Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On A Lonely Island

Tom Hanks starred in a movie where he ended up stranded on a small island, alone, after a plane crash. His only companion during the five years before he was rescued was Wilson; a soccer ball with a charcoal face and coconut hair. Islands can be romantic or they can be lonely.
Seventh-day Adventists are stranded, by choice and by Bible study, on the island of biblical Historicism. Let me explain. Historicism is that view of biblical prophecy which holds that the prophecies (particularly of Daniel and Revelation) describe a continuum of time and events; a straight line of interdependent historically accurate events extending from Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon through to the end of time.Historicists teach from the Bible, and confirm from recorded history, the prophetic succession of temporal and spiritual rulers who blaspheme God, supplant the intercession of Jesus with that of mere men (priests) who usurp the authority of Christ to forgive sins and to intercede between man and God; thus doing away with the "daily" (ministration) of Christ in heaven on man's behalf.
Then there are the Preterists. There is more than one branch of Preterism but we won't bother trimming that tree; we'll just look at the trunk of the tree and call it Preterist. These folk believe that all prophecy has already been fulfilled and that the kingdoms described in Daniel ended with Greece. This of course ignores Rome, both imperial and ecclesiastical and all of her persecutions and prostitution's during the Caesar's and popes. So Rome gets off the hook. Preterists also believe that we are in the millennium and that the only events left to happen are the resurrection of the dead and the return of Christ.
Finally, the Futurists. They teach that Daniel is good down through imperial Rome but that the Antichrist, the slaying of the two prophets, the last week of the 70 weeks, the tribulation, and so on...is yet in the future; thus the Futurism.
Conveniently, both Preterism and Futurism lets Papal Rome off the prophetic hook and the institution of the papacy comes away with clean hands so far as end time events are concerned.
Interestingly, the Jesuits (SJ's) had a hand in these (Frs. Ribera and Rabbi Ben Ezra [a pseudonym, of course]. Most of modern Evangelical Christianity has bought into one of these two prophetic views of Daniel and Revelation.
This explains why, if you watch much Christian TV, you will hear so much about the Tribulation, Jerusalem, Christ setting up His Kingdom in Jerusalem, the Two Witnesses being killed, and some evil guy coming out of Satan's woodwork (the Antichrist) who will work wonders and cure all the worlds ills and finally end up desecrating the (supposedly) newly rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
So here we are, Seventh-day Adventists, [mostly] all alone on our Historicistic island, surrounded by the sharks of Preterism and Futurism. So what do we do? We just keep doing what we've been doing for 150+ years; stay in the doctrine delivered to the saints and preach it louder than ever before.
There are people out "there" who are searching and who are presently "going along" with what their preachers are teaching but only because they haven't heard the message that makes more sense and that does not twist prophecy to fit what they want to believe.
I sharpened my pencil before I wrote this post because I am convinced that it is only a minority (a Remnant, if you please) of Adventists who understand the nuances of these issues and who understand Historicism well enough to be able to be able to defend and teach it in the face(s) of Preterism and Futurism.
"Study to show thyself approved unto God; a workman/woman that needeth not be ashamed. Rightly dividing the word of truth." [II Timothy 2:15].
God Bless. e.c.

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