Post 12, Understanding Daniel 8:14 and the Judgment

Click on these links to view the articles on “assumptions” relating to 1844 and the interpretation of Daniel 8:14:

Assumptions re 1844 AT version

Assumptions re 1844 Full Text

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

Post 7, Valentine on Ellen White and Adventist Leaders

This post is about a scintillating, new book on the relationship between Ellen G. White and the General Conference presidents who served between 1888 and 1915.

It took me a decade to write two theses about Ellen White and her Adventist and non-Adventist contemporaries in Australia during the 1890s. My research in the primary sources led me to deeply appreciate Milton Hook’s doctoral study (1978) about the goals that created Avondale College, George Knight’s scintillating books on Adventist history, and a host of other studies. But now Pacific Press enables us to better appreciate largely unknown dimensions of our heritage with Gilbert M. Valentine’s 383-page volume, The Prophet and the Presidents.

 Valentine breaks new ground because many of his sources are new to us here in Australia. Since the Ellen G. White/Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre opened at Avondale in 1976, we’ve been able to mine the 50,000 pages of Ellen White’s manuscripts and letters. For long years Valentine has explored a treasure-trove of archival resources in the United States, unavailable “down under,” yet now starting to reach us with the help of Information Technology. At last we can better hear both sides of an intense conversation that reached across the Pacific Ocean and deeply influenced the church in Australia and New Zealand.

“The Presidents” under study led the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Battle Creek and (when it moved) Washington: the “reluctant” Ole A. Olsen, 1888 to 1897; the Civil War veteran George A. Irwin, 1897-1901; and the long-serving reformist Arthur G. Daniells, 1901-1922. Olsen visited Australia, Irwin administered the church here for many years, and Daniels long evangelised and led the church in New Zealand and Australia. However, before Valentine’s book we knew little of what they said about their relationships, as world leaders, with Ellen White while she ministered here from 1891-1900.

This book is a case study of how two spiritual gifts, prophecy and administration, interacted. Adventism was growing rapidly. Its worldwide mission was mushrooming. It faced enormous financial problems, especially apparent within its publishing and medical initiatives. Barry Oliver’s doctoral study (1989) leads us through the turmoil of re-organisation that, in 1901, facilitated a more effective church structure. Arthur White (The Australian Years, 1983) recounts Ellen White’s vision for her church, well. But now we can hear the “lost” voices of the presidents, as they struggle to lead a world movement faithfully, despite enormous odds.

However, we learn far more than the inside story of pain and promise through the experiences of Olsen, Irwin and Daniells. We watch the slow erosion of relationships between the church and E.J. Waggoner, A.T. Jones, and John Harvey Kellogg. The heroes of 1888, and the health-pioneer of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, become the church’s opponents during the early 20th century. It was so difficult to retain the message of 1888 when the messengers lost their way. We still suffer from the long-term effects of the Kellogg crisis that occurs just off centre-stage in Valentine’s compelling saga.

According to historian George Knight, “Valentine’s book is at the forefront of a new genre of Adventist historiography: serious studies dealing with the complex relationships between Ellen G. White and her contemporaries.” Barry Oliver also observes on the back cover: “Dr. Gil Valentine has brilliantly exposed the sometimes tenuous relationship between prophetic and administrative gifts as the church charted a course for the future.” For Robert Olson, “This is a truly monumental study.”

Here is a book of a hundred gripping stories, some radiant with hope, some suffused with sadness. We cannot but sorrow as we see stalwarts like John N. Loughborough and Stephen N. Haskell, men who bore the burden and heat of earlier days, fail to understand how the church’s thought must continually be revised as it searches the Word and follows the leadings of God’s Spirit.

Dr Valentine earlier wrote a doctoral dissertation and a two books about Professor W.W. Prescott and the shaping of Adventism so, understandably, he weaves this “forgotten giant” into the intriguing narrative that runs from Minneapolis in 1888 to 1913, when advancing age limited Ellen White’s capacity to interact with church leaders. The story of the book is unfinished for, until the gospel reaches “every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,” we must continue the task so well begun by our pioneers. We can now better understand both their efforts and our mission–from reading The Prophet and the Presidents.

Arthur Patrick, 10 September 2011

Post 3, Getting Started with Adventist Studies

If you have read the 3 September 2011 post on this site, you will be aware that it recommends A Brief, Annotated Introduction to the Field of Adventist Studies for Higher Degree Students (available in its printed and electronic forms from Avondale College of Higher Education) as an overview of Adventist Studies and an introduction to basic sources for effective study of the discipline. Therefore, this post does not need to emphasise the importance of general works by capable historians such as Richard W. Schwarz, Floyd Greenleaf, Gary Land and George Knight. You will also be aware of the abiding value of the two-volume Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia.

 Only a few individuals will find this site before its official launch on 22 October 2011, the 167th anniversary of the Great Disappointment and the painful birth of Sabbatarian Adventism. However, those few may expect some examples of the type of material that will be fostered here.  Hence, this post will outline some preliminary options for those who seriously want to get started with satisfying study.

During 2005, a number of well-informed Adventists believed that it may be possible, given the lapse of 25 years, to understand the Glacier View event constructively. The attempt met a ready and warm-hearted response from a great many people. However, one church official wrote a vigorous rebuke to me on General Conference stationery, and even threatened legal action to suppress interpretations that did not meet his mind. After reflecting on the dilemma, I offered a colloquium to Avondale’s academic staff entitled “Adventist Studies: Fractious Adolescent or Maturing Adult.” With the benefit of the feedback received, I then drafted a journal article, “Contextualising Recent Tensions in Seventh-day Adventism: ‘A Constant Process of Struggle and Rebirth’?” The draft was submitted to the Journal of Religious History in November 2006; the editors had it refereed in detail and gave me helpful suggestions that I incorporated before the article was again refereed, accepted for publication and queued for  inclusion in a suitably themed issue. Dr David Hilliard wrote a masterful overview for the selected issue of the Journal, and the article was duly printed last year (Volume 34, Number 3, September 2010, pages 272-288).

That Journal article offers a useful umbrella for the content of this site. The value of primary sources is emphasized, diverse opinions are respected, but a centrist understanding based on the entire body of available evidence is fostered.  The Journal of Religious History is accessible worldwide in good libraries; the article (in its original form, before suggestions were received from the referees and editors) is available on the website of Avondale College of Higher Education.

The value of the said article lies considerably in its copious footnotes that facilitate access to a wealth of material. For instance, some readers will want to follow up the vibrant discussion of the most-controversial book ever published by Seventh-day Adventists, Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine. The paper that I presented, at the 50th anniversary conference of that book’s first printing, is available on the Internet, along with the balancing effect of all the other papers delivered at that historic conference (2007). Surely, with the hindsight of fifty years, and with the help of several penetrating doctoral studies, we can rise above controversy and offer mature understandings of the book and its continuing waves of influence.

It has been my privilege for a number of years to be an Australian asked to participate in what is primarily a North American initiative, “The Ellen White Project” (see GOOGLE, again). The far-sighted aim of this project is to submit a manuscript to a major academic publisher, offering a scholarly introduction to the life and writings of Ellen White.  The twenty-one chapter authors presented their drafts at the Portland (Maine, USA) conference in October 2009, at which time we received the assessments of 41 respondents, half of them scholars from beyond the Adventist community. My chapter on Ellen White as author was commissioned to include a meeting of the issue of plagiarism “head-on.” After many months of editing it is now accepted; I hope the entire book will be published in 2012. In the interim, there is an array of discussion about this exciting project on the Internet.

I will follow up these brief comments with further posts, prior to the official launch of this website next month (October).

Arthur Patrick, 11 September 2011

Post 1, Adventist Studies: Exploring Adventist History and Thought

A website for thinking believers

This website is designed for persons who are interested in Adventist Studies: that is, research into the background, history, thought, polity and practice of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. While it intends to provide reliable information for the occasional scholar who may visit it, its primary aim is to be of service to general readers.

What You May Expect From This Site

This website will report or review studies of Adventism that are in process, or completed, as papers, theses, dissertations, articles or books. It will give particular attention to (and, at times, make accessible) significant articles from Adventist and other periodicals and journals. The moderator invites readers to suggest studies that may be of interest to persons likely to access the website. While at the outset the offerings will be modest, it is anticipated that fresh posts will be added frequently; thus the site will have more value, over time, for those who are interested in the rapidly developing discipline of Adventist Studies.

The current moderator is Dr Arthur Patrick, who enjoys consultation on such matters with the Senior Pastor of the Avondale College Church (Dr Bruce Manners, until the end of 2011), a number of College Church members, as well as pastoral and scholarly friends elsewhere in Australia and overseas. The moderator assumes sole responsibility for the content of the website; no other person or institution should be deemed responsible for any idea that is expressed.  The content of the website will always aim for integrity and transparency, even when a controversial matter is under consideration. As an Honorary Senior Research Fellow of Avondale College of Higher Education, the moderator’s writings are widely published in Adventist magazines and journals, on the Internet (accessible via GOOGLE), and elsewhere.

The Cooranbong area (New South Wales, Australia) is blest with several entities that faciliate effective research related to Adventist history and thought. These are directly or indirectly affiliated with Avondale College of Higher Education. The Avondale Library provides access to a wide range of print and electronic sources. While catering primarily to Avondale students and faculty, the Library also offers limited services to students from other tertiary institutions, community members and Avondale alumni. Its website is www.avondale.edu.au/library.

Research about Adventism, Facilitated Since the 1970s

During 1972, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists voted to support effective research by developing specialised facilities to serve the various geographical sections of the world. Facilities for the South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists (SPD) were developed on the campus of Avondale College of Higher Education in two stages: the Adventist Heritage Room in 1974 (now called the Adventist Heritage Centre) and the Ellen G. White/Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre in 1976. Both entities serve the territories of the SPD, embracing the region often described as Oceania–Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Kirabati and other islands nations of the South Pacific as far east as Pitcairn Island.

The Adventist Heritage Centre (AHC)

This facility houses primary and secondary resources, including artefacts relating to the operation and activities of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, its entities, and members within Oceania. The AHC was identified as a “nationally significant collection” for Australia in 2007 due to its unique and extensive resources in multiple formats– documents, films, photographs, serials, textiles, recordings, artefacts, etc. The AHC is involved with the collection and supervision of artefacts housed in the South Pacific Islands Museum, located in Avondale Road, Cooranbong.

The AHC is currently staffed by a curator, Ms Rose-lee Power and part-time assistants.  They assist researchers and visitors, as time permits.  A major project at the moment is the restoration of the 180B Cessa, Andrew Stewart, a much-loved plane that began its service during 1964, piloted by Pastor Len Barnard in Papua New Guinea.

The Adventist Heritage Centre’s email is [email protected]; the Centre’s web page is http://adventist-heritage-centre-452.adventistconnect.org/ and it maintains such web pages as Adventist Heritage Centre, http://heritage.adventistconnect.org/ and South Sea Islands Museum, http://www.ssimuseum.adventistconnect.org/. It also has a Face Book page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Adventist-Heritage-Centre/163727220309489. All the Centre’s books and pamphlets are listed in the Avondale College Library catalogue: http://www.avondale.edu.au/library/.

The Ellen G. White/Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre

This facility houses primary sources in microform and as originals, as well as historical and up-to-date literature and secondary studies relating to four areas: the history and thought of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church; the life and writings of Ellen Gould White (1827-1915).

The Centre is staffed by a director, Dr John Skrzypaszek, and an Administrative Assistant, Mrs Marian de Berg. Dr Skrzypaszek teaches in the Faculty of Theology at Avondale College of Higher Education and often speaks at special events organised by the SPD, union and local conferences, individual congregations and scholarly organisations. Mrs de Berg assists researchers on the Avondale campus and others who may, for instance, need her help to electronically transfer documents.

The Reseach Centre’s staff also supervises the management and development of  Sunnyside, the Australian home of Ellen G. White from December 1895 to August 1900, located in Avondale Road, Cooranbong.

The Research Centre’s e-mail address is [email protected]

For a fuller definition of “Adventist Studies” as offered to undergraduate and particularly postgraduate students (up to PhD level) at institutions such as Andrews University and Avondale College of Higher Education, see the brochure A Brief, Annotated Introduction to the Field of Adventist Studies for Higher Degree Students (Cooranbong: Avondale College of Higher Education, 2009), also available on the Avondale College website.

Educational Events  Each year, the Avondale College Church offers a sequence of Educational Events for its members and their friends. Often these events are led by overseas or local scholars who are making a significant contribution to an aspect of the church, its thought or mission.  At the 20 August 2011 event, the guest speaker was Dr David Trim from the Washington, D.C. area, currently the General Conference Archivist, Statistician and Director of Research. The 10 September 2010 speaker was Dr Wendy Jackson; the October 22 presenter will be Dr Rick Ferret. Plans for 2012 include input from Dr Rolf Pöhler, internationally acclaimed as preacher, speaker, author and lecturer; well known for his teaching at several European Adventist seminaries. This site will on occasion seek to offer meaningful reports about such speakers and events. Usually audio recordings will be available from Mrs Joy Taplin, Office Administrator for the College Church, at the e-mail address [email protected]