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Letters to the Churches - M. L. Andreasen
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1982Apr -- XV -- 4(82) -- JEREMIAH LEADS WAY TO HIDDEN ARK -- "Try the Spirits" - There Are "Many False Prophets" -- Recently, a verbatim telephone conversation was published in Pilgrims' Waymarks between Vance Ferrell and Jim Bolinger of the Institute for Restoring Ancient History, a Kansas-based organization. Mr. Bolinger claimed his organization has discovered the location of the Ark of the Covenant supposedly hid by Jeremiah the prophet prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.
To borrow the words of the prophet Simeon who stated to Mary that the Child in her arms would be "for a sign ... that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed," (Luke 2:34-35) so this reported discovery will likewise reveal the thoughts of many hearts. It should awaken and alarm God's professed true and concerned people as nothing else has done for a number of months. While the Davenport scandal has shaken many a complacent church member to his very foundations, this report of the discovery of "lost Ark of the Covenant" and the extenuating circumstances should serve as a warning that subtle deception is being practiced on the unwary even by those who profess to be in the vanguard of revealing apostasy in the midst of the Church.
course of the reported verbatim telephone conversation ran like this: Ferrell:
"What did the outer entrance to the passageway look like?"
Did God resurrect "Jeremiah" and send him in answer to the prayers of this expedition headed by Tom Crotser? The only incident of a dead prophet supposedly returning to communicate with the living is the case of Saul and the witch of Endor, who brought up a "spirit" whom Saul thought to be "Samuel." (I Sam. 28:11-14) This was pure Spiritism! Now we have another
p 2 -- incident in which a dead prophet supposedly comes in response to prayers to guide the way to the Ark he allegedly hid centuries ago. But most alarming is the fact that here is an individual who professes to be warning God's people about apostasy, scattering his publications far and wide, yet unable to discern a deceptive manifestation, but declaring instead - "God led you to it. There is no other explanation." The word of God declares plainly, "The dead know not anything." (Eccl. 9:5) While it is true, Ferrell made the deduction prior to being informed about,"Jeremiah," he was so enthralled with the revelation and the fact that it occurred the night before, he continued the conversation and published it with his approbation. While professing to be presenting the "historic waymarks, " he has now been caught in the net of Spiritism by proclaiming such a revelation the leading of God. This should awaken us as nothing has done before to the fact that the counterfeit will so resemble the true that only by the Holy Scriptures will deception be detected. Let us face the fact that to those who do believe historic Adventism, neither Ford nor Brinsmead present a counterfeit. However, when we have various voices proclaiming the existence of apostasy, how does one distinguish the genuine from the false? Only by the Holy Scriptures! Here we have a classic example that merely verbalizing the existence of error, and publishing sensational releases is no criterion that here is the way of truth. To follow such unstable human judgment, rather than the Word of God will result in only one thing - the loss of one's soul!
Now let us turn our attention to some facts surrounding the expectation of finding the Ark of the Covenant prior to the second Advent, before we return to look at delusions God declares He will send upon those who believe not the truth but have pleasure in unrighteousness. And "unrighteousness" includes unethical practices.
Based on the Apocrapha -- Nowhere in the canons of the Holy Bible does it state that the Ark of the Covenant was hidden by Jeremiah prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The only place where such is recorded is in the book of II Maccabees. As one knows, this book is a part of the writings which we term the Apocrapha. This word from the Greek means "obscure." II Maccabees is not a sequel to I Maccabees, as it covers only a limited period of Maccabean history from 171-161 B.C. Moreover, it is full of errors and distortions. While it is based on history, it is "mingled with legend, and colored by a certain didactic purpose, that is not true history." (Ministry, April, 1950, p. 34) This book contains the experience of money being raised to provide a sacrifice to be offered in Jerusalem to remit the sins of the dead. (II Mac. 12:43) It states that it is "a wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins." (II Mac 12:46, Douay Version) The LXX translated reads - "And also in that he perceived that there was great favour laid up for those that died godly, it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin." On the basis of this the "Catholic Church claims that these texts give her authority for the doctrine of purgatory. Purgatory and masses for the dead are accepted and believed by every devout Catholic." (Mary Walsh, "Reasons Why Apocrapha Is Rejected," Ministry, Dec. 1949, p. 12) Thus the book itself comes under suspect as a source for reliable truth whether in doctrine or history. Yet this is the "Scriptural"(?) source quoted in Pilgrims' Waymarks (Ibid., p. 4), under the caption - "Spirit of Prophecy Statements About the Ark of God in These Last Days." How great can deception be? We not only get caught in the net of Spiritism but, then quote from an Apocraphal book that contains legend and call it "the Spirit of Prophecy!" Isn't it time we awakened to discern between the counterfeit and the genuine? "Try the spirits because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (I John 4:1)
The "Catholic Church Council of Trent placed [the] Apocrapha on an equality with the other inspired books of [the] Bible. All who do not accept [the] Apocrapha as of equal authority with Scripture are anathematized (cursed) by the Catholic Church." (Walsh, op. cit., p. 11). We do not need Jesuits in the Church, when we have men who professedly seek to uphold "historic Adventism" projecting approved Catholic sources on God's people under the
p 3 -- guise that it is the "Spirit of Prophecy."
Says the Early Testimonies? -- Really
do we believe what the servant of the Lord has written in Early Writings?
I am sure that Pilgrims' Rest would say, "Yes." But how much
have we really studied them to know how to escape deception from last
day delusions? How much have we
II Maccabees Says -- Note carefully the whole of the prophecy
in II Maccabees to see just what is stated. It reads: It
was contained in the I same writing, that the prophet, being warned of
God, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go with him, as he went forth
into the mountain, where Moses climbed up, and saw the heritage of God.
And when Jeremy came thither, he found a hollow cave, wherein he laid
the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped
Note carefully that it states that when the Ark is found, there will be a restoration in which the same glory as was manifest in the dedication of the tabernacle under Moses, and the Temple under Solomon will again be seen. A careful study of and investigation into the purposes of the fallen rebel against God will cast light as what shall take place when this Ark discovered by this Kansas based group is brought forth. Crotser, the leader of the expedition, told the press - "that finding the Ark is a part of the grand plan set up in the book of Revelation. He said the Ark would help restore the Temple of Jerusalem so that all may be in order for the second coming of Christ, which he predicts will occur in September or October of 1988." (UPI from Winfield, Kansas)
What Says the Scripture? -- Now as we turn to the Holy Scriptures to find what is really predicted, and what will take place, let us consult the "lesser light" as to what we should look for as we check events which are to occur just before the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven. The counsel reads: In the twenty-first chapter of Luke, Christ foretold what was to come upon Jerusalem, and with it He connected the scenes which were to take place in the history of this world just prior to the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 24)
are we directed to Luke, and not to Matthew or Mark, which have parallel
passages? (Matt. 24; Mark 13) In Luke, and only
Luke, Jesus is quoted as stating that the city of Jerusalem, the same
one which was to be "compassed with armies" (Luke 21: 20) ;
was the city to be "trodden down of Gentiles, until the times of
the Gentiles be fulfilled." (verse 24) Note and note carefully, Jesus
did not say that the Temple was to be trodden down till the times of the
Gentiles be fulfilled. Just prior to this, He had declared concerning
the Temple - "Your house is left unto you desolate." (Matt.
23: 38) Then when the disciples in amazement showed Him "the
p 4 -- buildings of the temple, "Jesus commented, "See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." (24:1-2) The Temple, with its services, and priesthood, was to lose all of its significance for a greater and more perfect Tabernacle was to function in the Heavens above where Christ was to mediate as the Great High Priest. However, the city of Jerusalem would continue to remain as a sign of events assigned to it in prophecy. Dr. J. R. Zurcher has well stated: "This prophecy of Jesus was a sign for the Christians of the Apostolic Church, who lived at the beginning of the times of the Gentiles, and it remains a sign for us who live at the end of the times of the Gentiles." (Christ of the Revelation, p. 71. [Southern Publishing Association, 1980) He further writes - "I believe that the times of the Gentiles began in AD 34, when the prophetic seventy weeks that God set aside for the people of Israel ended... The fact that since 1967 Gentiles no longer have occupied Jerusalem means, therefore, that we are living at the end of 'the times of the Gentiles."' (p. 72) It is also interesting to note that the latest edition of the 20th Century Bible Course, Lesson 5, "Time Running Out," asks - "How long did Christ say that Jerusalem would be trodden, down? (verse 24) " The note following the question comments: "Old Jerusalem and the temple site have been occupied largely by Gentile nations until 1967 when the Jews took possession of it in a 'lightning victory.' This portion of Christ's prophecy was fulfilled in our day!" [For a full detailed study of this prophecy see our Monograph - The Times of Gentiles Fulfilled] Let it be noted that it is this prophecy of Jesus which Ferrell in his exposition on the finding of the Ark seeks to nullify. (See p. 3, col. 3 of Waymarks #431 Then in Pilgrims' Guideposts (Jan. 1, 1982, p. 4) , Ferrell writes: "Not until the Mosque of Omar is removed and a Jewish temple erected in its place, with sacrificial services carried on within it, - can it be, said that the times of the Gentiles has been fulfilled." Jesus didn't state these conditions! To seek to nullify the words of Jesus by a revelation from Spiritism shows to what extent a human mind can be deceived when truth as it is in Jesus is rejected. Yet how many will continue to support and parrot such blasphemy.
There are other texts which also speak of Jerusalem in relationship to the final events of human history. In Daniel 11:45, it declares that the mysterious "he" will "plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain." Chapter 9 (ver. 16) tells us what this "mountain" is. Daniel in prayer declares - "thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain." But when this occurs, the text reads - "At that time shall Michael stand up." (Dan. 12:1) The objectives of this power brought to view in Daniel 11 - both the initiator, and him "whose coming is after the working of Satan," (II Thess. 2:9) is clearly defined in Isa. 14:12-14. Here the intent of Lucifer's heart is revealed. He designs to "sit also upon the mount of congregation in the sides of the north." This is defined as "mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." (Ps. 48:22) The words "mount of the congregation" - in the Hebrew is Har Mo'ed, which when transliterated into the Greek is "Har-Magedon" (Rev. 16:16 ARV) . And it is the spirits of devils which assemble the nations to this place for the final confrontation in the Battle of the great day of God Almighty. Then to note the preparation being done under the guise of Spiritism - "Jeremiah" appearing to point the way - and call this the leading of God is the very height of deception! God forbid that any of his true children will fall for this beguiling delusion presented by a modern false prophet.
What is the Basis of Belief? -- Jesus told a parable to the Laodiceans of His day - the Pharisees (DA, p. 280) - about a Rich Man who finally ended up in hell. Seeing Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, he asks that Lazarus be sent to warn his five brothers. (Luke 16:19-31) But Jesus has Abraham stating - "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." To merely see the Ark which supposedly was hidden by Jeremiah, and to see the Tablets of Stone - if they are really in it now, II Maccabees states the Law was given to those being, carried into captivity (2:2) - would not change the course of the inhabitants of earth. Will not the prince
5 -- of
evil, appearing as Christ, state that he changed the Law? The deception
will be so great, that if possible, the very elect will be deceived. Would
it not be well to ponder the two questions asked by the servant of the
Lord in connection with the coming of Satan as Christ? She asked: "Are
the people of God now so firmly established upon His word that they would
not yield to the evidences of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis,
cling to the Bible, and the Bible only?" (GC, p. 625)
Let me write plainly - YOU will be deceived, if you have fallen for this
present deception, and having fallen for it, continue to follow it, and
actively support it. Unless one holds to the Bible, and
the Bible only, he will be misled!
How Sacred Would Be the Ark, If Found? -- The Old Testament emphasizes the sacredness of the Ark of the Covenant. It was placed in the Most Holy Place of the earthly sanctuary. Only the High Priest looked upon it once a year, and then only through a veil of incense. When moved from one resting place to another, it was covered. When the Ark was captured by the Philistines, their god, Dagon, could not stand in its presence. Every city to which the Philistines took the Ark, a plague broke forth upon its inhabitants. (I Samuel 5) When Uzzah put forth his hand to steady the Ark as it was being carried on a cart pulled by a team of oxen, he was smitten by God. (II Sam. 6:6-7)
the Ark sacred of itself, or was its sacredness based on the fact that
God chose to manifest His presence between its cherubim? Does the fact
that Christ declared the Temple desolate, relate to the Ark today, should
it be exhibited once again before the world? What was the meaning of the
rending of the veil of the Temple at the hour of Christ's death, even
though no Ark was within the sacred enclosure? (Matt. 27:51) These questions
must find their answer in the over-all relationship
Will the sacred Law be seen again? Verily, for "the Law worketh wrath." (Rom. 4:15) When the final plagues of God's last judgments are poured out without mixture upon the inhabitants of earth, the Temple of God will be "opened in heaven, and there will be seen in His temple, the ark of His testament." (Rev. 11:19) This will be followed by the Voice from the Throne saying, "It is done," and the seventh plague. (Rev. 16:17; 11:19) Those who have bowed in adoration before Satan exalting him as Christ, and placing him on the throne of David, will look upon those tables of the covenant and see with clearer vision than before perceived - "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." All worship of the authority of man; all deceitfulness of deception as the result of yielding one's mind to the perceptions of the senses, will be seen in their true character - that of placing humanity and human reasoning above a plain - "Thus saith the Lord."
THE SPIRIT SPEAKETH EXPRESSLY, THAT
IN THE LATTER TIMES SOME SHALL DEPART FROM THE FAITH, GIVING HEED TO SEDUCING
SPIRITS, AND DOCTRINES OF DEVILS." I Timothy 4:
p 6 -- UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT GAGS STUDENT PAPER -- The Journal Era (Feb. 3, 1982) in Berrien Springs, Michigan, stated in a local news release that the administration of Andrews University "ordered a gag on its student newspaper, The Student Movement." What had happened was the editors of The Student Movement in their January 20, 1982, issue had published as its center spread (pp. 8, 9), Dr. Derrick Proctor's side of the suit filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago which had named the General Conference and other entities of the Church, "claiming they had violated anti-trust laws when they tried to prevent him from selling religious materials at discount prices."
In the paper released by Dr. Proctor, which the editors had published, he had itemized the numerous attempts which he had initiated to settle the problem directly with the leadership of the Church - ten attempts in all. Three of these ten were directly with Elder Neal C. Wilson. This fact is most interesting in the light of the recent editorial appearing in the Adventist Review (Feb. 4, 1982) over Wilson's signature. There Wilson deplored the use of Courts to settle matters relating to the Church. Yet when persons are willing and make contacts with the hierarchy, they are either ignored, or brushed aside by Patzer, Wilson's assistant. In view of this editorial, and the issues involved in the Proctor case, an interview granted by Elder Wilson to the Feature Editor of The Student Movement (Nov. 28, 1981) is most interesting. To a question as to whether Wilson will "follow the recommendations made at Dallas that any member or organization of the church who sues the church would be immediately" disfellowshipped, Wilson hedged a direct reply, but did not deny that excommunication would be the ultimate weapon used to keep folk in line. Proctor states that "on numerous occasions I have been directly and indirectly warned that I may be fired from my church employment because I am continuing to resist interference on the part of a few conference employees in my business relationships." (p. 9, The Student Movement, Jan. 20, 1982)
We can understand Elder Neal C. Wilson's desire to get things settled out of court. He has been personally named in the $35 Million Class Action Suit filed in Portland, Oregon. We can understand that if this suit should come to trial, and he be placed on the witness stand, it would be embarrassing to him. He has already sworn under oath in the case heard in the U. S. District Court in northern California that "It is ... necessary for the Church to establish its authority in the community of believers." The Church had already been defined in a separate affidavit by Elder R. H. Pierson to be "the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists." Now for Elder Wilson to explain why with such power as the General Conference claimed to possess could he not have entered into the picture as then president of the North American Division and protected the laity from the Davenport investments, will be most difficult to explain. Or does the Church exist only for benefit of the hierarchy, and the laity are merely "serfs"?
Why do individuals feel they must resort to legal action against the Church, when supposedly there has been set up the "Conciliation Panel" for the settlement of all such disputes? We cannot give specific answers for each individual case, but we do know from personal experience that to appeal through church channels for the righting of wrongs, even though every rule in the Church Manual had been violated by church officers was an exercise in futility. The reason is simple. The panels appointed to hear a complaint are church paid personnel with a few "safe" lay representatives. These panels operate from the position that the Church is infallible, and its leaders can do no wrong. True, it may be admitted that the church leaders acted in a "hasty" manner, but the decision made was fully correct, and not open to amendment, alteration, or change. So long as this mentality dominates the Church's effort to settle problems, there is but little recourse except the courts of the land where free citizens - not "serfs" can be heard.
justice does not reach down to the streets, and equity finds no seat in
the hearing room.
7 -- Laodicean Syndrome
splendid, spired edifices?
Your counsel? Well ... perhaps
CLIMBER OR LADDER CLIMBER - WHICH? -- "Those who enter
Heaven will not scale its walls by their own righteousness, nor will the
gates be opened to them for costly offerings of gold and silver; but they
will gain an entrance to the many mansions of the Father's house through
the merits of the Cross of Christ. Jesus is the ladder by which every
soul must mount who would climb from earth to Heaven." EGW The
Signs of the Times, June 26, 1884
1982 May-- XV - 5(82) -- THE HIDING OF THE ARK -- An In-Depth Analysis -- After the publication of the last Thought Paper which exposed the manifestation of Spiritism in the supposed discovery of the hidden Ark of the Covenant, I was challenged by a reader to give all the information available on the hiding and finding of the Ark. When writing the Thought Paper, I was aware of what Ellen G. White wrote about the subject, but purposely avoided any direct reference to these statements. Because I did this, the reader suggested that I was seeking to "cover up" some supposed contradictions between what she wrote and the silence of the Scriptures in regard to the hiding of the Ark. The problem is not what Ellen G. White wrote, but how what she wrote is interpreted. It really comes down to the bottom line in these interpretations as whether we accept the primacy of the Bible or seek to set forth a third Canon of Inspired Writings. In this Thought Paper, we shall attempt to give as full an account of all the factors as we can in the space available in one issue.
The Times of Jeremiah -- Josiah had led Judah in a reformatory work. The Scripture states that no king before him, nor after him "turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to the law of Moses" as did Josiah. (II Kings 23: 25) Outward changes in the behaviour of people were effected. "In Jeremiah's time, the Jews believed that the strict observances of the divinely appointed services of the temple would preserve them from the just punishment of their evil course." (4T:166) The people thronged the temple services. In fact, Jeremiah used these days of religious service as an occasion for the giving of his messages from God. (Jer. 36:4-6) But much of what resulted by the zeal of Josiah was a mere pretense on the people's part. Even before the untimely death of Josiah, Jeremiah accused the inhabitants of Judah of not turning to God with their whole heart, "but in sheer hypocrisy ... feigned obedience to King Josiah's reforms." (Jer. 3:10 Amp.)
Few are so prone to arrogant pride as those who declare that they are "reformed." Jeremiah had this to say of such self-righteous practitioners of the faith: "Prophets and priests are frauds, everyone of them; they dress my people's wound, but skin deep only, with their saying, 'All is well.' All well? Nothing is well!" (6:13f. NEB) (David F. Payne, The Kingdoms of the Lord, p. 254)
priests with their prophet cohorts used the reformatory spirit to bind
the people to the temple. Jeremiah found it necessary to tell the people
not to trust in the lying words, "The temple of the Lord, the temple
of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these." (Jer. 7:4) To speak
against the temple was considered an high crime of treason. When Jeremiah
declared the Temple would become as Shiloh, "the priests and the
prophets" declared before the princes - "This man is worthy
to die." (Jer. 26:6; 10-11) It is against this backdrop that one
must seek a solution to the problem of the hiding of the Ark of the Covenant
"just before the destruction of the temple." (SP, I,
p 2 -- The Claims of Tradition -- In the non-canonical book of II Maccabees (2:1-8), the claim is set forth according to "the records" that Jeremiah "found a chamber in the rock, and there he brought the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense; and made fast the door." It is further stated, that this chamber was in "the mountain where Moses went up and beheld the inheritance of God." (See Deut. 34:1) It must also be kept in mind according to the record in II Maccabees, Jeremiah gave "the law" to those being carried captive to Babylon. In the tradition it is strongly suggested that this hidden Ark will be restored to Israel when God will gather the people. The prophetic claim is that God will manifest at that time His glory as He did at the consecration of the Mosaic sanctuary at Sinai, and the dedication of Solomon's Temple.
In an over-all view of this legendary history, one must consider that to take the tabernacle, the ark, and the altar of incense out of Jerusalem, and not be stopped would be quite a feat. Those in charge of the religious services, aided by the prophecies of the false prophets were in no mood to recognize the impending destruction of either the city or the temple. To have moved this much furniture and effects by night would have required a number of persons. The "theft" would have been noted the next morning when the lamps were trimmed and incense offered. A swift contingent of horsemen could have overtaken the ones carrying these things. However, the taking of the Ark would not have been perceived so quickly because of the restrictions on going into the Most Holy Place. Various other factors could have been by-passed in the taking of a single article of furniture, such as avoiding making arrangements to leave through one of the gates. (See Joshua 2:15; Acts 9:25) Fewer persons would need to be involved, and thus greater secrecy maintained.
How Does Tradition Relate to Scripture? -- The final seige of Jerusalem was in two phases. . Nebuchadnezzar lifted the seige upon hearing that an Egyptian army was coming to the aide of Judah. (Jer. 37:5) After defeating the Egyptians, he returned and resumed the seige which resulted in the final overthrow of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. During the time of the first phase, Jeremiah was free to move about the city of Jerusalem. Zedikiah, the king of Judah, even sent asking that Jeremiah pray to God on behalf of the King and the people. (Jer. 37:3-4) Between the two phases of the seige, Jeremiah attempted to leave the city and go to his home town of Anathoth in Benjamin. (Jer. 37:12) He was stopped at the gate of the city by "a captain of the ward" who took and charged him with seeking to defect to the Babylonians. The princes of the realm before whom Jeremiah was brought "smote him and put him in prison." (ver. 15) It is evident that his movements were being carefully watched, and at the first opportunity Jeremiah was seized, and charged with a treasonable act. There is no suggestion that Jeremiah was involved in the taking of the Ark, or that he had been away from the city for a period of time. From Jerusalem to where the cave is said to be located is some thirty miles the way the crow would fly, and would have required at least a three day's absence from the city.
It must also be kept in mind that Jeremiah was of the priestly line of the house of Abiathar who had been removed by Solomon from the priestly ministration. This connection, and the opposition Jeremiah received from the prophets of the kingdom allied with the priests of the temple (Jer. 26:11) would have made it doubly difficult for him to have been in the actual party who took the Ark from the Temple and secreted it across the Jordan River.
However silent the Scriptures, the events which they record involving Jeremiah at the time of the final seige, open up another distinct possibility. At the time Jeremiah was apprehended, it could have been known that the Ark was missing. He could have been under suspicion and surveillance. The captain who apprehended him was a brother of one of the men sent by Zedekiah to ask that Jeremiah pray for the city and the King. (Cmp. Jer. 37:3 & 13) But for the populace to be informed that the Ark was gone would have caused the morale of the people to collapse, and panic to have seized them. Such an event if known to them would have been interpreted as the departing of the glory from Israel. The sudden change of attitude
p 3 -- toward Jeremiah, as noted in the 37th Chapter, and the charge brought against him could be explained by the discovery that the Ark was missing, and he was suspect due to the message he had given. (See 37:6-10) However, due to the possibility they had no solid evidence linking him to its disappearance, and to publically make the fact known would produce pandemonium among the populace, there was no mention made of the Ark. Jeremiah was not going to implicate himself, nor the others involved in carrying out such a feat. The canon of Scripture does not sustain the legendary account of the book of II Maccabees.
How Do the Writings of Ellen G. White Relate to This Data? -- From a casual reading of the various statements to be found in the writings of Ellen G. White, it would seem on the surface the source of her information is based on the non-canonical reference in II Maccabees. This surface approach has been followed by those who have sought to make headlines of the supposed finding of the Ark. A closer reading of the available sources indicates some distinct differences between the account found in the non-canonical source and the Writings.
First, nowhere, in harmony with the Biblical silence, does Ellen G. White suggest that Jeremiah hid the Ark. Her statements indicate "a few faithful servants" to whom God had made known the coming destruction of Jerusalem - in other words, a few who believed what Jeremiah prophesied - "just before the destruction of the temple, removed the sacred ark containing the tables of stone and ... secreted it in a cave." (SP, I, p. 414) This would pinpoint the time the removal took place to the brief respite which occurred between the two phases of the final seige by Nebuchadnezzar.
It is also interesting to observe these "faithful servants" are not noted as returning to Jerusalem following their hiding operation. It is evident from the Bible that enough of a stir had been made that a special captain with connections with the princes of the realm was at the "gate of Benjamin," the most obvious gate for Jeremiah to use in his attempt to go to his home in Anathoth. The removal of the Ark would mark one of the greatest clandestine operations of all time. It cannot be doubted that Jeremiah knew something about this operation - he may even have masterminded it - since to him it had been revealed that the end of Jerusalem had come. No evidence could be produced linking him to the "theft" - he had been in the city all during the, first seige, and during the interlude up to the time of his attempt to go to Anathoth. However, the testimony of tradition stating that Jeremiah actually hid the Ark in a cave, could indicate that he did have some part to play in removing the Ark from the Temple. Though a suspect, his continued presence within the city made it difficult - the few who knew were gone - to link him to the "crime."
Secondly, the legend in Maccabees indicates that the Ark will be restored to the nation of Israel again. The writings state emphatically - the Ark was "hid from the people of Israel ... and was to be no more restored to them " (Ibid.) Thirdly, the writer of Maccabees stated that not only was the Ark taken and hidden, but also the Altar of Incense, plus "the tabernacle" while Ellen G. White only indicated the Ark of the Covenant. (This factor should have had some bearing in evaluating the reports of the supposed find of these artifacts. But keep in mind that "headline grabbers" or "opportunists" spend little time with evaluation of facts or truth.)
And fourth, the non-canonical book of II Maccabees stated the law was given to the exiles as they were led away captive, while the messenger of the Lord stated that the tables of stone as given to Moses were in the Ark when hidden. (Ibid. See also, Ms. 122, 1901: 1BC, 1109)
What Did Ellen G. White Really Write? -- It has been assumed from the writings of 'Ellen G. White that the bringing forth of the Ark from the place where it was hidden by "a few faithful servants" will mark the beginning of the judgment of the living. How valid is such an assumption? Here are the statements in the writings which link the event with a concept of judgment: 1906 - " ... the law was traced by the
p 4 -- finger of God upon the tables of stone, which are now in the ark, to be brought forth in that great day when sentence will will be pronounced against every evil, seducing science produced by the father of lies." (Letter 90, 1906; CM, p. 126) Does this reference say, "the law," or "the ark" is to be brought forth? Compare with next reference.
1908 - "The tables of stone are hidden by God, to be produced in the great judgment day, just as He wrote them." (R&H, March 26, 1908.)
1909 - "When the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened, and every man shall be judged according to the things written in the books, then the tables of stone hidden by God until that day, will be presented before the world as the standard of righteousness." (R&H, Jan. 28, 1909)
1917 - "At the judgment, this covenant will be brought forth, plainly written with the finger of God; and the world will be arraigned before the bar of Infinite Justice to receive sentence." (PK, p. 187)
An Analysis of the E. G. White Statements -- The expressions - "the great judgment day" - "that great day when sentence will be pronounced" - "at the judgment... the world will be arraigned" - cannot honestly be assigned to "the judgment of the living" by any stretch of the imagination. It becomes apparent that to do so reveals how little of the rationale regarding the Adventist concept of judgment is perceived by those advocating such a connection. We believe - at least the historic position so affirmed - that the Investigative Judgment which began in 1844 considered the case of those who died making a profession of faith in God, and the Lord Jesus Christ - a confession marked by either baptism after the Cross, or the offering of the sin-offering prior to the Cross. The "judgment of the living" would concern only those who had related to the truth of the Third Angel's Message - or as Ezekiel describes the sealing - a mark upon those in Jerusalem who sigh and cry for the abominations done in the midst thereof. (Eze. 9:4) However, the references noted above taken from the Writings talk about a judgment when "the world will be arraigned before the bar of Infinite Justice. Is such a judgment the Adventist concept of "the judgment of the living"? If it is, it must be a neo-Adventist teaching unrelated to the historic position.
The one specific reference which pins down the relationship between the revelation of the Law of God on stone, and the judgment is the one given in 1909 - "When the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened, and every man shall be judged according to the things written in the books, then the tables of stone hidden by God until that day, will be presented before the world as the standard of righteousness." The clauses - "when the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened, and every man shall be judged according to the things written in the books" - are borrowed Biblical language. Either it is language drawn upon to express a thought unrelated to the actual Scripture itself, or else it is focusing upon a certain passage to magnify its meaning. To adopt the first view language borrowing to express an idea - and then interpret it to mean that this is referring to "the judgment of the living" - a designation not used in Scripture is to establish a basis for a third canon. The Bible is clear in regard to the judgment of both the living and the dead, but designates the judgment of the living by different terminology. (See Ezekiel 9)
clauses if considered as direct references to Scripture, point to one
of two possible texts. In Daniel 7:10, it reads:
"The judgment was set and the books were opened."
When we turn to the book of Revelation we find this description of the
Judgment of the Great White Throne - "The
books were opened: ... and the dead were judged out of those things which
were written in the books, according to their works."
(Rev. 20:11-12) As we seek to ascertain which of these two texts were
being used in the statement of Ellen G. White, the weight of evidence
tends toward the one in Revelation. The prophecy of Daniel in a time context
refers to the opening of the judgment in the heavenly sanctuary in 1844,
while the context of the statement of Ellen G. White indicates she was
writing about a judgment future to the time of writing in 1909. Further
the language to be found in Revelation 20:12, more closely parallels her
p 5 -- We are now faced with certain choices: 1) The statement - "the tables of stone hidden by God until that day, will be presented before the world as the standard of righteousness" - refers to the day of the Judgment of the Great White Throne. 2) The statements do not focus on any Biblical reference or event, but rather directs our attention to a time of special judgment designated as "the judgment of living." If we should accept this latter choice, as some do, then we are confronted with how to explain the reference as applying to such an event, when the very language Ellen G. White uses states that "the world" will be arraigned before the Judgment Bar of God, and confronted with the Law written with His own finger. In fact the statement released in 1917 so states. (See above where quoted.) Even the 1909 statement in context reads - "By the righteous principles of that law, men will receive their sentence of life or death." (R&H, Jan. 28, 1909) This has reference to an executive judgment, not an investigative session! It is true that those who hold to the second of the above two choices state that this is merely a sign that "the judgment of the living" has commenced. But where is the Biblical basis for this, and where even in the Writings is such a statement to be found?
There is another factor that must be noted in this analysis. The statements from the writings of Ellen G. White clearly indicate that the Ark of the Covenant was "safely hidden from the human family" and that "in God's appointed time He [not man] will bring forth the tables of stone [not the Ark] to be a testimony to all the world against the disregard of His commandments." (Ms. 122, 1901: 1BC, 1109) I am unable to find a single explicit statement in all the writings of Ellen G. White stating that the Ark will be brought forth. Perhaps there is such a statement of which I am unaware.
However, there is another sign - a sign given by Jesus Himself telling us when the Times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, and when the final sealing work commences. That sign is found in Luke 21:24. A study of the comments to be found in the Writings in connection with the sealing of the living in the midst of "Jerusalem" tells us much, but we are unwilling to face up to the implications. (See 5T:207f.)
DREAMS -- It seems difficult for some to understand that the devil can use dreams as well as the seance to communicate with human beings. Nowhere in the Scripture do we have any specific word that God reserved dreams as His channel of communication, so that when one has a dream he can always be sure that it is of the Lord. In fact, we do have a warning in the Bible that should one have a dream, and as a result of that dream "the sign or the wonder come to pass," yet if the counsel which the dreamer gives is contrary to the Law of God, the command is - "Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams." Further, it is stated under the Deuteronomic Code that such a dreamer was to be put to death. (Deut. 13:1-5)
There is another factor by which a dream's origin can be determined. Who appears as the messenger with a message in the dream? If the messenger is one who has died, and seeks to point out something of a hidden nature the Bible gives us clear guidelines "The dead know not anything." (Eccl. 9:5) Since the dead know not anything, then who is impersonating that person be it in a dream, vision, or a seance? A dream of a supernatural order would have to be stimulated from without - not one arising from the distresses of his imbalanced physical system. Would God stimulate a visionary picture - a dream - contrary to His word? If so, the very integrity of God would be compromised.
Now to some specifics in regard to the alleged dream about the finding of the Ark. The Bible is silent on the hiding or the finding of the Ark. The writings of Ellen G. White do not state that Jeremiah hid the Ark. The only source for the assumption that Jeremiah did is the legendary record of II Maccabees which is also doctrinally suspect. If then the supposed revelation is not in harmony with the sacred Scriptures, how is one to relate to it? From whom only could it come? And these are the basic questions which must be answered in this alleged dream, and supposed finding.
So that the "dream" problem might be clearly seen, let me give an imaginary illustration. Suppose that a good friend
p 6 -- of yours - a nominal Protestant who believes in the immortality of the soul - lost his favorite uncle - Uncle John. You expressed your sympathy to this friend both verbally and tangibly. A few weeks pass, and this friend calls you up, all excited, - and tells you - "I had a dream last night. My Uncle John appeared to me and told me that he had hidden some money, but because of his sudden death, had failed to tell the family of its whereabouts. But he took me and showed me just where it was hidden." Would you say to that friend? - "God is surely blessing you. There is no other explanation."
We need to keep in mind that besides "Sunday 'sacredness" as a means -of deception, there is another error. We can read if we will - "Through two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions." (GC, p. 588) It is one thing to tape The Great Controversy for broadcasting; it is another thing to know what it states. It is one thing to print Sabbath tracts to counteract"Sunday sacredness;" it is another thing to accept the deceptions of Spiritism, and lead others into this deception of Satan.
the release of the April Thought Paper, I have received about a half dozen
letters bemoaning the fact that I was so hard on "Poor brother Vance."
It seems difficult for our minds to think rationally rather than emotionally.
Because of allegiance to personalities rather than truth, we fail to discern
the real import of the issues. However, now the evidence is clear-cut,
and should be clearly seen. In Pilgrims' Guideposts, this retort
is made - "One individual who publishes mimeograph
studies called 'Watchman, What of the Night?' recently expressed dissatisfaction
over several points that none of the rest of us had given any attention
to." (March 1, 1982, p. 3. Emphasis mine) This revealing statement
should cause every sincere seeker for truth to pause and ponder. If a
man cannot differentiate between what is mimeographed, and that which
is printed; and does not consider all points involved before taking a
position, does that person have the spiritual discernment to properly
evaluate the present crucial issues which are facing the professed people
of God today? Whether you continue to rely on such human discernment,
that is your choice; but in the day of judgment, don't tell God you were
not warned! (Lest Vance Ferrell should say because he is not on the mailing
list, that he didn't know the Thought Paper is being printed - and has
been for the past five years - a copy of the April issue, was sent to
him first class so that he
Question--- Could not the God who created the Garden of Eden, and Who removed it from the earth prior to the Flood, also remove from the Ark of the Covenant, the Tables of Stone upon which His own finger had written?
Question -- Why in the light of this, do we still seek to deceive the people of God with a false waymark?
Question -- Further, why are we not willing to admit that we are not infallible interpreters of God's revelations, and cease trying to make "headlines" until we survey all the available data? --- (1982 May) ---End---- TOP
1982 Jun -- XV - 6(82) -- A Biblical Hermeneutic -- Consultation II Compromises Adventist Heritage -- Hermeneutics is the study of the methodological principles used in the interpretation of the Bible. Simply stated this means the study of how to interpret the Bible to arrive at the truth. Among the principles of interpretation is the much derided "proof text" method, as well as the various methods employed by modern critics of the Scriptures including what is called the "historical-linguistic" method. The word - hermeneutic - is derived from the Greek word - hermeneutikos - which in the infinitive form means, "to interpret." On the way to Emmaus, Luke tells us that Jesus "beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, ... expounded (diermeneuo) unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." (Luke 24:27) In other words, Jesus interpreted the Scriptures to the two disciples. To interpret the Bible is not wrong, but what method should one use that is the present issue.
To put the issue plainly so that there be no misunderstanding, did our pioneers who brought together the system of Adventist doctrine known as historic Adventism use the wrong method of Scriptural interpretation? our spiritual forefathers used the proof text method in arriving at the faith they proclaimed to the world. The present day Biblical scholars of the SDA Church who have received their graduate training in the "universities of Babylon" have adopted other methods in their interpretation of the Bible; and this has resulted in the denial of some of the very basic doctrines of the Adventist faith. In other words at the very foundation of the present theological crisis in the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the matter of hermeneutics. To this very basic and real question we shall address ourselves in this thought paper.
What was the proof text method used by William Miller and other early Adventist students to arrive at their positions of truth? They believed the Bible Was the Word of God spoken directly to the time in which they lived. To them, the Bible was a living Book, which speaks afresh to each generation a special message which God had pre-designed to be proclaimed as present truth. Sensing this, they brought together from the whole Bible supportive texts and experiences which sustained, enlarged, and gave unity to a message which they believed to be truth for that time. This would presuppose a Divine Design in the giving of the Scriptures by the Spirit of God to chosen human instrumentalities. If this be so, then the Divine Design takes precedent over the immediate application of a given passage in the Bible to future generations as they study that portion of Scripture.
What do the Scriptures themselves teach? From the book of Hebrews, we learn that "God ... spake in times past ... by the prophets." (Heb. 1:1) Further, we are
p 2-- told in addition to the voice of the prophets, God spoke to us by a Son in humanity. (Heb. 1:2) Was the voice of God by any prophet - or by the Son - limited to the generation, or the locality where the prophet lived? If this be so, then the "historical-linquistic-contextual" method of Bible interpretation would have validity, and take priority. To deny a Divine Design in the giving of the Bible, we are left with only a study of the times in which a given message was given with only a hope of ascertaining from that experience some lesson that would prove helpful to meet our present need. But that Son through whom God spoke tells us plainly, there-is a Divine Design. He stated to the religious leaders of His day - "Ye search the Scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of Me." (John 5:39 ARV) To His own followers, He began at Moses, and in all the Writings, He focused their attention on revelations which pointed to His ministry and death. (Luke 24: 25-27) Jesus called them "slow of heart to believe all that the prophets" had written. The prophets had written to their own generation, the message of God for that time; but that was not all they had written! The Spirit of Christ which was in them testified to future events - His sufferings and the glory that should follow. (I Peter 1:10-11) To find the Divine Design of God in Scripture, one must bring together, from what the prophets have written, all that pertains to the purposes of God for a given time, and to do so one gathers here a little, and there a little. This is to use the "proof text" method!
The "proof text" method used by Christ as He interpreted the Scriptures is the same method used by His disciples after He "opened ... their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures." (Luke 24:45) One has only to read the first gospel to see its use in operation. An event in the life of Jesus is cited. Then following the historical accounting is written - "Now all of this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying" - and the prophet is quoted. (See Matt. 1:22; 2:6, 17, 23; 3:3) Moved by the Spirit, Peter on the Day of Pentecost used the same method. (Acts 2:16, 25, 34-35) Paul's recorded sermon in the" synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia follows the same hermeneutic. (Acts 13:32-37) These chosen men of God - called and instructed by the Son - turned the world upside down altering the course of history as per the Divine Design.
An interesting summary is to be found in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It reads: To the first Christians, who, were Jews, the law and the Prophets were already sacred. Their national sacred writings were to them the oracles of God, though they could no longer be regarded as containing the whole truth of God. The coming of the Messiah had revealed God with a completeness that could not be discovered in the Old Testament.
The word of the Lord was authoritative as even Moses and the prophets were not. Yet since all the hopes of the Old Testament seemed to these Jewish Christians to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, they more than ever were convinced that their national sacred books were divinely inspired. From this source they drew, if not the articles of their creed, at least the proofs and supports of their doctrines. Christ died and rose again, according to the scriptures.
All the writings of the Old Testament spoke of Christ to them. Legal enactment, prophetic utterance, simple historical record, and more emotional psalm, - all alike could be covered by the phrase "the scripture says," all were treated as of one piece, and by diligent use of type and allegory single passages torn form any context could be used as proof texts to commend or defend belief in Christ. (Vol. 3, p. 499, 1958 ed.)
One can view the method of the-apostles as "single passages torn from any context" or one can perceive it as spiritual discernment by which the Divine Design which "was kept secret since the world began" was understood from "the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God ... for the obedience of faith." (Rom. 16:25-26)
Recent History -- Consultation I met following the Glacier
View Conference in 1980 which considered
p 3 -- the challenge of Dr. Desmond Ford to basic Adventist teaching. Coming on the heels of this confrontation, the meeting was anticlimactic. Events which followed the meetings at Glacier View widened the gap between the hierarchy and the theologians of the Church. From Sept. 30 to Oct. 3, 1981, the Church's scholars were called to meet with the hierarchy in what was designated as Consultation II. The turmoil following the Glacier View meetings had cast suspicion on the Church's teaching ministry, and they in turn had grave doubts in regard to the intent of the hierarchy. This meeting in Takoma Park was to be an attempt to resolve the crisis, and rebuild bridges between the two groups.
Three main areas of conflict were on the agenda for discussion: Academic Freedom, Pluralism in Adventist Doctrinal Belief - a concept as dangerous as any presently facing the Church, but outside of the scope of this present thought paper - and Biblical Interpretation. This latter item became paramount. On Wednesday night, Elder Neal C. Wilson presented the delegates with position papers which represented the view of the hierarchy in regard to Biblical Interpretation. These papers emphasized "the divine element and virtually ignoring the human element in inspiration, an approach which virtually the entire Adventist teaching ministry [the theologians] believed to be catastrophic." (Spectrum, Vol. 12, #2, p. 44) Simply stated the two viewpoints represented the conflict between the "proof text" method, and the "historical-critical" method.
One month following Consultation II, the Adventist Radio Network aired a panel discussion held in the Sligo Church which reviewed the results of the meeting. The panel was chaired by Dr. Roy Benton, President of the Washington DC Chapter of the Association of Adventist Forums. Members of the panel were - Dr. James Londis, the Senior Pastor of the Sligo Church; Dr. Wm. G. Johnsson, Associate Editor of the Adventist Review; Dr. Gary Roth, Associate Director of the Department of Public Affairs of the General Conference; and Elder Arthur Keough, Acting Head of the Department of Religion at Columbia Union College.
This panel discussion revealed that resulting from Consultation II a compromise was reached between the pioneer Adventist method of studying the Scriptures, and the methods used by the Church's theologians which they were taught during their graduate work in non-Adventist universities. Londis stated that the position papers presented by Wilson representing the view of the hierarchy could not be accepted by the scholars. He noted that the scholars in committee sessions presented passage after passage illustrating the difficulty of interpretation if they were not allowed to use of "certain kinds of approaches to Scripture that they had really learned and developed out of their graduate study." In the give and take of the panel discussion, Londis sought to illustrate the position of the scholars by citing Matthew's use of the writings of the prophets. He said - "Just because Matthew uses Isaiah in a certain way that the Jews understood and were comfortable with, does not mean that I in the 20th Century can use Isaiah in quite the same way. The main thrust of the historical [critical] new methods, or the modern methods [of the interpretation of the Scripture] - the main thrust of those methods is that the first primary responsibility of anybody who studies the Bible is to determine what the original writer meant to say when he wrote the text." Then Londis continued: "The problem has come when it becomes obvious that Matthew does not always take Isaiah's meaning as the primary meaning for himself. There are other meanings Messianic meanings, meanings about Christ, for example, that Matthew sees in the text and he uses it that way. And Matthew could do that because the Jews used the Bible that way. The Jews tended to use symbolism in Scripture, any kind of analogies or parallels for them were almost the same as what we would call logical proof. We can't do that anymore."
in his comments called for what he termed an "Adventist hermeneutic,"
and then defined what he didn't mean by advocating this approach. He stated:
I don't mean by an Adventist hermeneutic - I don't mean that an Adventist
hermeneutic will be one that goes first to Ellen White and interpret the
Ellen White. I do not mean that.
p 4 -- But I think that an Adventist hermeneutic will be aware of what Ellen White has said in any particular area, on any topic, and in any comments on Scripture that we may be studying. Seems to me that we as Adventists cannot be unmindful of that, but I would hope that we would always go first to Scripture and struggle with that."
However, in defending the compromise arrived at Consultation II, Johnsson invoked a rather non-analogous comparison of a position taken by Ellen G. White in regard to the doctrine of inspiration. Calling attention to the fact that most fundamental Christians of her day believed in verbal inspiration of the Bible, while critics denied any form of inspiration, Johnsson noted that Ellen White advocated "thought inspiration" in the writing of the Bible. This was in his thinking an example of avoiding the extremes in her day - a compromise position. Now according to this reasoning, the Church has again avoided what is perceived to be the extremes in methods of interpretation, the proof text method on the one hand, and the extreme use of the "historical -critical" method on the other hand. Roth on the panel summarized it this way - The "methodological approaches of our scholars are more diverse than thought; used more selectively than thought; and subordinated more often than thought to revelation and the Holy Spirit." (All quotes of panel members are from a taped recording of the discussion.)
How the resulting hodge-podge method will function in actual application is still not clear - but one thing is clear - the method used by our spiritual forefathers to arrive at truth has been relegated to the trash heap of history as an unacceptable extreme position in interpreting the Bible.
Why the Crisis? -- What has brought about this state of affairs whereby our historic position of interpretation can be cast aside so readily in a confrontation between the hierarchy and theologians in an endeavor to find unity? True, we have placed in positions of responsibility in the teaching ministry - supposedly to meet accreditation requirements - men who are learned in the wisdom of Babylon's Seminaries, even one who has been schooled by the Jesuits. [The latter admits in the publication of his Sabbath research - "To assure the reader that I have earnestly striven for objectivity, I might mention that in a few places my interpretation of certain Bible texts and historical data differs radically from the traditional position of my Church." (From Sabbath to Sunday, p. 6, Original Ed.)] But this is not the whole story. Some of the very ones who have, and who will be weeping tears over this trend, must shoulder some of the responsibility of the present crisis.
The charge is leveled by the advocates of the "historical -critical" method of interpretation that those who use the "proof text" method ignore the Biblical languages and thus ignorantly approach the study of the Bible. It is stated this way - "The proof text method is unaware that the same Hebrew or Greek word may have different meanings, which can be determined only by the context in which it is used, or that translators may have rendered it by different English words, and that different Hebrew and Greek words are sometimes rendered into English by the same English word." (Spectrum, Vol. 10, #4, p. 21) This sentence is merely a refined way of saying that those who use the proof text method are ignoramuses, and really cannot be trusted with handling the Word of God. Sadly, in many instances, this is all too true. Those who thus bring reproach upon the study of the Word of God must share equally in the present crisis with those who seek to follow methods learned in the seminaries of Babylon.
I recall an invitation which was once extended to me to become academic dean of an unstructured educational program with the view of so organizing it to reflect an educational level of at least a Junior College. Before accepting this call, I felt I should submit to the head of this self-supporting institution certain studies which I believed should be a part of the two-year curriculum. So I did, and included the study of New Testament Greek in the program. The suggestion hit a "buzz saw" and I was reminded that the counsel of Ellen G. White forbade such a study. The individual in his ignorance did not not realize that Ellen White was writing about the classical Greek of the poets and literary men of Greek culture;
p 5 -- and not about the koine Greek spoken by the common people in the Roman world to whom the gospel was preached. No wonder, God through the prophet Hosea declared, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." (Hosea 4:6) Of interest is the fact that beginning with the first issue of 1898, one year after A. T. Jones became Editor-in-Chief, the Review & Herald tried to encourage the ministry and laity to learn New Testament Greek. Lessons were placed each week in the section of the church paper set aside for "The Home School." (See, R&H, Jan. 4, 1898, p. 19) One can only conjecture how this would have effected the present crisis had the ministry and laity responded positively to this opportunity, and had this opportunity been continued.
Then tragically on the other extreme are those who are "educated fools." These men walking in high places within the Church are not even worthy of the name, Christian. To question the interpretation of a Gospel writer in his use of the Old Testament prophets, is to question Christ Himself. To Matthew as well as to the others in the upper room, Jesus opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45) If therefore, Christ gave to them the qualifications to interpret that which His Spirit (I Peter 1:11) had inspired the ancient prophets to pen, who am I to lift up myself and declare Matthew's interpretation unacceptable in the 20th Century? In other words, we have "antichrists" in the pulpits of the Adventist Church today. (TM, pp. 409-410)
A Biblical Method -- The first and paramount concept in the study of the Bible is to recognize that the Holy Scripture is God's Book expressing the thoughts and objectives of God, albeit penned by human instrumentalities. To study the times in which a prophet lived, or the circumstances necessitating the message first in order to interpret the message proclaimed by the prophet is to begin at the wrong end of the process of understanding. The Bible reveals the divine viewpoint of the matter telling us how God is viewing a particular problem, or event of history. To understand first the divine viewpoint helps one to properly evaluate the circumstances of the human event. To put it simply - scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is not a matter of private interpretation for "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (II Peter 1:20-21) Besides God's viewpoint expressed through prophets in regard to specific events in human history, there is over and above all specific revelation regarding a particular event, the unfolding, and revealing of the Divine Design of God's program and purpose for the human race. This is called "the Scripture of Truth" and it is plainly stated that only Michael held with Gabriel in the revelation of the things pertaining to this Divine Design. (Dan. 10:21) One dare not forget that wherever in the Bible, be it Old Testament or New, Michael is the name used to designate Jesus Christ in His controversy with Satan. (Jude 9; Rev. 12: 7; Dan. 12:1) Behind all the writings of Bible is the struggle between the God of truth, and him who abode not in the truth. (John 8:44) To gather together the revelation of this conflict between Christ and Satan is to gather here a little and there a little - the proof text method. (Isa. 28:9-10).
Further, to properly understand the Word of God - even in the context of the times in which that history or revelation was written - one must consider the purpose of God in the over-all conflict - the cosmic struggle. For example, all that is written about Abraham in the book of Genesis is not all that Abraham did - it is not a diary. But that which is written, and there are many intriguing items of human interest revealed, yet that which is recorded regarding Abraham is primarily a revelation of God's purpose and design to ultimately bring to pass the time when all who so choose shall enjoy the blessing which came, and which is to be realized through the Seed of Abraham.
New Testament so that the Divine Design might be more fully understood,
the Holy Spirit sanctioned the principle of typology. To put it simply,
and bluntly, the events which occurred in the history of the past - the
wilderness wandering, for example - were types to be applied for the learning
of those upon whom the ends of the world have come. (I Cor. 10: 11) Moreover,
this concept of typology is used in the book of Hebrews as it relates
p 6 -- sanctuary of the Old Covenant with the heavenly sanctuary of the New Covenant. It is not a matter of us telling God what heaven is like; He is telling us that to understand what He is doing in heaven, one needs to understand His revelation in the earthly representation that He gave through Moses at Mt. Sinai.
When you correlate the typological method of interpretation with the proof text method in perceiving the Divine Design of God for the human race, you have the basic hermeneutic upon which the Advent Movement was doctrinally established. Thus the present rejection of this basis of Biblical interpretation opens the way for the acceptance and propagation of those heresies which are presently being projected which deny the message of the cleansing of the sanctuary in 1844, and the revelation of God's glorious design in the final atonement. However, an illiterate defence against these Satanic encroachment will not spell victory for the truth. It has been well illustrated in the outcome of Consultation II, that experience in Church administration, and learning the art of political maneuvering to maintain the structure of the hierarchy, is not the preparation essential to stand in defence of historic Adventism. When compromise of truth becomes the "coin" for a common currency to facilitate the medium of exchange, the end results can be a spiritual depression with no recovery.
POSTSCRIPT -- Can you write a book from my viewpoint? The answer is understandably - "No." From whose viewpoint was the Bible written? If we believe what the Bible says about itself, it was written from God's viewpoint - and vantage point! How can you best interpret what I would write? By knowing me - right? How can you best understand the Bible? By knowing God? Is not this life eternal? (John 17:3) Have not the Scriptures been searched because men believed that in them was to be found eternal life?
But did not Matthew, John, Isaiah, and Jeremiah - all write the books under their names? True. From their viewpoint? If so, then to know them, the background of why they were writing, is the primary and first essential priority for interpretation. But if writing as holy men inspired by the Spirit of God - then, though writing in their own words, they were expressing the viewpoint of God. Right? If this then be so, from what point of reference do we then seek to understand the Scriptures? Is not the real framework for understanding and appreciating the Word of God properly called the Divine Design? So this whole issue of hermeneutics reduced to its lowest common denominator is how do we view the Bible - the works of men, or the revelation of God through human instruments?
POSTSCRIPT - II -- As noted in the first article, Dr. Wm. G. Johnsson was one of the panelist in the discussion of Consultation II. In the most recent Adventist Review, (April 29, 1982), Dr. Johnsson has been named "editor-in-chief-elect" according to an announcement by Elder Neal C. Wilson. Because of sensitiveness of this position as editor of the official organ of the Church, information needs to be made known as to his theological thinking in crucial areas now affecting the Church. During the panel discussion, the chairman noted Dr. Johnsson as an "expert" in the book of Hebrews, a book which figures largely in the present crisis in the Church. When responding to the chairman's comment and question on the book of Hebrews, Johnsson referred modestly to himself as a "student of Hebrews" noting that he had written his doctoral dissertation in 1973 at Vanderbilt University, - giving special emphasis on Chapters 9 & 10. He then commented that his conclusion from the research "differs substantially from the way that Dr. Ford understands Hebrews 9 & 10." To the casual listener of the panel discussion, it would appear that because his conclusions differed from Dr. Ford's, he was, therefore, a "historic" Adventist in belief.
Dissertation is entitled "Defilement and Purgation in the Book of
from confirming the historic Adventist understanding of the book of Hebrews,
p 7 -- as completely nullifies that understanding as does the position of Dr. Desmond Ford. The approach and method of interpretation differs. Johnsson refers to his method of interpretation as the "phenomenology of religion," in other words, the ritual of religious experience and practice as it relates to the concepts expressed by a Biblical writer. As to source, he wrote: - "It is a remarkable fact that one must go back as far as 1889 to the work of Westcott to find the methodological antecedent of the dissertation." (p. 434) [Westcott here noted was the member of the Westcott-Hort team which produced the Greek Text which replaced the Textus Receptus.] Dr. Johnsson views the "pamphlet" of Hebrews as a piece of religious literature, and not as a theological writing, thus the issue of where Christ went upon His ascension is a moot question. He views the message of Hebrews as primarily teaching that there are "not many means of purgation, but one par excellence (blood); not many applications of blood, but one application of one blood (Christ's); not inevitable oscillation from defilement to purgation and back again to defilement, but once-for-all breaking of the cycle." (p. 432) While taking seriously the language used in Hebrews as it relates to the worship ritual of the Jewish sanctuary service, Johnsson denies that the language points to an "allegorizing or typologizing wherein each article of furniture or detail of ritual is held to have a 'spiritual' counterpart." (p. 429) In other words, the services of the Hebrew sanctuary were not a shadow or example of the heavenly, but rather speaks merely a message as it relates to a religious man's experience.
Johnsson describes how he as an exegete approached his study of the book of Hebrews. He indicated the study of "defilement and purgation in the book of Hebrews" led to some "overarching conclusions." One that the language directs the reader to the fact the book is "first of all religious, and to approach it accordingly. That is to say, he has been alerted to the necessity of a deliberate bracketing-out of all questions of ' truth' or ' value' as he allows the text to reveal its own religious ' value' and internal logic." (p. 425) He faulted the research of the latter 19th Century (the era of Jones and Waggoner) as manifesting "a tendency to read into Hebrews ideas from outside the document - from other writings of the New Testament or from dogmatic theology." (p. 80) Then he adds - "So long as the Pauline authorship was adhered to, it was inevitable that the teaching of Hebrews would be assimilated to those of the Pauline corpus." (pp. 80-81) He then concludes - "It seems reasonable furthermore, to ask the exegete that he make a deliberate effort to 'hear' the text before him, sedulously [diligently] putting aside voices from other New Testament writings or his own religious tradition." (p. 81)
Quoting with approval Bultmann's evaluation of Bousset's Kyrios Christos, Johnsson wrote - "we see our task as roughly equivalent to Boussset's." (p. 21) What did Bousset set forth? "The religion of earliest Christianity appears as essentially a cult-piety which sent forth as its flower: mysticism." (p. 20) Then in his concluding chapter, Johnsson asks - "Does not the congruence of these ideas [defilement and purgation] in Hebrews to universal religious patterns suggest the possibility of restating Christianity in terms of a modern purification myth? Intriguing as these questions are, they cannot be followed in this study. We must leave the motiffs of defilement, blood, and purgation with our anonymous author [He refers to the writer of Hebrews as "auctor ad Hebraeos."] and his equally unknown readers." (p. 446) [Johnsson suggests the ones to whom Hebrews was directed were "a Qumran-style community." (p. 446)] Such is the thinking and theology of the editor-in-chief-elect of the Adventist Review.
FIRST REACTION -- Today (Apr. 26) , we received a copy of the long-awaited book The White Lie. The cover of the paperback edition is Satanic, repulsive, and an affront to the refined sensibilities of scholarly research. --- (1982 Jun) --- End ----