Click on these links to view the articles on “assumptions” relating to 1844 and the interpretation of Daniel 8:14:
However did we keep abreast of the thinking of the worldwide Adventist family before the miracle of e-mail was invented? In my lifetime, there has been dynamic change from the mimeograph, ham radio and the photocopier to the wonders of the computer.
A friend from Africa wrote to me on 23 October 2011 (167 years after the dramatic morning of the Great Disappointment), in part: “I also meant to ask you about the response to your questions around the key assumptions on 44 and the IJ. I think you mentioned that you had several constructive responses?”
This friend, a scientist skilled in research, is a thorough and deeply committed Bible student. We have exchanged a lot of e-mails. In fact, one reason why I launched this modest website on 22 October 2011 is that I no longer have the time and health to engage in depth with the valid and interesting questions that are in the minds of “thinking believers” all over the world. A blog can offer responses to questions, posed by one friend, that are in the minds of thousands.
In his e-mail, my friend is reflecting on an earlier discussion about an article published by Adventist Today, in its Summer 2011 issue, entitled “The Assumptions of the Daniel and Revelation Committee in Defending 1844.” Here are a few facts that may help my readers assess the article.
First, the magazine Adventist Today (AT) is, in my view, acting responsibly in publishing this piece by a pastor who has long served the church⎯in parishes that include believers who hold a diversity of opinions about 1844 and the Investigative Judgment. The editor of AT is also an experienced pastor in full time employment; he edits the independent magazine AT as a volunteer. Incidentally, J. David Newman was for many years an esteemed editor of Ministry, the worldwide journal for pastors, founded in the 1920s by LeRoy Edwin Froom. To protect the identity of the “Assumptions” author, Newman assigned him the name “Roy Ingram”; hence the content of the piece can be evaluated without praise or blame being attached to the person who wrote it.
Second, since the early 1990s when it began publication, AT has constructively grasped quite a few Adventist nettles. It aims to bring “contemporary issues of importance to Adventist church members,” and to follow “the basic principles of ethics and canons of journalism,” as a publication that “strives for fairness, candor, and good taste.” I will on occasion refer to AT in the same respectful way I will refer to polar-opposite publications. In fact, I applaud the way in which AT includes authors that represent perspectives quite other than those held by the generous people who are on the Adventist Today Foundation. These dedicated Adventists make available to us all, free electronic access to a wealth of data, and access to the magazine itself at a price that almost anyone can afford. Check out the website: atoday.com.
Third, what should I do about the article that interests my friend in Africa? He is clearly interested in “constructive responses.” Yes, I have some significant ones already. A very well-informed scholar, before he read the article, cautioned that readers of “Assumptions” needed to be aware of the frank way in which competent scholars may express tentativeness. Often the people who know least about a given subject are loudest in proclaiming their certainties. God’s people walk by faith and, as we do so, we need to be humble in the way we express the church’s teachings. Another scholar who is known worldwide for his studies in the fields of systematic theology and ethics, carefully read Ingram’s article and commended the way it presented the evidence that supports its contentions. I would like to see an irenic, worldwide consideration of the basic idea that Ingram propounds. AT was not able to publish the long study on which Ingram spent years, so I have placed Ingram’s full text along with the shortened version above, so AT readers can click on either or both.
If Ingram’s basic thesis is sustained, we Adventists need to be gentler than some of us have been in our dealings with each other. We all need to thoroughly explore the long history of the interpretation of Daniel 8:14 in both Millerism and Sabbatarian Adventism. (Yes, I plan to post my short, documented history of that matter in the foreseeable future, to offer a bit of help to those who may not have ready access to all the crucial sources.) Ingram’s articles can alert us to the need to nurture those in the church who find it difficult to make all the leaps of faith that some us seem to find so easy to make.
That raises the important question of how evidence should be used to form and sustain faith. After the 1919 Bible Conference, the church pretty much decided that with reference to Ellen White, it could lay important pieces of evidence to one side. A magnificent tome, Ellen G. White and Her Critics (1951) illustrated the high point of that process. This month the editors of “The Ellen White Project” pass to an academic publisher the manuscript of a volume that offers the first scholarly introduction to the life and writings of Ellen White. If our lives are hid with Christ in God we will not fear fuller understandings of aspects of Adventist history and thought. “Present truth” was a vivid term that Ellen White cherished; we need to understand it and value it as we press forward with our contemporary mission.
Oops, I try to keep a blog like this around 750 words; this one is well over 900! So, more clarity in due course.
Arthur Patrick, 24 October 2011; edited 1 November 2011