Posts tagged Theology
The Problem with Reconstructing Christianity (Bricolage? pt 1)

Several years ago I spoke with a friend who had just spent the night partying and clubbing. He was disappointed in himself and felt that his life was heading in the wrong direction. God, he felt, was calling him to himself, but my friend was headed the other way. With a look of remorse on his face, he told me he didn't want to live the party and booze life but the God-honoring one instead. I was stoked about our conversation until the next day when he got on the phone and spoke to one of his friends. For some strange reason the remorseful "I-want-to-follow-God" person was replaced by the "I had a great time at the club last night" person. At first I was blown away by the change in his story until I remembered that my friend was helplessly addicted to being the center of attention. This internal motivation led him to do and say whatever he could in order to get noticed. If telling a Jesus-follower that he was repenting of his sin got him attention, he would do so. But if telling his secular friends that he was enjoying his sin got him attention he would switch his story. In short, he would do anything and say everything just to get noticed. Perhaps, in the words of Chris August, he felt "alone and undiscovered"[1] and was willing to play moral, ethical, and personality bricolage so long as he got the attention he was craving.

Most of us have done the same thing in our lives. At the very least, we know someone who we can easily identify as the proverbial people-pleaser. They are willing to tinker with their personality just to be accepted and liked. People who live this way are often referred to as phony, fake, wanna-be's, spineless, chameleons, untrustworthy and  the list goes on and on. At the end of the day people who catch onto their game lose respect for them. The saddest part is this: Phony people may feel as though they are gaining popularity, but ultimately they damage themselves. Our likes and dislikes, our fashion, our morals, our values, our ideologies and beliefs, our personality and uniqueness all makeup who we are. Seen together all of these tiny elements are like paragraphs and chapters which together make up the story that is you. But when a person tinkers with these elements for the sake of popularity they damage their story, their authenticity, and their identity.

In 1941, a German theologian by the name of Rudolf Bultmann proposed a theory known as demythologization. Although the theory did not originate with Bultmann, this was arguably the first time it was popularized. Bultmann's basic contention was that mankind had become too enlightened to believe the miracles in the Bible and that if Christians were to succeed in spreading their faith they would have to demythologize (erase the myths) from the Bible (ie. Noahs Ark, Miracles of Jesus, etc.) in order to make it more appealing to modern thinkers. 

Weird as that may sound, Bultmann was not the first, and neither would he be the last theologian to propose a redefining or restructuring of Christianity in order to make it more appealing to the culture. In recent years movements such as the Emergent Church[2] have attempted to redefine Christianity in order for the secular world to notice it. Matt Slick expressed the post-modern challenge well when he stated that,
The danger of postmodernism is that it tends to deny the ability to know things for sure. It even undermines the construction of language by stating that words can be interpreted differently, that language is fluid, and that the Bible, written in ancient languages, is open to various interpretations of equal validity."[3] 
In an attempt to reach this rising relativistic generation, many emergents have proposed a redefining of Christianity. For some, it is not enough to simply rethink the way we "do" church. Instead, we must also rethink our beliefs as a whole. One proponent of emergent theology summarized it well when he said,
"We do not think this [Emerging Church Movement] is about changing your worship service. We do not think this is about…how you structure your church staff. This is actually about changing theology. This is about our belief that theology changes. The message of the gospel changes. It’s not just the method that changes."[4]
As a result, many emergents have come to deny core Christian beliefs such as baptism and the sacrificial atonement of Jesus. Brian McLaren, a popular emergent church proponent "went as far to trivialize baptism as being no more than a statement of 'We are clean; they are unclean.'"[5] In his article "A Generous Apostasy", a first hand account at an emergent convention, Aaron Muth said,
After lunch, I spotted McLaren making his way to the table of the young freshman girls... that I had just had lunch with, so I made my way to their table. One of the students sheepishly asked McLaren, 'Do you believe in the blood atonement of Christ.' McLaren confidently and forcefully answered, 'Absolutely not.'[6]
Noble as their intentions may be, Christians who play theological bricolage in order to gain popularity among the secular, post-modern generations damage Christianity. By subverting core biblical truths, they are damaging the story the Bible tells about God. Much like the personality, values and beliefs of a person each biblical doctrine (teaching) is best seen as a paragraph or chapter within a book. Alone it makes little sense, but when united with every other chapter and paragraph, a beautiful, authentic, and genuine story of God emerges. This story is perfect, attractive, powerful, and experientially life-changing. And whenever limited human minds attempt to tinker with doctrine for the sake of popularity they inevitably change the story of God. And unless we are willing to suggest that we can tell a better God-story than the one God has told of himself then any attempt at theological bricolage only serves to make God less attractive, less powerful, and consequently, less experiential and life changing. In the end God becomes a people-pleaser, a chameleon, and a phony capable of altering his story for the sake of approval.

Thankfully, the emergents are wrong. The God-story of scripture does not change. "Jesus the Anointed One is always the same: yesterday, today, and forever." (Heb. 13:8).[7] David the poet said of him, "...You are the same, You will never change..." (Psa. 102:27). The seer Malachi quoted him saying, "I am the Eternal One, I never change" (Mal. 3:6). And James the brother of Jesus said, "Every good gift bestowed, every perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights. He is consistent. He won’t change His mind or play tricks in the shadows." (Ja. 1:17). 

It was because of the truth of this unchanging God - a genuine, authentic, for-real kind of God -that Peter the friend of Jesus could say, "false teachers will rise up in the future among you. They will slip in with their destructive opinions, denying the very Master who bought their freedom and dooming themselves to destruction swiftly, but not before they attract others by their unbridled and immoral behavior. Because of them and their ways, others will criticize and condemn the path of truth..." (1 Pet. 2:1-2). John, the student of love, also said "do not trust every spirit. Instead, examine them carefully to determine if they come from God, because the corrupt world is filled with the voices of many false prophets" (1 Joh. 4:1). And Paul, the converted tyrant warned, "No matter the source of the false gospel, even if it is preached by us or a heavenly messenger, ignore it. May those who add to or subtract from the gospel of Jesus be eternally cursed" (Gal. 1:4)!

This is who God is. Consistent. Steady. Unchanging. Unvarying. Unswerving. Undeviating, Unwavering. Unfluctuating. True to type. God is not phony, fake, a wanna-be, spineless, a chameleon, or untrustworthy. He is who he is. He has revealed himself as he is. And he will always be who he has been. His story never changes. His message to mankind never alters. His word is not up for auction. His truth is not for sale. He will not lie for as Solomon the wise said, "Lying lips disgust the Eternal" (Pro. 12:22). He is transparent, trustworthy, authentic, genuine, and honest. In a word full of scams, charlatans, and liars we need a God who is for-real. And the moment we decide to play theological bricolage we take away the very thing this starving generation needs - someone they can trust.

Not only do we ruin the God-story when we attempt to redefine Christianity, but we also damage the authenticity and identity of Christianity. These elements are ruined because the God-story of Christianity is rooted in the ancient self-revelation of God known as the Bible. Therefore, any attempt to reconstruct the story must deny the reliability of this book. Inherent in this book is also the identity of Christianity. Emergents say that it's OK to question or reinterpret the book because words don't have real meanings but then they go on and publish books on which they teach their views and expect others to place their faith in those words. So words do have meaning so long as the book has been published by an emergent author. But when it comes to scripture - that we can question all we want. The self-refuting and hypocritical nature of this position is evident. Emergent's are not attempting to reinterpret scripture. Instead, they are effectively creating their own religion complete with its own set of sacred writings and practices which are loosely based on Christianity (and other religions) and heavily rooted in post-modern philosophy. This "new" Christianity cannot be demonstrated from the faith-journey of the ancients who experienced God and, inspired by his Spirit, wrote the story for future generations. As a result, to call this "new Christianity" Christianity is disingenuous and perfunctory. The story it tells does not gel with the story the ancient seers and apostles told; thus, it cannot be the same faith or even the same God. Emergent Christianity is an ersatz Christianity - a faith without foundation, roots, and identity.

But true Christianity stands firm. Its story continues to change lives all over the world for it is grounded firmly on the testimony of God-lovers who were moved by God himself to write the Bible we now hold. In the Bible is chronicled the memoirs of a God who loves so relentlessly and recklessly that he was willing to be separated from his son in order that he might reconcile a rebellious race back to himself. God made mankind, but mankind rebelled against him and was consequently lost. But Jesus Christ gave everything he had in order to win us back. Jesus himself tells the story of a merchant who found a precious pearl. When he did, he sold everything he had and purchased the pearl. The pearl was so valuable to him that he was willing to give all in order to have it. The merchant is none other and Jesus himself and the pearl is you. That pearl is me. The broken, destitute, cast aside, broken, rebellious human race. That is the central story of scripture and every doctrine it teaches adds to the beauty of this story. Thus, to change one doctrine is to damage the story. But the story is charming, delightful, graceful and satisfying. It doesn't need to evolve. It doesn't need to be changed. It stands on its own beauty as the most life-altering and propositionally experiential narrative that has ever been told.

While this post is far from complex or exhaustive I would like to suggest that, apart from all of the other more "scholarly" reasons for rejecting the reconstruction of Christianity, the damage such a reconstruction poses to the beautiful God-story of scripture and the authenticity/identity of Christianity is reason enough to avoid the temptation to play bricolage with theology.

_____

[1] Christ August. 7 x 70, Song lyrics.
[2] Note: The Emergent Church movement, as all movements, has its conservatives and liberals, its original proponents and its fanatical/ extremist wings. The ideologies I refute in this article are more often found among those extreme wings of the movement. It is not my intention to paint the entire movement on the ideas of those fanatical proponents. However, because those proponents tend to be the most influential and popular it is their overall concepts that I refute.
[3] Matt Slick. "The Emerging Church and Postmodernism", [web: http://carm.org/emerging-church-postmodernism].
[4] Tony Jones (“A New Theology for a New World.” A workshop for the 2004 Emergent Convention in San Diego) [Web: http://www.alwaysbeready.com/emerging-church?id=142].
[5] Brian McLaren as quoted by Cherie Lynn Milliron. "Student Responds to Third Way Conference," [Web: http://advindicate.com/articles/2013/10/3/student-responds-to-third-way-conference].
[6] Aaron Muth. "A Generous Apostacy," [Web: http://advindicate.com/articles/2013/10/3/a-generous-apostasy].
[7] All texts are quoted from The Voice Bible version
Troubling Statements of Ellen White



I have had some comments recently about contradictory statements that Ellen White makes concerning salvation. In order to shed more light on the issue I am re-posting an old blog-post that deals with that topic. This blog is really an excerpt from my paper on the Investigative Judgment doctrine taught by the SDA church. I am also adding some other quotes at the very bottom that help shed more light on the issue of salvation as Ellen White and SDA's understand it. Those same quotes along with official SDA statements concerning our understanding of salvation can be found in the post The SDA Gospel is Legalistic - Isn't It? Blessings!



Troubling Statements of Ellen White 

Even though Ellen White is not necessary for an understanding of the investigative judgment, a review of some of her statements is necessary. At first glance, it appears that many of Ellen Whites statements are inherently legalistic.

In her book, Christ Object Lessons, White says, “Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”[1] Again she writes in Our High Calling, “Are we striving with all our power to attain to the stature of men and women in Christ? Are we seeking for His fullness, ever pressing toward the mark set before us—the perfection of His character? When the Lord’s people reach this mark, they will be sealed in their foreheads.”[2] In her highly esteemed book The Great Controversy, White once again deals a “devastating blow” to righteousness by faith when she says, “Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Father’s commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble.”[3] A similar thought can be found in Early Writings when White writes, “I also saw that many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully.”[4] These statements appear to be the epitome of legalism, and rightly so. To summarize everything just quoted would be to say that in order to enter heaven we must be perfect. Teresa Beem points out the legalistic language in some of Whites statements with reference to the pre-Advent judgment when she says, “The time of Atonement is especially scary for the believer. It is a time to reach perfection.”[5] And indeed White says, “Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet he will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Every one must be tested, and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”[6] With this in mind, it appears that Ellen White has completely undone everything said in the above section on righteousness by faith. However, what critics and Adventists who point out these statements fail to see is that any statement taken out of its context can be made to say anything.

Before concluding on Ellen White and the pre-Advent judgment let us turn to the Bible. Matthew records a story in which Jesus was approached by a young man and asked, “What must I do to be saved?” It is interesting to note that Jesus did not tell him, “accept me as your personal savior and you will be saved” but instead told him, “‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’”[7] Jesus also said, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”[8] Later on He said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”[9] The apostle James writes, “Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?”[10] And the apostle John wrote, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”[11] Each of these statements can be taken out of context to say that the Bible teaches righteousness by works. However, when we balance these statements with those on righteousness by faith we discover what these verses truly mean and that none of them advocate a performance based salvation.

The same is true of Ellen White. While the quoted statements may seem legalistic when viewed in light of other statements and her ministry as a whole it becomes apparent that Ellen White never promoted a works based salvation. In Selected Messages, White says, “We are not to be anxious about what Christ and God think of us, but about what God thinks of Christ, our Substitute. Ye are accepted in the Beloved.”[12] Again White wrote: “The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner’s account.”[13] With quotes such as these in mind, it is clear that the same tension that exists in the Bible with regards to faith and works exist in Ellen Whites writings as well. The perfection that White says the sinner needs is not a self-fabricated perfection but the perfection of Christ’s sinless life covering our sinful lives. White spoke for herself when she said, “[W]hile we should realize our sinful condition, we are to rely upon Christ as our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption. We cannot answer the charges of Satan against us. Christ alone can make an effectual plea in our behalf. He is able to silence the accuser with arguments founded not upon our merits, but on His own.”[14]
Further Reading: Facing Life's Record: An Analysis of the Great Controversies Scariest Chapter




[1] Ellen G White, Christ Object Lessons, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 69.
[2] ibid., Our High Calling, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 150.
[3] ibid., The Great Controversy, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 623.
[4] ibid., Early Writings, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 71.
[5] Teresa and Arthur Beem. It’s Okay NOT To Be A Seventh-Day Adventist: The Untold History and the Doctrine that Attempts to Repair the Temple Veil [North Charleston: BookSurge Publishing, 2008], 112.
[6] Ellen G White, The Great Controversy, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 489.
[7] Matt. 19:16, 21.
[8] Matt. 5:29.
[9] Matt. 5:48.
[10] Jam. 2:21.
[11] Rev. 22:14.
[12] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 2,  EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 32.
[13] ibid., Selected Messages, book 1,  EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 32
[14] Ellen G White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012], 472.



A Few More Quotes

A legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion. Fasting or prayer that is actuated by a self-justifying spirit is an abomination in the sight of God. The solemn assembly for worship, the round of religious ceremonies, the external humiliation, the imposing sacrifice, proclaim that the doer of these things regards himself as righteous, and as entitled to heaven; but it is all a deception. Our own works can never purchase salvation.  {DA 280.2}


The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.  {DA 172.1} 


A legal religion has been thought quite the correct religion for this time. But it is a mistake. The rebuke of Christ to the Pharisees is applicable to those who have lost from the heart their first love. A cold, legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion… Works will not buy for us an entrance into heaven. The one great Offering that has been made is ample for all who will believe. The love of Christ will animate the believer with new life. {1SM 388.1}


The spirit of bondage is engendered by seeking to live in accordance with legal religion, through striving to fulfill the claims of the law in our own strength. There is hope for us only as we come under the Abrahamic covenant, which is the covenant of grace by faith in Christ Jesus. The gospel preached to Abraham, through which he had hope, was the same gospel that is preached to us today, through which we have hope. Abraham looked unto Jesus, who is also the Author and the Finisher of our faith (YI Sept. 22, 1892).  {6BC 1077.7}


Legal religion will not answer for this age. We may perform all the outward acts of service and yet be as destitute of the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of dew and rain. We all need spiritual moisture, and we need also the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness to soften and subdue our hearts. {6T 417.3} 


If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason.{FW 24.1}


Christ for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. And any works that man can render to God will be far less than nothingness. My requests are made acceptable only because they are laid upon Christ’s righteousness. The idea of doing anything to merit the grace of pardon is fallacy from beginning to end. “Lord, in my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” {FW 24.2}


When men learn they cannot earn righteousness by their own merit of works, and they look with firm and entire reliance upon Jesus Christ as their only hope, there will not be so much of self and so little of Jesus. Souls and bodies are defiled and polluted by sin, the heart is estranged from God, yet many are struggling in their own finite strength to win salvation by good works. Jesus, they think, will do some of the saving; they must do the rest. They need to see by faith the righteousness of Christ as their only hope for time and for eternity. {FW 25.3}


The cross of Calvary is a pledge to us of everlasting life. {EV 186.3}


We stand in favor before God, not because of any merit in ourselves, but because of our faith in "the Lord our righteousness" {ST 2:497} 
Penances, mortifications of the flesh, constant confession of sin, without sincere repentance; fasts, festivals, and outward observances, unaccompanied by true devotion—all these are of no value whatever. The sacrifice of Christ is sufficient; He made a whole, efficacious offering to God; and human effort without the merit of Christ, is worthless.... {EV 192.1}
You will meet with those who will say, “You are too much excited over this matter. You are too much in earnest. You should not be reaching for the righteousness of Christ, and making so much of that. You should preach the law.” As a people, we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain. We must preach Christ in the law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God. We must not trust in our own merits at all, but in the merits of Jesus of Nazareth. {1888M 560.5}


Perfection through our own good works we can never attain. The soul who sees Jesus by faith, repudiates his own righteousness. He sees himself as incomplete, his repentance insufficient, his strongest faith but feebleness, his most costly sacrifice as meager, and he sinks in humility at the foot of the cross. But a voice speaks to him from the oracles of God's word. In amazement he hears the message, "Ye are complete in him." Now all is at rest in the soul. No longer must he strive to find some worthiness in himself, some meritorious deed by which to gain the favor of God {ST, 2:497; 7/04/92}. 
The Pre-Advent Judgment 14: Conclusion on the Investigative Judment


In conclusion, it is clear from the Bible and the Bible only that the doctrine of the pre-Advent judgment is fully supported and that this doctrine does not contradict the foundational truth of righteousness by faith. An analysis of Ellen G. White shows that many of her statements, though seemingly legalistic, are no different from the many warnings in the Bible with regard to the day of judgment and when balanced with other statements are in fact not legalistic at all. Lastly, the pre-Advent judgment reveals to both men and angels that God is trustworthy, and it protects sinners from both careless Christianity and legalism. The message is clear, God is our judge and “If God is for us, who can be against us?”[1] “That’s investigative judgment.”[2]

Further Reading: 

Various Articles on the Investigative Judgment

Various Articles on the Gospel from an SDA Perspective





[1] Rom. 8:31.
[2] Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 21.


Bibliography



Anderson, John T. Investigating the Judgment: A Revolutionary Look At God’s Total Fairness And Relentless Effort To Save Us. Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2003.

Arnold, Bill T. and Brian E. Beyer. Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2008.

Bear, James E. “Bible and Modern Religions, Part 1 :The Seventh-Day Adventists,” ATLA Religion Database [1956]: [accessed April 1, 2012].

Beem, Teresa and Arthur Beem. It’s Okay NOT To Be A Seventh-Day Adventist: The Untold History and the Doctrine that Attempts to Repair the Temple Veil. North Charleston: BookSurge Publishing, 2008.

Davidson, Jo Ann. Principal Contributor. Glimpses Of Our God: Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. Nampa: Pacific Press, 2012.

Doukhan, Jacques B. Secrets of Daniel: Wisdom and Dreams of a Jewish Prince in Exile. Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2000.

Goldstein, Clifford. 1844 Made Simple. Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1988.

—. False Balances. Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1992.

Graham, Billy. The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in Your Life. W Publishing Group, 1988.

Hardinge, Leslie. With Jesus in His Sanctuary: A Walk Through the Tabernacle Along His Way. Harrisburg: American Cassette Ministries, 1991.

Knight, George R. I Used To Be Perfect: A Study of Sin and Salvation. Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 2001.

—. The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism: Are We Erasing Our Relevancy? Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2008.

Lake, Jud. e-mail to author, January 31, 2012.

Moore, Marvin. The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation. Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010.

Pfandl, Gerhard. Daniel: The Seer of Babylon. Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2004.

Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, 17th ed., 18; emphasis added. quoted in Marvin Moore, The Case for the Investigative Judgment, Its Biblical Foundation. Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010.

Shuler, John L. The Great Judgment Day: In the Light of the Sanctuary Service. Washington: Review and Herald, 1923.

Treiyer, Alberto R. The Day of Atonement and the Heavenly Judgment: From the Pentateuch to Revelation. Siloam Springs: Creation Enterprises International, 1992.

Weber, Martin. “Never Before Published Desmond Ford Dialogues About the 1844 Judgment, Ford And Weber Dialogue, Section II: Ford’s Critique Of Weber.” Scribd. http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/17458843 [accessed Feb 1 and Mar 31, 2012].

—. “Pre-Advent Judgment.” SDA For Me. http://www.sdaforme.com/issues/judgement/judgment.html [accessed January 31, 2012].

—. “What's the bottom line relevance of the judgment in my life for Christ today?” SDA for Me.  http://www.sdaforme.com/FAQRetrieve.aspx?ID=38272 [accessed March 29, 2012].

—. More Adventist Hot Potatoes. Boise: Pacific Press, 1992.

White, Ellen G. Christ Object Lessons. EGW Writings. https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Early Writings. EGW Writings. https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Our High Calling. EGW Writings. https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Selected Messages, book 1.  EGW Writings. https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Selected Messages, book 2,  EGW Writings. https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].

—. Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5. EGW Writings. https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].


—. The Great Controversy. EGW Writings. https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012].
The Pre-Advent Judgment 9: What Does it Mean to be Judged?


Nonetheless, doesn’t the very concept of being judged imply that God is looking for something wrong by which to accuse us? The Bible’s answer is no, for the title of “accuser” is one that is reserved for Satan “the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night.”[1] God on the other hand, is shown throughout the Bible to be the savior, not the accuser.[2] In his book More Adventist Hot Potatoes Martin Weber notes that:

…the ancient Hebrew meaning of judgment… was quite different from our Western legal system. Our society requires judges and juries to be strictly neutral. If they harbor a bias either in favor or against the accused, our law demands that they disqualify themselves. Not so in Bible times. Back then, the legal code required judges to abandon neutrality and take the side of the defendant. The defense of the accused was a duty so sacred that the judge refused to delegate it to a defense attorney. Instead, he himself served as the defender of the accused.[3]
This understanding paints a completely different picture of the pre-Advent judgment. Though many have twisted this doctrine and turned it into the icon for legalism, a biblical approach does just the opposite, for it teaches that right now, God is in heaven doing everything He can to save as many as possible. Thus, George Knight can say, “It is crucial to understand that God as our Judge is on our side. He is not against us or even neutral. He sent His son because He loves us and wants to save as many people as possible. And He will save all of those who will be happy in His kingdom. Thus judgment is not a fearful thing to a Christian.”[4]


Further Reading: 

Facing Life's Record (An Analysis of the Great Controversy's Scariest Chapter)

The Pre-Advent Judgment 6: The IJ and Assurance of Salvation


[1] Rev. 12:10.
[2] John 3:16-17.
[3] Martin Weber, More Adventist Hot Potatoes [Boise: Pacific Press, 1992], 81.
[4] George R. Knight, I Used To Be Perfect: A Study of Sin and Salvation [Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 2001], 54.
The Pre-Advent Judgment 8: Troubling Ellen G. White Statements


Even though Ellen White is not necessary for an understanding of the investigative judgment, a review of some of her statements is necessary. At first glance, it appears that many of Ellen Whites statements are inherently legalistic.


In her book, Christ Object Lessons, White says, “Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”[1] Again she writes in Our High Calling, “Are we striving with all our power to attain to the stature of men and women in Christ? Are we seeking for His fullness, ever pressing toward the mark set before us—the perfection of His character? When the Lord’s people reach this mark, they will be sealed in their foreheads.”[2] In her highly esteemed book The Great Controversy, White once again deals a “devastating blow” to righteousness by faith when she says, “Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Father’s commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble.”[3] A similar thought can be found in Early Writings when White writes, “I also saw that many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully.”[4] These statements appear to be the epitome of legalism, and rightly so. To summarize everything just quoted would be to say that in order to enter heaven we must be perfect. Teresa Beem points out the legalistic language in some of Whites statements with reference to the pre-Advent judgment when she says, “The time of Atonement is especially scary for the believer. It is a time to reach perfection.”[5] And indeed White says, “Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet he will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Every one must be tested, and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”[6] With this in mind, it appears that Ellen White has completely undone everything said in the above section on righteousness by faith. However, what critics and Adventists who point out these statements fail to see is that any statement taken out of its context can be made to say anything.

Before concluding on Ellen White and the pre-Advent judgment let us turn to the Bible. Matthew records a story in which Jesus was approached by a young man and asked, “What must I do to be saved?” It is interesting to note that Jesus did not tell him, “accept me as your personal savior and you will be saved” but instead told him, “‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’”[7] Jesus also said, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”[8] Later on He said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”[9] The apostle James writes, “Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?”[10] And the apostle John wrote, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”[11] Each of these statements can be taken out of context to say that the Bible teaches righteousness by works. However, when we balance these statements with those on righteousness by faith we discover what these verses truly mean and that none of them advocate a performance based salvation.

The same is true of Ellen White. While the quoted statements may seem legalistic when viewed in light of other statements and her ministry as a whole it becomes apparent that Ellen White never promoted a works based salvation. In Selected Messages, White says, “We are not to be anxious about what Christ and God think of us, but about what God thinks of Christ, our Substitute. Ye are accepted in the Beloved.”[12] Again White wrote: “The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner’s account.”[13] With quotes such as these in mind, it is clear that the same tension that exists in the Bible with regards to faith and works exist in Ellen Whites writings as well. The perfection that White says the sinner needs is not a self-fabricated perfection but the perfection of Christ’s sinless life covering our sinful lives. White spoke for herself when she said, “[W]hile we should realize our sinful condition, we are to rely upon Christ as our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption. We cannot answer the charges of Satan against us. Christ alone can make an effectual plea in our behalf. He is able to silence the accuser with arguments founded not upon our merits, but on His own.”[14]






[1] Ellen G White, Christ Object Lessons, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 69.
[2] ibid., Our High Calling, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 150.
[3] ibid., The Great Controversy, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 623.
[4] ibid., Early Writings, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 71.
[5] Teresa and Arthur Beem. It’s Okay NOT To Be A Seventh-Day Adventist: The Untold History and the Doctrine that Attempts to Repair the Temple Veil [North Charleston: BookSurge Publishing, 2008], 112.
[6] Ellen G White, The Great Controversy, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 489.
[7] Matt. 19:16, 21.
[8] Matt. 5:29.
[9] Matt. 5:48.
[10] Jam. 2:21.
[11] Rev. 22:14.
[12] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 2,  EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 32.
[13] ibid., Selected Messages, book 1,  EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012]. 32
[14] Ellen G White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, EGW Writings, https://egwwritings.org [accessed Apr. 1, 2012], 472.
The Pre-Advent Judgment 5: The IJ is Not Entirely Unique to Adventism

The third aspect of the pre-Advent judgment I would like to explore is the allegation that it is an attempt “[i]n trying to defend 1844 after the failure of Christ's return.”[1] This critique presupposes that “the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the pre-Advent investigative judgment… [is a] unique Adventist contribution to biblical theology.”[2] However, “…it is misleading to say that the doctrine of a pre-Advent judgment in Daniel is unique to Seventh-day Adventism.

After all, many others have found a pre-Advent judgment in Daniel 7.”[3] If this is so, then the allegation that the investigative judgment is simply a “new way of explaining the Great Disappointment”[4] is not true. Indeed, Seventh-day Adventists are far from the only ones to ever discover the doctrine of the pre-Advent judgment. Gerhard Pfandl, author of Daniel: The Seer of Babylon identifies several non-Adventist theologians who have taught the pre-Advent judgment. “Lutheran Joseph A. Seiss, for example, wrote: ‘The resurrection, and the changes which pass… upon the living, are themselves the fruits and embodiments of antecedent judgment…. Strictly speaking, men are neither raised nor translated, in order to come to judgment. Resurrections and translations are products of judgment previously passed.”[5] In addition, Pfandl quotes Catholic author F. Dusterwald and Protestant interpreter T. Robinson as having understood the book of Daniel to teach a pre-Advent judgment.



[1] Martin Weber, “Never Before Published Desmond Ford Dialogues About the 1844 Judgment, Ford And Weber Dialogue, Section II: Ford’s Critique Of Weber,” Scribd, http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/17458843 [accessed Mar 31, 2012]. Note: The Millerites originally thought that 1844 marked the date for the return of Jesus. After Jesus did not come back many went back to their Bibles to discover what had gone wrong. In the process they discovered that Christ was not meant to return but that he was engaging in the second phase of His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary on that date. Thus, many critics have taken the pre-Advent judgment to be an attempt to “explain away” why Christ did not return.
[2] Gerhard Pfandl, Daniel: The Seer of Babylon [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2004], 68.
[3] George R. Knight, The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism: Are We Erasing Our Relevancy? [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2008], 70.
[4] Teresa and Arthur Beem. It’s Okay NOT To Be A Seventh-Day Adventist: The Untold History and the Doctrine that Attempts to Repair the Temple Veil [North Charleston: BookSurge Publishing, 2008], 107.
[5] Gerhard Pfandl, Daniel: The Seer of Babylon [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2004], 70.
The Pre-Advent Judgment 4: Did Christ's Ministry End at the Cross?

The second aspect that must be considered is that the pre-Advent judgment teaches that when the judgment began Jesus began a special work in heaven. That special work is the work of “cleansing the sanctuary.” During this time not only the wicked but also the righteous are said to be judged.[1] This judgment then is said to determine the fate of everyone who has ever lived. Opponents of the pre-Advent judgment often critique this doctrine by saying that it teaches that Christ work was not completed on the cross.

“We believe that the Bible teaches that the work of Christ is a finished work—finished on the cross”[2] they say. They then quote Jesus’ words just before His death when He says, “It is finished.”[3] According to this critique, the death of Christ marked the end of Christ’s ministry. Everything was fulfilled at the cross, therefore, how can we say that Christ began another phase of His ministry in 1844? 


While I agree that Christ’s work of salvation was finished at the cross and that nothing more is needed for the salvation of man, several texts can help us see that Christ’s ministry did not, as is often asserted, end at the cross. For starters, Paul tells us that “…if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”[4] Therefore, it was not sufficient that Christ died for us, but He had to be raised again. Had Christ not risen, His work of redemption would have been incomplete and we are “still in [our] sins” and thus, “of all people most to be pitied.”[5] Evangelical Christian evangelist Billy Graham also agrees that Christ’s ministry did not end at the cross. In his book, The Holy Spirit, Graham says, “Quite clearly Jesus did not say that His death on the cross would mark the cessation of His ministry. The night before His death He repeatedly told the disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit.”[6] Christ not only sent us the Holy Spirit, He also “help[s] those who are being tempted” and “rescues the godly from trials.”[7] In addition to all of this, the ministry of Jesus would also be incomplete without the second coming. With this evidence in mind, I suggest that although Christ’s sacrifice is all-sufficient for man’s salvation, it is not unbiblical to teach that His ministry was not completed at the cross.[8]


Further Reading: Did Jesus Complete the Atonement on the Cross?



[1] “For thousands of years, from the times of the tabernacle in the wilderness until today, the Jews celebrated the cleansing of the sanctuary (Yom Kippur) – the Day of Atonement – as the great judgment day.” Clifford Goldstein, 1844 Made Simple [Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1988], 39. Thus, the cleansing of the sanctuary and the judgment are the same event.
[2] James E. Bear, “Bible and Modern Religions, Part 1 :The Seventh-Day Adventists,” ATLA Religion Database [1956]: 11, http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.southern.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=18fbeee8-6294-4b74-8d94-1d0a16d2b8f9%40sessionmgr10&vid=4&hid=24 [accessed April 1, 2012].
[3] John 19:30.
[4] 1 Cor. 15:14.
[5] 1 Cor. 15:17, 19.
[6] Billy Graham, The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in Your Life [W Publishing Group, 1988], 71.
[7] Heb. 2:18., 2 Pet. 2:9.
[8] It is however, unbiblical and heretical to teach that Christ’s sacrifice was not enough and that He needs to “do more” in order to save us. Hebrews is clear “Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” Heb. 7:27. Italics mine.
The Pre Advent Judgment 3: The Pre-Advent Judgment and 1844



There are yet other aspects of the pre-Advent judgment that must be considered. The first is that Seventh-day Adventists believe and teach that the pre-Advent judgment began in the year A.D. 1844. Due to space limitations I will not seek to explain that here. Suffice it to say that if the judgment could have begun at any point between A.D. 31 and the second coming of Jesus then the year 1844 does not seem as ridiculous as it might first appear. For a more detailed and thorough explanation on the validity of 1844 I recommend The Case for the Investigative Judgment by Marvin Moore and 1844 Made Simple by Clifford Goldstein. 

Further Reading: Why 1844 is Perfectly Logical

See also 1844madesimple.org


The Pre-Advent Judgment 2: Will There Be a Pre-Advent Judgment?



What exactly is the pre-Advent judgment? To put it simply, the pre-advent judgment (also known as the investigative judgment) teaches that the final judgment will take place before the second coming of Christ. During this judgment the lives of every person, both believers and unbelievers alike, will be investigated. Marvin Moore, author of The Case for the Investigative Judgment put it well when he wrote:
The idea that God will conduct an investigative judgment someday is very biblical. In Ecclesiastes 12:14, Solomon said, ‘God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil’…. Thus, our works, our words, and even our thoughts (the secret things) will be examined in God’s final judgment. That’s investigative judgment.[1]
The Bible itself has much to say on the topic of judgment and without a doubt it should. “Looking around at the world, we shouldn’t have a problem understanding the idea of judgment and condemnation. One doesn’t have to be a believing Christian to realize that something is radically wrong with humanity. Who can’t see what a royal mess, even disaster, we’ve made of things?... Who hasn’t been the victim of just how greedy, selfish, and mean people can be? Or who hasn’t at some point been the greedy, selfish, and mean one?”[2] Victims of crime cry out for justice, families of those who have been murdered do likewise. Judgment seems to be a natural and intimate human desire. With this in mind, judgment becomes “the fulfillment of humanity’s hopes and yearnings”[3] for it is where the wounded find closure and the broken healing. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says, “Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.”[4] David wrote in the Psalms, “Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness”[5] In the New Testament, Jesus reaffirms the concept of a final judgment when he says, “…I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”[6] Paul also reiterates the concept of a final judgment when he wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”[7] However, while it is clear that there will be a judgment through these verses, they say nothing about the judgment taking place before the second coming of Jesus. According to these verses the day of judgment can just as easily be on the day of Christ’s return as they could before his return. Desmond Ford, former Adventist minister, writes: “…‘Why must [I] reject the two-phased ministry of Christ and the [pre-Advent] judgment?’ my answer is ‘Because it is nowhere taught in the New Testament or, indeed, in the Old Testament.’”[8] Hence, based on Fords statement and the question posed beforehand, How is it that the Seventh-day Adventist church can be so sure that the judgment is a pre-Advent judgment? Adventist minister Martin Weber has a simple way of explaining it. “When Jesus comes again” Weber says, “He will separate the sheep (His true believers) from the goats (unbelievers and pseudo-disciples). See Matt. 25:31-46. Obviously He will have already decided by that time who are the sheep and who are the goats, so there has to be a pre-Advent judgment.”[9] In addition, Paul’s verse quoted above states that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us.” Thus, according to Paul, when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, we appear not to be judged but to receive our reward. Therefore, it is implied that the judgment has taken place already. Jesus also said, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”[10] Once again, the implication is that a decision has been made as to who will receive life and who will not, therefore, it is safe to deduce that a judgment has taken place before the resurrection (which takes place at the second coming of Christ). In connection with the second coming, Jesus also said, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”[11] Once again, the words of Jesus infer that a judgment has already taken place, or else how could He already have the reward?

In addition, there is also evidence in the book of Daniel of a pre-Advent judgment that is to take place before the second coming of Jesus. Why the book of Daniel? Because the book of Daniel is the only book in the Old Testament that contains predictions that span all the way across history to our present day.[12] For this reason the book of Daniel is said to contain “apocalyptic literature,” which is literature “concerned with the future and often reveal God’s eschatological judgment.”[13] Because “Daniel is a primary source for Old Testament eschatology”[14] it is only logical to presume that Daniel would have something to say about an event that occurs at the end of time. Indeed, Daniel has much to say about the pre-Advent judgment.


Daniel chapter seven makes the first reference to a judgment taking place during earth’s history. In this chapter Daniel has seen a vision that spans from his day (the time of the Babylonian reign) to the end of time. Four beasts are present in the chapter which according to verse 17 are also “four kings which arise out of the earth.”[15] After these “four kings” Daniel says “As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat… The court was seated, and the books were opened.”[16] This scenario clearly depicts a judgment scene. Then, when the judgment scene is complete Daniel goes on to say “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.”[17] According to Daniels vision, the judgment takes place before the second coming of Jesus.

Based on this evidence I propose that even if one is to reject the concept of an investigative judgment, one cannot pretend it has no biblical basis whatsoever. It is clear from the Bible and the Bible alone that a judgment will take place before the second coming of Christ. In addition to texts that support this position, stories in the Bible do likewise. When Adam and Eve sinned, Gods first action was one of investigation. Instead of God entering Eden with judgment for His rebellious creation, He entered with the question “Where are you?”[18] From there God proceeded to ask many other questions which are typical of investigation. John T. Anderson, author of Investigating the Judgment points this out along with many other examples in which God “investigated” before He acted such as in the story of the Flood, the Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Passover, the Fall of Jerusalem, Babylon and others. Anderson states that “[o]ne would have a hard time finding an example in the biblical record in which God executed judgment in a significant way before first taking that extra step of investigating.”[19] Therefore, not only can we find texts that show an investigative judgment taking place before Christ’s second coming, but we can also find examples of God investigating events throughout the Bible before He implements His final decision. “No doubt you might be saying right now to yourself: ‘But God doesn’t need to inquire – He already knows everything.’ And you’re right! But as we shall see, it isn’t for God’s direct benefit that He does this.”[20]


In summary, in the Old Testament a judgment was said to come in the future. Some would suggest that that judgment was completed at the cross, however, New Testament references to a future judgment show us that the judgment day spoken of throughout the Bible was not fulfilled at the cross.[21] “New Testament writers are unanimous that the judgment is a future event [sic] which takes place at the end of the age (John 5:28, 29; 12:48).”[22] Therefore, the judgment takes place after the death of Christ (A.D. 31) but before the second coming of Jesus as we have seen.[23] Hence, the judgment could have begun at any point between A.D. 31 and the second coming of Jesus. For that reason, based on both textual and exemplary evidence it is clear that the concept of a pre-Advent investigative judgment is one-hundred percent biblical.





[1] Marvin Moore, The Case For The Investigative Judgment: Its Biblical Foundation [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2010], 21.
[2] Jo Ann Davidson, Principal Contributor. Glimpses Of Our God: Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide [Nampa: Pacific Press, 2012], 35.
[3] Jacques B Doukhan, Secrets of Daniel: Wisdom and Dreams of a Jewish Prince in Exile [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2000], 112.
[4] Ecc. 11:9 [NIV].
[5] Psa. 96:13.
[6] Matt. 12:36.
[7] 2 Cor. 5:10.
[8] Martin Weber, “Never Before Published Desmond Ford Dialogues About the 1844 Judgment, Ford And Weber Dialogue, Section II: Ford’s Critique Of Weber,” Scribd, http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/17458843 [accessed Feb 1, 2012].
[9] Martin Weber, “Pre-Advent Judgment,” SDA For Me, http://www.sdaforme.com/issues/judgement/judgment.html [accessed January 31, 2012].
[10] John 5:28-29.
[11] Rev. 22:12
[12] The book of Isaiah contains what is referred to as the “Little Apocalypse.” However, the book of Daniel is the main source of Apocalyptic literature in the Old Testament.
[13] Bill T. Arnold and Brian E. Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2008], 428.
[14] ibid., 433.
[15] Dan. 7:17.
[16] Dan. 7:9-10.
[17] Dan. 7:13.
[18] Gen. 3:9.
[19] John T. Anderson, Investigating the Judgment: A Revolutionary Look At God’s Total Fairness And Relentless Effort To Save Us, [Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2003], 105.
[20] ibid., 23.
[21] Mat. 7:22, 10:15, 12:41; Luk. 11:31; Act. 25:6; 1 Co. 4:5; Heb. 10:27; 1 Jn. 4:17.
[22] Leslie Hardinge, With Jesus in His Sanctuary: A Walk Through the Tabernacle Along His Way [Harrisburg: American Cassette Ministries, 1991], 538.
[23] For a study on the date of Christ’s crucifixion see: Nichols, Francis, D., eds. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary: A Basis For New Testament Chronology. Vol. 5 Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 1976. 251-254. The commonly accepted date by many scholars ranges from A.D. 30 – 31.
The Pre-Advent Judgment 1: My Struggle with The Pre-Advent Judgment


Welcome to Pomopastor.com. In this blog I share, among many other things, thoughts, ideas, articles and papers I have written on my personal experience with Jesus through the lens of Seventh-day Adventism. I am going to start it all off by sharing a paper I wrote on Adventisms most unique doctrine (the Investigative Judgment) and what it has come to mean for me. Feel free to comment, share, link, and redistribute any of this work. All I ask is that you do not alter any of the materials and that you give proper attribution. With that said, here is part 1.

The Pre-Advent Judgment

“The uniqueness of the sanctuary doctrine helps make it a prime target for attack.”[1] Although many of our doctrines are shared in other denominations the pre-Advent judgment “‘being uniquely our own, has also laid us open as a church to more opprobrium, ridicule, and scorn from other Christian churches than any other doctrine.’”[2] If this wasn’t bad in and of itself, “writing in Christianity Today, former Adventist David Neff has said that ‘few contemporary Adventists can explain it [the investigative judgment] and few Adventist theologians still teach it.’”[3] Neff’s statement has in fact been a reality in my own life. Therefore, as I prepared to write this paper, I told my wife that the outcome of my research would determine whether or not I remained a Seventh-day Adventist.

Like the vast majority of Seventh-day Adventists, the pre-Advent judgment was a doctrine that I knew little about. Had I been required to defend it or simply to teach it, I would have been entirely incapable of performing the task. This is a sad reality considering the fact that the understanding and embrace of the pre-Advent judgment doctrine is rather unique to Adventism (though not fully as we will later see). After weeks of study on the topic from both proponents and antagonists to this teaching, I have come to realize that the doctrine of the pre-Advent judgment is the simplest, and most logical conclusion to be derived from the Bible. In the pages that follow, I will attempt to retrace some of the steps of my journey to this discovery. In the process I will demonstrate that the Bible truly supports the idea of a pre-Advent judgment, that the pre-Advent judgment correlates perfectly to righteousness by faith, and that Ellen G. White is not necessary to believe in the pre-Advent judgment. I will then conclude at last by exploring some of Ellen G. Whites “legalistic” statements with relation to the pre-Advent judgment and the difference that such a doctrine would make in the life of a born-again Christian.

Before I begin I must make a few qualifications. Number one, this is not an exhaustive resource on the topic of the pre-Advent judgment. There are many aspects of the pre-Advent judgment that I will not cover in this paper such as the prophecies of Daniel 7-9, the validity of Adventism’s understanding of the prophetic timeline, and the sanctuary service, its differing components, and how they each relate to the pre-Advent judgment. Number two, in presenting the doctrine of pre-Advent judgment I will use the Bible and the Bible alone. Ellen White will only be mentioned in a section designated specifically for an analysis of her relationship to the doctrine, but will not be used in any way as a basis, supplement, or substitute for the Bible. Likewise, Adventist’s have been accused of basing the doctrine of the pre-Advent judgment on Daniel 8:14: “He said to me, ‘It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.’”[4] Therefore, I will establish the validity of a pre-Advent judgment without any mention to this text.



Note: To download this entire paper in PDF format click here.
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[1] Clifford Goldstein, False Balances [Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1992], 24.
[2] ibid.
[3] ibid., 23.
[4] Dan. 8:14.