The Case for Last Generation Theology, Part 1: First Principles

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The Case for Last Generation Theology, Part 1: First Principles

What has come to be known as Last Generation Theology has joined spiritual gender authority, sexuality issues, the origin of life, the doctrine of inspiration, and other contemporary controversies to become a major flashpoint in the ongoing quest of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to articulate its message and mission to itself and to the world.


What follows is the first in a series of articles which will seek to explain from the inspired writings what Last Generation Theology is, how it reflects the consensus of both the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White (the latter often called the Spirit of Prophecy), where the facts end and the falsehoods begin in the perceptions of some regarding this theological construct, and how inspired statements which seem on the surface to point in a contrary direction actually stand in total harmony with the many other inspired statements which form the basis of this cluster of doctrinal beliefs.


Related Article: The Unbearable Failure of Last Generation Theology


We begin this series with an explanation of what I call first principles, covering primarily the basis of our authority in addressing this and other religious controversies, and a brief consideration of the history of Last Generation Theology in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.



Principle No. 1: Inspired Writings Explain Themselves


Before we consider the claims of Last Generation Theology, we need to establish who and what is our authority.  No religious controversy benefits either the church or individuals unless a means of resolving the controversy exists.  When Seventh-day Adventists give Bible studies to other Christians, they don’t ignore those verses which appear on the surface to contradict the positions we hold as a church.  Rather, we show how these verses fit not only with their immediate context but with the larger Biblical consensus.  Hence the value of such books as Francis D. Nichol’s Answers to Objections [1] and Mark Finley’s Studying Together [2].


When persons in any Bible-related controversy seek to present their case while ignoring the evidence produced by those with whom they differ, they merely add fuel to the controversy’s flame and exacerbate division among Christians.  The current debate in Adventism over Last Generation Theology is no exception.  The only hope for bringing unity to the church in the face of such issues is to show how all the inspired evidence used by both sides fits together.  The articles to follow will seek to find this harmony in the various inspired statements cited by the two principal perspectives in the denomination regarding what is called Last Generation Theology.  As in evangelism, decisions for the correct inspired position are impossible—or at least very unlikely—unless this harmony is demonstrated.


Related Article: Theology of the Last Generation



What is more, nowhere in Scripture does God’s plan for the faith community includes unstructured pluralism of thought and practice, in which conflicting theologies, lifestyles, and worldviews co-exist in a constant state of ferment.  Modern intellectualism and postmodernism may prize such ambiguity, but the Bible does not.  The concept of a hell to shun and a heaven to win, of transcendent truth by which all faith and lifestyle choices must be measured (Isa. 8:20; John 8:31; Acts 17:11; Gal. 1:8), of a broad road leading to eternal destruction and a narrow road leading to eternal life (Matt. 7:13-14), encapsulate the Bible’s view of ultimate reality.


Moreover, the Bible presents itself as a unified, self-interpreting document. Writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul wrote:


From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:15-16) [3].


It helps to remember when reading the above verses, that the only Scriptures Timothy was taught from his childhood were those of the Old Testament.  No New Testament Scriptures had likely been written by the time of Timothy’s formative years.  As with the noble Bereans (Acts 17:11), the Old Testament Scriptures were the only ones available to the earliest Christians as a means of testing the doctrinal claims of the apostles, including—as 2 Timothy 3:15 states—the doctrine of salvation through faith in Christ which (among other issues) lies at the heart of the debate over Last Generation Theology.  This series will underscore the fact that Biblical righteousness by faith is no New Testament novelty.


The apostle Peter writes that “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21).


Related Article: Last Generation Theology                



Elsewhere we read that what the Spirit inspires is to be understood by comparison with itself—“comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:13-14; see also Isa. 28:9-10).


Ellen White both echoes and elaborates on the Bible’s self-interpretive quality:


The Bible is its own expositor.  One passage will prove to be a key that will unlock other passages, and in this way light will be shed upon the hidden meaning of the word.  By comparing different texts treating on the same subject, viewing their bearing on every side, the true meaning of the Scriptures will be made evident.

Many think that they must consult commentaries on the Scriptures in order to understand the meaning of the word of God, and we would not take the position that commentaries should not be studied; but it will take much discernment to discover the truth of God under the mass of the words of men [4]


The Bible is its own expositor.  Scripture is to be compared with scripture.  The student should learn to view the word as a whole and to see the relation of its parts.  He should gain a knowledge of its grand central theme—of God’s original purpose for the world, of the rise of the great controversy, and of the work of redemption.  He should understand the nature of the two principles that are contending for the supremacy, and should learn to trace their working through the records of history and prophecy to the great consummation[5].


The Bible is its own interpreter.  With beautiful simplicity one portion connects itself with the truth of another portion, until the whole Bible is blended in one harmonious whole.  Light flashes forth from one text to illuminate some portion of the Word that has seemed more obscure [6].

Scripture is the key that unlocks scripture[7]

Let the Bible explain its own statements.  Accept it just as it reads, without twisting the words to suit human ideas[8].

God requires more of His followers than many realize.  If we would not build our hopes of heaven upon a false foundation, we must accept the Bible as it reads, and believe that the Lord means what He says.  He requires nothing of us that He will not give us grace to perform[9].

When those who profess to believe present truth come to their senses, when they accept the Word of the living God just as it reads and do not try to wrest the Scriptures, then they will build their house upon the eternal Rock, even Christ Jesus[10].


According to Ellen White, her own writings are to be understood in the same self-explanatory way:


The testimonies themselves will be the key that will explain the messages given, as scripture is explained by scripture[11].


Equally important for us to understand is that inspired language is at times flexible, not always meaning the same thing in every setting.  In Ellen White’s words, speaking of the words of Inspiration: “Different meanings are expressed by the same word; there is not one word for each distinct idea” [12].  The immediate context of a word, together with the inspired consensus, enable us to discern the different meanings here described.  We will see this later in our series when we consider Ellen White’s use of the word atonement, and how in her writings this term can mean any one of the different Biblical phases of this process which our study will consider.



Principle No. 2:  Ellen White’s Doctrinal Authority


While Ellen White depicts her writings as “a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light” [13], this is not because her writings function at some lesser level of reliability, or that they exert some lesser claim on the conscience.  Rather, this is because the Bible is the foundation and source of all that is taught in her writings.  In Ellen White’s words:  “Additional truth is not brought out, but God has through the testimonies simplified the great truths already given”[14].


Related Article: God’s Character and the Last Generation


God does not have junior prophets.  No distinction can be found in Scripture between the authority of prophets whose writings were later canonized and the authority of prophets whose writings were not later canonized.  (It helps to remember that certain non-canonical prophets gave written as well as oral messages to God’s people (see I Chron. 29:29; II Chron. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22), just as canonical prophets did.)  A prophet is not authoritative because he or she is first canonical.  Rather, a prophet is canonical because he or she is first authoritative.

Related Article: Adventism 202: What Should We Do With Ellen White?

No evidence exists in the Biblical record that prophets such as Deborah, Nathan, Elijah, and John the Baptist exerted any less authority over the beliefs, worship, lifestyle, and spiritual obligations of the faith community than did such authors as Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, or the apostle Paul.  This reality is not often considered in many of the continuing discussions in contemporary Adventism regarding Ellen White’s authoritative role.


Some in contemporary Adventism would have us believe that “Ellen White disapproved the usage of her writings to settle theological issues”[15].  True, there were times when she did disapprove the use of her writings in this manner—as in the controversy over the “daily” in the book of Daniel, where she stated that “I have had no instruction on the point under discussion”[16].  Obviously, without such instruction, she possessed no more authority than anyone else in the church.  But such categorical denials as the above relative to Ellen White’s doctrinal authority stand in sharp contrast with Ellen White’s own affirmation of her corrective doctrinal role, in such statements as the following:


God has, in that Word (the Bible), promised to give visions in the last days, not for a new rule of faith, but for the comfort of His people, and to correct those who err from Bible truth[17].

The Lord has given me much light that I want the people to have; for there is instruction that the Lord has given me for His people.  It is light that they should have, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.  This is now to come before the people, because it has been given to correct specious errors, and to specify what is truth[18].

Additional truth is not brought out, but God has through the Testimonies simplified the great truths already given[19].

How many have carefully read Patriarchs and Prophets, The Great Controversy, and The Desire of Ages?  I wish all to understand that my confidence in the light that God has given stands firm, because I know that the Holy Spirit’s power magnified the truth, and made it honorable, saying, “This is the way; walk ye in it.”  In my books the truth is stated, barricaded by a “Thus saith the Lord.”  The Holy Spirit traced these truths upon my heart and mind as indelibly as the law was traced by the finger of God upon the tables of stone[20].

My accompanying angel presented before me some of the errors of those present, and also the truth in contrast with their errors.  That these discordant views, which they claimed to be according to the Bible, were only according to their opinion of the Bible, and that their errors must be yielded, and they unite upon the third angel’s message.  Our meeting ended victoriously.  Truth gained the victory [21].

Serious errors in doctrine and practice were cherished. . . . God revealed these errors to me in vision and sent me to His erring children to declare them [22].

At that time one error after another pressed in upon us; ministers and doctors brought in new doctrines.  We would search the Scriptures with much prayer, and the Holy Spirit would bring the truth to our minds.   The power of God would come upon me, and I was enabled clearly to define what is truth and what is error[23].

In other words, while prophets may not be all-knowing, their counsel for God’s people and for the world relative to faith and practice is consistently trustworthy.  As we noted earlier, the Bible is clear as to its divine origin and thus its reliability (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21).  Ellen White affirms the reliability of Scripture in such statements as the following:


The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of [God’s] will.  They are the standard of character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of experience[24].


And regarding her own writings, Ellen White makes the following statement, which no uninspired person could ever rightly claim:


There is one straight chain of truth, without one heretical sentence in that which I have written[25]


In light of the above, to say of any inspired prophet that his or her views are “highly valuable, but not infallible”[26] is very dangerous, because such a premise elevates the uninspired reader to a position of authority over the inspired text.  This is a most perilous posture for any Christian to assume.  Once the inspired Word is seen as error-prone, few are likely to tremble at its pronouncements (Ezra 10:3; Isa. 66:2) or to measure their own conduct or convictions by its standard (Isa. 8:20; Acts 17:11).



Principle No. 3: God’s Written Counsel Needs No Uninspired Explanation


The Bible warns, “Thus saith the Lord: Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord” (Jer. 17:5).  It is thus very risky to base an analysis of any doctrine or practice on the opinions of spiritual mentors, pastors, or scholars, however learned or godly these may appear to be.


Ellen White offers a similar warning:


The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith [27].


A key pillar of the classic Seventh-day Adventist doctrinal heritage is to place no confidence in the opinions or traditions of fallible mortals, no matter how time-honored or generally accepted these may be.  Jesus warned against those who “teach for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9).  We are always safest when relying solely on the written counsel of God as our spiritual authority (Isa. 8:20; Acts 17:11).


Related Article: Scriptural Authority


Ellen White is clear that scholars are not needed to explain the inspired writings to us.  In her words:


The Bible was not written for the scholar alone; on the contrary, it was designed for the common people.  The great truths necessary for salvation are made as clear as noonday; and none will mistake and lose their way except those who follow their own judgment instead of the plainly revealed will of God.

We should not take the testimony of any man as to what the Scriptures teach, but should study the words of God for ourselves [28]


When errors arise and are taught as Bible truth, those who have a connection with Christ will not trust to what the minister says, but, like the noble Bereans, they will search the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so [29]


In another statement she writes of the supremacy of God’s Word when compared to any number of human ideas:


One sentence of Scripture is of more value than ten thousand of man’s ideas or arguments [30]



Principle No. 4:  The Perils of Experience-Driven Theology


We cannot leave the issue of authority without noting what has become a major challenge in the contemporary church—the problem of experience-driven theology.  Some have described this phenomenon as “biography becoming theology.”  Much of what in recent years has been written in Adventist circles against what has come to be known as Last Generation Theology, gives decided evidence of being influenced as much—if not more—by personal experience than by an objective study of Scripture and the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy [31].


Related Article: What Makes a Thing Matter?



Neither Last Generation Theology nor any other theology, worship practice, or lifestyle choice is right or wrong on the basis of someone’s experience.  Spiritual issues must be decided solely on the basis of God’s written counsel (Isa. 8:20; Acts 17:11).  Ellen White echoes this principle in such statements as the following:


It is the Word of the living God that is to decide all controversies.  It is when people mingle their own human smartness with God’s words of truth, in giving sharp thrusts to those who are in controversy with them, that they show that they have not a sacred reverence for God’s Inspired Word.  They mix the human with the divine, the common with the sacred, and they belittle God’s Word [32].


Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain “Thus saith the Lord” in its support [33].


In the following statements Ellen White especially warns against the danger of trusting personal experience as a guide in matters spiritual:


The plainest facts may be presented, the clearest truths, sustained by the word of God, may be brought before the mind, but the ear and heart are closed, and the all-convincing argument is, “my experience.”  Some will say, “The Lord has blessed me in believing and doing as I have; therefore I cannot be in error.”  “My experience” is clung to, and the most elevating, sanctifying truths of the Bible are rejected for what they are pleased to style experience [34].


Eve was beguiled by the serpent and made to believe that God would not do as He had said.  She ate, and, thinking she felt the sensation of a new and more exalted life, she bore the fruit to her husband.  The serpent had said that she should not die, and she felt no ill effects from eating the fruit, nothing which could be interpreted to mean death, but, instead, a pleasurable sensation, which she imagined was as the angels felt.  Her experience stood arrayed against the positive command of Jehovah, yet Adam permitted himself to be seduced by it [35].


She goes on to say, in the context of the above statement:


In the face of the most positive commands of God, men and women will follow their own inclinations, and then dare to pray over the matter, to prevail upon God to allow them to go contrary to His expressed will.  Satan comes to the side of such persons, as he did to Eve in Eden, and impresses them.  They have an exercise of mind, and this they relate as a most wonderful experience which the Lord has given them.  But true experience will be in harmony with natural and divine law; false experience arrays itself against the laws of nature and the precepts of Jehovah [36].


In another statement she offers the following sober warning:


Let none cherish the idea that special providences or miraculous manifestations are to be the proof of the genuineness of their work or of the ideas they advocate.  When persons will speak lightly of the word of God, and set their impressions, feelings, and exercises above the divine standard, we may know that they have no light in them [37].


The biggest problem with trusting testimonies of experience as a guide to doctrinal truth is that none but God knows the heart (1 Kings 8:39).  When someone claims that a particular theology did or did not “work” for them, God alone knows how much misunderstanding, experiential baggage, or cherished sins might have influenced the outcome.  (Judas and the rich young ruler would have likely said that Jesus’ theology didn’t “work” for them.)  We are wisest when we measure experience (whether ours or another’s) by the Word of God, rather than measuring the Word of God by experience.



What is Last Generation Theology?


So what in fact is Last Generation Theology?


Most advocates of this theological construct, such as the present writer, would summarize this teaching as follows:


  1. Sin and the inherited sinful nature are not one and the same thing. Human beings become sinners through choice, not birth.


  1. Like all the descendants of Adam, the human Christ came to earth with an inherited fallen nature, which included fallen passions, urges, and hormones. This nature He was required to subdue by the same divine power available to the converted believer.


  1. The ground of the Christian’s salvation includes both the righteousness of justification and that of sanctification, both of which come from Jesus and neither of which is inferior or superior to the other.


  1. Justifying righteousness is both declarative and transformative.


  1. Sanctifying righteousness, through the grace of God and the believer’s cooperative effort, enables the Christian thus empowered to live a life free from sin.


  1. The Biblical process of atonement includes five (5) phases: (1) Confession of sin; (2) the slaying of the sacrificial victim; (3) the mediation of sacrificial blood by the priest; (4) the afflicting of the soul and resulting purification of the life from sin during the annual (and antitypical) Day of Atonement; and (5) the exile and death of the scapegoat.


  1. The central issue of the great controversy is over Satan’s accusation that God’s law cannot be kept, in particular by fallen beings with fallen natures. By coming to earth in such a nature, Jesus proved this accusation to be false and thus showed the way for Christians to live the same unsullied life He lived, through the same divine strength He employed.


  1. The final generation of Christians in sacred history will demonstrate what Jesus proved by standing without a Mediator following the end of human probation, living through God’s power the same sinless life Jesus lived, in the darkest and most difficult hour of the great controversy.


  1. This demonstration will vindicate the character of God from the charges of Satan on a global scale, thus bringing the controversy between good and evil to a triumphant close.


Related Article: The Last Generation –How Advent Hope Defines Us


The series of articles to follow will consider each of the above points, and will also consider some of the Bible passages and Ellen White statements used by critics of Last Generation Theology as a means of making their case, and will show how these statements harmonize with the Bible/Spirit of Prophecy consensus on this cluster of topics.



A Brief History

Contrary to what some have alleged [38], the construct now called Last Generation Theology—represented by the beliefs listed above—is not primarily the brainchild of A.T. Jones, E.J. Waggoner, and M.L. Andreasen.  Important as the contribution of these three have certainly been so far as the development and expression of this theology in Adventist history is concerned, these individuals can in no way take the principal credit—or blame, depending on one’s viewpoint—for the presence and prominence of this cluster of teachings in Seventh-day Adventist thought.


In reality, what in contemporary times has come to be known as Last Generation Theology is a theme deeply embedded in the doctrinal and spiritual DNA of Seventh-day Adventism from the very beginning.  Such early Adventist luminaries as Joseph Bates [39], James White [40], Stephen Haskell [41], D.T. Bordeau [42], and W.W. Prescott [43] presented key aspects of this theology in their preaching and writing.  Much of this has been documented by the late Herbert Douglass in his book Why Jesus Waits [44].  An even longer list of Adventist notables in support of this theology is documented by Douglass in his later book A Fork in the Road [45].


Related Article: Delay and Promise


In later years, such prominent Adventist thinkers as W.H. Branson [46], who served as president of the General Conference from 1950 to 1954; Herbert E. Douglass [47], C. Mervyn Maxwell [48], Dennis E. Priebe [49], and J.R. Zurcher [50] have made these teachings a centerpiece of their ministry.  Zurcher’s 1999 book Touched With Our Feelings [51], as well as Ralph Larson’s The Word Was Made Flesh [52], have demonstrated the pervasiveness—throughout a century of Adventist history—of the post-Fall view of Christ’s human nature, a key feature of Last Generation Theology.


The late General Conference President Robert H. Pierson, who served in that position from 1966 to 1978, was likewise a strong advocate of this view, writing at one point:


God’s last-generation people are to reveal the character of Jesus to the world.  They will overcome as He overcame.  They will be victorious, living representatives of the Master.  The enabling power to live this life, to achieve this character, comes from Jesus.  Only through His imputed and imparted righteousness can we prevail [53].


More recently, Elder Ted N.C. Wilson, currently serving as General Conference president, was asked at a meeting of the Adventist Theological Society, “What do you think of Last Generation Theology?” [54].  While phrasing his answer so as to avoid letting this term be defined by others, as well as eschewing any notion of perfection being accomplished by one’s own strength [55], Wilson replied with unmistakable clarity:


Leaning completely upon Christ and His righteousness, we need to believe that Christ will give us victory over sin through His power and not our own power (Phil 4:13; Romans 12:1,2). Otherwise, Christianity has no power. Philippians 2:5 tells us, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” . . .

As we consecrate ourselves to Christ and allow Him to work in us to stay close to Him and His Word, we can then realize that beautiful quotation from Christ’s Object Lessons: “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” (p. 69) [56].


In light of the above, it isn’t surprising that after surveying over a century of Adventist literature, Anglican scholar Geoffrey Paxton was constrained to write in his 1977 book The Shaking of Adventism:


The doctrine of the perfecting of the final generation stands near the heart of Adventist theology [57].


Two more recent historians—one a former Adventist, the other from an Adventist background but who was never baptized—are equally emphatic on this point:


If Christ had an unfair advantage, how could individuals be expected to follow his example in living a perfect life?  The problem was particularly acute since perfection had been suggested by Ellen White as the goal of the Adventist people: “While our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ.”  Her call to perfection was urgent: “Jesus does not change the character at His coming.  The work of transformation must be done now.” . . .

Prior to [Edward] Heppenstall, no important Adventist writer denied the possibility of perfection.  Ellen White had been unequivocal: “As the Son of Man was perfect in His life, so His followers are to be perfect in their life” [58].


Make no mistake about it.  Last Generation Theology is neither right nor wrong because of the number of adherents it can or cannot claim at any point in Adventist history.  Only the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy can determine the truth or error of any article of faith or practice.  But what should be clear from the above evidence is that this construct cannot be relegated to the fringes of Adventist historical thought, as if it were primarily the product of persons who, for whatever reason, have found themselves disgruntled or marginalized within the Seventh-day Adventist family.  The historical evidence we have reviewed clearly proves the pervasiveness, even dominance of this particular theology in the church prior to the 1950s, together with its acceptance by any number of mainstream denominational scholars and administrators in the years since.

The next installment of our series will address the nature of human sin.

Click here to read the rest of this series on Last Generation theology.




[1] Francis D. Nichol, Answers to Objections: An Examination of the Major Objections Raised Against the Teachings of Seventh-day Adventists ((Washington, D.C: Review and Herald Publishing Assn, 1952).


[2]Mark Finley, Studying Together: A Ready-Reference Bible Handbook (Fallbrook, CA: Hart Research Center, 1991).


[3]Unless otherwise noted, all Bible verses are from the King James Version.


[4]Ellen G. White, Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 187-188.


[5]—-Counsels to Teachers, p. 462.


[6]—-Our High Calling, p. 207.


[7]—-Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 157.


[8]—-Loma Linda Messages, p. 55.


[9]—-Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 171.


[10]—-Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, p. 346.


[11]—-Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 42.


[12]Ibid, p. 20.


[13]Ibid, vol. 3, p. 30.


[14]—-Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 665.


[15]George R. Knight, End-Time Events and the Last Generation: The Explosive 1950s (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Assn, 2018), p. 105.


[16]White, Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 164.


[17]—-Early Writings, p. 78.


[18]—-Selected Messages, vol. 3, p. 32.


[19]—-Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 665.


[20]—-Colporteur Ministry, p. 126.


[21]—-Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, pp. 98-99.


[22]—-Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 655-656.


[23]—-Gospel Workers, p. 302.


[24]—-The Great Controversy, p. vii.


[25]—-Selected Messages, vol. 3, p. 52.


[26] “Last Generation Theology, Part 13: Final Thoughts,” July 19, 2019


[27]White, The Great Controversy, p. 595.


[28]—-Steps to Christ, p. 89.


[29]—-From the Heart, p. 297.


[30]—-Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 71.


[31] “Last Generation Theology, Part 1: Contours and Problems,” Feb. 25, 2019; Clifford Goldstein, “Beyond Logic,” Adventist Review, Jan. 23, 2003, p. 28; Keavin Hayden, “My Journey to Graceland,” Adventist Review, March 15, 2001, pp. 11-13; Knight, I Used to Be Perfect: An ex-legalist looks at law, sin, and grace (Boise, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Assn, 1994); The Pharisee’s Guide to Perfect Holiness: A study of sin and salvation (Boise, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Assn, 1992), pp. 190-191,195; “Questions on Doctrine: Symbol of Adventist Theological Tension,” Questions on Doctrine 50th Anniversary Conference: An engaging, reflective, scholarly dialogue about Adventist history and theology (collection of papers for conference), pp. 12-14; Marvin Moore, Conquering the Dragon Within: God’s Provision for Assurance and Victory in the End-Time (Boise, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Assn, 1995), pp. 15-17; Jon Paulien, “A Look at Des Ford’s Latest Book on Revelation,” Adventist Today, Winter 2011, p. 24; Lee Venden, It’s All About Him: After Jesus, Everything Else is Hardly Worth Talking About (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Assn, 2004), pp. 93,100; Morris L. Venden, Never Without An Intercessor: The Good News About the Judgment (Boise, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Assn, 1996), pp. 33,102; Martin Weber, More Adventist Hot Potatoes (Boise, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Assn, 1992), pp. 27-38; Who’s Got the Truth? Making sense out of five different Adventist gospels (Silver Spring, MD: Home Study International Press, 1994), pp. 169-186,199; Woodrow W. Whidden II, Ellen White on the Humanity of Christ (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Assn, 1997), p. 73; “Questions on Doctrine: What Should Be the Enduring Theological Legacy?” Questions on Doctrine 50th Anniversary Conference: An engaging, reflective, and scholarly dialogue about Adventist history and theology (collection of papers for conference), p. 268.


[32]White, Christ Triumphant, p. 331.


[33]—-The Great Controversy, p. 595.


[34]—-Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 71.


[35]—-Counsels on Health, pp. 108-109.


[36]Ibid, p. 109.


[37]—-Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 146.


[38]See Roy Adams, The Nature of Christ: Help for a church divided over perfection (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Assn, 1994), pp. 29-51; Alexe, Last Generation Theology, Part 2: Historical Development,” March 28, 2019; Angel Manuel Rodriguez, “Theology of the Last Generation,” Adventist Review, Oct. 10, 2013, p. 42; Gluder Quispe, “A Journey of Grace,” Adventist World (NAD), January 2016, p. 35; Jiri Moskala and John C. Peckham (eds.), God’s Character and the Last Generation (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Assn, 2018), pp. 25-35,190-192; Knight, End-Time Events and the Last Generation, pp. 23-37.


[39]Joseph Bates, “Midnight Cry in the Past,” Review and Herald, December 1858, p. 21.


[40]James White, Review and Herald, Jan. 29, 1857; Life Sketches of James White and Ellen G. White, p. 431.


[41]Stephen N. Haskell, “A Few Thoughts on the Philadelphia and Laodicean Churches,” Review and Herald, Nov. 6, 1856, p. 6.


[42]D.T. Bordeau, “Sanctification: or Living Holiness,” Review and Herald, Aug. 2, 1864.


[43]W.W. Prescott, “The Gospel Message for Today,” General Conference Bulletin, April 2, 1903, pp. 53,54.


[44]Herbert E. Douglass, Why Jesus Waits: How the Sanctuary Doctrine Explains the Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (Washington, D.C: Review and Herald Publishing Assn, 1976), pp. 47-49.


[45]—-A Fork in the Road: Questions on Doctrine: The Historic Adventist Divide of 1957 (Coldwater, MI: Remnant Publications, 2008), p. 19. Leading Adventist proponents of Last Generation Theology referenced here include C.P. Bollman, C. Lester Bond, F.G. Clifford, J.B. Conley, Gwynne Dalrymple, A.G. Daniels, Christian Edwardson, I.H. Evans, T.M. French, Fenton Edwin Froom, J.E. Fulton, E.F. Hackman, Carlyle B. Haynes, Benjamin Hoffman, W.E. Howell, Varner Johns, M.E. Kern, D. H. Kress, Frederick Lee, Meade MacGuire, J.L. McElhany, J.A. McMillan, Merlin Neff, Don F. Neufeld, A.V. Olson, W.E. Read, G.W. Reaser, H.L. Rudy, E.K. Slade, Uriah Smith, C.M. Snow, J.C. Stevens, Oscar Tait, G.B. Thompson, A.W. Truman, Allen Walker, F.M. Wilcox, L.A. Wilcox, M.C. Wilcox, William Wirth, L.H. Wood, and Dallas Young.


[46]W.H. Branson, Drama of the Ages (Washington, D.C: Review and Herald Publishing Assn, 1950), pp. 155-161.


[47]Douglass, “Men of Faith: The Showcase of God’s Grace,” Perfection: The Impossible Possibility (Nashville, TN: Southern Publishing Assn, 1975), pp. 13-56; Why Jesus Waits: How the Sanctuary Doctrine Explains the Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (Washington, D.C: Review and Herald Publishing Assn, 1976); Jesus—The Benchmark of Humanity (With Leo Van Dolson) (Nashville, TN: Southern Publishing Assn, 1977); The End: Unique Voice of Adventists About the Return of Jesus (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Assn, 1979); The Heartbeat of Adventism: The Great Controversy Theme in the Writings of Ellen G. White (Boise, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Assn, 2010).


[48]C. Mervyn Maxwell, “Ready for His Appearing,” Perfection: The Impossible Possibility (Nashville, TN: Southern Publishing Assn, 1975), pp. 141-200.


[49]Dennis E. Priebe, Face to Face With the Real Gospel (Boise, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Assn, 1985).


[50]J.R. Zurcher, Touched With Our Feelings: A Historical Survey of Adventist Thought on the Human Nature of Christ (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Assn, 1999).




[52]Ralph Larson, The Word Was Made Flesh: One Hundred Years of Seventh-day Adventist Christology, 1852-1952 (Cherry Valley, CA: The Cherrystone Press, 1986).


[53]Robert H. Pierson, on the back cover of W.D. Frazee, Ransom and Reunion Through the Sanctuary (Wildwood, GA: Pioneers Memorial, 1994). See also Pierson, We Still Believe (Washington, D.C: Review and Herald Publishing Assn, 1975), p. 243.


[54]Facebook Post by Seventh-day Adventist General Conference President Ted Wilson






[57]Geoffrey J. Paxton, The Shaking of Adventism (Wilmington, DE: Zenith Publishing Co, 1977), p. 114.


[58]Malcolm Bull and Keith Lockhart, Seeking a Sanctuary: Seventh-day Adventists and the American Dream (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2007), pp. 86-87.




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About the author

Kevin Paulson

Pastor Kevin Paulson holds a Bachelor’s degree in theology from Pacific Union College, a Master of Arts in systematic theology from Loma Linda University, and a Master of Divinity from the SDA Theological Seminary at Andrews University. He served the Greater New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventists for ten years as a Bible instructor, evangelist, and local pastor. He writes regularly for Liberty magazine and serves as a script writer for the It Is Written television ministry and other media ministries within the church. He also serves as the leading webmaster of, where many articles by him and others can be found which address a variety of denominational issues. He continues to hold evangelistic and revival meetings throughout the North American Division and beyond, and is a sought-after seminar speaker relative to current issues in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He presently resides in Berrien Springs, Michigan.