The Challenge of an Ecological Eschatology

Adventist eschatology has two distinctive features. On the one hand, it is premillennialist, and on the other, it has a cosmic scope. Ellen White’s book The Great Controversy devotes Chapters 18–21 to premillennialism, as I examined in an earlier column entitled "An Eschatological Critique of the Present." And White's book devotes Chapters 39–42 to this cosmic scope, as I will explore in this column. Adventist premillennialism is essentially a critique of humanity's optimism in claiming to solve the problems of history by reminding us that only Christ's return will end human tragedies. The second feature, this cosmic dimension, essentially reminds humanity that evil is not only in the heart of the individual, or even human history, but in the cosmos. For this reason, any attempts to solve the human problem remain partial and insufficient if one does not go to the root, to the resolution of cosmic evil.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11788

I appreciate the thoughtful article. Yet it seems to me that The Great Controversy fails to address the “eschatological questions of the times.” The book gives a whole chapter on William Miller as a great and good man. I wonder how many western Universities students would take this serious? Again the book contains a considerable amount of anti-Catholic rhetoric, which does speak to world peace and toleration of the beliefs of others. Love, for others and peaceful living in nature and in society is of less importance, in the the book, then the time of worship.

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Using a biblical worldview and not a secular or tradition based one, the issue in the theodicy warfare between Christ and Satan centers around the response of fallen man to the gift of salvation and the implications of that decision. In the Bible, God reveals Himself faithful to His creation who have rebelled against Him. But will they respond to His love and dedication in saving them through worship and loyalty? We find this theme woven throughout the Bible. On Mount Carmel, what was the test that the people of God faced? Worship and loyalty. On the Plain of Dura, (Daniel 3), what the test that the children of Israel confronted? Worship and loyalty. What about Jesus in the wilderness of temptation? His final test centered around worship and loyalty. The word worship is used five times in Revelation chapter 13. In this chapter, we learn that the majority of the world will show their loyalty to the sea beast by giving him worship. These people are contrasted with the ones found in Revelation 14 who show their loyalty to God by worshipping Him as the One who made the heavens and the earth and the sea, a direct quotation from Exodus 20:11. The book of Revelation, however, not only exalts Jesus as the Creator, it also lifts Him up as Savior, High Priest and King. For these reasons, he deserves our loyalty which is manifested through our worship of Him on His holy Sabbath day.

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I’m sorry, but the Sabbath is found in Rev. 14 only if we read it into the verse. In this case what is the emphasis - that God is the God of all creation; or we have to worship God on one specific day? We can wander into all kinds of biblical territory from one comment, and lose the meaning and intent of the verse if we so wish.

I’m going to plead naivety, and go back to a time when I first opened the Bible to learn. It came from the hands of Adventism; but even back then, I wondered why the Adventist church depended so much on other books written about the Bible by just one person - as I read the closing verses of Revelation for the first time -

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophesy of this book; if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophesy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

Adventism is keen on having the Bible interpret itself - unless we want it to say something else. So I will give an alternative by using the proof text method taught by Adventist Bible studies:

Rev.14 is the starting point for identifying the “GOSPEL” according to SDA interpretation: the bulls eye for this chapter is Rev.14:12 - Here is the patience of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. The first part (commandments of God) are immediately translated as the fourth commandment; and the second part - “faith in Jesus” is translated as faith “of” Jesus.

This sends us to the second part of Revelation to identify further “the saints” - Rev. 19:9ff. - “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb…” According to Rev 19:10, 11 John bowed down to the angel who was speaking to him. The angel told John not to do that because he was to worship God, and that he, the angel, is only the messenger whose “testimony” is about Jesus, who is the object (spirit) of the prophesy.

Assuming the John of Revelation is the same John of the books 1, 2, 3 preceding Revelation, John defines what the “testimony of Jesus” in 1John 5:11 - And the testimony is this, God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

Just because someone lifted the words “Spirit of prophesy” from the sentence, and called some writings by that name, does not give us permission to translate the sentence to mean that all we need for salvation is to “keep the Sabbath, and follow EGW books” - with no mention of the Son of God in that process. By using “The Spirit of Prophesy” as a title, rather than the description of John’s message, we imply that, that is all that’s necessary.

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