First off: We’re in a post-pandemic world where people are still trying to put things together. The Adventist Review looks around, and decides it has nothing to publish than (checks notes) a rebuttal to a two-year old Spectrum article. I can think of no better argument against the Review’s relevance.
But let’s focus on this Goldstein line: “Of course, that’s the immediate issue: were the pioneers right?”
The answer is that it doesn’t matter, because the SDA Church doesn’t teach what the pioneers taught.
The pioneers didn’t believe in a “lamblike beast who speaks like a dragon,” because that’s not what Revelation 13:11 says. It says the thing is just a beast, full stop, which happens to have two lamb-like horns.
The pioneers actually read that verse correctly, and believed in a beast with a thin veneer of Christianity. They said America was already speaking as a beast in the 1850s, because of the US tolerating slavery. Don’t believe me? Here you go:
“In appearance he is like a harmless lamb but when he raises his voice in acts of authority his dragon-like character is revealed. This is a two-faced hypocritical beast that first appears with mildness and equity but has the fierce prompting of a dragon heart. The institution of slavery most clearly reveals the dragon spirit of this hypocritical nation.” –J.N. Andrews, 1857 (page 144 / page 10 in the PDF; there are numerous other quotes in there as well.)
Which brings me back to Admiral Ncube’s original premise: “Why are we not allowed to be as contextual as our pioneers?”
Because the SDA Church went full-on Fundamentalism in the 1920s, and turned the pioneers’ original teaching upside down. Now it’s “America is the greatest, most freedom-loving country ever! Someday it’ll change when a National Sunday Law happens after some ill-defined calamity, and it’ll all be the Pope’s fault,” and has been for the last 100 years.
The pioneers missed Manifest Destiny in their own time, there’s no doubt of that. But if they were around and still being contextual today, I feel like they’d explain “relatively uninhabited” with this:
If it’s “relatively uninhabited,” it’s because the beast from the Earth made it so. But it’s not comfortable to point out that just maybe those numbers, slavery, and Jim Crow aren’t “lamblike” actions, so we don’t.
I don’t anticipate seeing this explanation in an official SDA publication any time soon. Or ever, really.
(I’m not even saying the pioneers were necessarily right, but at least it’s internally consistent. That’s more than I can say for the last 100 years of “National Sunday Law, someday, because reasons! So stay afraid.”)