Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, September 08, 2006

Kevin Paulsen and the Changing Meanings

If you ever have occasion to dialog with people who strongly believe in the traditional SDA doctrine of the Investigative Judgment you will often see them perform what can be termed bait and switch techniques. Often it is the transfer of the ultimate Judgment after the second Coming switched to conversation about the Investigative Judgment. In the recent article by Kevin D. Paulsen entitled 1844: Embattled Yet Enduring, Paulsen performs the bait and switch with the term "books". Early in the article which in the main is a reply to Desmond Ford's view, Paulsen writes:
Daniel 7:9, 10 is the only other reference in Daniel to heavenly books. The book described in Daniel 12:1 gives every evidence of being the same to which Moses referred, when he prayed, in an effort to exchange his own soul for his wayward people, "Blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written" (Exodus 32:32). God then answered Moses, "Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book" (verse 33). Elsewhere the Bible calls this book the book of life (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; 22:19).
If the only ones finally delivered among God's people are those found "written in the book" (Daniel 12:1), and if the vindication of God's people in Daniel 7-subsequent to the opening of the books (verse 10)-is followed by their possession of "an everlasting kingdom" (verse 27), it is obvious the triumph of the saints both in chapter 7 and chapter 12 refer to the same end-time event. Which means the end-time judgment here described most assuredly involves a determination as to who among God's professed people is fit for eternal life.
The book of Revelation is clear as to the conditions for being retained in God's book of life:
This was a response to the Ford statement: "1. The focus of the judgment and sanctuary cleansing in Daniel 7 and 8 is not the people of God, but their enemies." You will notice that Paulsen use of the books has nothing at all to do with any investigation. It is merely used of those written in the books, and that book is not an investigation it is merely those who are written in the Book of Life. But then later Paulsen changes the meaning of the books in his conclusion to match up with the traditional SDA Investigative Judgment view.
First, the universe must be sure that those God takes to heaven won't start another revolution. Why, in Daniel 7, do we find the hosts of heaven assembled for the investigative judgment (verse 10)? Because only when the books of record are opened will they be certain that God is just. The unfallen citizens of the universe may see what humans do behind closed doors; but according to Scripture, only God knows the heart (1 Kings 8:39). Only the disclosure of inner motives will demonstrate God's fairness in taking some to heaven and leaving others out.

What thinking person, Adventist or otherwise, can view the continuing tragedy of the human experience and not see the need for God to prove conclusively, by the most thorough investigation possible, that those rescued from this rebel planet will never rebel again?
When separated from the actual context of Daniel 7 the traditional SDA feels free to insert the tradition into Daniel 7 even though earlier when writing specifically about that chapter and elsewhere in Daniel the books were completely different. Previously the book of life, in his conclusion they are books which investigate and disclose people’s inner motives.

A couple of paragraphs later Paulsen resorts to the aforementioned switching of final judgment with the Investigative Judgment writing:
Many former Adventists, and some current ones, are most uncomfortable with the thought that their words, acts, and secret motives will decide their destiny in God's judgment. But Jesus Himself taught this principle. In His parable of the sheep and the goats, He declared that how we treat fellow humans will determine whether or not we enter His kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46). In another passage He declared, "That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matthew 12:36, 37).
The above texts are abundantly acknowledged by Christians yet they have nothing at all to do with an Investigative Judgment. In all the history of Christianity they have never been seen as anything other then the final judgment or a metaphor for God's Judgment, at least until the introduction of the Investigative Judgment. To move either of the above texts to the Investigative Judgment makes no sense either in context or in the context of the supposed Investigative Judgment. How can the person give account of their words at a judgment to which they are not even a part of?

Unfortunately this type of argument where the meaning is one thing in one place and suddenly changes to a different meaning is a frequent method by the Traditional SDA. Consider the traditional argument that the little horn represents Pagan Rome and then Papal Rome. It is an argument so broad that everything can fit inside it. For instance success in everything is attributed to Pagan Rome even though Pagan Rome lost much to the Barbarian invasions and in the 1400’s the remainder of Rome lost to the Ottoman Empire and Papal Rome was constantly at odds with the various monarchies of the Middle Ages and had a major schism with the what became the Eastern (Greek) Orthodox Church and the Reformation. But in the broad terms when only certain concepts are concerned Pagan and Papal Rome were successful. Just don’t look too close and don’t be too specific. Yet the traditional SDA can not accept the historian’s view that Antiochus fits so well with the references in Daniel that many think it was written at the time of the writing of the book of Daniel. It is curious to say the least, what the Traditionalist will accept and reject.

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