Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Genesis in Symbol and Substance

Genesis in Symbol and Substance
By Ron Corson
Once my 7-year-old son came to me after watching a video about the Creation and the Garden of Eden. He stood beside me wrapped in a blanket since he as most of my children have determined clothing is not necessary at home. As I was cleaning the table, he said, "if they had not eaten the fruit of that tree then we would all live forever". I told him that is right and asked him why did they eat the fruit of that tree. He looked back at me blankly, so I said the real problem was that they, Adam and Eve did not trust God. They thought they knew more than God did, they rejected God by their actions, but it was their attitude that caused the problem, not the tree or its fruit. As you can imagine the light did not go on over his head, he has enough respect not to tell me I was crazy. Yet, the look on his face told me that to him, it was the act of eating from the bad tree that caused us all to have to die. However, as with most of the Bible, understanding the substance behind the stories can lead to far greater understanding the then literalism that a child sees.

In the last century there has been much written about the first chapters of Genesis. Much has dealt with the literal or figurative nature of the seven days of creation. Even with all that has been written there is a great divide which remains between the different proponents of each idea. Whether a Genesis day is 24 hours or 1000 years is not the focus of this article. Instead, the focus is on the substance behind the things written in the first few chapters of Genesis, that is, how to look for the meaning within the story. As with most stories the goal may not be to present a precise time line and sequence of action of our beginnings. But to express to the listener in general terms how we are in the situation that we see around us now.

The first six days of creation are quite easily understood. In fact, it is stated in the very first verse.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Gen 1:1
The steps in the process are listed as on one day something was created and it was good, and the next day something else was created. It is a simple formula which reemphasizes the central thought of the chapter, that God created everything we see. How it precisely was done is not indicated energy changed to matter or creation from nothing to something simply by the will of God. It is of little importance for even in a society as technologically advanced as ours today is, it is a mind-boggling idea. Would it be any more understandable to the hunter or the shepherd of ancient Israel? Still the substance remains; God created the Heavens and the Earth.

The story continues that after all we see was created man was added to the scene. The story does not concern itself with details, how did man learn to talk, was he created with knowledge or did he have to learn the multitudes of things which humans have to learn to live. Man is given dominion over all he sees. This is demonstrated in the small but amazing detail which tells us that man gave names to all the animals. No small task even if man only spent one second on each animal. (Scientist speculate that only 10% of the species that have ever lived are currently alive.)

The story has told us so far that God created the Heavens and the Earth, Sun and moon, plants and animals and mankind. That is the substance, the how’s and why can still be debated as vigorously as anyone wants to debate them. What it has done is to set the stage with everything that mankind sees around them.

Now of course a problem occurs, the problem is clear to all people, we are not living in a paradise where mankind rules all of nature. The story moves to tell us how we arrived at the current situation. It has presented us with a God created world which is good, however now the focus changes to man, God the prime mover thus far steps back from the action.

Adam means, "man" in the symbol we see him as the representation of all men. Eve means life-giver literally the first woman, the representation of all women. Our focus is to look at the substance of the story, what is the story trying to tell us as well as those who first heard the story. The story is often viewed as historical, but as we look at the story do not remove the possibility that there is symbolism which can lead more to the expression of concepts rather then merely lessons from their failures.

Before we continue with the story Gen. 2:10-14 diverges to give a geography lesson. The topography mentioned might have had significance to the ancient Israelites or it may have not. We are left with little explanation for this aside in the story. Possibly it is to set Eden in the geographic center, whatever the names indicate they are of far latter origin then the Eden story. We shall for this time ignore the two different accounts of the creation often identified as the account of chapter 1 and the account of chapter 2, and work as if it is one story.

 Gen 2:9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground--trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Gen 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; Gen 2:17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
As we move to the man portion of the story God has set two trees in the Garden, one of life and the other of the knowledge of good and evil. No directions are given for the tree of life, only a restriction for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There are certain religions which from this tiny amount of information given so far have determined that if the first man and woman had not eaten of this tree mankind would not know good as well as knowing evil. To them, it was necessary for mankind to fail the test. This is here pointed out not to make fun of their teachings but rather as a warning not to jump on something and makes claims that are ill supported. It is a call to look to the substance.

When most Christians read this story they often interpret the events in the light of scripture written latter. This is normal and appropriate for us, but it may also be useful to look at the story the way one hearing it for the first time would think about it. As the story was most likely heard in the format we see now sometime after the exodus from bondage of the children of Israel. To them it would not be a dramatically different story from the ones that the religions around them taught. Order from chaos is a main feature of many ancient myths. Even what we may think is the most unusual aspect of the story, the talking serpent, is not unusual. Talking animals are also common in many ancient myths. We cannot say where the stories began if the myths are distortions of the actual history, or if the myths influenced the Hebrew creation story. We could hide behind a claim that God would never condone the use of myths but that is merely a prejudice we have placed on God. God has always had a tendency to reach people where they were, in the effort of bringing them to where He wants them to be. No one can read the Old Testament from beginning to end without noting how people’s views of God grew and changed. From a God appeased by sacrifices to a God who loved and redeemed. From Warrior God to Redeemer God, God was not changing but people were changing. They moved from the angry God to a God of love.

In the story, God has set before mankind the choice between life and death. Life is shown in the Tree of Life, Death is revealed in the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For the latter tree brings death. If the tree of Life defines itself as Life, then the other tree defines itself likewise. It was against God's will for man to experience the Tree of knowledge of good and evil, this tree represents rebellion against God. The distrust, which says that what God has told us, is not for our good, we know more than God. A God who withholds from us good is selfish at the least and evil at worst. These words are the words the serpent used to tear apart the relationship between God and man. Now out of this chaos God created life so in substance the Tree of Life represents God. The Tree of knowledge of good and evil in substance represents the rebellion against God. What we today like to call sin.

In the story there is a talking serpent; the substance of the serpent is that of an adversary, someone opposed to God, planting thoughts of distrust about God. In the story the serpent gives rise to the questions about God's goodness. It is the voice of doubt, the voice of self-exaltation, the voice of human sinfulness and rebellion.

After Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, they realize that they have done something wrong. The symbol is that they notice they are naked, they would have no reason to feel ashamed at the way they were created except for now they know they are no longer good as they were declared when created. The nakedness symbolizes their inability to hide from God the wrong they have committed. Even after their actions are discovered the first man and woman pass the blame to others. Adam blames both God and the woman ("the woman you put here with me"), Eve blames the serpent. It is here that we see the consequences given for the actions. The consequences like the other elements in creation are things which we see around us everyday.

The serpent is cursed above all creatures and doomed to crawl on its belly. By using it as the symbol of temptation and rebellion every time a person who has heard the story of the creation and sees a snake the story is remembered. The natural fear which people have of snakes because of their silent stealth and poisonous danger is described as enmity between both the serpent and the woman's offspring. Man will crush the serpent’s head and the serpent with strike man's heel. After the incarnation of Christ, people have looked back at this verse as Christ crushing the head of Satan. Christ as the offspring, and Satan as the ultimate adversary.
For the woman increase of pain in childbirth is instituted, again explaining something that is readily seen around us. The male will rule over you is the next curse placed upon the woman, again explaining the patriarchal society found throughout the world. To Adam the ground is cursed and will require painful toil, producing thorns and thistles. As before the curses declare to the listener things that are ever present on the earth.

The Lord makes for the couple garments of skin, a covering for their nakedness. Many people wrongly assume a sacrificial system inaugurated at this point. Assuming that God killed one or more animals to cover the people with an animal skin. But that is not really indicated it is developed by people inserting events into the story which were not there. The verse never even says animal skins and it is no simple or quick matter to make garments out of a skinned animal without proper preparation. If we are not sidetracked by inserting extra details into the story we can see what the substance of the garments is. The substance is that after the rebellion, and the finger pointing and the curses of mankind and the environment, God shows concern for the people. He covers their nakedness. Later in both the remainder of the Old Testament and again in the New Testament we will see that the covering is symbolic of forgiveness.

Man now experiences the results of evil and is no longer entitled to live in the presence of life. This is symbolized by the Tree of Life which is within the Garden of Eden. Therefore, mankind is banished from the Garden of God. Placing cherubim with a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the Tree of Life. The substance here is that mankind will not find his way back to the Life unless God once again opens the road. Man now lives separated from God. The creation story does not introduce people to the plan of salvation, redemption and reconciliation, they will be revealed later through the prophets and apostles and ultimately through Jesus Christ.

Whether we look at the story as a literal or a metaphorical story the substance remains generally the same. While those who prefer to look at the story as a literal historical occurrence in practice look to the substance of the meaning behind the events. Take for instance the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Even those viewing the story as historical, note that it was the act of disobedience which was the first sin. It was not the fruit of the tree which somehow revealed to mankind what evil was. This is an entirely proper analysis; it goes to the substance of the story. However, if you talk to the same people about the Tree of Life it is the actual fruit that is eaten which provides eternal life. They have left the substance that is that God is the creator and source of life, to a very literal view that the fruit of the Tree of Life provides eternal life. When moving to that literalistic view many unanswerable questions will arise. For instance, did God create mankind with a self-restricting mechanism to die unless they ate from the Tree of Life? Does the devil and his demons eat of the Tree of Life since they do not seem to die?

To this point, we have predominately looked at the first three chapters of Genesis in a very restricted view. Looking at the story more in the light of a thoughtful person, who knew little about the Hebrew God, yet was familiar with other religious myths, much like the Israelites. Now we shall begin an analysis using the rest of the Bible to help us understand more of what God has intended for us.

Since we have just looked at the Tree of Life let us begin there again. It has been said by some that a tree is a tree. That usually would be true only if we knew for certain what the writer meant when making his/her statement. Consider the following: 

She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed (Prov 3:18)
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. (Prov 11:30)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Prov 13:12)
The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. (Prov 15:4) (NIV)
Simple metaphors are represented here in Proverbs, which should confuse few people with their intent. Aside from the verses in Genesis to which we have already alluded and those found in Proverbs, the book of Revelation is the only other place where the phrase Tree of Life occurs.
 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God (Rev 2:7)
On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations (Rev 22:2)
"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. (Rev 22:14)
And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Rev 22:19) (NIV)
As we look at these verses though they are not the simple metaphors of Proverbs they are however much more metaphor then literal when the thoughts around them are observed. Such as phrases like: leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations, and Blessed are those who wash their robes. While overall most Christians do not take Revelation too literally, it is especially noticeable when certain words or phrases are removed for the symbolic or metaphorical context and taken to be literal. This is sometimes the case when certain Christians read books like Isaiah and Ezekiel with the same results. Most often this is seen in those who hold that Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 are references to Satan. (See Lucifer Misidentified) Ezekiel gives us another excellent example of an instance where a tree is not a tree. Speaking of Egypt the verse says:

"Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his hordes: "`Who can be compared with you in majesty? (Ezek 31:2)
The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it, nor could the pine trees equal its boughs, nor could the plane trees compare with its branches-- no tree in the garden of God could match its beauty. I made it beautiful with abundant branches, the envy of all the trees of Eden in the garden of God. (Ezek 31:8-9) (NIV)
The metaphor not only provides poetic beauty but it moves the listener past the world of concrete reality to the place where the meaning or the message can be seen. However it requires the listener to look past the concrete language and analyze the words in the full context of the statement.

The tradition within the Christian church has been to see the serpent as the devil, Satan. (It is not until the book of Revelation that the connection is made between the serpent in Eden and Satan, Rev 20:2) This may not have been the typical Jewish understanding since the connection with Satan is not drawn anywhere in the Old Testament. Yet, when the substance of the story is examined it matters very little if Adam and Eve were deceived by an outside being or if the thoughts of rebellion against God came from inside their own minds. The point is that trust in God had been abandoned.

Now think of the serpent used by Moses in the desert to find protection:

The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us." So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. Num 21:7-9
It is doubtful that people looked at the snake as a symbol of Satan, as it was lifted up. The snake was, as used in Genesis the symbol of the curse of rebellion, and how nature itself in some ways had become man’s enemy. Their rebellion here in the wilderness and the way out of their destruction lay in the hands of God. The typology of the snake lifted up by Moses is often correspondent with Christ being lifted up on the Cross.

But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." John 12:32 (NIV)

The correspondence is that looking to Christ provides the sinner with salvation just as looking to the snake lifted up in the wilderness provided healing from the venomous snakebites. But as we look more at the substance we can see also that as the snake was the symbol for rebellion and the curse of sin, Christ is also the symbol for rebellion and sin. As the children of Israel rebelled against Moses about being led into the wilderness and even complained about the Manna which God provided, Christ stands as the ultimate result of mankind’s rebellion. Christ was lifted up, crucified by the cruel hatred so often demonstrated by humanity. In Christ, we see the ultimate result of sin; that rebellious man would go so far as to kill his or her own creator.

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. Acts 3:13-15 (NIV
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:21 (NIV)
Christ brings to light the true nature of the rebellion against God. A dramatic representation of just where our rebellion takes us. Man has killed his fellow man since the very beginning of time, but Christ death shows us that we can indeed commit acts that are more horrible. But we need not be left in our own disgusting circumstances. We can repent and accept again the God who offers us life.

Then Jesus cried out, "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:44-46 (NIV)
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; John 11:25 (NIV)
From the Curse upon the snake in Eden... to the curse of snakes upon the children of Israel in the wilderness... to the curse of a Christ hung on a tree, all point out the rebellion of man. All should lead us to the answer to the problem, to put to death our hostility against God and accept His gift of life. We should not point fingers as did Adam and Eve in the Garden we must learn to accept our own responsibilities for our rebellion. The devil did not cause man’s fall, man did. It may well be that we do not understand the role of the adversary, but it is clear that we can not battle the adversary ourselves. As with all things concerning salvation it is through the power of God working in us that we press toward the mark, the total reconciliation with God.

 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." Gal 3:13 (NIV)
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Eph 2:13-22 (NIV)
When time is spent looking at the substance of the first chapters of Genesis it is possible to see far more then the supposed historicity they are said to contain. The story tells us far more when we do not have to worry about how creation occurred or what time frame may be involved. Problems such as who did Cain marry or just what inspired the people to present animal sacrifices no longer become problems. Our understanding of the ancient world does not have to be based on sparse information. We become free to say that we do not know all we may want to know, and yet what has been provided gives us enough information to recognize our situation. The story of the first chapters of Genesis may indeed be historic; but then again, they do not have to be. The substance behind the story is the key, what does God want us to learn from the stories is the important point.
So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. 1 Cor 15:45-49 (NIV)

Cold the Scapegoat Really Represent Christ

Could The Scapegoat Really Be Christ?
By Ron Corson

The SDA church is rather unique in the Christian community, her view of Azazel the Scapegoat of Lev. 16 is completely opposite that held by most Christians. The SDA church holds that Azazel represent Satan not Christ. Here is what the book Seventh-day Adventists Believe... A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines:
2. Azazel, the scapegoat. "The translation ‘scapegoat’" (escape goat) of the Hebrew azazel comes from the Vulgate caper emissarius, "goat sent away" (Lev. 16:8, RSV, KJV, margin). A careful examination of Leviticus 16 reveals that Azazel represent Satan, not Christ, as some have thought. The arguments supporting this interpretation are: " (1) the scapegoat was not slain as a sacrifice and thus could not be used as a means of bringing forgiveness. For ‘ without shedding of blood is no remission’ (Heb 9:22); (2) the sanctuary was entirely cleansed by the blood of the Lord’s goat before the scapegoat was introduced into the ritual (Lev 16:20); (3) the passage treats the scapegoat as a personal being who is the opposite of , and opposed to, God (Leviticus 16:8 reads literally, ‘One to Yahweh and the other to Azazel’). Therefore, in the setting of the sanctuary parable, it is more consistent to see the Lord’s goat as a symbol of Christ and the scapegoat Azazel--as a symbol of Satan." (Page 318-319 Chapter 23)
Satan is Bound. The events that take place at this time were foreshadowed in the scapegoat ritual of the Day of Atonement in Israel’s sanctuary service. On the Day of Atonement the high priest cleansed the sanctuary with the atoning blood of the Lord’s goat. Only after this atonement was fully completed did the ritual involving Azazel, the goat that symbolized Satan, begin (see chapter 23). Laying his hands on its head, the high priest confessed ‘"all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat’" (Lev 16:21). And the scapegoat was sent into the wilderness, ‘"an uninhabited land’" (Lev. 16:22).
Similarly, Christ, in the heavenly sanctuary, has been ministering the benefits of His completed atonement to His people; at His return He will redeem them and give them eterrnal life. When He has completed this work of redemtion and the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, He will place the sins of His people upon Satan, the originator and instigator of evil. In no way can it be said that Satan atones for the sins of believers--Christ has fully done that. But Satan must bear the responsibility of all the sin he has caused those who are saved to commit. And as "a fit man" led the scapegoat into an uninhabited land, so God will banish Satan to the desolate and uninhabited earth (see chapter 23 of this book).

Understanding the above view it would seem appropriate to compare these two diametrically opposing views of Azazel, the scapegoat. As an overview here is what Ungers Bible Dictionary has to say:
The Hebrew term translated in the A.V. "scapegoat." It is a word of doubtful interpretation, and has been variously understood.
1. By some it is thought to be the name of the goat sent into the desert. The objection to this is that in vers. 10, 26 the Azazel clearly seems to be that for or to which the goat is let loose.
2. Others have taken Azazel for the name of the place to which the goat was sent. Some of the Jewish writers consider that it denotes the height from which the goat was thrown; while others regard the word as meaning "desert places"
3. Many believe Azazel to be a personal being, either a spirit, a demon or Satan himself. The cabalists teach that in order to satisfy this evil being and to save Israel from his snares, God sends him the goat burdened with all the "iniquities and transgressions" of his people once a year. But we think it entirely improbable that Moses under divine guidance would cause Israel to recognize a demon whose claims on the people were to be met by the bribe of a sin-laden goat.
4. The most probable rendering of Azazel is "complete sending away," i.e., solitude. The rendering then would be "the one for Jehovah , and the other for the utter removal" (page 111)

The Jews have a rather mixed tradition, some hold it is the name of the place the goat was taken and others that it is an evil spirit, in that vain the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia says:

"the name of an evil spirit, represented as dwelling in the wilderness, to which a goat, laden by the high priest with the ritual uncleanness and iniquity of the sanctuary, priesthood and people, was sent out as an important part of the Yom Kippur ritual...that ceremony recorded in the Bible represents the survival
and adaptation to Jewish religious practice of an old, pre-Israelite, idolatrous rite, which was apparently so deeply rooted in Jewish folk-practice that it could not be rooted out." (Page 561-2)

The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia finishes the section by saying:

"The etymology of the name Azazel is uncertain, although it may perhaps be correlated with the name of the old Syro-Canannite deity Aziz." (Page 562)
But by far the majority of the Christian church holds to the concept that Christ is represented by the scapegoat. Here are some examples from readily available reference works which see Jesus Christ as the Scapegoat.

Eatons Bible Dictionary

Adam Clarke's Commentaries

Matthew Henry's Concise Whole Bible Commentary

John Wesley's Notes on the Bible

1599 Geneva Bible Notes

Also found in the writings of the early church fathers Justin Martyr and Barnabus . (Origen held the opposite view, but one must remember it was Origen which gave us the idea that Lucifer in Isaiah 14 is the Devil also. He also thought that the Leviathan in Job was also the devil).

But the question must ultimately come down to where does the evidence from the Bible lead us. Which of these two opposing views have the most Biblical support. Since the SDA position has already been stated above it appears to be a good beginning point. The 3 evidences which the SDA’s Believe book mentioned were: (1) the scapegoat was not slain as a sacrifice and thus could not be used as a means of bringing forgiveness. For ‘ without shedding of blood is no remission’ (Heb 9:22); (2) the sanctuary was entirely cleansed by the blood of the Lord’s goat before the scapegoat was introduced into the ritual (Lev 16:20); (3) the passage treats the scapegoat as a personal being who is the opposite of , and opposed to, God (Leviticus 16:8 reads literally, ‘One to Yahweh and the other to Azazel’). Therefore, in the setting of the sanctuary parable, it is more consistent to see the Lord’s goat as a symbol of Christ and the scapegoat Azazel--as a symbol of Satan."

1. "The scapegoat was not slain." This ignores how symbolism is used. The high priest was not slain either yet he served as a model of the mediation which Christ establishes between God and man. And what about the candlesticks, the bread and a host of other things present which symbolize elements of Christ’s ministry. If the scapegoat is viewed as an example of how Christ completely removes from mankind their sins, it becomes an especially meaningful illustration. God removing from His people all their guilt, sin and transgressions. It must be remembered that no symbol used in the sanctuary service could even come close to encompassing all that the Messiah was to do. Therefore many different symbols were used.

For the blood of sheep and goats does nothing. It is symbolic for the gift God gives us through Jesus Christ.

Heb 10:4 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (NIV)

The atonement was symbolized through the sacrifice of the animal. Just as the scapegoat symbolizes the removal of our sins. As if they were thrown into the sea, or separated by the sky. We are dealing with symbols here. The remains of the goat sacrificed were then taken outside the camp and burned, this does not mean that Christ must be burned, the lesson was taught already, at some point all symbols lose their meaning.

The Bible tells us who it is that takes away the sins of the world, and that person is Jesus Christ.

I Jn 3:5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. (NIV)

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (NIV)

Isa 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (NIV)

Isa 53:11-12 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (NIV)

Isa 53:4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. (NIV)

Heb 9:28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (NIV)

Heb 9:26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. (NIV)

1 Pet 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (NIV)

I Jn 3:5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. (NIV)

2 Cor 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)

Christ fulfills the antitypical symbol of the scapegoat. There is no need for Satan to bare anyone's sins. He has his own sins to bare and they will prove to be unbearable. But the evidence that Satan will have sins transferred upon him at the end of time must be considered. Unfortunately for those holding the scapegoat as Satan position no Biblical support is available. They have but one reference which really has little to do with the situation regarding the Day of Atonement. Calling attention to the verses in Rev 20:2-3 they note the banishment of Satan for a 1000 years chained and confined to the bottomless pit, where he can no longer deceive the nations till the thousand years are finished.


(2) the sanctuary was entirely cleansed by the blood of the Lord’s goat before the scapegoat was introduced into the ritual (Lev 16:20)

It is important to note that the above is a false assumption since the atonement is not completed until after the scapegoat is sent away, and further offerings are made. (atonement is made for Most Holy Place, Tent of Meeting and the Altar, Lev 16:20 "When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. (NIV) Later we see the atonement continues Lev 16:24 He shall bathe himself with water in a holy place and put on his regular garments. Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people, to make atonement for himself and for the people. (NIV))

All the symbols on the Day of Atonement should be taken together, it is unfortunate that some feel the need to separate the elements instead of searching for the general meanings which the rituals point toward. The entire day is about the cleansing of the people.

Lev 16:30 because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins. (NIV)

(3) The passage treats the scapegoat as a personal being who is the opposite of , and opposed to, God (Leviticus 16:8 reads literally, ‘One to Yahweh and the other to Azazel’).

If this were really true then Satan would truly be the one who removes sin from Israel. But as was pointed out above there is not one indication in the Bible that Satan in any way carries away any sin.

To stand two things in contradistinction suggests they are both personal beings is an unwarranted suggestion. Consider what Jesus said: Matt 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (KJV) Mammon is money, wealth, riches etc. it is not a personal being.

Instead of opposing positions it could be a form of Parallelism, both are for the Lord, Lev 16:10 But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat. (NIV) the meaning of Lev 16:8 He is to cast lots for the two goats-- one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat. (NIV) indicates two functions, one killed as sacrifice and one to show sins removal. Verse 7 shows us that both goats were presented before the Lord. Thus it is clear that both are used in the Atonement. This atonement is to God not to Satan. Notice verse 5 "From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering." (NIV) Both goats are a sin offering, both are for atonement also (verse 10, 16 respectively refer to the scapegoat, and the goat killed.)


There is no opposition both are used for God to reveal the intended lesson. Both goats were used were the highest quality, why not use a disgusting and deformed goat for Satan. The reason is that both the sacrificed and the goat of removal as well as the other animals and the priest and the water and so much more are symbols for Jesus Christ. The concept of placing Satan in the Day of Atonement ritual is totally out of place with all the other symbols used in the sanctuary and its services.

When considering the limits of the symbols used it makes perfect sense to see each article or symbol as one small phase of the Messiah’s ministry and plan of redemption. All can only vaguely foreshadow but through the light of the New Testament we can clearly see in what direction the rituals were pointing. The many acts and sacrifices on the Day of Atonement all meet their true meaning in Jesus Christ. (The book of Hebrews is the primary source for the interpretations involving the sanctuary)

It may be helpful at this point to show that a lamb used in the Old Testament may mean an animal from sheep or goat species, and even of age over 1 year old. This is somewhat different from the way we view the term lamb today. Speaking of the Passover lamb the Bible says: Exod 12:3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. Exod 12:5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. (NIV) This makes such verses as John 1:29 far more clear: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (NIV)

It is not so much to the Bible that people go to find the idea that Satan is the scapegoat. It is interestingly to the pseudoapocryphal book of 1 Enoch. The book of Enoch was written not earlier than 300 BC and possibly as late as 100 BC. It is a book which recounts the journeying of Enoch under divine guidance, through the entire earth and through the seven heavens, and all the mysteries of heaven and earth. Widely accepted by Christians till the time of Jerome it is now rejected by the majority of Christianity and also by Jews. But the use of the word Azazel is found in this book. Since many have never actually read the book of Enoch the following is included to give the reader a sense of what this book is about.


Azazel as introduced in 1 Enoch.
[Chapter 8]
1 And Azazel taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all 2 colouring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they 3 were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways. Semjaza taught enchantments, and root-cuttings, 'Armaros the resolving of enchantments,
Baraqijal (taught) astrology, Kokabel the constellations, Ezeqeel the knowledge of the clouds, Araqiel the signs of the earth, Shamsiel the signs of the sun, and Sariel the course of the moon. And as men perished, they cried, and their cry went up to heaven . . .

Sounds quite a bit like many a pagan myths doesn’t it. Now the second mention of Azazel.
[Chapter 9]
1 And then Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel looked down from heaven and saw much blood being 2 shed upon the earth, and all lawlessness being wrought upon the earth. And they said one to another: 'The earth made without inhabitant cries the voice of their cryingst up to the gates of heaven. 3 And now to you, the holy ones of heaven, the souls of men make their suit, saying, "Bring our cause 4 before the Most High."' And they said to the Lord of the ages: 'Lord of lords, God of gods, King of kings, and God of the ages, the throne of Thy glory (standeth) unto all the generations of the 5 ages, and Thy name holy and glorious and blessed unto all the ages! Thou hast made all things, and power over all things hast Thou: and all things are naked and open in Thy sight, and Thou seest all 6 things, and nothing can hide itself from Thee. Thou seest what Azazel hath done, who hath taught all unrighteousness on earth and revealed the eternal secrets which were
(preserved) in heaven, which 7 men were striving to learn: And Semjaza, to whom Thou hast given authority to bear rule over his associates. And they have gone to the daughters of men upon the earth, and have slept with the 9 women, and have defiled themselves, and revealed to them all kinds of sins. And the women have 10 borne giants, and the whole earth has thereby been filled with blood and unrighteousness. And now, behold, the souls of those who have died are crying and making their suit to the gates of heaven, and their lamentations have ascended: and cannot cease because of the lawless deeds which are 11 wrought on the earth. And Thou knowest all things before they come to pass, and Thou seest these things and Thou dost suffer them, and Thou dost not say to us what we are to do to them in regard to these.'

There is nothing inspired about this book, It is replete with mythological names, and that causes people to look at it as some sort of authority to explain Azazel? There is really no reason that Christians should appeal to this book. It is true that Jude makes a reference to one line of the Book, but that is hardly an endorsement. And further not one New Testament author gave any indication of Azazel being Satan.

Even the book of Enoch does not equate Azazel with Satan.

However the Pagan influences seen in the book of Enoch do bring us back to the interesting coincidences which exist in the Bible and other ancient myths. There is evidence which suggests that God took religious practices which the people were familiar with and recast them to better indicate what God had in mind for His plan of redemption of mankind. This is a bit outside the scope of this article but it is an important consideration, that should be kept in mind. The following is from Ugarit and the Bible (
"Yet another interesting parallel between Israel and Ugarit is the yearly ritual known as the sending out of the 'scapegoats,' one for god and one for a demon. The Biblical text which relates this procedure is Lev. 16:1-34. In this text a goat is sent into the wilderness for Azazel (a demon) and one is sent into the wilderness for Yahweh. This rite is known as a 'eliminatory' rite; that is, a contagion (in this case communal sin) is placed on the head of the goat and it is sent away. In this way it was believed that (magically) the sinful material was removed from the community."
"KTU (Keilalphabetische Texte aus Ugarit), the standard collection of the Ugaritic texts) relates the same procedure at Ugarit' with one notable difference--at Ugarit a woman priest was involved in the rite as well."
(All of these tables were written in the period around 1300-1200 BCE.)

Some may feel that it is inappropriate for God to take pagan practices and adopt them for His use. But there is really no reason to object, God meets people where they are and in the case of Israel they were a people coming out of 400 years of slavery in a foreign land. The only problem comes when the previous pagan implications are adopted. God had no intention of having His people sacrifice to devils or goat demons in fact in Lev 17 He forbids such things. Lev 17:7 They must no longer offer any of their sacrifices to the goat idols to whom they prostitute themselves. This is to be a lasting ordinance for them and for the generations to come.' (NIV) (Some versions read demons or saytres instead of goat idols.)

But we move back to the pagan conceptions when we remove Christ from the scapegoat and replace Him with Satan. All other Sanctuary symbols relate to God’s act of forgiveness of His people. In which case Satan has no part at all. Sin is not an entity that can or needs to be transferred about. The scapegoat illustrates God’s removal of sin from our lives. It is blotted out, forgotten. There is no need of it to be placed on Satan at the end of time. To do this is to confuse the symbol used to teach a lesson with what the lesson really is. And finally the Bible never says that sin is transferred to Satan either at the Day of Atonement or at the end of this age.


Obsolete King James Bible Words

Obsolete King James Bible Words

The following is a select listing of obsolete terms and their meanings in current terminology. A more complete list may be found in The Interpreter's Dictionary of The Bible published by Abingdon Press. The number of obsolete words is well over 1000, many of the words though obsolete in common language are still used in enough circles that their meaning is still easily enough understood. This list will only deal with words that are more likely to be misunderstood. For those who find themselves sucked into the King James only debate I would encourage you to read "The King James Only Controversy Can You Trust the Modern Translations?" by James R. White published by Bethany House.
Addicted 1 Cor. 16:15 Devoted
Advise thyself 1 Chr. 21:12 Decide
Affinity 1 Kings 3:1 Alliance
Allege Acts 17:3 Prove
Anon Matt. 13:20 Immediately
Armholes Jer. 38:12 Armpits
Assuaged Gen. 8:1 Subsided
Barbarian 1 Cor. 14:11 Foreigner
Botch Deut. 28:27 Boils
Bowels Phil. 1:8 Affection
Bruit Jer. 10:22 Rumor
Carriage 1 Sam. 17:22 Baggage
Cast about Jer. 41:14 Turn around
Chambering Rom. 13:13 Debauchery
Chapman 2 Chr.9:14 Trader
Cieled Ezek. 41: 16 Paneled
Clouted Josh. 9:5 Patched
Clouts Jer. 38:11 Rags
Compass Josh. 6:3 March around
Compass, fetch a Acts 28:13 Make a circuit
Concupiscence 1 Thess. 4:5 Lust
Confection  Exod. 30:35 Incense blended
Confectionaries  1 Sam. 8:13 Perfumers
Curious Acts 19:19 Magical
Curiously  Ps. 139:15 Intricately
Darling Ps. 22:20 My life
Daysman Job 9:33 Umpire
Degree 1 Tim. 3:13 Standing
Degrees 2 Kings 20:9 Steps
Delicacies Rev. 18:3 Wantonness, luxury
Descry Judg. 1:23 Spy out
Doctor Luke 2:46 Teacher
Draught Matt. 15:17 Sewer, latrine, privy
Draught house 2 Kings 10:27 Latrine
Dure Matt. 13:21 Endure
Ear 1 Sam. 8:12 Plow
Eared Deut. 21:4 Plowed
Emulation Gal. 5:20 Jealousy 
Enlargement  Esth. 4:14 Relief
Ensue 1 Pet. 3:11 Pursue
Exchanger Matt 25:27 Banker
Fat Joel 2:24 Vat
Fining pot Prov. 17:3 Crucible
Flagons Song of S. 2:5 Raisins
Flood Josh. 24:3 River
Flux Acts 28:8 Dysentery
Fray Deut. 28:26 Frighten
Froward Deut. 32:20 Perverse
Furniture Gen. 31:34 Saddle
Gainsay Luke 21:15 Contradict
Gender Gal. 4:24 Bear children
Heavily Ps. 35:14 In mourning
Heavy 1 Kings 20:43 Resentful
Herb Gen. 1:29 Plant
Hough Josh. 11:6  Hamstring
Imagination Deut. 29:19  Stubbornness
Implead Acts 19:38 Accuse
Impotent Acts 14:8 Crippled
Jangling 1 Tim. 1:6 Vain discussion
Leasing Ps. 5:6 Lies
Let Isa. 43:13 Hinder
Light bread Num. 21:5 Worthless food
In good liking Job 39:4 Strong
worse liking Dan. 1:10 In poorer condition
Lucre 1 Tim. 3:3 Gain
Lunatick Matt. 4:24 Epileptic
Mansion  John 14:2 Room
Mar 1 Sam. 6:5 Ravage
Meat Gen. 1:29 Food
Murrian Exod. 9:3 Plague
Neesing Job 41:8 Sneezing
Nephew Judg. 12:14 Grandson
Noisome Ps. 91:3  Deadly
Pap Luke 11:27 Breast
Pastor Jer. 23:1 Shepherd
A peculiar people 1 Pet. 2:9 God's own people
Peradventure Gen. 24:5 Perhaps
Persecute Ps. 71:11 Pursue
Pitiful Jas. 5:11 Compassionate
Prick Acts 26:14 Goad
Profane Ezek.22:26 Common, ordinary
Publican Mark 2:15 Tax collector
Pulse Dan. 1:12 Vegetables
Purge John 15:2 Prune
Purtenance Exod. 12:9 Inner parts
Reins Jer. 12:2 Heart
Reprobate  Jer. 6:30 Refuse
Rid Gen. 37:22 Rescue
Ringstraked  Gen. 30:35 Striped
Road 1 Sam. 27:10  Raid
Scall Lev. 13:30 Itch
Scrip Matt. 10:10 Bag
Settle Ezek. 43:14 Ledge
Shambles 1 Cor. 10:25 Meat market
Shamefacedness 1 Tim. 2:9 Modesty
Simplicity  Rom. 12:8 Liberality
Sleight Eph. 4:14 Cunning
Slime  Gen. 11:3  Bitumen
Sod Gen. 25:29 Boiled
Sodden Exod. 12:9 Boiled
Sop John 13:26 Morsel
Sore Gen. 19:9 Hard
Sore  Ps. 38:11 Plague
Sottish Jer. 4:22 Stupid
Sped Judg. 5:30 Succeeded
Speed Gen. 24:12 Success
Strait Job 36:16 Distress
Strait Matt. 7:13 Narrow
Straitness  Jer. 19:9 Distress
Streak Gen.30:37 Streak
To supple Ezek. 16:4 To cleanse
Surfeiting Luke 1:63 Dissipation
Swellings  2 Cor. 12:20 Conceit
Taber upon Nah. 2:7 Beat
Table Luke 1:68 Tablet
Tale 1 Sam. 18:27 Number
Target  1 Sam. 17:6 Javelin
Tell Gen. 15:5 Number
Tire 2 Kings 9:30 Adorn
Tire Exek. 24:17 Turban
Translate 2 Sam 3:10 Transfer
Turtle Song of S. 2:12 Turtledove
Twain 1 Sam. 18:21 A second time
Unction  1 John 2:20 Anointing
Witty inventions Prov. 8:12 Discretion
Compiled by Ron Corson 1999    


Progressive and Traditional Adventists Examined

This is the full version that was shortened and appeared in the Adventist Today Magazine

 Traditional and Progressive SDA's

By Ron Corson

However one may want to believe that someone or some group has all the answers about Religion and God, we can be sure of one thing, they don't. Whether they are Traditional/Historic Seventh-day Adventists (SDA's), Progressive SDA's or Moderate SDA's, all see only part of the picture, "a poor reflection in a mirror". The question before the people of the Seventh-day Adventist church is how to pursue the knowledge and truth of God while not stepping on others personal search and convictions. Unfortunately, we cannot all be right. The history of the Christian era is filled with differences of opinions. The beginning of the SDA church is based upon differences with other Christians. Even once the SDA church became an organization there were considerable differences of opinions, even among the pioneers who formed the SDA church.

What is meant by the labels Traditional/Historic SDA's, Progressive SDA's, and Moderate SDA's? These labels are only useful for those who want to be described by the terms. If a label is used in a pejorative way it loses its value; it becomes another form of name-calling. This is often seen in the political arena but for our discussion name-calling is not what we want. We are using labels to assign certain peoples doctrinal views into simple categories for the sake of comparing or contrasting views. For this discussion the moderate views will not be highlighted since the Moderate encompasses people who in one area may agree with the Traditional/Historic view and in another area agree with the Progressive view. Generally the Moderate then is in the middle of the two categories, equally divided. While many people probably consider themselves Moderate, if they spend the time to analyze their doctrines it is likely they will fall more to one side or the other. In many peoples minds being a Moderate is the place to be. Hopefully this article and others like it will enable these people clarify for themselves their own positions.

Traditional/Historic SDA's desire to hold to and continue with the beliefs which were instituted at the foundation of the Seventh-day Adventist church, during the mid to latter 1800's. A move away from those traditions or teachings is viewed with suspicion or as error. This can be demonstrated by the resistance which occurred in the Traditional/Historic SDA's rejection of the 1957 book Questions on Doctrines. It was felt that the book was too great a departure from the historic position of the Seventh-day Adventist church. The move to use drama or contemporary Christian music in the worship service is often thought as worldly entertainment entering the church. The Historic/Traditionalist desires to hold on to several "pillars" of the SDA church. Some key doctrines would be:

  1. The Investigative Judgment, the Sanctuary doctrine. (Begun in 1844 with a judgment of the "books")
  2. The view that the SDA church is the "Remnant"
  3. Ellen G. White as the prophet to the church also known as the Spirit of Prophecy. (Straight Testimony, Present Truth).
  4. The Seventh day Sabbath with the implication that Sunday is a false day of worship. (Including concepts of Babylon, Mark of the Beast, and Seal of God.)

At the other end of the spectrum is the Progressive Seventh-day Adventists. This could be termed liberal except that the term liberal Christian is generally used of those who believe that Christ was not resurrected, miracles did not happen and other tenants which most Progressive SDA's would not agree. The liberal Christians are by this most accepted understanding, those involved in the Jesus Seminars, or people like Bishop Spong. While such liberals Christians do exist in the Seventh-day Adventist church. They would not make up a sizable portion of those who would feel comfortable with the label Progressive SDA. Of the key doctrines listed above as the "Pillars" of Traditional/Historic SDA's the Progressive SDA's would hold to significant modifications.

  1. A differing view of what the Investigative Judgment is or acknowledgment that the Investigative Judgment is not Biblical. (And as such a differing view of Christ Activities from His ascension to His Second Coming.)
  2. An inclusion of other Christians into the category termed the "Remnant".
  3. A less rigid understanding of the role of Ellen G. White, ranging from acknowledging that she was not always correct in her teaching and understanding to the denial of Prophet status.
  4. The Seventh day Sabbath is for our benefit, true Christians can and do worship on Sunday and it is not now, or latter, to become the Mark of the Beast, or the Seventh day Sabbath to be the Seal of God.

The Progressive SDA's do not feel that the church should be limited by the teachings of its founders. If errors are discovered in teachings previously held, the errors should be acknowledged and corrected. That all knowledge is built upon those who have gone before us, not only those in the SDA church, but also the many Christians outside and far before the existence of the SDA church. Knowledge is progressive. What seemed right a hundred years ago may not be right for today or tomorrow.

Certainly the above lists do not cover all the areas of contention; the lists do not cover the differing views of the Atonement, or the nature of Christ, etc. The list however provides a good method of demarcation to establish the two sides in the discussion.

In an issue of the science magazine Discover from a year ago an incident is recounted about a parasitic wasp and a cockroach. While pruning a tree a man noticed this rather docile cockroach that was right under his nose as he sawed on the tree. Wondering about the strange behavior of the cockroach he saw that instead of its normal long whip-like antennae there were only blunt stubs of antennae. At some point the wasp had cut the antennae of the cockroach making it docile and willing to be lead around by the wasp. The wasp then would lay her eggs in the cockroach and the larvae would grow eating upon their living host.

We also are dependent upon outside stimuli to understand the world around us and the God who calls us. We do not want to be docile and herded about at someone else's whim. Neither Traditional/Historic SDA's or Progressive SDA's would want that type of Religion. But to protect ourselves from such an experience we must ask questions, we must seek answers, and we must analyze data. We must use our God given powers of reason. This is not merely man's reason, for God asks use to reason with Him. Christ while here on earth did not just ask people to do what he said; He revealed to them in His teachings and stories the why of things. Some He knew would not understand, most likely because they refused to try and understand, others might not understand because they had created a box for God and assumed they knew all they needed to know. But there were always those people who would search the teachings, taking time to reason the message out and draw conclusions that in the end lead them closer to God. In the time of the apostle Paul the Bereans were considered noble for their decision to search things out and reason together in search of the truth. In fact for us as human beings finding out the truth about God should be one of our highest goals. What is God like, what does He want from each of us, how should we relate to Him and our fellow human beings. This is our calling, our mission, to search for God and relate God to others around us, as ambassadors for God; we call others to pursue a relationship with God.

It is perhaps here, how each of the two groups search for truth where the root of the division really lies. Both the Traditional/Historic SDA's and the Progressive SDA's would certainly agree that each is searching for the truth about God. But both views are vastly different in what they see as truth, and both are different in what methods they use to arrive at their view of truth.

Churches are built upon commonality of beliefs, the proliferation of denominations is ample evidence of people forming together under certain belief systems. Similarly, groups may be bound together by common history or common values. A Baptist and a Seventh-day Adventist have many beliefs in common, many values in common, and often a common history. It is however, the differences that cause division, they may be worshipping the same God, yet one may look at the other as an apostate. Inside the Seventh-day Adventist denomination the same dynamics occur. The division is here already, it has been here for many years. Some may read this and claim that it is the "Omega" of prophecy, it is not, it is actually an attempt to re-establish a Bible based Seventh-day Adventist church.

Continued in part 2 "Truth, Progressive or Traditional?"


Truth, Progressive or Traditional?

If you were going to explain to someone how you arrive at "truth", which would you say is the best method? Is it to base you understanding of truth upon the tradition of your fathers or would it be arrived at by examining your previous beliefs and adjusting them as necessary to arrive at the most reasonable conclusions. Because we as a church once believed in something does not make that belief true. It does not make that belief false either, however it is important to analyze our positions to see whether they can stand up to objections or differing perspectives. If they stand, and if they have a good foundation to them we can feel confident in claiming them as our beliefs, as the best explanation of truth we currently have.

The Christian church has for many centuries used the Bible as our standard for revealed truth about God. The Scriptures which have been inspired by God, for our edification, instruction, correction and encouragement. True the Bible was not handed down to us by God, it was brought together by men who searched the writings of Religious people both of the Jewish and Christian perspective. Through the application of reason and logic and consistency the church fathers arrived at conclusions which have become our Bible. Not everyone agreed on all the books placed in the Bible yet there was substantial agreement on all but a few books. Even among believers in Christ today there are still those who accept some books and reject others. The Roman Catholic accepts the Apocrypha while most Protestants do not. In most cases these variations in accepted books does not change much in the area of doctrine. Usually the variations come from differing interpretations of texts, which are accepted by Christians. One notable exception is eschatology, an area where more differences occur then perhaps any other.

When reviewing the list of beliefs which Traditional/Historic SDA's hold as pillars there is a striking similarity. The similarity is that they are not Biblically supportable positions. For instance there is no Biblical verses teaching an Investigative Judgment or its origin in 1844. There is no mention of the SDA church in the Bible to cause one to render it as the Remnant; even the concept of the Remnant is not indicative of its popular use in many churches. The Bible speaks nothing about Ellen White as the "Spirit of Prophecy" or a prophet. The Spirit of Prophecy in the Bible is used of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says nothing of a Sunday law. The Bible does not teach the Sabbath as the seal of God, again it is the Holy Spirit that is the seal of God.

So the question should arise in most people's minds, just how do those doctrines become "pillars" of the Traditional/Historic SDA's? The answer is found in the label Traditional/Historic, These were the doctrines incorporated into the SDA church therefore they must be true and accepted. The Progressive SDA's see those doctrines as history, but not as truth. They must be tested to ascertain if they are indeed true, if they should be used as doctrines in the SDA church at all.

Here is the conflict between the Progressive and Traditional/Historic SDA's. The Progressives desire to hold to a Biblical standard, whereby all doctrines we preach should be clearly demonstrated from the Bible. This method retains a commonality with other Christians outside the SDA church, as well as showing our esteem of the Biblical source of truth. We certainly understand that the Bible cannot be taken literally in all places, that poetry, symbolism, and apocalyptic literary forms are present in the Bible. Nor does it mean that we must view the Bible as inerrant. God is inerrant, He alone is infallible the Bible while inspired does not contain all the attributes of God, errors are present, much of the Bible is man's attempts at representing God and as such man's suppositions can color his view of God. This is why Progressive's SDA's encourage looking at the Bible as a whole complete volume. Allowing the more comprehensive New Testament authors to help explain the Old Testament.

Not that the Traditional/Historic SDA's have less authoritative view of the Bible. They do view it as authoritative often inerrant and maybe infallible. Here as in the rest of Christianity there is a difference of opinion about the Bible. Still some will acknowledge that the Bible has errors but they assert that the original manuscripts did not have the errors. Of course we do not have the originals so what does such and assumption prove? In any case the errors in the Bible are mostly inconsequential to any important doctrinal material. The Traditional/Historic SDA's also have a second source of truth which has from the beginning of the SDA church been used to support it's teachings.

The works of Ellen G. White are often taken by the Traditional/Historic SDA's as equal authority with the Bible. Too often her works are used in place of the Bible, even though many Traditional/Historic SDA's would say that such should never be the case. Perhaps as troublesome as giving her works equality with the Bible is her use as an "inspired commentator" on the Bible. As Morris Vendon wrote in his book "The Pillars": "The gift of prophecy is not an authority over the Bible, but it is an authority on the Bible. Some people have trouble with the phrase, evidently coined by F.D. Nichol, 'inspired commentary.' But if you accept the inspiration of the gift of prophecy and realize the fact that it is also a commentary on the Bible, and then put the two together, you have an inspired commentary." (page 104). While this may sound innocuous enough it is not, such a system of thought gives Ellen White's interpretation over and above everything else. In a very real sense it is placing her interpretation above that expressed in the context of the Bible itself. If a person were to hold such a view then her incorrect use of a verse such as Acts 3:19: to assign the blotting out of sins to some distant time, has to be accepted, even though such an interpretation was based upon the King James translation. Hardly any other translation would lead to such an interpretation nor would the original Greek. To call her an "inspired commentator" is to place her above the book she is commenting on. Fortunately as Vendon noted there are those in the SDA church who have trouble with such a phrase, Progressive SDA's.

Often the Traditional/Historic SDA's object to the difference in views of the works of Ellen White by stating that to reject the counsel of Ellen White is to reject God's counsel. This is based upon the traditional view of Ellen White as a prophet. If she were not a prophet then it would be accepted to reject her views, if they seemed to vary from the Bible. So here we are once again at the crux of the problem. The Progressive SDA's look at many of these doctrines and see them differently based upon their reasoning from the Scriptures. Since the Scriptures seem to point to a different interpretation it becomes necessary to re-evaluate the interpretation delivered or endorsed by Ellen White.

Is there an answer to such division? Either the Progressives can accept Ellen White as a "continuing and authoritative source of truth", as the Traditional/Historic SDA's do. Or the Traditional/Historic SDA's can accept the Scriptures as "the authoritative revealer of doctrines". Since both sides are in agreement about the Bible as the ultimate source of truth about God, this would seem an obvious solution. The hard part of course is that it requires the Traditional/Historic SDA's to allow for differences of interpretation. No longer can they use Ellen White as an unquestioned authority or inspired commentator. Can they be satisfied to view her work as commentary, like other commentators? It is possible that they could be satisfied with such a view, it is well known by now that much of her work was borrowed from other commentators. If the Traditional/Historic SDA's cannot accept such a view the other option is for the Progressives to accept Ellen White. We have seen over the years many leave the SDA church over the authority of Ellen White, the Investigative Judgment etc. Will history repeat itself? Ellen White should not be used as a test for fellowship in the SDA church. Neither should the rejection of Ellen White be seen as a rejection of God. Many times we have heard SDA's say that Ellen White did not claim to be a prophet. Maybe we should not be making her out as a prophet and go back to the Bible that, we all can agree upon is our source of divine instruction. Progress often requires a re-examination of beliefs, some stay, some go.