24 January 2024 |
Why have the leaders and theologians of the Seventh-day Adventist Church refused to reckon with the failure of our founding prophecy? No one can argue that two millennia have passed since the apostles said Jesus was about to return, or that it’s been almost two centuries since Adventists renewed the claim.
Yet our leaders trumpet the word “soon” as enthusiastically as they did two centuries ago.
After 1844 we Adventists quit setting precise dates. But what we did was arguably worse: we began to use words and phrases that express all the anxiety and expectancy, all the urgency and fear, but with no possibility for closure. Words such as “soon,” “imminent,” and “at any time.” We’re at the edge of a precipice, but can neither walk back from it, nor fall over it.
True believers have ever since been meant to live in existential vertigo.
Please understand that I’m not saying Jesus isn’t returning. What I am saying is that we can no longer defend the fearful urgency with which we have promoted the second coming. For almost two centuries we have twisted people’s arms to respond to the altar call because “Jesus is coming soon.” We have asked them to leave all their money to the church when they die (even though Jesus had failed to return in their lifetimes as we’d promised them) because “Jesus is coming soon.” We have urged young men and, now, women, into the ministry because “Jesus is coming soon.”
For 180 years my denomination has purported to be in a state of emergency—all while carrying on business as usual. If Jesus anyone really believes Jesus is returning (as some leaders have said) “before the next General Conference session,” then why are we still building buildings, expanding institutions, and funding retirement accounts?
In this class, we will look at how some of the most frequently cited texts about the second coming have been intentionally misconstrued in order to make it seem like there is greater urgency than Jesus said there should be. And we will also ask: where we can go from here?
Loren Seibold is a retired pastor, now the Executive Editor of Adventist Today.
Bob Martin serves as a Senior Advisor in the Eric Adams administration of New York City, with a professional background in economics, labor and capitalism.
How to join:
One-click link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/89253543085
ATSS starting time depends on where you are. If you’re on the west coast of the United States, it’ll be 10:30 AM. On the east coast, 1:30 PM. Times in Europe, Africa, and elsewhere will vary with local time changes. Please double-check the correct time where you live.
The class is intended to last about 2 hours, though the conversation often continues to 4 PM (Eastern time).
About our class:
- The AT Sabbath Seminar is intended to be a courteous forum. We discuss and ask questions politely. We don’t accuse, get angry, put people down, or judge the state of their salvation.
- Stick to the topic in both comments and chat discussion.
- Make your comments and questions short—don’t dominate.
- Keep your microphones muted unless you are called upon to make your comment or ask your question.
- Indicate your interest in speaking by raising your electronic hand—under the “reactions” button.
- Please use your name when you sign in! Not your phone number, not your initials. This will help us differentiate you from unwelcome guests who want to disrupt us. You can set your name after signing on by clicking on the 3 dots next to your picture, which drops down a menu.
We look forward to getting acquainted with you!
- John McLarty
- Stephen Chavez
- Kart Lazic
- Denis Fortin
- Andreas Bochmann
- Jim Walters
- Tom deBruin