Timeout: Revelation and the Crisis of Historicism


William Miller alleging / arguing that the papacy suffered a “mortal,wound “ in 1798 due to a Napoleon subordinate capturing a sick pope ( an obscure abstruse fact barely known except to Vatican devotees / wonks) is laughable.

Despite a pandemic of pervasive, pernicious pedophilia and other scandals that would have demolished any other institution, the papacy is indisputably still alive and well.

Miller manufactured his hypothesis using obscure/ abstract starting and ending dates resultimg in a “ house of cards” . We have to stretch our credulity to,still,accept his abstractions.

(Frankmer7) #43

Exactly, Harry. Historicism has no controls on its methodology. It also downplays or ignores what the text meant for its original audiences in their immediate life setting, something far more important in attempting to discern authorial intent and textual meaning.

It’s a mess.


(Frankmer7) #44

You may not mind, but it is simply overlaying something on to the text that isn’t there in it. It was written to seven literal churches in Asia Minor. This is who the author’s intended audience was. The beginning of the book clearly states this. Very clearly. The ending of the book mentions the churches again. It is clear what churches are meant, from prior context.

Making this into seven periods of church history is nowhere in the scope of authorial intent, or the text itself. Done elsewhere in the bible, and we call it eisegesis.

This is why the dating gets so convoluted. It is arbitrary, based on an arbitrary imposition of meaning upon the text.


(James Peterson) #45
  1. Indeed, you are fighting a losing battle with SDA over this. According to Ellen White, “We are now to understand what the pillars of our faith are, – the truths that have made us as a people what we are, leading us on step by step.” Review and Herald, May 25, 1905
    To deny that the seven messages were to the Church over seven periods of time is to make Ellen White of no effect, and to do that would pull the rug from under the feet of all our leaders, pastors, universities and hospitals. The denomination has become like what the Roman Catholic Church was in the days of Martin Luther. There was so much human investment in the system of beliefs that it was impossible that anything human could have caused it to fall. And so today, In spite of the popularity of the Protestant Movement, the RCC is still a bulwark in the world. Similarly, SDA proved as resilient in the face of the Ford Challenge.

  1. But why would anyone believe the seven messages were to the Church over seven periods of time? There has been a lot of confusion of those messages because, on the opposite side, no one can point to any cataclysmic, Sodom-and-Gomorrah-like end of those cities in the first century. It begs the question why those cities at all in the first place? They seem completely disconnected from the Biblical apocalyptic narrative, suddenly appearing in the Book without context; leading to a thousand and one speculations!
    But there is AN answer.


(James Peterson) #46

That is not true.

When Jesus Christ rose again, He appeared to the two along the road to Emmaus and when He had, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself,” this was their testimony, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:13-35

Since the Reformation, people have erroneously run away with the idea the Bible was meant to be read, understood and interpreted by the masses like it were a common book of fairy tales that even a child could nod in agreement upon hearing it. In practice, it has amounted to more confusion than clarity.

The Bible (the Book of Revelation ESPECIALLY) needs a wise and blessed teacher to make its purpose and beauty clear and truly meaningful. See Luke 24:13-35.

Acts 8:26-40


(Frankmer7) #47

The cross and the resurrection settled who God is and what he is like. In the fourth gospel, Jesus said before his death that the ruler of this world has been cast out. This is consistent with the proclamation of the gospel message throughout the NT. And, the proclamation of this gospel is that Jesus is Lord. It is predicated upon the fact that God has won the victory over sin, death, and every hostile power through Jesus, his death and resurrection. The letter to the Colossians lays out this cosmic victory very clearly.

Paul, along with all the other NT writers proclaimed the certainty of God’s victory in Christ. Adventism has introduced an uncertainty that ties the performance of a sinless end time generation to the resolution of the cosmic conflict. This is nowhere in the NT, including Revelation.

Revelation proclaims the certainty of the victory of God and the Lamb throughout the book, with heavenly beings singing and declaring the justice of God and his judgements upon the beast and every hostile power. This was known by the church in the 1st century. There was no uncertainty as to how the end would turn out, in Revelation or the rest of the NT, no matter how forbidding the circumstances seem.

If Adventism doesn’t rework its premise and reason for being to match the clear narrative of the bible as it reaches its climax in Christ and the NT, then it is not a loss if it ceases to be…at least in its present form.


(Scott M Esh) #48

Hi Frank,
I appreciate your passionate defense of the “everything was completed at the cross”, but if that is true, then why are we still here on earth? If there is nothing left to be done, then why is God allowing the great controversy to continue?

The fact is that you simply believe what the majority of Christian churches believe and cannot understand why Adventist beliefs are so strange.

You are right about one thing though. Currently in Adventism there are at least four or five, if not more, different theologies fighting for supremacy. There are the legalists, the salvation by diet people, the “present truthers”, the people who believe you can"t overcome sin, the 1888 believers, and the salvation by Sabbath crowd. No one can truly state what Adventists believe because virtually all Adventist believe differently on most major doctrines. Currently, it is almost impossible to find solid Biblical truth in our schools, so it’s really hard to definitively say what we believe.

(Scott M Esh) #49

Yes, but although their hearts burned with the understanding, they didn’t write down what Christ told them so there is very little for us to learn from their experience.

You are wrong about Bible study though. It is not that the masses can’t study and find the truth, it is that they don’t study it correctly. The reason why we have over 3,000 different denominations is that people guess what the Bible says instead of studying it properly.

I personally am glad that my salvation does not hinge on whether or not someone else studied the Bible correctly for me or not. In Jeremiah it says that if I search for God with all of my heart I WILL find Him.

(Scott M Esh) #50

I assume by your unhappiness with historicism that you are either a preterist , or a futurist. Do you believe in the rapture?

(Patrick Travis) #51

Because He is not willing that any should perish but all come to repentance. That goes for the perfectionist and antinomian…and the rest.

(James Peterson) #52

See Acts 8:26-40

Do you people NOT read the Bible? Paul says in 1 Cor. 12:27-31,"Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church:

  • first apostles,
  • second prophets,
  • third teachers,
  • after that miracles,
  • then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

And then he asked:

  • Are all apostles?
  • Are all prophets?
  • Are all teachers?
  • Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?"

Surely if God had appointed TEACHERS, then the vast majority of the people must be STUDENTS and if students, then dependent on the wisdom of those who teach them.

Tell me, you who exalt yourself saying, “We read! We understand! We interpret and have no need of anyone to teach us!” – what does it mean what the angel told John, “And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” Rev. 11:8? What is the name of that city?


(Leandro) #53

Let us be careful on accepting those interpretations.They have been wrong before many times. How can we be sure that the lies we hear now are just lies to cover the previous lies? These interpretations can defile a saint without him realizing it. Read between the lines, Rev. 14:4. Can a church defile a person?

(James Peterson) #54


Rev. 14:4 says, “These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being first-fruits to God and to the Lamb.

That is not saying anything about churches, memberships, interpretations of scripture, or doctrines, but that the 144,000 are sons of God (which by the way includes both men and women). Jesus said so. “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.” Mat. 22:30

In anticipation of that day, they live lives completely faithful to God so that even if their spouse should say, “Here, eat this fruit!” (Adam) or “Curse God and die!” (Job), they refuse and would not be drawn away from the One they follow.

THERE IS ONE CAVEAT THOUGH. Such righteousness was imputed in response to repentance. It says so, that, “in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Rev. 14:5

Romans 3:23-26


(Frankmer7) #55

The fact is, is that I was giving you what the NT is saying the gospel is. The apostles proclaimed the euangellion/good news that Jesus is Lord. This was the gospel of the kingdom, the same kingdom that Jesus himself proclaimed. They used the same terminology as Rome, who proclaimed the good news of Caesar as Lord, Caesar’s victory over his enemies, and Rome’s securing of peace and prosperity for all her citizens.

This is what Paul’s greeting to the Romans states concerning Jesus:

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, and set apart for the gospel of God: the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who according to the flesh was a descendent of David, and who through the Spirit was proclaimed to be the powerful, reigning Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

This doesn’t say that Jesus will be Lord only after God’s character is vindicated after an investigative judgement beginning in 1844. It doesn’t say that Jesus will be Lord only if a final, perfect generation of sinless believers vindicates the character and claims of God. It says, Jesus is Lord! Now!

This is all over the NT. It is the good news of King Jesus and his kingdom, and there is no doubt about it. This is the good news of the kingdom and the king that the apostles proclaimed. The outcome of this proclamation was also sure, as Paul stated at the end of 1 Cor:

Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power. For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet, The last enemy to be destroyed is death…

And later:

Death has been swallowed up in victory…the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The outcome, according to Paul and the entire NT, including Revelation, is already assured. Jesus is king, Jesus already reigns, and he will consummate his kingdom of life and love and justice and peace upon his Parousia. There is no doubt about it according to the gospel proclamation. His resurrection is the assurance of the resurrection of all who believe in him. His victory over all powers, including death, is the assurance of their victory. This is the NT gospel.

We are here, in this present age, to proclaim and live as citizens of the kingdom he has inaugurated and will surely bring to full fruition. Why time has lasted this long is not answered by the NT, although Jesus does downplay the idea of timing in some of his parables. It is a difficult question that we live with by faith.

If one wants to try and explain the 2000 year wait by the investigative judgement and Adventist theology, then go ahead. Just don’t call it the biblical/NT gospel. It is not.



(Marcus Sheffield) #56

Nicholas P. Miller, Ph.D, of the Adventist seminary, recently published a fine article on the 538 and 1798 dates (Adventist World, January 2019). He shows persuasively that Justinian’s Code (that established the Roman church’s supreme role in 538) and the Napoleonic Code (that dethroned the papacy in 1798) are powerful evidences of the 1260 day prophecy.

(Peter) #57

Well, said Dr. Vandermolen. I’ve often wondered the same thing. Did God really intend for us to understand something so obscure as Revelation? Or did God intend Revelation to be included in the Canon by a group of men who met to decide that long after Revelation was written. I also wonder if we Adventists have tried too hard to explain the mysteries of writings like Revelation.

1 Corinthians 2:9 King James Version (KJV) “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart [mind] of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” This says to me that there are mysteries that we will never understand while we live on this earth.

(Peter) #58

Is your method of studying the Bible, THE correct way? How do you know you are correct and others are not? Or do we overlook the fact that God is so very great, beyond our understanding that it won’t matter to Him if we all understood the mysteries of Revelation the same way?

(Peter) #59

No! Revelation does NOT mention the United States, although some people interpret Revelation to assume that. When I read the Gospels and what Jesus taught, I find no imperative to understand the mysterious book of Revelation! Jesus taught explicitly what He wants of those who are saved. And knowing where the United States stands in prophecy is totally absent from that.

Adventism is not needed if we don’t totally understand Revelation? I find that to be a very judgmental idea. I believe it is wrong to suggest to anyone that they are not or should not consider themself an Adventist.

(Pierre-Paul Legault) #60

The 1798 date is contrived. Compared to all the other upheavals in central Italian and papal politics (the Avignon popes, the great schism, the investiture crisis, Charlemagne’s humiliation of the pope, the contested elections, papal murders, etc.,) 1798 isn’t one of the most important events. The “1260 year” view of medieval and modern history ignores the fact that the pope never exercised the sort of authority that the Millerites claimed he did.

(Peter) #61

Just how could Jesus have “said” anything about the book of Revelation when it was not written until after His death. People would have had no idea what He was referring to anyway. We must be cautious in making unfounded claims like this because they only hurt the credibility of the Adventist Church.