It has been a while since the church devoted a whole quarter to studying theThree Angels’ Messages in a Sabbath School setting. I looked forward with some anticipation to the 2023 second quarter Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, which was dedicated to this topic. But in many respects, over the thirteen weeks, it proved to be a disappointing read. Maybe this was to be expected. Ellen White introduced The Three Angels’ Messages concept in an 1848 vision. Since then, the subject has devolved into a denominational truism that has assumed sacred cow status. A belief better left alone than questioned.
Here’s one Chinese re-interpretation of the Three Angels’ Message I found amusing (to say the least)
… the Three Angels’ Messages in modem China…this paper presents the way I have discussed to use the mass media-shortwave radio broadcasts and printed materials—along with organized study groups in China to train leaders and lay workers with sound biblical doctrines contextualized in the Chinese cultural, political, and spiritual setting. This doctrinal training with its theme, The Way That Leads to True Happiness, Wealth, and Longevity,
Not only is the “Three Angel’s Message” outdated in the current religious and socio-political atmosphere (if it ever was), the article doesn’t go far enough. It bemoans the fact that the denomination has chosen this “three angel’s message” as its identifying and seminal symbol of itself, and as its “quintessential” message to the world. It points out that there are many positive themes that are “gem-packed” with a better focus. While this is true, the situation is worse than that - the Adventist message is actually missing the heart of the GOSPEL.
Christianity is not based on a handful messages “of helping others; and infused with love”. The Christian GOSPEL is specific to what Christ accomplished on the cross; and the hope his resurrection represents. That’s the core; and is never stated as the GOSPEL MESSAGE we are supposed to disseminate.
Ellen White said somewhere that the “third angel’s message is the the essence of the Gospel.” The word “gospel” literally means “good news” (of the coming of the kingdom of God). It was already initiated by Christ’s death and resurrection. How can we make verses 9-13 sound like “good news” of the Gospel, as it describes the torment and destruction of numbers of people.
True, the excerpt ends with the blessings on the faithful; but the SDA church places ITSELF as the means of that salvation, by going back to the “first angel” and calling folk to leave their “false religion” and to join the SDA church. That is the bottom line as the “Three Angels’ Message”, is used by the church, as it writes itself into the process of SALVATION.
In reality, this message is to the professed “GOD’S PEOPLE”, asking them to separate themselves from the influences of the beast power. This isn’t a call for the masses to leave their churches and look for the nearest SDA church. This is for those already in the SDA church and every other church, and even those outside any church. It’s a call to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are calling people to come join us, but where is the Gospel?
The gospels and Paul (somewhat) soften the jealous, vengeful, angry, judgmental, violent, bloodthirsty Yahweh of the Jewish scriptures. I say somewhat, because all eschatology points to an eventual ugly outcome for unbelievers. But in Revelation, He’s BAAAACK…swinging a sword, bringing plagues, boiling people alive in a lake of fire…yup, that’s Yahweh all right.
It is precisely because the number of Jesus stories is limited that “conservative” Christianity is possible.
If Jesus had kept his promise to return “shortly” we would have a two thousand year history full of tales about him, none of which could be worthy of a canonization as there would be more “present truth” available tomorrow morning.
This alternate reality would have also settled, once and for all, that Jesus was a real person and removed the possibility of any ambiguity in regards what his “good news” was all about.
But he didn’t come back.
So the ongoing questions, speculation and doubt remain the order of the day and the only reason that it cannot be otherwise is possibly due to nothing more than our inability to prove a negative. That is, Christianity, as well as Adventism’s Three Angels Message dogma, may owe their existence to the fact that it is impossible to conclusively demonstrate that neither Jesus, nor his dad, ever existed.
Is it an unspoken, maybe even unconscious, assumption that we think we are the three angels? At a minimum, maybe we think we are their “loud voices,” that they don’t really possess loud voices and so we have to shout for them. Poor angels! Gotta shout but can’t! Gotta depend on Seventh-day Adventists to do their work for them. Must be humiliating. Is it possible we need to leave the angels’ business to the angels?
I think I was about 19 when I realised the church hadn’t taught me the gospel. Thankfully I had been taught to study and value the Bible. So I researched for myself what the gospel is - that God has reached out to us within real time to come within our grasp, that we can be reconciled to God through Jesus.
Since then I have noticed that many fellow church members, whether lay or cleric, also get the gospel and are motivated by it, even though they might describe it with different terms.
Despite our conservative self-identity built on an exclusive remnant, God’s word breaks through.
This goes further than the problem of emphasizing the gory parts of the Bible and the NT, namely Revelation. This is about a denomination that has built an eschatology on a distorted interpretation of apocalyptic books of the Bible that grew out of William Miller’s prophetic errors and interpretive morass. Much more could be unpacked about this.
Regarding the gospel in Revelation 14, it is there according to John of Patmos’ perspective. God would judge the evil and coercive powers called Babylon that were arrayed against his people. Iow, the weak, the persecuted, and the poor would be vindicated and the oppressors would be eliminated. God would set things right. This was good news that was rooted in the OT, specifically where the psalms call for celebration because God would come to judge the earth with true justice and equity, and Daniel 7 where it says that judgement would be made in favor of the saints who were under pressure, and against the monsters arrayed against them. The call was to remain faithful in light of all this, and not to lose heart or compromise.
That this is about people persecuted for sabbath observance is an Adventist phantasm. It would have made zero sense to a first century audience, and makes no sense for Christians under pressure throughout the ages until today, who simply have endured hardship because of their faith in Christ…not the observance of a day. It also makes no sense on a practical level, again more could be said.
That Revelation also offers brutal pictures of God I think is also not inaccurate. I sympathize with what Herold Weiss has stated at various times, I also find it hard to worship the God portrayed in Revelation who threatens those not on his side with brutal torture and death.
Then again, read the gospels…Jesus has many hard sayings that allude to the same. He wasn’t walking around like Ringo, wishing everybody peace and love all the time.
I see nothing wrong with the third angels’ messages if interpreted correctly in a contemporary context of warning. To ignore Revelation is to ignore prophecy and the idea of prophecy. We have progressed enormously in our understanding of the book beyond its 1900s context. But this information is not getting (hidden?) to our members through SS quarterlies or other church publications. One would think the editors would get scholars like Jan Paulien who has studied the book for more than 40 years to write the SS quarterly or S.Tongstad who reveals Satan’s role in the book… The Holy Spirit is being removed and evil allowed its own consequences as in the OT. Yet God’s love shines in the end.
It’s a book for all ages with beast-like systems in every era. They seem to be multiplying and God’s people being called out of them. Those who don’t like Revelation need to study it. Unfortunately–just as in the world–this battle between pseudo conservative and liberal and unwillingness to listen to each other is destroying our church
EGW said the messages were about righteousness by faith, yet this is ignored. The Sabbath is the rest that the wicked don’t have because it is resting in Jesus for salvation. This is the truth they reject–Jesus Himself–and replace with humans trying to save themselves through a day, religion, power, human intelligence, science, politics.
A day will not save. Our evangelists misrepresent Revelation and its symbols and its Savior. They start with doctrines instead of Jesus. They have focused on and produced an arrogant institution that tends to believe they are the ark of safety–a human building with human power.
It’s not just a day (and all ten commandments) being rejected by sinners; it is Jesus righteousness by faith as our Substitute–the Gospel in the Sabbath rest. We rest, not in our works, but in Jesus.
The three angels: (1) We recognize God as Creator and Re-creator. (2) We see the call out of Babylon (false systems based on works to better the world or save us). (3) And we note the unrest of the wicked tormented by the fire of their own making. Most students understand the wrath of God to be abandonment of which OT stories give evidence. Fire seems to symbolize purification of the earth from wickedness and it is final for eternity.
This is been the problem with Adventists since 1844. The conspiracy concept of GT made it worse. Now the Gospel is not from the Bible, but from the GC. But God has his own ways to save the world, not through Adventism anyway
[quote=“ikswezdyr, post:13, topic:25303”] The Sabbath is the rest that the wicked don’t have because it is resting in Jesus for salvation.
That is what was missing in the original Sabbath of he Jews as explained in Hebrews 4. Even with the meticulous “keeping” of the Sabbath then, and even today, yet, “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” Not going to work Saturday morning; or, doing dishes after sundown Saturday is not the “Sabbath rest” Hebrews is talking about.
“That is, Christianity, as well as Adventism’s Three Angels Message dogma, may owe their existence to the fact that it is impossible to conclusively demonstrate that neither Jesus, nor his dad, ever existed.”
So, Bruce, do God and Jesus really exist? What is it that YOU believe, in this regard? I get very confused sometimes with your comments (well reasoned, as they appear to be!).