggest that you challenge pastors & SS teachers to reduce the use of clichés, obscure religious lingo & unexplained bible verses.

"Often Make Sabbath Meeting a Bible Class—It has often been presented to me that there should be less sermonizing by ministers acting merely as local pastors of churches, and that greater personal efforts should be put forth. Our people should not be made to think that they need to listen to a sermon every Sabbath. Many who listen frequently to sermons, even though the truth be presented in clear lines, learn but little. Often it would be more profitable if the Sabbath meetings were of the nature of a Bible class study. Bible truth should be presented in such a simple, interesting manner that all can easily understand and grasp the principles of salvation."
EV 348


That is not the issue. Assume that I agree with you 100.000% on who Jesus is.

The issue is fanaticism (Rom 10:2) & gainsaying (Rom 10:21) by those un reconciled persons who can not endure sound doctrine.(2 Tim 4:3).

Near the end of a 50 minute long, interactive, large (60-100) Sabbath school class, a young gentleman raised his hand in class and said that a pastor had shared in his sermon that “Jesus was enough”

Why did that person say that? What did he mean by that comment?

I challenge any reader to ask those 2 questions of anyone who shares…“It’s all about Jesus”, “Jesus is enough” “It’s finished at the cross”

Deception & fanaticism is not just the result of scripture corruption or replacing scripture with tradition…but is the result of diminution of scripture.

There are about 31,000 verses in the bible and about 8,000 in the New Testament. Wouldn’t there be a lot less if the Holy Spirit figured “Jesus is enough”?

I know of a great motel in Beulah, MI. (Beulah means ‘married’, not divorced.) If you and Ted Wilson can meet there before tourist season begins, and I return to work in Minnesota, I’ll pay for your 2 separate rooms for a week . . . If you will both let me show you some things from God’s first ‘Word’ – ‘Creation’ – that can settle this divorce between ‘historical-Biblical’ and ‘historical-critical’ interpretations, for good. And, if you are both quick studies, you can spend the rest of the time enjoying the local National Lakeshore in winter solitude.

Neither interpretation approach goes far enough – especially alone – because neither ‘gets’ the whole ‘picture’. Both jealously assemble, hoard and defend their chosen parts of the Truth ‘jigsaw puzzle’, and neither will look – fully look – to that one missing piece that will connect the separate hoards into a complete picture: Christ, as ‘God incarnate’, became ‘Created’ ‘flesh’. The Creator became Created. Therefore it is essential for the Christian to study Creation’s Christ in harmony with Christ’s Scripture. It’s not enough to simply say the words ‘Christ alone . . . is God incarnate’.
A Christian’s method of studying God’s ‘Word’, God’s ‘Truth’, must put those words into action.

Our unique Advent Movement was designed by Christ to reflect this very same dual, married ‘Word’-- that’s an ‘absolute’ ! Religion and Science, studying, learning and teaching, both hand-in-hand, not coast-from-coast a continent apart. (Should a construction-worker be the one pointing this out ? Well, Jesus was not a ‘destructor’, was He ?)

Ellen said that Jesus, Himself – “. . . the Living Word of God”, “. . . the final criterion of Christian life and conviction.” – refused to obey His church leaders and His mother, by studying and teaching ‘Scripture Alone’. And, He used the scriptures to defend His unorthodox ‘2-witness’ approach to understanding ‘God’s Word’ as a ‘married’ whole :

“The question asked during the Saviour’s ministry, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” does not indicate that Jesus was unable to read, but merely that He had not received a rabbinical education. John 7:15. Since He gained knowledge as we may do, His intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures shows how diligently His early years were given to the study of God’s word. And spread out before Him was the great library of God’s created works. He who had made all things studied the lessons which His own hand had written in earth and sea and sky. Apart from the unholy ways of the world, He gathered stores of scientific knowledge from nature. He studied the life of plants and animals, and the life of man. From His earliest years He was possessed of one purpose; He lived to bless others. For this He found resources in nature; new ideas of ways and means flashed into His mind as He studied plant life and animal life. Continually He was seeking to draw from things seen illustrations by which to present the living oracles of God. The parables by which, during His ministry, He loved to teach His lessons of truth show how open His spirit was to the influences of nature, and how He had gathered the spiritual teaching from the surroundings of His daily life.” {DA 70.2}

“Thus to Jesus the significance of the word and the works of God was unfolded, as He was trying to understand the reason of things. . . .” {DA 70.3}

“Mary often remonstrated with Jesus, and urged Him to conform to the usages of the rabbis. But He could not be persuaded to change His habits of contemplating the works of God and seeking to alleviate the suffering of men or even of dumb animals. When the priests and teachers required Mary’s aid in controlling Jesus, she was greatly troubled; but peace came to her heart as He presented the statements of Scripture upholding His practices.” {DA 90.2}

Solomon’s ‘proverbs’, in those ‘statements of Scripture’ which Jesus probably referred His mother to, were ‘parables’. Psalm 78 identifies Israel’s actual history as, also, a parable. Verse 2 is quoted by Matt. 13:35. Matthew’s Greek-English word ‘parable’ is used in place of the Hebrew noun, ‘mashal’ which Strong’s says is derived from a verb of the same spelling, meaning to ‘rule’, or 'govern’ over, or to judge, criticize etc. This noun-verb connection implies that ‘parables’ involve a ‘higher’ ‘superior’ form of thought, such as ‘higher criticism’ scriptural ‘critics’ could appreciate, if they would. Therefore, both Solomon and his great-great-. . . grandson, Jesus, became the wisest and highest ‘ruling’ critics of both of God’s ‘Words’, when they studied them in ‘married’ ‘parable’-harmony.

This ‘parable’-harmony was ‘just as God spoke them’, both of them. And, isn’t that just as historical-Biblical scholars wish to understand ‘God’s Word’ – literally, ‘just as it reads’ – each ‘Word’ pointing to and agreeing with the other, if only they would recognize the ‘other’-than-scripture-alone-‘Word’, as they could ?

Our SDA every-7th-Creation-day Sabbath is the weekly ‘zakar’-remembrance of this very same
‘2-witness’ focus, combining both of God’s ‘Words’. (‘Zakar the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’)
Why do we waste it on one-eyed, ‘1-witness’ arguing ?
Why have we become Pharisees v.s. Sadducees who only see eye-to-eye when it comes to crucifying Christ ?
Could we be confused – ‘babel’-confused over mere mixed-up words – because we refuse to consider that the clearer, ‘picture’-illustrations of Christ in the ‘parables’ of the Old Testament actually do agree with those in the New, just as He explained on the road to Emmaus. And that it was Israel, like ourselves, who screwed up and failed to understand those parables, by not acknowledging and liking all of Christ – Creator and Redeemer, Law-giver and Gospel-giver . . . – Who fulfilled them all ?

Neither the ‘historical-critical’, nor the ‘historical-Biblical’ method – while conducting their ‘or’ fight apart from the scene of Christ’s battle for ‘and’- ‘peace’ – are as wise as Solomon once was, when he ruled in the ‘Teaching of Peace’, ‘Jerusalem.

On one, partial, hand, Scripture’s historical-critical ‘literary critics’ are Literalists, by choice, themselves, when it comes to refusing to identify and interpret possible parables that would provide ‘higher conviction’ from ‘light’ (see Ellen quote, to follow). For example, I’ve been scolded on the_Spectrum_ website by a ‘critical’ interpreter who insisted that Isaiah 14:12’s ‘Lucifer’ does NOT refer to any ‘Lucifer’ in Heaven of which the ‘King of Babylon’-Lucifer is, also, a living parable. So there is less reason for me to pity and love Christ, since He had no heavenly adversary. . . .

On the other, partial, hand, historical-Biblical ‘Literalists’ refuse to critically-examine scripture for possible ‘higher’ parable-meanings, themselves, which leads them repeatedly to Israel’s ‘Old Covenant’ ‘literal’ conclusions which set their opposition’s teeth on edge. For instance, the GC’s refusal to see the Creation of ‘man in our image, male and female’ as a parable of the God-Family, and to allow that the ‘Word’ of God in heaven filled the same role in relation to the Father as Eve did to Adam – as an equal – just as Ellen described in Patriarchs and Prophets 34 &46.

And, both, unwisely choose to ignore the full ‘other hand’ of the Word of Creation, while wisest Solomon wrote proverbs, scripture-parables, and was a universal scientist who owned a zoo, from which he learned to understand the Christ of Creation, and drew his parables.

If, “Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God, is the final criterion of Christian life and conviction.” Then, it becomes painfully clear that those who claim to be ‘Christian’ – ‘protestant’ or otherwise – and, yet refuse to include ‘Creation’ in the canon of ‘God’s Word’ are not following Christ’s own example, His own ‘Way’, but are ‘choosing and taking their own (partial) way’, . . . and that is the definition of ‘heretic’.

‘Sola Scriptura’ is anti-‘Christian’ heresy. It was only true of Christ’s truth as revealed in scripture, in relation to ‘church tradition’. But, it has never been true in relation to Christ’s ‘Word’ of ‘Creation’ in which he ‘wrote’ parables in ‘land and sea and sky’. All of God’s ‘Words’ must be ‘married’, in harmony, or His House will fall, just as Christ Himself taught.

God’s first, ‘Word’ was never spoken in the confused, adulterated ‘balal’ languages of Babel. To come out of Babylon, means, also, to leave the confusing, mere language arguments of ‘Scripture’ and to go back to rebuild the picture-illustrations of Jerusalem’s parable Law-Walls and Gospel-Temple – ‘hand-in-hand’. This was just what the unweaned infant ‘1888 Message’ began to do before having its head bashed against a wall made of SDA leaders’ hard hearts. Waggoner and Jones also preached that ‘Redemption’ is ‘Creation’, that the Redemption described in Scripture is in reality, an act of Creation, that it is therefore ‘scientific’ and the ‘chief science’. . . . And, now scientists are proving that the human Biblical ‘heart’ was Created to be able to be ‘Redeemed’.

Strong’s shows that ‘Jerusalem’ can mean ‘Teaching of Peace’. Jerusalem taught the ‘peace’ of the Divinely-programmed ‘Mind of Christ’, as united with our rebel-human-DNA-programmed, ‘Created’ ‘flesh’ – ‘The Word became our flesh’. God ‘mated’ with mankind. The Creator became Created. And the most recent science discoveries are proving just how viewing the actions of Jesus and Jerusalem’s parable pictures are able to ‘teach’ human minds true ‘faith’, only by appealing to the ‘heart’ of those minds, the ‘Jerusalem’ of those minds. Ellen urged :

 “God would draw minds from the conviction of logic to a conviction deeper, higher, purer, and more glorious. Often human logic has nearly quenched the light that God would have shine forth in clear rays to convince men that the Lord of nature is worthy of all praise and glory, because He is the Creator of all things.”  {GW 157.4}

For the past 3 decades scientists, using hi-tech tools, have finally been able to explore and map the functions – in living, conscious humans – of that Jerusalem-heart of the brain where such ‘higher’ ‘conviction’ – ‘higher’ than mere ‘logic’, or ‘reason’ – occurs, when we behold and contemplate our Creators through the expressions of the Father’s thoughts, such expression as Christ is. That ‘heart’ turns out to be the ‘mixing valve’ where human ‘mind’,‘emotions’ and ‘body’ ‘co-emerge’ – the triple-focus of Ellen’s ‘true education’ as cast in bronze at the famous gate of Andrews University, 'mens, ‘spiritus’ ‘corpus’. And, those functional maps look a lot like maps of ancient Jerusalem found in the 67th book of the Bible – the ‘Book of Maps’.

To the applause of too many Orthodox Jews and President Trump’s ‘Evangelical Christian’ base (about equal in percentage to the ‘3rd of the angels of heaven’ who became Satan’s ‘base’)
Vice President Pence just announced that the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, is being accelerated, to take place in 2019, before the 2020 election year in the U.S.
This means the U.S. will also recognize a substitute for Israel’s former Theocracy, once centered in Jerusalem, as legitimate. But which ‘christ’ will reign there ?

So, recognizing ‘Jerusalem’ in the Biblical record as the living ‘parable’ it once was, would not only help to make peace among competing SDA Biblical interpreters, but it would give all SDAs the clearest and most complete understanding of the Gospel that we need, before we can take it most fully to the world. That correct recognition of Jerusalem and its Temple as ‘real’, but a ‘real’ parable of the human ‘heart’ with its ‘mirror neurons’ – where God promised Solomon His ‘eyes and heart’ would be, as long as Israel worshipped only Him, likewise, in return – also clarifies the fact that all of those Old Testament prophecies and promises of God ultimately refer to the ‘Mt. Zion’-‘Jerusalem’ brainscape – not landscape – that each individual already owns. There is no need to fight for ‘ownership’ of the ‘Temple Mount’.

It is that ‘Jerusalem-Temple’ of the ‘mind of Christ’ ‘within you’, ‘the hope of glory’ . . . which God’s Presence has wished to occupy in every human, ever since He was the first to be exiled from it, and therefore from Eden, in order to preserve the lives of faithlessly-‘naked’ Adam and Eve. (‘Sin’ is consumed in that ‘Presence’, and they became attached to ‘sin’.) When Jesus looked across the mere landscape of Jerusalem, he said, ‘your house’ – no longer ‘My Father’s house’ – is left to you desolate.’ The Shekinah-glory had left long ago. Physically, even He was to be completely rejected and was leaving.

But, he also said, ‘The Kingdom of God is within you.’ And, that heart of the brain ‘within you’, is the true, anti-typical ‘Jerusalem-Temple’ ‘footstool’ of the Holy Spirit, on Earth, connected to God’s Throne, in Heaven, by the Divine-human Christ – ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. That ‘heart’ has always been the ultimate focus of all the O.T. prophecies and promises regarding Mt. Zion and Jerusalem.

So, if there is to be a meeting of 2 opposing schools of thought in Biblical interpretation, face to face, how will either, or both, sides win, when neither side is playing a hand from a full deck of cards ? When neither side acknowledges the rest of God’s ‘Word’ , found in Creation-parables?
When Christ as ‘Creator’ and parable-teacher is selectively-silenced in favor of each side’s favorite collections of ‘scripture alone’ ?

When the fact of this ‘missing piece’ – Creation-Word piece – of the SDA puzzle finally ‘sinks in’, I can shut up and go back to construction work, and leave the SDA scholars to do the right thing, knowing that there is hope that I will not have to retire here, in a ‘Babylon’ of mere words, waiting for the return of the living parable of God, which is Christ, the ‘Teaching of Peace’.

Wm. Miller, The Corn Field Boys, E. G. White, and. Neal Wilson all got it wrong. Hanukkah should be the main thing, if Daniel is to carry any weight at all.


“Again, and again, I tell myself: this should be the simplest of lessons in Biblical hermeneutics. The Bible is a challenging book, encompassing many strands of thought and many kinds of stories. But the climax of its thought and stories is - Jesus, the “exact imprint” of divine being. Either this does not sink in, however, or conventional Adventist thinking simply doesn’t believe it, doesn’t believe that Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God, is the final criterion of Christian life and conviction. How can this be? How can it go on?”

Charles, I applaud your yearning for Christ. He is the way to God, to truth and ultimately to life.
I’m going to take your perhaps rhetorical questions literally and attempt to bring forward some thoughts that might, at least partially, answer them.
I draw on my experience over the last several years reading various articles and resulting comments here, my almost twenty years as an Adventist and perhaps mostly my own search which eventually took me out of Adventism.

How can this be?
-Think about where and when Adventism was born. Think about the virtues then necessary for success: self reliance, hard work, a spirit of independence, a growing belief in the accomplishments of man. Does this not imply that a new theology would tend to be anthropocentric? Hence, the view that we must do our part in God’s plan of salvation (as in the Old Covenant). We must keep the commandments. Of course we are able, God will help us.
How can this be?
-A prophet who to me confusingly moved back and forth between the wonder of the grace and forgiveness of God and a view that some work of man is necessary to pull himself up to a requisite level of piety in order to be saved.
How can this be?
-A frequent commenter here and a well-known Adventist apologist and author were both asked the meaning of the term ‘the gospel’. The first evaded the question by giving a rather trite, and I think sarcastic response. The second, who had referred us to an article he had written about his beliefs (that did not include the word ‘gospel’ or the name Jesus Christ), did not venture an answer.
How can this be?
-Sermons and articles picking verses from the Old Testament & Old Covenant and frequently mixing them in with New Covenant passages. Because of Adventism’s quite proper respect for the law (and I think lack of understanding of the gospel), I see this quite often. (Don’t misunderstand - there is much grace and forgiveness in the Old Testament and much we can learn. But we have the more complete revelation through the person of Christ.) I urge everyone to be aware of this tendency so you can recognize it to keep yourself from its confusion.

How can it go on?
-That’s up to the Holy Spirit. God has a place in His plan for humanity for every group of believers. In His wisdom I think that God has given each some truth. I also believe there is greater light that we are all to move toward and this is more difficult for those anchored in the past. But eventually the unity prayed for by Christ will become reality and all falsehood will be removed.

I hope you have continued to read the work of Stephen Jones. He is blogging through 1John right now. It really is a rich letter, especially wrt understanding the gospel. Please take the time to read all the entries but here is one, I think, to especially focus on:

Gideon speaks of God’s will and mentions 2Peter 3:9, ‘The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.’ Each day millions of times the prayer goes up, ‘…Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…’
We mouth the words but in this instance don’t really mean them. We rely on translations and interpretions of Scripture that say what God wants in this matter can never come to pass. The passage must be made to fit the concepts that define the limits of our theology. Hence the depth of the love of God for and His sovereign will over His creation are both reduced in our minds.

Charles, it’s good that you are not content with the way you see the Bible interpreted. However, I don’t think the answer lies in discovering some better rule or hermeneutic. For me, new light began to shine when I obtained and started to study a variety of literal translations of the Bible. The understanding gained from that endeavour plus further research into those following a similar path led to a new understanding of God’s plan for us.

A huge problem for every Christian today is that we are at the mercy of the theology of those going before us, particularly those translating from ancient languages. As our knowledge of these things has increased we have been able to more accurately understand the ideas of the authors of Scripture. It made a tremendous difference to me to learn the original meanings of some very important words that have been (to my current comprehension) poorly translated such as ‘eternal’, ‘forever’, ‘perish’, and ‘destruction’. There are even two somewhat different Greek concepts both translated as ‘will’ in the NT.
Many perplexing Scriptural passages became clearer as I realized that salvation does not depend on doctrine, obedience or sanctification. It is the work of God in Christ. We claim it by faith in what has been done for us. Legally, what the first Adam spoiled, the last Adam has more than restored. Experientially, it has yet to be fully manifested. Our response is nevertheless important because it governs the degree of correction each of us will undergo, and the timing of our entry and our roles in the coming kingdom.

I know these ideas seem alien to more mainstream Christians. All I can tell you is I have a new appreciation for the patience and power of God and most importantly the depth of His love toward His creation.

Thanks for the book suggestion.
I had a look at some of the reviews and the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ snippet for ‘The Jesus Driven Life’ and it appears Harden has many valuable insights.

Perhaps this book would help you. Reviewers said, it ‘…will overturn conventional hermeneutics’ and is ‘paradigm shifting’. Perhaps lavish praise but the bit I read was impressive.
I hope it gets into the problems caused by the oftentimes poor way I believe we have come to understand many of the ancient Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew words (and therefore the concepts behind them). For me, better understanding here is essential and can be a large part of the foundation of the new hermeneutic you seek.


Quixotic? Try convincing most theists that all organized religions are based on a fallacious argument. I.e, that relying on any book which claims to relay a better understanding of God, or believing in anyone who is somehow more a child of God than any other created being, is any thing other than an illogical and inconsequential appeal to higher authority. This is one of the fundamental flaws in reasoning I learned in English 101 and as taught at an Advestist Boarding Academy, no less. In other words, take away the words of their books and prophets and what is a theist left with? Little more than an atheist, as it turns out, who doesn’t know anything about a creator who’s existence he claims is unverifiable despite overwhelming evidence to contrary. I can tell you from personal experience that Sisyphus had nothing on the probably inane, (some might say insane) task in front of me.

Dave –
You would like – The Jesus Driven Life by Michael Hardin.
Parallels your comment.


Nice to see I’m not alone in following Eric Mataxas!!

What a wonderful ambassador!!


This article reminds me of, though not by similarity at all, an article I read in a copy of the Canada Lutheran monthly I picked up while visiting a local Lutheran Church for a 12 step meeting. A one page article by a Lutheran Church theologian warned members against “reading the Bible alone”, that it would be wise to study Scripture in a group setting where someone with a theological background could help to direct and explain what was read.

Naturally, I thought of Martin Luther, and what his take on this article would have been.