"The End of the World" or "The End of a World"?

The Great Controversy describes "the end of the world." But it may, instead, be the end of a world—the one imagined by our Adventist pioneers. The appeal of eschatological literalism is strong and continues today. But ours is only a fallible understanding of the end, not a photograph. And the Adventist pioneers' understanding, as embodied in the book The Great Controversy, no longer corresponds to what the end represents for religious and secular communities in the 21st century. The end will certainly come, as Scripture attests. But in this regard, it is less a record of those who have denied the end of the world than a stern record of those who have misunderstood it and who, with zeal and consistency, tenaciously preached that understanding while sublimating wisdom and dialogue. Many communities throughout history have believed in the end but misunderstood its nature and scope. It happened with the people of Israel, with the disciples, with early Christianity. And there is little doubt that it happens with the Adventist Church as well. Adventism believes in the end of the world but, unfortunately, often misunderstands it.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11886
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Looking back we all agree as to the importance EGW placed on Rodger Williams in defense of religious liberty and today we would add to it civil and political freedom of speech. Political correctness as created a deaf zone for free speech. We need a modern Rodger Williams.

While only a short paragraph was given to Williams, EGW gave to William Miller a whole chapter in GC. EGW calls William Miller “An American Reformer.” She writes, “As Elisha was called from following his oxen in the field, to receive the mantle of consecration to the prophetic office, so was William Miller called to leave his plow, and open to the people the mysteries of the kingdom of God.”

I doubt how anyone in Western thought would include William Miller as a “American Reformer,” and fewer still would liken Miller to “Elisha.”

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Very true, Frank…

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This article tries to paint EGW and her eschatology generously…as do most Adventist scholars. The problems, one of which you brought up, are often marginalized or wholly ignored.

Frank

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I Asked our church members if they believed that the devil was planting mis information in the Bible or editing the Bible to delete and insert wrong teachings, they all agreed that it is true. I then asked how much information in Ellen White writings has been implanted by the devil to lead many astray until Jesus appears as a thief. None believed there is such error planted by the devil in Ellen White writings. So many Adventist believe the devil shall temper with the Bible but not EGW writings and estates.

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Ahhhh, the end of the world. I predict that this will occur in 7-8 billion years in conjunction with the sun entering the supernova phase.

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I couldn’t read more than the first few paragraphs without feeling a bit frustrated with my inability to understand the point of the article. Plain language helps the reader to understand, but maybe my old-fashioned requirement for it puts me behind the times. Am I alone?

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This world ends for each of us when we die. I am 75 … it will end sooner for me than for many of you.

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Is the God of the Bible real or imaginary?

The fact that your question can even be asked sort of answers itself doesn’t it?

Of course, the Bible acknowledges the existence of other gods such as Baal, Marduk, Asherah, (only insisting that Yahweh must be in first place) yet few today believe most of them to actually exist. El (translated “God”) was the most high god of the Canaanite pantheon. “Elohim”, the plural, was the entirety of the pantheon. El had a wife, Asherah. He had sons, two of whom were Baal and Yahweh. Yahweh evolved into the Christian God the Father. None of the ancient deities have any evidence for their reality, yet many insist that some exist while others are imaginary. This subject must lead to the questions:

  1. What do I know?
  2. How do I know it?
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I had pretty much the same reaction! Don Rhoads

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Return of the God Hypothesis "Three Scientific Discoveries that Reveal the Mind Behind the Univer @bartwillruth

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That “God Hypothesis” does not get one to the point of the question,

Even if the hypothesis is valid, it might only lead to a vast pantheon of gods, or god(s) which once existed but no longer do, or by a stroke of luck to any of the 10’s of thousands of gods believed in throughout human history, or to one unknown. That the tribal god of ancient Israel is the “real” one is quite a stretch.

The hypothetical “mind” behind the universe might be amoral or evil. The Jews in the holocaust found their god (Yahweh) to be either powerless, ambivalent, or complicit.

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I, too, had difficulty getting the drift of where the author was going.

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From what I make of Myers’s work, what he is not saying is as important as what he seems to be implying.

That is, I take ID to be a euphemism for god, and god to be a euphemism for the Judeo-Christian god people talk about in Sabbath and Sunday School.

Further, I don’t think it a “bridge too far” to make this assertion given that there are YouTube clips of Myers delivering Sunday Sermons in Christian churches.

All of which leads me to believe that Myer’s real goal is the suppression of questioning and science, now that science has done the heavy lifting, dirty work of bringing humanity infinitely closer to understanding itself than religion or the “trust and obey” types ever did or could.

If indeed that is his ambition, or if a return to religious absolutism is the net effect of his work no matter what his intent, I can only wish him the worst of luck.

Further, I predict that he will ultimately fail in his efforts to breath new life into his most likely dead, or at least moribund OT god, despite his best and desperate attempts, this due to the essential inquisitiveness of human nature and the indomitable quality of cosmic consciousness.

(And okay, that last bit is probably a bit “over the top” 70’s psychedelic but hey, I was raised in the 60’s, so please “cut me some slack” as we used to say in high school!)

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How about this - there is one GOD, perceived through a cultural lens. Different cultures having fit GOD into their particular environment.

Culture is dependent on a particular environment, which forces one to live a particular way. This, in turn, develops patterns of behaviour and thought. Add to that, interactions, called history, and you have developed a cultural self-image, that includes how you think about a GOD.

Christianity presumes a WESTERN culture, despite it coming from the Middle East. I think the Greeks had something to do with that. So, you have Christians running around the globe westernizing everybody.

Where that leaves us is the basic belief that some intelligence started it all. The next step is to decide how we relate to IT/HIM/HER (turns out it is a matter of pronouns after all) -. Here is where human nature comes in. We are all totally self-absorbed, and like animals, our main job is self-preservation. You see that on “black Friday” at Sacks or Walmart, depending on your checking account.

So, if there is any glimmer of selflessness, it has to come from outside ourselves. Christianity seems to have an answer to that. You might say it’s “social conditioning” - your choice. “Blessed are they who have not seen, but believe.”

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Exactly. I felt the same way. I would recommend authors use the Flesch Kincaid score test if their goal is readability, clarity and understanding.

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I’m intrigued by the reinterpretation of “end of the world” Hanz describes. I wonder if some of the difficulty in understanding what he means is due to a reluctance to let go of a literal understanding of that phrase and a hesitance to push too hard into that heretical reinterpretation.

With apologies to Hanz if I’ve read too much of my own opinion into his article, I’d like to share my thoughts on this new understanding of “end of the world” to see if it resonates with anyone.

In the article, Hanz describes the transition from premodernity to modernity as a sort of “end of the world”. The premodern world where people saw themselves at the whim of gods and devils and understood right and wrong in terms of communal morality (Loyalty vs. Betrayal, Authority vs. Subversion, and Sanctity vs. Degradation) has come to an end in that it is no longer primary.

Modernity has taken over. As a result, we now think of ourselves as independent and for the most part free to choose our own path in life and after. We understand right and wrong primarily in terms of individual morality (Care vs. Harm and Fairness vs. Cheating). We live in a disenchanted world meaning while ancient people performed rain and fertility ceremonies to gain divine favor for better crops, we create irrigation systems, use meteorological science, and apply pesticides and fertilizer. Or, for example while ancient people prayed, offered sacrifices, and performed rituals for healing, we consult a medical doctor who uses modern diagnostic tools and evidence based medicine to help us heal.

Premodern ideas didn’t completely end. They are still very prevalent from the sports fan who wears a lucky hat on game day, to the church praying for a sick member, to arguments for complex moral conflicts based on biblical authority. We have transcended and included these premodern ideas in our modern context.

So, the “end of the world” for modern humans might not refer to an actual destruction of the physical world but an end of the primacy of the modern world view.

What comes next? Despite modern liberal fears and authoritarian attempts, I don’t think it will be a complete regression into premodern ideology (even if this is a temporary result of the tumultuous transition). I have found most hope in those describing a new integral way of thinking where the best aspects of each stage of our human development are carried forward and included in an integral approach that transcends the polarization and violence of our modern era.

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Some of the most hatful things I have heard or read in my life have come from present day “Christians”. Jerry Falwell, Jim Baker, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and many others, I find to be the very pinnacle of political corruption and evil. As for this posters concepts of governments who impose their control on their constituents, I find to be total hypocrisy. The comment disparaging “green living” sickens me. Yes…it sickens me to the core. Taking care of God’s creation is our responsibility and our mistreatment is a total disregard for our neighbors, and future inhabitants welfare because of our selfish disregard for how we take care of God’s creation will be dealt with harshly when Jesus returns. Rev. 11:18 makes it pretty clear. We all have to live here and our cavalier behavior with our polluting of this planet is the very essence of selfishness.

The Gospel is quite simply, loving our neighbor, and our disregard for their wellbeing will be our destruction. The end of Matt 25 spells out the difference between the sheep and the goats. You need to rethink which side you want to be on.

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Thank you Dr Gutierrez. You make a poignant observation that the Catholic church, which we demonise by emphasising its mediaeval iteration, has actually moved on (as demonstrated by Pope Francis’ capacity to apply the gospel to current issues), while our voice has not just stalled but regressed.
Our only ‘pope’ died over a century ago, but our attempts to canonise her and organise her to say what we want her to say only grow stronger. As such, our capacity to respond to society’s questions from the gospel is reduced. Ellen White understood ‘progressive truth’ but our conservative thought police are more comfortable being mediaeval and pre-rational.

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