Timeout: Cosmic Conflict vs. Historicism

A remarkable narrative from a truly thoughtful and conscientious scholar. It illustrates the Adventist propensity to refuse to rethink the “inherited,” and often too “easy,” understandings of the past. What I would like to hear from any and all Revelation scholars (especially SDA) is how such a cosmic conflict, which seems to impact this planet and its history in a shocking way, persists with no end in sight. Meshing this perspective with an earth history that seems considerably more complex and evolutionary than pictured in Genesis is no mean task. Ellen White allegedly (according to some interpreters) thinks that “epistemology” (must convince the universe that God is love through the faithfulness of the church) is the key, as if the life and death of Jesus were by itself insufficient; or that there is another “reason” for the delay (e.g the divine “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance”). What are we to make of all this? Even if we grant that time and space for God are altogether different than for us, what explanation would suffice for (from our perspective) so much time? “How long, O Lord, how long?” before whatever needs to be accomplished will be so and the ultimate redemption not just of this planet but the entire cosmos will finally be a reality?


Thank you for your continued sharing of this Revelation perspective - one much more in line with my understanding of God’s character.

Having four brothers, I appreciated your ‘tricycle’ experience.


As with other factors that limit God’s ability to accomplish His purposes, while maintaining the integrity of His character, I have to believe it is the continued possibility that some will relent in their intransigence to embrace God’s perspective of Good and Evil. The light has come into the world, but men loved darkness. But God’s slackness is not like that of man’s but is long-suffering so that more may be recovered from eternal death.

I believe when no more can be recovered, He will end His effort.

BTW, I loved your sermons at Sligo church when I was a young parishioner there during your pastorate.

Interesting-is the new book on revelation the same as the 2013–saving God’s Reputation

Safe? What is the context for this remark, Sigve?

Surely a scholar of your education and repute does not feel threatened by disagreement.

Your personal story is just as valid as anyone elses’, and I do hope no one ridicules it.

Moreover, I hope no one suggests that God hasn’t been leading your life, or that you have been in any way insincere in your spiritual journey.

But Jesus had no place to lay His head, and neither, it seems, do we.


I hope a scholar of your caliber will one day tackle the Adventist collaboration with the Third Reich.

Then it may truly be said that we have met at Auschwitz to talk.

I will never forget the outrage of a young SDA pastor when I passed that heartbreaking “news” to him.

I have not read this yet:

Fatal Flirting: The Nazi State and the Seventh-day Adventist Church


Might it be possible to integrate your cosmic views with what actually happened, Sigve?

Our parents, physical and spiritual, always disappoint, but in the end, I don’t believe God will.


Thank you! Those were very formative and important years for me!! Blessings.

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Thank you for sharing your story with us and challenging us to take a “time-out” and reconsider our approach to Revelation.

I was raised with the burden of believing that I had to know every aspect of the book of Revelation and be able to share it from the historical-critical viewpoint. That was a great and terrible burden because I never was comfortable with it. That burden was one of several major contributors to a spiritual collapse that I suffered some two decades ago and which I praise God that He rebuilt my faith afterward. One of the biggest lessons God taught me was that Revelation is just one of the books in the Bible. It is the last one and it tells us that God wins in the end. We shouldn’t ignore it. Neither should we ignore the other books, most particularly the four Gospels that tell us about the life of Jesus, which should be our model for how we minister salvation to others. There is far, far more to being a Christian than just studying and teaching Revelation and the sooner we reduce the priority we place on the book and allow the life model of Jesus to become our primary study and example the sooner we will find spiritual balance and empowerment to actually do the evangelism we’re supposed to be doing.


Whenever we talk about time in relation to God, we enter into concepts we really can’t deal with on a linear time line. On the “historic” level each generation of Christians are desperate to make end-time connections to the specific events and players on the present stage, as if “our” generation is the one that will make it possible for Jesus to return. And when He doesn’t we live in a perpetual state of judgment - of ourselves and others - never good enough, and always guilty.

If we were to shed the element of time, we might start seeing that on-going story as a whole. The sacrifice of the cross reaching back and forward in our “time” - Jesus replacing Adam, granting the human race a new legacy - a new birth. There would be no “last generation” because the last generation also reaches back in “time,” embracing all humanity as it gathers at the cross. But how could that be possible when the time of the end is so bad…

When all human constructs have broken down, and the earth has been shaken to its core; when our home on this orb has been totally destroyed; and the cloud, the size of a fist, grows ever more clear as to what it’s about, there can be no human on earth that doesn’t bow to its glory. Maybe then God’s wish that “not any should perish but that all should come to repentance” will come true.

Will I be safe to entertain such a story?


Sieve, Thank you! I have more “time” for more “Time Outs”. Very thought provoking
and encouraging.

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I suggest we meditate on that phrase, and on the position one must mentally imagine oneself in vis-a-vis the Almighty to come up with such an idea.

As an adult child of an alcoholic family, I understand the fearful desire to rescue one’s parent, physical or Divine.

I wonder if those who enjoyed secure attachments in early life would ever consider that a need, unless it was inculcated in religious training.

I hope we can all establish a secure attachment with God, Our Heavenly Father and the The Ground of Our Being.

God does not need human rescuing!

That is an artifact of the fearful Childhood of our experience.

Just my opinion.



It requires a reasonably secure attachment to our Heavenly Father, I believe, and an ability to think for oneself that can get one banished for a thousand years, or burned at the stake, or fed hemlock, in seasons past.

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That occurred to me too. The idea that “someone, somewhere, is looking over God’s shoulder; and what they see is not to their liking” assumes that there is a standard “somewhere, out there” apart from God, to which God is answerable. Is that even possible? Got to go back to Job for that one.

Perhaps, we (the Bible writers included) have made God so much “like one of us”, (using words from the GARDEN) that we imagine we can seriously judge God’s behaviour. By our standards He certainly doesn’t make sense, sometimes, but what do we know?


I just read the paper. It is beyond eye opening and well worth the read. Thank you.

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You’re welcome.

I just posted another one here that may get me banned for a thousand years.

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I remember the shock I had when I first heard Sigve explain revelation. I was happy though. I just didn’t think it squared with the bible. But that is no more. I am happy to report that I have more confidence in my reading of revelation than I did before. Before it was not as nice as it is now. Revelation was a dark cave with little light and many sounds and figures moving about, all I had was a tiny candly, now I can’t say I have enough light to see everything, but I am certainly clear that they are no beasts in the shadows waiting to pounce on me, I don’t shake in fear at every sound. I am calm and confident. I am curious, I am thirsty. I am a confirmed rereader now. Thank you Sigve.

Your Father sounds like an interesting man. You have done wonderful work.


No. It is a new book which has not yet been published but should be in the future according to the timetable of the publisher.

I thoroughly enjoyed this article. It gives much hope. Your stories were inspiring and sad all at once. I wonder whether there was a Sunday service of some sort at Loma Linda University church on May 18, 1980. I’m quite sure I got married that day and we were surprised to learn of the Mount St. Helens eruption when we got to the hotel that evening.

Thank-you for your scholarship and views.

How true God doesn’t need sinful mankind to save/rescue His character.

He who offers grace to His creation is now redeemed by it? Ps. 50.
Strange thinking indeed.


Rather than staring at the leaves at the bottom of Time’s Tea Cup in order to understand what life is all about, or trying to predict what the future will hold, it seems safest to assume that Revelation was best, and perhaps only understood by John’s Contemporaries who knew that 666 was a code name for Nero and deduce that all of the nightmare-ish elements were applicable, in ways which we probably can’t comprehend, to them.

This instead of supposing or insisting that John had anything to say for us.

That is, since the primary objective of the book may have been deliberate obfuscation, and its subtext and context cannot possibly be reconstructed, much less made comprehensible by staring into a dark crystal ball some 2,000 years on, it seems most likely that the words cannot possibly hold any meaning can for the modern reader other than that imposed by his eisegesis.

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