The Death and Rebirth of the Investigative Judgment, Part 6: Final Thoughts

Share It :

google+
More
The Death and Rebirth of the Investigative Judgment, Part 6: Final Thoughts

“You can tell something isn’t right when all your heroes come in black and white.”

— John Mayer

In the previous five articles, I have made a simple case for the death and rebirth of the Pre-Advent Investigative Judgment (PAIJ). Its death, I have contended, is not due to a flaw in the doctrine itself but to the way in which it has been constrained to a framework that no longer engages universal primary ideas. In addition, the old frameworks have proved to be too complicated and difficult to not only learn but apply. Thus, the doctrines rebirth is found in contextualizing its essence to a universal primary idea and simplifying its anatomy. Only then will the doctrine speak value to the human experience which naturally results in applicatory power. The combination of these three simple elements will give the doctrine a renewed energy, relevance and identity.

Related Article: Questioning the Justice of God

However, several questions remain that need to be answered before we can close the series off. Thus, in this final article, I will address five key questions (and a bonus question) that need to be understood before the reframe is complete.

Q1. “Can’t we develop a theology of “reversal of suffering” without the PAIJ?

The short answer is yes, and others have done so. The Radical Reformation is known for its emphasis on themes like justice, equity, and mercy as well as its rejection of religio-political empires in favor of the kingdom of heaven motif. We also have the impact of Martin Luther King Jr. who understood that the role of the gospel and the church was not merely to preach about a world to come, but to invest in reversing the sufferings perpetuated in this world. Contemporary evangelicals Tim Keller, Matthew Chandler, and Jefferson Bethke understand the same. Classical Protestants like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William and Catherine Booth (founders of the Salvation Army) all shared the same vision. Likewise, a theology of “reversal of suffering” can be derived from scripture by studying the love of God, the minor prophets and their call for justice (especially for widows, migrants, and orphans), and the gospels. So then, what is the point of framing the PAIJ in suffering?

Related Article: Unconventional Look at Theodicy

To answer this question I will pose another question: What is the point of doctrine? Do individual doctrines exist to give us independently novel ideas and insights? Or do each of them exist as part of a narrative, to connect to the others and amplify scripture’s main theme of God’s love? If you believe the former, then you are likely to fall for the novelty fallacy – the idea that a doctrine must say something unheard of in order to have value. But if you believe the latter, then it is clear that doctrine doesn’t have to say something unheard of elsewhere in scripture but has value in simply amplifying the narrative and driving us deeper into the love of God.

Adventists need to get over this obsession with having to be the only people on earth saying something no one else is saying. God didn’t call us to be odd for the sake of being odd. Our movement is an outflow of the Reformation, not some sui generis tribe. For those looking to be part of a church that communicates a narrative that is as uncommon as it is isolated, I recommend either the Roman Catholic Church, Jehovah’s Witness or Latter Day Saints. But for those looking for a church that, while not proclaiming some unusual message is nevertheless telling a unique and cohesive story that harmonizes all the beautiful elements of scripture into one seamless story – I give you Adventism.

Seriously, if we take an honest look at the sanctuary we will find that there is nothing there that can’t be derived from elsewhere in scripture. Justification can be derived without it. Sanctification can also be derived without it as well as glorification. The Great Controversy theme was first introduced by the reformer Jacobus Arminius and later expanded by John Wesley in what he referred to as scriptures “aesthetic theme”. Neither of them had a doctrine of the sanctuary to drive their discovery. The doctrine of judgment (including both the righteous and the wicked) can also be found without the sanctuary and forms a core part of Arminian and Wesleyan soteriology. And themes like the high priestly ministry of Jesus are also easy to find outside of the PAIJ’s framework. Therefore, there is nothing truly original or unique that Adventism possesses because of the sanctuary doctrine. Some might say 1844 is, but 1844 is an apocalyptic timeline that connects to the sanctuary and gives it contemporary and eschatological significance. It is not the sanctuary in itself.

Related Article: If God is Good, Why is There (Still) Evil?

Nevertheless, the sanctuary is extremely valuable. While this is beyond the scope of this article (See my books “Weirdvolution: Adventism for a Post-Church Generation” and “The Hole in Adventism: Making Total Sense of the Old & New Covenant” for a deeper exploration) the key to the sanctuary is not that it gives us novel theological ideas but that it strings together the entire narrative of scripture into one cohesive and compelling worldview that is unheard of in Christian theology (in a unified sense). It is like a hub that connects all doctrines to the central theme of God’s love and withness and in doing so, amplifies their significance and impact on the human story. The biblical theme of reversing suffering and standing for justice is one of those. The theme can be derived without the sanctuary, but with it, the theme gains greater significance as it is tied to the heart of God and the apocalyptic perspective of societies endgame.

 

This reality becomes more significant when we realize that, despite the many great voices within Christian history who have called for justice and the reversal of suffering – the Christian church is still by and large disconnected from the theme of justice. In fact, the only reason why so many Christians talk about justice today is not that the church has led the way in the pursuit of reversing suffering but because secular pop-culture has made the pursuit of justice trendy. The church itself has, once again, come in at the tail end of the conversation and not the head.

 

But if we understand the significance of the sanctuary in the struggle over good and evil and the reversal of human empire and its collateral suffering then we have a vision for reversal that is deeper than “God is nice and we should be too”. Instead, we have the theme of reversal deeply embedded into the thing that unifies all of scripture into one cohesive narrative – the sanctuary – providing us not simply with a nice idea but with a theme that has historical, soteriological, theodical (as in theodicy) and eschatological significance. And this, I would venture to say, is a vision of reversal that no other theological system has been able to match.

 

Take for example the Sabbath. Adventists are not the only ones who believe this. Neither are we the only ones who believe in the non-immortality of the soul, annihilationism (as opposed to eternal conscious torment in hell) and the “back to Eden” motif that undergirds our health message. These beliefs are shared randomly throughout Christendom. The same can be said for the theme of justice and the reversal of suffering. However, there is not one theological system that strings these together into one cohesive narrative. Instead, these concepts float around the marketplace of theological ideas with no actual place to call home. But in the sanctuary, the various themes that celebrate God’s heart are drafted into one unified story. The Sabbath is thus connected to God’s love, character, the gospel, the nature of man and the back to Eden motif. In addition, through the sanctuary, the Sabbath is connected to eschatology and thus leaps forth with significantly more meaning for Adventists than what the Seventh Day Baptists, without a sanctuary vision, have been able to communicate. It is this ability to string the call to be agents of reversal throughout the entirety of the scriptural narrative – including its eschatological elements – that makes the sanctuary so central to its development.

 

Think of it this way. While we can derive a vision of justice and reversal of suffering throughout all of scripture, the sanctuary connects these ideas to the Great Controversy undergirding the visions in Daniel. Thus, we see that part of God’s call to reverse suffering includes the epilogue of the struggle between good and evil. But it goes further. Daniel also depicts the end of human empire. Thus, the sanctuary finds itself at the center of the battle between human and divine governments. Human empire is deconstructed and demolished as part of the reversal of suffering that brings the universe back to harmony and concludes the atonement in its entirety. But it goes deeper than that. The sanctuary doesn’t simply connect to the end of the Great Controversy and the end of human empire. It also connects to the end of the beastly impulse of self that drives every human heart. Thus, in the sanctuary, we find, not simply a call to reverse the suffering caused by satanic and human empire but to reverse the suffering caused by our own impulse for self-preservation. This can only be accomplished by the gospel thus placing the centrality of Jesus front and center without falling into the antinomian trap of sweeping injustice under the rug in the name of grace. The sanctuary thus points us to Jesus as our only hope but also calls us, in light of his grace, to open our hearts to be healed from self to love so that the reversal of suffering in this world begins with us, then moves onto empire and finally the complete eradication of Satan’s government highlighted by the scapegoat ritual.

Related Article: How Long?

So the short answer is yes, we can derive a reversal of suffering motif from elsewhere in scripture, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the PAIJ emphasizes and amplifies that motif in multicolor. As a result, the call to be agents of reversal transcends a mere concept in scripture and becomes a part of the church’s identity in the last days both through the reversal of the impulse of self in the human heart and the reversal of suffering in our communities. As these two realities coalesce the church then gains the rapport necessary to effectively proclaim the coming of a new kingdom which will bring a complete end to not only human empire, but to the very government of self. The invitation to be part of that kingdom is thus extended to all who receive Christ by faith – an experience that migrates the soul from a citizen of selfishness to a citizen of agape love. All of these concepts are bolstered by the deep logic for reversal provided by an apocalyptic doctrine like the PAIJ.

Q2. How does reframing the PAIJ in suffering interact with the doctrine’s historic priorities?

The doctrine’s historic priorities are:

  1. The sanctuary in heaven is being cleansed from the record of sin
  2. The cleansing is symbolic of judgment, which began with the church as a process in 1844
  3. When the cleansing of the sanctuary is complete, Jesus will return to gather his people

 

The reframe’s priorities are:

  1. The sanctuary represents God’s connection with humanity that is being restored at the end of time
  2. The restoration of the sanctuary is the beginning of the end of separation and suffering
  3. While God reverses the separation and the suffering, he commissions his people to be agents of reversal in the world until he returns with his new kingdom

While the reframe is certainly different, recall from the previous chapter that its purpose is not to replace or undo the historic priorities of the PAIJ. In the second and third layers of exploration, those historic priorities reemerge and in fact, find an even greater level of depth and meaning when seen through the lens of the reframe. Thus, the purpose of the reframe as seen above is to introduce and explain the doctrine in connection with a universal primary idea that the culture finds relevant. Once that connection has been made, other elements of the doctrine that a person would previously have considered pointless gain a greater sense of meaning and value.

Related Article: The Focal Point of the Great Controversy

 

Q3. Does this reframe somehow damage our apocalyptic warning to the world?

Our apocalyptic warning in light of the PAIJ is that we are in the final phase of the salvation story and there’s no time to play around.

 

The new framework holds the same warning. We don’t have time to get comfortable with the systems that perpetuate suffering. The gospel must be preached. Suffering must be reversed. And those who claim to be Christians while holding on to the impulse of self and allying themselves to the systems and structures that perpetuate suffering in this world (be they political, ideological or religious) will not see the kingdom of heaven. This is the final phase of the story of redemption and if ever there was an urgent time to make up our minds as to which kingdom we belong to, this is it.

 

The importance of this perspective cannot be underestimated. During a recent basketball game at one of our Adventist universities, an anonymous student began a repulsive racist commentary on social media against the black players. When the student was confronted with God’s judgment over such things, the response was, “I am washed in the blood of Jesus. I will not come into judgment.”

 

The PAIJ says “think again.”

 

When John Earnest walked into a California Synagogue on April 27, 2019, and opened fire, killing one and injuring three, few people knew he was a committed member of a Presbyterian church who, in his manifesto, articulated the gospel beautifully when he wrote, “I did not choose to be a Christian. The Father chose me. The Son saved me. And the Spirit keeps me.”[1]Earnest later added, “Know that you are saved in Christ and nothing—not death, nor torture, nor sin—can steal your soul away from God.”[2]

 

The PAIJ says, “not so fast”.

 

It’s not enough to simply preach the good news of forgiveness and assurance of salvation. It’s also not enough to emphasize the one-dimensional sanctification Adventists are so fond of in which all our focus is placed on God helping us overcome our personal sins with hardly a word on how the gospel transforms us into defenders of the marginalized, protectors of the vulnerable, voices for the voiceless and deliverers of the oppressed. No wonder emerging generations of Adventist youth find the church so irrelevant. Our members go on about the evils of seemingly insignificant things like coffee but remain silent on issues that truly perpetuate suffering and injustice in the world.

 

Something must change. We must preach the good news of salvation, the beauty of assurance in the finished work of Jesus to which we add no merit but we must also capture a meaningful vision of individual regeneration – not the cheesy obsession with personal piety but a belief in the work of the Holy Spirit to reverse the impulse of self in the human heart and restore it to divine love. Jemar Tisby said it best when he wrote that many pastors “view of the gospel only focuses on issues of personal salvation and individual piety. It never touches broader matters of systemic and institutional injustice.”[3] This must change and I propose that the PAIJ provides Adventism with the raw materials needed for us to lead the way in this sphere of truth especially as we approach the apocalyptic setting in which selfishness and injustice will rise to its apex of power in its final act of rebellion against God.

Q4. Why didn’t Ellen White teach this reframe? Isn’t what she taught all that we should teach?

The idea that “if Ellen White didn’t say it then neither should we” is a flawed perspective on a number of levels. First of all, Seventh-day Adventists are a people of one book – the Bible. Ellen White’s entire ministry was devoted to calling us back to the Bible. To suggest that a perspective is wrong simply because it goes beyond what Ellen White said is to place Ellen White above the Bible and, in a sense, makes her no different to the Pope who has the final say on theological matters within the Roman church.

Related Article: The Emerging Church

But of course, the idea itself contradicts Ellen White’s own belief system. Here are a few quotes that can help us see that building on what Ellen White and the pioneers left us is not only theologically sound, it is theologically required:

 

Whenever the people of God are growing in grace, they will be constantly obtaining a clearer understanding of His word. They will discern new light and beauty in its sacred truths. This has been true in the history of the church in all ages, and thus it will continue to the end. But as real spiritual life declines, it has ever been the tendency to cease to advance in the knowledge of the truth. Men rest satisfied with the light already received from God’s word, and discourage any further investigation of the Scriptures. They become conservative, and seek to avoid discussion.[4]

We must not think, “Well, we have all the truth, we understand the main pillars of our faith, and we may rest on this knowledge.” The truth is an advancing truth, and we must walk in the increasing light.[5]

There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people, is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation.[6]

A spirit of pharisaism has been coming in upon the people who claim to believe the truth for these last days. They are self-satisfied. They have said, “We have the truth. There is no more light for the people of God.” But we are not safe when we take a position that we will not accept anything else than that upon which we have settled as truth…. Our minds have become so narrow that we do not seem to understand that the Lord has a mighty work to do for us. Increasing light is to shine upon us…[7]

Of course, the above quotes do not mean Ellen White endorsed the idea that we would someday discover we were completely wrong and have to abandon our pillars for entirely new foundations. She was adamant throughout her ministry that our pillars are sound. Rather, her point is that we ought to build on them and not settle for what we have learned in the past. The landmarks give us the raw materials to construct meaningful perspectives as time and culture ebbs and flows. We should not stay locked in outdated frameworks in the name of “faithfulness.” To the contrary, such an attitude demonstrates a spirit contrary to the truth, not for it.

Nevertheless, the idea that the PAIJ can be reframed in suffering and understood as a call for the reversal of the impulse of self that perpetuates suffering and injustice in the world, while not explicitly worded this way in Whites writings, is nevertheless compatible with her overall message. For example:

 

The atonement of Christ is not a mere skillful way to have our sins pardoned; it is a divine remedy for the cure of transgression and the restoration of spiritual health. It is the Heaven-ordained means by which the righteousness of Christ may be not only upon us but in our hearts and characters.[8]

In cleansing the temple from the world’s buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin,—from the earthly desires, the selfish lusts, the evil habits, that corrupt the soul.[9]

While the investigative judgment is going forward in Heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth.[10]

Sadly, the history of Adventism is replete with misuse of these statements of Ellen White. They have been used to promote a legalistic, often fanatical, rules-obsessed religion that undermines the beauty of Christ’s centrality and supremacy in our salvation story. But when viewed from the perspective of becoming agents of reversal in our communities, the statements take on an entirely new tone. Rather than being a call to ultra-conservative, somber religion they are a call to something entirely other centered – an invitation to forsake the impulse of self and allow God’s grace to remake us in the image of agape love. The end result of such an experience is a community of people who live with the goal of reversing the suffering that surrounds them. I couldn’t think of anything more awesome to do with my life than this.

Related Article: Light Will Come

Q5. If this framework emphasizes the experiential over the legal aspect of the gospel, how does it avoid the trap of legalism?

Historically, the Adventist church has been plagued by theological paradigms that emphasize works over grace, “do’s” over done, and sanctification over justification. The end result has been systems of thought such as Last Generation Theology where grace, while never denied, is practically suppressed. In the more liberal side of the equation, an emphasis on social justice or the social gospel has also been placed over Jesus’ substitutionary atonement to the point that its centrality is lost.

 

However, in the present framework, the objective is not human works, either from the conservative obsession with personal piety or the liberal preoccupation with political activism. Rather the objective is the liberation of the heart from selfishness to love. This liberation cannot be accomplished by anything other than Jesus-only.

Related Article: What Does It Mean to Be a Prophetic People?

Our assurance remains rooted in his substitutionary atonement alone. Nevertheless, this atonement envisions more than legal pardon but the actual healing of the human heart from a host for selfishness and the perpetuation of suffering to a host for other-centeredness and the reversal of suffering. A gospel that promises pardon while accommodating the impulse of self that leads to suffering in our circles of influence is no gospel at all. And yet, to think that social involvement can somehow earn us salvation is a ridiculous notion. We are not saved by reversing suffering, we reverse suffering because we have been saved from the dominion of self, to begin with. The natural outcome of anyone who has entered into life is to become a propagator of that life in all its abundance.

 

So the short answer is, the framework from suffering does not emphasize the experiential aspects of the gospel in the same way conservatives and liberals tend to do. Rather, it emphasizes the condition of the human heart which can only be healed through grace. This then results naturally in a life that lives in harmony with the universal design of agape love.

 

The trap of legalism is thus avoided by rejecting the presuppositions that lead to legalism. Jesus-only remains the center of the narrative. Grace is never subverted to works but is rather elevated as the only real solution to the condition of the human heart. And that same grace then flows through us to others in selfless living. The failure of systems like Last Generation Theology is that they subvert grace to works, overemphasize personal piety and, to a large degree, are driven by eurocentric value structures in which holiness is viewed primarily through the lens of white culture. In my experience, this system of thought perpetuates suffering wherever it is fully embraced. Likewise, liberals who emphasize works over grace tend to lean toward the cause of social justice and see themselves not merely as agents of reversal in suffering but as crusaders against empire. This leads many to make a gospel out of activism and political involvement when the gospel is about transforming human hearts, not institutions or systems. Should we combat institutions and systems of oppression whenever possible? Yes! But we must never forget that the gospel is greater because it promises not just the undoing of unjust policies but the transformation of the hearts that immortalize those unjust policies – your heart and mine.

Related Article: By Law or By Faith?

Thus, while Daniel and Revelation reveal that we are to rage against the systems of suffering God alone will destroy empire. Our work is not to be on the offensive against empire through an imbalanced commitment to legislative measures or the like, but to focus on building the alternate kingdom of God through the church. When Jesus returns he will take care of empire himself as envisioned in the book of Revelation.

 

The emphasis is therefore clear – what we need more of in this world is Jesus. Not more Adventism. Not more religion. Not more rules. Not more theology. And certainly not more works. We need more Jesus – a Jesus who forgives, transforms and releases us into the suffering to point the world to the one who will bring about its ultimate and utter annihilation.

Q-Bonus. “Can you explain how this perspective differs from Last Generation Theology more? Isn’t LGT all about how we must vindicate God? Aren’t you saying that by being agents of reversal we vindicate God? How is this any different?

The problem with LGT is not that it has a vindication of God motif. Its problem is how it frames it. Without dissecting the system of thought too much (beyond the scope of this article) allow me to make three brief observations in addition to the ones made above.

(1) Unlike most who say the fault with LGT is in how it defines sin (sin as willful choice instead of sin as nature) I propose that the true fault with LGT is that it is built on a faulty understanding of the law. Instead of seeing God’s law as the design for life flowing from his heart of love, LGT leans toward seeing the law of God as a set of rules God imposes on humanity. In other words, LGT sees God, Christianity, and holiness primarily through the lens of legal compliance. (You must do x, y, and z or else…) By viewing the law as a legal code we must comply with, LGT paints a picture of a tyrannical God demanding perfect compliance from his human subjects. This leads to an unhealthy and tragic religious experience.

It is from this imposed law construct that LGT derives its meaning of sin as willful choice. Thus, when debating the nature of sin, LGT proponents will often quote 1 John 3:4 “sin is the transgression of the law” as evidence that sin is a willful act of breaking the law. However, what I have never seen them do is go further and ask what exactly is the law? If the law is a legally imposed demand then it makes sense that sin is a willful choice to transgress that legal demand. But if love is the design of reality and based on Gods heart of love then the transgression of the law is synonymous with the transgression of love. From there we have to ask, “why are human beings ‘love-breakers’?” To say, “we break love willfully” begs the question, “why?” to which sin as a state of being, nature or character emerge as the only possible solutions. Thus, if we reject the legally imposed perspective on the law, LGT loses its plausibility as a legitimate perspective on scripture’s narrative.

(2) The other element to change from a “law is love” perspective is our understanding of perfection. Perfection is no longer a legal demand but an experience of healing. It goes from being a tyrannical and unfair concept to being a romantic and beautiful experience to pursue because rather than pursuing perfect compliance to a list of rules we find ourselves longing for perfect harmony with love. And as we long for our lives to be in perfect harmony with love, we naturally become more loving, more kind, more merciful, more inclusive, more inspiring and – in turn – agents of reversal in a world steeped in suffering perpetuated by the impulse of self.

(3) Finally, we arrive at vindication. With a “law is love” motif, vindication takes on a whole new meaning. In this view, we understand that the vindication of God has two separate elements to it. I personally refer to these two elements as ontological vs pragmatic vindication.

Ontological vindication is what Jesus did. Because Jesus vindicated God at the cross, the great controversy is over in a cosmic sense. There is no more doubt among the unfallen that God is love and Satan is a liar. All the charges have been answered. If humanity never accepted the sacrifice and went on in rebellion God could eventually judge and annihilate the entire planet without raising any questions before the universe as to his goodness. It was all answered in Jesus at the cross. LGT, on the other hand, teaches that the GC cannot end until a final generation becomes perfect. And if they don’t then God loses the GC. So it makes the end of the GC contingent on humans and thus, the final generation becomes a type of co-redeemer with Christ. Jesus didn’t fully vindicate God at the cross so humans now have to become perfect in order to show that God’s law is fair and the gospel works. However, the gospel assures us that the main struggle in the GC (God’s character) has been resolved in Christ. Man is not needed to add to that in any cosmic sense. That’s ontological vindication.

By pragmatic vindication, what is meant is that, unlike the unfallen who can see the drama play out mostly from the outside, humans are caught on the inside of the struggle. Jesus’ vindication on the cross then, while complete, remains unknown to us unless it is communicated to us. And God has chosen that that communication will take place via the church. But if the church is a perpetrator of injustice and suffering (rooted in lies about God), then the vindication never happens. So the church must embrace the call to be reversers of injustice and suffering as well as lies about God. In doing so, we take the finished vindication of God in Christ and present it pragmatically to the world. God doesn’t need us to end the GC but he’s not in this to win some PR campaign. He genuinely wants to save people because he loves them. So he waits. And as the church lives out that character of God pragmatically (that is in tangible, practical ways) his ontological vindication spreads throughout the world, melts hardened hearts, and brings more people into a trusting relationship with him. That’s pragmatic vindication.

 

Because LGT sees the law as a legal demand, it sees sin as willful choice and in turn, it sees holiness and perfection of character as willful choice as well. Anyone who fails does so because they are not willfully choosing to be holy and perfect, or to trust in God enough, or to be serious enough in their faith. Delete the legal law view, and all of this fades away. A “law is love” vision sees sin as a condition of lovelessness which the gospel heals. When we receive Jesus this process of reversal of lovelessness or the reversal of the impulse of self in the human heart, begins. This process is a healing process that takes a person’s entire life. But as we walk with God and allow him to heal our selfishness we naturally become agents of reversal in the world. As a result, our characters are perfected and God’s name is vindicated pragmatically, not because of anything we are doing, but because of the work God is doing in us and through us. And when the judgment ends, there will be two people left on the earth – those who clung to the impulse of self within and those who, weak and broken as they might be, trusted God to heal them from self to love. And it is those, justified by his love and sanctified in his love who will be glorified by and in and to his love to dwell in a kingdom and a universe in which “[o]ne pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.”[11]

Conclusion

While I am certain many more questions will emerge over time I would like to conclude this series with a brief summary of its main contention. In his song “Speak for Me”, musician John Mayer laments the state of modernity when he sings, “something isn’t right when all your heroes come in black and white.” The poem can be understood in two ways. First, that something is wrong with modernity in that it has no contemporary heroes and thus, the one looking for a hero must turn to the past. Or second, that something is wrong with modernity in that it is blind to its own heroes. In other words, it is so nostalgically obsessed with a bygone generation that it is missing out on the possibilities before it.

If we take the second interpretation I would contend that this is a problem for Adventism today. We appear to be nostalgic about what was to the detriment of what can be. And the results of this wistful sentiment are before us, easy to observe if we open our eyes. But the good news is, it’s not too late.

Related Article: Hagar, Sarah, and the Two Covenants

In the past six articles, I have not attempted to defend the historic or theological validity of the PAIJ. Undoubtedly, many who reject its historic and theological validity will likewise reject this entire series and that is okay. I have no intention of proving them otherwise. My objective in this series has been simple: to explore, not the doctrine’s validity (which is addressed in multiple other sources), but its utility. By reframing, simplifying and applying it, it is my hope that every reader has been challenged and inspired with a new vision for the PAIJ that has also redefined their vision of church and faith as a whole. Even if you found yourself disagreeing with particular points – or perhaps with my entire framework – I hope you at least embrace the call to reframe the PAIJ to the universal primary ideas that your context is immersed in.

To the end of time, my hope is that the Adventist movement would capture its true calling as a voice for the suffering with a story of God’s heart unheard of in our world. May we flood the culture with this radical and overwhelming narrative until that day when we see the one in whom all our hopes and desires reside.

Read the rest of Marcos’ series on Pre-Advent Investigative Judgement

______

Notes.

[1] Relevant Magazine. “Alleged Synagogue Shooter Proclaims Christianity, Evangelical Pastors Struggle to Understand,” [Web: https://relevantmagazine.com/current/alleged-synagogue-shooter-proclaims-christianity-evangelical-pastors-struggle-to-understand]

[2] Hukabee, Tyler. “Will the Evangelical Church Reckon With Its Terrorists?” [Web: https://relevantmagazine.com/god/church/will-the-evangelical-church-reckon-with-its-terrorists]

[3] Tisby, Jemar. “Why white nationalism tempts white Christians,” [Web: https://religionnews.com/2019/05/01/why-white-nationalism-tempts-white-christians]

[4] White, Ellen G. “Counsels to Writers and Editors,” p. 38.

[5] ibid., p. 33

[6] ibid., p. 35

[7] White, Ellen G. The Review and Herald, June 18, 1889

[8] White, Ellen G. Biblical Commentary, (vol. 6) p. 1074

[9] White, Ellen G. “The Desire of Ages,” p. 161

[10] White, Ellen G. “The Great Controversy,” p. 425

[11] ibid., p. 678

Share It :

google+
More

About the author

Marcos Torres

Marcos Torres is a pastor in Western Australia where he lives with his wife and children. He loves talking about faith, culture and Adventism. You can follow his blog at www.thestorychurchproject.com.