Timeout: Storm Clouds over Historicism



You are certainly keeping us thinking! There is much food for thought in what you say. Believers in the soon coming of Christ must be prepared to mature in their thinking about apocalyptic. And you have provided significant pointers if we wish to do so. Yet this is not to say that I follow all of your logic in this present essay.

You delight to point out “the vulnerabilities of historicism as the key to Bible prophecy and the lens through which to determine what is important in history.” Adventists have certainly used historicism to do these things you suggest. We have often been immature in our presentation of these things. Correctives are needed and welcome. But please do not tell us that we must throw the baby out with the bathwater, ie. throw historicism out wholesale, just because our interpretation needs to be broader and more all encompassing.

Sigve, you are very content to tell us what we cannot believe in, ie historicism. But you have not told us what we will put in its place.

However grand the evil of humanity is and however well it is illustrated in the Holocaust, in the Rwandan genocide, and in the atrocities committed in the former Yugoslavia, these three events are only a small fraction of the evil atrocities hidden within the C20th. With the help of Mr Google I have put together a collage of all this.

The worldwide death toll of WWII is estimated at 55 million.

"World War One was one of the deadliest conflicts in the history of the human race, in which over 16 million people died. The total number of both civilian and military casualties is estimated at around 37 million people . The war killed almost 7 million civilians and 10 million military personnel.

Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China, qualifies as the greatest mass murderer in world history, an expert who had unprecedented access to official Communist Party archives said yesterday. In 1957 he launched a campaign known as the Great Leap Forward that aimed to rapidly transform China’s economy from agrarian to industrial. This campaign led to the deadliest famine in history and the deaths of 20– 45 million people between 1958 and 1962.

Hitler was responsible for between 11 million and 12 million noncombatant deaths, while Stalin was responsible for at least 6 million, and as many as 9 million if “foreseeable” deaths caused by deportation, starvation, and incarceration in concentration camps are included.

Estimates of the total number of deaths resulting from Khmer Rouge policies, including disease and starvation, range from 1.7 to 2.5 million out of a 1975 population of roughly 8 million.

Surely, it is debatable that the Holocaust “towers above all other atrocities in the twentieth century”, as you have stated.

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Surely, the Adventist conscience capitulated to the Zeitgeist within Nazi Germany!

Yet I do not believe that your larger point does not follow from this. You assert that believers and promoters of the soon coming of Christ surely cannot see themselves in the “remnant” description of the apocalypse. You conclude that the momumental failures of such believers and the those within the German Adventist organizational infrastructure invalidate such an ascription. You, like Hartiapp see this ascription as “[a] claim to exclusivity [that] has been invalidated by life.”

I beg to differ even while I accept that “the church” in Germany caved into the zeitgeist because the so-called fundamentals had lost their fundamental weight. Our church in Germany faced a crisis to which it responded by silence, acquiescence, and denial. The problem was church-wide, that is in Germany.

I wish to make the following point:

  1. You object to the term “remnant church.” I do too. Yet I wholheartedly value the apocalyptic remant theology. And I see real value in the term “emerging remnant” as it is used by both Charles Bradford, and before him by Fernando Canale. The term “emerging remnant” places the emphasis where it belongs, on individuals who experience and demonstrate a quality of faith amid apostasy and on an emerging collective of faithful individuals. The emphasis is not on the Adventist institutional ecclesial body, as represented by the GC of SDA’s or any of its sub-divisions. The SDA organizational machinery is a key mission driver that will involve such faithful people. Yet there are many who names are on Adventist church membership lists who have not as yet joined this ‘remnant.’ The gospel net the ‘remnant’ use collects fish both good and bad.

In my writing and in my speaking I have for some years now attempted to avoid using ‘church’ terminology that would reference God’s people as an institutional entity. We must in our speaking and writing begin seeing the remnant as an emerging collective of faithful believers characterized by action as well as by deep faith commitments to their soon coming Christ…

The above re-envisioning of the remant then may avoid the pitfalls of a “theology of a self-described prophetic end-time movement.” Hans La Rondelle in his exposition of the doctrine Remnant in the Handbook of SDA Theology also avoids falling into this pitfall by speaking of the Remnant and its mission and not the Remnant and its organization.

I do not believe that the claim that you and I may be part of the remnant in its mission to the world is a claim to exclusivity.

The General Conference sees itself altogether too much as an institution, and altogether too little as a driver of mission in the world. Such institutionalism is one of the root causes of the present ordination impasse among Adventist people.

Except Peter the " Protestant Confessing church" and Bonhoeffer et al. Who saw the evils of a worshiped statism. The great confessions spared them the deception.



You are correct! There were many Christians in Nazi Germany who did not capitulate to the zeitgueist the way many German Adventists and their pastors appear to have done.

My point of course was that the feebleness and failings of Adventist believers in Nazi German or indeed in Rwanda during the genocide or indeed during the atrocities within the post-Communist former Yugoslavia should not be used to bring into question the prophetic calling of faithful Adventist believers.

If God’s plans and timetable involve us we should be humble enough and grateful enough to accept his call and allow Him to prepare us to act our part in continuing the ministry and mission of God’s kingdom that was begun by Christ.

But Peter,
These Adventist were faithfully keeping the sabbath and health message. :slight_smile:
The “confessing church” worshiped on Sunday, ate meat, yet Uplifted Christ and recognized the idolatry of worshiping the state in His place.


Thank you, Peter Marks, for your message. I wish to correct one of your characterizations. It is not correct to say that I “delight” in pointing out the vulnerabilities of historicism. I am not on a mission in that regard; I seek interpretations that are exegetically responsible and historically meaningful. Historicism has in the past failed to instil in us the requisite vigilance. The example I pointed out in the video link suggests that very Bible believing SDAs (presumably historicists) are mixing God and country to a degree that SDAs in the United States have not done before – with historicism partly to blame. You are right to point out atrocities in China and the Soviet Union, but there is no advertised genocide in these countries. The Nazi genocide of Jews has no equivalent. There is an alternative to historicism, and it is this: Do not approach any text on the assumption that it can be solved by appealing to some -ism, whether the half hour of silence in heaven or the five months of torment in the fifth trumpet or other things that tempt us to locate it on a timeline.


His/ Hitlers social justice program and rebuild of Germany, the people’s car (Vw) labor rights, paid vacations were all part of the German excitement in the middle 30’s. In this new statism your speakers frolicked.
The Liberal German theological school views and philosophy also had done its work in Germany.

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You say…

Shadrak, Meshak, and Abed-Nego did not prostrate themselves before the image. If they had been in the United States today, would they have taken the Pledge of Allegiance with the religious tone it has acquired? (For the religious meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance in a church context)<<

I am 73 y.o.white guy that had the “privileged” of being born in the US. I’m thankful for that! My country has seen a thing or two about statism and dictators… Amazingly those always employ large central government as part of their enforcement agency…surprise!
I was baptized into the SDA church at 12. I went to Junior camp in North Georgia where we raised the flag every day and said the pledge of allegiance. We sang “This is my country” and God bless America. Now if you and others want to make that symbolism equivalent to the three worthies and other national atrocities in history…go for it. Perfect way to unnecessarily tell people one doesn’t care for their country.
Now, I agree with the vacuous holes that “historicism” has made in only seeing history though the lens of Dan.2 then applying everything post Christ to Imperial Rome and then the “papacy.” They don’t see the “repetitive attitudes” of many nations in history and “many antiChrists.”
May I say you have may also have had some of the “historicist” cool aide that suggest The US must be the final beast…Ahh, we must not pledge allegiance to the flag.
I love this country because of its Republic/Constitution and consider it one of the greatest in history. It has liberated far more than it has ever oppressed. I am quite capable of noting when a nation for religious reason worships a flag. That is not the present America I know. Another cool aide drink sponsored by a mental condition that fears “apostate Protestantism” so much so they may not realize it may be themselves.
I appreciate my countries Republic and its 1st amendment and others and I will gladly pledge allegiance to my countries flag and I think you should to from your country of citizenship.
That said, saying the pledge in church worship IS NOT THE TIME OR PLACE.
The three worthies would be extremely greatful, I suggest to live in this country where no one yet has bowed the knee to Caesar in a “spiritual sense” as the three worthies were literally commanded to do.


All “maps” are forever failing.

I’d be ashamed to stand before Jesus and say, “I threw the Jews to the Nazis because…theology.”

That is nauseating to me.

How about: they didn’t want to give up power?

How about: Hitler scared the living daylights out of them, and almost everyone else?

How about: craven fear?

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Yes, “holy relic status.” Great turn of phrase, Gracevessel.

The Holocaust should have turned Adventism upside down, and inside out, and ground it into a powder.

Instead, we have, “the devil made us do it,” or “faulty theology made us do it.”


Tell that to God…if you dare. I’d be ashamed.

So, what will be liberal Adventism’s excuse for letting the Falun Gong religious prisoners be slaughtered for their organs in the PRC, without remark or protest?

Loma Linda University has substituted the sanctity of human life for human determination of “what is a person.”

Loma Linda University should be the foremost body in the world advocating the sanctity of human life, and worship of the Creator of human life, as per the Three Angels’ Messages.

Instead it has morally hobbled itself and the church by capitulation to atheistic humanism.

This will require the last farthing from Adventism to walk back, if it’s even possible to do so at this point.

Loma Linda University has painted a bullseye on its own forehead, in my opinion.

Storm clouds over Loma Linda University, I would say.

All valid points, I think Frank.

Also very good points, I think, Frank.

Let us us be clear about Bonhoeffer: his opposition was political and he advocated “tyrannicide.” His early writings were not free of antisemitism.



Do we expect that Adventists should have joined him in his quest?

If LLU’s James Walters were an Adventist ethicist during the Third Reich, what could he possibly have said about Hitler’s “euthanasia?”

I’d really like to know.

What is Sigve actually arguing to replace historicism with?

Futurism? Preterism?

As far as I can gather (correct me), he’s an advocate of the liberal Adventists’ version of Last Generation Theology, a la Graham Maxwell.

Is that really an improvement?

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Still no sight of the bioethics prof explaining abortion from the Roy Branson Legacy SS on their channel. All other presentations seem to be there? Huh, weird.


So, it was there at one time? And now it’s gone?

Yes, it was there for maybe 6 hrs although it was strangely amateurish in quality compared to their others that I have seen and it abruptly cut off at 29 min but was told by someone who was there that it lasted about an hour including some Q&A. By the way Nic Samojluk was there. Maybe he was “too single issue” for them. :wink:


I think Sigve is onto something when he speaks of bad theology giving rise to undesirable outcomes. That doesn’t mean that I think that his proposed theological alternatives are the answer. I see the same type of problems with his ideas as you do. He replaces one big picture lens with another.

His reading of Rev.5-6, as if heaven is at a loss over what to do, seems to arise from trying to make the text fit a pre conceived framework. It is clear from the text of Revelation that God already has the solution in the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world.

It’s also clear in Revelation that heavenly beings have no problem with God’s character, decisions, and righteous judgements. The praises from them for all these things throughout the book reveal this sharply. God is not the one who needs to be rescued and vindicated, human beings do. If any question about God’s character and dealings with his creation arose in connection with the war in heaven, the slain Lamb who rose from the dead and is in the center of the throne answered them.

Adventist cosmic conflict and IJ theology seems to have arisen partly from the need to try to explain why its taken nearly 2000 years since the cross and resurrection for Jesus to fully establish the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. That is a vexing question, and one that I don’t find an answer for outside of simply trusting God. I don’t understand, and I don’t think any of us do. That leaves faith…and isn’t that part of the whole ballgame anyway? To me, that’s a better alternative than using speculative constructs to try to explain what we just don’t know.



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I can’t imagine that anyone could disagree, Frank.

I would say that only divided hearts embrace bad theology and throw helpless people to tyrants.

It’s a heart problem, at root. Isn’t that self-evident?


I certainly don’t, but I sense that the Seven Seals are a big clue, and I think Ellen White saw into their meaning better than any other explanation I’ve seen. I’m really glad Sigve discussed the Seven Seals, and put them on the table.

If we’re dealing with prophecy we’re forced to speculate and discuss, I think.

No prophecy is of private interpretation. That doesn’t negate faith, surely.

In any case, we can’t just excise eschatology from our outlook…can we?

I’ll take a break so others can join…


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One does not exclude the others…



Agreed! I surely value interpretations that are exegetically responsible and historically meaningful. The Adventist pioneers did not invent the ‘ism’ that is generally labelled historicism. As Froom has illustrated in his magisterial Prophetic Faith of our Fathers the system of apocalytic interpretation the Adventist pioneers used was inherited from many saints and martyrs who had gone before. Further, this system of interpretation went hand in hand with Protestant historiography, the way of reading and reciting history probably best represented by Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

I welcome modification and refinement of the principles of interpretation. However, Adventist believers cannot afford to fail in standing on the shoulders of believing Protestant scholars who have gone before. And we must know our church history. It helps of course to have ancestral roots deep in that history as I have. In the first half of the C18th my 6x g grandfather, Duncan Forbes, the celebrated Scottish jurist and the Lord President of the Court of Sessions was also a writer on prophecy. The Marks clan were originally Hugenots who early fled to London from France understanding what religious persecution, harrassment, and oppression were all about. In the 1840’s my gg grandfather from Belfast was most probably a foundation member of the first organized Baptist congregation in that growing town. The congregation was led by a preacher of the soon return of Christ. GG grandfather thought that the Anglican Church of Ireland was moving too far romeward even then. My own grandfather was much influenced by the writings of Henry Grattan Guiness, a famous Irish evangelist and writer from the second half of the C19th whose influence spread through much of the Anglo world. His prophetic understanding was laced with an unfortunate brand of British Israelism. Yes, we don’t need to accept every jot and tittle that our Protestant forefathers believed. Yet we are to stand gratefully on their shoulders.

Prof George Knight challenged us not to let go of Adventist apocalyptic vision in his book The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism. More recently in JATS (2017) he convincingly links the angelic commission to prophesy again recorded in Rev 10 to the opening of the time prohecies in the Book of Daniel. Further, he illustrates how Revelation 10 reveals the task of the church of God in these troublous end times. And he links Rev 10 with Revelation 14. The article titled ‘The Controverted Little Book of Revelation 10 and the Shape of Apocalyptic Mission’ is well worth perusing.

If George Knight’s conclusions about Revelation 10 and 14 are correct I do not see that your assertion that “Seventh-day Adventists in their broad brush picture of the world and of history [lacks] the means to decepher the present.” After all, Revelation 10 and 14 describe the raison d’etre For remnant believers in the end.-times in contrast to the career of contemporary Babylon and an economic and political world that is in support of its moral leadership.

Adding to this point, I have long appreciated your stress on the nature of Christ’s cosmic victory being so very different from the strategies of earthly powers. Earthly powers conquer through a love of power. Christ conquers thru the power of love. The kingdoms of this world from Babylon to Rome and beyond all have dabbled in the love of power so often exercised through centrism, hierarchicalism and authoritianism. The present day power of Babylon (the harlot church) and the political and economic world that support her in the present as pictured in Revelation 17 and 18 uses these strategies as freely as ancient Babylon and the succeeding empires of history.

You see, the book of Revelation has a critique of the present world as much as it deals with history and the future dynamics of world history. We should not anticipate that the book of Revelation will provide commentary on every significant twist and turn of history.

God has a controversy with the nations and especially with ecclesial Babylon. That divine critique is rooted in Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 which comments on just a handful of things - its blasphemy, its oppression of God’s saints, its changing of God’s law, and its alternative way of salvation. These things follow into the book of Revelation. This corrupting of God’s way exists in our contemporary world. And God is fighting back against these things with the everlasting gospel of his kingdom.

A short note concerning your continuing belief that the Nazi genocide of the Jews has had no equivalent in the C20th. My professor at Library School, Prof Helen Jarvis was an important documentalist in the Cambodian Genocide Project, an initiative of Yale University and the University of New South Wales, among other academic institutions,which has sought to provide documentary evidence of the deaths of the Cambodian people. This documentary evidence was used by the International Criminal Commission set up within Cambodia. It’s aim was to provide justice for the Khmer Rouge leadership. Pol Pot and his cronies were responsible for the genocide of perhaps one quarter of his own people.This is estimated to have seen the demise of between 1.7 and 2.5 million people within 4 short years.

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While having a discussion last night with some friends, was 5 of us from differing walks of life we started discussing the use of AI and the “consciousness” of a computer and the ability to “create”… we came to the conclusion that the AI/robot will never have a soul, How can a robot make a truly moral decision? After reading these points and thinking about last nights discussion, it dawned on me that Revelation in its purest form, explains to us that we all have the “God particle”,

He, Jesus, purchased our salvation (wrote our names into the “book of life”. When one gets a completely contextual view of that value of being “created in His image”… the complete basis of Revelation in acknowledgment of who God is, and that He is worthy of our worship, becomes the anchor upon how we understand our true value to God.

Any prophetic belief (regardless of futurist, historicist, preterist) must be understood with the dynamic underpinnings of Revelation, and each person must dynamically discover truth. The problem I have with 1844, IJ, TAM, and other SDA “explanations” is that they are “static”. Reclamation, redemption, renewal, are really foreign concepts “theologically speaking” to in the SDA parlay, namely, our “without sin” preparedness, and/or living without sin. Rather it should be… given my true understanding of my true “value” to God, Does my life = the attributes of the God I worship. Without true motivation, I am deceiving myself.

WE (in situ) ARE the gospel, because of whom we worship and know, anything else if not dynamic and real but just as “an acknowledgment of a fact/truth”… doesnt hold water. “my bucket’s got a hole in it”… :slight_smile:

It is with daily contact with “God” and His truth, that His attributes are “written” into our tablets. We do not hold the pen “… LGT adherents for the most part do NOT get that point”. If our names are “blotted out” of the book of life… it means that they were ALREADY written there. Let that sink in…

The table is set, God has called us to the table to eat, Jesus bid’s all to come, at the end of the day are we not messengers to call everyone to the feast?

I will end this post referring the salient point that Cassie makes

I would say that only divided hearts embrace bad theology and throw helpless people to tyrants.

It’s a heart problem, at root. Isn’t that self-evident?

with kind regards,



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