Timeout: Revelation and the Crisis of Historicism

(george chung) #147

i agree w your interpretation of the 7 churches as being different spiritual states of mind.


Dear Dr Tonstad,

I enjoyed reading your very interesting post. However, while I agree that we should “not burden the text with interpretations that it may not be able to carry,” I question the conclusion that: “The historicist commitment falls short of the assertion made above.” (I.e. SS Lesson’s assertion.)

In his current article, 1844 AND THE FUTURE OF ADVENTISM, Dr Reis raised a pertinent question, he asked " Why are we failing to convince many bright minds in our midst of the strength of our prophetic interpretations?" Some time ago Dr Goldstein asked, " Why haven’t critics tackled, point by point, it’s (the year day principle) refutation of the Antiochus Epiphanies interpretation of Daniel 8? Or its chapter on the pagan and papal aspects of the little horn —? Graffiti in the Holy of Holies, p. 8. In the book, The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism , p. 54, Dr knight concluded, “If Adventism’s apocalyptic big picture isn’t valid, the most sensible thing is to shut up shop, go home and do something meaningful with our lives.” So let’s do something meaningful and consider the following Adventist interpretations of Daniel 8:9-11.

  1. 1844-1980. The generally accepted SDA position considered Daniel 8:9-11 applied to pagan phase of the Roman Empire, to the crucifixion of Christ, and to the destruction of the earthly temple. The identity of the daily remained for a better day.
  2. 1980-2002. The generally accepted SDA position was that “the daily” represents Christ’s ministry. Verse 9 applied to pagan Rome’s horizontal attack on earth. Verses 10 and 11 applied to the papal Rome’s vertical in heaven.
  3. 2002-2018. The current SDA position applies Daniel 8:9-11 to the Papacy only. Consequently, as Rome is said to be missing in Dan. 8, it is considered a Papal host has entered heaven, overthrown the heavenly host, killed some of the people there, and controls the ministry in the MHP of the heavenly temple.

As positions 1 and 3 are complete opposites, what has led Adventist scholars to adopt the Futurist method in favour of the Historist method? " Why are we failing to convince many bright minds in our midst of the strength of our prophetic interpretations?" It appears the fault is not with the Historist method, but the failure to apply generally accepted principles of interpretation, in a consistent manner, cf. below.

  1. When the plain Word of Scripture makes sense we should seek no other explanation.
  2. When a latter Prophet provides an explanation of an earlier prophecy, we should accept the explanation provided by the latter Prophet.
  3. Tradition must give way to sound exegesis.
  4. History confirms fulfilled prophecy.

Re point 1 above.

Dan 2:33 mentions the symbols of Iron and clay. Then in verse 41 there are the symbols of “potter’s clay, miry clay, and iron mixed with miry clay.” Thus the logical question, why haven’t our scholars identified or applied these symbols? Another example , in Dan. 7:8 and 24, Daniel says there is “another” little horn, and that this horn is “different” to “the first.” Question, why don’t Adventists scholars believe Daniel, and accept the LH of 7:8 is “another” LH that is different?

Re point 2.

As the SOP says the iron and the clay symbols represent statecraft and churchcraft powers, why disregard the Prophet’s counsel? Why haven’t our scholars established the identity of these symbols from the Scriptures, applied them, and finally, acknowledge the source?

Re point 3.

It is proposed there is a way forward that addresses these issues, as well as dealing with the BRI’s concern regarding multiple fulfilments. However, it goes in the opposite direction to Doukhan’s proposal, by interpreting the little horn of Dan 8:9-11 as applying solely to the Roman Empire. (1).

In this view, the little horn’s magnification of itself “even to the prince of the host” (vs. 11) applies to Rome’s attack on the earthly Jesus. (2). This application is consistent with the prepositional phrase, ûmimmēnû , later in the verse translated, “but by him” (i.e., “by the ‘prince of the host’”), the waw conjunction being read as adversative and the preposition min being read as indicating a causal agent. (3).

In other words, the Roman little horn attacks “the prince of the host,” but this little horn power does not take away “the daily,” (the continues). Paradoxically it is the prince himself, who, by His death at the hand of Rome and the Jews, established, ( min ) the daily, the continual or everlasting, covenant. The sad event of the Jews rejecting their Saviour was also prophesied, (Matt. 23:37-39; John 19:36 and 37), as was the ratification of the holy covenant (Dan. 9:27; Col 2:8-17). When type met antitype at the cross, the ratification of the daily, was confirmed by the rending of the temple veil. (Matt 27:51).

Dan. 8:25, “broken without hand,” one common Old Testament application of this phrase is, “without human support”. In the case of 8:25 this application is consistent with the death of Constantine the 11th. and the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D., when in spite of all of his appeals for assistance, Constantine did not receive any “human support” to fight the Ottoman Turks.

Re point 4

Regarding Historical dates, The traditional Adventist dates for the rise and fall of the Roman empire are not supported by History. Daniel and history are very clear the last Greek kingdom did not fall until 30 B.C. . John and history are very clear Eastern Rome did not fall until 1453 A.D. Historians never refer to Rome as pagan and papal, as they are fully aware that Rome and the Papacy are two very different powers who ruled their very different kingdoms, “concurrently,” as opposed to “sequentially,” for over 900 years.


It is proposed the move away from the historicist method has only brought confusion, and will continue to do so until the principles of prophetic interpretation, associated with the Word are applied in a consistent manner. " What we need is a deeper understanding of the word of God. We need to keep the principles of that word in mind, that we may proclaim them in their purity. " {6MR 329.2}

If "The cross of Christ, (Dan. 8:9-11, 25 and 9:27) is the central pillar on which hangs the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”* AA 560.2. And; " — the foundation and the central pillar of the advent faith was the declaration: “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. Daniel 8:14.” G C 409.1. is to be maintained.


  1. We will return to consideration of Dan 8:12 shortly.
  2. Note the reference to an attack “against the Prince of princes” in Dan 8:25.
  3. Cf. its use in Gen 9:11; Lev 21:7. See Bruce K. Waltke, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 213.


drafts offline

(George Tichy) #149

Then we have many other problems added by the “post Jan Paulsen church”… :sunglasses:

(Frankmer7) #150

Historicism has so many problems with consistency over time, because it often seems like doing newspaper exegesis. It seems like manufactured “fulfillments” in search of biblical support that just keep changing when it is later found that the evidence doesn’t line up with historical accuracy or the biblical text.



(Patrick Travis) #151

Since the event was so insignificant why do you suppose Christ celebrated it and it is noted in scripture the reestalishment of the cultus worship & sacrifices? Jn.10:22

(Steve Mga) #152

John 10:22 “It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of
Hanukkah, The Feast of Dedication.” – New Living Translation.

(Patrick Travis) #153

The point is, but by God’s providence and Judas Maccabees et. al., there likely would have been no temple for Christ to come to ! How would the covenant promises been fulfilled? Indeed was important against the plans of the usurper. It seems SDA historicist view history through earthly eyes rather than Gods plans for His people!

(Allen Shepherd) #154

The problem here is not Antiochus, or free will, or other issues, but 1844.

To adopt a clear Protestant “historical” Historicism, rather than a modern ad hoc type, one naturally comes to 1844.

And to accept that means to accept the conclusions that follow. 1844 is the problem with Historicism. The other issues are small compared to that. Everything else fits pretty well, but that conclusion (beginning of the IJ, and its announcement, “The hour of his judgment has come”) is unpalatable. So it is rejected.

(Allen Shepherd) #155

And Preterism has…?

And Futurism has no fulfillment at all.

Interesting. The text says Jesus was at the Temple but says nothing about celebration. And the words of discussion with the Jews make no mention of the festival. So the Bible is silent about Jesus’ feeling about the festival.

I agree that the Temple being there was by the grace of God and his use of the Maccabees, but what does that have to do with rejecting Historicism?

Historicists don’t reject the role of the Maccabees, but do not think they are in the text of Dan 8. How does that mean they view history through man’s and not God’s eyes?

Off the wall statements like this do not help your case. Reis’s statements require careful thought and answer. This one is just nonsense.

(Frankmer7) #156

I agree with you on futurism. However, I wouldn’t even use the term preterism. I simply believe it is about letting the text, as far as possible, speak in its original voice as it was intended for its original audiences.

No interpretive method is exhaustive, but I believe that seeking the original context and life setting of any biblical book, including Revelation, far exceeds laying a lens onto the text that wasn’t originally intended. To me, historicism is that type of lens. It arises out of the need to have ourselves as the primary recipients of the book. We are not. The congregations to which John wrote were. We would do well to listen in on that correspondence, and then apply what we find to ourselves. I think that this leads to a more cogent reading that yields far more powerful and relevant results for us.



(Patrick Travis) #157

So, Christ was obviously being in the temple area on dedication day and was obviously noted importance to Jews, had no special meaning?
This is what I mean regarding “some SDA historicist.” It is “in their eyes that Dan.8:14” .must lead to 1844 while Dan.8 says relates to Greek aspects. What was important to Gods people at the time of the Mccabbeas must be relegated to a historicist theory 2300 yrs. Later with no verifiable event to show fulfillment. That’s what I suggest is eisegeting through mans eyes for ones own purposes.


As it is generally accepted the first horn of the ram and the goat represents the first king to rule Medo-Persia and Greece, then the first little horn of 8:9, as opposed to the second LH of 7:8 and 24, that represents the Papacy, if we are to be consistent represents Caesar Augustus and the iron kingdom of Rome, Then in verse 11 after crucifying Christ, persecuting the Jews and the Christians, Rome destroys Jerusalem, “the place of His sanctuary,” cf. 8:24-25 and 9:26.

In this view, the little horn’s magnification of itself “even to the prince of the host” (vs. 11) applies to Rome’s attack on the earthly Jesus. (2). This application is consistent with the prepositional phrase, ûmimmēnû , later in the verse translated, “but by him” (i.e., “by the ‘prince of the host’”), the waw conjunction being read as adversative and the preposition min being read as indicating a causal agent. Cf. its use in Gen 9:11; Lev 21:7. See Bruce K. Waltke, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 213.
It appears this rules our Greece and the Papacy.

(Allen Shepherd) #159
  1. You need more than a visit on Dedication day to say Jesus supported the preterist view.
  2. There are problems with the Preterist view. The prophecy does not fit Antiochus so well. He was not powerful, he did not destroy the Jews, but failed in his endeavors. 2300 days do not fit the desecration no matter how you slice it. So instead of accusing me of eisogesis, when you view does not fit that well either, think about accepting that there may be more than one way to look at this reasonably.
  3. The verifiable event is the proclamation of the judgment day message: “The hour of his judgement has come.” Such a propclaimation has not been given before in history. If you don’t like that, fine. it is a verifiable event.

Daniel 8 is complicated. Neither view hits is exactly on the head, and I really accept the Historicist view. But the Hsitoricst view comes as close as the Preterist view, and with the other prophecies of Daniel really Historicist, I think the balance in the Historicist side.

(Patrick Travis) #160

The problem is trying to make one "theory"of prophectic interpretation fit every particular situation.
I see Daniel and Revelation presenting a metanarrative of God’s covenant faithfulness from the beginning to the consummation of history to save and deliver His chosen people.
We are given wide pictures of how nations and at times false religions ride the beast and occasionally more detail of those that work against God’s kingdom and in His faithfulness to deliver. Ultimately, they dont succeed. It is not a nightly, weekly, annual ouija board book to satisfy our interest.
Neither is the kingdom in the present age to be realized on earth. The kingdom is both now and not yet. It’s final realization is at the consummation of Christ appearing when he puts assunder all those things offending Him, His kingdom and the faithful of His kingdom.
There are multiple repetitive acts by many “antichrists” in history against His developing kingdom. You will be hated by all nations for my names sake…yet He will in faithfulness deliver.

(Allen Shepherd) #161

You are sounding like a Historicist here!

(Patrick Travis) #162

As I have said, all have truths but none all.


True, Robert. But West Coast academic Adventism has done a remarkable job of convincing a large swath of Christendom that it is possible to logically deduce what is impossible for God to know.

Where does one have to imagine oneself standing in order to specify what God cannot know?

As I said…

Adventists are shrinking the horizons of what God can know, while imaging they are “expanding their epistemic horizons” though placing an extrabiblical LGT overlay on Bible prophecy.

Flying to the sun on waxen wings never ends well.

(Robert Lindbeck) #164

It reminds me of a story from the long defunkt youth magazine “Guide”. In the late 70’s/early 80’s there was a short story about a computer with advanced intelligence. The only problem was that it refused to acknowledge its creators, believing it was from a long line of ever improving models. In the end they had to pull the plug on it.

There are so many analogies/stories we could write about this topic, but all of them revolve around one thing - He is great, and we are not.

“There are none so blind as those who will not see.” John Heywood 1546



Guide is still going. It’s Insight that ceased publication.

(George Tichy) #166