Posts tagged Seventh-day Adventism
Overcoming the LGT Formula

I love the gospel. There is so much power and beauty in it — it is the one biblical theme I never get tired of. I preach about it constantly, write about it tirelessly, and talk about it passionately. And while I have much to learn about the grace of God I am thankful for what he has already taught me.
But such love and appreciation for the gospel does not come without a few scars. For years I have had to fight, struggle, and wrestle for a clearer view of what Jesus did for me. And even now I continue to grapple with the many voices both inside and outside my head that try to pull me away. There are Pharisees, misconceptions, and ignorances that live inside of me. There are biases, counter-biases, and selfish ideologies that are in there as well. Then there are the voices of fanatics, conservatives, liberals, and emergents — all of whom want me to believe their version of the gospel.

But at the end of the day, I love the gospel. I love it because it’s unassuming. I love it because it’s experientially life-altering. And I love it because it fills my troubled, hypersensitive mind with a stillness otherwise unattainable.

While I have been a Seventh-day Adventist all of my life, my love for the gospel did not begin until around five years ago. Years of hypocrisy and self-induced obliviousness led me to a crux in the journey that demanded resolution. I was in Babylon even though I was Adventist — confused and bewildered by an eclectic view of the cross that failed to sustain me during some of the most challenging years of my life. Confronted for the first time with my sin-problem, I plunged into a state of depression and anxiety that would last for years. During that time, my mind attempted to juggle the gospel of grace I had learned as a teenager from Hispanic preacher
Felipe Andino and the gospel of perfectionism that I had now been exposed to – a gospel known as Last Generation Theology. In my gospel illiteracy, I assumed both were the same gospel and then attempted, rather unsuccessfully, to syndicate the two. What I ended up with was subverting the gospel of grace by subordinating it to the gospel of perfectionism and emerging from the iron and clay mixture with a subconscious formula that was not so sure to get me to heaven: The grace of God + Your efforts and obedience = Salvation.I tried to soften the impact by adding “by God’s grace of course” to the second part of the formula, but it didn’t make a difference. I had very little peace. And while this skewed version of the gospel was not to blame for my emotional instability, it certainly did not help to foster healing.

Time went on. I continued to study the gospel and listened to almost every
Alejandro Bullon sermon on the face of the earth. His explanation of the gospel was impeccable — my problem was not his explanation but my own amalgamation of cross and beast. While Bullon’s sermons did much to point me in the right direction I still was not making a distinction between the true gospel and the one that continued to insist that I would be lost if I did not perform well enough. While none of these thoughts were clear in my mind, they were lodged deep in my subconscious and emerged from their cavernous lair in the form of knots in my stomach.

I arrived at Southern Adventist University and ran into a book that beckoned me from the shelves of the library: My Tortured Conscience by Martin Weber. I devoured the book, and though the road ahead was long and arduous, that book, with the horrible 90s cover, was a fork in the road for me. Then came Conquering the Dragon Within by Marvin Moore and there I discovered that I did not lose my salvation every time I sinned unless I confessed right away. Oh, the relief! But true freedom did not come until my wife walked into our tiny living room one evening and said, “I finally get it! I finally feel free! I finally get the gospel!” I read the chapter from the book that had revolutionized her life, Seeing With New Eyes by Ty Gibson. It was then that my subconscious formula of What Jesus did + What I do = Salvation was exposed in all of its soul-destroying light. For the first time in many years, I felt relief. I felt free. The formula was wrong. I had had it wrong all along. “What Jesus Did. Period.” That was the formula. All I had to do was say yes, but even the act of saying yes was an act made possible by grace, prevenient grace as Jacobus Arminius (and yes, the Jesuits) had taught it.

Excited with my new found joy I prepared a sermon — and then I ran into a wall. It was too good to be true. There just had to be something I had to do. Jesus-only was way too good. So I put my sermon aside and went to the official SDA website to check our belief on the gospel. I had to make sure I had it right, and after reading it I was blown away. We did have it right. I preached my sermon and moved on with my newfound joy. But one nagging question remained: What about Last Generation Theology?

During my time in the LGT camp I had come to believe that the SDA church — Ellen White included — taught LGT up until the 1950s when, during the "Questions on Doctrine" crisis, Adventist leaders compromised on the gospel in order to gain evangelical approval. If this was true, then my new understanding of the gospel was actually false, for it reflected the SDA compromise in the 1950s. This meant that LGT was true after all and that I had been hoodwinked into embracing this “new theology.” I lived with this fear for some time until Leroy Moore settled all of my doubts in his bookQuestions on Doctrine Revisited. I did tons of research and study (too much to summarize here) and came to discover that while QOD was not perfect, LGT as constructed by its founder M.L. Andreasenwas further from the truth than QOD ever was. The history regarding this topic is long and complex, so I won’t reconstruct it here, but suffice to say that not only had I come to love the gospel more than ever but I emerged from my studies on LGT and QOD with a greater love for Ellen White and Adventism as a whole.

Last Generation Theology was helpful to me in the sense that it assured me that victory over sin was possible – and believe me, I needed some victory. In this sense I am thankful for LGT. But I lived with a constant sense of having to add something to what Jesus did. While there are some LGT preachers and believers who have a more cross-centered approach, the general result of this theology is subordinating the cross to works. Not only that, but LGT relies heavily on a presupposition which cannot be supported by the Bible or Ellen White: the human nature of Christ as post-fall. And while many LGT proponents continue to insist this is not the case, modern scholars and historians such as Edward Heppensal, Woodrow Whidden, Leroy Moore, and George Knight have effectively demonstrated that LGT proponents do not own the market on the human nature of Christ or any of the other issues raised by LGT founder Andreasen.

So what about perfection? I still believe in it. Every time I walk into a church where no one says hello, every time I read a story about Christian intolerance and insensitivity, every time I interact with leaders who are more concerned with themselves than with the broken, and every time I am exposed to a church that is more concerned with drums and cheese than loving the hurt, the dispossessed, and the addicted, I am reminded of Ellen White's words, “When the character of Christ is perfectly reproduced in his people…” You know the rest.

However, while I still believe in perfection, I differentiate it from the perfectionism inherent in LGT. For now, here are 3 ways in which I differ:

  1. Victory over sin is possible but anytime you tell someone they must overcome or else they won’t go to heaven you rob the joy of victory and where there is no joy there is no hope and where there is no hope there can be no victory. LGT preachers were very clear that we had to be absolutely perfect in order to go to heaven, and while I am all for some victory preaching the lack of balance led me to feel that no matter how much victory I had, I would never be good enough. In order for us to be truly victorious in this life, we need to feel safe in the arms of God. If we don’t feel safe, we will never truly overcome. The truth that God sees us as perfect in Christ during the process of making us perfect is a liberating thought that makes the believer feel safe and thus able to grow in their walk with Christ. In short, God does perfect his children, but never as the basis or as an additional merit for their salvation.
  2. LGT preachers had a knack for making it seem as though the final generation would be holier than any other generation that ever lived. I no longer believe this. The idea that I could possibly be holier than Paul or John is ridiculous. The main problem with this idea is that it made it seem as though being a part of the last generation was more of a curse than a blessing. For some reason, everyone else got to go to heaven if they were almost perfect. But not the last generation! Unless they exceed everyone else’s holiness and match the perfection of Christ perfectly then, they can’t go! Such an idea made me wish I had been born in the past with no possibility of being a part of the final generation. The pressure was too much! I have now come to realize that the last generation will be no holier than older generations were. The only difference is that we will have the privilege of living for God during a time when Satan will have full control of mankind. Thus, our holiness will be more contrasted with the earth's wickedness than it has ever been, but that doesn’t mean we will be holier.
  3. True biblical perfection is about love. This is how Jesus taught it. This is how John Wesley taught it. This is how Ellen White taught it. And this is how I have come to understand it. True perfection is not about your behavior, but about your love. If we are meant to be Christ-like, we must realize that Christ is not remembered for what he did not do but for what he did do: love fervently. No one remembers Christ because he didn’t eat pork – they remember him because he fed the hungry. No one remembers Christ because he didn’t sleep around – they remember him because he honored women. No one remembers Christ because he didn’t steal – they remember him because he gave. No one remembers Christ because he didn’t do anything on the Sabbath – they remember him because he did good on the Sabbath. Unfortunately, in LGT the focus is on what you don’t do in order to avoid staining your perfect character. But true perfection is about being like Jesus, which means we should love fervently, serve selflessly, and live abundantly.
Jesus-only has revolutionized my life. It has given me a new passion for living and for ministry. It hurts me every time I run into people who still live as though their diet, dress, or behavior can get them into eternity. But I thank God for the ride he has led me on and the opportunity I now have to share it with others.

If you would like to read more about my story and how I have come to make sense of all of these issues I invite you to explore this website and purchase my newly published eBook “Making Sense of Adventism: Faith-Journey of an Adventist Blogger”. You can also follow me at where I will be writing exclusively on the gospel from an Adventist perspective.

This article was originally published on
Q&A: Why 1844 Is Perfectly Logical

Q: I would like to see the following statement proved from the Bible only: "Jesus moved from the Holy to the Holy of Holies on Oct. 22, 1844" Please don't refer to any other writings besides the Bible to explain this. I believe that it is cults that use other writings besides the Bible to prove their doctrines (heresies).

A: Great question. First of all let me start out by saying that I can't prove that statement to you. While I am willing to share with you why I believe what I believe there is no way I can prove those beliefs. So I hope that even if we disagree we can at least appreciate one another's faith.

Now I also want to tackle another statement you made.

"Please don't refer to any other writings besides the Bible to explain this. I believe that it is cults that use other writings besides the Bible to prove their doctrines (heresies)."

If this is true then all churches are cults that teach heresy. The reason why is because when we are dealing with apocalyptic literature such as Daniel and Revelation, there is just no way of fully understanding it without using extra-biblical historical resources. Adventists are Historicists in their interpretation of scripture and as such we use extra-biblical historical resources to help us understand the events that the prophecies are delineating. If this approach makes the SDA church a heretical cult then Victorinus, Arnuf of Orleans, Eberhard II (all Catholic) and Martin Luther, John Calvin, Isaac Newton (all protestant) are also heretics for they all followed the Historicists method of interpreting prophecy. In addition, even if you are not a Historicist but are instead a Futurist or a Prederist (the majority of Christendom) you still have to use extra-biblical historical sources to explain the prophecies. So I conclude that when the SDA church uses historical writings and calendars that are extra-biblical in order to arrive at their understanding of 1844 they are simply doing what every body else does and are thus not a cult and not heretical.

What would make us a cult is if, like the Mormons, we relied only on Ellen White or other pioneers such as Uriah Smith in order to teach the 1844 doctrine. But this is not the case. 1844 was understood by William Miller and many others without the help of Ellen White (she hadn't even begun her ministry yet) and the consequent revelations of the sanctuary being in heaven do not necessitate EGW to be understood. In short, SDA's don't need EGW for any of our doctrines. They stand on the Bible alone. In addition, the SDA church does not put EGW next to James, Paul, Peter or any other Biblical writer. We place her beneath them. She did the same when she was alive. While there are some SDA's who treat her as though she was scripture this goes against the church's stance and even against EGW's own position. We consider her writings to be authoritative and inspired but they do not interpret scripture for us, they do not replace scripture for us, and they sure don't have an equal standing with scripture.

Now onto your question. Like I said, I cant prove it but I will simply explain to you why I believe it is true.

Most Christians teach that the judgment took place on the cross. Others teach that it will take place at the second coming. There are numerous NT verses that show the apostles were looking forward to a future judgment. This was after the cross, therefore, biblicaly speaking the judgment did not take place at the cross. Then there are the passages that say that when Jesus comes he comes to award both the righteous and the wicked including those who have not seen death (others teach the judgment happens at death). This shows us that a decision was reached before the second coming. Then there is Revelation 14:6, a message that is pronounced before the second coming and says that the judgment has already begun. Thus, the judgment did not happen at the cross and it will not happen at the second coming but since Jesus comes with rewards it cant happen after the second coming either. So the message is clear, the judgment happens sometime between the cross and the second coming. 1844 happens to between those two events. (see below)

Now that doesnt prove the date per se, in order to come to the actual date October 22, 1844 we would have to interpret Daniels prophecies using the Historicist method of interpretation. To do that would take so long that Im not going to do it here. But at this point Adventists establish the start time of the prophecy which Gabriel gives to Daniel and we count the 2300 years and we arrive at 1844. Using more complex historical sources such as calendars etc. we arrive at the October 22 date. None of this necessitates EGW or any other Adventist pioneer. If you are really interested in reading about the evidence for this then I recommend Clifford Goldsteins "1844 Made Simple" and Marvin Moores "The Case for the Investigative Judgment." Not that they can prove it either, but at least you will be able to see two very well written books on the topic that do not use EGW at all.
Anyways, understanding that the sanctuary of Daniel is the sanctuary in heaven (of course we are not suggesting that there is some building in heaven that looks just like the OT sanctuary)we then conclude through a systematic study of the sanctuary, its type and anti-type etc. that Jesus began his final work of cleansing the sanctuary in 1844. If you want to read my views on the theology of the Investigative Judgment then I recommend my paper (The Investigative Judgment)...

Honestly K, I am not a stickler on October 22, 1844. While I agree its the best interpretation of the time line I don't get hung up on it. The judgment could have begun in 1922 for all I care. The date doesn't change the theology of the judgment at all. The point is that God is now doing his final work on behalf of man, he is trying to get as many people into heaven before time runs out for us, and Jesus is coming soon.
The Uniqueness of Adventism (and Why We Should be Proud of It)

Adventism has lots in common with the evangelical world. We stand on the shoulders of the apostles and the great protestant reformers. We trace our doctrines and lifestyle practices to many of these champions of the faith. As a denomination we are indebted to the Seventh Day Baptists for teaching us the truth about the Sabbath. We owe our belief in sola scriptura to the Catholic theologian Wycliffe. We owe our understanding of justification by faith to the Catholic professor Martin Luther who became the founder of the Lutheran church. Sanctification by faith comes to us from the great reformer John Calvin, the founder of the Presbyterians and Congregationalists. We thank the Anabaptist's for leading the way in the doctrine of the believers baptism. We thank the Baptists for reclaiming the biblical concept of immersion as Gods only true method of baptism. We are indebted to the doctrine of perfection in love as taught by John Wesley, the father of the Methodists.* And the list goes on and on. Adventists certainly have lots in common with the denominations that surround them.

However, there is a growing tendency among Adventists to act as though being an Adventist is really no different to being a Baptist, Presbyterian, or non-denominational Christian. Perhaps this tendency is a response to the narcissistic attitude of many of our Adventist forefathers who treated all other denominations as inferior to their own and in extreme cases even demonized them. In that sense, I am glad that the pendulum is swinging to the other side. However, could it be that the pendulum is swinging too far? In other words, are we going from being an arrogant "we alone have the truth" church to an insignificant movement with no unique reason for its existence.

While I gladly reject the pride and narcissism that many Adventists embrace regarding their denomination, neither do I believe the Adventist church to be simply another church. We are unique. We are different. If that troubles you, allow me to give you a different perspective that may be of help. This church, united as it may be with the whole of Protestantism, is indisputably distinct. Not weird, but certainly different. Here are a few examples of how I, as a Seventh-day Adventist, consider myself to be different from all other denominations:

1. As a Seventh-day Adventist I do not believe that God will torture sinners in hell fire for all eternity. I believe God will bring justice and closure to the perpetrators of his law and that each person lost will receive a just punishment. God is not a sadist, a torture artists, or a pyromaniac. He is a loving and just God who will give eternal life to those who love him and eternal death to those who would rather die than be around him.

2. As a Seventh-day Adventist I do not believe that God created some people to be lost and burn in hell for ever and others to be saved and go to heaven. I believe everyone has a choice in where they want to spend eternity. God is not some arbitrary dictator who controls the universe like a psychopathic control freak. He gives us the freedom to chose and desires that all will come to repentance.

3. As a Seventh-day Adventist I do not believe that the dead go straight to heaven or hell. Instead, I believe that they cease to exist until the resurrection when everyone receives their just reward either for eternal life or death. While some would say this belief removes hope and comfort from many I do not apologize for it because that hope and comfort for some comes at the expense of sorrow and heart break for many others. In order for me to believe my grandmother is in heaven to comfort myself I must be willing to accept that my neighbors atheist teenage son who died of a drug overdose is currently in hell writhing in agony with no possibility of escape. Would it be nice to think my grandmother is in heaven? Sure. But not a the expense of my neighbors comfort. Thankfully, I don't have to make that choice because the Bible teaches that the dead are asleep and will be judged at the last day. No one is dancing in heaven right now and no one is suffering in hell either. As a Seventh-day Adventist I believe that.

4. As a Seventh-day Adventist I do not believe in human dualism which divides the body from the spirit and claims one is important and the other is not. Because we reject this common evangelical view Seventh-day Adventists tend to care for their physical health as much as their spiritual health. As a result we live an average of ten years more than our American counterparts. That's ten more years to tell people about Jesus and share our wisdom with our grandchildren.

5. As a Seventh-day Adventist I do not believe that every day is created equal but that God blessed, sanctified, and made holy the seventh day of the week Saturday which the Bible calls the Sabbath. It is a day of rest and recovery from the wild craziness of everyday life. While I am an every day Christian the Sabbath is a special day of rest that reminds me that I cannot create myself for God is my creator and I cannot redeem myself for God is my redeemer. I believe this day matters for God never blessed any other day besides the seventh day and those who keep it experience a wonderful blessing.

6. As a Seventh-day Adventist I can answer questions other denominations struggle to answer. For example, "You Christians have been saying that Jesus is coming back for over 2,000 years, why isn't he back yet?" No problem my friend! Allow me to give you a bible study on the 2300 day prophecy which culminated in 1844 marking the beginning of Christs final work on behalf of man. When he finishes that final work he will come. Or what about "You Christians are always talking about what Jesus did 2,000 years ago but that was forever ago. Is he doing anything relevant to my life today?" Sure! Allow me to give you a Bible study on the sanctuary system beginning with the Old Testament and moving on into the new. How about "I hate organized religion. Christianity has done nothing but cause pain and suffering. Just look at the crusades!" I agree entirely! Would you like a Bible study on the little horn power of Daniel and the Beast of Revelation? I think you will be surprised! "Why didn't God destroy the devil?" Great question! Allow me to give you a Bible study on the great controversy. "Church is full of hypocrites and that's why I don't go!" Really? Would you like a Bible study on the Investigative Judgment which teaches that God began his work of judgment on the church and will not judge the wicked until he is done judging his church? And so on and so forth.

7. The Seventh-day Adventist church is the only united church body that upholds the historicist method of interpreting Bible prophecy as taught by Martin Luther, John Calvin, Isaac Newton and many other protestant reformers. As such our prophetic narrative is unique and distinct from any other denomination. Therefore, while we are thankful for the teachings that we have learned and embraced from other denominations our eschatological uniqueness places a more urgent value on each of those teachings. One example is the rapture. Adventists do not believe that the church will be raptured just before the days of tribulation but that we will go through the tribulation. Many denominations teach that the church will be delivered from the final crisis through a "secret rapture." Such a teaching, found nowhere in scripture, is preparing myriads of believers for a great disappointment much like what the early Adventists (Millerites) experienced in 1844 when they thought Jesus was coming. After the disappointment many gave up their faith in Christ. Likewise, I believe that many who expect to be delivered from the final crisis will be so disappointed when they find themselves in the midst of it they will give up on their faith in order to escape the persecution. With such a terrible scenario ahead I have, as a Seventh-day Adventist, the unique mission to sound the alarm and help prepare as many as possible for what is coming. Some call this doom-and-gloom preaching but if it is, it is no different than Noah's warning of a flood, Jeremiah's warning of and invasion, and Jesus' warning of Jerusalem's destruction.

I could go on and on but I think I have made my point. Being an Adventist means something. We are not simply another denomination in the mix of all denominations. We are unique and we bear a powerful and distinct message to the world. I fear many Adventists are, as a backlash to the narcissism of their forefathers, attempting to erase any and all distinction between Adventism and other denominations. We want to be considered evangelical. We want to be part of the club. We want to be accepted. Please don't call us a cult any more, don't you see? We are just like you! No difference! And while we certainly are evangelical, while we certainly are a Bible believing, Jesus uplifting church we are indisputably different. To be an Adventist is to stand for an offensive, foolish, and unpopular message. But do you know what I have discovered? There are only four groups of people that generally hate Adventisms message: disgruntled Adventists, former Adventists, ultra-conservative evangelicals, and other Christians who simply misunderstand our message. But go out and share this message with the lost, the post-moderns, the "church haters" and sinners and you will find that our message carries healing in its wings. It is the story of Jesus as told by scripture. And I said before, "Is our God-story perfect? Do we have a flawless theology with no room for improvement? Not at all. We have much to discover. But I do believe, in the most politically incorrect way, that Adventism approximates the biblical story of Gods love, grace, and work for mankind in a much finer way than any other theological system around."**

Fellow Adventist, don't be ashamed of your message. Stand up and be proud. We don't have to apologize to anyone for our beliefs. They are awesome. They are satisfying. They are Bible. While we are not greater than any other church, no holier, no smarter, and certainly no better looking we have a message to preach that no one else is preaching. True, all of our doctrines (even the investigative judgment) can be found outside of our church in one form or another, but there is not a single united body of believers, not a single denomination or movement, that is preaching this message besides the Seventh-day Adventist church. The uniqueness of Adventism is nothing to be ashamed of. It is who we are. Being an Adventist is an invitation to be a part of something epic. I am a Seventh-day Adventist and I am proud of it. Take it or leave it. Love it or hate it. Embrace it or reject it. That's your choice. As for me, I'm all in.