Dear Editor,

I read with interest a recent offering entitled “Pay the Thunder No Mind,” by Winona Winkler Wendth (and yes, I do find alliteration appealing) in the paper edition of Adventist Today, summer 2019 (volume 27, #3).

I didn’t know her grandfather, whom she references, but I wish to react to something she attributes to him in the essay. He told her, “A person has to work hard not to go to heaven.”  

I’m not so sure.

Of the myriad of humans who have ever lived, Holy Writ records only 3 by name who were translated (only 2 without tasting death):  Enoch, Elijah, and Moses.

At the Great Deluge, of a presumably vast number of humans (estimates vary, but I encountered a fascinating take online, making the following assumptions: 

  • 1656 years’ time elapse between Eden and the Flood
  • Average lifespan: 900 years
  • Average 10 children (5 girls, 5 boys)/family that grew to adulthood and married
  • 18 generations on average in family lines
  • 10 generations in an average lifespan

Result of computation: of 10 trillion people, only 8 were saved. Even if the above estimate is off by a factor of 1000, there were still 10 billion. If off by a factor of 10,000, there were still 1 billion.

While we may speculate as to the number of humans inhabiting Earth at the time of the Flood, we can agree on the number saved: 8. And, based on the account of Holy Writ, I’m not so sure all 8 will escape the 2nd death.

Before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, the Almighty dialogued with Abraham, and agreed not to destroy those cities could 10 righteous souls be found. But there were not even 10. The pillar of salt of Lot’s wife bore witness to that sad fact.

It is the belief of many that, since the fall, the nature of man has been tainted. One need only look at the behavior of many infants and small children to see that they are not born with selflessness. That trait seems to be absent from their genome.

Christ taught that unless we adults become as little children (but not in the above way), we will not see the Kingdom. Broad is the way that leads to destruction; and many there be that travel it. Conversely, narrow is the path to Paradise, and few there be that find it. These are not my words.  

We are also admonished to work out our salvation with “fear and trembling.” It is not a matter to be taken lightly.

John the Revelator recorded a vast multitude on the sea of glass. But they may still be a small fraction of those who have lived and died on our planet.

Ellen White once wrote something to the effect that not 1 in 20 reading at that time (and she presumably meant believers) would be ready for the parousia.  (My recollection is admittedly fuzzy and I welcome correction.) I recall thinking that, were my mother in such a group of 20, the other 19 should regard their lives with care (and prayer).  But I admit to bias about my mother whom, even now, with the benefit of passage of time, I consider a saint.

Something in me would like to believe that the grandfather of W.W. Wendth was correct in his theology.

But, given the above, I’m not so sure.

S.M. Chen  |  9 September 2019  |

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