A Need to rethink the prophecies...

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A Need to rethink the prophecies...

Postby guibox » Mon Jan 17, 2005 3:01 pm

Is there anyone else here that feels our church needs to rethink the prophecies? Particularily our interpretation of Daniel 8 and the investigative judgment?

Before you all jump on me crying 'heretic', let me tell you more about myself. I do not cast away tradition lightly but must follow my conscience. I have been an Adventist for 21 years. I have a BEd and a BA in Religion from one of our institutions and do not consider myself a liberal Adventist. Neither do I follow the pop psychology/celebration/get rid of doctrine philosophy of some in our church.

However, after much study in the matter (particularily after last quarter's sabbath school lesson) I realize that I can't honestly accept the traditional Adventist interpretation anymore. Here are a few reasons why:

1) The interpretation of the little horn in Daniel 8 being the papacy has more holes then swiss cheese in context of the rest of the chapter and Daniel 9 and 11.

2) Making the 2300 day prophecy literal years cannot be reconciled with making the little horn the papacy, nor to the investigative judgment in the context of the rest of the chapter

3) The dates of the papacy's reign and 'deadly wound', the 'decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem' are all suspect and have other viable alternatives. To me making dates limits you from being able to change your story. It is akin to those who've tried to set dates for Christ's coming throughout history. Once a card is pulled, the rest will fall. I see that Adventists have painted themselves in a corner by trying to be too literal with the dates. Deny or affirm at any cost? Either way you lose face one way or another.

Is there some validity to our prophecies? Perhaps. However, even a cursory glance will tell you that it is not as black and white or clear cut as our church would like to make it. There are errors. There are contradictions. There are 'let's make history fit' arguments instead of proper exegetical study.

I just think it is time our church leaders re-investigate these doctrines as not to many are taking them seriously anymore.
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It's very clear cut

Postby Eugene Shubert » Mon Jan 17, 2005 3:41 pm

guibox, I like where you're coming from. There are several folks on this forum that are way ahead of you. Consider my testimony and that of Steve Starman. Here's what we teach on the book of Daniel:
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Re: A Need to rethink the prophecies...

Postby spozzie » Mon Jan 17, 2005 5:46 pm

Hi Guibox

I tend to agree with you. Have you come across Day Star's page on the 2,300 days at http://www.wake-up.org/daystar/ds1998/AUG98A.htm? There is an interesting discussion relating to using the Jubilee calendar to infer various things about the year/day principle. I'd be really interested in your or anyone else's comments.

Thanks

Steve
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Postby guibox » Mon Jan 17, 2005 6:29 pm

From studying the prophecies exegetically, I am inclined to believe that the 2300 days are explained in the 70th week of Daniel 9:24-27. The events of Daniel 8:11-14 are explained quite vividly in Daniel 9.

To me, I'm leaning towards a christological realization to these prophecies. The 'causing of the sacrifice and oblation to cease', the 'abomination of desolation', the 'trampling and desecrating of the sanctuary' and the 'cleansing of the sanctrary', 'the time, times and half a time (3 1/2 years) all occur at the cross during the 70th week of Daniel 7.

http://www.jesusinstituteforum.org follows this concept and interprets Daniel according to the Levitical jubilee covenant found in Leviticus 25,26

I know that Ford and Cottrell don't believe that the Messiah the prince in Daniel 9:25 is talking about Christ, but to me everything else points to what Christ did at the cross. Especially when you understand the type/anti-type of the sanctuary, the daily and the sacrifice. It all seems to point to Christ

There are still errors in most of the interpretations, but this one makes the most sense to me.
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Postby spozzie » Mon Jan 17, 2005 6:41 pm

To me, I'm leaning towards a christological realization to these prophecies.


I'd have to agree with you. I think having Christ as the exegetical key to all the prophecies is essential.
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Postby guibox » Mon Jan 17, 2005 6:55 pm

Hi Guibox

I tend to agree with you. Have you come across Day Star's page on the 2,300 days at http://www.wake-up.org/daystar/ds1998/AUG98A.htm? There is an interesting discussion relating to using the Jubilee calendar to infer various things about the year/day principle. I'd be really interested in your or anyone else's comments.

Thanks

Steve

In looking at your link, I find it very confusing and riddled with problems. It seems that he is trying to incorporate historicism and futurism. Here are some of the problem I found:

1) Horns always come out of other horns or beasts, not wind.
2) Placing the little horn at the very end of time ignores Daniel's understanding of his time.
3) The 'time of the end' doesn't necessarily mean the 'end of time'. Others have explained this to mean the 'end of the little horn's power and reign' and the end meaning 'when it all comes to pass' (the 70 weeks of years determined upon the people)
4) The 70 weeks in Daniel follow the 70 weeks of years in the jubilee fashion. This doesn't mean that the other prophecies should be counted as literal years. It is not a 'day for a year' principle, it is a 70 weeks of years jubilee prophecy (10 sabbaths of years) specifically applicable to the 70 weeks and not other prophecies.


I am also leaning towards Bacchiocchi's and JIF's view that the little horn is ultimately Satan manifested in different forms throughout history (Antiochus, Rome, Papal Rome, Islam). Hence, the little horn in Daniel 7 can apply to the papacy, the little horn in Daniel 8 to AE IV, the 'evil prince to come' in Daniel 9 as Rome through Titus)

I'm still not sure yet. I do know that I definitely don't belive that the prophecies in Daniel apply to the very last days as the futurists believe. To me that is more far fetched than our traditional SDA intepretation
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Postby spozzie » Mon Jan 17, 2005 7:08 pm

In looking at your link, I find it very confusing and riddled with problems.


Thanks for your response (how do you do it so quickly!?). You've made some very helpful points.

Steve
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Yes, it's time to reexamine the prophecies...

Postby Steve Starman » Thu Jan 27, 2005 2:53 pm

G’day, guibox and spozzie,

Welcome to the Forum!

The issues that you are investigating are tremendously important to the SDA church at this time, and your concerns are not without merit.

:!: There is a very real possibility of theological schism in the church, over these very issues. As you may be aware, Ray Cottrell voiced this formally and publicly as late as February 9, 2002 in San Diego. For those unaware of Mr. Cottrell, he wrote over 2000 pages of the SDA Bible Commentary, he studied the book of Daniel in depth for decades—probably more than any other SDA scholar, and wrote a work specifically on Daniel that was over 1300 pages (I believe) in itself. He never published that work for concern over what it could do to the psyche of the church. He meant no harm. Many other (once-) respected theologians have left (or been removed from) the denomination over similar exegetical and theological differences.

I write to you, and cite Dr. Cottrell to state, unequivocally, that there is tremendous tension within the denomination between the Historicist interpreters of Scripture (specifically prophecy), and the Historic-exegetical scholars (‘sola Scriptura’). The discord is becoming more harmful as time passes, and the theologies are diametrically opposed. Each faction is entrenched, and will not allow anything to harmonize their views. A Pastor within the SDA church, whom I respect very highly, recently said to me “The real question is whether one can be a Seventh-day Adventist without being a Historicist. The church will die on that cross.

I believe the SDA church is at a critical point in its history.

I recommend, extremely highly, the work “The Ends of Time,” (this is a hyperlink) that Eugene Shubert called to your attention in his post above. (Did you look it over?) I, like you, consider myself a true, traditional SDA. I came to the Forum looking for answers to the same questions you are wrestling with, especially concerning Daniel chapters 8, 9 and 11-12. It is the only theological presentation that I’ve ever examined which harmonizes the opposing groups within Adventism’s prophetic framework. I can’t recommend it enough! I found that it brought virtually all of the questions that I had to an elegant solution. guibox, it answers your four numbered problems that you had with spozzie's wake-up.org material very well.

spozzie said:
However, after much study in the matter (particularly after last quarter's Sabbath school lesson) I realize that I can't honestly accept the traditional Adventist interpretation anymore.
I teach Sabbath school once per month, and it fell to me to teach on Daniel 8, and Daniel 10-11. After studying the Quarterly in detail, I simply determined to teach on Dan. 8 and 11 by asking very difficult (read "unanswerable") questions, with a goal of getting folks to study it for themselves--IN DEPTH. By asking questions, no one felt terribly threatened, but they were certainly challenged. I made and passed out several handouts that simply compared and contrasted the verses of the chapters in context, and compared the prophetic texts with their angelic explanations. You could have heard a pin drop. My conscience would allow no less.

I only have time to post to the Forum in very short spurts, and not very often, due to time constraints. (In fact, I have several folks I owe responses to at this moment.) If you respond, it may take me a while :oops: , but I’ll do my best to get back to you.

God bless you, and I pray that you’ll find the answers you’re looking for—
Steve
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Postby tall73 » Fri Jan 28, 2005 9:56 pm

I read cottrel's presentation, and have had my own questions on the traditional interpretation, not only here but also in the trumpets, etc. The method used often is to quickly compare to something in history that you would like to highlight, then make it fit.

I plan to read your work soon Eugene.
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Postby tall73 » Sat Feb 05, 2005 1:34 am

I read part one of your book Eugene. I found the following as strong points, in no particular order:

1. the whole undergirding of the conditionality of prophecy is strong. This is clearly seen in scripture.

2. The thorough debunking of historicism in regards to chapter 11 of Daniel is quite convincing, though probably not the first to accomplish that. I got a chuckle out of your sub-title as well ("by simply quoting it").

3. Your debunking of preterist ideas raised some interesting questions for that camp.

4. Your concept, shared by others, of a division of the book into a gentile and Jewish portions is right on. I had passed over similar explanations before without grasping the whole point, but yours brought it home. It resolves some chronological and thematic elements in the book.

5. Your view is undeniably consistent with the langauge of the book--definitionally more so than any other could be!

6. Your view that Christ could have come in the first century I believe to be absolutely correct.

7. You clearly point out that chapter 8 deals only with the third kingdom of Daniel 2 and does not deal with the 4th.

Having said all this, I see one huge problem with accepting your whole analysis. I will have to re-read the scenario of Daniel 9 a bit more to firm up my understanding. But the upshot, if I could summarize your view in a perhaps less than favorable light is that

a. God works out his plan ultimately. The timing and exact nature these plans are the result of conditionality (not so bad of a thought)

b. God continually revamps his forecast, never getting it quite right, since it is really an invitation to a possible scenario that the people choose. Now I am sure this is not how you would phrase it, but that is about the way it sounded. I would almost rather agree with the preterists than accept this.

We both see in the covenant curses and blessings, and even in the 70 weeks a conditionality that calls the people to decide. Fair enough. But lets just focus for a moment on the blessings and curses. Here we see a step by step portrayal of what will happen if they disobey. And it was fulfilled DOWN TO THE LETTER. There was no update. It happened. I don't see this in your analysis of Daniel. It was two possibilities, neither of which happened to the exact detail. Now I recognize that you are simply being factual. But my view is that while God makes things conditional, He still KNOWS how it will ACTUALLY go, not how it could have gone but won't.
The example of the covenant curses shows that not only did God make it conditional, but he knew EXACTLY how it would pan out. You admit that he does know the end from the beginning, so why dish out two scenarios, neither of which are completely right? Wouldn't it make more sense to put two, one of which IS RIGHT? As it is you have him updating after the fact like a weather reporter. That just doesn't match up with the view that God gives of Himself:

ISA 46:9 Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.

ISA 46:10 I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say: My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.

Now you admit that God's plans eventually sort of come around. But that is not exactly what the text says. It says that he knows AND REVEALS from ancient times what will happen.


I have prayed a lot about this, and was truly hoping that your book might be an answer to that prayer. Some of the insights are solid. And I think that in general the scheme works well. Perhaps as I think it over and pray more it will be shown to be viable. So far what I can agree with, or maybe I should say take away from it , since you wouldn't agree with my take on it is that Chapters 2 and 7 are an outline dealing with the gentile historical questions which with minor adjustments still show the current course. 8-12 deal with the opportunity of the covenant people to enjoy the fulfillment of their fondest covenant hopes–an opportunity they failed to realize. To me since neither the long or short plan in 9 and 11-12 panned out completely, I am not sure how I can view either of them as real even partly in effect now.

My summary is that elements of the presentation make it sound more like God is throwing out guesses than telling the end from the beginning, and this disturbs me. I guess I am still left with the thought that I don't grasp enough about the book to say that I understand it.

I will read the second part and see what it has to say.

A couple small specific gripes too...I have trouble seeing Jesus spelling out two different scenarios in regard to the destruction of the temple, the passages do look parallel. The fact remains that the one was much more helpful than the other two in actually avoiding death in that scenario, but I would not say that is solid evidence that Jesus presented both and one was rejected. It simply means that they emphasized the wrong part of the advice!

Also, the notion that the secrecy implied was such that God would intentionally obscure the truth (a really hard to mine out truth given the near unique translations of certain words), by introducing something almost, but not quite like an historical happening (Antiochus) is just...um...odd. God does say that those who resist the truth are given a strong delusionary spirit so that they might believe a lie. But this seems like even most of the faithful are tripping over this one...all but this web site apparently. Certainly the book is confusing enough without introducing the thought that God is out to intentionally mislead.

I am also still reading Stefanovic's work and re-reading Baldwin's work, as well as the articles on the Jesus institute forum. I would really like for this all to someday make sense.
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Multiple scenarios

Postby Eugene Shubert » Sun Feb 06, 2005 1:03 am

tall73 wrote:My summary is that elements of the presentation make it sound more like God is throwing out guesses than telling the end from the beginning, and this disturbs me.

Yet God's true remnant (those who are waiting and watching and looking heavenward) seem to find great encouragement in conditionality and in three Scripture-based scenarios.

A company was presented before me ... waiting and watching. Their eyes were directed heavenward, and the words of their Master were upon their lips: "What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch." "Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping." The Lord intimates a delay before the morning finally dawns. But He would not have them give way to weariness, nor relax their earnest watchfulness, because the morning does not open upon them as soon as they expected. The waiting ones were represented to me as looking upward. They were encouraging one another by repeating these words: "The first and second watches are past. We are in the third watch, waiting and watching for the Master's return. There remains but a little period of watching now." I saw some becoming weary; their eyes were directed downward, and they were engrossed with earthly things, and were unfaithful in watching. They were saying: "In the first watch we expected our Master, but were disappointed. We thought surely He would come in the second watch, but that passed, and He came not. We may be again disappointed. We need not be so particular. He may not come in the following watch. We are in the third watch, and now we think it best to lay up our treasure on the earth, that we may be secure against want." Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church Volume 2, p. 192.

I saw that watch after watch was in the past. Ibid. p. 193.
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Postby tall73 » Mon Feb 07, 2005 2:08 am

Eugene,

I don't have a problem with the general theory of conditionality, or the long time span.

If you take the third watch as incdicating multiple scenarios...I guess you could stretch it to mean that, but I would take it to mean that we are in the latest part of the night, and it has taken a long time. And of course, being the third watch, the last part of the night, it would be but a little while longer. In other words, the time was longer than it was thought. But the waiting is almost over. First, second, and third watch seem a fairly usual way of thinking of the night during certain time periods of history. I wouldn't venture to guess whether that convention was used during EGW's time without checking. But it would not surprise me.

I have no problem with the idea, as I mentioned, that the second coming should have occurred in the first century, or at later points. But to have specifics that are widely flawed, with no indication of God knowing how they would be flawed is a bit odd. If you give multiple scenarios then you would think one would be actually correct.

With Isaiah's eschatology or Ezekiel's etc. each book largely presented it one way, ( I realize you see multiple scenarios in Isaiah etc.) which was conditional on obedience, and it simply didn't happen. Fair enough, I guess. It can be explained by saying they didn't meet the requirements.
But if your thesis is it makes more sense that Daniel contained multiple scenarios to account for conditionality. And then it is seen that none of them happened , then to me that is not really making more sense of the text. Why would God give multiple scenarios if He knew none of them would be right in the end?
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Postby tall73 » Mon Feb 07, 2005 2:52 am

I became curious so I did some reading.

Some more thoughts on EGW's use of the term watches in the night. Her use of the metaphore of a night watch for waiting for Jesus coming is

a. biblical
b. a reflection on Jesus' words more than a prediction of time.


Note the use here. I found this consistent with the passage you quoted, and one other, all from Testimonies Volume 2.

2 t chap 29
Jesus has left us this warning: "Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping." The church of God is required to fulfill her night watch, however perilous, whether long or short. Sorrow is no excuse for her to be less watchful.


She is simply commenting on Jesus' parable comparing our wait for His coming, to a watch through the night. She is extending a biblical metaphor to keep watch and be ready all the time. she is not laying out a time. In fact, in the same quote of Jesus he says you don't know the time, which watch of the night it will even be in! But looking back on time, EGW knew that it had indeed been a long time, and therefore she said it was late into the night,the third watch, but don't let it bother you. Jesus warned this could happen. She is merely quoting the words of Jesus.

In Jesus time they had 4 watches of the night, according to Roman reckoning:



1st 6 pm - 9 pm (sunset to evening)
2nd 9 pm - 12 am (evening to midnight)
3rd 12 pm - 3 am (midnight to cockcrow)
4th 3 am - 6 am (cockcrow to sunset)

Here we see an example of the fourth watch, which is mentioned in the text of the event in the KJV.
DA chap 40
Until the fourth watch of the night they toiled at the oars. Then the weary men gave themselves up for lost. In storm and darkness the sea had taught them their own helplessness, and they longed for the presence of their Master.


I somehow doubt this was a reference to multiple scenarios, but simply a convention of describing early morning.

Again, it was an expression in the KJV of the text she had in mind at the time.

Jesus makes vague reference to all 4 as possibilities, then uses the third watch toward the end of the parable as an example of a late time..."even in the third watch." Therefore she takes it to mean that would be the remote part of the possibilities, which surely she reckons, at this late hour in history, we are at--especially given that the judgement already began.

Mark 13:35 "Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming -- (1) in the evening, (2) at midnight, (3) at the crowing of the rooster, or (4) in the morning."



Just as we look at the grammarical reading of the bible text, it would seem to think the same about EGW. How did she mean this third watch analogy? These appeared in appeals to not give up our faith and singular behavior, our stedfastness. Clearly it is a reference to this biblical passage in language she understood. To apply this to a three-fold scenario is a reach similar to some of the historicist ones you debunk.


Just as we look at the grammarical reading of the bible text, it would seem wise to do the same with EGW. How did she mean this third watch analogy? These appeared in appeals to not give up our faith and singular behavior, our stedfastness. Clearly it is a reference to this biblical passage in language she understood.

Incidentally, if you take all that Jesus said in this parable, and still want to apply it to scenarios, there is the possibility for a fourth scenario...in the morning.
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If your interpretation brings encouragement

Postby Eugene Shubert » Tue Feb 08, 2005 2:57 am

Ellen G. White wrote:The waiting ones were represented to me as looking upward. They were encouraging one another by repeating these words: "The first and second watches are past. We are in the third watch, waiting and watching for the Master's return. There remains but a little period of watching now."

tall73 wrote:I would take it to mean that we are in the latest part of the night, and it has taken a long time.

I have never heard mainstream Seventh-day Adventists encourage each other with the specific fact of the long delay to Christ's Second Coming. If you know of any pastor that has ever encouraged a congregation by emphasizing, in a sermon, the long delay to Christ's kingdom, then that would be a great message to publish. Let's help the church fulfill Ellen White's vision. Let's circulate that message.

Is this even sensible?

Try encouraging your church with a sermon on how the long delay to the Second Advent brings encouragement to Seventh-day Adventists. Explain the reason for the delay and the true source of their joy. Encourage them by accurately describing the state of things in the church. Cite this Ellen G. White quote positively. "If the power of Satan can come into the very temple of God and manipulate things as he pleases, the time of preparation will be prolonged." EGW, Lt 83, 1896.

tall73 wrote:Until the fourth watch of the night they toiled at the oars.

I did not say that this is a reference to multiple scenarios.
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Postby tall73 » Tue Feb 08, 2005 3:10 am

The encouragement was that

a. It had already been a long time....
b. but now we are at the end...the judgement.
c. It won't be much longer.


Come on Eugene, you're playing games.

I know you did not say the 4th watch quote was a case of multiple scenarios. It is given to illustrate that NONE of the watch quotes were cases of multiple scenarios. It is just an example to show that

a. there are four watches
b. she used the term simply as a descriptive measure.


Since she was quoting the respective texts in both cases it is reasonable to assume that she was relating the story in its own language.

Given that you were being a little sarcastic, why would people take encouragement from the fact that there are three scenarios? Or even more if you count in Daniel? None of them perfectly fulfilled in history?

That sounds more like Hegelian process theology where God is growing with the world, updating, changing. That is not in the least encouraging to me.

I am not trying to cause you grief Eugene, I am just pointing out what I see to be the major shortfall of the theory. If you expect your critics to take your analysis of their views constructively, you should be willing to do the same.

You could give more evidence for the probability that Jesus gave multiple scenarios in his statement of Daniel's abomination. Or you could give more rationale as to why God might intentionally obscure the message given. Both of those were specifics I had questions on.

Simply quoting an unclear statement by EGW that could imply (but not to me) multiple scenarios, seems to take the same route as those you criticize. "It must be true, because EGW says so...." I thought that was the subtle misunderstanding that you tried to avoid?

It may well be that Revelation describes three potential ending times for the world. The fact that it presented three would be a good thing in my book in that it shows God's forknowledge that it would not be the first or second. That part of your theory in my book is superior to the interpretation of Daniel, where God seemingly got it all wrong.

God's giving three ending points, and clearly knowing that it will take three , while still giving room for the individuals at the time to perhaps apply it to their own time, giving them encouragement to actually meet their appointment seems a rational idea for the book of Revelation.

But scenarios in Daniel, none of which actually seem to point out what happened does not seem like something an all knowing God would do.
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