The Adventist Problem with Revelation

I can only wish you well in this rigorous exegetical task, given the unwieldy material you have to work with, as set out in the definition above.

I certainly don’t envy you the task you have set your hand to.

Before we know it, it will be 200 years of working over this material!

Perhaps not nearly enough books have been written, read and discussed yet.

Perhaps not enough original texts have been discovered and deciphered, or enough archeological digs dug.

Or perhaps our hermeneutics is sorely lacking and we need to read 400 books on hermeneutics and merge thousands more horizons.

But…maybe we await visitation of benevolent prophetic extraterrestrials to set our eschatological brains to rights.

Or perhaps we need a strong fatherly hand to intervene and utilize the long arm of the General Conference in Session to enforce 19th century pillars of SDA Truth so that we can stop dilly-dallying and get on with our Mission.

No wait, perhaps the lay people should show some proper humility and yield to the scholars. Excellent idea!

But then again, it’s been over 50 years since a team of Evangelical scholars went over our beliefs with a fine tooth comb—maybe it’s time for another checkup and adjustment!

But really, isn’t Social Justice our mission now?

Maybe prophesy is just, you know, hooey.

But the church is hemorrhaging members, so we have to keep transfusing ourselves with Revelation Seminars!

So we need to dust off the Red Books and get cracking, if we want to survive…

But wait…we don’t want to be seen as Catholic Haters…

Branding! That’s the answer! The PR firm will fix this!

All the best, friends.

Teach me Your way, O LORD, and I will walk in Your truth. Grant me undividedness of heart so that I may fear Your name.
—Psalm 82


When Sunday laws are enforced, SDA’s have been instructed to do the same activities on Sunday that the sunday keepers” have been doing all along…

I will try to answer your question as to what you should do in the case of Sunday laws being enforced. 9T 232.1
The light given me by the Lord at a time when we were expecting just such a crisis as you seem to be approaching, was that when the people were moved by a power from beneath to enforce Sunday observance, Seventh-day Adventists were to show their wisdom by refraining from their ordinary work on that day, devoting it to missionary effort. 9T 232.2
To defy the Sunday laws will but strengthen in their persecution the religious zealots who are seeking to enforce them. Give them no occasion to call you lawbreakers. If they are left to rein up men who fear neither God nor man, the reining up will soon lose its novelty for them, and they will see that it is not consistent nor convenient for them to be strict in regard to the observance of Sunday. Keep right on with your missionary work, with your Bibles in your hands, and the enemy will see that he has worsted his own cause. One does not receive the mark of the beast because he shows that he realizes the wisdom of keeping the peace by refraining from work that gives offense, doing at the same time a work of the highest importance. 9T 232.3
When we devote Sunday to missionary work, the whip will be taken out of the hands of the arbitrary zealots who would be well pleased to humiliate Seventh-day Adventists. When they see that we employ ourselves on Sunday in visiting the people and opening the Scriptures to them, they will know that it is useless for them to try to hinder our work by making Sunday laws. 9T 232.4
Sunday can be used for carrying forward various lines of work that will accomplish much for the Lord. On this day open-air meetings and cottage meetings can be held. House-to-house work can be done. Those who write can devote this day to writing their articles. Whenever it is possible, let religious services be held on Sunday. Make these meetings intensely interesting. Sing genuine revival hymns, and speak with power and assurance of the Saviour’s love. Speak on temperance and on true religious experience. You will thus learn much about how to work, and will reach many souls. 9T 233.1
Let the teachers in our schools devote Sunday to missionary effort. I was instructed that they would thus be able to defeat the purposes of the enemy. Let the teachers take the students with them to hold meetings for those who know not the truth. Thus they will accomplish much more than they could in any other way. 9T 233.2


I don’t see a problem with evolving understandings and seeing contemporary conditions in any of the churches, especially the last. God’s people have always felt that Christ’s return would be in their generation or lifetime. As individuals that may be true. But no matter how long it may be, it’s important to have the hope it will be soon. Just my opinion.

I appreciate the article and believe God wants us to grow in our understanding of scripture and especially Revelation. We are in a time when “knowledge will be increased” on all levels. I believe all our scholarship must be more Christ-centered than in the past. It’s obvious that Revelation is based on the OT and the audience understood the symbolism. I think if our pioneers had understood this approach some of their conclusions would be different. This is what they did–discuss and change. Our doctrines need to all be centered around Christ like a frame on a picture. We cannot understand Sabbath or expect other Christians to when we present it as a kind of salvation sign instead of rest in Jesus.
That does not mean all of the insights from the past should be thrown out. Some may have had more meaning for the early SDA church than today. Yet we need the humility to move forward in understanding while keeping in mind and building on the past. Most of all we can’t look down on those who are more traditional in their belief system. It gives identity and stability and a reminder that any of us could be wrong about the details. But details don’t save–only Christ can do that. Knowledge and great understanding cannot replace our spiritual relationship with Christ.


The writer suggests other uses of 3.5 days as used throughout the Bible. I think the 3.5 days is used for the crucifixion in the midst of the week (not necessarily the middle) as well. Could even speculate the midst of the week using one day for a thousand years (to God a thousand years is a one day) if you say it has been 6000 yrs since Eden (symbolically or otherwise) and the crucifixion 2000 yrs ago!

That may very well be, but in that case Jesus would affirm that the 3,5 days in the midst of the week refer to years as well, since you cannot possibly argue that Daniel referred to literal days with the 70 weeks prophecy. The time Daniel lived and the events that took place simply don’t add up. Messiah didn’t come 490 days after the desbribed decree.

Yes, but first determine how the eschatological hope impacted the first recipients of Revelation, and what the letter/prophecy was saying to them…in its entirety. It is clear that it was intended for them first. The contents are bookended by reference to the churches as the addressees. Then, apply it to us and our contemporary situations. We are secondary hearers, so to speak, but can still be guided by what it meant for its original, primary audience. This is a sound method of exegesis and application when approaching any biblical book.

To me, this is far more preferable to trying to read ourselves into the text of Revelation. Every generation has seemed to do this, especially in regards to the last church age. To me, it is eisegetical at its core. It leads to a skewed reading of the book, and skewed interpretive outcomes that impact institutional culture, individual lives, and faith.




Well, my word! I guess the point of all that is said there is that if we can complicate the Gospel enough, if we can twist and turn and make long and involved explanations, and if we can then understand and follow the complicated path which we, ourselves have created, then maybe, just maybe, we can justify to God that we are worthy of his saving grace, but just barely, just by the skin of our chiney chin chin, yes?


I honestly don’t know what you are saying or asking. But I’ll put it this way, someone asked a question and I responded the best way I could in writing. If it could have been more clear In 1 sentence I definitely would have gone that route but I chose to explain as best I could. If you have a question please let me know.

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I agree; the texts were first meant for the audience. I like Jan Paulien’s book on revelation. The Jewish audience would have understood the message for themselves and were acquainted with the symbols from the OT. What I meant is we can also learn from them today and not just read them as only for the past. I am not against someone using them as history as well. I don’t want to be in the position of putting down what others believe. (Although some of the stuff out there is absurd–I think you know what I mean–like the Jesuits in the church, etc.)


And for which I, for one, am most grateful. I have been an Adventist for only 20 years, and after reading the above article, and the ridiculous responses, I wonder what planet you are all living on…maybe the Adventist church in your country is different to where I am. Now while I have been to several different churches in two separate countries, I have never come across any Adventist church so preoccupied with prophecy that it is blind to the gospel. Nor have I met any individual, anywhere, who focuses so much on prophecy that he/she has no thought for the lost and downtrodden around us. While not every church in our denomination is perfect, the criticisms I read of the church in this column I see as just sour grapes.
On another matter, no where I have studied has the “Adventist Party Line” on historic fulfilment ever been set in concrete, never been not subject to sometimes robust, meaningful, and insightful discussion, and the very fact that this is the case is positive for the historicist hermeneutic. None of us demand anyone accept the traditional interpretations without personal study and conviction…none of the prophetic interpretations, not even historicism itself, is in the baptismal formula as part of any creed or criteria for fellowship.
BTW, I am non-trinitarian, and my entire church is aware of it, and I still hold a position on the board and lead adult Sabbath school classes. And likewise for 3 or 4 other members who regularly fellowship in our church.

You all may not accept the Adventist church as having an end-time appointment or purpose…fine…time to stop calling yourselves Adventists and join Saddleback, Oprah, or become Buddhists or something.
Some articles on this forum I do find challenging and thought provoking, such as “Storm clouds over Historicism”. While I disagree that historicism is the ultimate boogey man here, I do believe that the writer has some excellent points regarding our vision …yet I don’t find this so much here; maybe its an American thing. I doubt the African or Asian churches have that problem…which may explain their growth and America’s lack thereof. Yet are we not preaching the same message? I think it comes down to individual commitment to the gospel and our individual consecration to evangelism.
Incidentally, what is the alternative to historicism? Jesuit futurism or Jesuit preterism?

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So…, this is very interesting… You disagree with the Church on the trinitarian issue and brag that you are accepted in your congregation with no problem. And even teach a SS class? BUT, oh…, those who disagree on the interpretation of Revelation…, well… those should go to even “something.”

If this is not declared hypocrisy, I don’t know what is!

I don’t have a problem with you having your own conviction even if it disagrees with the Church’s traditional and still official belief. But I don’t understand why don’t you give others the courtesy of enjoying the same intellectual independence and freedom you claim for yourself. Baffling!!!

And, on the top of it you say, “None of us demand anyone accept the traditional interpretations without personal study and conviction…none of the prophetic interpretations, not even historicism itself, is in the baptismal formula as part of any creed or criteria for fellowship…” Well, … what about sending to Saddleback those who, like you, may not accept some of our Church’s traditional interpretations???**

[a] In my case a lifetime, now 68. :open_mouth:
[b] Planet Earth, if you still accept the traditional name for this planet. … :roll_eyes:
[c] I am in the US for 29 years, though I lived in Brazil for 39 years, and in France for 10 months (right after I was born… :wink: )

Well, don’t worry, I am not writing any SS quarterly. I am not patient enough to wait 5 years to see “my lesson” published, all altered to a point that I wouldn’t recognize it myself…


Hundreds of thousands (probably more) of people have left and joined very doctrinally sound churches. There are lots of them out there. Your view of Christians is very, very limited.


That’s me (hand raised). It really helps when the sermons are verse by verse. The contextual clarity is amazing and really brings the bible to life, IMO. Can never go back to topical which is an opinion with some verses thrown in. Many times extra-biblical verses.
I watched a local Adventist sermon this weekend (only because it featured a relative) and the pastor used exactly two verses from the bible and two from you know who creating a tidy balanced equivalence. Sad.


Amen to that. Also, when some of the words are explained in more detail in the original language, as to what the word meant (and meant to the hearer in their cultural setting) is very enlightening. This, as you said, brings things to life, and to a much clearer picture of what was happening, and what was being conveyed. A world of difference!


How many times have we seen this invitation from a poster here to just get out and to please leave. Once again, @Brakelite is joining others who have dropped in and told those here to just leave to church. Telling psychologists, psychiatrists, S.S. teachers, church leaders, professors, scholars, and you name it, that they are unwelcome in their own church.

Where does this come from?


That’s okay. I wouldn’t ask you to know, but perhaps I can point you to a helpful sentence?

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So, people who disagree with certain church teachings should head out the door, but you, who disagrees with a different set, should be welcomed to stay at home? You don’t see the hypocrisy and the double standard of such a statement?

I would think that you assume that the Holy Spirit or Jesus himself is less than divine. That’s less consequential than belief in the supposed end time credentials of the Adventist church? You tell people who question the latter position its time to stop calling themselves Adventist. By that logic, others could turn around and tell you its time to stop calling yourself Christian. How does that feel?

Personally, I think that neither stone should be cast, as you have done. It does nothing but break the windows in the glass houses in which we all live.



Would “spiritual arrogance” do it?
I already exposed the “hypocrisy” part of it. Maybe spiritual arrogance is the the other half…