October 16, 2008 - Vol. 185, No. 29
GENERAL COMMENTS I am a committed supporter of the Adventist Review, but all too often the theology included in its pages leaves me shaking my head. The cover piece by Cliff Goldstein is, in my opinion, an egregious example of pseudo intellectual confabulation, and I have awarded him and the editors of the Review a Black Eye. I’ll make the case and give you the opportunity to disagree with me. One Bouquet has also been awarded.
This issue does an admirable job of informing members of the activities of the worldwide church. The graphics are a marked improvement over those of the “old” Review.
In the Kari and Julia Story by Sandra Blackmer, both girls died untimely deaths in spite of devout parents and fervent prayers. That doesn’t square with the naive assertion by Patty Frose Nthemuka that, “Although we can’t see Him, God is always standing outside the ‘cleft in the rock,’ with his hand protectively over us so we will be safe.”
Ms. Nthemuka uses the Mt. Sinai ‘cleft in the rock’ story in which God covers Moses with His hand “so the glory of God would not kill him” as an example of God’s protecting power. Another Sinai story in Exodus 24:9-11 illustrates God’s desire to fellowship with human beings on a more personal basis. Moses, along with Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and seventy elders of Israel, “gazed on God and then ate and drank” with Him on their visit to the mountain.
BOUQUET I’ll Tell the World That I’m a Christian by Fredrick A. Russell “When I’m Adventist first and not Christian first, I can become exclusive and territorial when it comes to the message of God’s Word. When I’m Christian first, it doesn’t matter who tells the message as long as it gets out.”
BLACK EYE Reason, Faith, and Hope: Revisiting Daniel 2 by Clifford Goldstein purports to tell “the truth about the grand sweep of history” from a prophetic interpretation of the great statue described in Daniel 2. It doesn’t.
While I honor the conversion experience of Cliff Goldstein, his tears and exclamation, “It’s all true! It’s all true!” when experiencing his “first ever” Bible study does not constitute a “proof” that his interpretation of Daniel 2 is the correct one. His conversion experience immediately preceding this Bible study is unique, bordering on the bizarre, and I am convinced that it has influenced Cliff’s attempt to create a prophetic reality that is not supported by biblical evidence. Here is his conversion story, as recounted in the first five paragraphs of this article.
“In the fall of 1979, under the looming shadow of my twenty-fourth birthday, I had a dramatic, life-changing experience. For two and a half years I had been writing a novel. The book consumed me, controlling my life outside the pages more than I controlled the lives I had created on them. Then, that evening, the Lord Jesus spoke to me in my room: “Cliff, you have been playing with Me long enough,” He said. “If you want Me tonight, burn the novel.”
“The novel was my god. And because we must have “no other gods before” the true One (Ex. 20:3), the book had to go if I wanted the true One, which by then I did. After hours of divine-human wrestling, knowing nothing about salvation, nothing about the three angels of Revelation 14, and nothing about myself as a sinner, I took the manuscript—two and a half years of my existence—and burned it on a small hotplate. That night in Gainesville, Florida, just after sunset, I became a born-again believer in Jesus.
“Now, my experience that night was just that—an experience—personal, subjective, interior. No one standing in the room that evening would have heard the Lord speaking to me. Nothing logical, nothing scientific, nothing from the common academic disciplines could have explained the moment. What happened was mystical, supernatural, beyond rationality, perhaps like Saul’s overwhelming experience on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9).
“The next day, in a health food store, I had my first-ever Bible study: Daniel 2. When our study came to the part of the prophecy describing the great statue’s feet and the toes of iron and clay, I read the text that said: “They shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay” (Dan. 2:43), symbolic of modern Europe. I burst into tears, looked up, and exclaimed, “It’s all true! It’s all true!”
“There in my hands for the first time was powerful confirmation, not only of God’s existence but of His foreknowledge and sovereignty. There on the page before me in that health food store was logical, objective, and publicly available evidence for belief. With Daniel 2, my experience of the night before was now underpinned by a firm platform for faith, a platform that remains as solid, as affirming, and as rational now as it was nearly 30 years ago.”
NOW DECIDE THE MERITS OF THE ARTICLE FOR YOURSELF
1. Read the entire Goldstein article. 2,. Read Daniel 2, 7 and 8. 3. Read the following scholarly reference. “The date of composition [of the book of Daniel] is decided by clear evidence in Chapter 11. The wars between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies and a portion of the reign of and Antiochus Epiphanes are described with a wealth of detail quite unnecessary for the author's purpose. This account bears no resemblance to any of the Old Testament prophecies and, despite its prophetic style, refers to events already past. . . The book must therefore have been written during the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes and before his death, even before the success of the Maccabaean Revolt; that is to say between 167 and 164.
“There is nothing in the rest of the book to contradict this dating. The narratives of the first section are set in the Chaldaean period, but there are indications that the author is writing a long time after the events. Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus and not, as the book says, of Nebuchadnezzar; nor was he ever king. Darius the Mede is unknown to historians, nor is there room for him between the last Chaldaean king and Cyrus the Persian who had already conquered the Medes. The neo-Babylonian background is described in words of Persian origin; the instruments in Nebuchadnezzar's orchestra are given names transliterated from the Greek. The dates given in the book agree neither among themselves nor with history as we know it, for chronology. The author has made use of oral and written traditions still current in his own times.
“The late composition of the book explains its position in the Hebrew Bible. It was admitted after the Canon of the Prophets had already been fixed, and the place to between Esther and Ezra among the very the group of 'other writings' forming the last section of the Hebrew Canon.”
The new Jerusalem Bible, Leather Deluxe Edition, Introduction to the Prophets: Daniel, pages 1177 & 1178.
4. Ask yourself the following questions:
Is current Daniel 2 scholarship based on a “false hypothesis”?
Do the aspects of the image foretell the eventual dismantling of the Roman Empire?
Is the iron imbedded in the clay of the feet “symbolic of the transition from pagan to papal Rome . . . that remains until the end of time?
Is the following statement true? “Daniel 8 not only describes the [prophetic] empires, but in verses 20 and 21 names two of them—Media-Persia and Greece. Between Daniel 2 and 8, then, three of the four earthly kingdoms are identified by name: Babylon in Daniel 2 (verse 38), and Media-Persia and Greece in Daniel 8 (verses 20, 21)”. ________ Andy Hanson is Emeritus Professor of Education at Cal State University, Chico and a member of Grace Connection Adventist Church. He blogs at Adventist Perspective.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1188