Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Is This a Resurgence of SDA Fundamentalism


In Open Letter to Elder Clifford Goldstein Peter Williams on AToday.com concludes with these words:

I would again state that this series of lessons is a blatant attempt to keep the membership ignorant of the fact that this doctrine is heresy and it is almost blasphemous to attempt to use scripture to uphold this doctrine. Most of the rank and file have never heard of the 1958 Daniel committee which met for years and could not agree and was finally abandoned without a report being issued. This fact alone demonstrates just how contentious this whole matter is.

It has been stated that if the SDA church threw out its 1844 teaching it would have to throw out The Great Controversary and in doing so would virtually destroy the memberships’ faith in Ellen White. This is possible correct. The church cannot say sorry we were wrong. It hasn’t said sorry to Desmond Ford, Robert Grieve or Fletcher.

Wouldn’t it be better to say sorry and start again with a truth filled Evangelical Gospel message than to continue deceiving people with the doctrines of Men?

Finally, I would remind you of the words of the quarterly Friday July 14, “as Christians we must take the word for what it says as opposed to what humans say.” After 160 years isn’t it about time we did just that and preached according to scripture?

After this quarter's journey in SDA anti-contextual reading of Daniel and it's total abandonment of New Testament Gospel in that we teach an Investigative Judgment which neither Christ or the Apostles preached the Lesson Quarterly moves on to teach more fundamentalism. The Lesson for Friday Oct 6 quotes Ellen White:
"The work of higher criticism, in dissecting, conjecturing, reconstructing, is destroying faith in the Bible as a divine revelation. It is robbing God's word of power to control, uplift, and inspire human lives. By spiritualism, multitudes are taught to believe that desire is the highest law, that license is liberty, and that man is accountable only to himself. . . .

"The power of a higher, purer, nobler life is our great need."—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 474, 478.

The Lesson wants to present the supremely literalist view of Genesis, holding that it is foundational to everything else, as it states on Sunday Oct 1:

Are we going to listen to the critics who come up with all sorts of "evidence" to question the historical veracity of Genesis, or do we follow the lead of those like Jesus and Paul and Peter, who showed unquestioned faith in the book? Indeed, to question the veracity of Genesis means to question the veracity of the New Testament, which time and again refers to Genesis. How reliable could the New Testament be if it were all wrong about Genesis? As we can see, once we start questioning the historical veracity of the Genesis account, the whole edifice of faith crumbles. Which, of course, is exactly what Satan wants.

There are a couple of points here, first as you read the lesson you see a couple of references to Satan yet Satan is never mentioned in the the Pentateuch and only very rarely in the entire Old Testament. Yet you can see just how foundational it is to the teaching of this lesson. You can't really have it both ways, holding to historical veracity of the Genesis account and using talking snakes. The reason we see Satan as that talking snake is because of a verse in the book of Revelation "that serpent of old" which is a highly symbolic book which freely uses symbols from many religious traditions. It is ancient myths that use talking animals not accounts of historical veracity. Which leads us into the realm of higher criticism. It is not the fearful feature that fundamentalist make of it, it is merely the use of context and culture to arrive at meaning.

Higher criticism is "the study of the sources and literary methods employed by the biblical authors."

Lower criticism is "the discipline and study of the actual wording" of the Bible; a quest for textual purity and understanding.

And even the fundamentalist will use it though instead of using more scholarly evidence they will base their expansion of culture and context upon a particular tradition they have embraced. It is their poor use of Higher Criticism which causes their distrust of Higher Criticism. For example again from the lesson on Monday Oct 2:

Before the Flood came, He had Noah preach many long years, giving everyone an opportunity to be saved.

If you read the foundational Flood account in Genesis you see two significant things which contradict the Lesson's statement. One it says no where that Noah preached to anyone and it gives no amount of time about Noah before the flood. In the New Testament Noah is referred to as a "Preacher of Righteousness" which could mean he preached to people or it could mean that his life was an example of righteousness. As the Expositor's Bible Commentary says:

Noah was a herald (keryx) of righteousness. This could refer to his preaching activity not recorded in the OT or to the fact that his lifestyle condemned sin and proclaimed righteousness to his contemporaries (Gen 6:9).

But fundamentalism does not want to take into account other possibilities then it has laid out by its own tradition. So the fundamentalist view says Noah preached for 120 years. Taking those years out of context from Genesis verses before the flood story is even told. If you have not realized yet these traditions are not drawn from the Bible but from Ellen Whites account. The tradition is that Ellen White's views have supplanted the actually Biblical account. Much the same way that the Investigative Judgment became a tradition in the SDA church quite apart from the Biblical context of Daniel 8:14. You may recall (at the top of this page) a graphic example of this on the cover of the 2003 quarterly depicting Adam and Eve sacrificing a lamb, something never found in the foundational book of Genesis yet mysteriously acceptable to the powers that be who commission the art for the quarterly. Non Biblical tradition is the enemy of Christianity it was the cry of the Reformation and it needs to be our Reformation Cry also.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Spectrum Blog and "Jesus Camp"

Recently over at Spectrum Blog Alexander placed the trailer for the new documentary “Jesus Camp”. (YouTube Jesus Camp Trailer) He installed the trailer so that the audio and video started as soon as a person arrived on his webpage or refreshed the page. So the audio ran even if you were not looking at that part of the page and if you put a comment somewhere the audio and video would start again. I placed a comment along with some information on the section dealing with the Jesus Camp movie, and noted that I did not appreciate the automatic start of the audio, mainly because I use my computer to listen to other things and did not want the noise of the Jesus Camp trailer mucking up what I was listening too. As I recall someone else commented about not liking the intrusive sound either but it appears that comment got dumped. Unlike this blog, Spectrum blog has a tendency to delete comments for reason other then offensive or irrelevant comments. I and others have actually had our comments edited by Alexander at Spectrum Blog. We discussed this unfortunate activity over at Atomorrow.com

After my comment Alexander posted on this blog the following comments:

Sorry you had to struggle to look for your volume control, but hey, we're about introducing folks to new things. We'll try to get that to work better.

Wait - follow the logic - is that Christianity to you?

Spooky music. . .yes, actually children being guilted into crying and confessing their 8-year-old sins and being prepared to fight Muslims in the name of Jesus, while praying over a cardboard-cut-out of any president is spooky to some.

Perhaps critiquing the scary parts of any faith doesn't preclude belief.

I imagine anything which accords listening to a talk show host from Air America as the voice of reason in such a film is spooky enough in itself.

Oh by the way again thanks for the intrusive noise of the trailer as we visit your site. sure I normally listen to other things on my computer so that a visit here is like a visit to Babel, but don't let that worry you as it will teach us poor illiterates how to turn down our sound, stop what we are listening to before we came here or leave your site.

Hey Ron,

What's with your kvetching on the Spectrum Blog? If you don't like the politics, feel free to articulate opinions of your own - but don't just complain about being annoyed; it's a poor substitute for interesting ideas.

I listened to Michael Medved's interview with the producers also and was not impressed with them. Here is a comment from Free Republic:

"To: johnny7
I caught an interview of one of the producers on Michael Medved's show yesterday. The outstanding thing about their defense of their "documentary" was in the way that they answered questions.

It was exactly like the way CAIR responds to questions about islamo-fascist terrorism. They dodged, engaged in moral equivocation, and offered up a healthy dose of tu quoque's.

When asked why they put spooky background music to scenes where their targets spoke, they responded with a "One person's spooky is anther person's spiritual" crap. When asked why they deliberately slowed down the camera (post production editing) is certain scenes, they giggled and said "OMG! That's just artistic expression!" They created this mockumentary mess as another slam on Christianity and they knew exactly what they were doing.

I won't be seeing it (or missing it for that matter).."
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1702572/posts

Oh yea it is annoying to have the video and audio start on its own. Hope they are at least paying you for annoying the people who visit your blog.

The film starts with a caller telling Papantonio he opposes the ministry. "There's nothing Christian about 'em," the caller insists.

Papantonio is nodding his head, and the audience may be ready to agree, but the film forces the viewer to see several sides of the issue.

The overt images of Christianity in America — from roadside crosses to billboards signed by God, seem surreal when Levi declares, "America is supposed to be God's nation. ... Now a lot of people in America just aren't following God."

A life-size, cardboard cutout of President Bush set up before the campers, along with a invocation to "pray the Spirit over him," is followed by a caller on Papantonio's show declaring, "They've taken over the White House."

A subtext to the film is the nomination and confirmation of Samuel Alito to fill retiring Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court, an event that was happening during filming. The campers are urged to pray for "righteous judges."

It begs the question of how comfortable America is with such an overt mixture of politics in religious expression, while insisting on the freedom to express those viewpoints.

Update: Read the article Are Christian Maoists Plotting a Takeover?
Posted by: Michael Medved Sept 27

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Doug Batchelor's Poll Answers

As we conclude this lesson quarterly it is interesting to see how some of the Sabbath School Classes available on the internet present their conclusions. In particular today I will deal with Doug Batchelor’s class

First a really bizarre statement is made at Minute 12:30

If the Sabbath truth had been embraced like it should have been there would be no evolutionists today…
This is based upon his idea that the Sabbath is about creation, apparently if atheists saw Christians keeping the Sabbath they would abandon their atheism. Of course Darwin had been a believer in special creation which is what troubled him when he saw recent land masses with different animals then the neighboring areas and that did not fit with what his theology classes had taught about Creation, nothing at all to do with what day one honored as the Sabbath.

On to the Final Lesson

If you recall the survey running on this blog asked a question of what best describes your view of the Investigative Judgment of 1844. The winner was “A Face saving device” which is the only reason not given in Doug Batchelor’s recent Sabbath School class on “The Meaning of the Judgement Today”

The results of the poll are as follows:

A Face saving device after Miller's predicted Second Coming of Christ failed in 1844 (47%)

The removal of the record of sins of Christians preformed by Christ in the Most Holy Place, begun in 1844 (14%)

The evidence is placed before the non-human intelligences of the universe to show them who is safe to save, begun in 1844 (8%)

Soon after 1844 the real Gospel about the Character of God began to be proclaimed which will lead to a generation settled into the truth about God that they can never be moved (14%)

1844 marks the start of the SDA church whose doctrines are summarized in the 3 angels messages of Rev. 14 (16%)

Notice how Batchelor presents very similar reasoning to the last 3 of the poll statements. With the exception of the only demonstrably correct answer (the poll winner and first statement). Batchelor does not in this class mention the removal of the record of sins, he alludes to it as the judgment of the righteous dead and then the living, but he has in previous lessons this quarter.

Minute 30

At 1844 Christ entered his last phase in heaven He began a judgment of all who claimed to capitalize on His sacrifice. Not all who have claimed are sincere, beginning with the dead moving toward the living the names are being examined, not for God’s sake but for unfallen angels and heavenly agencies. God is going to do something that has never been done before everything in heaven is perfect He is going to take creatures that are imperfect and reintroduce them into heaven. And they need assurance that we’ve been transformed. And so this judgment vindicates that we really have been transformed…

Minute 33

Now we have the Word that tells us what’s happening in heaven. Christ is our High Priest, that’s clear right? There’s a heavenly sanctuary, that’s clear. We know when He comes He is distributing rewards right? So some judgment takes place before He comes that’s called the Investigative or preadvent judgment. It’s really simple its not hard to defend don’t ever be apologetic about this teaching as a matter of fact I would feel sorry for those who understand it because their theology does not make sense. But what happened on earth? 2300 days then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. What needed cleansing? The truth was cast to the ground the church was defiled by the abomination of desolation especially during the dark ages that last age from 538-1798. the truth was totally obscured the two witnesses of God the new and the old testament, the law and the prophets were prophesying through sackcloth. That’s like letting your light shine through a potato bag it’s really obscured. So imagine how much truth was getting out? God’s going to cleanse the sanctuary in 1844 He raised up a movement that movement and I am really thankful for this, was a melting pot of people from many different churches. They said look we misunderstood …after 1844 He poured out His Spirit on a group who said alright we misunderstood something … and they said show us the truth …and in the year 1844 before that year was up they learned the truth, that in their midst were those who had the truth about the Sabbath, the truth about baptism by immersion, salvation by grace…the priesthood of all believers, your body being the temple of the Holy Spirit…

Minute 39

The church on earth is going to be cleansed because the devil is pointing at all the failures among God’s people…God is going to have a people He can point to before He comes back and so that’s what happening now there is a cleansing going on now I want to be part of that.

Minute 54.50 Speaking of the 3 angels messages of Rev. 14

Is part of that message a message of judgment? The hour of his judgment is come. Is part of that message a message the Sabbath truth? Worship him that made the heaven and the earth…

So in effect the last 3 possible answers of our poll were accepted as the meaning of the Investigative judgment. This elastic view of the Investigative Judgment would naturally cause suspicion by objective observers. There has been no clear Biblical teaching of any of these possible explanations of the Investigative Judgment and none of them are accepted by other Christians and even more suspicious all the interpretations listed find their authority if not their origin in the writings of Ellen White. On top of that those last three statements are all peculiar to SDA teachings alone. There is a very egocentric perspective in this quarters lesson.



Doug Batchelor's Poll Answers

As we conclude this lesson quarterly it is interesting to see how some of the Sabbath School Classes available on the internet present their conclusions. In particular today I will deal with Doug Batchelor’s class

First a really bizarre statement is made at Minute 12:30

If the Sabbath truth had been embraced like it should have been there would be no evolutionists today…
This is based upon his idea that the Sabbath is about creation, apparently if atheists saw Christians keeping the Sabbath they would abandon their atheism. Of course Darwin had been a believer in special creation which is what troubled him when he saw recent land masses with different animals then the neighboring areas and that did not fit with what his theology classes had taught about Creation, nothing at all to do with what day one honored as the Sabbath.

On to the Final Lesson

If you recall the survey running on this blog asked a question of what best describes your view of the Investigative Judgment of 1844. The winner was “A Face saving device” which is the only reason not given in Doug Batchelor’s recent Sabbath School class on “The Meaning of the Judgement Today”

The results of the poll are as follows:

A Face saving device after Miller's predicted Second Coming of Christ failed in 1844 (47%)

The removal of the record of sins of Christians preformed by Christ in the Most Holy Place, begun in 1844 (14%)

The evidence is placed before the non-human intelligences of the universe to show them who is safe to save, begun in 1844 (8%)

Soon after 1844 the real Gospel about the Character of God began to be proclaimed which will lead to a generation settled into the truth about God that they can never be moved (14%)

1844 marks the start of the SDA church whose doctrines are summarized in the 3 angels messages of Rev. 14 (16%)

Notice how Batchelor presents very similar reasoning to the last 3 of the poll statements. With the exception of the only demonstrably correct answer (the poll winner and first statement). Batchelor does not in this class mention the removal of the record of sins, he alludes to it as the judgment of the righteous dead and then the living, but he has in previous lessons this quarter.

Minute 30

At 1844 Christ entered his last phase in heaven He began a judgment of all who claimed to capitalize on His sacrifice. Not all who have claimed are sincere, beginning with the dead moving toward the living the names are being examined, not for God’s sake but for unfallen angels and heavenly agencies. God is going to do something that has never been done before everything in heaven is perfect He is going to take creatures that are imperfect and reintroduce them into heaven. And they need assurance that we’ve been transformed. And so this judgment vindicates that we really have been transformed…

Minute 33

Now we have the Word that tells us what’s happening in heaven. Christ is our High Priest, that’s clear right? There’s a heavenly sanctuary, that’s clear. We know when He comes He is distributing rewards right? So some judgment takes place before He comes that’s called the Investigative or preadvent judgment. It’s really simple its not hard to defend don’t ever be apologetic about this teaching as a matter of fact I would feel sorry for those who understand it because their theology does not make sense. But what happened on earth? 2300 days then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. What needed cleansing? The truth was cast to the ground the church was defiled by the abomination of desolation especially during the dark ages that last age from 538-1798. the truth was totally obscured the two witnesses of God the new and the old testament, the law and the prophets were prophesying through sackcloth. That’s like letting your light shine through a potato bag it’s really obscured. So imagine how much truth was getting out? God’s going to cleanse the sanctuary in 1844 He raised up a movement that movement and I am really thankful for this, was a melting pot of people from many different churches. They said look we misunderstood …after 1844 He poured out His Spirit on a group who said alright we misunderstood something … and they said show us the truth …and in the year 1844 before that year was up they learned the truth, that in their midst were those who had the truth about the Sabbath, the truth about baptism by immersion, salvation by grace…the priesthood of all believers, your body being the temple of the Holy Spirit…

Minute 39

The church on earth is going to be cleansed because the devil is pointing at all the failures among God’s people…God is going to have a people He can point to before He comes back and so that’s what happening now there is a cleansing going on now I want to be part of that.

Minute 54.50 Speaking of the 3 angels messages of Rev. 14

Is part of that message a message of judgment? The hour of his judgment is come. Is part of that message a message the Sabbath truth? Worship him that made the heaven and the earth…

So in effect the last 3 possible answers of our poll were accepted as the meaning of the Investigative judgment. This elastic view of the Investigative Judgment would naturally cause suspicion by objective observers. There has been no clear Biblical teaching of any of these possible explanations of the Investigative Judgment and none of them are accepted by other Christians and even more suspicious all the interpretations listed find their authority if not their origin in the writings of Ellen White. On top of that those last three statements are all peculiar to SDA teachings alone. There is a very egocentric perspective in this quarters lesson.



Friday, September 22, 2006

Liberal Episcopal Church in Battle with IRS

All Saints Episcopal Church Won't Comply With IRS Probe

Pasadena's All Saints Episcopal parish board challenges a request to turn over documents in a case over a 2004 antiwar sermon.By Louis Sahagun, Times Staff Writer September 22, 2006

A liberal Pasadena church on Thursday declared that it will refuse to comply with an IRS investigation into its tax-exemption status launched after a guest speaker was critical of President Bush in a sermon.

At a news conference attended by 50 cheering supporters gathered before the marble altar at All Saints Episcopal Church, the Rev. Ed Bacon said his 3,500-member congregation did not violate tax regulations barring tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing candidates when a former rector, George F. Regas, criticized the Bush administration two days before the 2004 presidential election.
The Episcopal faith, the 58-year-old rector said, "calls us to speak to the issues of war and poverty, bigotry, torture, and all forms of terrorism … always stopping short of supporting or opposing political parties or candidates for public office."
This will be an interesting case to watch. It is not a free speech issue it is a tax status issue. You can read his sermon which is certainly slanted against Bush and therefore toward John Kerry but also gives some disclaimer about voting for your own morals. [Pdf not working at the time of this writing the site may be overly busy today, their whole website seems slow.]

An example from the sermon where the pastor assumes Jesus would not say anything against the killing of unborn babies but rather would decry those who care about the unborn yet don't provide cradle to grave care for those who are born. In other words Jesus uses the same arguments as the Democrats.

If Jesus entered this debate, I think these words might come from his lips: “Shame on all those conservative politicians in the nation’s Congress and in State Legislatures who have for years so proudly proclaimed their love for children when they were only fetuses—but ignored their needs after they were born.”

Yes, yes Jesus admonishes us. “It is the cruelest irony how so many of these antiabortion politicians have no interest in the things that make a newborn child healthy and beautiful. It violates every standard of decency to force a poor woman to have a child, and then deny her good prenatal care.”

All of this needs to be part of our thinking on November 2nd. Conservative politicians
with the blessing of the Religious Right have strongly advocated the dismantling of social programs that provide a decent life for children once they enter this world. The ultimate test of a society is the kind of world it creates for its children. And what we have allowed to happen to children in America is a moral scandal and breaks the heart of God. No matter what rhetoric is used, any public policy that makes a child’s life more miserable is an abomination before God.

On November 2nd vote all your values. Bring a sensitive conscience to that ballot
box.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Is God On Trial?

One of the frequent statements made among Adventists is that “God is on trial”. Recently I posted the article refuting Clifford Goldstein article Judging the Judge. Some Adventists will even assert that this trial depends upon us, human beings for the vindication of God. Mark Finley said in Facing Revelation's Judgment Discoveries In Prophecy Lecture #9 Net 96:
“And Lucifer has charged before the whole universe that God is unfair, that God is not righteous, that God's way is not the best, that God's law is narrow and restrictive. So God is on trial before His own universe. And Satan has said that God is unfair, that God makes laws that can't be kept, that God does not desire us to be happy, that God is partial, that He plays favorites.”
In the next paragraph:

“You and I are evidence in the trial. As our lives come up before God in judgment, God says to the angels, "Could I have done anything more to save Mark Finley?"
Bob Pickle website says:
“Fourth, the idea about God proclaiming the truth about Himself is derived from Romans 3:4. In some sort of way, according to this text, God is on trial. During the judgment His character is being vindicated, and Satan's lies are being exposed. No, He isn't a vengeful tyrant. No, He isn't overindulgent. He has been loving, merciful, and just with every sinner.”
[This is a pretty funny section where Pickle tries to defend the Clear Word Paraphrase as being accurate in its representation of Daniel 8:14. Just last week I was at a lecture where a Greek scholar from Loma Linda University also pointed to this verse in the Clear Word Bible and his statement was something to the effect that here, referring to the Clear Word Bible on Daniel 8:14 was a clear example of textual corruption]

Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., in his article "THE TYPOLOGY AND THEOLOGY OF THE PRE-ADVENT JUDGMENT" offers a conflicted view if you read his captions but overall he is in the God is on trial camp.
“God Is Not on Trial. In a sense, the ones who are "on trial" in the investigative phases of the final judgment are not the saved or the unsaved, but God Himself. It is God's justice and mercy manifested in His decision to save some and condemn others that is being judged by moral intelligences…”
Then he says:
“God Is on Trial. Yet there is a sense in which God is "on trial" before His moral universe. For several reasons, God is willing and expected to give an account of His creative, redemptive, and punitive activities.”
This is one of the great contribution of the Seventh-day Adventist church, God is on trial. God is on trial before unknown moral intelligences; who we know nothing about. We have no knowledge that they are judging God or question God or God’s choices in who is saved and not saved. But we can be thankful that God is not on trial before the moral intelligences who inhabit our world. How do you think an Atheist would judge God, when he says there is no God? Or what about the Agnostic who says if there is a God He sure can’t be like the God of the Old Testament. God is not going to do too well in that type of trial. We already know the Islamic people reject the God of the New Testament, the writings were wrong and Jesus was not crucified or resurrected. Clearly those of us on earth have insufficient knowledge to judge God. We however can judge whether we believe in God or whether we choose to accept and trust God but we have no way of knowing if God is just or not in any trial type situation. We can believe it, we can accept it as a revelation of God about Himself but as the judge in a trial we are woefully lacking.

So the invention of the “moral intelligences” who examine the books of God was established. As the Bible says man looks on the outward appearance but God looks upon the heart. So in the trial the moral intelligences have to depend upon God’s own truthful recording of man’s thoughts. Unless of course we give these intelligences the same supernatural powers of God. But no matter how you look at it the judges in this type of trial are dependent upon God for all information used in the judgment. This would really invalidate this trial in the eyes of any questioning being. In all this it is hard to imagine that with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, that sacrificial love, that there are moral intelligences out there in the universe with questions about God. If there are however, the Bible gives us no indication of such and really since we have no Biblical basis for this alleged trial it is unwise to waste time on such speculation. As with the other views of the Investigative Judgment this view of God on trial is not held by most Christians.

There is a quote from recent book of collected essays by C.S. Lewis called God in the Dock which is good to remember when we start to think that God is on trial. The following is from Anchor for the soul:

“However, some people would rather think of themselves as being the judge of God. God is on trial. Listen to this brilliant quote by C.S. Lewis.

The ancient man approached God...as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty, and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God's acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the bench and God is in the dock.

Oh! How arrogant we can be! How could we think that we could be more loving than the God, who is love? How could we think that we could be more just than the very Being who defines justice? “

Saturday, September 16, 2006

One of the distinctions of living in this area of Washington state is that we are in close proximity with some of the ultra traditionalist. The folks who subscribe to “Our Firm Foundation”.
Occasionally some of them wander off the reservation and meet with regular SDA’s as happened to our Sabbath School class once again today. Now I have no idea how many Davidian’s Have associated themselves with Hope International I merely use Hope International as a link to the most prominent of these ultra traditional Adventists.

Today we heard from the Davidian’s how important it is since we are living in the time of the Investigative Judgment to complete our sanctification so that we can stand without an Intercessor. What is disturbing to me is that in today’s Adventist church it is not only the ultra traditional Adventist who accept and promote this last generation complete sanctification more commonly referred to as last generation perfection. We find it equally in the more Progressive side of Adventism in those who teach the Larger View atonement model. In the notes for Kenneth Hart’s lesson on the Pre-advent Judgment he writes:

20. “Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads–it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved–just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come. Indeed, it has begun already; the judgments of God are now upon the land, to give us warning, that we may know what is coming” (MS 173, 1902). S.D.A. Bible Commentary Vol. 4, p. 1161; LDE 219; Maranatha 200; FLB 287; 1MR 249,250; 10MR 252. What is it that we need to be fully convinced about? Could we, before the second advent, be so convinced of the truth about God and about the devil that we would never be tempted to rebel again? Would that prepare us for the second coming?

In his lesson study he went farther then the mere posing of the questions above.

At minute 105.38 in his lesson study Kenneth Hart says:

“When we get to the place where we fully trust God we’ve looked at all the evidence we trust Him completely then presumably we will have reached the place where it will be possible for us to live without sinning and certainly that should be the goal…”

You will hear the same idea at Tim Jenning's Sabbath School Class for the lesson on the Pre-Advent Judgment and you can read the same ideas at HeavenlySanctuary.com

What is this last generation sinless perfection based? We see it in the Larger View Adventist, and we see it in the ultra Traditionalist Davidian Adventists and on the Atoday Website we can read the Traditional Adventist Kevin Paulsen defend this eschatological view.

Paulsen writes:

The same is true with the issue of character perfection. Dr. Ford, and all readers of this website who have read my article, will note that I didn’t use a single Ellen White statement—much less quotes from M.L. Andreasen or any other source—in defense of the belief that Christians, especially in the final generation, will perfectly reflect the image of their Lord. All I have used, in my article and in this reply, are texts from the Bible, and have cited COL 69 only as corroborating evidence. I encourage all readers of this site to look up every text I have quoted in support of Christian perfection, and all those Ford has quoted in denial of it. See for yourselves who, in fact, has distorted the Biblical evidence.

Desmond Ford in his response said:

None of the Bible passages Kevin quotes teach that "God is waiting for the perfecting of Christian character by the final generation of believers."

Ford continues later by saying:

Kevin has called his teaching on 1844 " a fundamental teaching of the Advent faith." But it was not "discovered" until 1857, and was never numbered among the "landmarks" of the early Sabbath Conferences (1848-50). While you have not quoted M.L. Andreasen , Kevin, your theology does come from him. It was he who invented the heresy that only when SDA's were perfect would Christ return. That heresy our church long ago rejected. I recommend you read The Sanctuary Doctrine, pp. 218-219 authored by Roy Adams.

As we can see from the quotes from Kenneth Hart, his Larger View of character perfection is not primarily drawn from Andreasen. I would doubt that Andreasen developed it on his own but just like Hart and others it is a view produced from the pen of Ellen White. I can also tell Dr. Ford from my own experience and my own research the SDA church has not rejected this type of Character perfection, it is taught commonly throughout the SDA church. True you don’t find it in Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions On Doctrine or in the Seventh-day Adventists Believe ... A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines but it remains ever present.

It is produced by those who have instituted a view of Ellen White which incorporates the idea of a generation living sin-less prior to the Second coming, those who are able to stand without an Intercessor after the Investigative Judgment has closed (close of Probation in SDA parlance). It is that presupposition which enables Paulsen to quote Bible verses which have no relation to last generation perfection as if they are proof of such last generation perfection. The verses Paulsen uses have never in the history of Christianity been thought of as speaking of last day perfection prior to 18th century Holiness Movement. Yes take the time to look up the verses Paulsen uses don’t believe his application, test it yourself read the context around those verses and you will see just how distorted his view is. Those of you who think that this quarter's lessons are not important do not realize the massive implications that are associated with it. Goldstein has said how the Investigative Judgment stands as important to the doctrines of the SDA church and in that he is 100% correct. However it is a web of confusion as we have seen so far and we are not done yet.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Pope on Islamic Radicals

We have noted on this blog the historic positions of what the little horn of Daniel could be. During the Reformation many saw either or both the religion of Islam and/or the authoratiative Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church as the little horn or alternatively the anti-christ.

The current Pope has recently addressed the differences between Christianity and radical Islam which may help some see where the greatest danger lies. It is important to see his appeal to faith and reason because faith alone can be very dangerous. It may be that reason alone is dangerous to having a relationship with God but it is not likely in today's world to commit the type of crimes that faith in radical Islam does. The following is from Time Magazine Website:

His discourse Tuesday sought to delineate what he sees as a fundamental difference between Christianity's view that God is intrinsically linked to reason (the Greek concept of logos) and Islam´s view that "God is absolutely transcendent." Benedict said that Islam teaches that God's "will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality." The risk he sees implicit in this concept of the divine is that the irrationality of violence can potentially be justified if someone believes it is God's will. "As far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we find ourselves faced with a dilemma which nowadays challenges us directly. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?"

This is indeed Benedict doing it on his own terms. Rather than tackling the challenge of fundamentalist terrorism with a pithy remark packaged for the 9/11 anniversary or reaching for a John Paul-inspired sweeping gesture, the professor Pope went digging into his books. He went so far as to quote a 14th century Byzantine emperor´s hostile view of Islam's founder. "The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the Pope said. "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'" Benedict added "I quote" twice to make it clear these were someone else's words. Nevertheless this reference was undoubtedly the most provocative moment of a provocative lecture. In a sense, explicitly including the Muslim prophet by name, and citing the concept of jihad, was a flashing neon signal to the world that the soft-spoken Pope intends to make himself heard clearly on this defining tension of our times.

But Tuesday's university lecture was a watershed. After laying out the historical contrasts with Islam, the Pope used much of the discourse to call on the West, and Europe in particular, to clearly affirm the value of a faith in God —and a God built on reason. "While we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them," he said. "We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons."



Sunday, September 10, 2006

Paulsen, 1844, Ellen White and Authority

Kevin D. Paulsen in his article 1844: Embattled Yet Enduring relates what is often used as the definitive presupposition among many traditional Adventists. Paulsen puts forth the idea that Ellen White is authoritative in doctrinal matters. In the above article he writes:

9. The writings of Ellen White have no rightful authority in settling doctrinal controversy within the church.

If it is determined, on Bible grounds, that Ellen White possessed the true gift of prophecy, her authoritative role in settling spiritual disputes of any kind is beyond question. If, by contrast, she fails one or more prophetic test found in Scripture, she has no authority whatsoever.

His language here is probably a bit sloppy because we know from the Bible that the gift of prophecy in itself does not make anyone authoritative in the realm of doctrine. The Bible tells us of an enemy of God who prophesied about Jesus:

Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish." He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation… (John 11:49-51 NIV)

If we let Paulsen’s language pass for the moment and assume that what he means is that “if” Ellen White held the position of a prophet then she should have doctrinal authority. That is a huge “if”, one does not have to be too familiar with the SDA church before they become aware that there are many in and outside of the SDA church who indeed question Ellen White’s role as a prophet. In reference to prophets Paulsen writes:

A prophet is not authoritative because he or she is canonical. Rather, a prophet is canonical because he or she is authoritative.

This is a very true statement, yet we find that outside the SDA church there are few who hold to Ellen White as authoritative, which naturally means that she is definitely not viewed as canonical. One thing that is certainly true is that the broader Christian spectrum who have no hesitation in accepting the canonical authority of the prophets recorded in the Bible, do not accept Ellen White as authoritative.

Paulsen continues:

If in fact Ellen White is a true prophet, her counsel in matters of doctrine, worship, lifestyle, and all else is the counsel of God Himself. And while her writings contain no truths or principles not found in the Bible, she is clear in those writings that God appointed her to speak authoritatively to His church regarding issues of truth and error:

As I have already pointed out the concept that Ellen White is a true prophet is not an accepted Christian view. Which means that to other Christians Ellen White’s counsel in matters of doctrine, worship and lifestyle and all else is not viewed as counsel from God Himself. If Adventists insist on using Ellen White as a prophet for doctrine then they separate themselves from all other Christians. Other Christians draw their doctrines from the Bible but if Paulsen’s view is used then Adventist draw their doctrines from Ellen White’s view of the Bible. That means that in order to show fellow Christians our doctrines are correct we first have to convince them that Ellen White is a prophet, authoritative and deserving of being canonical.

If Paulsen’s view above where he says that, “while her writings contain no truths or principles not found in the Bible…” there should be absolutely no need to hold Ellen White as an authority. All doctrines could be directly sourced to the Bible. There is however two likely reasons why Paulsen wants to hold Ellen White as a doctrinal authority. Those being first, clearly Ellen White presents numerous things which are indeed not found in the Bible. Second the use of Ellen White is desirable to be used when Bible interpretations differ. Ellen White however contrary to the idea that she agrees with the Bible actually has been known to hold to interpretations which are contrary to the Bible as well as presenting much extrabiblical information . Ellen White did not know the language of the Bible or rely upon those who did know the language. So her reliance upon only one translation that presents a distorted view of the actual Greek text led to a serious error in Bible doctrine incorporated into the Adventist Investigative Judgment doctrine. If you compare Act 3:19 from the King James Bible with practically any other version you will immediately see the error.

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; (Acts 3:19 KJV)

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, (Acts 3:19 NIV)

Here the NIV is much more accurate, but to those who relied on the King James Bible they interpreted the blotting out to occur at some future time. As Ellen White says:

The work of the investigative judgment and the blotting out of sins is to be accomplished before the second advent of the Lord. Since the dead are to be judged out of the things written in the books, it is impossible that the sins of men should be blotted out until after the judgment at which their cases are to be investigated. But the apostle Peter distinctly states that the sins of believers will be blotted out "when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ." Acts 3:19, 20. When the investigative judgment closes, Christ will come, and His reward will be with Him to give to every man as his work shall be. (The Great Controversy 1911 edition page 485)

She then tied the “times of refreshing” to the Latter Rain doctrine popularized by the
Pentecostal movement:

The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close. Here are "the times of refreshing" to which the apostle Peter looked forward when he said: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus." Acts 3:19, 20. (The Great Controversy 1911 edition page 611)

Adventists have known of this misinterpretation from Ellen White’s own time to the present however it seems convenient for most Adventists to ignore this problem rather then rethink their traditions. In fact you will find that this text is not even mentioned in the Lesson Study Guide for this quarter. Strikingly the Lesson Study Guide does not even give the traditional SDA view of the Investigative Judgment. It does however assume that the reader knows and accepts at least on some level that traditional view. For example the lesson for Monday September 11:

As Adventists, we understand the cleansing of the sanctuary as a judgment that involves those who have professed to be followers of Christ (see Matt. 22:1-13). We see this especially because in the earthly type of the cleansing of the sanctuary, the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 16), the judgment centered around God's people.

It appears that it is not only Progressive SDA’s that are severely disappointed with the material in this quarter’s lesson, but so are the Traditional SDA’s who complain that the new theology is being taught instead of the traditional historic Investigative Judgment. As Robert Wielend recently wrote on the Spectrum website in respect to the “daily” of Daniel:

The pioneers had a clear and cogent idea about it that they defended. Lesson 11 this quarter promotes an alternative view known as "the new" one, not divulging to the reader that a "pioneer view" exists.

Abandonment of what Ellen White called "the correct view of the daily" (Early Writings, 75) is the horseshoe "nail," the want of which has been the key factor in some prominent scholars and leaders abandoning the sanctuary doctrine and even leaving the Church.

The lines are being clearly drawn in the SDA church and has often been the case the lines are being drawn around people’s use of Ellen White, whether she is to be an authority on doctrine from which we must never stray or whether she was a person of her times who could be wrong in her doctrinal views.

2300days.com More Information Than You Can Print

Essays on Current SDA Prophetic Hermeneutics and Interpretations Written by Frank A. Basten, Australian

Offers a lot of information on the subject of this quarters lessons the following is some of the introductory comments about and from the website linked above.
Below is a list of some past papers I have written regarding the published Seventh-day Adventist approach to the method of interpreting the prophetic time period in the books of Daniel and Revelation. These documents are posted here for anyone interested in taking another look at the reasons offered by both SDA pioneers and contemporary scholars within the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the prophecies touted by them as providing the raison d’ĂȘtre for the SDA church.

In a sentence, these papers argue that the rationale of SDA historicists on the relationship between the 2300 days in Dn8:14 and the 70 weeks in Dn9:24 involves the intricate interdependence of multiple invalid assumptions, with each being used to give validity to the others in a chain of cumulative interdependence. The documents listed below reveal what these assumptions are and how they are invalid. I show how they cannot be supported by Scripture, and the weight of evidence will persuade the honest student to discard the SDA historicists’ argumentation on the topic, and embrace the implications of such an action.

I must warn readers that the articles on this site are not bedside reading. They are intensive, because they attempt to meet the arguments being published at the level they are presented.

Since this is a paperless system without the same strictures regarding economy of words, I thought it best to include the actual material being referenced, so that those who, like myself, do not have the luxury of easy access to a good Adventist or Christian library, can read the relevant material for themselves.

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.

Investigative Judgment Poll (Select Only One Answer)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

When are the last days

The Lesson study begins by quoting Hebrews chapter 1
(Heb 1:2 NIV) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.
The important thing to remember is that often when the Bible talks about the Last days it is not a reference to the time just prior to the Second Coming. This concept that the last days is only a reference to some time very near the Second Coming has lead to much of the confusion in the SDA interpretation of Daniel. To clear up some of this confusion about the last days here are some quotes from various commentaries on the subject.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
of Biblical Theology

Last Day(s), Latter Days, Last Times

There are problems with the terminology of "the latter days" in that, for example, the King James Version quite often refers to "the latter days, " an expression not found in modern translations. Further, it is not always clear whether "the latter days" means a somewhat later period than that of the writer or the latest times of all, the end of the world. There are also expressions that locate the day being discussed in the time of the speaker. Care is needed as we approach the passages that use these terms.

There is another problem in that in modern times we find it difficult to think that the New Testament writers were living in "the last times." Centuries have gone by; how could their times be the last times? We should be clear that the scriptural writers did not always use the terms in the same way as we would naturally do. For them the supremely great event had taken place in the coming of Jesus Christ into the world to effect the salvation of all believers. This was not just an event in history; it was the event. Because of what Christ had done everything was altered. From then on, however long it would be until God intervened and set up the new heaven and the new earth, people were living in "the last times." The days in which it is possible for people to put their trust in Jesus Christ and to enter into the fullness of the salvation he has brought about differ from all the days that went before. They are days of opportunity, days when people can put their trust in the crucified, risen, and ascended Lord and enter into the salvation he won for sinners.

Present Happenings. The writer to the Hebrews tells his readers that "in these last days he (God) has spoken to us by his Son" (Heb 1:2), and Peter says that Christ "was revealed in these last times for your sake" (1 Peter 1:20). In such passages the meaning clearly is that something has happened in recent times that is in sharp contrast to what occurred in earlier ages. Or in similar expression may look to the future of the recipients of the message, as when we read, "in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him" (Deut 4:30), or in the reminder to the hearers that God gave them manna in the wilderness "to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you" (Deut 8:16).

The point of such passages is to make it clear that God is at work in the passage of time here and now. His people are to bear in mind that in what happens in their lives and in the world around them God is working out his purposes. In this spirit the psalmist prays, "Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life" (Psalm 39:4), and in Proverbs we find that receiving instruction is the path to being wise in "the latter end" (19:20). Contrariwise Babylon is blamed for not remembering "the latter end" (Isa 47:7). By taking heed of what God is doing, his people will be strengthened in their faith and better able to appreciate the significance of the times in which they live. It is important that God's people are never alone and that they will discern the outworking of the divine purposes if only they have eyes to see.

Future Happenings. Quite often "last" or "latter" is used of times other than the end of all things. The prophets could speak of a "day" when the Lord would act, sometimes in punishment of evil, sometimes in bringing blessing. Especially important are passages that speak of "the last day(s), " which point to the future but without being specific. In such passages it may mean "later in the present scheme of things, " that is, later in the life of a person or, more often, later in the history of the world. For the former use we might notice the warning in Proverbs that a misspent life means that you will groan "at your latter end" (Prov 5:11). For the other use Jacob summoned his sons to tell them what would happen to them "in the latter days" (Gen 49:1). This clearly refers to the distant future, but not to the end of the world. So with Moses' prophecy that after his death Israel would turn away from the right with the result that evil would befall them "in the latter days" (Deut 31:29). We might say something similar about Daniel's prophecy of things that would happen "in the latter time of wrath" (Dan 8:19; the references to the kings of Media, Persia, and Greece show that there is a reference to what we would call antiquity, not the end of the world ). Hosea looks forward to the Israelites coming trembling to the Lord "in the latter days" (3:5).

So also Jeremiah looks forward to people understanding the working of the divine wrath "in the latter days" (Jer 23:20; 30:24). He also looks for blessing in those days, for the Lord will restore Moab (48:47) and Elam (49:39). We usually look for blessing on Israel, and it is interesting that Jeremiah sees the divine blessing as coming also on these Gentile nations. Similarly Daniel says that God has shown Nebuchadnezzar what is to happen in "the latter days" (2:28; for other examples of his use of the expression, see 8:23; 10:14; 11:29).

In the New Testament it is not so much a question of what will happen to nations, as of the way God will work out his purpose in the affairs of the church and of individual believers. Peter says that the coming of the Holy Spirit on the infant church fulfilled a prophecy of what would happen "in the last days" (Acts 2:17). In the same spirit we notice a statement in Hebrews: Christ "has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself" (9:26). The great events concerning the coming of the Savior and the establishment of salvation are linked with "the last days." So also is the opposition of evil to all that is good. In those days "The Spirit clearly says that … some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons" (1 Tim 4:1). There is a sense in which the church has always lived in "the last days."

John Gill's Commentary on Hebrews 1

and it is a rule with the Jews F13, that wherever the phrase, "the last days", is mentioned, the days of the Messiah are designed: and they are to be understood not of the last days of the natural world, but of, the Jewish world and state; indeed the times of the Messiah, or Gospel dispensation, may be called the last days of the natural world, according to the tradition of the house of Elias; which teaches, that the duration of the world will be six thousand years, and divides it into three parts, the last of which is assigned to the Messiah, thus; two thousand years void, (or without the law,) two thousand years the law, and two thousand years the days of the Messiah F14: but it is best to understand this of the last days of the Mosaic economy, or Jewish dispensation; for the Messiah was to come before the Jewish civil and church states were dissolved; before the sceptre departed from Judah, and before the second temple was destroyed; and he was to come at the end, or toward the close of both these states; and which is called the end, or ends of the world, (Habakkuk 2:3) (Hebrews 9:26) (1 Corinthians 10:11) and quickly after Jesus, the true Messiah was come, an end was put to both these: from whence it may be observed, that the Messiah must be come; that the Mosaic economy, and Jewish worship, will never be restored again; that the Gospel revelation being made in the last days, ought to be regarded the more, it being the last revelation God will ever make.

Jamieson, Fausset, Brown
Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible Hebrews 1

2. in these last days--In the oldest manuscripts the Greek is. "At the last part of these days." The Rabbins divided the whole of time into "this age," or "world," and "the age to come" (Hebrews 2:5, 6:5). The days of Messiah were the transition period or "last part of these days" (in contrast to "in times past"), the close of the existing dispensation, and beginning of the final dispensation of which Christ's second coming shall be the crowning consummation.

RCC and SDA Confusion

I hate to have to deal so much with the Roman Catholic Church but since it plays such an important role in SDA theology and Eschatology we have to deal with the frequent SDA distortions of that church. The church has a terrible history and many doctrines I think are harmful to the cause of God. However it is still a Christian organization and if anyone wants to be taken seriously when talking about it they should take the time to know the real teachings instead of using half truths.


Kenneth Hart summarizes some of the historical distortions that SDA’s often use in their attempt to shore up their faulty view of Daniel 8 and the little horn. The point of the following is not to show that the Roman Catholic Church is correct in any of the following doctrines because doctrines are so interrelated with foundational presuppositions one cannot dismiss them with inaccurate generalizations. To understand them you have to spend the time to understand the process that generated such beliefs. If one desires to indict a belief one must accurately portray that belief or the indictment is merely a gratuitous assertion.

Kenneth Hart’s handout reads:

13. But how did the little horn in its papal form accomplish all the things we have been talking about–even casting down the sanctuary? In what way did he do away with the daily priestly ministry of the new covenant and thus attempt to replace Christ as our heavenly priest?

Historically we know that:

1) Through the establishment of the confessional, through the mass, and through the intercession carried out by human priests the Roman Catholic Church has in a sense replaced the need for Jesus Christ to the individual believer. Individual believers are taught to go to priests instead of going directly to Christ. (Hebrews 4:16)

Notice he says “in a sense” to try and make the impression that the RCC replaces Christ. This works with many Adventists because they don’t know anything about the RCC except the propaganda that the SDA church gives them. They could look up what the RCC really believes but they don’t bother to. For instance in this case the Catechism says:

2634 Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners. He is "able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." The Holy Spirit "himself intercedes for us . . . and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2634.htm

2) In the Roman Catholic Mass, the priest claims to change the bread and wine into

the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ. In effect he’s claiming the power to create God.

Again the assertion is incorrect as their belief is not that they are creating God but that God is becoming present at the sacrament by the power of God. The Catechism states:

1375 It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion. Thus St. John Chrysostom declares:

It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God's. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered.

And St. Ambrose says about this conversion:

Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed. . . . Could not Christ's word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/1375.htm

3) Through an elaborate system of saints and priests, human beings are asked to repent of their sins to human beings instead of to God directly.

Once again as in point 1 there is little understanding of the nature of the confessional system.

1484 "Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church, unless physical or moral impossibility excuses from this kind of confession." There are profound reasons for this. Christ is at work in each of the sacraments. He personally addresses every sinner: "My son, your sins are forgiven." He is the physician tending each one of the sick who need him to cure them. He raises them up and reintegrates them into fraternal communion. Personal confession is thus the form most expressive of reconciliation with God and with the Church. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/1484.htm

1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful:

Whoever confesses his sins . . . is already working with God. God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear "man" - this is what God has made; when you hear "sinner" - this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made. . . . When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/1458.htm


4) Numerous false doctrines were established to take the place of major teachings from the Bible: the Sunday-Sabbath, immortality of the soul, the worship of Mary, human intercession, purgatory, even the establishment of church tradition on equality or even superiority to the teachings of scripture themselves, thus trampling down biblical truth.

History shows us that Sunday held a special place in the early church well before there was a Roman Catholic Church. This is also true for the idea of immortality of the Soul. Often when the early church writes of the martyrs they make comments which clearly indicate they believed they were going to be with God and that those who worked against God would be condemned to a horrible existence. The early years of Christianity were filled with a wide variety of views, many of these views were accepted by the Roman Catholic Church without Biblical authority and in fact many of these views were accepted into the Adventist church without Biblical authority. Examples of some Adventist views: Arianism or Semi-Arianism was a common belief among many early Adventists. The Trinity is not clearly a Biblical view and in fact many contemporary Adventists have taken the Trinity into the realm of Tritheism. We already went over the confessional which Hart calls “human intercession” but what about the Adventist view that the final generation lives without an Intercessor.

The RCC does not worship Mary however, the catechism states:

971 "All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration." The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/971.htm

Purgatory is a week doctrine but then so is the Adventist expectation of the coming Sunday laws. And unfortunately Adventist hold just as tightly to their Adventist traditions as the RCC does to their traditions. But then again we owe to the traditions of the Early Church our canon of scriptures. So we can’t just ignore tradition but we have to analyze what tradition says and deal with both traditions as well as reasoned application of the Bible. Clearly however the RCC do not think they are trampling Biblical truth. However they very likely do, and the same can probably be said for every other Christian denomination and very likely every Christian believer at some time tramples Biblical truth. We error when we take our beliefs as the standard to judge other denominations however.

5) Through all of these means the church has come to claim that it is the sole power able to administer and give salvation. This exalts the human priesthood and particularly the papal authority in the place of God himself. Thus the Roman Catholic Church has attempted to replace the major doctrines of scripture with human substitutes.

This is simply incorrect, while this idea has recently been used by people like Clifford Goldstein we have already seen that he arrives at this position from misquoting out of context passages from the catechism. The Catechism states:

169 Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: "We believe the Church as the mother of our new birth, and not in the Church as if she were the author of our salvation." Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/169.htm

One of the other items that is frequently mentioned in SDA circles is that
RCC worships idols. For a discussion of this see the
Holy Spirit Interactive Youth, Do Catholics Worship Idols?