by Ranko Stefanovic | 17 October 2018 |
As most of you know, during these last few days, there has been much discussion regarding the Sabbath School Quarterly on Revelation to be studied the first quarter in 2019. There was some discussion about the Adult Bible Study Guide (ABSG) over some last minute changes to my manuscript. I had some dealing with the ABSG over it, and an unfortunate email that went out from their department that, however unintentionally, challenged my scholarly credibility. However, we worked through it together and I assumed the issue was behind us. I was told by ABSG that my original manuscript was put in the file to be studied somewhere in the future (I hope it will happen soon). I trust the Sabbath School Department that they will keep their promise.
This was all very unfortunate, and I was not happy about what happened, but it was too late to do anything about it. Most of you have learned about this unfortunate incident from the recent article in Adventist Today. I want to let you know that that article was not initiated by me, but by the translators of the quarterly in the field who informed Adventist Today of what had happened.
While the original manuscript was heavily revised, the Adventist Today article pointed only to two revised changes, which led to some perception that the original manuscript was soft on the Roman Catholic Church. I am presenting to you the commentary on the beast of Revelation 13 that was in the original manuscript, and it is upon each one of you to make your judgment:
The forty-two months of the beast’s activities is the same time period of “a time, times, and half a time” and the 1,260 days of the persecution of the woman/church in Revelation 12:14. Prophetic days stand as a symbol for years. The year AD 538 marks appropriately the beginning of this prophetic period as the church, with the pope as its head, established itself as an ecclesiastical power and dominated the Western World throughout medieval times. This period was concluded in AD 1798 when the events of the French Revolution inflicted upon the beast the deadly wound bringing the church’s oppressive rule and the state-instituted religion to its end, replacing it with a human-centered philosophy and materialistic worldview.
Revelation 13 gives a prophecy of the major apostasy in the history of the Christian Church, which was fulfilled when the state church of Western Europe claimed the position and prerogatives of God for the pope as its head. The atoning ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary was replaced by of the church’s priesthood to forgive sins. Those who insisted on living by the teaching of the Bible, experienced persecution and martyrdom. History testifies to more than fifty million Christians who paid with their lives for their faithfulness to the Bible. Although in modern times characterized by religious tolerance such statements are regarded as harsh, the present cannot erase historical facts.
Furthermore, the concept of the Satanic or counterfeit trinity is well established in the church—it was adopted in 1980s by DARCOM (Daniel & Revelation Committee) and has appeared in Seventh-day Adventist books. It has been used to full advantage by our evangelists.
I believe that despite the unfortunate changes that have been made to the ABSG (in particular Revelation 1:9-20, and chaps. 5, 7, 11, 13, 19), the SS Quarterly that we will study in the first quarter of 2019 contains a lot of good material. I would recommend that you take those lessons and encourage our people to study them. I urge you to consult my book Plain Revelation which was originally intended to be the companion to the quarterly. You can also make a use of my commentary on Revelation titled Revelation of Jesus Christ.
I have a full confidence that you will respect my request, and encourage our people to study the upcoming Sabbath School Quarterly. This is a great opportunity for us as a church to join together in studying this book which means so much to us. Cliff Goldstein and I have great respect for each other and no hard feelings about this unfortunate incident. I also highly respect persons from the General Conference who were involved in dealing with this issue. Please, pray for Cliff Goldstein, who has a great responsibility in editing the Sabbath School lessons. Sometimes mistakes are made without bad intentions. So, please, keep him and his team in your prayers. It is my desire that the Sabbath School Quarterly on Revelation next quarter be a great blessing to all of us.
Dr. Ranko Stefanovic is a professor of New Testament theology at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, MI.