VIDEO: How Long Can We Say The Second Coming is 'Soon'?

Professor Fritz Guy made a presentation and led a discussion on "The Second Coming: How Long Can We Keep Saying 'Soon?'" at the Roy Branson Sabbath School in Loma Linda, California, on July 16, 2016.

Fritz Guy teaches in the H. M. S. Divinity School at La Sierra University. It was the first in weekly discussions of the chapters in "The Future of Adventism: Theology, Society, Experience" edited by Gary Chartier. The presentation was recorded in three parts, included below.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7562
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Why do Adventists take ownership of the idea/word, “soon”? as if they invented it themselves? Are they not only repeating the words of Jesus in Revelation 3:11? If Adventists didn’t say it, some other followers of Jesus would do it. The message is from Jesus and not from Adventists.

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to me, my college days, some 35+ yrs ago now, seem like yesterday…probably the next 35yrs will go by even quicker since they’re a smaller percentage of my total life time…given the stakes that will materialize at the second coming, i don’t think it’s wise to belittle the concept of soon…all of us have an internal house to put in order, and that doesn’t happen just like that…

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In the last book of the Bible, Revelation Chapter 21, Christ affirms most vehemently, unequivocally, categorically, THREE times, ( verses 7,12, and 20 ) that He is coming SOON.

The KJV muddles the translation with the word “quickly” but my French and Dutch Bibles are very clear in translating the word as “SOON”.

My Andrew’s University Bible tells me that Revelation was most likely written in the year AD 95.

Hence my question:
In AD 95, was Christ still unaware that He had some supposedly important function to fulfill in AD 1844? If so, was He not equivocating/lying(?) when He promised to come “SOON”, since in no way could He have returned until after 1844??

Since the INVESTIGATIVE JUDGEMENT doctrine is unique to Adventism, astonishingly not yet embraced by any other theologian, theology school, nor Christian denomination, I find these affirmations by Christ in Revelation, one more evidence that the IJ dogma is a fraud!

In my view, the IJ dogma was a desperate face saving measure, when humiliated by Christ’s failure to return in 1844, our pioneers sought some other explanation for their embarrassment.

EGW tells us in her signature work, the Great Controversy, that Christ cannot return before the “universe” “vindicates” or endorses God.

How humiliating it must be for God, that after six thousand years, the “universe” has not yet completed their arbitration in this epic conflict! They are still “sitting on the fence”. The Angels sit sullen, stony faced, silent, unmoved, uncompassionate, uncaring, in the face of six thousand years of rapes, murders, wars, genocides, famines, pestilences, plagues, epidemics, holocausts, and atrocities of every description!

Like an Agatha Christie crime novel, EGW’s GREAT CONTROVERSY, leaves Adventists in a state of limbo–suspended animation, —desperate for the dénouement/determination,— awaiting their “rescue” by extraterrestrials-- EGW’s “Universe”-- when these otherworldly beings finally decree ( who knows when?) God’s ultimate “vindication”.

Sounds more weird than even doctrines the Scientologists could have dreamed up! Folks, we are dependent on “ET” for our eventual salvation!

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By the time we have reached 40, and realize our life is about half over - give a decade or two - anyone can say that “probation” (a good Adventist term) will be over “soon”.

Aside from that, the disciples believed Jesus would be returning in their lifetime; so SOON is such a relative term, that it’s actually meaningless. When, in November, we used to tell our kids that Christmas would be here soon, it sounded like an eternity to the kiddies, when they counted the days.

The real issue is SO WHAT? Dose it really matter how soon, or in what form this life on earth comes to screeching halt… what would we do differently? If there is something that would change as a result, then our lives are a mess anyway.

I’m afraid “JESUS IS COMING SOON” has long become a cliche, used by preachers who run out of things to say.

Now I need to watch the video.

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Christs coming has always been “Soon” and yet it has always been the same amount of time for everyone…one lifetime. Some shorter some longer.
Put your concept of “soon” against Christs own words and then realize it isn’t “us” who has come up with the concept and perpetuated it.

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"I’m an academic." Fritz Guy

Perhaps an understanding both from an academician and a clinician would give a wider spectrum of understanding on “How Long Can We Say The Second Coming is Soon?”

Two psychological factors that have been known to influence the subjective measurement of time are “Object Permanence” and “Object Constancy.”

“Object Permanence” is the ability of a child to understand that objects exist even if they cannot be directly sensed or measured. It is developed at about 8-14 months old and coincides with the emergence of “separation anxiety.” At this time, the child fusses and cries when mom or dad leaves the room and cannot be soothed. At around 18 months old the child comes to a full understanding and can create internal pictures that are no longer in sight, that those objects can exist even out of their physical perceptions. Object Permanence develops from the physical to the abstract and is essential in understanding God.

“Object Constancy”" is the relatively enduring emotional investment in another person. Object constancy suggests that at some point in our early development, humans express the capacity to understand that “out of sight” does not mean “gone” and is an important phenomenon to understand as it one of the basic elements that forms and colors our interpersonal relationships. It fuels the narratives we tell ourselves about our spouses, partners, friends, colleagues etc during conflicts. It is what drives us crazy (paranoid) when our relationships do not reach the level of our wishes and expectations.

Failure to develop or master “Object Permanence” and “Object Constancy” provokes emotional reaction, which influence how we measure time. Just ask anyone who is frustrated, angry, disappointed or as a matter of fact in love. The same can be said about denominational doctrines. When our church has been proclaiming that “Jesus is coming soon” for the past 175 years, and still no end in sight, do we consult more theologians to search the scriptures in unsealing more secrets or do we consult mental health professionals in digging deep in search of our own and our church’s psychological reservoir to understand how follies and shortcomings wreck havoc in our relationships?

These psychological factors are not part of any hermeneutical theory but influences how we apply hermeneutical theory when studying the scriptures. It is a circle that needs to be broken.

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"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:…

Short version - believe what God has said. (Including a 6-day creation and flood, which this text alludes to.)

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Bring on the extraterrestrials, ezbord; I’m not giving up hope yet.

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Fritz Guy suggest that instead of sinners being eliminated in the final judgment, sin is eliminated.

I wonder how this is possible without eliminating human emotions such as love which includes possession, privilege and pleasure. Was it not for love that Adam ate the forbidden fruit? Strong emotions of joy and love often influence decisions and judgments. .

Fritz Guy says the Sabbath is free time to be human.

How this is possible since Sabbath is to be kept as “holy” time. This excludes being a normal flawed human.

I love Guy’s description of the privilege of being a part of a fluid movement that is growing and learning. Hopeful and trusting that God will lead all of us.
Like Guy, I am energized by this: "There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make an error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation. Review and Herald, December 20,1892 "
Last Sabbath our Bible study covered 1 Timothy 5. Guy’s warning that Biblical literalism could lead to simplistic thinking is apropos.

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I came back to this thread to see further comments and found that my previous comment had been deleted? At least it is no longer in the response thread. My comment was simple, factually correct and theologically correct. So it is surprising it was removed. This is a comment thread about the the theological concept/teaching about what defines soon when we talk about the second coming.The comment left was intended to jog thinking that possibly the concept of soon is based on 3 score and 10. If that has any bearing on the discussion then factually given Dr. Guy’s age the 2 coming is fairly short. Perhaps that perspective is one he has not thought of, but given his intelligence he has thought of it and finds it of little significance. The previous post said something to the effect that Dr Guy will soon be facing the second coming. That is factually correct. I guess many might see that as a slight on his age. I meant it as a pointed statement of irony that someone of his age would be questioning the concept of soon. Maybe others do not see that.

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With all respect, I wonder if you actually watched the video before leaving this comment.

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I’ve just started listening to the first video.

As far as the word “soon,” I’d say it’s the truest thing Christ could say to motivated, temporal beings.

If your business is acting for God, Christ’s coming is soon, because live is short. If your life is busy, you will never get enough time to do anything, including work for God.

Also, on a related matter, but not to these points:

Fritz Guy is an important thinker, in the history of Seventh-day Adventism, about the history of Seventh-day Adventism.

Because of this, I wish that whoever made the video had higher standards for documentation, as it pertains to audio and and video quality. There was so much here that was interesting, but all of it was painful to watch.

HA

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One of my favorite glosses on the concept of “soon” is from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in the Chronicles of Narnia. Lucy meets Aslan in a house on one of the islands they visit, and after a short conversation Alsan tells Lucy that they will meet again soon. “Please, Aslan” says Lucy, “what do you mean by soon?” “I call all times soon” replies Aslan, and promptly disappears.

Perhaps a part of our difficulty with the seeming delay is the tension between our own, human concept of temporality, and God’s. Even within our own humanity, there are vastly differing concepts; my young children have a much different idea of what constitutes “soon” than my wife or I do.

As to the comments regarding Dr. Guy’s age, I can understand if statements as to his nearness to the second coming may rankle. Whenever I have a conversation with him, I try to ignore the fact that he is fifty years older than me, as he performs mental gymnastics with a sharp, penetrating wit. Besides, depending on the vagaries of life on this world, I may be much closer to the second coming than he.

Pax,

David

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