Shall We Slumber through a Hermeneutics Problem?

I agree with your understanding of what the Bible is about. I would just rephrase thus: a record of men of faith trying to express their faith in God while struggling with the issues they and their contemporaries were facing.


Thanks, Herold, you are Weiss man😉


Herold –
Wrote that in my bible. Thanks.
Another one I have there – “Somebody else’s mail. Only one side
of the conversation.” “Instruction to specific people/persons.”

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I look forward to reading your paper. I liked your essay on humility that was published in the AUSS journal a few years ago. And I like your comment, having allowed it to season for a day and having read it a few times. I sense that your comment takes the conversation in a different direction from what my comment focuses on, which is fine. I just want to make sure, for the benefit of readers, that we are on the same page regarding what we mean when we speak about hermeneutics.

Barth and Bonhoeffer were not hermeneutists. One can be a visionary, prophet, brilliant theologian, biblical author, intellectual giant, or saint and not be a hermeneutist.

Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation and the art of understanding. This definition hints that hermeneutics has methodological and philosophical concerns. Interpretation and understanding are human constructs. Accordingly, hermeneutics is informed by the human sciences, not in any specific way by Scripture, divine revelation, or the Holy Spirit. (There are caveats and clarifications I can add, that readers might appropriately beg me to add, but allow this statement to sink in and think about it for a while). Hermeneutics focuses on texts, not facts. Hermeneutics in the main (leaving aside Gadamer for the moment) focuses on meaning, not truth (which for him is something that is constructed in a fusion of horizons). And hermeneutics is not relativism, even though hermeneutists are routinely and unfairly accused of being relativists.

Reading your Bible and the writings of Ellen White every day will not make you a hermeneutist. Being wise and spiritually mature is not a substitute for hermeneutical knowledge. Sanctification does not result in a corresponding grasp of hermeneutics. The only way to learn hermeneutics is to study the material.

My sense is that your thinking is on a very high theological plane. In contrast, the study of hermeneutics is relatively mundane and unimportant. The problem, though, is that hermeneutical knowledge, which you clearly have, is requisite to the thinking that you are inviting the Seventh-day Adventist Church to engage in. The question is not what “hermeneutic” the Church should adopt and implement. That there might be a special or particular “hermeneutic” that we should adopt and implement is not seriously urged in the literature. The question is whether Seventh-day Adventists will ever be motivated to learn the material.

False problems and false solutions, a satanic dialectic. Christ sheep know His voice, they know His victory, they know His answers.


I appreciate your comments. I specifically picked up on the beginning of your third paragraph: “It’s obvious that there is a theological agenda at work here. The perspective is that God of the OT is malevolent, but Jesus is nice. The reality is that God of the OT and Jesus are one and the same.”

I’m not approaching this subject as an academic or hermeneutical expert of any sort. I will gladly align myself with “the least of these.” I am simply frustrated with my church which to me seems to have for a long time been on a trajectory away from the convictions of truth that were the foundation of Adventism.

We cannot all be theologians or topflight academics, but as I understand the Gospel we are all invited with the capacity to know truth, at least enough truth to be able to accept Christ’s offer of salvation.

Another Spectrum article this week seems pertinent to this conversation, “Monkey See, Monkey Do.” Monkey See, Monkey Do This article emphasizes the risk of taking our truth from others and tradition devoid of our own personal Bible knowledge.

We must each dig into our Bibles personally. Fabricating the right wording to publish on the denomination’s website regarding our reliance on Jesus does nothing for us if we are not personally able to defend our faith.

When people talk about Jesus these days it’s hard to tell which version of Jesus they are talking about. It could be the real and true Jesus we know from God’s Word. It could be an antichrist variety of a false Jesus claiming to be Jesus or to have the authority of Jesus. It could be man’s own interpretation simply put forth using the name of Jesus in vain.

Would you ever consider writing an article elaborating on your opening of paragraph three in your comment? The tendency these days to portray Jesus as loving and pacifist avoids the Biblical truth that Jesus destroyed already once the entire human population save one small family. Jesus is the single most prolific source of Biblical references to hell. Revelation tells us about the wrath of the Lamb. Jesus speaks with a tongue as a two-edged sword. Jesus says he didn’t come into this world to bring peace but a sword. Jesus foretells that the last days will be as the days of Noah, that His church will be a remnant, that the world will be destroyed by fire.

Bonhoeffer speaks of cheap grace. The conversation that I hear today talks about Jesus as if He is some version of a Disney styled fairy godmother only delivering nice things and circumstances. The love called for by many who use the name of Jesus is more a selfish agenda. Jesus anticipated this when He said in Matthew 7:21 “ 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Calls to adjust the official Adventist use of the name of Jesus must be true to the real Head of the church.

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To my knowledge this is not the present position of of the Adventist church, – to be specific, ever since the ‘spirit of prophecy’ became the integral part of the 28 FB. We have two sources – Bible and Ellen White.

Much of the extra-biblical input of Ellen White covering Genesis to Revelation is undoubtedly new truth because it is not found in the bible and goes beyond the bible.
It was true however, she was consulted as a medium to verify their findings on difficult bible passages.

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Aben, what is a prophet? Ellen White aside, do you believe God will have prophets in the last days? Will these prophets simply repeat word for word what is in the Bible? Does God ever say that new truth will never be given by prophets? To denounce EGW as you do here subverts the Bible’s authority that God will raise up prophets in the last days. I still appreciate the counsel and insights of EGW but I do not place anything she says as authoritative above the Bible. You may argue that EGW is not a true prophet, but you argue against the Bible itself to suggest that God will not reveal extra-biblical truth through prophets.

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For the rest, 1 Corinthians 14 describes “the work of prophets”
in the church community.

A prophet is an individual called by God to be his spokesman, speak and write what was told without adding and deleting; he/she should be honest at all times. There is no prediction in the bible that god would chose a ‘woman’ as a prophet for the last-day church. Christ is the last of the prophets according to Hebrews.

Yes, the bible says in the last days the spirit of God will be poured upon all flesh (not just certain individuals belonging to a denomination). When they are filled with the spirit, they prophesy and that does not make them prophets in the truest sense of the prophets in the Old and the New Testament. If we should consider EGW a prophet, then we are obliged to consider John Milton, Daniel March, John Ross mac duff, Ingraham J. Holt, Joseph hall, John Harris, William Hanna, Cunningham Geikie, John Cumming, Edward Dorr Griffin and hundreds of other authors whose works had been the chief source for her ‘inspired’ writings as prophets too.
Why only EGW, while there had been numerous others who had exhibited this special gift after the New Testament to her day?

I did not denounce her as you made it appear, however, I am not afraid to call sin by its right name!

We are to test every spirit, that includes Ellen White. Perhaps, you have never tired it. Consider again 1John 4:1 and Jeremiah 23:30.

I have not argued against the bible in the first place.
We don’t need extra-bible ‘truths’, but extra illumination of the truths already revealed for our salvation. 2 Tim. 3:16 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. The scripture is sufficient to make us wise unto salvation: 2Timothy 3:15 – …the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation.
Rest assured, the world would not to be lost because they have not known or accepted her writings.

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This is a very serious accusation. Please provide more information on it, in order to substantiate its validity and relevance:

  1. Identify what is specifically the dialectic in question.
  2. Why is it “satanic.”

Please do elaborate on your insight here. You may be quite right, but it’s not clear what you mean. What are the false problems? What is false about the solutions? Why is it satanic?

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I would follow the lead of the NT writers. They re-read the OT in light of the revelation of God through, and their experience with, Jesus of Nazareth. He became the fulfillment and climax of the OT narrative and of Israel’s story in, and in relation to, the entire world. John’s gospel and the prologue to Hebrews are clear demonstrations of this. In no way does this diminish the OT. It simply puts it into its proper place in relation to Jesus. It was the paidagogos/child custodian until the Messiah came, if you will.

Additionally, Adventist theology is becoming in many ways, a hopeless and distorted anachronism, as is much of Protestantism. The gospel of the kingdom, the empire of God as realized in King Jesus is not central. Personal salvation, an actual truncation of the gospel is. It poses 16thc. answers to 19th c. questions…in the 21st century. Add to this Adventism’s confusion over covenant theology, especially in relationship to the admission of Gentiles into the people of God in the NT, and the accompanying denominational misinterpretation and misapplication of Law, as well as an over individualized reading and interpretation of these documents, not to mention acontextually reading Genesis as a science textbook, and it is no wonder that young people are walking out the door. These distortions of Scriptures and how they shape our communities and lives have no fresh power to keep them from leaving.




You have only three days now to answer the questions you have been asked…


The gospels tell us Jesus gave some HARD questions.
Today was Luke 14:25-33.
Jesus tells us if we want to be His disciple, we have to give up all
our possessions. [vs 33]
Beginning verses, Jesus says we have to HATE [but that really means making
an INTENTIONAL CHOICE – to Love Me more than everything else]
father, mother, wife, children, brother, sister, and even life itself.
The reading of Deut. 30:15-26 gives us the REASONS for having the Book of
Judges, The dark messages of Jeremiah, Isaiah, some minor prophets.
The fulfillment of the Dark Side of Deut 30.
But there is also glimmers of HOPE in Deut 30, Jeremiah, Isaiah, minor prophets.
God still maintains his Omnipresence here on earth, even with persons who
worship other Idols. [Paul called Greed and all the bad things that come along with
it, both personal and in Empire, Idolatry.]

The more serious problem in SDA circles, as well as other denominations, is not the hermeneutics… it is the agenda associated with the homiletics
Institutional damage control is for immature institutional idolaters who have conventional mindsets.

The clergy not only don’t know how to fix the system, they don’t know what is involved in fixing people.

Most clergy speak in unknown tongues parroting clichés like: “keep your eyes on Jesus, let go & let God, ask Jesus into your heart, one needs to fully surrender to Jesus, pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit, God is in in control”.

SDA think they worship on the right day, yet worship the wrong God.

The result…loss of eternal life. JN 17:3

Upon further reflection and in light of the other thoughtful responses posted here, I think it may be helpful to share another perception of mine. Opposition to and affirmation of a “Christ centered” reading of Scripture is a proxy for addressing two types of challenges that Scripture poses, the challenge of ethical judgment of Scriptural passages such as Chuck’s example of Psalm 137:9 and the challenge of factual statements in Scripture. Both of those challenges can be captured under the heading of the fallibility of Scripture or alternatively its infallibility (which Adventists classically deny but historically actually defend). It is exactly with that issue in mind, fallibility, that it seems vital to me that we insist on the “plain reading” of the text. My insistence may not give succor to those who champion those terms.

The plain reading of Matthew 16:27-28 is that Jesus declared that he would come again with his angels in the glory of his Father before some of the people standing before him died. Those people are all dead. Jesus has not come with his angels in the glory of his Father. Jesus was mistaken. Reading the text on the assumption of its infallibility has prompted Adventists and their far more numerous fundamentalist and evangelical fellow travelers to appeal to Matthew 17 and its account of the transfiguration as the fulfillment of Jesus’ erroneous declaration that he would come again with his angels in his Father’s glory before all of his present hearers had died. But the plain reading makes Matthew 17 incapable of salvaging infallibility because Moses and Elijah are most definitely not angels. And if we want to know what Matthew expected regarding the coming of Jesus with his angels we can read chapter 24. Jesus’ error was repeated by Paul in I Corinthians 15.

Advocating a Christ centered reading of Scripture is certainly complicated by the fact of Jesus’ fallibility but it is also required by that fallibility. Opponents of Christ centered reading seem to me to oppose it in part because it is a conscious effort to offer an interpretive strategy that does not hide its eyes from the fact of Scriptural fallibility including the fallibility of Jesus.

So I say, by all means let’s start with plain reading and then let’s use the wisdom plain reading requires to find the treasure in the earthen (fallible) vessel of Scripture. As John Adams said in defending British soldiers in revolutionary Boston, “Facts are stubborn things.” The fact is Jesus did not come when he said He would. The best way to deal with that is to read it in light of everything we know about Him without pretending that one of the things we know about Him is that he was infallible. He wasn’t. The Scripture isn’t. But he is the resurrected Lord of the Church and as such He should be, as Chuck insists, the light that enlightens us in our reading of Scripture.

And lest I be grievously misunderstood, accepting the fact of fallibility is no warrant for despair, most definitely not that form of despair that is Liberal Protestantism in its various forms including Neo-orthodoxy. It would be nice if more Adventist academics could grasp that. Thankfully many of them already do.


I agree that: “Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation and the art of understanding.” And it does concern “texts,” that is, all efforts—written, spoken, drawn, sculpted, etc.—to interpret reality, that is, to describe it or otherwise comment on it. My interest in a Christological hermeneutic comes down to this: any interpretation of the meaning of the Bible for the life of faith must, in order to be a Christian interpretation, assign ultimate authority to Christ. If some passage speaks of killing men, women, children and animals of an enemy tribe, the non-violent love of which Jesus spoke disqualifies the former passage from authorizing my present behavior as a Christian.

Job9 33 (I am not sure about your name):

You seem to assume (perhaps I misunderstand) that my “theological agenda” is that he Old Testament God and the God of Jesus are not one and the same. No, I assume they are the same, and that Jesus was advancing, or radicalizing, themes he learned precisely by reading the Old Testament. But although I do not assume that the “Old Testament God is malevolent, but Jesus is nice,” I do take the Old Testament to be, as it were, a library of understandings, and these understandings are not fully identical with one another. Still, since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, the God of whom Old Testament authors bore (somewhat varied) witness is ONE God.


I agree that “over-individualized” readings of the Gospel distort popular Adventist theology. This mistake is pervasive in popular Protestant theology. A few persons within Adventism have tried, since the late 1960s, to bear witness against this error. Perhaps their witness has had some effect. Consider the Sabbath School Quarterly, “The Least of These,” that the church is studying this quarter. Someone might chime in with, “But there’s a political dimension to the Kingdom, and that’s still being overlooked.” Okay, we have a long way to go.


As to moral and factual “infallibility,” it is worthwhile to remark that this idea is nowhere attested to in Scripture. The usual, fundamentalist appeal to 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 fails for the reason that “God-breathed” is a metaphor and there can be no certain and literal expression of all that it may imply. I assume “inspiration” (the usual translation of the Greek that is in play here) does imply that God influenced the human Bible writers. As to how that influence worked, and whether it fully overcame the creatureliness of the authors—those points are nowhere explicitly addressed. But since the Bible was written in human (and therefore situated, or limited) languages, it seems certain on these grounds alone that the creatureliness of these authors was not fully overcome.

Your comments about Jesus remind us that any discussion of Christian doctrine must ultimately takes us back to fresh encounter with the meaning of the incarnation and resurrection.

I wish to thank commenters in general for the thoughtfulness that came through in discussion of my article. But here is one thing that puzzles me. I challenged anyone who disagrees with, or perhaps even voted against, the Christocentric statement the ASRS officers proposed in 2015, to identify a single error of fact or logic in their statement. A very large percentage of the people in the room back then had to have disagreed with it. But not one of them has taken up that challenge.

How can that be? I hope it is not indifference. I hope it is not fear. Neither of these would be consistent with Christian faith.



Wow, this is what I roughly understood by this neologism, but could never name it. Thank you, awesome input to ponder.


Please clarify this statement explaining the difference between this “wrong God” and the “right God,” the one that presumably some more enlightened people worship.