by Stephen Foster

In the church that I attend, the choirs are all exceptionally good. In fact, one of the choirs is so well regarded that it has often traveled to various parts of the country to sing for worship services and for special concert engagements. The pastor there is becoming increasingly well known for being especially used by God when preaching; so much so, that of (seating capacity) necessity, two fully attended divine worship services are now conducted each Sabbath; and Wednesday evening prayer service is often a full house event as well. Nearly every Sabbath the young (34 year old) pastor conducts a call and response in his greeting, in which he says that "It's not about the pastor, it not about the choir, (tell your neighbor that) it's not about me, and it's not about you. It's about Jesus…it's all about Jesus!"

Well certainly that is what Christianity is purportedly about. But what about Adventism; what is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism? What is it essentially all about? This is not to be confused, necessarily, with its raison d'être as a movement; but what is the one foundational thing you can be certain that all Adventists believe, or believe to be true?

The answer may be found in the question, "What's in a name?" Adventism is about the return of Jesus.

The point is that if Adventists don't believe or agree on anything else, they (we) certainly all must agree that Jesus is returning as it has been Biblically recorded that He said He would; and that we are not to be ignorant concerning the various signs, many that He Himself identified, of the imminence of His return.

This literal "Adventism" is, of course, not unique to Seventh-day Adventists; but it is nevertheless universal among Seventh-day Adventists…or so we thought.

As it turns out, this may–or may not–be the case. Personally, I had always assumed it to be a self-evident reality that Adventists believe that Jesus will return. That in fact, this is really the very definition of Adventism. Well…as the saying goes, live and learn.

What may be in question, I suppose, is how important it is that we (all) commonly believe anything–or that this "anything" be something we all accept by faith to be unquestionably true. In other words, as a religious denomination, or if you prefer, a faith tradition, is there an identifying and unifying belief? Also, are we institutionally strengthened by the big tent philosophy that we have occasionally seen evident in the political arena, or would we be strengthened by encouraging uniformity of doctrinal teaching relating to at least the most basic of nominal beliefs inherent in our name?

When conflict of any kind is impending or apparent it is undoubtedly always appropriate to determine what, if anything can be agreed upon by the parties; and whether anything indeed can be built on that common ground. To this end, others have written blogs, and specifically my personal commentary following certain blogs relating to historic Adventist beliefs, have asked of those who have, shall we say, "issues" with what they have labeled as traditional Adventism and its beliefs (including the identification of earthquakes in divers places as a sign of the imminent return of Christ) do they believe that Jesus will return as He is reported to have claimed that He would (to take us to be with Him). I have, in fact, been reprimanded by a particular frequent participant as having been rude in repeatedly asking this question–in commentary on a blog about eschatological prophecy–when I have been afforded this blog space in which to ask this question.

So, let me now again ask the question to any and all who read this blog or who participate on this site, especially those who remain Seventh-day Adventists, do you believe that Jesus will return as is reported to be the case in John 14: 1-3? This question isn't rhetorical.

My position, of course, is that the specific John 14: 1-3 promise is the essence of "Adventism" generally, and of Seventh-day Adventism particularly; that this is what Adventism is essentially about. I further personally believe that those who claim to be Seventh-day Adventists but do not believe that Jesus will return as He is reported to have claimed that He will, are not Adventists at all, but are in fact enemies of Adventism and perhaps do not have the intellectual fortitude to admit it; if in fact they realize it at all.

Now, if my take on the essence of Adventism is erroneous (or worse), tell me how so, and what you think it is. In other words, what is it all about? So, I have now asked two questions to those who may have problems with historical Adventism–in the never-ending search for common ground.

Comments


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 23rd, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

You've got my vote Sir: I'm a believer. By faith in His promise I believe He will return. The story of the Ten Virgins sums-up this promise quite well for me [Matt 25:1-13].

Adventist awaiting Christ's return

T


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 24th, 2011 Preston says:

Stephen,

It's a loaded question, as it is a simple one. Is there common ground?

If one believes Jesus isn't coming again (and is, therefore, a fraud), why bother with Adventism? Though some may recoil at the language ("enemies"), it unclear to me why anyone would align themselves with a denomination whose beliefs were in opposition to their cultural or intellectual foundation.

It would seem to be a recipe for continual frustration and estrangement.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 24th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

Most Christians believe that Jesus will come to them at their death. The time is really unimportant since we are told only God knows the time of His coming. So, to attempt to make a point of saying He is coming "soon" is patently ambiguous as "soon" in God's time is one day is a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day.

Whether literal or not, both Jesus and EGW said that some at the time they both spoke would be alive when Jesus returned. Now, was that to be taken literally, as in they will be resurrected to see Him come, or that they would not see death before He came? We now know that the latter did not happen, so the default position is the former.

The main question: "What possible difference should it make to any of us when He comes? There is no such thing as "getting ready" for if we have not been living good lives, unless we are the thief on the cross, we "do not know the day and hour" so for us, today may be our last day on earth. Besides, Jesus said (Matt. 25) that those who did not even know His name would be found welcomed into heaven if they had fed the hungry, clothed the naked and cared for the less fortunate. Are we doing all we can in that respect? This is what Adventism should be known for.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 24th, 2011 laffal says:

Elaine is right when she say that most Christians believe that Christ will return. But the term Adventist refers to those who await the "imminent return" of Christ. The term Adventist all by itself is contrary to Elaine's point, "to attempt to make a point of saying He is coming "soon" is patently ambiguous as "soon" in God's time is one day is a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day." Then Elaine concludes that there is no such thing as "getting ready." I belive this is where we lose touch with the common ground, identity, purpose given to the SDA movement by God HImself.

In the same passage Elaine quotes we have, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God. If we are truly Adventists, this text is huge in terms of value and importance, it is all encompassing. Not only are we to look for Christ's soon return, we are to do what we can do, to make it sooner then later. And I believe here in lies the reason why many have cast EGW to the side as irrelevant. Her principle focus was to help people prepare for translation. She lived and worked in the hope and reality of Christ's return in her lifetime. Everything she said, wrote and did to one degree or another had this focus / purpose. That's why the shoes she asks us to put on feel so tight at times. There is a conflict in the Church today. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but who's preparing to leave, and more importantly, who's preparing to be sure they will feel welcome when they get there?

The 2nd coming of Christ is not good news to everybody, Revelation 6:12-16 makes that clear. It is only good news to those who have accepted Christ as their personal Savior and await for His return as the blessed hope. So how do we get ready for His return? Tell anybody and everybody we can that Jesus is their Savior from sin and all that comes with it, give them them the invitation to sit at the welcome table with Christ and all those who love His appearing. But we SDA's must live in the context of His return. And this is where the shoe starts to pinch.

There is a question that I believe we have to entertain and ponder as Adventists. Why hasn't Christ returned yet? Is it because He wants all to come to repentance? (This is our patent response.) Or could it be that there is a causal relationship between Liberal and Conservative Work Avoidance and Christ not yet returning? In other words, could we be the reason He's not yet returned? Why would He want to bring all the division and strife back to heaven with Him?

Peace


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 24th, 2011 Al Good says:

"I … personally believe that those who claim to be Seventh-day Adventists but do not believe that Jesus will return as He is reported to have claimed that He will, are not Adventists at all, but are in fact enemies of Adventism …"  Stephen Foster

Ah, Stephen! I can just picture you with your pitch fork, manning the baricades of Adventism; the barbarians are at the gates (the non-believing Adventists, that is). Alas, they are already inside!

I've seen you engage in gross oversimplifications before, but this is simply unbelievable. No need to point out the non sequitur in that quote above; it should be obvious to all.

There is one central problem in discussing what Jesus purportedly said: we have no record of Jesus having written anything, except for the few words he supposedly wrote in the sand regarding the woman brought to him who was condemned for alleged adultery. The sayings attributed to him are hear-say. The Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses. We have no way of verifying what Jesus actually said.

The Gospels are not reliable records of what Jesus said or did. They were concerned with presenting a message; they are not journalistic accounts of the life and sayings of Jesus. Myth and embellishment are evident in the Gospels as is the case with religious writings of ancient peoples. The authors of Matthew, Mark and Luke were concerned with presenting Jesus as the Messiah; the author of John went a step further: presenting Jesus as God incarnate.

What I'm saying here is nothing new; this has been the evidence presented in objective scholarship on the Gospels. In a number of mainstream seminaries, pastors in training are given this information. Somehow, the information is slow in reaching the pews.

In the quote above, I can almost read into your words that you allow for the possibility that the words attributed to Jesus may not be his. Consider this phrase from the quote above: "… is reported to have claimed …" This doesn't sound very definitive coming from someone with a clear set of criteria for who should or shouldn't be called Adventists.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 24th, 2011 RonCorson says:

So many problems with this blog:

The point is that if Adventists don't believe or agree on anything else, they (we) certainly all must agree that Jesus is returning as it has been Biblically recorded that He said He would; and that we are not to be ignorant concerning the various signs, many that He Himself identified, of the imminence of His return.

This literal "Adventism" is, of course, not unique to Seventh-day Adventists; but it is nevertheless universal among Seventh-day Adventists…or so we thought.

As it turns out, this may–or may not–be the case. Personally, I had always assumed it to be a self-evident reality that Adventists believe that Jesus will return. That in fact, this is really the very definition of Adventism. Well…as the saying goes, live and learn.

What may or may not be the case? Literal Adventism? What is that, those who believe in the second coming which covers most of Christianity or the belief in an imminent return with imminent having no real meaning when imminent includes a period over 150 years. what is that 8 generations? Was earthquake ever meant to be a sign of the imminent return or was it a birth pain which has been going on for nearly 2000 years?

So what is this really about? Imminent return or simply a return someday that know one knows? Or is this a question dealing with the different between a physical return versus some kind of spiritualized return?

If you don't set up your question well it simply leads to more questions. But isn't that really the problem with traditional Adventism. they assume that what they are thinking is what every one else must be thinking so they don't have to be specific because after all if you are not thinking like the traditionalist you must be wrong anyway so what does it matter what the others are thinking.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 24th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

" Not only are we to look for Christ's soon return, we are to do what we can do, to make it sooner then later."

How is it possible for mere humans to hasten Christ's return? EGW is often quoted as saying that not until there are a people who have demonstrated His character will He then come (paraphrase). IOW, we humans have control over tihe time of coming of the Lord of the Universe?

This is utter nonsense! It introduces the idea of man being so powerful that he can influence the Lord to either come "sooner" (whatever that ambiguous term means), or that because we have not been perfect representations of His character, we delay His coming. How many must there be to effecctively influence His coming: 100? 1,000? 1,000,000? All the Adventists on the books? Are other religions also in that scenario? Do the Catholics, Baptists, and other denominations–not to mention non-Christians–left out of that picture? What do they have to do to "hasten His coming?

If all the cliches used in Adventism were suddenly eliminated, maybe the simple Gospel message would emerge. Until that time, there is so much "Adventese" written without explanation it befomes SDA codes for whatever the writer wishes it to mean, and that, GOK.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 24th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Al Good,

Before I respond, would you kindly point out the non sequitur that may not have been so obvious to some of us? Thank you very much!

While you’re at it, you may also want to revisit a previous blog, in which I pointed out that those among us each week whom I would most definitely consider to be theological/doctrinal enemies of Adventism are not necessarily worse off than any of its most ardent defenders; in which case you may consider a re-take of your mental picture of me. (You and I exchanged thoughts following that blog.)

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger   https://atoday.rapidhost.net/article.php?id=24


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 24th, 2011 laffal says:

Elaine,

First of all, the text in 2 Peter 3 says that we can hasten His coming, not me. 2ndly, I'll gladly agree with your EGW reference (Christ Object Lessons pg. 69) as to the reproduction of Christ's character in His people as being the signifying mark / time that He will return to claim His people as His own. But this brings us to the crux of the matter.

Christ cannot / will not reproduce His character in His people without their cooperation / participation.

Stay joined to me and I will stay joined to you. No branch can produce fruit alone. It must stay connected to the vine. It is the same with you. You cannot produce fruit alone. You must stay joined to me. "I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I to you, you will produce plenty of fruit. But separated from me you won't be able to do anything. (John 15:4-5 ERV)

Herein lies the issue as to how soon is soon when it comes to His returning. How many of us want to submit our wills / lives totally to Christ so that He can reproduce the fruit of His character in us… totally so He will come to claim them as His own? It's what SDA's call the harvest principle.

Herein lies another one of the problems before us. We've been trying to produce this fruit without Him. Could be a sound reason for your attitude towards all things SDA. The frustration, or however you might describe / define it, is more then understandable. But that still does not mean that what Peter / Jesus have to say about this is not doable. For that matter, Christ's return is on hold until somebody gets it together. Until then…

Peace


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 24th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

"What may or may not be the case" is that there is a universality of belief among Seventh-day Adventists that Jesus is going to literally return as He is recorded in the Bible to have said that He would; and that we are not to be ignorant (as in “ignoring”) of the various signs, that He Himself identified, of the imminence of His return.

That imminence has “no real meaning” to RonCorson is illustrative of the point that Ron seems to be missing, as well as a literal fulfillment of prophecy—not to mention that he is unclear as to whether we refer to a literal/physical or “some kind of spiritualized return.”

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger   https://atoday.rapidhost.net/article.php?id=24


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 25th, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Here are a few basic characteristics exhibited by some ‘enemies’ of Adventism (in my opinion):

1] They are evasive about their unbelief in Jesus returning. Whether intentionally or unknowingly, that remains to be seen.

2] The authority of the Holy Bible is undermined, discredited and questioned, but on the pretense of shedding light.

3] They systematically attack those individuals, churches and institutions who believe and teach that Jesus will return as per His promise in the Bible.

4] They have no real message of hope for mankind except to cast doubt on Biblical truths and prophecies.

5] They use crafty scholarly arguments, even from the Bible, but are not necessarily true believers in the Scriptures they quote from. Their use of such is not for the purpose of edifying the Church.

6] They allude to the teachings of Humanism which reveals an Agnostic trait.

Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

T


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 25th, 2011 Al Good says:

"… would you kindly point out the non sequitur that may not have been so obvious to some of us?" – Stephen Foster

Then I can see how you committed that fallacy in the first place, Stephen. It's pretty simple: one may be a member of the SDA Church and not believe everything the church stands for, even a cardinal position. However, it does not follow that the person is an "enemy" of the church. The person may even leave the church because of the absence of belief. That person doesn't automatically become an "enemy" of the church. One may be considered an enemy is he/she actively campaign to destroy the church. Again, not sharing certain beliefs, even one such as the 'second coming' does not immediately translate to "enemy." Be careful of oversimplifications.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 25th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

That's a pretty wide net for "enemies of the church."

As someone has said: "The church invites questions from prospective converts; once dipped in the water, all questions should cease."

If "enemies" are those who would question some of the beliefs of the church, that assumes that "friends" never question. The 28 FBs were introduced because there was doubt and questions regarding why, how, and the need for a statement of beliefs. The inference is that once these have been established, no longer will questions be raised.

The evidence is that some of the most prominent in Adventism do not fully accept all those beliefs as written. Are they to be classified in the enemy camp? Who assigns them? If the official church is unafraid of questions and is absolutely certain they are air-tight, why such insecurity expressed by only some members?


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 25th, 2011 JohnB says:

Elaine
If you were referring to Trevor's post I think that you need to look again. He did NOT say that persons who satisfied his categories were enemies of the church.
He said something very different.
He said that (some) enemies of the church exhibited those characteristics.
i.e.
Some enemies -> characteristics.
NOT
those who exhibited characteristics -> enemies.
You would seem to have made a simple but crucial error in logic.

Happy Sabbath


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 25th, 2011 jackclyde says:

Stephen,

To answer your first question: Yes, I believe that Jesus will return. Given that Jesus hasn't appeared during the 2000-year history of Christianity or the 150-year history of the SDA Church, I cannot say with confidence that the second advent will be within my lifetime.

Regarding the second question: I do not think this particular belief is the essence of Adventism because I do not see any difference in the behavior of those who hold this belief and those who don't. For example, do Adventists who believe in the imminent return of Jesus have retirement accounts? If so, isn't this "hedging" a form of unbelief? Does the overall SDA church have an urgency you would expect with this belief that you don't see in other churches? There is more discussion of what changes there should be at the next GC (4 years away) than I have heard about preparing for the 2nd coming.

My thought is that the essence of Adventism is also the essence of Christianity – Jesus. I guess I have to agree with your pastor on that one!

Jack


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 25th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Stephen wrote:

That imminence has “no real meaning” to RonCorson is illustrative of the point that Ron seems to be missing, as well as a literal fulfillment of prophecy—not to mention that he is unclear as to whether we refer to a literal/physical or “some kind of spiritualized return.”

No those were questions that you needed to be more specific on. I asked:

"What may or may not be the case? Literal Adventism? What is that, those who believe in the second coming which covers most of Christianity or the belief in an imminent return with imminent having no real meaning when imminent includes a period over 150 years. what is that 8 generations? Was earthquake ever meant to be a sign of the imminent return or was it a birth pain which has been going on for nearly 2000 years?"

"So what is this really about? Imminent return or simply a return someday that [no] one knows? Or is this a question dealing with the difference between a physical return versus some kind of spiritualized return?"

So please instead of telling me I am unclear because I asked you several questions why not take the time to explain yourself. Is that so hard, or is your whole method of operation to denigrate people.

Maybe I should add another question since you seem unclear about the word imminent, it's definition is:
"likely to occur at any moment; impending: Her death is imminent." https://dictionary.reference.com/browse/imminent So is that what you believe? At any moment the second coming can occur…is that what Adventist Eschatology teaches (because it seems there is something about sunday laws Adventist keep talking about, and something about the gospel going to all the world which the Bible talks about)?


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 25th, 2011 geoffmarsh says:

The core of Adventism and Christianity itself is that Jesus will return bodily and soon. "Soon" may be relative, but the disciples themselves thought that Jesus would come in their lifetime, and Jesus Himself said that He was coming quickly. What that clearly means is that we as Christians cannot say "Jesus will not be coming anytime soon, so we can live like it doesn't matter"; we are called to be ready for His return at any time. The instant we say "My master delays his coming", we are like the unfaithful servant in Jesus's parable.

In addition, Jesus will actually and bodily return. It won't be an invisible spiritual return that only some people know about. If we deny that, then we deny what Jesus Himself said.

So I agree with Elder Foster's position, and I submit that the issue about Jesus's return isn't whether it's imminent or not, but whether we are living in expectation of it, and whether we believe it will be a REAL event. If we say it's not imminent because it hasn't happened yet, so God is out there wasting time, we are not true Adventists or true Christians. If we say that He will not return as He said He would, we are on dangerous spiritual turf.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 25th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

RonCorson,

Apparently I misunderstood your first question (“What may or not be the case?”) to have been the summation of those that followed (having to do with literal Adventism, imminence, etc.). My purpose was to answer that question specific question and in so doing, reveal where I stood in relation to the others.

Clearly you wanted an answer concerning my understanding of “imminence” which I failed to give. May I suggest that my understanding of imminence refers to “soon,” or in the not distant future? Since we cannot know, or determine, precisely when the Second Coming will occur, we cannot determine how soon is soon; but the concept has meaning and spiritual application because, as the earthquakes/birth pain analogy clearly suggests, we are to consider them as sure signs that what has been anticipated will occur, and that we should prepare for it to happen “in such an hour as [we] think not.”

Of course, the concept or idea of imminence was not the MAIN thrust of the blog. Instead, the fact that Jesus will literally return (“someday,” if you will), and the universality of belief—or lack thereof—among Seventh-day Adventists concerning this (advent) belief certainly was.

I hope that this is a more comprehensive reply to your questions.

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger   https://atoday.rapidhost.net/article.php?id=24


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 25th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

"It's pretty simple: one may be a member of the SDA Church and not believe everything the church stands for, even a cardinal position. However, it does not follow that the person is an "enemy" of the church. The person may even leave the church because of the absence of belief."

While we may agree that someone doesn’t have to believe everything that the church teaches, precisely as it is taught and/or understood by the church, and still be a member, supporter and friend of the Adventist church, my point is that those who don’t believe the essential, core, defining position—that Jesus will literally return—and yet REMAIN attending members, are doctrinal opponents of the advent message; and if they overtly or covertly challenge this most elemental of doctrines, as attending members, they are in fact “actively [campaigning to] destroy the church” by undermining its foundational belief.

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger   https://atoday.rapidhost.net/article.php?id=24


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 25th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Stephen wrote:

…and that we should prepare for it to happen “in such an hour as [we] think not.”

Lets ignore for the moment what you think the signs are because the only signs specific to the 2nd coming are those in the sun, moon and stars. All the others appear to have always occurred and continue to occur, e.g earthquakes, wars etc.

So if we put that aside how does being prepared differ between someone who thinks the return will be within a year or two and someone who thinks it may not occur in their lifetime? Is there a difference in their relationship with God? Is there a difference in their faith, after all faith is in God not time predictions. What do you see as the differences? Is there something specific like someone wrote above. Would those who expect it to happen in a year or two not buy insurance or buy houses or land or start businesses?

And hopefully you won't use the false logic of saying that a Christian is not a Christian if he says my master delays. Because that is just as subjective as imminent. though I have never heard that most thoughtful people will simply say He has not delayed because He always knows when the right time to come will be and that is when He will come. So lets hear your case.

Stephen wrote:

my point is that those who don’t believe the essential, core, defining position—that Jesus will literally return—and yet REMAIN attending members, are doctrinal opponents of the advent message; and if they overtly or covertly challenge this most elemental of doctrines, as attending members, they are in fact “actively [campaigning to] destroy the church” by undermining its foundational belief.

If that is your central premise why did you not give us some example of these people, do you have any examples or is this some sort of conspiracy theory? Remember an argument from silence is a logical fallacy, which is kind of what I think you are basing this on, because people ignored you questions on an unrelated blog article.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 26th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

RonCorson,

Two points, Ron; your issues with the concept of imminence it seems may be more with texts such as Matthew 24: 32-51, Matthew 25, Mark 13: 8-37, Luke 12: 35-47, than with anything else, since imminence was not my main concern.

Secondly, when I initially asked this question, on a blog having to do with predictions of the time of the end—certainly related—the question was understandably at least as much evaded as ignored; of course this may be a matter of perspective. Besides, you suggested that the question would more appropriately be posed in a blog that I wrote.

I appreciate that for some it may be an uncomfortable question to answer, peer pressure being what it is. Having unidentified persons labeled as enemies of our foundational advent doctrine undoubtedly makes it even more difficult for those for whom the shoe fits to proudly wear it, and to identify themselves. This is quite understandable.

I heard a sermon once which captured the relevance of this imminence concept for me. It was based on the ideas that we should not only act as if the Master is returning unexpectedly because we don’t know when our individual lives will end, but also that each day we are forming neurological pathways, habits if you will, that may make it harder—and eventually impossible—to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit’s pleading with us.

At the risk of being repetitive, allow me to reiterate that the (relative) imminence of Christ’s return was not the crux of the question as I originally posed it. The fact or reality of Christ’s literal return to take us to be with Him certainly was.

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger   https://atoday.rapidhost.net/article.php?id=24


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 26th, 2011 RonCorson says:

It may not be the crux of your question but it is very much implied. After all why else the question in a thread dealing with what Adventists always use to try and say that the second coming is imminent?

So should I take it from your lack of answer to my question about the differences in people's relationship to God between imminent and non imminent that there really is no difference. After all even non imminent people recognize they can suddenly die.

Oh and one more thing it was you who declared certain un-named people enemies which was probably not a smart thing to do whether you thought your assumptions were correct or not. The point is you probably have no examples, possibly you could find some agnostic statements you could use, though just because someone does not claim to know something should never make them the enemy.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 26th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

The ability look for and identify "enemies of the church" is not something to be broadcast. It smacks of the CIA (Contrary In Adventism) as a talent which no Christian should be engaged in. The goal of Christianity is to MAKE disciples, not to discourage, even seek "enemies" that one self-identifies.

Who would want to be part of a religious organization that labels anyone an "enemy" and that goes for those who identify Roman Catholics as "enemies." We are all in this world together and when we fail to follow the Golden Rule and love God with all our hearts there will be no time, interest, or ESP to identify enemies. Any such endeavor is beneath the title of Christian.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 26th, 2011 Seminarystudent1 says:

Seminary Student.

In all my life I have never heard the Adventist church called the Cathoics or any other Christians " enemies ' I came from a Catholic country and I was educated in A catholic university and I will never call them enemies but friends , Catholics stand for a lot of good things , in some cases I wish we take an stand similar to them , As an immigrant I admire Catholics for how they defend immigrants rights . It is intesting that When Hitler was in power some reformed theologians like Benhoeffer , barth and others opposed Hitler and we As Adventists didn't do a good job but many were in favor of Hitler . However Catholics as well as other Christians are not faithful to the bible , taking tradition and Greek Philosophy .But we should never look down on any other human being Christian or unchristian , we might make the same mistake of the Jews . And the words of Jesus to them was " tax , collectors and Prostitutes will be ahead in the kingdom of heaven. so we need more humility and at the same time recognize that we have been given a message that needs to go through out the world .And the result of preaching this message will sepate the people of the world in two groups .Let's just pray we will always listen to voice of Jesus so we will be Jesus ,


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 26th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

It is apparent that a pattern of avoidance and evasion has developed around the question of do you believe that Jesus will return to take us to Heaven to be with Him, as He is reported in the Bible to have said that He would.

Imminence is not implied in my question at all, but it’s a nice try at misdirection. It may have been inferred by RonCorson, given that it first appeared “in a thread dealing with what Adventists always use to try and say that the second coming is imminent,” but I took Ron’s advice and placed it in a blog that simply positions the promise or certainty of Jesus’ return at the heart of Adventism and did not imply that imminence is germane at all. What’s more, the text that I used in my original posing of the question (John 14: 1-3) does not reference a theme of imminence whatsoever.

My point about developing habits that will make it harder, and eventually improbable, to respond to the Holy Spirit suggested that urgency is at least as important a theme as imminence, and was intended as a response to Ron’s question about “people’s relationship to God.” Then again, imminence is not my issue here and misdirection towards it is not going to really change that fact.

Lastly, I am fully cognizant that it was me who declared unspecified individuals as enemies of Adventism. This is my opinion. To render an opinion that those who, from within, undermine the central, defining, and founding belief, of any group or organization (in which they hold membership) are in fact enemies of that organization, it isn’t necessary to name or identify them.

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger   https://atoday.rapidhost.net/article.php?id=24


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 26th, 2011 RonCorson says:

From your article above:

The point is that if Adventists don't believe or agree on anything else, they (we) certainly all must agree that Jesus is returning as it has been Biblically recorded that He said He would; and that we are not to be ignorant concerning the various signs, many that He Himself identified, of the imminence of His return.

Be careful what you deny there Stephen, because words don't simply disappear because you forgot you wrote them.

By the way over on that other thread I very specifically answered your question with a yes, but I guess I should do so over here since apparently you can't remember things too well and like to accuse people of "avoidance and evasion", though it seems to me you are the master at that art, which is perhaps why you expect others do it as consistently as yourself.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 26th, 2011 Al Good says:

"Do you believe that Jesus will return to take us to Heaven to be with Him, as He (is reported in the Bible to have) said that He would?" – Stephen Foster

Stephen, I tried earlier to get you to look at some words you inserted in a most important question. I see you have re-posted that question and I have underlined and placed the words in parentheses. Now I know you have considerable experience in the communications field (I read your brief bio posted below). Those words I emphasized in your quote above jumped out at me. When I read them without the emphasis, they convey certainty, definitiveness. When I read the complete quote, it seems to me you created a bit of a wiggle room. Or is it that I'm reading too much into your words, Stephen. Let me be direct: do you believe the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels are in fact His? Please don't dismiss this as a trivial question. You are fully aware, given your experience, that what is reported is not necessarily what actually happened.

That said, I'll answer the question you posed in as straightforward a manner as I can, and as I endeavor to do in my comments on this board. No. I do not believe in a 'second coming' of Jesus – whether imminent or in the distant future. I have no way of determining that the words attributed to him are in fact His. Besides, my Jesus was fully human (though no less the Son of God) and died. I do not believe that any dead person can be brought back to life, and thus I do not accept a resurrection and a 'second coming'. The myths and embelishments surrounding Jesus – particularly his resurrection and 'second coming' – are merely attempts by his followers and those who ascribed divinity to him to experience the ongoing presence of Jesus in their lives. For them, and countless others today, Jesus lives and he is coming back to earth and take then away with him.

Now I understand that you will say that this puts me firmly outside of Adventism since the 'second coming' of Jesus is expressed in the very name of the organization. Fine! I'm not an enemy of the Church, however. You are free to say and believe otherwise, and I will not waste any effort trying to disabuse you of that notion.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 26th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

It is easy to read the Gospels as the story of Jesus' life and forget that long before the Gospels were written it was Paul who preached "Christ and Him crucified" yet he never saw, spoke to or heard Christ speak–he only had reports.

We should also recognize that there is not a single writer of the Gospels or all those in the NT who were eyewitnesses of Jesus. They also wrote as it was told them. IOW, Jesus' sayings were second and third-hand accounts, no less than the Gospel of Thomas and the many other "gospels" that were not included in the canon.

Even the Gospel stories cannot be combined into a complete whole. There are too many discrepancies: the Matthew and Luke genealogies are impossible to believe; stories are told in one that are never mentioned in another. Matthew, especially, takes great liberty in interpreting OT prophecies to show Jesus' birth was predicted, and yet there is nothing to indicate that he ever saw or spoke to Jesus. Faith goes only so far. What sort of faiith is necessary to accept the whole enchilada when there is no "there there"

There are miracles recorded in one while ignored in others.

Maybe Thomas Jefferson was right (I believe he was) that Jesus' sayings were of worth for the principles embodied; the miracles really do nothing to enhance His life and teachings, except for those who are only convinced by miracles–which can never be verified.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 26th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Elaine that is not completely true as the gospel of John is thought to have been written by John's disciples with the likely hood that John was working with them ( the Expositor's Bible Commentary goes with the internal evidence consistent with John.) But the gospel of John is written in a very theological way and not at all as if it was a narrative of the life of Jesus.

Also since we don't know who the gospel writers were or who wrote whatever some of them may have seen or heard we can't say there is no eyewitness accounts, we simply don't know and you can't really deny something if you don't know.

I think Al Good statements are in line with a very liberal section of Christianity who see no resurrection etc. Personally if I believed that way I would have nothing to do with Christianity as I agree with Paul when he says:

1CO 15:12 NIV But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

1CO 15:13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.

1CO 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

1CO 15:15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.

Whatever very liberal think is good about Christianity I don't think it can be salvaged if the whole basis is a lie.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 26th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

There is no evidence that the Gospel writers saw and heard, so supposition is not evidence. It has long been assumed that the Gospels were eyewitneses but it should not be perputated as fact. The Interpreter's Bible, as well as numerous NT scholars all agree that there can be no certainty. Far too long have Christians assumed what cannot be proved.

Is a "liberal" Christian not a Christian? Foolish me, I always thought that a follower of Christ, in his teachings and principles was a Christian. But different denominations have many different requirements to be a member of their particular church which does not have a monoply on the word "Christian. When polls have been taken, many more identify themselves as Christian who may never attend nor affiliate with any denomination. Or they not Christians? Why can't anyone claim to be a Christian? Does it require the approval of a denomination? Hmmm.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 26th, 2011 Seminarystudent1 says:

Seminary Student ,

good arguments , Has some read the book the " case for Christ " by Lee Strobel . I am reading that for a class and it is a very interesting book . He interviews some of the well known scholars and I am learning a lot , a lot of good information on the gospel and Jesus .


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 26th, 2011 Al Good says:

"… the gospel of John is thought to have been written by John's disciples with the likely hood (sic) that John was working with them." Ron Corson

The dating of the Gospel of John – toward the end of the first century, around AD 90 – would exclude that possibility. John was long gone by then. You are correct, though, about its specific theological orientation. As I noted earlier, while the writers of the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke) sought to establish Jesus as Messiah with supernatural powers, the writer(s) of John sought to establish Jesus as God incarnate. Its christology and overall focus had always made it stand apart from the other gospels in the cannon.

"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?"

How is this different from my saying, "if it is said that the earth is flat, how can some of you say that the earth is round?"

"If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised."

That sounds perfectly rational to me.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 26th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Dating of books is imprecise and does not exclude John as an eyewitness nor does it preclude those in the community where John was from being witness to what John saw or said. I suppose if you knew the date of John's death you might be able to exclude him from being around for the final draft and spread of the books. But that even would not exclude him from contribution to the books.

How is this different from my saying, "if it is said that the earth is flat, how can some of you say that the earth is round?"

"If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised."

That sounds perfectly rational to me.

There is hardly any verses at all that say the earth is flat, even fewer are the clear statements that can only be taken as a claim to flat earth rather then just a colloquialism. But I can't think of any New Testament books that do not indicate a resurrection of Christ in some way. Some very directly and some smaller books possibly more indirectly.

If your statement sound rational to you it does not to me it sounds contrived. But if you would like to explain to us how a very liberal Christian follows Christ if he has no real idea what Christ ever said I would be interested to know. That has always been the silliness of the Jesus Seminar's where they vote to see if Jesus said something or not, a yes, no or maybe. Jefferson at least did not do that, he merely removed the sections where anything miraculous happened.So at least he could still follow the teachings even if he did not accept anything of supernatural value or possibilities.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 27th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

There are wise sayings from many philosophers, writers, and unacknowledged souces. Such "proverbs" as the "parables" from Aesop's Fables or no better nor no less great ideas regardless of the origin. Such sayings should be judged on their content not on the reputed origin. If it is worthwhile it will stand the test of time; if not, it will pass into oblivion. Thomas Jefferson felt that Jesus' remarks were eminently worthwhile but did not accept his miracles. That's a problem?


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 27th, 2011 Al Good says:

The weight and preponderance of NT scholarship dates the Gospel of John towards the end of the first century. It means John would be in his 90s, even approaching 100. There was some tradition that held that John lived into his 90s, but there is no solid historical evidence for this, and in any case, this was something put forward to advance the view that the disciple/apostle John was author of said Gospel, but again, the historical evidence is scanty to non-existent. In all likelihood, John died much earlier. At best, the author(s) of John may have been influenced by John, were part of a community founded by John, etc, and it does show that they were not firsthand eyewitnesses. John was most likely illiterate. Sure, he could have hired scribes, but again, the dating of the book places it after considerably later after his death. Saying that he may have started the book, or contributed to the book while he was still alive is mere speculation.

"a very liberal Christian (who) follows Christ" is your description, not mine.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 27th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

The dates cannot be matched if John was a disciple. He would have had to have been a very small child, if the usual dates given for Jesus ministry and death: 30-33 A.D. If Revelations is dated from the last decade of the first century, he would have been older than 100, given those parameters. Highly unlikely. But, what difference who wrote them if they are believed to be inspired? We really know very few of the Bible's authors, but that doesn't change the content.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 27th, 2011 RonCorson says:

"None of the proposed restorations, however, takes the problem seriously or resolves it adequately. A third (and more plausible) explanation suggests that behind the composition of the gospel lie a number of different sources, recording the signs, the teaching, and the passion of Jesus, that have been combined and edited at various stages in the writing of this document, until its final publication as a unified work. What follows is a suggested description of those stages.

First, John the apostle, who was traditionally identified as the “beloved disciple,” transmitted orally to his followers an account of the deeds (especially the miracles, or “signs”) and sayings of Jesus and of his death and resurrection. As we have already seen, these reminiscences preserved historical information about the ministry of Jesus in both Judea and Galilee.

Second, the beloved disciple and his circle of followers moved to *Ephesus (a city associated, by strong tradition, with John), where the nucleus of the Johannine church was established. While there, John's disciples committed to writing the traditions preserved in their community for the purposes of worship and instruction. In this first draft of the final gospel what may now be recognized as distinctively Johannine thought emerged, as the ideas handed on by the apostle were dramatically treated and theologically developed by the fourth evangelist and his colleagues.

Third, after the death of John his church at Ephesus published a final edited version of the gospel. This included a summary introduction (1.1-18), based on a community hymn and now tied securely to the remainder of the chapter, some editing of the discourse, possibly the addition of the prayer of consecration in Chap. 17, and an epilogue (chap. 21), The whole gospel thus assembled then carried an authenticating postscript (21.24025).

If some such process were involved in the making of John's gospel, it explains many of the features in its composition already discussed. Thus, it accounts for the likelihood that more than one author was responsible for the writing of the gospel, at more than one stage; and also for the fact that at first the Fourth Gospel was not ascribed to John the son of Zebedee. If the witness of the beloved disciple lies behind this gospel as the text suggest; see (19:35; 21:24) but others from his community actually wrote it, the work may be regarded as apostolic in character, even though it did not in the end come (as some would argue) from the hand of John the apostle himself." (The Oxford Companion to the Bible ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael B. Coogan Oxford University Press 1993 page 375)


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 28th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Al Good,

Yes, I believe that the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels are His.

You are correct in discerning that my wording was purposeful. I did not want those (of you) who may not believe that the Gospels are reliably accurate in their detailing of events—for whatever reason— to weasel out of answering the question on those grounds; i.e., that we don’t know whether Jesus actually said that He would return or not.

So to narrow the scope of the question, I worded it as to allow for the view of the Gospels that some may have; while nevertheless asking whether we all believe that He will literally return.

I thank you for answering my question forthrightly. If you are not an attending member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, or if you are a member who never expresses your opinion that Jesus is dead (among other necessarily consequential and controversial derivative opinions), then you may not be included as an enemy of Adventism, as you claim not to be.

If, on the other hand, you are a member and/or occasionally express this or similar opinions, then you are actively undermining the central belief of Adventism, and are an enemy or opponent of Adventism, in my humble opinion.

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 28th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Elaine,

Why is treating others as you would have them treat you any better than treating others in a way that you perceive benefits you?

If it is better, is it better because—in your opinion—the net societal effect is positive?

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 28th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

"Why is treating others as you would have them treat you any better than treating others in a way that you perceive benefits you?

A rhetorical question should receive a rhetorical answer?

It is possible that treating others as you wished would also benefit you, that does not exclude double benefits, but the Golden Rule only says to treat others as you would wish to be treated. If one gives respect, it usually, but no always, receives respect. It's still the best way to live, isn't it?

But, the goal should NOT be to GET benefits, but give them. In personal experience, I have found that if I respect others, including even small children, it does not escape them and sets a pattern for future action. We should also demand respect as if we love others as we love ourselves, it will be because we respect ourselves as well. We are not called upon to be masochists, and martydom is not a calling. We shouldn't have a bullseye painted on our backs.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 28th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

"But if you would like to explain to us how a very liberal Christian follows Christ if he has no real idea what Christ ever said I would be interested to know."

This would be an interesting question for any liberal—who does not “know’” (as in sincerely believe by faith and/or reason, or some combination thereof) that the Biblical record of Jesus’ incarnation (and/or life on earth) is accurate and reliable—to answer.

Along these lines, how is it that liberals determine what Jesus (may have) said is meaningful, when even this information comes from the exact same sources as that of the miracles?

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 28th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Elaine,

OK, let me ask the same question this way: what makes the Golden Rule “the best way to live,” as you put it? Why is “the goal” to give benefits rather than to get them? Why should we love others as we love ourselves? Is it social utility?

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 28th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

Since the Golden Rule is found in so many cultures, it was a very socially unifying factor so was a utilitarian concept, devoid of any particdular religious belief, but simply as an excellent way of living together within one's own social group, and with those outside as very practical.

As adapted by Christians, and Christ was reported to have said: "Love God with all your heart and your neighbror as yourself." The Golden Rule long predates the Bible's recording of it.

Just as many of the Proverbs are excellent maxims, they have an obvious utility value. Did you have something else in mind?


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 28th, 2011 Tom says:

EGW talks a lot about disinterested benevolence, which basically is doing for others without any regard for getting anything in return. The Golden Rule really boils down to just that. Selfishness is at the root of all evil. The Golden Rule is not an invitation to be someone's doormat, but simply a call to treat others as you would want to be treated in similiar situations with a motive toward unselfishness.

In today's post modernism the Golden Rule has been tweaked and now seems to mean "do it to the other guy before he does it to you" and "he who has the Gold Rules." The world would be much better place if we got back to basics, instead of this "every man for himself" notion that carries sway so much these days. Of course we know that will never happen this side of the kingdom of heaven.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 30th, 2011 Al Good says:

"But if you would like to explain to us how a very liberal Christian follows Christ if he has no real idea what Christ ever said I would be interested to know." – Ron Corson

"This would be an interesting question for any liberal—who does not “know’” (as in sincerely believe by faith and/or reason, or some combination thereof) that the Biblical record of Jesus’ incarnation (and/or life on earth) is accurate and reliable—to answer." – Stephen Foster

It's not a difficult question to answer at all. One may find value in stories that are both historical and fictional. Many valuable works of literature are fictional, yet they impart very valuable lessons. A story doesn't have to be true in order to have value. Consider the literature to which you were exposed during elementary to high school, or even in college, depending on your major or the institution you attended. They had powerful meaning regardless of historicity. I could find much value in the sayings attributed to Socrates, for example, even without proof that he actually said those things, or that he even existed (much of what we know of Socrates was transmitted through his student Plato).

Similarly, I can recognize important lessons in those sayings atributed to Jesus even if those are not his actual words. Quite frankly, one may choose which words fit one's value system, and which don't. The "golden rule", "blessed are the peacemakers", "love then that hate you", the admonitions to help the poor, feed the hungry, minister to the sick, visit the imprisoned, just to name a few, fit my value system, regardless of whether Jesus actually said those words or not. As was noted earlier, these are not sayings unique to or started with christianity; they can be found in most religious traditions. I can adopt a principle from another tradition as well if I find it wholesome and ethical.

BTW, Jefferson put together his "Bible" because he felt that those sayings conveyed important value; whether or not they were the actual words of Jesus was unimportant.

You may want to define for yourselves what it means to "follow Christ". For myself, I would say my mind is at peace.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 30th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

Al has reiterated wht we should recognize: not all sayings need attribution. They are true because they have relevance to all times.

Whether Socrates, or Christ, or the author of Proverbs or Aesop's Fables are known makes not difference at all. They have proved to be true just as has the Golden Rule, yet no one know who or when it first originated. It's true, because over time it has proved to be true.

It is irrelvant whether Jesus actually said the things he is reported to have said, but if they are true, as well as timeless, then they are worthy of our consideration; not because of who said them, but because they have outlasted their particular time. Those sayings that can neither be explained nor understand or worthless unless they make sense to the reader. One in particular is unexplainable: the parable of the fig tree, cursed by Jesus for not bearing fruit out of season. Anyone care to interpret that for today's audience?

No less with the prophecies, for which Adventists have really been "experts" at interpreting the most difficult of the Bible. So certain of their exclusive interpretations that they have staked their very existence on these few words in Daniel and Revelation, and founded an entire religious denomination on these very difficult passages, taking even a few words and expounded into the main thrust of their exclusive doctrine, they have found the secret code that all the best Bible scholars in history have been reluctant to explain. "Fools rus in…."


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 30th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Elaine,

Of course I have something else in mind. Those who claim Christianity only because the “Golden Rule” makes sense from a social utilitarian perspective—as opposed to because Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Savior of the world, and the Source and embodiment of all Truth—are merely followers of the tradition from which this principle originally emanated (whatever that tradition may or may not be); whether they acknowledge it or not.

To Tom’s point, the current iteration of the Golden Rule (he who has the gold, makes the rules) is arguably as viable or irrelevant as the one in the Bible is, if Jesus was just another dude who is now dust.

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 30th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

In the last pericope of Matt. 25, Jesus is showing that those who obeyed the Golden Rule (they never claimed to be doing in Jesus' name) This, were welcomed into the kingdom. No other reasoning. There is nothing He said about believing He was the Son of God but only that they fulfilled the requirements of the Golden Rule.

Should we demand more than Christ for entrance to the kingdom? This is why I believe that all people who live and practice this rule, whether Baptist, Mormons, Muslims, or atheists, will be welcomed equally in Heaven or eternal life. Now, show where I am in error.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 30th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Elaine,

In my opinion, here is where you are in error: there are those who occasionally practice the Golden Rule, yet occasionally also do the exact opposite; such as members of the Mafia who regularly give tens of thousands of dollars to charities. Many of us are similarly schizophrenic to a lesser extreme. The point is that all of our Golden Rule observance is as filthy rags; and who among us does nothing but practice the Golden Rule.

So then, from whence comes any provision for our imperfection, or for our failure to constantly practice the Golden Rule?

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 30th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

Because some may soothe their consciouness by "giving" money, but fiirst "stealing" it is NOT obeying the Golden Rule. Remember: Do unto "others" and no one does not resent being stolen from.

The Golden Rule does not simply apply when someone chooses to live by it, but it must be a way of life, even when not of benefit to the individual. No rule is only applied when "convenient." This is a total misunderstanding of the rule.

Do you deny that it's impossible to live a life following the Golden Rule? Yes, since no human is perfect, but if that is the intent of one's life, it will never be a "sometime" rule. Maybe you haven't known anyone who lived by rule, but I have been privileged to know some, intimately. Religious practice may, or may not be connected with this rule.

Please explain your understanding of the last of Matt. 25 if it is different than I presented.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 30th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Elaine,

The motivation for treating others as you would have them treat you is that you love others as you love yourself. Those who attempt to live life by the Golden Rule without loving others as they love themselves are conducting a futile attempt of salvation by works. Those who love others as they love themselves can only do that by reflecting God.

Unless Jesus abides in us, we cannot love others as we do ourselves, because it is not in our nature to do so. Without Him we can do nothing good; not for long anyway.

To answer your question about the latter part of Matthew 25, how’s this: my understanding of Matthew 25:31-34 is that Jesus will literally return (and that there will have been a pre-advent judgment in which the sheep and goats will have been identified). You can’t have it both ways Elaine.

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 31st, 2011 Tom says:

Elaine

The parable of the fig tree that Jesus cursed is explainable and has significance. The tree had all the outward appearance of being a healthy one, but there was no fruit. In this parable, Jesus is showing that folage counts for nothing if there is no bearing of fruit. Jesus is not a judge at a fashion show. He is looking for the real thing that determines who practiced the principles of His Kingdom as opposed to those who simply put on a good show. Hence the basis for separating the sheep from the goats as spelled out in the last part of Matthew 25.

On another occasion,a fig tree that looked pretty pathetic and looked like a candidate for cordwood, Jesus basically said, "not so fast," when some reached the conclusion that it should be destroyed. Instead he instructed those with ax in hand, to lay it down and grab a shovel and give it some much needed tlc. This tree represents the lost sinner that Jesus came to seek and save.

We are saved by grace, but we will be judged by our works. At first glance this seems contradictory, because the Bible says our righteousness, or good works, is like filthy rags. Yes, any good deeds we try and produce apart from Christ is worthless in the scales of heaven.

Jesus is looking to commend those for entrance into His kingdom, who have accepted the entire gift of salvation. Grace is a free gift that we accept by faith, which in turn is the modus operandi that enpowers us to bear fruit, Golden Rule style.

The moral of the story is, don't expect to be counted as much of a cattle rancher if you show up at the stockyard as a cowpoke that is all hat and no cattle.

An example of where the rubber meets the road,

Tom


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On March 31st, 2011 Steve M says:

In the 1830's, 1840's there was a Movement for welcoming the return of Jesus. It remained an Advent Movement until the Civil War and because of War Department rules the Movement had to become a "church" to protect members in the Army. However, this in itself was not a bad move. It did, as Ellen White states the purpose of "Church" is, to be organized for service. However, on the other hand "organization" can say who is in and who is out, and to keep the Unwanted out. Israel after the Red Sea was a "movement" to embrace the whole world. But they changed themselves to a church and separated themselves from the Undesireable. The Pharisees and Saducees had a church and kept the undesireables out, including Jesus, who they killed. Then came the Christian movement embracing all. The movement became a church and killed members who thought about God as they saw him. The question is, are we still a Movement or a Church and make it difficult to embrace the world, or do our "rules" keep the undesireable out? When baptized our adoption papers are signed in heaven by God and registered there. Then we find a group who most closely follows the Word of God as we understand it. As a "church" are we willing to accept those who are on a Journey to find God's will, or do we only accept those who have "found" God's will through 28 items of belief? Are we still a Movement or changed into a "Church"? Steve in Macon, GA


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 2nd, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Steve M,

As a church, can’t we remain a movement who happily accepts any who believe that Jesus the Christ will return as He said that He would?

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 2nd, 2011 CherryAshlock says:

Find your wings and soar!

Al Good

Did Jesus not write the ten commandments with his finger?


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 2nd, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Ellen White's take on our fundamental teachings. Check this link!

https://atoday.rapidhost.net/article.php?id=600

T


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 3rd, 2011 Al Good says:

"Did Jesus not write the ten commandments with his finger?"
A unitarian perspective of God would exclude this possibility.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 3rd, 2011 Ella M says:

Ella M

I prefer the use of the term "movement" as church and institution sound so manmade. Jesus can lead a movement while an institution tends to exist to perpetuate itself and even control its members/employees.

The promise of a second coming made by Christ is central to the Advent movement at this time in history. He has always presented it as being "soon." ( And it is for all who have ever lived.) But it is in a real sense, I believe, close now. I tend to feel uncertain on the idea that somehow we are delaying the coming as a church. This sounds a bit too human-centered or a work we must do. The Bible seems to indicate that God is waiting for more to be saved (to populate the new earth?) But I may be wrong.

As for the Golden Rule and the Matt. 5 judgment and the story of the Good Samaritan too, God wants caring people, so there is an element of truth in Elaine's post:

Should we demand more than Christ for entrance to the kingdom? This is why I believe that all people who live and practice this rule, whether Baptist, Mormons, Muslims, or atheists, will be welcomed equally in Heaven or eternal life.

However, the motive comes into play here, and we can't judge that. Only God knows the motive. Perhaps people do good works because that is the way they were raised, but they don't really love people. Perhaps they do it to be saved. Perhaps they do it to show themselves "good." But are they responding to the Holy Spirit who changes hearts? I believe the Spirit of Christ can be in persons "safe to save" who don't recognize Him as Christ. Maybe they have never had a true picture of Him presented or even heard His name.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 5th, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Br S. Foster

Regarding this excerpt from your article: "My position, of course, is that the specific John 14: 1-3 promise is the essence of "Adventism" generally, and of Seventh-day Adventism particularly; that this is what Adventism is essentially about. I further personally believe that those who claim to be Seventh-day Adventists but do not believe that Jesus will return as He is reported to have claimed that He will, are not Adventists at all, but are in fact enemies of Adventism and perhaps do not have the intellectual fortitude to admit it; if in fact they realize it at all."

Coming back to your blog I can clearly see that many 'progressives' with their enlightened thinking and all have remarkably dodged the big question put forth in your article. The question is plain and simple without any agenda of its own. Seems to me there may be a faction within Adventism, particularly within Seventh-day Adventism, who may not accept this promise of Jesus at face value. They seem to be clinging on to a name (Adventist) but deny the belief thereof.

It doesn't stop there! They then go to the extent of trying to dictate their clearly 'non-Adventist' agenda to the Adventist Church citing various peripheral arguments as evidence for their stance. But what about Jesus coming Back? Do they even believe in the First Advent for that matter or is Christmas the closest they get to it?

Why would they even bother to attack Ted Wilson, BRI, General Conference, Church Administrators, Ellen White Estate, Ellen White Writings etc., if they don't even half-heartedly believe that Jesus is Coming back as he had promised? After all, it is a reasonable, logical and pertinent question…

Come on "Progressives" do you believe that Jesus is Coming back a second time as promised in the Scripture above or can you be forthright and admit that you don't? No 'ducking' please.

T


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 5th, 2011 tcalvert71 says:

After reading through the comments, a few quotes come to mind. First from a well-known SDA pastor/scholar…."We must be content to know somewhat less than the omniscient One. If we had the mind of God, we'd be God."

And second, I don't have the verse in front of me, so it's a paraphrase from Proverbs…..God made us pure and simple, yet we have made ourselves very complicated.

Stephen, in answer to your question, yes, I believe Jesus will return in the manner he (or his designate) said he would.

At some point faith must be a part of our beliefs. Faith in every aspect. I don't care who actually wrote the gospels and when. It's a diversionary tactic; the Devil is delighting.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 5th, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

For those 'progressives' who are from the Dr Ford fan club, remember that he too believes that Jesus will come as promised.

Here are some links denoting some of his views:

–> Points 1-5

–> Points 6-12

Maranatha!

Trevor


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 17th, 2011 Doctorf says:

Stephen,

You give to much power to these people who covertly challenge a particular assumption of Adventism. So they question it? Leave them alone and let them come to church. Belief positions change over time and I doubt the SDA church will stand or fall because of these covert challengers. I am sure they exist in all religions.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 17th, 2011 Doctorf says:

Trevor,

Passionate belief in a particular doctrine does not make it truth. The "truth" with regards to the return of Christ will only be "true" when it happens and not before. The return of Christ has been the ballyhoo of Christianity for over 2000 yrs now. It appears to me we are in for a long, long, long wait.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 17th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

Adventists are "Waiting for Godot." "Waiting" can be a perennial vocation, or we can continue our lives as there is nothing we can possibly do that will bring Godot any closer.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 17th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Doctorf,

Of course, what makes “passionate belief in a particular doctrine” true or not, and this is particularly true with regard to the return on Christ, is whether God actually said it; or inspired it to be written or said. If Jesus was the Word who indeed was God, then whatever promises He made are the very definition of truth, particularly His promise to return.

My belief is that if He predicted something that did not happen, then what He meant was not understood; and that if He said that something will happen, that it may as well have already happened—it is that certain. In other words, Jesus was infallible.

As for your “long, long, long wait” observation/prediction, since no one knows when He will return, isn’t that prediction the inverse corollary of an “any day now” prediction; without the benefit of the Matthew 24:44, Luke 12:40, and Luke 21:28 admonitions?

Which makes the most sense—for a Seventh-day Adventist?

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 17th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

"Live each day as if it were your last."

A motto I heard many years ago, but a universal truth. Threre are a few things we can control, probably many fewer than we like to think, but most are not in our control, so live that whenever our call comes we will be ready. Since He will come as a "thief in the night" there is no warning, which makes this motto most applicable.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 17th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Of course there is plenty of warning, as suggested in Luke21:28, for those who purchase from the alarm system Representative. Not that we will know precisely when, but that when can appreciate that He is surely returning, as He said so.

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 21st, 2011 Doctorf says:

Trevor,

I don't know if I am a "progressive" but certainly not a fundamentalist. That said, I am one who does not believe that Jesus is coming back a second time. There you have it, no ducking.

As I have said before I wish I could be alive to see what type of squirmy apologetic arguments will be thought up to explain why Jesus has not come back in 10,000 yrs. But, I will get no such pleasure

Jesus 2nd coming is not a "truth." It will be true if and when it happens but not before. We can babble all we want about the promise but a promise is only a fact when it is actually kept. Jesus has not fulfilled his promise in over 2,000 yrs and that is a fact.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 21st, 2011 Doctorf says:

Stephen

"He is surely returning because he said so." So what? Your statement will only be true if he actually comes back. Good luck for the next 2000 yrs.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 21st, 2011 Doctorf says:

Stephen,

"My belief is that if He predicted something that did not happen, then what He meant was not understood; and that if He said that something will happen, that it may as well have already happened—it is that certain. In other words, Jesus was infallible."

OK you state your belief. Fine. I utterly reject the nonsensical belief that if he says something will happen then it already has happened. No it has not. Sorry Jesus, but I live in the real world and just because you say something will happen does not require me to believe it will. A prediction is true if the event transpires, not before.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 21st, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

Those who believe that Jesus is coming resemble the Cargo Christians who kept looking for the planes to bring them prosperity.

Hope spring eternal in the human breast: we all thrive on hope–hope that tomorrow will be better than today; that we will have more money, more security, better health–whatever our hearts desire. Some even hope for miracles. Has anyone considered that perhaps Jesus was not speaking literally about a soon-coming return? Descending from the clouds? Is that a first century description? Aren't all of the Bible stories based on their understanding at the time they lived? They believed in all sorts of miracles and demons that today few people truly accept.

We should not be so tightly bound to their perceptions. If we were, we would not accept any modern technology or the many developments that we accept and nothing surprises us today: the formerly impossible has become operational. While there are probably still some Adventists that believe the saved will, following the second coming, be magically transported (on a space ship?) through Orion to heaven when there is literal heaven on a seven-day journey

The literal reading of the Bible (exceptions made when it is more convenient for doctrinal purposes) has presented far more problems than promises. Whether there is a second coming, we all will know what the future holds once we have taken our last breath. Beng overly concered about it is a total wate of time. Why, in God's name, does it make any difference whasoever?


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 22nd, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Hey, Doctorf – greetings! I respect your position Sir; and your prayer/comment to Jesus. He hears you Sir! Loud and clear! …and your search for truth and answers just like many of us too. May Jesus answer you soon…

RE your comment: Sorry Jesus, but I live in the real world and just because you say something will happen does not require me to believe it will. A prediction is true if the event transpires, not before.

Sorry Doctorf, that you view it this way; but this is the hope of all hope's – that Jesus Christ will return! He didn't make a prediction: He made a promise.

There is no real world without Him. There would be no real world without Him. There was no real world without Him. Jesus is the real Creator of our real world and He is the real Sustainer of it. He is the real Redeemer who died on the real Cross for the real Sins of our real World and shed His Precious REAL BLOOD for you Doctorf – and for me…

Where science meets it's cul-de-sac, faith in Jesus our Saviour and hope in His return is what continues. Jesus is THE Keeper of His Promises. He will return! He is the Promise!

There's plenty of room at the Cross for all of us, Sir! If Jesus can die for a sinner like me; and love an undeserving reprobate like me; how much more he can do it for you?

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

John Newton (1725-1807)

Maranatha!

T

P.S. I lost my dear older brother just the other day after his year-long battle with cancer. He was 45. Death is a harsh reality too that we must face; but our night of weeping won't be long 'cos joy comes in the morning. WE have that blessed hope. My brother rests waiting for Jesus to come..! You too can experience that blessed hope: a hope that science can never explain or give to you – That hope is Jesus!


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 22nd, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Mrs Nelson,

You say: Some even hope for miracles.

God is a miracle-working prayer answering God who will NEVER leave or forsake us, including you.

As Sovereign over all this universe there is nothing that passes by Him unoticed and without His response.

He does work miracles. He changed my life. The biggest miracle that I can personally by experience testify to.

Our hope is NOT in/for miracles pe se; but in the God of miracles!

In the God of Miracles

T


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 22nd, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Mrs Nelson,

Ma'am, we don't wait like those who wait for prosperity. We have that prosperity in Christ already. Our hope is NOT in the prosperity envisioned but rather in WHO is coming. Jesus our Saviour: our God! That's the Christian's hope: when faith becomes sight. When face to face we see our Redeemer who is the Resurrection and the Life; the Sovereign Creator; the Ruler and Sustainer of our Universe.

The heavens tell the Glory of God: the Cross His Love. God's promises are sure. He has not backed out on any of them and never will…

Here are a few verses that sum-up this hope for me:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

Maranatha

T


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 22nd, 2011 Hansen says:

Elaine, There is no doubt that carnal people can not conceive of, beyond the mentality of a "cargo Christian," a Second Advent. There are other people, however, who have not been spoiled by power, material wealth, and pride, who long for the second Advent, that they may be delivered from their sinful flesh. Some people are actually tired of battling against carnal desire, others simply embrace it. For them, the idea of a Second Advent seems absurd because they have no personal need for it.

Scripture often warns of the dangers of material prosperity for this reason, among others.

I agree with you, however, in the sense that many, perhaps most, people come to Christ, asking not what they can do for Him but rather what He can do for them. Few of us have any real appreciation of His sacrifice in our behalf, consequently, we have no understanding of what "We love him because he first loved us" means.

We usually attribute to others our own shortcomings; however, there are people outside the mold, who live in a spirtual world of which we can not conceive, anymore than the turkey can conceive of the eagle's flight.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 22nd, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Doctorf and Elaine,

Again, I applaud you candor Doctorf. Naturally I am interested in knowing exactly why other participants on this site who (for whatever reason) apparently share your view that Jesus is never returning, don’t just come out and admit it.

Be that as it may, your “real” world, according to Paul, is essentially illusory (2 Corinthians 4:18). Another way of thinking of this is that your so-called real world consists exclusively of that which at one time did not exist, and of that which at some future time will cease to exist. On the other hand, of course, eternal things (in the spiritual world) are things that have always existed and/or will never cease to exist.

If the so-called spiritual world (consisting entirely of eternal things) does in fact exist, wouldn’t it then constitute the real real world; and if so, what then should you consider the world in which you live?

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 22nd, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

How do we know that all our life is not an illusion? People want to believe–and belief can be about many things: living forever, winning the lottery, all are hopes that keep some people going.

Why make such a big deal of whether someone believes like you? Must everyone believe exactly alike? When no one can give evidence that either heaven or hell actually exist, and if so, their location, perhaps they are all illusions. Who has been to either and returned to tell about it? After death, no one knows what's on the other side, those left are free to conjecture.


Re: What is the essence of Seventh-day Adventism?
On April 22nd, 2011 Tom says:

I see the essence of Adventism is the hope in the soon coming of Jesus. To me there is something selfish about the main reason for wanting Jesus to come is so I don't have to deal with anymore problems. Our burning desire should be to take as many people with us as are willing to listen and want to join us in the blessed hope. I believe Jesus is our last and only hope out of this doomed world. But even more He is our Savior and Redeemer who we should be eager to meet face to face and commune with as the best Friend we will ever have.

I don't believe in a fortress mentality, whereby we tell others we are the only fold under which those on the outside of our ranks must come under to find the way to the throne of God. Some Adventists operate on the slogan of "walk softly in the sanctuary and carry a big stick." The big stick being a cattle prod of sorts.