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  1. Stephen Ferguson
    06 June 2012 @ 2:26 pm

    Great article and fantastic news of God's power.  I note the article suggests the Adventist Churches in China are forced by the Chineese government to adopt a congregationalist model of governance, and thus are largely institutionally severed from the world Church and each other. Thus, a few further questions come to mind that I wouldn't mind answered if known or possible:

    1. Even if the GC tomorrow wanted to stop ordination of woman in China – practically could they – and how would that impact the rest of the world Church?

    2. Given Christianity is exploding in China, how is the GC is coping with this massive area, which only grows in importance as numbers in North America and the West comparatively decrease?

    3. Do these 400,000 Chineese Adventists have representation at GC sessions?

    4. I know it is difficult to generalise, but are Chineese beliefs and practices more 'liberal' than say Latin America or Africa, and how does it compare to North America?  In particular, if Chineese Adventists more formally could join the world Church, would they serve as a more 'liberal' counterbalance to the new large number of more 'conservative' delegates in the Third World? 

    • Stephen Ferguson
      06 June 2012 @ 2:30 pm

      Sorry, and that last question was not intended to sound so Machiavellian. 

  2. Kevin Riley
    06 June 2012 @ 11:03 pm

    1. Is simple: no.  No Christian church in China is allowed to take directions from abroad – not even from the Vatican.  I am sure that when GC officials speak with Chinese church leaders they are listened to, but the government has a much greater say in such things.

    2.  I am not sure the GC has anything to cope with.  Officially there are SDA congregations, but no SDA church in China.  The same applies to every church in China.

    3. Yes, because they are officially part of the Chinese Union Mission based in Hong Kong.  As with all Unions, it is up to them who they send as delegates to the GC.  I would assume there would be some delegates from China itself.

    4.  Your question is like asking 'are Melbourne SDAs more liberal than Sydney SDAs'?  It depends who we are comparing and on what topic.  From what I have heard from those who have been there, Chinese SDAs tend not to focus on details of doctrines in the way we do, so most of our arguments – like the ordination of women – that divide us into 'conservative' and 'liberals' don't make sense to them.  Most of the times their beliefs fall within what we would recognise as SDA tradition.  Socially I believe the Chinese are more conservative than Latin Americans, less so than Africans, so that is probably reflected in teh church also.  But when talking about such a large number of people, there are variations in all groups and on different issues.

  3. Bob Pickle
    08 June 2012 @ 4:26 pm

    The email I got from AT about this article stated, "Mainland China remains the only place on earth where women can be ordained as Adventist pastors with full denominational blessing."

    This article proves this statement false, since it states, "There is no such thing as the “Adventist Church in China!” China is post-denominational." And, "Leaders from the [China Union] Mission may visit churches in mainland China to encourage and inspire; beyond that there is no linkage."

    It has been stated repeatedly that the union conferences decide who gets ordained, but this never happens in China today, according to this artricle and other sources. Therefore, sholdn't AT issue a correction to their misleading statement that woimen are ordained in China "with full denominational blessing"?

    • Kevin Riley
      09 June 2012 @ 1:37 am

      The GC accepts it because it has no choice.  But, as far as I know, it also has raised no objections.  If Unions do indeed have the final say on who is ordained, perhaps the GC will take the same approach.  It would be a very convenient result in some ways as it would remove this issue from the GC agenda.  I recall the issue being mentioned in the Review without any hint that the denomination was displeased by the practice.  Sometimes blaming the government is a convenience more than anything else.  I think it once again demonstrates how far we will go in allowing the government to control our practice. 

  4. Truth Seeker
    10 June 2012 @ 12:34 am

    Isn't the SDA church in China under the government in the so-called three-self movement? My SDA Yearbook states: "No organizational structure of the church exists in China."

    Isn't it deceptive to try to make it appear as though the GC permits in China what it does not in other areas? If anyone has access to some of the literature from certain ministries, such a Laymen's Ministry, it is very clear that those who do not submit to the governmental domination are persecuted and when mentioned in such literature are not identified by name.

    So what are we to make of the reports by Weigley and Attiken? Attempting to make a case for WO when there is no substance to their arguments?

    • Kevin Riley
      10 June 2012 @ 2:18 am

      Their point still stands that the church in China has ordained women leading churches and God is blessing the church.  Whether the church in China is or is not subject to teh Gc does not change that.

  5. John Bunting
    10 June 2012 @ 10:46 pm

    One of the most fascinating & encouraging items I have read for a while. It gives me hope of a future for the SDA church.

    The item is not only about women but a different way of doing church.

    When will we learn that the SDA denomination model was excellent for the 1800s but has very little connection with the New Testament church structure demonstrating that the existing the church model need NOT be considered unchangeable. Each generation and each culture needs a different slant to be able to share the basic unchangeable fundamental truths to a new situation.

    The church is essentially dying in the Western cultures because it refuses to change. Here in the UK, the white church is almost non-existent, the West-Indian originated church is showing clear signs of going that way. It is only growing through immigration by those from less economically developed cultures, in particular Africa.

    God is not and will not restrict himself to the traditional SDA church model in introducing the message of salvation to a hungry people. The picture we ALL have of God is far too small. We cannot label Him, we can't put Him into a neat box. If we refuse to allow Him to change us then he will increasingly use other churches and Christians.

    Bob and Truth Seeker, rather than just complain, could you please consider either showing us how successful you are at bringing souls to Christ and how you are doing it or please stop picking holes in other groups of SDAs who are working successfully in very hard situations.
    I suspect that we would all do well to consider the words of Bob Dylan (yes, that indicates my age!):
    "And don't criticize What you can't understand ….  Please get out of the new one (the new road) If you can't lend your hand …"
    Than you again AToday team.





  6. Johann Thorvaldsson
    11 June 2012 @ 2:31 pm

    Some of this discussion reminds me of that book I have down in a box somewhere about the plans of the previous pope to make his church universal and ruling everywhere. So I ask: Is this what we really want with our church?

    Is a tecnical universal unity governing every act on the local level more important than bringing the glorious Advent Message to the whole World before Jesus returns in glory?

    • Stephen Ferguson
      11 June 2012 @ 2:51 pm

      The irony of course it is conservatives (or rather was before they 'took power' with the election of President Wilson) who most like to talk about how Adventism is a 'movement' and not a 'church' (hence most of the independent ministries tend to be conservative-leaning).  However, I think they are certainly onto something there.  This article shows that Adventism is clearly a movement in China; not a church.

      I would rather a viable, flexible movement than a dying, ossified and orthodox church. 

  7. Truth Seeker
    12 June 2012 @ 1:19 pm

    It's most unfortunate that the liberal mindset seems quite adverse to acknowledge that Weigley and Co. are using as an example a version of Adventism that does not exist here and that is not even a part of the official SDA communion.

    Why is there such a lack of objectivity on the part of viewers? If the liberals consider the official church as keeping them in shackles why don't they have the courage to start their own denomination?

    • Stephen Ferguson
      13 June 2012 @ 1:51 pm

      I am not sure if you are correct to say the SDA Church in China is not part of the Adventist 'communion'.  My understanding is 'communion' is 'a relationship between church organizations or groups that mutually recognize their sharing the essential doctrines.'

      The fact that the Chineese Government prevents GC organisational control does mean they are not part of our 'communion'.  The definition of communion itself contemplates different organisations that share essentially the same beliefs. 

      Are you saying these Adventists in China don't have essentially the same doctrines as the rest of the SDA family?  I am pretty sure by Pres Wilson's visit the GC leadership considers them part of the SDA Church.  

  8. Ervin Taylor
    12 June 2012 @ 11:42 pm

    I really think that the more relevant question is why "Truth Seeker," Mr. Pickle those who agree with their values do not start their own denomination?   Some progressives and liberals have positive plans that will update at least the North American Adventist Church which appear to be moving forward.  It would appear that tradionalists only want to complain.  I personally think that we can all live in peace under a "big tent Adventism."  However, if there are those does not think that possible, then those individuals can always creatre their own church.  

    • Stephen Ferguson
      13 June 2012 @ 1:48 pm

      And those 'pure' conservative Adventist Churches already exist, such as the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement.  

  9. All4Him
    13 June 2012 @ 9:35 am

    ……and not to attack people that we disagree with or tell them to get out of the church????

  10. Bob Pickle
    16 June 2012 @ 4:08 am


    Do you honestly think that the GC should instead attack the Chinese government if it disagrees with whom the Chinese government says can be ordained, like the Vatican has done? Somehow I'm not sure that would be best.


    Could you list for us all the doctrinal changes you would like to see? Under "big tent Adventism" would you be agreeable to having some who actively promoted Sunday sacredness or immortality of the soul? In your mind, are there any non-negotiables that would exclude some from the "big tent"?


    I had a dean in college who left the Reform Movement and joined the Adventist Church in part because the Reform Movement wasn't following the SoP in certain ways. From my own discussion with someone at their headquarters, I think that there is wide disregard or ignorance of the SoP quote that says that the church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. In other words, while the Reform Movement portrays itself as a movement that does not appear as about the fall, God's true church in these last days may or will so appear. Therefore, the Reform Movement is most likely not God's last day church.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      16 June 2012 @ 5:40 am

      Thanks Bob,

      Reform Movement
      Yes agree about the Reform Movement.  Also, many people don't realise there are actually 2 Reform Movements, not 1, because they split in 1957 (I think) when two strongmen wanted to be President.  They are admittedly a big conservative for my taste (let's be honest, the SeveyTaliban) but I do still consider them fellow SDA brethren because we essentially believe the same essential doctrines.  The sad thing is – they don't consider me brethren.
      “Big Tent” Adventism
      Re the Big Tent of Adventism, I have often thought we are starting to get out of control with the FBs.  I have heard ex-GC Pres Jon Paulson himself say recently words to the effect that a new SDA convert doesn't really need to know or believe all 28 FBs, because some are more 'fundamental' than others!  The question is because our FBs are not separate from the Gospel – our FBs our understanding of the Gospel.
      I agree insofar as I would, for example, be willing to accept a brother who believed in all our FBs, but say rejected FB#18 Ellen White – and I think she would too. To be honest, I would probably be ok with someone disagreeing about FB#24 re 1844.  In fact, even squarely within 'mainstream' Adventism, there is a lot of discussion about how these fundamentals should be interpreted.

      The question is then, what are the 'fundamental fundamentals'?
      New Shorter, 7 Fundamental Fundamentals
      In my mind, our 'fundamental fundamentals', which I think should actually be a new, shorter, more succinct version should include something like only 7 FBs:
      1. Primacy of the Holy Bible 
      2. Trinity
      3. Salvation by Grace through Faith in Christ Alone
      4. Adult Baptism by Full Immersion
      5. Perpetuity of the Decalogue (including Seventh-day Sabbath)
      6. Conditional Immortality (including Soul Sleep and Annihilationism)
      7. Imminent, Literal Second Coming of Jesus Christ
      I think these should be the essentials we should defend from without.  I think everything else should be subject to tolerant and respectful diversity within. I don't agree with everyone either on the 'conservative' and 'liberal' sides of Adventism, but I love all my brethren, and I cherish them all in our Church.  

      • Bob Pickle
        17 June 2012 @ 2:41 pm


        Since 1844 and the heavenly sanctuary is one of the pillars, it needs to be in the list too. After all, it is a rock solid, Bible-based teaching.

  11. Ervin Taylor
    17 June 2012 @ 9:21 pm

    "1844 and the heavenly sanctuay" as "one of the pillars" of Adventism is a ". . Bible-based (sic) teaching."  I supose a little light hearted humor is good for us.

    If we would just apply the approach of "benign neglect" to "1844 and the heavenly sanctuary" and "Remnant Church" perhaps these extra-Biblical concepts could be quietly consigned to the same place we put the "Shut Door" and "King of the North."   I suspect that most reasaonble and rational among us would like to see that happen.  However, we have others . . .

  12. Edwin A. Schwisow
    17 June 2012 @ 9:40 pm

    The Sanctuary Doctrine in my discussion with many thoughtful Adventists is seen as a "step forward" in a journey that began with the Millerite predictions regarding 1843 and 1844. But even as Miller's prognostications are now seen as coming short of full biblical truth, so the Sanctuary Doctrine may not necessarily be the last word on the question (remember, Ellen White ALSO endorsed Miller's views, from her visions, and that endorsement, though temporary, has never detracted from her overall status as a truthful and genuine Servant of the Lord). As time passes, there is more and more questioning about how long (for example) an Investigative Judgment really needs to take…. I fully expect that within the next 10 years a denominational publishing house will market a less-than-hard-line book regarding this particular belief, which many fine brothers and sisters in Adventism hold to be an absolute mainspring of our unique theology—in fact, as some would say, our unique theological contribution to contemporary Christianity. This is where we are, right now. It's a transitional time, and this fundamental belief does (in my opinion) have a not-too-obscure relationship to the women who preach the Three Angels' Messages in China.

    Culturally Adventism tends toward Victorian patriarchalism, not all that dissimilar from the Judeo-Christian point of view of the Apostle Paul, who clearly instructed primarily men, in his meetings— instructing them, in turn, to pass the word along to their wives, much as Adam had passed God's instructions on to Eve, after her creation, etc. (he suggests, in fact, that had Eve listened better to Adam, she might not have been deceived—caveat to women of his time, he says). This is the relevant gloss of Paul, NOT that women are inherently incapable of teaching within a Christian context, but that at least in Paul's day, historically and in the reality of his ministry, men and women were socially distinct and information was primarily shared with men, with the view that it would be passed along to women and children. Our First-world society today totally DOES NOT follow this paradigm, except in some extremely old-line Jewish, Christian and Muslim tribes, communities, and states. Within those cultures, for example, I would suggest that moving too quickly toward women's ordination might be extremely traumatic and extensively misinterpreted as opposed to every figment of common sense. Ultimately, the relationship of the genders now varies immensely from place to place on earth, and in most areas is in flux, making an excellent case for union/division-specific ordination, with reciprocity voluntarily extended by sister unions/divisions, or denied as they choose.

    This is by no means unprecedented. An American missionary physician I knew personally was given privileges usually reserved for the ordained while a missionary in Africa, but with the stipulation that this was a limited ordination that would be effective ONLY while he was operating within the prescribed jurisdiction of the Church—the local division in Africa. When he returned to the United States, he never invoked his ordination in any setting, and though he served for many decades as the head elder of a large California church, he was never referred to as "Elder C….." He was always "Dr. C….." who served as a local lay elder. I cannot see how following some variant of this tradition, which denominational publications have been very slow to talk about, would in any way be totally unworkable for female ordainees who are called to work in specific areas of the world where their ordination is needed because of special conditions (again, I'm speaking of a church in transition, a world in transition, the ultimate ideal being absolute equality of all human beings in Christ Jesus). I see the high divorce rate in America and the consequent massive numbers of unmarried mothers as a "special condition" in which the service of consecrated women of pastoral personality and knowledge could be invoked far more responsibly, and without fear of the appearance of evil that constantly faces male pastors when circumstances call on them to minister one-on-one with single females. (The recent admissions and behavior of former Adventist ministerial prodigy Samuel Pipim may in retrospect be appreciated as the most compelling argument ever mad by ANY conservative cleric of the church in favor of the ordination of women!) People are people, and psychological and physical attractions are innate to the species, and we're not in heaven quite yet. We must put the Gospel uppermost in our priority of thinking, and adapt culturally and even exegetically to conditions as we find them. The Apostle Paul, the greatest evangelist the Christian world has ever know, were he living today would in my estimation be the first and loudest proponent of any plan with the slightest chance of accelerating our long-delayed arrival at the gates of heaven. Times change, and Present Truth is usually superseded by a new and more complete definition of reality, adding flesh and bone to the early superstructures of new light, which like the equatorial dawn generally breaks gradually rather than all in one dosage or sitting.

  13. Elaine Nelson
    17 June 2012 @ 11:59 pm

    The latest Adventist World has a two-page article of Ted's visit to China, complete with pictures, and telling of the great growth in membership.  But not a single world of the women who initiated and built up the church! 

  14. Stephen Ferguson
    18 June 2012 @ 1:09 am

    Just so I understand Edwin properly.  Are you saying that if a new convert believes all the other 27 fundamentals, including the seventh-day Sabbath, state of the dead, Trinity, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, baptism by full immersion etc etc, but does not fully understand or has doubts on the eschatological meaning of the date 1844, then you would vote against that person being baptised into the Seventh-day Adventist Church? 

    I am not saying 1844 is not important or should not be taught – I am just saying it is not so essential that it should be a barrier to membership in the SDA Church, as required in our baptismal vows.  

    • Stephen Ferguson
      18 June 2012 @ 1:27 am

      Sorry, and the question was for Bob Pickle more so, although Edwin makes the interesting suggestion that:

      'this fundamental belief [FB#24] does (in my opinion) have a not-too-obscure relationship to the women who preach the Three Angels' Messages in China.'

    • Kevin Riley
      18 June 2012 @ 1:31 am

      I thought Edwin was saying that the current position is merely a transitional position.  Therefore it can change.  I would say the same of all our doctrines, and the church seems to say the same when it says that changes can be expected when we come to a fuller understanding of any doctrine, or find better words to express our beliefs.  What we teach on 1844 anf the IJ is not exactly what our pioneers taught, or what we taught 50 years ago, so further change should not be a problem for anyone.

      • Stephen Ferguson
        18 June 2012 @ 4:09 am

        I believe the preamble to the 28 Fundamentals actually says just that, and is why our pioneers were very anti-creedal, realising that if you stop changing and adpting your views, as moved by the Holy Spirit, you are dead as a Reformation Church:

        'Revision of these statements may be expected at a General Conference session when the church is led by the Holy Spirit to a fuller understanding of Bible truth or finds better language in which to express the teachings of God's Holy Word.'

  15. Stephen Ferguson
    18 June 2012 @ 1:22 am

    I also think that thing that gets lost in the whole 1844 issue is that advocates and critics alike often become obsessed with the date of 1844, rather acknowledge the broader concept of Christ’s position as High Priest, involved in an ongoing intercessory Ministry of pre-Advent Investigative Judgment in heaven.
    Technically, Adventists acknowledge there are in fact a number of judgments, some judicial and some executive, including:

    • A pre-advent, investigative-judicial judgment of the saved and of God, by the angelic hosts (Dan. 7; Rom. 2:5,6);
    • A millennial, investigative-judicial judgment of the unsaved and fallen angels by the saved (Rev. 20:4-6; 1 Cor. 6:1-3); and
    • A final executive judgment, after the end of the millennium where the unsaved are brought back to life by the second resurrection (Rev 20:5; Jhn 5:29), and after Satan’s imprisonment ends (see Rev 20:7-9), which results in the second and final death (Rev. 20:13-15).

    See BRI position at the GC:
    When both Adventists and critics talk about the pre-Advent Investigative Judgment, they are usually only discussing the first judicial judgment.
    In fact, many groups endorse a phased Judgment, including a type of judicial pre-Advent Investigative Judgment, which occurs before and is distinct from the executive Final Judgment.  For example:

    • Roman Catholics differentiate between the ‘Particular Judgment’ of an individual, which occurs when someone dies and thus before the 2nd coming of Christ, and the ‘General Judgment’ or ‘Last Judgment’, which is the judgment of nations that occurs at the return of Christ.


    • The Eastern Orthodox Churches similarly makes the distinction between a  ‘Particular Judgment’ and ‘General Judgment’ or ‘Final Judgment’.


    • Evangelicals (Dispensationalists) believe in three broad judgment phases, the Rapture, the Millennium Reign of Christ and a Final Judgment, in much the same way as Adventists believe the judgment has three distinct phases:


    Therefore, once again, as has been noted on this site repeatedly, there is a tendency for people to view Adventist beliefs in black and white terms.  The reality, however, is there is a spectrum of beliefs, with nuances.

    Even those who belief FB#24 re Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary believe it in different ways, with a different emphasis.  For me personally, we should emphasize the phases and not so much the date – where it was only that first generation of Adventists that the date was crucial.  That is why we need to learn to be a little less dogmatic about these things, as our own pioneers were.

  16. Bob Pickle
    18 June 2012 @ 1:21 pm


    I would really appreciate it if you could respond with something more substantive. How do I reply to such a broad generalization, unsupported by any facts or Bible verses? Certainly you are well able to respond with more than mere assertions.

    (a) Heb. 8, 9 states that there is a heavenly sanctuary, which Zechariah (at least in part) and John saw in vision. (b) Gabriel was told to explain to Daniel the mar'eh of the 2300 evening-morning, which he didn't get to do in Dan. 8. (c) Returning in ch. 9, Gabriel tells Daniel to consider the mar'eh in vs. 23. (d) Gabriel says that the 70 weeks begin with the decree to restore and build Jerusalem, and Dan. 9:25 specifically refers to restoring the judiciary (mistakenly translated "wall" or "moat"; see the same Hebrew word in Joel 3:14). Is. 1:26 says that the judges would be restored. (e) The only decree that restored the judges was the decree of Ezra 7, from Artaxerxes' 7th year. (f) The fall of 457 BC marked the beginning of a new sabbatical cycle. Adventism's interpretation of the 70 weeks is the only one that fits actual sabbatical cycles. Given the allusions in Dan. 9 to the fact that they were in Babylon for 70 years because they hadn't kept 70 sabbatical years in a 490-year time period, it is important that the 70-week prophecy fit actual sabbatical cycles. (g) Dan. 9:17 refers to the desolate sanctuary, further tying Dan. 8 & 9 together. Thus the 70 weeks must explain the 2300 evening-mornings.

    (h) Much of Daniel was never sealed, but the 2300 days were explicitly said to be sealed in 8:26. (i) In Dan. 12 Daniel is said to be sealed until the time of the end, which is tied in 12:7 to the 1260 days. (j) In Rev. 10 a Being comes with an open book, mimicing the Being in Dan. 12, holding a little book that is open, implying that the 1260 days have ended and that the 2300 days are now unsealed. (k) In that context, Rev. 11:1 says that the temple, altar, and worshipers are to be measured. These are the same three entities that are cleansed on the Day of Atonement in Lev. 16. (l) Mat. 7:2 uses the word "measure" to mean "judge." (m) A measuring judgment is an investigative judgment, not a sentencing or executive judgment. (n) Thus Rev. 11:1 ties together an unsealed 2300 days, Lev. 16's cleansing of the sanctuary, and an investigative/measuring type judgment. (o) A converted Jewish rabbi turned missionary to Palestine a short while before 1844 said that Jews there generally kept the feasts a month too early, pointing to Yom Kippur in 1844 being in October, not in September, since otherwise barley wasn't ripe enough to offer a wave sheaf just after Passover.

    And that's a start.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      18 June 2012 @ 2:07 pm

      Bob, whilst you are asking questions of Ervin, I would appreciate if you could answer my previous question.  Namely, are you saying that if a new convert believes all the other 27 fundamentals, including the seventh-day Sabbath, state of the dead, Trinity, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, baptism by full immersion etc etc, but does not fully understand or has doubts on the eschatological meaning of the date 1844, then you would vote against that person being baptised into the Seventh-day Adventist Church? 

      I am not saying 1844 is not important or should not be taught. I am might even endorse your arguments to Ervin. I am just saying it is not so essential that it should be a barrier to membership in the SDA Church, as required in our baptismal vows.  

    • Stephen Ferguson
      18 June 2012 @ 2:10 pm

      And I would appreciate both Bob and Ervin agreeing thing that gets lost in the whole 1844 issue is that advocates and critics alike often become obsessed with the date of 1844, rather acknowledge the broader concept of Christ’s position as High Priest, involved in an ongoing intercessory Ministry of pre-Advent Investigative Judgment in heaven?

      In particular, given even Roman Catholices, Eastern Orthodox and Dispensationalists agree in a phased judgment, with investigative-judicial pre-advent phases and executive phases.

  17. Elaine Nelson
    18 June 2012 @ 6:10 pm

    Ted Wilson in the latest online Review gave an address to the SDA Bible teachers reminding them that the 1844-2300 day prophecy should be preached with the historicist perspective.  He emphasized it repeatedly during his speech, and also mentioned creation as being a six contiguous event that should also be taught more.

    Of course, all the teachers who commented were in agreement–surprise 😉

    • Stephen Ferguson
      19 June 2012 @ 2:43 am

      Elaine, Pres Wilson is well within his right to do that.  I have no problems with Adventists holding to those views, because I largely hold them myself.  However, I do not believe they are 'core' Adventist beliefs that should be a test of fellowship.  They are not salvation issues that argue the essense  of the Gospel, as beliefs in the Trinity, salvation by grace by faith or baptism perhaps are.

      I understand people might have trouble understanding the slight but important distinction.

  18. Bob Pickle
    19 June 2012 @ 1:06 pm

    Stephen Ferguson,

    "Namely, are you saying that if a new convert believes all the other 27 fundamentals, including the seventh-day Sabbath, state of the dead, Trinity, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, baptism by full immersion etc etc, but does not fully understand or has doubts on the eschatological meaning of the date 1844, then you would vote against that person being baptised into the Seventh-day Adventist Church?"

    "Not fully understand" … Who does fully understand anything? That's not a problem for me. "Has doubts" … Everyone has doubts that go through their heads at one time or another. "State that they don't believe in" … I would think that person should study some more. "Actively war against" … If the individual intends to destroy Adventist beliefs, I don't see the point in allowing them to "join" the church.

    Let's put it this way: "The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose" (GC 488). Having one's name on church books, being baptized, attending church, that's not what saves. We are saved through faith in Christ. If we knowingly reject knowledge about the sanctuary and investigative judgment, and thus end up where it is impossible for us to exercise essential faith, how can we be saved?

    • Stephen Ferguson
      20 June 2012 @ 9:58 am

      "If we knowingly reject knowledge about the sanctuary and investigative judgment, and thus end up where it is impossible for us to exercise essential faith, how can we be saved?"

      So if we knowingly reject knowledge about the sanctuary and investigative judgment, even if we say accept salvation by grace through faith, the Trinity, the State of the Dead and the seventh-day Sabbath, then we can't be saved?  If that is the case, there is a very large proportion of the Adventist world population who won't be saved. 

      Also, what do you mean by 'sanctuary and investigative judgment' exactly?  As I said previously, most other religions, including the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox believe in an investigative judgment of sorts, distinguishing the notions of Particular Judgment of the individual at death vs the General Judgment at the Eschaton. They would also agree that the OT sanctuary is a model of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (where we only disagree over minor issues really, such as whether the scape goat represents Jesus or Satan).  Adventists might emphasise these beliefs more than them, by they do hold these same beliefs of a sort.

      The only aspect which does appear to be peculiarly Adventist is the date 1844.  My question is, then, could someone still be said to believe in FB#24, accepting the sanctuary as a pattern, accepting the distinction between phases in judgment, accepting an investigative judgment and accepting Christ's ministry as High Priest mediating in heaven BUT rejected the importance of the date 1844? 

      In short, is the date 1844 so important that one can't be either an SDA and/or even be saved (if knowingly rejecting the prophecy) without it?    

      P.S. I am not saying I disagree with the FB or importance of 1844 at all.  I do believe the belief is important and should be taught.  I am just questioning whether the date 1844 is a 'fundamental' belief, being our understanding of the 'essence' of the Gospel.  

      • Bob Pickle
        20 June 2012 @ 12:12 pm

        "The only aspect which does appear to be peculiarly Adventist is the date 1844."

        Depending on your definition of "Adventist," not really. There were a lot of non-Millerites that also held to the idea that the 2300 days ended in 1843, 1844, or 1847. If we look at what underlies the date, then the list of supporters becomes even broader. For example, three Jewish expotors writing in the 8th/9th, 11th, and 15th centuries held that the 2300 days were 2300 years. Miller's opponents were staunch "anti-Adventists." Did any of them disagree with the date? Prior to 1844, Prof. George Bush said that Miller was correct on the date.

        "… even if we say accept salvation by grace through faith …."

        Are we talking about an intellectual assent, or an experiential acceptance? Note also that true faith is manifested in action that is not necessarily overtly tied to the intellectual concept of salvation. For example, by faith Noah built an ark and was saved from the Flood, even though building an ark and getting aboard isn't overtly tied to Christ dying on the cross. Therefore, to knowingly reject any divinely revealed truth or instruction is contrary to a life of faith.

        "Also, what do you mean by 'sanctuary and investigative judgment' exactly?"

        Since it was GC 488 that referred to the "sanctuary and investigative judgment," I would suggest the better question is, what did the author mean by those terms? Do you have any thoughts on that passage that might be helpful?

        • Stephen Ferguson
          20 June 2012 @ 1:17 pm

          Thanks Bob, I concede others at the time of the Great Awakening the date 1844 was important.  Even today, the Ba'hai faith believes much the same prophecy, and holds that the prophecy was in fact fulfilled, when the Bab (or could be Bahula I forget) declared himself in Persia in 1844, who they say was the fulfillment of Jesus’ return.  


          However, that just dovetails in with my earlier comment that some of these broader concepts are found in other Christian denominations, even RC, Eastern Orthodox and Dispensationalist-Evangelical. That also doesn’t really explain why the date 1844 should be that important for a Christian today.


          You also haven't really answered my earlier points. I think the broad concept of Christ's role as High Priest in heaven is important in the sense that Christ's own death wasn't enough – Christ had to raise from the dead also.  The Bible makes very clear in Heb that Christ is now our High Priest and I don’t think any or many Christians of any denomination would dispute that. Paul said it best in 1 Cor. 15:14:   'And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.'  To that extent, I wholly agree with Ellen White’s statement that the sanctuary and investigative judgment are important. 


          But, the thing I don't accept is that you have to believe this concept in exactly the same way as Adventists traditionally do to be saved.  For example, I really don't think it matters that much if Christ started his investigative judgment in 33 AD when he ascended to heaven or in 1844 – what matters is the investigative judgment occurs.


          Whilst I do believe in the importance of 1844, in the ‘traditional Adventist’ way, I think it is a storm of a tea cup if others don’t.  The fact that Desmond Ford was castigated for daring to suggest Christ sat at the right hand of the father at his ascension in 33 AD and not 1844 seems really ridiculous to me.


          I understand why the date 1844 was historically important to our pioneers.  But to a ‘young person’ such as myself, it appears nothing more than a piece of theological trivia, like whether Christ is really Michael the Archangel (which you will note is not an SDA fundamental belief).  I wish one day it falls in the same ‘B class’ category of Adventist beliefs.


          As long as someone accepts that salvation comes not just from Christ’s death but also his resurrection, as Paul plainly said, and that He is coming back soon, then that is sufficient for me to call someone brother or sister.


          In conclusion, I think the broader concept of OT sanctuary and phased judgments, which almost all Christians believe, are arguably already covered by the FBs salvation by grace through faith and literal and visible Second Coming of Christ. I think the less essential parts of that doctrine, such as whether the investigative judgment began in AD 33, at 1844, or some other time, is not essential, and should be relegated to the same status as Michael the Archangel. 

          And if Christ has not been raised,(AD) our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

          • Bob Pickle
            21 June 2012 @ 1:11 pm


            I gave a Revelation Seminar years ago in which a light bulb went on in a lady's mind as she realized the judgment was going on now. It's a sobering concept calling for decision, now.

            Think about the huge ramifications of Ford's ideas, and of the idea that the IJ began in 33 instead of 1844. That affects one's view of the SoP, obviously. It also affects one's view of the three angels' messages, as well as Rev. 10, and that is huge. Making the little horn of Dan. 8 out top be Antiochus instead of Rome, which is exegetically impossible, is not a small matter.

            If a young person decides that whether Christ died on the cross for our sins or not as our substitute is theological trivia, shall we concede the point and put it in Class B? The real question is whether Scripture gives the date importance, not whether church members do.

            "As long as someone accepts that salvation comes not just from Christ’s death but also his resurrection, as Paul plainly said, and that He is coming back soon, then that is sufficient for me to call someone brother or sister."

            How about Rev. 14:6-7, where the first angel preaches the everlasting gospel. Would you agree that all brethren and sisters should believe the everlasting gospel, which includes a declaration that the hour of God's jugment has come, and a quotation from the 4th commandment?

            Note that vs. 7 begins with "Fear God," which in the last verses of Ecclesiastes is tied to the judgment and keeping the commandments. Indeed, James says we will be judged by the 10, and the citation in vs. 7 of the 4th is hinting that there is one of the 10 that people are ignoring, a rather dangerous situation when the judgment has already begun.

            So, just how many of these Bible doctrines is it all right for brethren and sisters to reject or be ignorant of?

  19. Darrel Lindensmith
    20 June 2012 @ 2:04 pm

    On the interpretation of Daniel 8:14 I do believe we need a “big tent” approach.  While it is abundantly clear in Scripture that there is a “pre-advent judgement,” exegetically we must allow people to look at Daniel 8:14 in context.  The context of in Daniel Eight  is the anti-christ power effectively obscured the priestly work of Christ in behalf of sinners in the heavenly sanctuary (see Heb. 8:1,2) by substituting a priesthood that purports to offer forgiveness through the mediation of men. This apostate power would be quite successful, for 'he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered' (Dan. 8:12)."
    The “cleansing of the Sanctuary” in verse 14 is to be understood in this setting.  Just as Israel suffered a cleansing in which God allowed pagan forces (Babylonia) to sweep the country, 1844 might point to accomplishments of secular humanism/ communism in completely gutting the church of its political and even spiritual influence.  This, beginning with the French and Bolshevik revolutions inspired by Karl Marx and Charles Darwin.
    In Paris, in 1844, Engels and Marx met to set-up the structure of secular communism and begin the movement.  This was the same year that Charles Darwin finished his book
    One layer of meaning of Dan. 8:14 might be that God would  de- corrupt  His church and purify it through the anti-religion regimes, also depicted as Europe turning on the church, in Rev. 17:16     “And the ten horns and the beast [the political wing], these shall hate the harlot [the religious wing], and shall  make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and shall burn her  utterly with fire.   For God did put in their hearts to do his will . . . .”     
    Only true believers remain, under persecution!     
    The Judgment in Daniel 8:14 is clearly against the entity that took control of the sanctuary.   Many Adventist people at least see this last thought as being accurate; we need big tent Adventism to allow free thought within the confines of Biblical integrity.
    Women’s ordination I believe falls in the same camp.   Adventist churches or divisions should be allowed to do as they feel Biblical. 

    • Stephen Ferguson
      21 June 2012 @ 6:00 am

      Thankyou Darrel.  Totally agree and that was what I was trying to also say in effect.

    • Bob Pickle
      21 June 2012 @ 1:32 pm


      I see two problems at least with the approach you suggest. First of all, it doesn't take into account Rev. 11:1, which ties together the 2300 days (unsealed in Rev. 10), Lev. 16 (same three things cleansed in Lev. 16 that are measured in Rev. 11:1), and an investigative judgment ("measure" means "judge" in Mat. 7:2, and must refer to an investigating type judgment).

      Second, it does not take into account that the only description of the cleansing of the sanctuary services is in Lev. 16, which description is preceded by a reference to two renegade priests. If the little horn of Dan. 8 refers to renegade priests, then we have a clear parallel.

      I'll mention another point to consider: The SoP is clear that the cleansing of the sanctuary is for professed believers. If the Roman papal power consists of professed believers, then their names would have to come up in the judgment too.

      And another: If you look at what defiles the sanctuary in the OT, and what that really means, it appears to be a calling into question of God's character or reputation. The IJ, in demonstrating why it is fair and just to save this one and not that one, vindicates God's character. The papacy did perhaps more than any other professedly Christian institution to defile God's character.

      Some say that there is an exegetical problem in Dan. 8. However, if Rev. 11:1 tells us that we need to tie Lev. 16 to Dan. 8, then that's what we need to do. And the other considerations I think demonstrate that there really isn't an exegetical problem at all.