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  1. Jack Hoehn
    18 December 2012 @ 6:20 am

    Larry thank you for sharing this article.  A European who has accepted Adventism has done so in a culture quite opposed to our innovative and reformatted brand of Christianity.  To become an Adventist one had to be critical of the powerful forms of  Christianity controlling Europe that have presumed to regulate and legislate truth by councils and committees, and executive fiat.  
    When Adventism starts to try to do the same thing, moving beyond the Bible as a sufficient creed, to here, let me explain to you what the Bible has to be understood as saying….it must be painful to the spirit led free thinkers who left that kind of church for what was once not a church but a movement.  When the movement stops, Adventism can become just another rigid self-protecting religion, stuck protecting the clothing, the ideas, and the understanding of people 2 or 3 generations before ours as sacred. 
    Preach brother, preach!

  2. Stephen Foster
    18 December 2012 @ 8:46 am

    Jack, it’s way more than “2 or 3 generations before ours…” How many generations are there between Moses and us? That’s whose “understanding” is being protected “as sacred.”

  3. Stephen Ferguson
    18 December 2012 @ 12:11 pm

    Lawrence great article.  The one thing I am really proud of in being as an Adventist, and the thing I especially love about our pioneers, was their commitment to anti-creedalism.  Thus, in the name of invoking our pioneers' beliefs, we seem to be undoing much of our pioneers work.  

    Our pioneers way of doing belief and practice, of exploration into present truth, IMO is much more important than any one doctrine they came up with.  If it were not so, we would still be an Arian, legalistic,  shut-door group that kept Sabbath from midnight-to-midnight.

    Like most religions, we are certainly in danger of stagnation and ending the Reformation process. Like most religions, we are in danger of focusing on what our founders said and did, rather than contemplate  what they would say and do.  

    I still think the greatest truth is those armbands Christian youth often wear – WWJD ('What Would Jesus Do').  One will note it is what would Jesus do, not what did Jesus do!  I would much rather be in a religion of "would" than a religion of "did".

  4. Stephen Ferguson
    18 December 2012 @ 12:15 pm

    And I also much agree with the sentiment that we are getting into dangerous ground, in dispensing with the anti-creedilism of our pioneers, in an ever expanded attempt to define a rigid orthodoxy in our 28 fundamentals, which have now become our de facto creed.

    If I had my way (in my own lunch box), we would only have a handful of core beliefs.  That is not to say the other beliefs aren't interesting or worth teaching and discussing, but not essential to an identity as a Seventh-day Adventist.  In my view we would be better of with the following lesser collection:

    • Holy Bible
    • Trinity
    • Salvation by grace through faith
    • Adult baptism by full immersion
    • Perpetuity of the Decalogue (including Seventh-day Sabbath)
    • Santification and Christian lifestyle
    • Conditional immortality
    • Literal, physical Second Advent

  5. Elaine Nelson
    18 December 2012 @ 8:11 pm

    Patience is always short in younger people as well as those more advanced in education than any of the pioneers.  What appeared "truth" to them may not still be "truth" today as knowledge increases beyond their era.  SDA students will not believe church doctrines that disagree so markedly with scientific knowledge.  Changes that are ignored by the church:  same sex marriage; older age of earth and outdated recreational prohibitions will guarantee the church will continue to be older than the average age of 51 today.  There is no future in any organization without new blood and new ideas.  Freezing knowledge today is a death warrant for an organization.

  6. earl calahan
    18 December 2012 @ 8:22 pm

    Stephen, please share with us your understanding of sanctification as it relates to the individual.
    Also, are you suggesting that as Jesus appears in the clouds, and every eye shall see Him, at His second appearing, that He will be "in the flesh"? 

    • Stephen Ferguson
      18 December 2012 @ 11:43 pm

      Earl, I am not suggesting anything other than our own FBs teach on those subject.  Yes for all your questions about the Second Advent.  I guess what I am saying is I don't believe FBs on say 1844 and the Sanctuary are 'essential' to being an Adventist.  They are important but not 'salvation issues'.  They should be taught and discussed, but not believing them should not be a barrier to fellowship as an SDA member. They should probably go in the same category as the SDA teaching that Jesus is Michael the Archangel, which I also believe but note is not an SDA Fundamental – nor should it be.

      In practice today, and I have heard this from the lips of an ex-GC Pres, not all FBs are equal to others, and in reality we don't expect new converts to know and believe all of them.  My suggestion is to remove the facade then, and only have the ones in practice that require knowledge and acceptance by a new convert. 

      • William Noel
        19 December 2012 @ 2:19 pm

        Stephen,

        I agree, but doing it will be far easier said than done because of the lack of understanding many Adventists have about the essentials of salvation.  Many do not know God well enough to distinguish between the essentials of faith and what is history, mere theology or beneficial. 

        • Stephen Ferguson
          19 December 2012 @ 2:31 pm

          I agree, which is why I said 'in my own lunch box'.  The captain of the Church seems to be taking the ship in the opposite direction in that regard, in making the FBs more specific, whereas I woul like to seem them become less specific. I am not sure what it would take to turn that ship around, and given the SDA Church is a big vessel indeed, I bet it would take quite a while to turn anyway.

          • William Noel
            19 December 2012 @ 3:05 pm

            Stephen,

            Does it really matter what "the captain of the Church" is doing?  I choose to focus my attention on Jesus and what the Holy Spirit is doing and teaching me. 

            This morning I saw a satellite photo of the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that ran aground along the east cost of the Island of Giglio last January 13.  It is so large (952 feet long) that you can see it clearly on the Google Earth image.  Like that cruise liner, we may see our earthly captain running the church aground and fear the results.  There will be casualties.  Though 32 people died, another 4,220 were saved.  The death toll would have been far higher if not for the heroic acts of many crew members and passengers. 

            Sometimes I allow my attention to be diverted by the possible casualties that could result from spiritual misguidance.  Still, for the most part, I prefer knowing God and focusing on Him so I can be one of those who rescues others when the ship of the church runs aground. 

          • Stephen Foster
            20 December 2012 @ 12:00 am

            I’m curious; do you think that "the ship of the church [running' aground" is the same thing as the so-called “shaking time” that has been predicted by Adventists?
             
            Do you believe that there will indeed be a “shaking” of a remnant people?

          • Serge Agafonoff
            20 December 2012 @ 2:28 am

            Shake a Laodicean all you want, Bro Foster………. he/she won't wake up, let alone fall out, of bed or church.  There was a fair shaking in 1981.  Mostly it was true believers who went out.  Those lacking insightful understanding, or the courage of their convictions, stayed.

            Speaking of bed -rock.  If Bro Ferguson has his way, the bedrock foundational beliefs of the shaky ship SDA will soon all be gone.  But I doubt the remains will be visible from Heaven or Google earth.

          • Stephen Foster
            20 December 2012 @ 1:13 pm

            Well Serge, I’d imagine given your personal perspective, your broad-brushed generalization is somewhat understandable.
             
            I’m sorry for your pain, but you make it sound as if only the naïve/cowardice stayed; which is frankly quite condescending.

          • Serge Agafonoff
            21 December 2012 @ 1:31 am

            Brother Foster, sincere apologies for sounding condescending.  It was not intended.  It may have been the result of attempting to be too brief in my comments.

            No need to feel sorry for my pain.  It only lasted while I was still in the ministry and struggling with the conviction, by the Holy Spirit, that what I was teaching as present truth was simply not. Since then, I have nothing but unfettered joy in the Holy Spirit.  Please do not interpret my comments here as a sign of any unresolved 'pain' or any other issue.  I left alll that baggage behind on the theologically leaky ship SDA as it ran aground on its 'contextual island' of Dan 8.14.  

            I would rather not attempt to define characteristics of those who left or stayed.  My reference was to some whom I knew did not believe the standard teaching of the 1844 commencement of an IJ any more than I did, but who chose to remain employed.  Des Ford is the clearest example of one who did have the courage of his convictions.  There were many like him and praise the Lord for them all.

            In the 'naive' (your term, not mine) category I place those who think that 1844 and the IJ can be allowed to slowly sink without trace and somehow SDAism will still find 'raison d'etre' as a unique remnant.

          • Stephen Foster
            22 December 2012 @ 10:41 am

            So, I correctly assumed that you were making reference to the Des Ford/IJ controversy.
             
            Serge, you say that you no longer carry that baggage; but I don’t know. It seems to me that if you had let it go you perhaps would not so readily classify as naïve those whose opinions differ from yours regarding 1844.
             
            Since you are into mysticism and spiritualism, you might consider the possibility that the IJ has little/no relevance for those who believe Jesus’ blood/grace is sufficient for them and retain His services as their Advocate.
             
            In other words, does it ultimately matter, exactly when it began if it only applies to those who reject Jesus’ advocacy? Whenever Jesus is your Judge and your Advocate, you cannot lose that particular case. Whenever you ultimately decide to reject His advocacy, then you are on your own; and therefore have already lost the case.
             
            Besides, if the case is being decided in your own heart, which is what I am suggesting, aren’t we in agreement? We may merely disagree on celestial symbolism.

          • Serge Agafonoff
            22 December 2012 @ 2:20 pm

            Brother Stephen, if it is not a problem for you to recognise me as such……

            '… you were making reference to the Des Ford/IJ controversy.'  Yes I was.  Did something else of moment occur in church history in 1981?

            '… if you had let it go you perhaps would not so readily classify as naïve those whose opinions differ from yours regarding 1844.'   Umm, 'naive' is not a term I have used of thsoe who differ.  You offered that term.  I then applied it to those who think that the IJ can be quietly dropped from 'front and centre thinking' in regards to SDA doctrine, and still hold that SDAism 'will find raison d'etre as a unique remnant.'   Of those who differ from my biblical view that 1844 and the IJ are false teachings, not scriptural, they are not naive.  They are just plain wrong.

            Since you are into mysticism and spiritualism…  No, mysticism and spiritualism are into me.  In simple terms, mysticism is the NT teaching that by virtue of the new birth, we become one with God.  1Cor 6:17  'But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.'  This and a plethora of texts, including those describing our 'partaking of the divine nature,' define teh NT meaning of 'mysticism.'  Spiritualism is the NT teaching that 'God is spirit,' not Matter, however fine its nature.  (Spiritualism is not to be confused with 'spookism' of Fox Sisters' parlour game fame).  The founders of SDAism specifically rejected spiritualism, or to use their term, 'immaterialism,' in favour of materialism.  God is made of matter, as is Holy Spirit and every conceivable thing in the cosmos.  By way of example as to how this philosophy fails, Answer me this.  'Ye must be born again.'  How is this possible, or even conceivable, if it is not your body or its parts which are born again?  Wo/Man cannot enter again into her/his mother's womb, can she/he?  So that which is 'born again' cannot be of a material nature, and Jesus says it is YOU.  The REAL YOU.  So the founders of Adventism got their bedrock philosophy, materialism, WRONG, and so ALL of the teachings which flow from it are suspect.  Foremost among these is the IJ.


            '…consider the possibility that the IJ has little/no relevance for those who believe Jesus’ blood/grace is sufficient for them…'  It has no relevance to these true believers because they have already 'passed from death unto LIFE.'  John 5.24.  It is also irrelevant because THERE IS NO IJ. 

            '… does it ultimately matter, exactly when it began…?'  Of course it matters.  It doesn't exist, and to teach that it does is false.  The result of such a teaching is to rob the one who believes it of the certainties of grace.  The powers of darkness must love it!

            You refer to Christ as Advocate, I would presume in relation to the IJ.  There is no scripture which makes this link, as far as I am aware.  1John 2.1 is the only text I could find which uses the term Advocate.  The Greek word is 'paraklete,' which you will recognise instantly is the word usually translated as Holy Spirit, or Comforter.  It is good to recall that there is a strong connection between Christ's High Priestly role as Advocate and Intercessor and the work of the Holy Spirit, which is equally that of Intercessor.  Compare Rom 8. 26, 27, 34,  and Heb 7.25.    In none of these texts is there the slightest hint that this role would not commence until 1844.

            Besides, if the case is being decided in your own heart, which is what I am suggesting, aren’t we in agreement?   It certainly looks that way, brother.  It ALL happens in the heart.  Rev 3.20  'Behold, I stand at the door and knock…..'  If He is confined to a physical, literal body of flesh, however glorified it is imagined to be, and restricted to a building on Planet Heaven, then how can He be standing at the door of our hearts?

            We may merely disagree on celestial symbolism.  I would be most interested to hear of how you describe this symbolism Bro Stephen.  An idea for a blog, perhpas?  It is good to hear that you recognise the symbolical nature of biblical language.  It has so much more to teach us than a literalist, materialist, non-spiritual view.

          • Stephen Foster
            23 December 2012 @ 9:30 am

            You have lost me, but that’s OK brother; and I do consider it a privilege and pleasure to call you ‘brother.’
             
            I understand that you have a problem with 1844; I think I get that. But you say no IJ at all! Are you going to tell me next that there will be no hell fire?
             
            Would you prefer we call it a pre-advent judgment or something to that effect? (It truly doesn’t make any difference to me; whatsoever.) To what do Ecclesiastes 12:14, Romans 2:5,6, and Revelation 22:12 have reference?
             
            Jesus is certainly our Advocate, my brother. Please bear with me Serge; but this is something you definitely must not over-intellectualize. He is our Advocate, period; but you can all the judgment, the trial, or the venue anything that you so desire.
             
            The way to escape the verdict, or the 'judgment,' is to retain the Judge as your Advocate. The blood of the Advocate, by His grace, gets you over (as we say in the urban vernacular). That is the basis of the gospel. At least that’s how I understand it.

          • Serge Agafonoff
            24 December 2012 @ 3:42 am

            Brother Stephen,  I am very sorry to have lost you.  I know that I am not a great communicator, but I shall try make some things clearer, if you can put up with it.

            If you 'get' that there is a problem with 1844, then you should 'get' that there is a problem with the IJ.  The distinctive SDA teaching of 1844 is initricately bound up with IJ.  IJ is the activity which defines the great antitypical Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement, of the Hebrew system, and said by SDA to commence in 1844.  That is SDA teaching, however much it is kept in the shade nowadays. 

            BUT, NT teaching is that the great antitypical Day of Atonement began with Christ's ascent to the Father and He sat at the right hand.  The entire book of Hebrews explains this in detail.  It did not wait until 1844.

            And now, since Christ has come into the world, 'we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ.' (2Cor 4.10, Rom 14.10, to add more to the texts you provided).  Of course, there is judgement.  Its just NOT in the tradition of SDA IJ teaching of it.

            "This is the judgement…… that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light." John 3.19.  Since Christ is the Light spoken of here, can you see how He becomes the judgement seat to which Paul refers?  If you want to have this in literal terms, then the IJ gets it wrong also, because in the IJ scheme of things, NO_ONE is present at THEIR 'judgement.'  They are down here, and IJ is going on 'up there.'  So how can they 'appear before the judgement seat of Christ' if it is going on UP THERE?  Judgement in absentia is hardly fair.  Here is how it ACTUALLY happens:

             By the life and the death of Christ, the thoughts of men also are brought to view. From the manger to the cross, the life of Jesus was a call to self-surrender, and to fellowship in suffering. It unveiled the purposes of men. Jesus came with the truth of heaven, and all who were listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit were drawn to Him. The worshipers of self belonged to Satan’s kingdom. In their attitude toward Christ, all would show on which side they stood. And thus everyone passes judgment on himself.

            The IJ is completely redundant if this is how true judgement takes place.

            And next, I will tell that THERE IS hell and fire. Or I will, if you will agree that:

             the smoke of their torment goeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day and night,  (Re 14:11).    How does this sit with standard SDA teaching that it is not forever and ever?   Not very well.  It is not a good thing to 'take away from the words of this book,' Revelation.  See also Mark 9.43,44,45,46,48.

            But also, consider this.  The sinner’s own thoughts are his accusers; and there can be no torture keener than the stings of a guilty conscience, which give him no rest day nor night.

          • Stephen Foster
            24 December 2012 @ 5:20 pm

            Perhaps I should refer you to a blog I wrote her a few years ago, acknowledging that I am “not sure” about every aspect of every SDA doctrine.
             
            https://atoday.org/article/287/blogs/foster-stephen/2009/to-be-sure-or-not-to-be-is-that-the-question
             
            I am reconciled or at peace with my understanding of what the judgment is, insofar as avoiding a guilty verdict is concerned; which, personally, is all that matters. Judgment, thankfully, is totally God’s business and I do not believe that we can even see dimly through glass into that.
             
            That opinion may be at variance with those of us who think we have it all down to a science. I don’t have a problem with the SDA 1844 timeline, because I admit agnosticism about it; but I understand your issue. 

          • Stephen Foster
            24 December 2012 @ 5:27 pm

            Correction:
            Perhaps I should refer you to a blog I wrote here a few… 

          • Serge Agafonoff
            24 December 2012 @ 10:00 pm

            Stephen,  thanks for the link. I tried it but no connection.  Bit of a metaphor for your view of judgement??  

            The bible's view is quite simple.  It's not a dark glass on that teaching.  And those two paragraphs describing judgement in the post above are not my words.  I was a little naughty in that I copied these directly from Desire of Ages, but without attribution.  I didn't want the fact that Ellen put her name to it to influence the way you looked at it.  It appears to me that the tortuosity of the IJ concept has really messed with the more straightforward biblical understanding.  Error is like that.

            Why not just do a word study of 'Judgement' in the NT?  Then maybe you will find your faith again.  Blessings, and Merry Christmas.

          • earl calahan
            24 December 2012 @ 11:09 pm

            Serge, Amazing how one can read scripture and yet miss the message God has for us. John 5:24 ie: i can't recall the number of times i've read this verse, usually inclusive of the whole 5th chapter, and not digested the actual quotation of Jesus Himself, the 24th verse "TRULY, TRULY, I SAY TO YOU, HE WHO HEARS MY WORD AND BELIEVES HIM WHO HAS SENT ME HAS EVERLASTING LIFE; AND HE DOES NOT COME BEFORE THE JUDGEMENT, BUT HE PASSES FROM DEATH TO LIFE. 
            This statement of Jesus could not be clearer, crystal clear, not through a glass darkly. Only those who do not accept the sacrifice and shed blood of Jesus, will receive judgement that has already been determined. Each soul has accepted eternal life, or eternal death, and its just rewards, by their own chosing.
            Yes, IJ did not begin in 1844. You are a blessing, Serge. MERRY CHRISTMAS.

          • Stephen Foster
            25 December 2012 @ 6:30 am

            When we agree and don’t realize it, we are confused—and confusing each other. No doubt about it all right; this is thoroughly confusing. Because my take on the judgment is exactly what earl calahan cited—but he seems to think I disagree; while Serge seems to think that we can know what we cannot know.
             
            If we can know God’s judgments then we can judge. We cannot. We can only know that we are saved because we have accepted the services of the Advocate, who cloaks us in His righteousness and covers our iniquities with His blood.

          • Serge Agafonoff
            25 December 2012 @ 12:33 pm

            Earl, you got it brother.  When we read with a particular mindset, we can only see things that correlate with that mindset.  When one makes oneself fully available to be taught of the SPirit, then old texts take on new meaning all over again.  And truth is clear and powerful and liberating.  Like the rebirth of the divine Son all over again, in our hearts.  Happy Happy Christmas!

            Ah Stephen,  what can I say.  I am sorry you are confused.  I hope you can experience what Earl and I both know, the indwelling of the SPirit of the one true God.  no Babylonish confusion here, brother.  I can only hope you take on the service of your Advocate fully, for He is the eternal SPirit.  The Paraklete.  And if you refer to those texts above which describe the actual working of teh Paraklete/Advocate/Spirit/Christ, you will be led out of this confusion into His marvellous Light.

            One last thing, 1Cor 2.14  Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged.

            15  But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man.
            16  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
             

          • Stephen Foster
            25 December 2012 @ 1:48 pm

            Brother Serge,
             
            In trial an Advocate’s role is abundantly clear, as is that of the Judge. Those metaphors are for simple folks like me to grasp, comprehend, and to internalize. While admitting to uncertainty about what actually occurred (or didn’t) in 1844, I am only confused by you guys.
             
            However, as we say in my community, “I ain’t mad atcha;” if your esoteric approach to the Bible and the gospel works for you, I’m happy for you!
             
            You have a very Merry Christmas, brother!

          • Stephen Ferguson
            20 December 2012 @ 10:46 am

            William: "Does it really matter what "the captain of the Church" is doing?  I choose to focus my attention on Jesus and what the Holy Spirit is doing and teaching me… Still, for the most part, I prefer knowing God and focusing on Him so I can be one of those who rescues others when the ship of the church runs aground." 

            Of course it matters – it matters a lot.  It mattered when God called certain persons to be kings, priests, judges and prophets – some of which did good and some of which did evil in the sight of the Lord.  It matter when Jesus called His disciples, when He asked Peter if he would feed His lambs, when the Spirit called Matthais by lots, when Christ called Paul, and when Paul claimed he had the authority as an apostle even though he didn't fit the traditional criteria.

            The leadership of the God's People matters probably as much if not more than any other single issue.  It is like the naive belief that theology can be divorced from politics.  Given politics is about the people, the polis, every is politics – it is unavoidable.  The major theological debates of the OT and NT were also political debates – as best seen in the Acts 15 debate about circumcission.

            Even attempts to become a recluse hermit, to keep your eyes on Jesus without any supposed interest in political issues within the Church, is in itself a political act.

          • William Noel
            20 December 2012 @ 4:56 pm

            All human leaders are fallable and prone to errors that God must overrule.  Even General Conference presidents.  For example, when I was ten years-old I sat in a meeting with former GC President Robert H. Pierson held at Central SDA Church in Huntsville, AL.  I remember that meeting clearly for two reasons.  First, it was the first time I had met a GC President.  Second was his defence of continuing of racial segregation in the church.  That was clearly wrong and God overruled him.  If Ted Wilson is taking us in a wrong direction, God will overrule him, too. 

            Jesus is our only true and perfect guide.  That is why my priority is on following Him. 

          • Rudy Good
            20 December 2012 @ 10:14 pm

            William, on what basis do you presume God will overule. He obviously can and has, but there are many examples in which you must why he did not. Didn't the kingdom of norther Israel have an incredible series of wicked evils kings. If God will over rule why did that happen? I am sure we could think of many similar examples.

          • William Noel
            21 December 2012 @ 8:29 am

            On what basis do I presume God will overrule?  Having seen Him do it many times on topics both large and small. 

          • Stephen Ferguson
            20 December 2012 @ 11:43 pm

            William, I never suggested Church leaders were infallible – in fact, I believe said the very opposite.  My point is they matter.  We live in a world of free will, and the decisions Church leaders make do make a difference.  

            I agree with Rudy, insofar I think it is naive to think that God will simply overrule Church leaders when they make bad decisions – if indeed you are making that suggestion.  That is a dangerous line of thought in my view.  One could imagine a leader using it to espouse some sort of Papist doctrine of infallibility, as if God will someone overrule to ensure pronouncements and decisions reflect those of the Holy Spirit.

          • William Noel
            21 December 2012 @ 8:33 am

            If it naive to think God will simply overrule church leaders when they make bad decisions then my experience watching God work is filled with it.  As the apostle Paul declared, the foolishness of God is wiser than men.  So I'll take God's foolishness any day. 

          • Rudy Good
            21 December 2012 @ 8:42 am

            William, 
            li already agreed God can and will overrule. Do you think God promises to do that in every situation that matters? If so what difference do choices make? If I except your unsunstantiated claims of your testimony, it still does not prove God always overrules. Which was the question asked.

          • William Noel
            21 December 2012 @ 10:22 am

            God acts according to His priorities and schedule.  I've seen God act quickly and wait, do the dramatic and nothing.  He is teaching me to trust Him and not get distressed because things seem to be going in a wrong direction and it looks like He isn't doing anything about it.  He is still in control.  He will do what is right when He thinks it is best.

          • Stephen Ferguson
            21 December 2012 @ 11:27 am

            Sorry but that sounds like Calvinistic predestination to me.  Are we all puppets then, or actors, where gone has written the script beforehand with no free will in between?

          • Serge Agafonoff
            22 December 2012 @ 2:50 am

            Stephen,
            Are we all puppets then, or actors,…….. ('merely players….' as Shakespeare would put it)?   Jesus thought / said so.
            John 8.44  Ye are of your father the devil and the desires of your father YE WILL DO.

            OR

            Phil 2.13  for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.


            That which we fondly call 'free will' is entirely limited to choosing whom we will serve.  And there is no neutral ground.  Any other concept of 'free will' is delusion.

            Timo:  Those are two of the most enlightened paragraphs I've read on this site.  Every sentence is crammed with meaning.  Thank you.

          • Stephen Ferguson
            22 December 2012 @ 2:24 pm

            So human beings have no choice then?  Adam didn't really choose to eat the forbidden apple – it was all part of God's sick plan was it?  If someone goes to heaven or hell (whatever that means), they don't really choose at all – God's chooses His elect?  

            What sort of sick, twisted, perverted God do you worship then?  Why would He will a Fall, such suffering, pain and death, and then come down and share in that suffering, pain and death, if there was no free choice but instead God simply willed it?  

            How can God truly be a God of love if there is no free choice?  Are we all robbots?

            P.S. I don't buy your proof texts.

          • Serge Agafonoff
            22 December 2012 @ 2:39 pm

            So human beings have no choice then?      Did I say that?  No.  Read again, more carefully this time.    

            P.S. I don't buy your proof texts.   I'm not surprised, Stephen.  Here's why:
            1Co 2:14  … the natural (materialist?) man doth not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for to him they are foolishness, and he is not able to know them, because spiritually they are discerned;

          • Stephen Ferguson
            22 December 2012 @ 2:46 pm

            Sorry Serge, perhaps you are not being clear enough.  To me question, 'Are we all puppets or actors', you replied, 'Jesus thought/said so'.  

            How is saying we are puppets or actors not saying we have no free choice? 

          • Stephen Ferguson
            22 December 2012 @ 2:30 pm

            The God I believe in is one who works with human beings through free choice – not overruling free choice.  Sure, God has a plan for us, but we can't reject it.  God had a plan for sinless Adam.  And sure, when we reject God's plan, He has a plan B, as he did for fallen Adam.  God probably even has a a plan C, and probably even a plan ZZA.

            The God I believe in was the one who told Gideon, when Gideon complained why God hadn't intervened with miracles to save Israel – 'Am I not sending you?'  The God I believe in didn't come to take over humanity against our wills, but rather taught 12 disciples, didn't create an army, earthly kingdom or do anything important at all by earthly standards, and then left it to those 12 humans.  

            We are Christ's ambassadors – not His puppets. God does nothing except through His prophets, and His prophets.  And indeed very human as well, with some even failing to listen to their talking donkeys and getting eaten by lions. 

          • Serge Agafonoff
            23 December 2012 @ 2:20 am

            C'mon Stephen, enough with the talking ass already.  He did not 'left it to those humans.'  Are you proposing a Deus ex machina, or perhaps a Deus absconda of the new creation? 

            No, He first transformed them by the RENEWAL of their MINDS, so that HE was with them and IN THEM.  They had the MIND OF CHRIST.  It was no longer they who lived, but Christ who lives in them. Etc etc etc.  Not proof texts, but the WHOLE TENOR of the NT.

            Just curious though, what do you make of those texts mentioned? (John 8.44, Phil 2.13)?
            And while you are on the job, what do you make of 1John 3.9  Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God.


            How readest thou? Do you buy those?

          • Stephen Ferguson
            23 December 2012 @ 1:05 pm

            No, I am not promoting any notion of a silent watchmaker.  I believe God is very, very involved in this world.  However, since He rested on the seventh day, God has been mostly active in a more indirect way, through his intermediaries, including angels and us.  I don't have a problem at all if you are suggesting God works through us, because I totally believe that.  I just have a problem with any suggestion of Calvanistic election, as if we have no choice in the matter. 

            As to the texts, I think it is quite dangerous for me to offer a personal interpretation off the top of my head without the full context and a proper study.  As to the Phl 2:13 text, I believe it is saying exactly what I have been saying – God works through us, His ambassadors. Again, to use the example of Gideon, the answer to Gideon's question as to what will be God's miracle – the example is 'Am I not sending you?'

            Jonah is probably an even better example of the interaction between God's will and divine choice.  God certainly had His will, and Jonah had his free will as well.  When Jonah rejected God's plan A, God instituted plan B, and then plan C.  

          • William Noel
            22 December 2012 @ 6:16 pm

            I had no intent of implying Calvanistic predestination or that we are God's puppets.  God has given me feedom to choose whether or not I will obey Him and even my best efforts to do what is right sometimes need a "course correction."  I trust that the leaders of our church love God and are doing what they think is best.  My supreme loyalty is to God whom I trust to guide them as well as He has been guiding me. 

  7. Darrel Lindensmith
    19 December 2012 @ 4:04 pm

    Thank you Lawrence for elucidating important points on this discussion.  We must remember that a certain church many years ago wound up on the wrong side of history when it made a test of fellowship the teaching that the sun circled the earth; this based on Scriptures that they were completely misinterpreting.
     

  8. William Noel
    20 December 2012 @ 5:00 pm

    Timo,

    "…erhaps not truth at all…"?  The inability to tolerate scrutiny is a neon sign flashing "Find lies here!"

  9. Stephen Foster
    20 December 2012 @ 7:20 pm

    Are there any comments that have included/referenced any characterization at all of those who “stayed” that you can identify for us?

    • Stephen Foster
      20 December 2012 @ 7:26 pm

      Actually I should have asked are there any comments that have included/referenced any characterization at all of those who left that you can, or might, identify for us.

  10. Truth Seeker
    23 December 2012 @ 10:15 pm

    In my view Bruinsma does not, in some of his articles, represent the *real* teachings of the church. For anyone to properly evaluate his current article one would have to have access to the entire article. Is it available?

    • Serge Agafonoff
      24 December 2012 @ 4:05 am

      Fascinating.  SDA Europeans have always been a bit independent-minded, but to suggest that the president of the Belgian-Luxembourg Conference in Brussels does not 'represent the "real" teachings of hte church?'  Wow.  Reminds me of those Catholics who used to loudly proclaim that Pope John Paul II was not a true Catholic.

  11. Ella M
    24 December 2012 @ 6:32 am

          I am an admirer of Bruinsma and like his writing and that he has spoken on the combativeness present in so many discussions.  I am sure if I knew all his theology, I would not agree 100 per cent with him, but I could learn from him.  We all have our opinions, and it would be nice if we could listen and "give" a little.  I am not sure that anyone can say "what the real teachings of the church are" because we all have our subjective interpretations. I would agree that there are a few basics that if changed we would cease to be called SDAs.
     
       I lack time to analyze Des Ford's teachings and it appears most of those who judged him didn't either.  His emphasis on grace was a blessing, but beyond that I have no knowledge. He did make us some nasty enemies (i.e., Martin).

       I taught the SS class on the sanctuary last Sabbath.  There can be no doubt that the earthly sanctuary pointed to Jesus, and the Bible clearly says there is a heavenly one not made with hands and that Christ is its High Priest.  I fail to understand how one could disagree with those plain statements.  I am also naive enough to see how the 2300-day chart and 1844 make sense, but open enough to understand that everyone may not agree, and what does it matter?  From what I can perceive is that it was taught to children in a way that frightened them (wasn't the flood and second coming also?) and this gave some nightmares that they still haven't forgotten or forgiven.
      Anyway let the academics be kind enough to not be condescending and think we are just gullible.

    Serge,  I would agree that faith and religion requires some mysticism, trancendance, reflection, meditation and spiritual direction. (What SDAs call experiencing a relationship with God.) The problem is more one of terms, and unfortunately we throw them out when they are just what might attract those searching for God.  Get rid of the familiar terms, and you get rid of interest.  Ellen White was a mystic in modern terms of understanding.   In my observation those at Andrews using "spiritual direction" in their curriculum allowed themselves to be bullied into changing a term that could be understood by more people.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      25 December 2012 @ 12:16 am

      I agree.  The key teachings in the Sanctuary doctrine IMO include:

      • The Old Testament Sanctuary (Tent and Temple) was a mere copy of the true Tabernacle in heaven (Heb 8:1-5);
      • The Jewish sacrificial system, which required the sacrifice of goats and calves, was a mere shadow of Christ’s perfect sacrifice as the Lamb of God on earth (Jhn 1:29, Heb 9, Heb 10:1-3);
      • The Jewish Priesthood was a mere shadow of Christ’s role in heaven as our perfect High Priest (Heb 4:14-16); and
      • Christ’s role as High Priest includes acting as a mediator before God (Heb 9:15) in a pre-Advent Investigative Judgment (Dan. 7; Rom. 2:5,6).
      Technically, Adventists acknowledge there are in fact a number of judgments, some judicial and some executive, including:
      • A pre-advent, investigative judgment of the saved and of God, by the angelic hosts (Dan. 7; Rom. 2:5,6);
      • A millennial, investigative judgment of the unsaved and fallen angels by the saved (Rev. 20:4-6; 1 Cor. 6:1-3); and
      • An final executive judgment, after the end of the millenium where the unsaved are brought back to life by the second resurrection (Rev 20:5; Jhn 5:29), and after Satan’s imprisionment ends (see Rev 20:7-9), which results in the second and final death (Rev. 20:13-15).
      When both Adventists and critics talk about the pre-Advent Investigative Judgment, they are usually only discussing the first judicial judgment.  In fact, the broad concept of a pre-Advent Investigative Judgment, is very similar to ‘mainstream’ or ‘orthodox’ Christian beliefs in a judicial ‘Particular Judgment’ of an individual, as distinct from an executive ‘General’ or ‘Final Judgment’, at the end of the world.

      Finally, to the extent that the date of 1844 becomes relevant, which tends to be the focus of critics, this is merely Adventist claims, based on the prophecy in (Dan 8:14), as to when this pre-Advent Investigative Judgment actually begins.  

      In my mind, when the IJ begins hardly matters.  Apart from the kick-off date (possibly of 1844, possibly in 33 CE), the rest of the Sanctuary doctrine is not that different, in fact, from what other mainstream Christians believe, including RCs and Eastern Orthodox.

       

      • Ella M
        26 December 2012 @ 4:08 am

        Stephen,  This sounds like a balanced approach to the doctrine providing all the texts.  I have never understood the extreme opposition over the pre-Advent judgement since Christ is said to come with His reward, and in human thinking it would obviously have to have been decided before the Advent. 
          I think it is the "cleansing" that is questioned. But this is also known as "restoring" a different concept that could mean restoring the sanctuary with Christ as Priest which had been destroyed by the Roman Catholic pagan-like system in human thinking .  I discover parallel meanings throughout the Bible that make its study exciting and full of new insights. 
          We don't understand how anything defiled could be in heaven (Heb 9:23). We believe this to be the sins of the people that are taken into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement as they were by the earthly high priest as the "cleansing" of the earthly sanctuary. of course, the Most Holy Place gets its name because of the presence of God. 

        • Stephen Ferguson
          26 December 2012 @ 4:24 am

          Yes, for me personally, when I explored this belief, I was shocked to learn that 'mainstream' Christians, including Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, actually believe in many of these same points, including an investigative judgment.  The GC's own Biblical Research Institute has articles on the Sanctuary doctrine that also make these points.

          I think the debate is actually over rather non-essential issues, or tangents to the core message of the Sanctuary investigate judgment message, including:

          • Is the Sanctuary a literal buiding in heaven or a metaphor?
          • Did the investigative judgment begin in 1844, in 33 CE, or some other period?
          • Will there be a physical judgment scene, with books and an audience (which many other denominations also teach occurs), or is it all a metaphor?

          I would personally say – who cares – it isn't really an essential, salvation issue!

          • Serge Agafonoff
            26 December 2012 @ 4:41 am

            For me, Stephen, the debate is over whether it is an 'out there,' literalist/materilaist view vs an inner/spiritual view.  For you to state that it matters not tells me that what was once bedrock SDA members' understanding is slowly succumbing to the dawning awareness that the materialist view must ultimately surrender to Spirit.  Most older generation Adventists would absolutely not concur with your statement that it is a non-essential.  They prefer the Uriah Smith version. 

            The very first statement of the church's beliefs was penned in 1872 by SDA's most prominent and influential theologian at the time, Uriah Smith. Though regarded as "unofficial," its view of the atonement fitted very logically the position taken of a just-begun (1844) fulfillment of the Sanctuary typology: "…which atonement, so far from being made on the cross, which was but the offering of the sacrifice, is the very last portion of his work as priest…" (A Declaration of Fundamental Principles, 1872, p.3)
             
            In his book entitled "The Sanctuary and Its Cleansing," he states this position very strongly: "The death of Christ and the atonement are not the same thing. And this relieves the matter of all difficulty. Christ did not make the atonement when he shed his blood upon the cross. Let this fact be fixed forever in the mind. p.276 (Emphasis his).

            This was the (erroneous) mind-set of the founding fathers and mother and from it flowed the rest of SDA fundamental beliefs, both core and non-core.  Your claim that RC church teaches an investigative judgement only highlights how suspect that teaching is.

          • Stephen Ferguson
            26 December 2012 @ 6:56 am

            What does atonement mean exactly?  I think you find most Christian groups, in one way or another, deny Christ died once and for all.  Why does the NT teach that Christ's death wasn't sufficient, but that it already required His resurrection?  Why does the book of Hebrews teach that Christ is our high priest?  If it was all completed at the Cross, why did Christ return to heaven, and why has He been there for 2,000 years, and not simply usher in His kingdom then and there?  Why did the Apostles expect an imminent, physical and literal Second Advent of Jesus, and why has He tarried?  

            These are the sorts of questions I ask myself.  

    • Serge Agafonoff
      25 December 2012 @ 3:02 pm

      Ella, you make some good points, and some I find curious.  eg, 'He did make us some nasty enemies (i.e., Martin).'  I've not heard of this.  Can you enlighten me?  Likewise I know nought of the situation at Andrews re 'spiritual direction,' but it sounds as if the materialists have held sway.  Have you read the book 'Adventism and Ellen White, a phenomenon of religious materialism?'  Perhaps you ought.  In it you will find a lot of amazing info as to the kind of underlying philosophy which led the founding fathers and mother to so many of their questionable theologies.  And they did this in a very combative manner too it should be noted.

      I am also curious that you admit to being 'naive enough,…' in regards certain teachings (1844), and yet in others (heavenly sanctuary), 'there is no doubt.'  And yet these two are so intricately related in traditional SDA theology as to be reliant on each other.  Stephen Ferguson is equally willing to minimise the status of the 1844 teaching, even IJ to some extent, but also to hold other directly related doctrines to be sacrosanct.  

      In order for you to feel less likely to be gullible, you must educate yoruself more fully.  Heb 5.12,13 are instructive here.  There is little doubt to me that the author of Hebrews (as much as I would like it ot be Paul, I suspect it is not, but that doesn't matter) places an understanding of the heavenly sanctuary as one of his 'meatier' subjects.  Which is why he explains a lot of things in as clear terms as possible.  For example, in Hebrews 2 he sets the scene that he is writing about the transition from the literal Israel economy to the new spiritual Israel, and at the heart of this teaching is sanctuary.  So he states very clearly at the beginning what he means by these two contrasting ideas:

      5  And Moses indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were afterward to be spoken;
      6  but Christ as a son, over his house; whose house are WE, if we hold fast our boldness and the glorying of our hope firm unto the end.

      'We,' individually and collectively as His church, is the 'house of God' to be spoken of.  Ellen, incidentally, agreed.  ST Feb 14, 1900, '…. the church of God on earth is the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man….." etc.  (now Ellen did at many other times refer to a literal building in a physical heaven, she was after all a materialist in philosophy and not a mystic as you claim), but here at least she is utterly consistent with the rest of the NT where the church is God's house and there is no double antitype with a material building in a material 'heaven.

      So I don't concur with standard SDA doctrine on the materiality of the 'heavenly sanctuary.'  Consider this:

      2Cor 5:1   For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens.
      Here Paul is contrasting our material body (earthly house in which we tabernacle) with our eternal spiritual (non-material) 'body' (a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.)

      There is another very interesting reference to the church as heavenly Tabernacle, found in Rev 13.5,  'And there was given to it a mouth speaking great things, and evil-speakings, and there was given to it authority to make war forty-two months,

      6  and it did open its mouth for evil-speaking toward God, to speak evil of His name, and of His tabernacle, that is, those who in the heaven tabernacle,…'
      Now I advise that there is some dispute in the manuscripts about the words 'that is' in v.6.  The KJV uses 'and' as do many others.  If one uses 'and,' it reads like this:  '… and of his tabernacle AND those who in heaven tabernacle.'   But, as I said, the oldest available (and therfore the most reliable) mss have the descriptor, 'that is' rather than 'and.'  So it is in effect defining and describing what it means by heavenly tabernacle, as those who are persecuted by the beast.  (Of course, if you can imagine the earthly beast power travelling to heaven to make war with the heavenly tabernacle, more power to you).  Personally, the use of 'and' makes little sense.  The use of 'that is' provides a good explanation right where one is needed.  There are a number of such instances in Revelation.

      While in that great book, let me refer you to Rev 1.12  And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks;

      13  and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle.

      Now you know that the candlesticks are items of furniture in the heavenly sanctuary.  But what does John say that they are?  See verse 20- '… the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks are seven churches.'    Does that concur with the traditional view?  I think not.

      And again in Rev 3.12  He that overcometh, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out thence no more: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and mine own new name.


      We know about 'pillars of the community,' but here God is promising to make overcomers, of the Church of Brotherly love, Philadelphia, into 'Pillars in His temple.'  And this is obviously His heavenly temple too.  So those who presume that there are other references which clearly define the heavenly temple/tabernacle as a literal building have some work to do to explain these references in Revelation and the remainder of the NT.

      Ella, regarding 'mysticism,' I have tried ot be very careful as to how I define it.  I say it is the teaching of the NT that by virtue of the new birth/resurrection/new creation we are made one, in Spirit, with God, (1Cor.6.17) or to use Peter's phrase, we are made 'partakers of the divine nature.'  That is an idea so unimaginable that most of us simply won't believe it.  But, with  'trancendance, reflection, meditation' and the guidance of Holy Spirit, we   "18  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

      19  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." Eph.3.18,19.
       

  12. Serge Agafonoff
    25 December 2012 @ 4:10 pm

    Stephen,  thank you for making the effort to provide textual support for your claims.  I won't deal with each one, but more generally, if that is alright by you?

    The Old Testament Sanctuary (Tent and Temple) was a mere copy of the true Tabernacle in heaven (Heb 8:1-5);  If you see Ex 25.9,40 you will see that God is requiring a lot more than a 'mere copy' of the heavenly.  He wants absolute precision and reminds Moses more than once to make it according to the pattern shown him in the mount.  SDA's take this to mean that Moses was to build an exact replica of the vision he had of the heavenly sanctuary.  

    Problems immediatley arise with the question, did he see a tabernacle or a temple?  Does the heavenly tabernacle have ram and badger skins for its covering? etc etc……. and right through to the altar of burnt sacrifice, with its instruments for removing the ashes etc.  The book of Revelation is not of great help in this, as it also talks of the altar of hte heavenly tabernacle/sanctuary/temple.  John uses all three words to describe the heavenly 'building,' so it is manifestly unclear, if htere is to be a heavenly building, which sort it is.  

    The point of this being, that if Moses made the tabernacle according to the exact pattern shown to him in vision of the heavenly, then is has to be a tent of ram and badger skins.  If, otoh, you say that he saw some kind of idea of a heavenly building, (namely, a 'spiritual' and non-material kind,………… well, I could be ok with that, but your strict literalism will not stand scrutiny.  

    From the other end of the problem I ask you to consider some 'fine detail' of the heavenly sanctuary as described in Heb 10.19 ¶  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus,

    20  by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
    21  and having a great priest over the house of God;
    22  let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure water,

    SDAs and exSDAs have been arguing about 'the veil' since the days of Dudley Canright.  Was it the veil at the entrance to Holy Place or that between HP and MHP?  They all operated on teh basis that they were dealing with a physical building.  But here, in bald, bold, simple terms, Hebrews says, the veil between holy and MHP of the heavenly sanctuary is the flesh of Christ!  Now if you can explain to me how this can be, I'll gladly listen.  If you can also explain to me how it is that I can 'come boldly to the throne of grace' when that throne is a material thing in the heavenly building, presumably on Planet Heaven, I will be glad to hear it.

    Your 'technical' presentation of three Judgements I reject utterly, if only for the horror of the third and final 'executive' judgement.  The one where God resurrects billions for the specific purpose of frying them all in the presence of the Universe?  And this reveals what about His loving character?  It can do nought except reveal that He is a tyrant who rules by terror.  This is a doctrine of demons, if ever there was one.  Fortuantely, it only applies in the mind of a materialist, but it is truly awful.  It is based on the mistaken literality of a symbolic book.  To (mis)quote your words on another less serious matter,
    'What sort of sick, twisted, perverted God do you worship then?  Why would He will …., such suffering, pain and death, and then come down and …. (repeat) that suffering, pain and death (all over again) ?'

    Why does the SDA teaching on this 'second death' state that the second burning of the wicked in the heavenly firestorm is of limited duration when Rev 14:11 clearly says it goes on for ever and ever?  This is typically inconsistent.  Can you explain?

    You quote John 5.29 in support of this literal second death executive judgment.  But I think you will find that the context is quite different.  John 5: 24,25,26,27,28,29.    Note please that KJV translates the greek word krisis three different ways…. condemnation, judgement and damnation.  It is often the case that early SDA theology was formed on the basis of this kind of problem with the KJV translation.  Dan 8.14 is a case in point.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      26 December 2012 @ 4:31 am

      Serge, you know I don't necessarily believe or disbelieve whether the Sanctuary in heaven is a literal building or not – I don't think it matters.  I agree with your concerns about an overly simplistic, materialistic understanding of heaven, which the Bible makes clear in several passages is beyond human understanding.  

      If I had to guess, I would actually heaven is actually a parallel dimension outside of universe.  I would also guess that this universe is static, did not evolve, with there being neither birth nor death.  The beings of that realm, being the angels, certainly seem to match that description.  I certainly don't think heaven is just some other planet in the galaxy, like say earth is.  One might even say that this was a 'non-materialistic' place, in the sense that space and time itself might be of different 'stuff' there.  But again I am only guessing, and I only believe that no one can truly know this side of heaven.

      As for the second death, yes, I do believe in a literal and physical eschatological event. I believe this materialistic universe, and the planet we are on, must one day come to any end.  Physics and cosmology would also seem to support that view.   

  13. Ella M
    26 December 2012 @ 5:55 am

    Serge,  Your explanation sounds complex.  I find the Word to be complicated in specifics but simple in the whole picture.  I am a whole-picture person.  We all have different mindsets.  Neither one is wrong. 
      Like you, I do not see the heavenly sanctuary as a structure.  What's important is the action going on there.  God's POV is different from ours; we can't even imagine it–our intellects are so far below His (a problem in what we call science that takes pride in  human knowledge yet is so minute in the cosmos–maybe the cosmos is an illusion–we know very little of it). The OT ancients seemed to mean the sky when they used the term heaven.

      I don't see how much clearer the Bible could be about the existence of  a heavenly sanctuary, spiritual or otherwise.  We don't know where heaven is located–maybe it's another dimension; close yet far.  Temple, tabernacle, sanctuary is used in various ways in the Bible. In one place Jesus talks about his body being a temple; our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  There are many parallels in the Bible and intersections. If He was a temple and our example, then we are temples and cleansed individually by his blood and made perfect.  Christ was not only the temple but the chief cornerstone of a more wonderful temple made of living stones–the redeemed.

    Because of overuse, I rarely refer to EW, but I have used her writing in my spiritual direction and found meaning in its deep spiritual inspired insights.  I also consider her a prophetic voice for our church, keeping in mind her time and place by not dwelling on specifics but principles and the Big Picture. 

    Churches can be called temples, but (to me) it seems clear that the heavenly temple is a (spiritual) reality and the OT earthly one a sandbox replica. I can't see the earthly church as the sanctuary; there is too much that indicates otherwise. When texts contradict, I go with the ones that seem to have more weight (that's subjective, I know).  But I will think about it.  BTW, all that is material is not materialistic in a negative way.  The earth was created material and pronounced "good."

      Did you mean to base your understanding of Revelation on a literal view?  Revelation is highly symbolic or metaphorical.  The important part is what it means.  The audience of Revelation (Jews) knew what it meant. (See Jacques B Doukhan's book Secrets of Revelation.) Some places in the Bible seem to contradict others.  I don't know that it will be billions "fryed."  The lake of fire was for the devil and his angels–the beast and his cohorts. It was never prepared for man. Other texts use the term "outer darkness" for the wicked which could be death.  

    I believe Christ's salvation is from the foundation of the world and includes most of humanity.   I know this is unlike most Christians. But I believe in a God that is more fair and loving than we can imagine.  Judgment is not punishment, it is fairness–justice.   So the judgements you refer to have meanings beyond vengence.  They contain the method for the purifying  the earth and destruction of sin and death.
       You said " Does that concur with the traditional view? I think not."  Actually it does.  I took a recent Revelation class from a well-known local teacher, and this is what was stated.  Maybe he wasn't traditional–that is a subjective term.  All that we believe is subjective; we can't know the whole truth in this world.  I can only state what I believe, but if we are Christians, we will be careful in how we represent other's beliefs.  None of us are truly "traditional."  As for telling me I need to "educate myself more fully;" isn't that offensive, not knowing my educational background? (I was using satire.)
       About Andrews, they had to change their "spiritual direction" studies to another term because some leaders thought it was too much like the term used by other churches and nonbelievers.
       Martin is the name of a former SDA pastor in Arizona who teaches seminars on Adventism that distort beliefs and he presents it as a cult.  He got hold of a friend of mine with a sister there and fed her some of this stuff.  I read her letter and his subsequent letter to me, and it was nasty and full of bizarre untruths about the SDA church.  Of course, she didn't take it seriously, but her sister goes to his church which made for some discomfort.   Martin was taught by Ford and left the SDA church with some others.  Apparently some of Ford's fruits were a bit rotten. (and talk about combative!)  This is my observation and experience of Martin.
        

    • Serge Agafonoff
      26 December 2012 @ 6:34 am

      Ella, once again I need to apologise for appearing to be offensive or condescending.  Nothing of hte sort intended.  By 'education' I meant in regards to Sanctuary and its deep and pervasive meaning through the NT.  Its the difference between milk and meat as far as spiritual food/education goes.  Obviously, Spirit will do His work and He doesnt really need me to do it for Him.  But I see this as a forum for discussion, rather than a pulpit to try to cause others to see things from my POV.  Occasionally, one is misunderstood.

      Re Des Ford's fruit.  I don't think its nice to say some of his fruit is rotten.  He is the most Christian of gentlemen.  (And I do not count myself as one of his theological accolytes.)  He shouldn't be held accountable for the words/actions of others.

      This thread began by asking the question, why the increase in combativeness?  Theological combat is in SDA DNA.  And now that the institution is fragmenting into multiple sections, as was Israel in teh time of Christ, I think it is reasonable to expect more, not less, combativeness.  I also think that this problem would be solved if everyone would just be reasonable and see it my way.  (I just have to learn how to present it without sounding condescending and offensive).

  14. Ella M
    26 December 2012 @ 7:28 am

    You said.  " I also think that this problem would be solved if everyone would just be reasonable and see it my way."   You are kidding here aren't you?

    "fruit" is being used as a metaphor for "some" of his followers.  Yes, I hear he is a nice person.

    • Serge Agafonoff
      26 December 2012 @ 10:48 am

      Yes Ella………. kidding.  Diversity is a wonderful thing.  And I do enjoy hearing the insights of other seekers.  'The kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his (spiritual) treasure things (ideas/insights) new and old.'

  15. Elaine Nelson
    26 December 2012 @ 7:35 pm

    The entire SDA 1844, IJ, heavenly sanctuary cannot withstand close inspection.  There are left too many unanswered questions, allowing many divergent opinions and no one, not even the church can identify which is wholly true and all others false.

    The sanctuary or temple in heave is all metaphor,  using the analogy of the earthly to the heavenly.  Literal reading where only metaphors were intended has caused such a mixture of theories.  There really is no necessity for the sanctuary in heaven to be dissected or explained, it holds no relevance to one's eternal life, and all the world's Christians that do not accept this SDA interpretation will be invited into heaven without answering an entrance exam.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      27 December 2012 @ 1:41 am

      But do you believe in a heaven – whether there is a Sanctuary in it or not?

  16. earl calahan
    26 December 2012 @ 8:46 pm

    Yes Elaine, some of the particpants here agree with you. God observes the heart of man. Athough Serge
    made a tongue in cheek statement, i believe in its accuracy. Ella, my understanding of temple as it relates to man, is the "abode", residence of God. The heavens are not illusional, God said the heavens declare His glory (Hubble is a gift of love from God).

    • Serge Agafonoff
      27 December 2012 @ 2:42 am

      Earl, your understanding is the same as that of John 14:

      22  Judas (not Iscariot) saith unto him, Lord, what is come to pass that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
      23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my word: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode (mansion) with him.
       

  17. Serge Agafonoff
    26 December 2012 @ 9:50 pm

    Dear friends, I see that 'the deep truth' is in safe hands, and hearts.  The Truth is wonderful in its simplicity, but so stupendous we often dare not approach its glory.  That which is born of the Spirit IS Spirit, and has passed from death unto LIFE.  Heaven is the realm of 'Christ-consciousness.'  Its not 'out there,' it is 'in you.' Paul may not have written Hebrews, but he did sum it up in a few words: 'CHRIST IN YOU the hope of glory.' Col 1.27, also Eph 3:

    14 ¶  For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
    15  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
    16  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
    17  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
    18  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
    19  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
    20  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
    21  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
     

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