Thursday, September 18, 2008

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

September 2008
Vol. 4, No. 9

This issue of Adventist World is deeply disturbing if one believes that Adventist theology is based on the bedrock of sound biblical scholarship. The theological contributions of the Director and Associate Director of the SDA Biblical Research Institute might be more easily dismissed if the writers were amateurs.

Consequently, Black Eyes have been awarded to Foundations for Ellen White’s Prophetic Call by Gerhard Pfandl and Angel Manuel Rodriguez’s Our Influence Over Others.

With these two exceptions, the articles and editorials of this issue and thoughtful, nicely illustrated, and well written.

Going Forward Thoughtfully by Jan Paulsen.
“We engage in mission with an unwavering conviction of God’s truth, but also with a spirit of humility. We recognize that growth and discipleship are always works in progress. Our witness is not an exercise in judgment or caricature, which condemns everyone before they have had the chance to know and experience something better. Instead, our mission work is a constant drive to lift people into a knowledge and relationship with God that is richer, deeper, more fulfilling, more true.”

God’s Printing Presses: The History of the Pacific Press, by Nicole Batten, is beautifully documented in pictures and words.

Gerhard Pfandl’s The Foundations for Ellen White’s Prophetic Call is an extremely odd defense of Ellen White’s prophetic credentials.

“According to the principle of interpreting Scripture with Scripture, this leads to the conclusion that “the spirit of prophecy” in [Rev.] 19:10 is not the possession of church members in general, but only of those who have been called by God to be prophets. . .’According to the parallel in [Rev.] 22:9 the brothers referred to are not believers in general, but the prophets. . .This is the point of verse 10c. If they have the marturia Iesou [the testimony of Jesus], they have the spirit of prophecy, i.e., they are prophets, like the angel, who simply stand in the service of marturia Iesou.’

“In summary, we can say that one of the identifying signs of the remnant church, which according to prophecy exists after the 1,260-day period, i.e., after 1798, is the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy, or the prophetic gift. The Seventh-day Adventist Church, from its very beginning, has believed that in fulfillment of Revelation 12:17* the spirit of prophecy was manifested in the life and work of Ellen G. White.”

*Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Angel Manuel Rodriguez attempts to answer the question, “According to Exodus 34:7, God punishes children for the sins of their parents. Does not this bring into question God’s justice?”

Instead of speaking directly to the idea prevalent in the evangelical community that God punishes entire countries, geographic regions, religious or political groups for the “sins” of others, Rodriguez launches into an exegetical dance that could only have meaning for biblical literalists.

“We find in the Old Testament what has been called collective, or transgenerational, retribution. This is a complex subject about which I can say only a few things that I hope will be helpful. Some of the biblical evidence may provide an interpretational grid with which you are welcome to disagree.”

“Transgenerational retribution could and would be abused in any human legal system. The Lord is the only one who can enforce it because He has perfect knowledge. This clearly suggests that WHEN COLLECTIVE RETRIBUTION IS ENFORCED BY GOD (my emphasis), it is based on knowledge that justifies its enforcement and may not be apparent to the outside observer.”


Anonymous said...

"Transgenerational retribution could and would be abused in any human legal system." What seems to be mostly abused is the ponderings of the ancients who were trying to understand and explain the world around them. Their efforts were recorded and now, they keep coming up as irrefutable truths that need to be explained and reinforced.

You didn't mention the bit of comedy in the article on caffeine.

My summary

- Yes, the SDA Church still takes an unwavering stand against caffeine.
- Caffeine is an entry level drug.
- EGW equated it with evil and so must God.
- And by the way, if you must drink coffee for "medicinal" purposes, don't be overcome with guilt because EGW enjoyed a cup of coffee now and again too.

Dick Larsen

Our Sword said...

Hi, I just started a Christian blog and was hoping you could maybe take a look and comment. Anyway, I'm from Chico too, quite a coincidence.

Thanks :-)

Andy Hanson said...

This comment is from an anonymous friend.

Your evaluation of Gerhard Pfandl’s The Foundations for Ellen White’s Prophetic Call is right on the mark. Pfandl's article is an excellent example of a pesher: the belief that scripture is written at two levels. One level is for the ordinary readers. This is the surface level for those with limited knowledge. The concealed level is for the enlightened ones, the specialists with higher knowledge. A classic example is found in the Dead Sea Habakkuk document . The author proclaims that the Teacher of Righteousness, a major figure for the Essene community, was given a special knowledge of the Habakkuk that was not available even to the prophet himself. Adventists have followed this practice with several biblical texts, including Revelation 12:17 and 19:10. An examination of the context for each passage and reading each from a translation other than the KJV does not offer strong support for Pfandl's conclusions. But for those who have a higher knowledge than the ordinary? The pesharim still thrive!

Andy Hanson said...

This comment is an email from an anonymous friend.

I read the Pfandl article yesterday--classic key-text approach, if a word in one text is found in another, the one must be a comment or elaboration of the other. "Here a little and there a little." And this guy is paid to be a theological expert and guides the Church officers in their theological conclusions. Helps explain why we have gotten into some of the theological messes we find ourselves.

Our Sword said...

Hi Andy (hope it's ok to call you that), I was wondering why the Grace-Connection community doesn't meet at an Adventist church?


Andy Hanson said...

Nine years ago, a bunch of us who attended the Chico Oaks Adventist Church stopped wrangling with the “saints” regarding a second, more progressive worship service, participation in community outreach events, etc. So we stopped agitating and, with the blessing of the pastor and church board, went our separate way. (Nor Cal church policy has made it impossible for us to be a church plant.)

Anonymous said...


I just discovered your blog and imagine my surprise to see your lovely comment about my article in this month's Adventist World on Pacific Press. Thank you. I also wanted to thank you for the honest perspectives shared in your blog. I enjoy reading it.

Nicole Batten

Our Sword said...

From how I read Psalms 150, a progressive worship service with some music that includes drums, guitars, dancing, etc. is totally OK with God. Was that one of the main issues? Instruments and music and such? I wonder why they wouldn't just accept the plain word of God in these verses. It even specifically says "In His sanctuary".

I consider myself very very conservative, but I am on your side about the worship because I have to follow God's word.

It's such a troubling issue to me, though. The Red Bluff SDA church also has a splinter group that now worships across the street and has apparently (I don't know all the details) disassociated themselves from the main church body. I do believe that the SDA church is the remnant church at the moment. So anything that causes bitterness or division I am automatically inclined to oppose.

It just doesn't seem like breaking away is the only solution, or the best one.

These are just thoughts I'm firing randomly from my brain. The issue is far too important and delicate to be handled on such a short post, but I want to thank you for your prompt answer and honesty.

I look forward to the time when I have an opportunity to take you up on your offer to sit down and share a meal.