Webmaster's Introduction (16 October 2002; last updated November 2004):
The following paper is by Dr. Raymond Cottrell, retired editor, major contributor to the SDA Bible Commentary, and thought leader for decades in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Pastor Larry Christoffel, associate pastor of the Campus Hill Church of Seventh-day Adventists (Loma Linda, CA) delivered Dr. Cottrell's paper at the San Diego Forum on 09 February 2002, who for health reasons could not personally deliver it. Following the presentation, both Pastor Christoffel and Dr. Cottrell fielded questions. In their presentation and Q&A session, they showed in brief how a Biblical reconsideration of the sanctuary doctrine is essential to properly exalting Christ and the pure Gospel to the center of our message and mission as a church. Only as we are willing to stand corrected and to advance in understanding openly, with Christian honesty and fearlessness, will we be able to walk worthy of the pioneering spirit of our Advent forefathers.
While we at JIF would largely agree with Dr. Cottrell on the exegetical weaknesses of an earlier view (and would add several others), we feel that he does not as yet advance far enough toward a correct exegesis of Dan. 8:14. On the main issues we are proposing other solutions (for examples, please see the very brief Daniel 8:14, Covenant judgment, and the Gospel: A friendly response to Clifford Goldstein’s “Debunking ‘the context problem’”, a longer exegetical outline of Daniel 8:1-14, Daniel 8:14 and Isaiah, and the July-August 2002 "Jubilee festival: Christians and the ancient sanctuary" Adventist Today 10(4): 12-13):
1. Contrary to Dr. Cottrell, we hold that the vision of Dan. 8:1-14 and its explanations especially in Dan. 9:24-27 are intimately connected with the (Jubilee) Day of Atonement of Leviticus 16 (25). What's more we note more than 20 parallels in concept, imagery, and Covenant language between the Covenant Jubilee Day of Atonement paradigm (Lev. 16, ch. 25-26) and the Covenant vision-interpretation of Daniel 8-9. Our Advent forefathers rightly saw a connection between Dan. 8:14 and Lev. 16 but not its full contextual and Christological significance.
2. We hold that the only contextual explanation of the "vindication [nitzedaq] of the sanctuary" in Daniel 8:14 is the litany of Messianic accomplishments to be completed within the 70 sabbatical 'weeks' in their Jubilee Day of Atonement setting (Daniel 9:24-27): (1) "Finish the transgression," (2) "Seal an end to sins," (3) "Atone for iniquity," (4) "Bring in everlasting righteousness [tzedeq]," (5) "Seal an end to vision and prophecy," (6) "Anoint a Most Holy," (7) Bring "a (Sabbath) end to sacrifice and offering," and finally at the end, (8) What’s "decreed pours out on the desolator."
3. We hold that the true contextual meaning of Daniel 8 and 9 is eschatological and Messianic (i.e., Christocentric from an NT eschatological standpoint). The contextual meaning is to be found in the Levitic Covenant-conditional paradigm in which the Biblical prophets actually wrote, not in the inadequate post-Biblical preterist, historicist, futurist, or idealist constructs. In the light of the NT, Daniel 8:14 and Daniel 9:24 find their true fulfillment with the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary in the midst of the 70th week and their consummation with long-delayed 2nd Advent of Christ (cf. Heb. 3-4) when He returns again in glory (Rev. 11-14; 19-20; Heb. 9:27-28).
We plan to add more on these topics soon. (For more, please see material detailing more on a Covenant perspective from the most recent JIF symposium, October 2002). We rejoice that Daniel 8:14 is again stirring thought among thoughtful Christians both Seventh-day Adventists and others. Daniel 8:14 is pure Gospel. It's time to Biblically reclaim it. We believe that Daniel 8:14 and 9:23-27 may even be thought of as the foundational texts of the NT, from Jesus' proclamation in the Galilee (Mark 1:15) to Revelation 22.
Finally we believe that the arrival of the antitypical Jubilee Day of Atonement with the Christ event and the NT proclamation has ethical consequences which will revolutionize Christianity if accepted, as they must be one day: Namely, just as our sin indebtedness is forgiven before the Mercy Seat vertically through a Son, so also there should be a forgiveness of debt-bondage and liberation on the horizontal level toward a brothers and sisters in humanity all over the world (Lev. 16, 26-26; Isa. 58; Dan. 9; Jesus kingdom prayer in Matt. 6 and Luke 11, etc.). A forthcoming paper is planned for this.
THE "SANCTUARY DOCTRINE" – ASSET OR LIABILITY?
Raymond F. Cottrell, D. Div.
In memoriam: "The Legacy of a Rose"
(Eulogy by Norman Farley at Dr. Cottrell's memorial service in February 2003)
"The 'sanctuary doctrine' –
Asset or liability'" was first delivered
to the second JIF symposium in 02-04 November 2001
and again publicly on 09 February 2002 at the Assoc. of Adventist Forums meeting in San Diego, CA
The traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14 with its sanctuary and investigative judgment, which gave birth to Seventh-day Adventism and accounts for its existence as a distinct entity within Christendom, has been the object of more criticism and debate, by both Adventists and non-Adventists, than all other facets of its belief system combined. The same is true with respect to church discipline on doctrinal grounds, defections from the church, and the diversion of time, attention, and resources from Adventism's perceived mission to the world.
It has been repeatedly and consistently demonstrated that an ordained minister may believe that Christ was a created being (and not God in the full sense of the word), or that a person can earn salvation by faithfully observing the Ten Commandments, or that Genesis 1 is not a literal account of creation a mere six thousand years ago – without being disciplined and forfeiting his ministerial credentials. But it has also been repeatedly and consistently demonstrated that an ordained minister may not conscientiously question the authenticity of the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14, even in his thoughts, without his ministerial credentials being revoked. As noted below, in several instances as much as half a century of faithful service to the church has not been sufficient to mitigate this result.
Accordingly, it is appropriate to review the origin, history, and methodology of the sanctuary doctrine, to examine it on the basis of the sola Scriptura principle and recognized principles of exegesis, and to explore procedures by means of which to avoid repeating the traumatic experiences of the church with it in the past – to learn from experience.
Insofar as possible this paper avoids
technical hermeneutical terminology, including the transliteration of Hebrew
words used by Bible scholars. The transliteration used is designed to enable
persons not familiar with biblical Hebrew to approximate the Hebrew vocalization.
Except as otherwise noted, Bible quotations cited are from the New Revised
Standard Version (NRSV). The paper proceeds as follows:
ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE SANCTUARY
(Page numbers on the printed document available from the San Diego Forum).
1. Formation of the Sanctuary Doctrine
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2. Ellen G. White and the Sanctuary Doctrine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
3. Six Church Leaders Who Questioned the Sanctuary Doctrine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
4. Continuing Casualties of the Sanctuary Doctrine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
5. Non-Adventist Reaction to the Sanctuary Doctrine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
6. My Personal Encounter With the Sanctuary Doctrine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
A SOLA SCRIPTURA EXAMINATION OF THE DOCTRINE
7. "Rightly Explaining the Word of Truth,"
2 Timothy 2:15. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
8. "Rightly Explaining" Daniel 8:14 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18
9. Flaws in the Traditional Sanctuary Doctrine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
10. The Sanctuary Doctrine and Sola Scriptura . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
DOCTRINAL OBSCURANTISM AND ITS REMEDY
11. Obscurantism and the Sanctuary Doctrine
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
12. The Daniel and Revelation Committee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
13. A Permanent Remedy for Obscurantism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
14. The Authenticity of Adventism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
1. Formation of the Sanctuary Doctrine
Pioneer Seventh-day Adventists inherited
their identification of the year
1844 as the terminus of the 2300 "days" foretold in the KJV of Daniel 8:14
from William Miller. Formerly an avowed skeptic, he was converted in 1816
and eventually became a Baptist lay preacher. He devoted his first two years
as a born-again Christian to a diligent study of the Bible, which eventually
came to a focus on Daniel 8:14 and the conclusion that it foretold the
second coming of Christ "about the year 1843."
According to the Seventh-day Adventist
Encyclopedia Miller "repeatedly
declared that his prophetic views were not new," but insisted that he came
to his conclusions exclusively through his own study of the Bible and
reference to a concordance. In volume 4 of his Prophetic Faith of Our
Fathers Le Roy Edwin Froom notes that Miller was by no means the
"originator" of the idea that the 2300 "days" were prophetic years ending
about 1843, and that it is "a simple historical fact that the origin of the
view of the 2,300 years as ending at that time, and its wide circulation,
was wholly prior to and independent of William Miller."1
By what process did Miller, this formidable
array of Bible students, and
pioneer Adventists arrive at 1843/44 as the terminus of the 2300 "days" of
Daniel 8:14? Relying on the 1611 King James translation of the Bible (the
only one then available), they (1) identified its "sanctuary" as the church
on earth, (2) accepted the KJV interpretation of erev boquer (literally,
"evening morning") as "days," (3) adopted the "day-for-a-year" principle in
Bible prophecy and thus construed the 2300 "days" as prophetic years, (4)
took the seventy "weeks" of Daniel 9:24-27 as the first segment of these
2300 years, (5) identified the cessation of sacrifice and offering for the
last half of the seventieth of the seventy "weeks" (verse 27) as referring
to Jesus' crucifixion,2 (6) figuring back from the crucifixion, they
identified the decree of the Persian king Artaxerxes Longimanus in his
seventh year (Ezra 7) as that alluded to in Daniel 9:25, thus locating the
commencement of the 2300 years in 457 B.C., (7) with 457 B.C. as their
starting point, terminated them "about the year 1843," (8) adopted the KJV
interpretation of nitsdaq (literally, "set right" or "restored") as
"cleansed," and (9) concluded that the cleansing of the sanctuary of Daniel
8:14 meant the cleansing of the church on earth (and thus the earth itself)
by fire at the second coming of Christ.
When the great disappointment of October
22, 1844 proved conclusively that
Miller's identification of the "sanctuary" in Daniel 8:14 as the church on
earth and the nature of its cleansing as by fire at the second coming of
Christ,3 were in error, pioneer Adventists re-identified the "sanctuary" of
verse 14 as that of the Book of Hebrews in heaven,4 and its cleansing as the
heavenly counterpart of the cleansing of the ancient sanctuary on the Day of
Retaining, however, the presumed validity
of October 22, 1844 as the
fulfillment of Daniel 8:14 and the concept that it implied the soon return
of their Lord, the disappointed Adventist pioneers assumed that human
probation had indeed closed on that fateful day, and that only those who at
that time awaited His return were eligible for eternal life. They referred
to this concept as "the shut door" in the parable of the Ten Virgins.6 They
soon mated the "shut door" theory to the idea that the sanctuary of Daniel
8:14 was the sanctuary in heaven, of the book of Hebrews, that the "shut
door" was the "door" between its holy and most holy apartments, that on
October 22 Christ had closed His ministry in the holy place and entered upon
His high priestly ministry in its most holy place, and referred to His
ministry there as an "investigative judgment."
For several years the "little flock"
of pioneer Seventh-day Adventists
"scattered abroad" believed that the investigative judgment phase of
Christ's ministry would be very brief (not more than five years or so at the
most),7 following which He would immediately return to earth. The eventual
accession of new, non-1844, members to the "little flock" proved to be
convincing evidence that the door of mercy remained open, and by the early
1850's they abandoned the "shut door" aspect of the sanctuary-in-heaven
interpretation of Daniel 8:14.
This completed the traditional Adventist
interpretation of Daniel 8:14, the
sanctuary, and the investigative judgment, which was thereafter commonly
referred to as "the sanctuary doctrine" set forth in every statement of
beliefs, most recently as article 23 of the 27 Fundamental Beliefs adopted
at the 1980 session of the General Conference in New Orleans.
2. Ellen G. White and the Sanctuary Doctrine
The ultimate argument in defense of
the traditional interpretation of Daniel
8:14 every time questions have been raised concerning it, has been Ellen
White's explicit affirmation of it. As a presumably infallible interpreter
of Scripture her support always settled the matter. For instance, in 1888,
forty-four years after the great disappointment of October 22, 1844 she
wrote: "The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation
and the central pillar of the advent faith, was the declaration, 'Unto two
thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.'"8
She devoted an entire chapter in The Great Controversy to a defense and
explanation of the sanctuary doctrine.9 Eighteen years later, in 1906, she
wrote again: "The correct understanding of the ministration in the heavenly
sanctuary is the foundation of our faith."10
In order to understand these two statements
in their historical context it
is important to remember that she and many others then living had personally
experienced the great disappointment of October 22, 1844. Her statements
about it were absolutely historically accurate. The experience was still
vivid in her own mind and in the minds of many others.
In both of these statements Ellen White
is simply stating historical fact;
she is not exegeting Scripture. In 1895 she wrote: "In regard to
infallibility, I never claimed it; God alone is infallible."11 "The Bible is
the only rule of faith and doctrine. ... The Bible alone ... [is] the
foundation of our faith. ... The Bible alone is to be our guide. The Holy
Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of
[God's] will. ... We are to receive God's word as supreme authority."12
Numerous similar statements could be cited.13 It is important to remember
that she never considered herself an exegete of the Bible. Upon numerous
occasions when asked for what her questioners proposed to accept as an
authoritative, infallible interpretation of a disputed Bible passage she
refused, and told them to go to the Bible themselves for an answer.
It is also vital to remember that in
Ellen White's 47,00014 or so citations
of Scripture she makes use of the Bible in two distinct ways: (1) to quote
the Bible when narrating the Bible story in its own context, and (2) to
apply Bible principles in her counsel to the church today---out of its
A clear illustration of this two-fold
use of the Bible is her series of
comments on Galatians 3:24: "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to
Christ." (1) In 1856 she identified that law as the ceremonial law system of
ancient times, and specifically not the Ten Commandments.15 (2) In 1883 she
again identified that "law" as "the obsolete ceremonies of Judaism."16 (3)
In 1896 she wrote: "In this Scripture, the Holy Spirit through the apostle
is speaking especially of the moral law."17 (4) In 1900 she wrote: "I am
asked concerning the law in Galatians. ... I answer: both the ceremonial and
moral code of Ten Commandments."18 (5) In 1911 she again identified the law
in Galatians as exclusively "the obsolete ceremonies of Judaism."19
In these three reversals (ceremonial
law exclusively, Ten Commandments
exclusively, both the ceremonial law and the Ten Commandments, ceremonial
law exclusively) was she contradicting herself or did she repeatedly change
her mind? Neither! A careful reading of each statement in its own context
makes evident that (1) when she identifies the law in Galatians as the
ceremonial law system of ancient times she is commenting on Galatians in its
own historical context, and (2) when she applies the principle involved to
our time she does so out of its biblical context. The principle involved in
Paul's day and in ours is identical: the Galatians could not be saved by a
rigorous observance of the ceremonial laws; nor can we be saved by a
rigorous observance of the Ten Commandments! The two contradictory
definitions of the law in Galatians are both valid and accurate! A careful
examination of Ellen White's thousands of quotations from, or allusion to,
the Bible makes evident that her historical statements regarding Daniel 8:14
are historically accurate with respect to the 1844 experience and not a
denial of what the passage meant in Daniel's time.
We may think of the heavenly sanctuary
explanation of the great
disappointment as a prosthetic device, a spiritual crutch that enabled the
"little flock" of Adventist pioneers "scattered abroad"' to survive the
great disappointment of October 22, 1844 and not lose faith in the imminent
return of Jesus, as so many others did. That explanation was the best they
could do, given the prooftext method on which, of necessity, they relied.
With the historical method at our disposal today, we no longer need that
crutch and would do well to lay it up on the shelf of history. It is
counterproductive in our witness to the everlasting gospel today, to
biblically literate Adventists and non-Adventists alike.
3. Six Church Leaders Who Questioned the Sanctuary Doctrine
For about forty years the sanctuary
doctrine raised no known eyebrows or
protests. But on an average of every fifteen or twenty years or so since
1887 an experienced, respected, and trusted church administrator or Bible
teacher has called the attention of fellow church leaders to flaws in the
traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14, forfeited his ministerial
credentials, and either been disfellowshiped or voluntarily left the church.
With one or two possible exceptions none of them had either spoken or taught
their doubts regarding the biblical authenticity of the sanctuary doctrine,
but were fired for thinking such thoughts and sharing them with fellow
church leaders! Furthermore, none of them were novices, but experienced
administrators or Bible teachers. Three of them had served the church
faithfully for more than half a century each.
The first church leader of record to
question the sanctuary doctrine was
Dudley M. Canright, in 1887. Granted that he might have been more tactful
and patient, but for more than twenty years he had served the church as a
minister, able evangelist, administrator, and sometime member of the General
Conference Committee, and had earned the right to a fair hearing of his
views. But "the brethren" either did not listen or did not understand,
apparently both. He voluntarily left the church and became as bitter and
effective an opponent of Adventism as he had formerly advocated it.
Canright forthwith published a book,
Adventism Renounced, to
warn people about the errors of Adventism. It has been translated into
scores of languages and is still used effectively to warn people against
Adventism. An honest, knowledgeable Adventist reading the book today would
have to admit that much of his tirade against the sanctuary doctrine
was---and still is---justified.20
Like Canright, Albion F. Ballenger had
served the church faithfully for many
years, and in 1905 was an administrator in charge of the Irish Mission. He
was an able speaker and writer, and a diligent student of Scripture. Like
Canright, Ballenger had never mentioned his views on the sanctuary in
public, but a committee of twenty-five the General Conference appointed to
hear him reported that he entertained views regarding the ministry of Christ
in the heavenly sanctuary contrary to that of the church. He acknowledged
the possibility that he might be wrong, and pleaded for someone to point out
from the Bible where he was wrong, but no one did, either then or later.
The church withdrew his ministerial
credentials and disfellowshiped him
because of what he believed, not for anything he had said or done.
Twenty-five years later W. W. Prescott (a member of the GC ad hoc committees
appointed to meet with the dissidents) commented in a letter to W. A.
Spicer, then president of the General Conference: "I have waited all these
years for someone to make an adequate answer to Ballenger, Fletcher and
others on their positions re. the sanctuary but I have not seen or heard
it." Ballenger subsequently explained his views in the book Cast Out for the
Cross of Christ. "No one," he lamented, "who has not experienced it can
realize the soul anguish that overwhelms one who, in the study of the Word
finds truth which does not harmonize with that which he has believed and
taught during a whole lifetime to be vital to the salvation of the soul."21
After some twenty years as an ordained
minister, foreign missionary, and
eventually Bible teacher at Avondale College in Australia, in 1930 William
W. Fletcher voluntarily resigned from the ministry and severed his
connection with the church, under administrative pressure, solely because of
his views regarding errors in the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14.
Two years later he published Reasons for My Faith, setting forth his views
on the sanctuary and Christ's ministry as our great High Priest. An
objective reading of both the Bible and Reasons will conclude that
Fletcher's understanding of the former was superior to that of his
Louis R. Conradi served the church faithfully
for fifty-two years, much of
the time as vice-president of the General Conference for the Central
European Division. He was an avid Bible scholar and student of history as
well as an able administrator, and wrote extensively. He was highly
respected by his fellow administrators. For more than thirty years questions
grew in his mind regarding the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14,
which he first shared with a few church leaders in 1928 and which eventually
led to a formal hearing before an ad hoc committee of thirty-three members
appointed by the General Conference, forfeiture of his ministerial
credentials, and his voluntary separation from the church in 1931.
Thereupon he united with the Seventh
Day Baptists, who issued him
ministerial credentials, gave him permission to preach Seventh-day Adventist
teachings, and made him their official representative in Europe. To his
death he expressed confidence in the fundamental integrity of Adventism
despite errors in the sanctuary doctrine.23
William W. Prescott was a versatile
person who, over a service lifetime for
the church of more than half a century (1885-1937), distinguished himself as
a writer, editor, publisher, educator, administrator, and Bible Scholar.
Like Conradi, his study of the Bible led to a recognition of serious flaws
in the sanctuary doctrine to which, however, he never gave public
expression. He retained full confidence in the basic credibility of the
Advent message. His one "mistake" was in 1934 when he shared his views with
some of "the brethren" from headquarters, who turned against him. Unlike
Conradi, however, he remained with the church, never forfeited his
ministerial credentials, but returned to Washington, D.C. where he
fellowshipped with his critics and participated actively in various General
After many years of service to the church
Harold E. Snide was teaching Bible
at Southern Junior College (now Southern Adventist University). A
third-generation Adventist and a diligent student of Bible prophecy, he
encountered problems with the traditional interpretation of Daniel,
especially in connection with Christ's ministry as set forth in the book of
Hebrews. He went to the leaders in Washington with the problems that
troubled him, but found no help. The conflict between the traditional
interpretation of Daniel 8:14 and Scripture proved to be a traumatic
experience that eventually, about 1945, led him to withdraw from the church.
Mrs. Snide remained a loyal Adventist, however, and went to live with her
parents in Takoma Park where I became acquainted with her.
The experience of R. A. Greive was unique
in that, as president of the
Queensland Conference in Australia, he never questioned the sanctuary
doctrine. His concern was to encourage the experience of justification and
righteousness by faith as presented in the books of Romans and Hebrews, and
its counterpart the sinless perfection of Jesus Christ. Church leaders in
the division office, however, accused him of thereby being in conflict with
the concept of an investigative judgment as the cleansing of the sanctuary
referred to in Daniel 8:14 and explained in Hebrews 9.
If, as Paul wrote in Romans 8:1, there
is "now no condemnation for those who
are in Christ Jesus," how can a record of those sins be preserved and
reviewed during the course of an investigative judgment? Greive asked. He
also pointed out that, according to Hebrews 7:27 and 9:6-12, Christ
completed His equivalent of the first apartment ministry on the cross and
entered upon His equivalent of the second apartment ministry when He
ascended to heaven, not eighteen centuries later. At his trial Greive agreed
to go as far as his "enlightened conscience" would allow in order to have
harmony with his brethren, but for them that was not far enough. In 1956 his
credentials were withdrawn and he withdrew from the church.24
Think of the time, attention, and cost
of disciplining these six
administrators and Bible scholars, listed above, has diverted from the
mission of the church to the world! Think also of the distress and heartache
these six have experienced and often expressed. Think, as well, of the
damage some of them have done to the church!
4. Continuing Casualties of the Sanctuary Doctrine
Like an airplane unexpectedly entering
a region of clear air turbulence, in
1945 Dr. Desmond Ford began to encounter exegetical problems in the
traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14, the sanctuary, and the
investigative judgment. He set out to put all of the disparate pieces
together in a coherent pattern that would resolve the problems, that would
be faithful to reliable principles of exegesis, and that left him a
dedicated Seventh-day Adventist with complete confidence in the integrity of
the church as an authentic witness to the everlasting gospel.
Over the next ten or fifteen years Ford
discovered that some of his
contemporaries and others before him had wrestled with the same problems. In
his definitive 991-page Glacier View document, Daniel 8:14, the Day of
Atonement, and the Investigative Judgment, he names twelve Adventist Leaders
with whom he had discussed the problems, in person or by correspondence. He
devoted his master's and one of his doctoral dissertations to the subject.
His published commentaries on the Books of Daniel and the Revelation total
more than two thousand pages. He has probably devoted more scholarly study
to the subject and written more extensively on it than any other person in
During his long tenure as head of the
theology department at Avondale
College in Australia he trained half or so of the ministers in Australia. In
the classroom and by his personal example he inspired thousands of young
people for Christ. He was always in demand as a speaker, and thousands
testify to a clearer understanding and appreciation of the gospel as a
result of his witness to it. His theme ever was---and still is---salvation
by faith in Jesus Christ.
Ford never discussed the controversial
aspects of the sanctuary doctrine in
public---until October 27, 1979, as an exchange professor at Pacific Union
College, when several members of the faculty invited him to discuss his
views on the sanctuary question in an open meeting one Sabbath afternoon.
Thirty-four years of silence on the subject surely reflect commendable
pastoral and scholarly restraint. The PUC presentation "was positive on the
providential role of Adventists and Ellen White." However, three retired
ministers present detected what they perceived to be heresy and reported
their version of his remarks to the chairman of the college board.
In view of the fact that Ford was still
an employee of Avondale College in
Australia and due to return to Avondale at the close of the 1979-1980 school
year, the chairman logically referred the matter to the General Conference.
In August 1980 115 leading administrators and Bible scholars from around the
world (at an administrator's estimated cost of a quarter of a million
dollars) were summoned to Glacier View25 in Colorado, to serve as the
Sanctuary Review Committee. They were specifically instructed not to
evaluate Ford's beliefs with respect to Daniel 8:14, the sanctuary, and the
investigative judgment by the Bible itself, but as set forth in the
statement of Twenty-seven Fundamental Beliefs, which the church had already
determined to be normative. Several weeks later the Australasian Division
withdrew his ministerial credentials.
Procedures at Glacier View consisted
of a reaffirmation of the traditional
Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14. But Ford was given no opportunity
to present the reasons for his "apotelesmatic" interpretation of it, which
provided for the traditional Adventist interpretation being one of several
fulfillments of the prophecy, but not the fulfillment. Again---as
always---the church neglected to examine the reasons for dissent from the
traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14 and merely reaffirmed it in
stentorian tones. As a matter of fact, the consensus report voted at the
close of the week-long conference tacitly agreed with Ford on six major
points of exegesis. Later, some forty Bible scholars signed a document known
as the Atlanta Affirmation, remonstrating with Neal Wilson for the way the
church had treated Ford at, and after, Glacier View.
In his involuntary "retirement" Ford
has continued to proclaim the gospel,
in a ministry he called "Good News Unlimited." Unlike Canright, Ballenger,
and others before him who had embarked on vendettas against the church, Ford
has remained a dedicated Seventh-day Adventist at heart and retained his
Ford, now retired in his native Queensland,
Australia, is the lone survivor
of numerous traumatic encounters with the traditional interpretation of
Daniel 8:14. We could wish that such encounters with the sanctuary doctrine
were a thing of the past. But a new generation of victims is repeating their
traumatic experiences all over again. If the past is any index to the future
they will be repeated indefinitely unless and until the church faces up to
the facts objectively and deals realistically and responsibly with them
in harmony with the sola Scriptura principle.
It is said that more than 150 ordained
ministers, mostly in Australia,
forfeited their ministerial credentials in the aftermath of the Ford affair.
Hundreds of lay persons, mostly in the United States, left the church and
formed effervescent "fellowships" as a result.
Dale Ratzlaff was pastor of the Watsonville
church in the Central California
Conference and a Bible teacher at nearby Monterey Bay Academy when, in 1981,
he was abruptly fired by the Conference for expressing a conviction shared
by a majority of the forty or so Bible scholars at Glacier View, that
administration had misjudged and mistreated Desmond Ford the year before.
The elders of the Watsonville church invited Dr. Fred Veltman of Pacific
Union College and me to meet with the church the following Sabbath, in which
we endeavored to pour oil on the troubled waters.
Ratzlaff left the Adventist church and
wandered about (both geographically
and ideologically) for a few years following which he embarked on what he
calls Life Assurance Ministries, first in Sedona and now in Glendale,
Arizona, with the objective of warning Adventists and others against the
church. First came a 350-page polemic against the Sabbath, and in 2001 the
384-page Cultic Doctrine of Seventh-day Adventists, which he describes as
"an appeal to SDA leadership." His target in Cultic Doctrine is the
traditional Adventist Interpretation of Daniel 8:14, the sanctuary doctrine,
and the investigative judgment. In 1999 he began publishing Proclamation, a
bi-monthly journal dedicated to warning Adventists and others against
Adventism. Here in the West, Dale's crusade is having at least a measure of
success. He is also publisher of Dr. Jerry Gladson's 383-page A Theologian's
Journey From Seventh-day Adventism to Mainstream Christianity (copyright
Dr. Jerry Gladson had the very considerable
misfortune to serve on the
faculty of Southern Adventist College (now University). Had he been teaching
at any of the other eight Adventist colleges or universities in North
America he would probably still be an Adventist minister and teacher.
Southern operates as an agency of Southern Bible belt obscurantism.
Furthermore it was (and still is) to an appreciable extent, dependent on the
largesse of committed ultra-fundamentalists, who insist that the college
operate on ultra-fundamentalist principles. Again the target was the
traditional sanctuary doctrine and the charge what Gladson thought about it,
not anything he had taught in his classes.
Then dean of the Adventist Theological
Seminary Dr. Gerhard F. Hasel, a
former student and teacher at Southern and the ruthless personification of
Adventist obscurantism, played an active role in the lynching of Dr.
Gladson, a role in which Hasel had already distinguished himself at the
Seminary. The head of the religion department at Southern, responsible for
the ultimate coup de grace, was as closed-minded and ruthless as Torquemada,
a role in which he had already distinguished himself as director of the
Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference. What chance did Dr.
Gladson have for a fair evaluation and adjudication of the charges against
him? Finally, the chairman of the college board distinguished himself as
either a committed obscurantist or a willing instrument of the far Adventist
Jerry Gladson was not fired nor were
his ministerial credentials withdrawn.
He remained an ordained minister until they expired and were not renewed.
Instead, a witch-hunting climate was created in which departure proved to be
the lesser of two evils. There was no formal hearing. No one tried to
understand his reasons for thinking as he did, or cared. The Pharisees were
in control, and that was that. An anomalous situation indeed!27
Janet Brown became a Seventh-day Adventist
in 1985. As a lay person she was
an avid Bible student, and as such "began to notice more and more problems
and inconsistencies between SDA teachings and the Bible." For a time she
ignored these "cracks in the armor of Adventism," but as "the evidence
really began to pile up" she felt that she could no longer "remain honest"
with herself and continue as a Seventh-day Adventist. To her, the
investigative judgment resembles Roman Catholic purgatory inasmuch as it
keeps people in suspense as to their standing before God and "makes no sense
biblically." In 1995 she left the Adventist church and operates a website
devoted to opposing it.28
Don W. Silver of Ashland Kentucky is
another lay person who left Adventism
recently, primarily because of the sanctuary doctrine, which he vehemently
opposes. Evidently well-educated, he speaks with fervor and pin-point logic.
His wife, like him well-educated, teaches at nearby Marshall University and
remains a faithful Adventist and a leader in the local Adventist church.
Their two grown daughters have followed their father into agnosticism.29
Other contemporary illustrations of
opposition to the sanctuary doctrine and
resulting apostasy might, of course, be cited. I know personally of other
employees of the church who have been fired for the same reason, of lay
people who have left the church, and of families that have been broken up as
a result. The sanctuary problem is still with us, late and soon, and is
touching the lives of sincere Seventh-day Adventists.
5. Non-Adventist Reaction to the Sanctuary Doctrine
It was the sanctuary doctrine based
on Daniel 8:14 that made us Seventh-day
Adventists and that remains, today, the keystone of our distinctive belief
system and our mission to the world. Of it, Ellen White wrote: "The
Scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and central
pillar of our faith was the declaration, 'Unto two thousand and three
hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed'"30 and "The correct
understanding of the ministration in the heavenly sanctuary is the
foundation of our faith." "Not one pin is to be removed from that which the
Lord has established. The enemy will bring in false theories, such as the
doctrine that there is no sanctuary. This is one of the points on which
there will be a departing from the faith."31
When, in the mid-1950's, Walter Martin
and Donald Grey Barnhouse explored
Adventist teachings in depth with persons appointed by the General
Conference, they concluded that, with two exceptions, we are in harmony with
the gospel: (1) our sanctuary doctrine, and (2) the role we popularly
ascribe to Ellen White as an infallible interpreter of Scripture, in
contradiction of her own explicit statements to the contrary. The former,
they concluded, violates the Reformation principle sola Scriptura.32 Of it,
The [sanctuary] doctrine is, to me, the most colossal,
psychological, face-saving phenomenon in religious history. ... We
personally do not believe that there is even a suspicion of a verse in
Scripture to sustain such a peculiar position, and we further believe that
any effort to establish it is stale, flat, and unprofitable. ... [It is]
unimportant and almost naïve.33
Such is the usual reaction of non-Adventist
Bible scholars and other
biblically literate non-Adventists to our sanctuary doctrine.34
6. My Personal Encounter With the Sanctuary Doctrine
I first encountered problems with the
traditional interpretation of Daniel
8:14, professionally, in the spring of 1955 during the process of editing
comment on the Book of Daniel for volume 4 of the SDA Bible Commentary. As
a work intended to meet the most exacting scholarly standards, we intended
our comment to reflect the meaning obviously intended by the Bible writers.
As an Adventist commentary it must also reflect, as accurately as possible,
what Adventists believe and teach. But in Daniel 8 and 9 we found it
hopelessly impossible to comply with both of these requirements.35
In 1958 the Review and Herald Publishing
Association needed new printing
plates for the classic book Bible Readings, and it was decided to revise it
where necessary to agree with the Commentary. Coming again to the Book of
Daniel I determined to try once more to find a way to be absolutely faithful
to both Daniel and the traditional Adventist interpretation of 8:14, but
again found it impossible. I then formulated six questions regarding the
Hebrew text of the passage and its context, which I submitted to every
college teacher versed in Hebrew and every head of the religion department
in all of our North American colleges---all personal friends of mine.
Without exception they replied that there is no linguistic or contextual
basis for the traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14.36
When the results of this questionnaire
were called to the attention of the
General Conference president, he and the Officers appointed the super-secret
Committee on Problems in the Book of Daniel, of which I was a member.
Meeting intermittently for five years (1961-1966), we considered 48 papers
relative to Daniel 8 and 9, and in the spring of 1966 adjourned sine die,
unable to reach a consensus.37
The Commentary experience with Daniel
already mentioned led me into an
unhurried, in-depth, spare-time, comprehensive study of Daniel 7 to 12
that continued without interruption for seventeen years (1955-1972), in
quest of a conclusive solution to the sanctuary problem. My objective was to
be fully prepared with definitive, objective, biblical information the next
time the question should arise during the course of my ministry for the
Among other things I memorized, in Hebrew,
all relevant portions of Daniel 8
to 12 for instant recall and comparison (60 verses), conducted exhaustive
word studies38 of more than 150 relevant Hebrew words Daniel uses,
throughout the Old Testament, studied the Hebrew grammar and syntax in
detail, made a minute analysis of contextual data,39 compared ancient Greek
and Latin translations of Daniel,40 investigated relevant apocryphal and New
Testament passages,41 traced Jewish and Christian interpretation of Daniel
from ancient to modern times,42 and made an exhaustive study of the
formation, development, and subsequent Adventist experience with the
traditional sanctuary doctrine.43 Eventually I incorporated the results of
this investigation into an 1100 page manuscript which I later reduced to 725
pages but decided not release for publication until an appropriate time.
The above considerations conclusively
demonstrate that our traditional
interpretation of Daniel 8:14, the sanctuary, and the investigative judgment
as set forth in Article 23 of Fundamental Beliefs does not accurately
reflect the teaching of Scripture with respect to the ministry of Christ on
our behalf since His return to heaven.44 Accordingly, it is appropriate (1)
to note wherein Article 23 is thus defective,45 (2) to revise the article so
as to reflect Bible teaching on this aspect of His ministry accurately, and
(3) to suggest a process designed to protect the church from this and
similar traumatic experiences in the future.46
Some of the concepts associated with
the investigative judgment are, indeed,
biblical, but the Bible itself nowhere associates them with an investigative
judgment, for which there is no sola Scriptura basis whatever.47
Upon ascending to heaven Jesus assured
His disciples "I am with you always,
to the end of the age" (Matthew 18:20). The Book of Hebrews is our primary
source of information about His ministry in heaven on their (and our) behalf
since that time, I suggest that the following composite summary of His
ministry as presented in Hebrews provides an appropriate basis for a revised
article 23 of Fundamental Beliefs, should such a statement eventually be
desired. The author of Hebrews presents Christ's ministry in heaven, on our
behalf, by analogy with the role of the high priest in the ancient sanctuary
On the cross Jesus offered Himself as
a single sacrifice for all time that
atoned for the sins of those who draw near to God through Him.48 That one
sacrifice qualified Him to serve as our great High Priest in heaven,
perpetually.49 Having made that sacrifice, Christ entered the Most Holy
Place--"heaven itself"--to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.50 He
invites us to come boldly to Him, by faith, to find mercy and grace to help
us in our time of need.51 He will soon appear, a second time, "to bring
salvation to those who are waiting for him."52
7. "Rightly Explaining the Word of Truth"53
The almost infinitely diverse and often
contradictory ideas attributed to
the Bible, and thus its relevance for our time, suggest the importance of
identifying principles on the basis of which we can have confidence in the
validity of our conclusions with respect to the perspectives of life and
reality its divine Author and the inspired writers intended their words to
We read and study the Bible with the
objective of learning who we are, how
and why we came to be here, how we should relate to life and make the most
of its opportunities, where we are going, and how best to get there. This
constitutes what we may call our "world view," our concept of what life on
planet Earth is all about.
Our quest for this information is something
like a literal journey from
where we may be now to where we would like to be, but have never been over
the road before. In planning such a journey we must first know where we are,
where we want to be at journey's end, and the best way to get there. Our
planning must take into consideration the facts of geography and travel as
they really are, not as we might like or imagine them to be. In other words
we must be objective with respect to reality, to the facts of geography and
travel as they really are. To be subjective in our planning---to think of
them as we might imagine or like them to be---could eventually prove to be
disastrous. It is the same with reading and studying the Bible: Objectivity
is essential. Being subjective in our study and thinking inevitably imposes
our personal, unenlightened, opinions upon the Bible and leaves us blind and
deaf to what God is trying to say to us through it. As a result, we assume
that our personal opinions constitute the voice of God!
In the Bible even a child or a semi-literate
person can find the way of
salvation and follow it all the way to the pearly gates, and find welcome
there. But for in-depth study of some portions of it those not at home with
ancient Hebrew and Greek should make use of relevant reference material
prepared by reliable persons who are conversant with those languages.
Certain factors are essential for everyone conducting in-depth study of the
Bible. The following is a brief resume of factors essential to such a study.
Objectivity is the mental quality that
aspires to evaluate ideas and draws
conclusions in terms of their intrinsic reality, rather than in terms of a
person's untested, subjective presuppositions. Objectivity is essential for
ascertaining the intended import of the Bible.
Untested, subjective presuppositions
regarding the nature and teachings of
the Bible almost inevitably lead to wrong conclusions. Everyone, consciously
or unconsciously, comes to the Bible with a set of presuppositions about it
which control evaluation of the data considered and thus the conclusions
drawn from it. Accordingly, the importance of presuppositions is crucial in
determining the validity of one's conclusions. Presuppositions should ever
remain open to revision as clearer, objective evidence may require. The
objective is to eliminate every subjective factor from the reasoning process
in order to bring it into harmony with objective reality.
Is it possible to test the presupposition
that the Bible is, as it claims to
be, the unique revelation of God's infinite will and purpose for the human
race? Yes. The objective evidence for this consists of (1) the Bible's
accurate evaluation of the natural human ethical-moral-spiritual state, (2)
its perfect remedy for the imperfections of that natural state, (3) the
demonstration that that remedy has transformed the psyche of countless
millions of human beings for two thousand years, and (4) that if Bible
principles were universally accepted and practiced they would automatically
eliminate all war, all crime, and all selfish manipulation of other human
beings---and thus transform this world into a little heaven on earth! Given
the opportunity, the human experience confirms these conclusions beyond the
possibility of either doubt or error. This authenticates Bible principles as
being of more than human origin, and so validates the above presupposition
as being objective and trustworthy.
The Old Testament was written between
twenty-four and thirty-seven centuries
ago, mostly in ancient Hebrew and in a world more than a little different
and strange to us. The New Testament was written in Greek some nineteen
centuries ago. The Old Testament records the history of the Hebrews as the
covenant people and chosen instrument of the divine purpose for them and for
the human race in ancient times, instruction designed to qualify them to be
living representatives of, and witnesses for, the true God, and their
individual and corporate response to this instruction.54 The Hebrew language
had a limited vocabulary that reflected their primitive culture and world
view, a form of writing that consisted of consonants only, and grammar and
syntax different from ours today.
The Bible was thus historically conditioned,55
that is, adapted and
specifically addressed to, the needs, comprehension, and covenant role of
its recipients at the time it was written, and to their circumstances and
perception of the divine purpose, yet Its fundamental principles and
instruction are of universal value and applicability. It was written in
their language and in thought forms with which they were familiar, and
reflects the salvation history perspective of their time. That record,
however, "was written for our instruction" also. Accordingly, we need to
historically condition our minds to their time, circumstances, and
perspective of salvation history in order to fully understand and appreciate
its message for our time. In-depth study and appreciation of the Bible
require that the historical circumstances in which a passage was written
must be taken into consideration.
The salvation history perspective of
the Old Testament envisioned ancient
Israel as God's covenant people and chosen instrument of the divine purpose
to restore humanity to harmony with the divine purpose for this world.56 God
revealed all of this to them in order that they might cooperate
intelligently with His infinite purpose for the human race. That revelation,
imparted over the centuries of antiquity, provided ancient Israel with
instruction that would qualify them individually and collectively as a
nation to fully represent the supreme value and desirability of cooperating
with His eternal purpose. It envisioned the climax of earth's history and
the complete restoration of divine sovereignty over all the earth at the
close of Old Testament times. The New Testament assumes the validity of this
Old Testament perspective of salvation history as reaching a climax in the
life, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and promise of Jesus to return
soon---at the close of New Testament times.57
This Bible perspective of salvation
history was implicit in Scripture and in
the minds of people of that time. It must also be in our minds as we read
Scripture. Accordingly, the salvation history perspective of the time a
passage was written must be taken into consideration in order to ascertain
its intended, true meaning.
The original text of Scripture, in the
languages in which it was written, is
the ultimate, supreme authority for what it says.58 Good modern translations
such as the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV59), the New International
Version (NIV), and the Good News Bible (Today's English Version, TEV) are as
accurate and reliable translations as any available today. The King James
Version (KJV), with its superb, stately literary style has had a profound
influence on the English language and endeared itself to readers for nearly
four centuries, but sometimes it does not accurately reflect the original
This was because the KJV was based on
late manuscripts that had accumulated
numerous scribal errors and editorial changes over several centuries since
the original autographs. Since an ancient manuscript known as the Sinaiticus
was discovered in 1844, thousands of ancient manuscripts centuries closer to
the originals have been found that provide us, today, with much more
accurate information as to how the original autographs actually read.61
Also, the biblical languages are better understood than they were in 1611,
when the KJV became available, and the history and culture of antiquity are
better understood. Word studies---the way in which Hebrew and Greek words
occur in the Bible and their meaning as defined by context, in each
instance---are thus essential to determine their meaning.
The literary context of a passage is
essential to an accurate determination
of its meaning. This includes its immediate context, in particular, but also
its extended context in the entire document of which it forms a part.
Ancient Hebrew, in which most of the Old Testament was written,62 had
already become a dead language to the extent that when Ezra read from "the
book of the law of Moses" (the Torah, or Pentateuch) in public about 450
B.C., it needed interpretation in order for Jews, even of his time, to
Several characteristics of ancient Hebrew
were responsible for this: (1) For
one thing, it had a very limited vocabulary, one in which many words were
used to express a wide variety of meanings. (For instance, the KJV
translates ten common Hebrew words by an average of eighty-four English
expressions each, and one of them by 164 English words and
expressions!64). (2) Ancient Hebrew writing consisted of consonants only,
and the reader had to supply whatever vowels he thought were intended, and
in some instances might supply a set of vowels different from those the
writer intended.65 The vowels that now appear in Hebrew Bibles were added to
its consonants by the Masoretes, Jewish scholars, many centuries after
ancient Hebrew had become a dead language, according to what they thought to
be the intended meaning. For this reason it is futile to correlate two
passages of scripture on the basis of the same English word located in a
concordance---as William Miller did in developing the sanctuary doctrine!
The analogy of Scripture---the use of
one Bible passage to clarify
another---must be used with caution.66 The context of both passages must
first be taken into account in order to determine whether or not they may be
In summary, in-depth study of the Bible
requires consideration of one's
presuppositions, the historical circumstances to which a passage was
addressed and to which it was intended to apply, its salvation history
perspective, its sense as determined by the original language, its literary
context, and cautious use of other Bible passages of Scripture to amplify
Seventh-day Adventists today affirm
the sola Scriptura principle of the
Reformation in principle, but sometimes unwittingly compromise it in
practice, notably in affirming the traditional interpretation of Daniel
Seventh-day Adventism emerged as a discrete
entity within the Christian
community on October 23, 184467 as the result of a particular understanding
of Daniel 8:14 and the great disappointment that attended their
disillusionment the preceding day. That understanding, which was
subsequently modified in some details and became the traditional Adventist
interpretation, has, since then, been considered the keystone of Adventism's
self-identity, understanding of the Bible, theology, and sense of mission.68
In Jeremiah 18:7-10 the prophet summarizes
the nature and purpose of
predictive prophecy as follows:
At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a
kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that
nation concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil I will change my
mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another
moment I may declare concerning a nation or kingdom that I will build and
plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I
will change my mind about the good that I intended to do to it.
Accordingly, predictive prophecy is
always conditional on the response of
the people to whom it is addressed. Its function is not to demonstrate
divine foreknowledge nor does it necessarily predetermine the course of
events, for if it did it would thereby deprive people of the power of
choice. Its intended purpose is to enable them to make wise choices in the
present by indicating the ultimate result of either a right or a wrong
choice. For this reason Bible prophecy, even apocalyptic prophecy, is always
conditional, and its time element is always flexible, in order to provide
for the free exercise of human choice.69 It is a preview of what can be, not
what necessarily will be.
Accordingly, the seventy weeks-of-years
of Daniel 9:24-27 provided the
Hebrew exiles in Babylon with a preview of what the future held for them,
subject to their cooperation.70
Three Methods of Bible Study
The traditional Adventist interpretation
of Daniel 8:14 was formulated on
the basis of what is commonly known as the prooftext method of biblical
study and interpretation, which construes Bible passages in terms of what a
modern reader thinks to be their import. This method (1) is highly
subjective, (2) understands the Bible from the modern reader's cultural,
historical, and salvation history perspectives, (3) accepts the Bible in
translation as authoritative, (4) makes the reader's personal and
group-think presuppositions normative for evaluating data and for (5)
drawing conclusions. This method does not require special training or
experience, and is followed by a majority of untutored Bible readers. Since
the beginning most Adventists have followed this method, but no reputable
Bible scholar follows it today.
When Daniel 8:14 is studied by the historical
method, serious flaws in the
traditional interpretation become apparent because the historical method (1)
aspires to be as objective as possible, (2) endeavors to understand the
Bible as the various writers intended what they wrote to be understood and
as their original reading audience would have understood it from their
cultural, historical, and salvation history perspective, (3) considers
words, literary forms, and statements according to their meaning in the
original language as normative, (4) endeavors to evaluate data objectively,
and (5) bases its conclusions on the weight of evidence. This method
requires either special training in biblical languages and the history and
milieu of antiquity, or reliance on source material prepared by persons with
such training. Since about 1940 most Adventist Bible scholars have followed
Since about 1970 a hybrid of these two
methods known as the
historical-grammatical method71 has attained limited popularity among
Seventh-day Adventist Bible scholars and lay people, and major support among
church administrators. Why? It consists of historical method procedures
under the control of prooftext presuppositions and principles, which enable
it to provide apparent scholarly support for traditional conclusions. It is
highly subjective, aspires to dominate and eventually control all official
Adventist study of the Bible, and has more or less controlled General
Conference doctrinal policy for the past thirty years
Let us emulate the sincerity and diligence
of our spiritual forefathers in
their study of God's Word. We have no valid reason to criticize them because
of the flaws we find in their understanding of the Bible.72 Let us remember
that they did the best they knew how as they studied the Bible by the
prooftext method, the generally accepted method of that time.73 They did not
have access to the more accurate ancient Bible manuscripts that we do today,
nor to our knowledge of ancient Hebrew and Greek or the history of ancient
times. In taking note of flaws in the traditional interpretation of Daniel
8:14 we can be grateful for their dedication, build on their labors, and be
faithful in our time as they were in theirs, to the best it is our privilege
8. "Rightly Explaining" Daniel 8:14
The first imperative for comprehending
the prophecies of Daniel in the sense
Inspiration intended is an objective frame of mind divested of every
personal, subjective, modern presupposition with respect to their import.
The second imperative is to identify
the circumstances set forth in Daniel 1
to 6 and 9:1-23, which provide the historical background within which
Inspiration set its five prophetic passages and from which it intended
Daniel and his intended readers to understand them. Accordingly, in order to
understand those passages as Inspiration intended them to be understood we
must do so with that historical perspective in our minds, and from the same
perspective of salvation history as Daniel and his intended readers did. Any
interpretation that ignores or controverts that historical perspective and /
or the salvation history perspective of their time is automatically suspect
and imposes an alien, uninspired interpretation on those prophecies.
The first six chapters of the Book of
Daniel recount the exile of Daniel and
his compatriots to Babylon "in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim of
Judah," which is dated to 606/5 B.C., and their experiences during the
seventy years of exile foretold by Jeremiah in chapter 29:1-14. According to
Daniel 9:1, in "the first year of Darius" (which is dated to 537/6 B.C. by
Jewish inclusive reckoning), Daniel had been in exile for exactly seventy
years. But as yet there was no visible evidence that release from exile was
imminent. Accordingly, Daniel prayed the importunate prayer for release from
exile and for restoration recorded in chapter 9:4-19.
While Daniel was still praying the angel
Gabriel reappeared75 and said, "I
have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding. At the beginning of
your supplications a word went out [obviously in heaven], and I have come to
declare it, for you are greatly beloved. So consider the word and understand
the vision." Gabriel thereupon repeats that "word" verbatim (verse 24), as
he had promised, and proceeds to explain it in verses 25 to 27.
It is of crucial importance to note
that Gabriel explicitly identifies the
"word" that "went out to restore and build Jerusalem" at the commencement of
the seventy weeks of years as "the word" that "went out"---in heaven---while
Daniel was praying.76 That "word"77 was obviously one that only God Himself
(and not an earthly monarch) could possibly have issued! On the authority of
no less a person than the angel Gabriel, the "seventy weeks" of years thus
began in 537 B.C., not eighty years later in 457 B.C.!
Gabriel's explanation of that "word"
in verses 25-27 very briefly sketched
the future of God's covenant people during the seventy weeks of years, and
its climax in the ruthless oppression of "the prince who is to come" during
the seventieth of the seventy "weeks," which he had already foretold in
chapter 8:9-13 and explained in verses 19 to 25.78
As already noted, Daniel 9:23-25 begins
the seventy weeks of years at the
time the "word" was issued in heaven, in 537 B.C. In the same way,
contextual identification of the "he" of verse 27 identifies events of
history that mark their close in the seventieth of the seventy "weeks." It
is universally accepted that the immediate antecedent of a personal pronoun
identifies the person to whom it refers unless the context unambiguously
specifies otherwise. Accordingly, verse 26 identifies the immediate
antecedent of the pronoun "he" in verse 27, who "make[s] a strong covenant
with many" for the seventieth of the seventy "weeks" and "make[s] sacrifice
and offering cease" during the last half of the "week," as the evil "prince
who is to come"---not the "anointed prince" of verses 25-26!
Chapter 11:23 confirms the fact that
his alias, the last king of the north,
does, indeed make such a covenant with people in "alliance" with him. Also,
his fate set forth in verse 27, "the decreed end is poured out on the
desolator," is equivalent to the horn-king of chapter 8:25 being "broken,
and not by human hands," and to the last king of the north in chapter 11 who
"come[s] to his end, with no one to help him."79
Chapter 9:24-27 thus provides an exact
but much more complete explanation of
chapter 8:13-14's question and answer about events between Daniel's time and
"the appointed time of the end" "many days from now" when "the vision of the
evenings and the mornings" was to meet its fulfillment.80 Isn't that exactly
what Gabriel said the audition of 9:24-27 was supposed to do?81
Such is Daniel's perspective of salvation
history. In order to understand
chapters 8 and 9 as heaven intended them to be understood, we must imagine
ourselves in Daniel's historical circumstances and view them from his
perspective of salvation history in order to form an accurate understanding
of what was revealed to him.
Daniel's Perspective of Salvation History
Daniel's perspective of salvation history
was a composite of the visions of
chapters 2 and 7, each with its explanation, and chapter 8 with
its three-fold explanation in chapters 8, 9, and 11-12. It consisted of a
series of universal kingdoms82 followed by a period of disintegration and
fragmentation,83 which Gabriel told Daniel would be a "troubled time"
At the "appointed time of the end ...
many days from now"---after sixty-nine
of the "seventy weeks of years"85---there would be an unprecedented "time of
anguish" for God's people in which they would be "trampled," their power
shattered,86 their land and city devastated,87 their loyalty and
faithfulness to God tested,88 their covenant with Him and its prescribed
system of worship abolished,89 and an idolatrous system of worship
enforced.90 As a result of this attempt to obliterate the knowledge and
worship of the true God, many Jews would apostatize and enter into a
"covenant" with their oppressor.91
The duration of this time of anguish
for God's people is given variously as
(1) "a time, two times, and half a time" = three and a half years,92 as (2)
the last half of the seventieth of the seventy "weeks" = also three and a
half years,93 and as (3) the time during which 2300 evening and morning
sacrifices would normally have been offered = 1150 literal days = three
years, two months, and 10 days94 within the three and a half years of
At the close of this time of anguish
the Ancient of days would sit in
judgment and "the decreed end" would be "poured out upon the desolator," who
would thus "come to his end with no one to help him" and be "broken" but
"not by human hands."96 Simultaneously, the sanctuary would "be restored to
its rightful state," the Ancient of Days would vindicate His faithful people
and award them an "everlasting kingdom," Michael would arise to deliver
them, the righteous dead would be raised to life eternal, the "wise,"
including Daniel, would enter upon their eternal reward and shine like the
brightness of the firmament for ever and ever.97
The prophecies of Daniel locate this
time of anguish (1) during the "time,
two times, and half a time" of Daniel 7:25, (2) at or near "the end" of the
"rule" of the four horn Greek era of chapter 8:8, 21-23, (3) during the last
half of the seventieth of the seventy weeks of chapter 9:24-27, and (4)
during the reign of the last king of the north of chapter 11:20-45.
Obviously Daniel's perspective of salvation
history was vastly different
from ours---by more than two thousand years! But by the sure word of his
angel mentor that was the perspective from which he and the angel Gabriel
then viewed the future. It is the identical format set forth in the Old
Testament.35 To ignore or deny it is a major violation of the sola Scriptura
principle, and to say that neither Daniel nor Gabriel knew what they were
talking about! It is an important part of in-depth study of the Bible to
read it from its own historical and salvation history perspectives, in order
to understand and appreciate its message for us in our time!
Daniel's perspective of salvation history
thus explicitly invalidates the
historicist concept of predictive prophecy. Furthermore, his perspective was
identical with that of the Old Testament as a whole.98
Four KJV Translation Errors That Led Pioneer Adventists Astray
Four major translation errors in the
KJV of Daniel 8:14 and 9:25-26, of
which William Miller and pioneer Adventists were obviously unaware, led
them, unwittingly, astray.99
The KJV of Daniel 8:14 reads: "Unto
two thousand and three hundred days;
then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." Here and in chapter 9 the KJV
inaccurately reflects the Hebrew text of Daniel at four specific points. In
the original Hebrew text and in the NRSV it reads: "For two thousand and
three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored
to its rightful state."
The Hebrew word for "days," yamim,
is not in the Hebrew text of 8:14, which
reads simply erev boquer, "evening morning." "Days" is interpretation, not
translation. When Daniel meant "days" he consistently wrote "days,"
yamim.100 Wherever the words erev and boquer occur in a sanctuary context
(as in 8:14), without exception they always refer to the evening and morning
sacrificial worship services or to some other aspect of the sanctuary and
its ritual services. These sacrifices were offered tamid, "regularly," late
every afternoon before sunset and early every morning after sunrise. See,
for example, Exodus 29:38-42 and Numbers 28:3-6. Erev sometimes precedes
boquer in view of the fact that Hebrew custom began each day at sunset, with
erev referring specifically to the waning light of day associated with
sunset and boquer the rising light of day associated with sunrise, not to
the dark and light portions of a 24-hour day.
The traditional interpretation considers
erev boquer, "evening morning," a
composite term meaning a 24-hour day. But according to verse 26 haerev we
haboquer, "the evening and the morning," are discrete entities, as the
repeated definite article requires. The question of verse 13, and thus the
answer of verse 14 both focus on the sanctuary and the time during which its
continual (tamid) burnt offering was banned. Accordingly, erev boquer in
verse 14 is to be understood in a cultic sanctuary context specifically with
reference to the tamid (continual) burnt offering.
Note also that the question of verse
13, to which verse 14 is the inspired
answer, asks for how long the tamid, the "regular burnt offering" already
mentioned in verse 11, would be "trampled." In place of tamid in verse 13,
however, verse 14 substitutes the expression erev boquer, thereby calling
attention to the fact that the two are synonymous terms for the same thing,
the evening and morning sacrificial worship services. Indeed, both terms
occur together in the passages noted above with respect to the two daily
worship services. (In 8:11 and 14 the NRSV---correctly---adds
"burnt offering" to the term "regular," tamid, in recognition of the fact
that tamid refers to the daily, or regular, burnt offerings.)
The word tamid, "continual(ly),"
"regular(ly)," occurs 104 times in the Old
Testament, 51 times in connection with the sanctuary ritual, 53 times
otherwise. More than half of the 51 sanctuary-related occurrences are in
connection with the daily burnt offering (32 of the 51 times); and 19 times
of the bread of the presence, the lamp, the cereal offering, and other
aspects of the sanctuary and its ritual.
The Hebrew word nitsdaq never
means "cleansed," as the KJV translates it.
Nitsdaq is the passive form of the verb tsadaq, "to be right," and means "to
be set right," or as the NRSV renders it, "to be restored to its rightful
state." Had Daniel meant "cleansed" he would have used the word taher, which
does mean "cleansed" and always refers to ritual cleansing in contrast to
tsadaq, which always connotes moral rightness.101
Daniel 8:14 is concerned with the meaning
of the sacrificial worship
service, not with whether it was performed correctly. It affirmed Israel's
continued loyalty to God and commitment to its covenant relationship with
Him, at the beginning and again at the close of each day. The KJV based its
rendering of nitsdaq as "cleansed" on the Latin Vulgate, which reads
mundabitur, and the Greek Septuagint, which reads katharisthesetai, both of
which denote ritual cleansing, probably reflecting the ritual cleansing of
the temple after its desecration by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 167 B.C., as
recorded in 1 Maccabees 4:36-54.102
The KJV's "the Messiah the Prince" in
Daniel 9:25 and "Messiah" in verse 26,
respectively, constitute interpretation of the Hebrew text, not translation
of it. The Hebrew text reads "an anointed, a prince" or "an anointed prince"
in 9:25 and "an anointed" in verse 26. In so doing, the KJV commits a double
error by: (1) rendering the Hebrew indefinite as definite, and (2)
arbitrarily identifying the anointed prince as Jesus Christ. This double
error automatically led pioneer Adventists to another, even grosser, error
in verse 27, considered below.
To be sure, the English word "messiah"
accurately transliterates the Greek
messias, which in turn transliterates the Hebrew mashshiach, and the English
word "Christ" accurately translates the Greek messias. But the KJV
translators had no legitimate reason for rendering the Hebrew indefinite as
definite and identifying the anointed prince of Daniel 9:25 and 26 as Jesus
The KJV rendering "seven weeks, and
three score and two weeks" in 9:25,
implying a total of sixty-nine "weeks" between "the going forth of the
commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem" and the coming of its
"Messiah the Prince," grossly misrepresents the Hebrew syntax of verse 25.
Hebrew syntax requires that the seven-week
period be the time between the
"going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem" and the
"anointed prince" referred to, and that the "threescore and two weeks" refer
to the duration of the "troublous times" during which the "street" and the
"wall" remain built prior to the evil "prince that shall come" of the
following verse. The NRSV renders the Hebrew syntax of verse 25 correctly:
"... there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it [Jerusalem}
shall be built again ..." Verse 26 confirms the fact that the seven weeks
and the sixty-two weeks are two discrete periods of time, not one composite
time period. Hebrew usage throughout the Old Testament confirms this
Those who formulated the traditional
Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14
were led astray by these four KJV errors. Had they been working directly
from the Hebrew text of Daniel, or an accurate English translation, they
would never have contrived the traditional Adventist interpretation.
Their second error was adoption of the
day-for-a-year interpretation of
Bible prophecy. That pseudo principle, inherent in the historicist
interpretation of Bible prophecy, was invented in the ninth century by the
Jewish scholar Nahawendi, as a device by which to make Daniel's prophecies
relevant to his day. Catholic scholars subsequently adopted and used it
until certain other Catholic scholars, and later Protestants, based
their identification of the papacy as the antichrist of Bible prophecy on
it. Thereupon Roman Catholics abandoned the day-for-a-year principle,
whereas Protestants retained it as proof that Rome was "Babylon." Suffice it
to note, here, that there is no Bible basis whatever for this so-called
The Immediate Context of Daniel 8:14
The vision of chapter 8:1-12, the question
of verse 13, and the explanation
of verses 15 to 27 constitute the immediate context of verse 14. As a matter
of fact chapter 8 itself identifies all four essential elements of verse 14:
(1) its sanctuary, (2) why it needed cleansing or being "restored to its
rightful state," (3) how long it had needed cleansing or restoration, and
(4) when that cleansing or restoration would occur.
According to verses 9-12, their cryptic
little horn invades the "beautiful
land" and overthrows the sanctuary located there---obviously the sanctuary,
or temple, in Jerusalem. Verse 14 itself specifies that the period of time
during which the sanctuary would remain overthrown and its regular burnt
offering suspended as the time during which 2300 "regular burnt offerings"
would normally have been offered. With two such offerings each day, that
would be1150 literal twenty-four-hour days, or three years, two months, and
ten days. When would this occur? Verses 21 to 25 specify that all of this,
including the cleansing or restoration of the sanctuary to its rightful
state, would take place soon after the close of the four-horn (Hellenistic)
Greek era of the prophecy.
Verse 13, the question to which verse
14 is the answer, identifies the
"evenings and mornings" as an equivalent term for its "regular burnt
offering."104 The nature of the sanctuary's cleansing or restoration is
explained in the proximate context of the rest of the Book of Daniel, which
also identifies other events that accompany or follow its cleansing or
Verses 11 and 12 of chapter 8 attribute
the trampling of the sanctuary
mentioned in verses 11-13 to the cryptic little horn of verse 8, which
verses 21 to 23 identify as "a king of bold countenance" at "the end" of the
four horn (Greek) era of the vision. Accordingly, context explicitly
identifies the restoration of the sanctuary to its rightful state in verse
14 as removal of the damage caused by the little horn. The sanctuary's
overthrown, trampled state included, particularly, the taking away of its
"regular burnt offering" and substitution of the "transgression that makes
desolate"105 in its place.
The answer of verse 14 substitutes the
expression "evenings and mornings"
for verse 13's question about "the regular burnt offering," thereby
identifying them as equivalent terms for the same thing. With two such
sacrifices each day, the time during which 2,300 evening and morning
sacrifices would normally have been offered would be a period of 1,150
literal days, or nearly three and a half literal years. Verse 26 identifies
the time in history when this would happen as the "appointed time of the end
... many days from now," "at the end" of the "rule" of the four Greek
(Hellenistic) horns of the male goat.106
The immediate context of verse 14---chapter
8 itself---thus identifies all
of the essential elements of the verse, but leaves the restoration of
the sanctuary "to its rightful state" unexplained because Daniel fell
ill.107 As will be seen, events associated with that restoration are
revealed elsewhere in Daniel. The traditional Adventist interpretation of
Daniel 8:14 thus removes it completely from the immediate context in which
Gabriel and Daniel placed it, in obvious violation of the sola Scriptura
principle. The proximate context---Daniel 7, 9, and 10-12---clarifies
matters still further.
Daniel 9 as Proximate, Continuing Context for 8:14
The traditional Adventist interpretation
of Daniel 8:14 recognizes a
relationship between chapters 8 and 9, but at three vital points
misconstrues its contextual contribution to an accurate understanding of
8:14. This valid relationship is evident from (1) the fact that
Gabriel had not been able to complete his commission to explain the vision
of chapter 8,108 (2) that when he reappears in 9:21-25 he summons Daniel to
"understand" that vision, and (3) that his message in 9:24-27 provides the
very information needed to complement his aborted explanation of 8:19-27.
The traditional interpretation assumes
that the 70 "weeks" of years of 9:24
constitute the first 490 of its 2300 erev boquer construed as that many
literal years during which the sanctuary is said to be desolate. But
according to 9:24-26 the sanctuary is restored and in full operation during
the first 69 of the 70 "weeks"! How can the same sanctuary be restored and
in full operation109 during the very time 8:13-14 has it "desolate"? This
insoluble paradox, inherent in and indispensable to the traditional
interpretation, constitutes it an oxymoron!
The second contextual anomaly implicit
in and essential to the traditional
interpretation is its identification of the davar, "word" (KJV
"commandment"), that went out to restore and build Jerusalem,110 as the
decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus in 457 B.C. But that decree111 says nothing
about rebuilding either Jerusalem or the temple, which had already been
rebuilt and in operation for 59 years!112
Immediately prior to Gabriel's reappearance
and message recorded in 9:20-27
Daniel had been pleading in prayer for God to restore His now desolate
sanctuary in Jerusalem.113 At this point in Daniel's prayer Gabriel
interrupts to announce that a davar, "word"114 (or "command," KJV) had
already gone forth, obviously in heaven, in response to his prayer, and that
he (Gabriel) had now come to "declare it" to Daniel. He forthwith repeats
that "word"115 and explains it.116 Contextually, the "word" that "went out
[motsa] to restore and rebuild Jerusalem"117 is the very "word" that "went
out" (yatsa) in response to Daniel's prayer,118 and is quoted verbatim in
verse 24! Gabriel assures Daniel that God Himself, not some earthly monarch,
had already answered his fervent prayer! Obviously that "word"119 is one
that only God Himself could possibly have issued, not some earthly monarch!
With considerable support even among
presumably reputable Bible scholars,
the traditional Adventist interpretation identifies the "he" of 9:27 who
"make[s] a strong covenant with many" renegade Jews for the seventieth of
the seventy weeks,120 and for half of the week" makes "sacrifice and
offering cease," as the "Messiah the Prince" (KJV) of verses 25 and 26,
meaning Christ. But the immediate antecedent of the pronoun "he" in verse 27
is the evil "prince that shall come" of verse 26, not the anointed prince of
verse 25! Only reliance on the faulty KJV identification of the anointed
prince of verse 25 as Christ, and identifying Him as the "he" of verse 27,
is the traditional interpretation able to reckon backwards to identify the
decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus in 457 B.C. as marking the beginning of the
seventy "weeks" of years (and thus also of its 2300 years). Furthermore, the
Hebrew ein lo of verse 26 (KJV "but not for himself," NRSV "shall have
nothing") actually means that the cut off prince would have no successor.
Thus to have either him or a successor reappear as the "he" of verse 27
makes verse 27 contradict verse 26! Another oxymoron!
Identifying the "he" of verse 27 as
the evil "prince who is to come" of
verse 26, however, makes verse 27 an exact parallel to the career of the
little horn in chapter 8, who likewise "makes sacrifice and offering cease"
and in their place sets up "an abomination that desolates."121 Remember, as
pointed out above, that the angel Gabriel specifically presented 9:25-27 as
a continuing explanation of the prophecy of chapter 8. To complete the
parallel, he now122 tells Daniel that "the decreed end is poured out upon
the desolator," as he had formerly told him (in chapter 8) that "the king of
bold countenance" would "be broken, and not by human hands."123
This contextual understanding of 9:27
automatically and conclusively locates
the 2300 evenings and mornings" of 8:14, understood as the number of
sacrifices that would normally be offered, two each day, during the course
of 1150 days, within the 1260 days, or three and a half years of the last
half of the seventieth "week" of years of chapter 9---the "appointed time of
the end" in the "latter part" of the four-horn era124 when the little horn
of verses 9-13, 23-27 appears on the prophetic stage in what was, in
Daniel's time, "the distant future."125
9. Flaws in the Sanctuary Doctrine
There can be no question as to the sincerity,
diligence, and integrity of
those who formulated the traditional Adventist interpretation of
Daniel 8:14. It is equally obvious that they were following the flawed
principles of the prooftext method: (1) In four major instances they adopted
translation errors where the KJV misrepresents the Hebrew text. (2) They
completely ignored the literary context in which Daniel 8:14 occurs. (3)
They likewise ignored the historical context specified by the first six
chapters and chapter 9:1-19 of the book, within which its several prophetic
pericopes were given and to which they specifically applied. (4) They did
not take into account the salvation history perspective specified by the
book (and the entire Old Testament),126 within which Daniel 8:14 occurs and
to which Daniel specifically applies it. As set forth in the preceding
section of this paper, sola Scriptura and the historical method both require
that these factors be taken into account.
Today, anyone who makes exegetical blunders
such as these is automatically
dismissed as an unreliable Bible student. Had the pioneers of our message
been following the principles of the historical method they would never have
come to the conclusions they did---and never experienced the bitter
disappointment on October 22, 1844. Let us emulate their sincerity,
earnestness, and devotion to the Word of God, and be true to the best we
know today, as they were in their time!
In comparison with the exegetical requirements
set forth in the two
preceding sections (7 and 8 above), the traditional interpretation of Daniel
8:14 ignores ...
... the historical context provided
by chapters 1 to 6 and 9:4-19, within
which Inspiration placed it---the point in history when the seventy years of
exile foretold by Jeremiah came to a close and the restoration era was
about to begin.
... the salvation history perspective
of Daniel's time, and of the entire
Bible.35, 131.... the Hebrew text of Daniel 8:14 and 9:25-26 at four major points,
identified in section 8 above.103
... the immediate context of 8:14 in
chapter 8 itself, which explicitly
identifies (1) the sanctuary mentioned in verse 14 as that located by verses
9 to 11 in "the beautiful land," Judea; (2) its desolation of the sanctuary
as that caused by the little horn in verses 11 to 13, and (3) when that
desolation would take place, at the close of the (Hellenistic) Greek era, in
verses 21 to 23. Accordingly, reference by analogy to the heavenly sanctuary
of the Book of Hebrews is irrelevant.
... the fact that 9:24-26 has the sanctuary
restored and in full operation
during the very time that 8:13-14 has it desolate and out of operation. This
contradiction, inherent in and essential to the traditional interpretation
of Daniel 8:14 which requires that the seventy weeks of years be considered
the first segment of the 2,300 "days," renders it an exegetical oxymoron.
The day-for-a-year idea applied to Bible
prophecy appears first in the ninth
century Karaite Jewish scholar Nahawendi's attempt to relate the fulfillment
of Daniel's prophecies to events of his day. Modern reliance on the
day-for-a-year "principle" in the interpretation of Bible prophecy
originated with (1) the mistaken KJV rendition of the Hebrew erev boquer
("evenings mornings") in Daniel 8:14 as "days," when as a matter of fact
erev boquer is verse 14's contextual equivalent of "regular burnt offering"
in the question of verse 13, to which verse 14 is the inspired answer, and
with (2) the endeavor to correlate these supposed "days" with the "seventy
weeks" of Daniel 9:24. The expression "seventy weeks" is simply use of the
jubilee system of expressing 490 years as 49 jubilees, each of its ten
"jubilees" consisting of 49 literal years. There is absolutely no Bible
basis whatever for citing Daniel 9 as evidence for the day-for-a-year idea.
It should be noted that the "days" of
Numbers 14:34 during which
representatives of the twelve tribes had spied out the land of Canaan were
not prophetic of the years God sentenced the Israelites to wander in the
desert. Those years were, rather, judicial, sentencing the unbelieving
wanderers for their lack of faith in God's promise to give them the land of
Canaan. The 390 "days" of Ezekiel 4:6 during which God directed the prophet
to lie on one side and then the other, represented that many past years of
apostasy. Those "days" were in no sense prophetic of the past years of
Under the caption "Christ's Ministry
in the Heavenly Sanctuary" article 23
of Fundamental Beliefs reads as follows, with a distinction between that
which accurately reflects Scripture and is biblically relevant in bold face,
and the sanctuary doctrine's flawed interpretation of Bible passages in
is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which
the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers in our behalf, making
available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once
for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began
His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end
of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase
of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is
part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of
the ancient sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the
sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly
things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The
investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead
are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part
in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who, among the living, are
abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus,
and in Him therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting
kingdom. This judgment vindicates God in saving those who believe in Jesus.
It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the
kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of
human probation before the second Advent.
The first part of the preceding statement
accurately reflects the
description of Christ's ministry on our behalf since His return to heaven
nearly two thousand years ago. The last part has no basis whatever in
Scripture. To be in harmony with the sola Scriptura principle it should be
deleted from the Fundamental Beliefs resume of Adventist beliefs and
replaced by an amplification of Christ's ministry as set forth in the Book
The ephemeral umbilical cord is essential
to life prior to birth, but
totally irrelevant thereafter. May it be that the traditional sanctuary
doctrine was a sort of spiritual umbilical cord God permitted as a means of
reviving advent expectancy, but should be discarded once it had served its
purpose? "The Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour," "the night is far
gone, the day is near," "let us put on the armor of light." "What sort of
persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness" while
"waiting for and hastening the day of God."?127 May it be that God
overlooked this defect in their understanding of Daniel 8:14 and honored
their sincerity, in view of the fact that the traumatic experience of
October 22, 1844 had the effect of reviving the state of advent expectancy
Jesus long ago commended to His followers: "Keep awake, therefore, for you
do not know on what day your Lord is coming."128
The basic cause of the bitter disappointment
was unawareness of the fact
that, when given, Daniel's preview of the future applied specifically to the
Jewish captives in Babylon anticipating return to their homeland, and to His
plans for them culminating in the establishment of His eternal reign of
righteousness in the long ago. This becomes obvious when the historical
circumstances of Daniel's time and its perspective of salvation
history---all explicit in the book itself---are taken into consideration.
The presupposition that Daniel 8:14, when given, anticipated events of our
time was the basic cause of the 1844 error and the resulting disappointment.
Continued disappointment will be inevitable until this error is recognized
and corrected, and the historicist principle on which it is based, is
10. The Sanctuary Doctrine and Sola Scriptura
The traditional Adventist sanctuary
doctrine is based on the historicist
principle, or method, of prophetic interpretation. Consequently, those who
follow that method automatically find the doctrine flawless. On the other
hand, those who follow the historical principle, or method, find it
bristling with flaws. As a result, differences of opinion with respect to
the sanctuary doctrine can be resolved only by objectively testing the
presuppositions and methodology on which it is based, by the sola Scriptura
principle. The two methods are as mutually exclusive and irreconcilable as
day and night, and a choice between them is decisive for the study of Bible
Historicism is based on the untested
pre-concept that the modern reader's
perspective of salvation history is inherent in Bible prophecy and therefore
in full harmony with the sola Scriptura principle. According to the
historicist principle the modern reader of the Bible is to understand its
statements with respect to the end time of human history and associated
events, in terms of our modern perspective of salvation history, with an
uninterrupted, continuous fulfillment of Bible prophecy throughout the two
thousand years since Bible times. The sanctuary doctrine and its advocates
have always taken this principle for granted and never tested its presumed
validity objectively, that is, by the Bible itself. This was true at Glacier
View in August 1980. It is equally true of the subsequent GC-appointed
Daniel and Revelation Committee and its seven-volume official report, which
presupposes the inherent validity of historicism but never attempts to test
or defend it objectively by the sola Scriptura principle.
On the other hand, the historical principle
begins with objective attention
to prophetic statements of the Bible in terms of their import as determined
by the historical circumstances and salvation history perspective within
which they were given and to which they were intended to apply. This
principle is not adopted as a subjective pre-concept, but on the objective
basis of plain sola Scriptura evidence, as illustrated in Sections 7 and 8
above with respect to Daniel's own explicit historical and salvation history
perspective. Both are inherent in the Book of Daniel and obvious when read
Section 8 above examines the historical
sections of the Book of Daniel and
Daniel's own perspective of salvation history with the objective of
determining the historical circumstances and salvation history perspective
as a basis for understanding the import of its prophetic sections. Daniel's
salvation history perspective is identical with that of the Old Testament as
a whole, as my article "The Role of Israel in Old Testament Prophecy"129 in
volume 4 of the SDA Bible Commentary demonstrates. Chapter 4 of my 725-page
unpublished book manuscript The Eschatology of Daniel, "The Old Testament
Perspective of Salvation History," provides replete Bible evidence for the
conclusion that it anticipates the climax of human history at the close of
Old Testament times, or soon thereafter.
Jesus and the New Testament writers
unanimously reiterate this Old Testament
perspective of salvation history and anticipate His promised return at the
climax of New Testament times. In 36 pages chapter 12 of The Eschatology of
Daniel, "The New Testament Perspective of Salvation History," covers this
aspect of the subject in considerable detail.
In summary, at the beginning of His
public ministry Jesus announced as the
theme of His mission: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has
come near, repent and believe in the good news." What was fulfilled? The
time prophecies of Daniel, alone in the Old Testament, identify the "time"
to which Jesus here refers. Thus, on no less than the authority of Jesus
Himself, fulfillment of the "time" specified by Daniel was near when Jesus
appeared in fulfillment of Old Testament anticipation of His coming. During
the course of His sermon in the synagogue at Nazareth He declared concerning
the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-3: "Today this scripture has been
fulfilled in your hearing."
During the course of Jesus' response
to the disciples' inquiry concerning
the destruction of the Temple, to which He had just referred, the "sign" of
His promised return and "the end of the age" was, "When you see the
desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place spoken of by the prophet
Daniel ... know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this
generation will not pass away until all these things, [specifically
including His coming in the clouds of heaven to gather His elect] have taken
That Jesus specifically intended His
remarks concerning the prophecy of
Daniel being fulfilled in His disciples' own generation is evident from (1)
His use of the pronouns "you" and is His disciples' generation is
evident from His repeated "your" twelve times throughout His discourse, and (2)
their repeated use of such expressions as "the end of the times," "the
coming of the Lord is at hand," "it is the last hour," "these last days,"
"the time is near," He is "coming soon," "the time has grown very short,"
"the end of the ages has come," "these last days," and "yet a little while,"
nearly forty times when referring to Jesus' anticipated return.131 John the
revelator specifically says that everything in the Book of Revelation "must
soon take place," and Jesus assures him four times "I am coming soon," and
the last of which, "surely I am coming soon."132
There is not the slightest suggestion
or hint anywhere in either the Old or
the New Testaments that Jesus' return would be postponed more or less
indefinitely beyond Bible times. The Bible evidence is all explicitly to the
contrary. The Bible itself knows nothing whatever about the historicist
interpretation of its prophecies, a concept that is gratuitously imposed
upon them. If Gabriel and Daniel were here today they would inevitably
render the verdict of sola Scriptura against historicism and in favor of a
historical understanding of Bible prophecy, including that of the Book of
Daniel, and insist on the Bible's own historical and salvation history
The historicist principle by which Adventists
have consistently understood
and interpreted Bible prophecy has, ever since the beginning, imposed our
uninspired modern perspective of salvation history on it, and thereby been
in unwitting violation of the sola Scriptura principle. In contrast, the
historical principle honors the Bible's own perspective of salvation
history, within which its prophetic messages were given and to which they
were intended to apply. It thereby consistently honors the sola Scriptura
principle. Let us not soon forget that the historicist interpretation of
Bible prophecy has ever been and continues to be responsible for the loss of
many otherwise dedicated leaders and the defection of uncounted hundreds of
otherwise faithful Seventh-day Adventists. It has, in addition, diverted
considerable time, attention, and substantial resources of the church from
its mission to the world.
Surely it is high time for responsible
church leaders to awake to the
situation and do something about it. The obscurantist 1600-page, 5-volume
Daniel and Revelation Committee report on Daniel accepts and consistently
applies the historicist principle to Bible prophecy---officially for the
church. Do we want the twenty-first century to witness the fulfillment of
Christ's promise to return, or do we prefer to repeat our pathetic
historicist past complacently and indefinitely into the future, and thereby
alienate the respect and confidence of biblically literate Adventists and
11. Obscurantism and the Sanctuary Doctrine
Webster defines obscurantism as "depreciation
of or positive opposition to
enlightenment or the spread of knowledge, esp. a policy ... of deliberately
making something obscure or withholding knowledge from the general public."
Here, the word "obscurantism" is used in the specific sense of making
presumably authoritative decisions and/or statements with respect to the
sanctuary doctrine on the basis of untested, preconceived opinions and/or
without first weighing all of the available evidence on the basis of sound,
recognized principles of exegesis and basing conclusions exclusively on the
weight of all the evidence.
Obscurantism has characterized the official
response of the church to every
question raised with respect to the traditional interpretation of Daniel
8:14, the sanctuary doctrine, and the investigative judgment. In at least
most instances this obscurantism has been inadvertent and not intentional,
but its effect has been the same as if it had been intentional. It is high
time for the church to be done with the traditional clichés with which it
has heretofore responded to questions regarding the sanctuary doctrine. It
is time to face up to and to deal fairly and objectively with all of the
A Window of Hope and Opportunity at Mid-Century
Elder R. R. Figuhr's twelve years as
president of the General Conference at
mid-century (1954-1966) provided the church with an era of wise leadership
and openness in which administrators and trained Bible scholars worked
together harmoniously and effectively in resolving biblical and doctrinal
questions. Over the preceding fifteen years the church had developed a
community of trained, responsible Bible scholars whose professional
expertise Elder Figuhr respected and trusted, and who, in turn, respected
and appreciated his wise leadership. An open, happy, and rewarding working
relationship developed between them that was good for the church.
Another important aspect of that mid-century
era of good will and
cooperation was the spirit of consensus and harmony among the Bible scholars
of the church in which the sometimes bitter doctrinal factionalism133 of the
earlier decades of the century had disappeared. For this two factors were
responsible, the first being the Bible Research Fellowship, pioneer
professional organization of Bible Scholars, and second, the SDA Bible
At their 1940 meeting in Takoma Park
the North American college Bible
teachers authorized the formation of a professional organization in which
they could work together on matters of exegesis and doctrine, share the
results of their study with one another, and benefit from one another's
constructive criticism.134 This organization became a reality three years
later---1943---in the Bible Research Fellowship (BRF),134 of which Dr. L. L.
Caviness was chairperson and I secretary throughout its brief lifetime of
approximately ten years. We were teaching together in the religion
department at Pacific Union College.
Eventually, BRF membership rose to 250
and, with one exception, included all
college level Bible Teachers around the world. Many others, including
seventeen General Conference persons, were dues-paying members. During those
ten years more than 90 formal papers were considered and shared with
members.135 At the Bible teachers' 1950 meeting at Pacific Union College,
responses to a questionnaire found complete agreement with respect to every
major, divisive exegetical and doctrinal issue over the preceding fifty
years!136 At that 1950 meeting BRF made a report of its operations, a formal
vote of appreciation for BRF was taken, and all joined in singing the
In 1951, on behalf of BRF, I proposed
to the General Conference that it
establish a permanent committee to replace BRF.137 The 1952 Autumn (now
Annual) Council accepted my proposal and established the Biblical Research
Committee (BRC) of the General Conference. Thereupon Dr. Caviness, present
as a delegate, formally handed over BRF operations to BRC. Simultaneously
transferring from Pacific Union College to the Review and Herald Publishing
Association to edit the Bible Commentary, I was appointed a charter member
of BRC. After several years, for a still higher level of continuity and
effective service to the church, I proposed that the committee become an
institute.138 This was voted in 1975, whereupon BRC became the Biblical
Research Institute (BRI), which it remains today (2002).
The second unifying factor was production
of the seven-volume SDA Bible
Commentary (1952-1957),139 in which a team of approximately fifty writers
and editors participated.139 Prior to publication each volume was read and
criticized by ten church leaders around the world, who were paid for their
criticisms.140 Some critical sections were read and criticized by 125 such
readers. All criticisms were carefully evaluated, and where considered
But during the late 1960's that brief
mid-century era of openness, good
will, progress, and cooperation between administrators and Bible scholars
began imperceptibly to erode into the closed-minded, polarized,
obscurantist, and theological witch-hunting that continues to the present
time (2002). In order to understand this subtle change in the Adventist
climate over the past thirty years, let us note first, the three architects
of obscurantism primarily responsible for it. All three were southern Bible
belt fundamentalists. We will also note several specific evidences of
Architects of Obscurantism
The role of this part of Section 11
on obscurantism in the church over the
past 33 years is to explain how the present climate of obscurantism
surreptitiously invaded and captured the church. Only a person who served
the church through the preceding era of openness and mutual respect between
administrators and Bible scholars at the General Conference level is in a
position to appreciate the profound change that revolutionized Adventist
theology, Biblical hermeneutics, and approach to doctrine during the decade
of obscurantism (1969-1980).
The three principal architects of obscurantism
introduced briefly below were
all obviously sincere, dedicated individuals who conscientiously believed
that their ultimate objective, or "end," justified whatever means they might
employ to achieve that objective. For instance, they were never willing to
enter into open, responsible dialog with those who did not share their
perspective, but two of the three always, consistently put daggers in the
backs of those whom they suspected of not sharing their point of view. In
personal conversation the president of the General Conference admitted this
On the contrary, it was my privilege
to converse personally with each of the
"architects of obscurantism" named below, by which I came to understand
their objectives and methods first hand. Realizing, eventually, that the
last two of the three were simply implementing Elder Pierson's policy and
objectives, I spent many hours at various times in conversation with him,
the last being two or three hours on the chartered Pan-American flight
returning from the General Conference Session in Vienna, in 1975.
These conversations were always positive,
"friend of the court" in tone in
which I dealt with principles and never mentioned anyone's name. In one of
those conversations Elder Pierson cryptically told me that one of the other
two "architects" was disseminating (among GC personnel) inaccurate
accusatory comments with respect to loyal Adventist scholars whom he
considered theological renegades. In our correspondence following Elder
Pierson's retirement in 1979 we both expressed appreciation for each other's
friendship. In his last letter a short time before his death he wrote:
"Through the years that we served together in Washington I always considered
you as a friend. Though there may have been areas of differing opinions I
had a warm feeling for you personally." In my last letter to him I expressed
the same sentiment.
Robert H. Pierson was a gracious person,
a dedicated Adventist, a gentleman
in every way, but also a person with clear objectives and resolute
determination to achieve them. A major objective of his administration as
president of the General Conference was to replace the administrator / Bible
scholar partnership that had developed during Elder Figuhr's administration
with strict administrative control of the theological and doctrinal
processes of the church.
During his thirteen years as president
of the General Conference (1966-1979)
Elder Pierson completely reversed the policy of his predecessor, R. R.
Figuhr, with respect to biblical studies, doctrine, and cooperation with its
community of Bible scholars. His very sincere but resolute aim was to
restore the situation that had prevailed when he graduated from Southern
Junior College in 1933 and left North America three years later for
distinguished overseas service in India, the Caribbean, and South Africa,
where he served with distinction until he was elected GC president thirty
years later. For all practical purposes, in 1936 church administrators had
been in exclusive control of theology and doctrine for the church. At that
time there were no trained Adventist Bible scholars. Anyone who attended an
"outside" university for training in such subjects as biblical languages,
archeology, ancient history, and chronology was automatically considered
persona non grata by every Adventist college board.141
Accordingly, Pierson distrusted the
entire Adventist community of Bible
scholars and set out to exclude them from meaningful participation in the
Biblical and doctrinal deliberations of the church. In private conversation
and in GC committees he repeatedly stated it to be his policy that
administrators alone---and not in counsel with Bible scholars---should
decide exegetical questions for the church. His first step toward
implementing this policy took place at the Spring Meeting of the GC in 1969,
which eliminated the Bible scholars of the church, en masse, from the
Biblical Research Committee142-a policy that was never implemented, however,
due to vigorous protests from the Theological Seminary faculty. Undaunted,
however, later that year he achieved his objective by adding numerous
administrators and other non-scholars to BRC, and appointing a vice
president of the GC to supervise the Biblical Research Committee (now
Institute) and the GC office of biblical studies (BRI).143
Also in the spring of 1969, Pierson
invited a teacher at his alma mater,
Southern Adventist College (now University), to chair BRC---Gordon M.
Hyde---whose training was in communication---and who shared Pierson's
Southern Bible belt fundamentalist theological perspective. Hyde protested
that he was not trained in theology, but Pierson explained that he was to
function as an administrator and not as a Bible scholar.144 With this
understanding Hyde accepted the invitation, and when, during his first years
at the GC he was expected to reply to a theological question, he parried the
question with the explanation that he was not a theologian.
Upon occasion Hyde could be devious
and underhandedly maneuver to achieve
his objectives. For instance, at the week-long GC-appointed Charistmatic
Committee at Camp Cumby-Gay in Georgia, Hyde announced that every speaker
was to confine his remarks to thirty minutes. But he gave Hasel two full
hours for his presentation. Upon another occasion he invited Hasel to a
sensitive subcommittee hearing to which the Bible Research Committee had
explicitly not appointed him, and provided him with copies of papers to be
presented to that subcommittee which were to be shared with the appointed
members of the committee only. Members of the subcommittee objected to this
faux pas on Hyde's part, and as a result the subcommittee never met.145
When, toward the close of my forty-seven
years of service to the church Hyde
repeatedly refused requests for a face-to-face reconciliation, I wrote him a
nine-page letter "looking for reconciliation" in which I mentioned the
problems that had arisen between us and made a final appeal for an
opportunity to restore the friendly relationship we had enjoyed when he
first came to the GC. But he never replied and was intransigent against ever
Hyde's major project designed to promote
Hasel as leading theologian of the
church was the series of three North American Bible Conferences, the first
of which convened at Southern Adventist College, the second at Andrews
University, and the third at Pacific Union College. He assigned Hasel the
theme topic, biblical hermeneutics, and featured him on every panel
discussion. The senior members of the Theological Seminary faculty were
bypassed altogether or assigned relatively minor roles.146
Hyde's attempt to have Hasel appointed
dean of the Theological Seminary in
the spring of 1974 (prior to the conferences) was aborted by the senior
members of the faculty because of Hasel's interference with established
Seminary procedures, his collusion with Gordon Hyde and the GC to control
Seminary policy, and what the senior members of the faculty referred to as
his "intolerable dogmatism."147 Hasel did, however, become dean in 1980, but
was demoted seven years later for plagiarism and his attempt to separate the
Seminary from Andrews University.
Without expertise in biblical studies
and theology himself, Hyde selected
Gerhart F. Hasel, a former colleague at Southern Adventist College who had
transferred to the Seminary in 1967 and whose ultra-conservative perspective
he shared, as his mentor and personal adviser in biblical-theological
matters. Hyde's objective was to elevate Hasel to be the leading Adventist
theologian and dean of the Theological Seminary at Andrews University, where
he would be in a position to indoctrinate the next generation of Adventist
Bible scholars and pastors with his obscurantist hermeneutical perspective.
During his tenure as dean, Hasel made
several teachers more experienced than
he feel unwelcome at the Seminary and, in effect, froze them out---Drs.
Sakai Kubo, Ivan Blazen, Fritz Guy, and Larry Geraty. All four were
immediately invited to serve at other Adventist institutions of higher
education, three of them as college or university presidents. Hasel
forthwith appointed Seminary students he had trained, and who accepted his
biblical hermeneutic, to replace them. He and Gordon Hyde subsequently
forced two other religion faculty members---Drs. Lorenzo Grant and Edwin
Zachrison---to leave Southern Adventist College at approximately the same
time as Jerry Gladson, and the president of the college resigned in protest.
Hasel never approached his targets directly, in compliance with Matthew
18:15, but stuck verbal daggers in their back by denouncing them to
administrators (who accepted his word without verifying it).
Over the decade1969 to 1979 this triumvirate---Pierson,
Hasel---conspired effectively together to gain control of Adventist Biblical
studies, theology, and doctrine in harmony with their fundamentalist,
obscurantist perspective.148 Hasel's role was to control Adventist biblical
studies and theology. Hyde's role was to devise procedures by which to
implement Hasel's hermeneutical and theological perspective, Pierson's role
was to protect Hasel and Hyde whatever they might attempt to do. I have set
forth a documented record of thirty-one specific incidents in this
conspiracy designed to implement Pierson's policy, in my forty-page paper
Architects of Crisis: A Decade of Obscurantism (1969-1979).
This explains the origin of the obscurantist
climate in the church over the
past thirty years and its unwillingness to deal objectively with the
numerous exegetical anomalies in the traditional Adventist interpretation of
Daniel 8:14 with its sanctuary and investigative judgment.
Aftermath of the Decade of Obscurantism
By the close of the decade of obscurantism
(1969-1979) the goal of its three
architects was firmly in place. Elder Pierson, ailing, retired a year early.
Replaced as director of BRI, Gordon Hyde transferred to Southern Adventist
College to be dean of the School of Religion. Gerhard Hasel became dean of
the Theological Seminary for seven years (1980-1987), after which the
General Conference demoted him, primarily because of his attempt to separate
it from Andrews University.149 That unanticipated event precipitated the
founding of the Adventist Theological Society (ATS) the following year
(1988), which was specifically designed to perpetuate the objectives of the
decade of obscurantism in view of Hasel's loss of influence as Seminary
In view of the fact that Gordon Hyde
was then dean of the school of religion
at Southern College (SC; now University) and Gerhard Hasel dean
of the Theological Seminary at Andrews University, between 1980 and 1987,
that both had been teachers at SC prior to 1969, and that Robert Pierson
was a graduate (1933) of Southern when it was a junior college, it was no
accident that the Adventist Theological Society (ATS) was founded at SC in
1988 by representatives of both institutions and that SC became its first
headquarters until it later moved to Andrews University. Thus ATS has a
solid basis in Adventist Southern Bible belt fundamentalism, which
determines its hermeneutical and theological orientation.150
Developments at the General Conference
(GC) level since the decade of
obscurantism (1969-1979) are likewise intimately related to these facts.
Among these developments have been the following: (1) obscurantism in
control at Glacier View,151 (2) obscurantism in relating to Walter Rea,152
(3) obscurantism at Consultations 1 and 2,153 (4) obscurantism in the Daniel
and Revelation Committee and its 5-volume report,154 (5) obscurantism in the
Methods of Bible Study report,155 (6) obscurantism at the GC Biblical
Research Institute, and thus in control of GC doctrinal policy,156 (7)
obscurantism in the way several dissenting faculty members at the Seminary
and SAC have been treated,157 (8) obscurantism motivating the present GC
(IBMTE) and NAD committees formulating a low-tolerance-level policy with
respect to dissent from official doctrinal policy. The triumvirate has
proved to be eminently successful!
The Nature and Raison d'Etre of Doctrinal Obscurantism
Obscurantism is unwillingness to examine
either purported or demonstrated
facts objectively, and to encourage or coerce others into accepting
subjective presuppositions. The classic illustration of obscurantism was
president of the Flat Earth Society Simon Voliva's journey around the world
in 1929, when upon his return he explained to society members that his trip
had proved conclusively that planet earth is flat---by going in a circle on
its flat surface!
Obscurantism is the result of a subjective
state of mind in which one's
unproved presuppositions take precedence over the weight of objective
evidence to the contrary. It usually occurs when a person presumes to evaluate
matters beyond the limits of his personal training and competence.
Almost without exception that was the situation with a decided majority
of Seventh-day Adventist leaders with respect to doctrinal matters for nearly
a century after 1844. That explains the inability of many if not most of the
participants in the historic 1919 Bible conference to resolve the doctrinal
issues on its agenda. Adventist administrators untrained in reliable principles of
biblical exegesis have, almost without exception, nevertheless traditionally
functioned as the ultimate authority on matters of doctrine.
During the mid-century era (approximately
1940 to 1969) when, for the first
time, Adventist Bible scholars began to practice objective methods of Bible
study and church administrators, appreciating the value of their expertise,
began to accept them as genuine partners in dealing with doctrinal matters.
Biblical and doctrinal obscurantism gradually disappeared. after 1969,
however, as obscurantism on the part of new church administrators gave the
next decade (1969-1979) the unhappy sobriquet "decade of obscurantism."
For instance, during sessions of the
Biblical Research Committee (now
Institute) Gerhard Hasel repeatedly stated that it was a mistake even to try
to be objective. In the plenary session of the Sanctuary Review Committee at
Glacier View, for instance, he demonstrated this by emphatically declaring
in the plenary session Monday afternoon, August 10, 1980, "God's only
intention in Daniel 8:14 was to point forward to 1844!" This statement was
met by a loud chorus of amens.
Obscurantism was also evident on the
part of leaders in charge of study
Group 2 at Glacier View on Monday morning. Twelve of the sixteen speeches in
the group that morning favored Ford's point of view, but when chairman of
the group---a GC vice president---summed up the opinion of the group for its
report to the plenary session that afternoon, he reported the minority of
four speeches as the view of the majority---an obvious instance of
obscurantism. Following one of the speeches favoring Ford, the other vice
president present responded, "We could never accept that!" In the plenary
session that afternoon eleven of the fifteen speeches by Bible scholars
likewise favored Ford's position on the same topic, but again administration
took the consensus to be negative. From beginning to end obscurantism was in
charge at Glacier View.
Obscurantism characterizes the tedious
printed reports of the General
Conference-appointed Daniel and Revelation Committee that functioned during
the 1980s. (See below). It is likewise the guiding principle of the
Adventist Theological Society, legitimate heir of Gerhard Hasel's
Obscurantism continues to be alive and
well at the General Conference level.
On November 15, 2000 I sent another major paper on Daniel 8:14 to some
eighty Bible scholars and administrators, including the president of the
General Conference. His reply was courteous to a "T", but he referred the
paper to the Biblical Research Institute (BRI) with the comment that their
reply would be his also. In January 2001 he sent me a copy of the evasive
BRI reply, which reported that they had already considered and settled all
of the biblical anomalies in the traditional sanctuary doctrine to which my
paper had called attention, which I well knew was not so. Evidently
obscurantism is still in charge at BRI and the General Conference.
In what does official obscurantism with
respect to the sanctuary doctrine
consist? Throughout the twentieth century, inclusive of Glacier View (1980)
and the subsequent Daniel and Revelation Committee Series report, the
General Conference has always countered flaws in the doctrine that have been
called to its attention with ever more elaborate and evasive reasons adduced
in favor of it. But it has never yet paid attention to the flaws themselves!
As long ago as 1934 W. W. Prescott called
attention to this problem in a
letter he wrote to W. A. Spicer, president of the General Conference: "I
have waited all these years for someone to make an adequate answer to
Ballenger, Fletcher and others on their positions re. the sanctuary but I
have not seen or heard it."160 Having been a member of the GC committees
that met with Ballenger, Fletcher, and Conradi, Prescott realized that the
official GC responses, both oral and published, offered presumed reasons for
believing the sanctuary doctrine, but left the flaws to which the three had
called attention completely unanswered! The same was true with respect to
Dr. Ford at Glacier View and the subsequent Daniel and Revelation Committee
report. Obscurantism still characterizes GC and BRI responses to valid
questions regarding exegetical flaws in the sanctuary doctrine.
12. The Daniel and Revelation Committee
Eventually realizing that Glacier View
had not settled the sanctuary issue,
the General Conference appointed the Daniel and Revelation Committee (DRC)
and assigned it the task of compiling what was intended to be definitive
proof of the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14, the sanctuary, and
the investigative judgment. The committee functioned during the 1980s under
the auspices of the General Conference Biblical Research Institute (BRI) and
published its report in seven volumes under the title Daniel and Revelation
Committee Series (DRCS).
The five volumes of the DRCS series
devoted to Daniel defend what is now
considered the official response of the church to all questions regarding
the sanctuary doctrine. Unwittingly, however, DRCS presents Adventist
scholarship under the control of obscurantism. It does not address any of
the contextual anomalies to which Section 8 above, "Rightly Explaining
Daniel 8:14," calls attention!
One would have expected so important
a committee as DRC to be composed, at
least primarily, of a cross-section of the trained, experienced, known, and
trusted Bible scholars of the church. It was not! They were intentionally
excluded! The composition, or membership, of the committee bears the
unmistakable imprint of Gerhard Hasel as the only one who could have
selected its members. Why so? At the time, he was dean of the Theological
Seminary, at the height of his career, and approximately half of DRC's
eighteen members had been Seminary students during his fifteen years or so
as a member of the Seminary faculty. They were otherwise unknown to either
the General Conference or the incumbent Bible scholars in the colleges of
North America. And they all shared Hasel's hermeneutical perspective, as did
all but three other members of the committee!
As reflected in the DRCS report the
conclusions to which the committee came
with respect to the sanctuary doctrine were thus determined before the
committee ever met!
As set forth in the preface to volume
1 of the series, its interpretation is
based on the historicist principle of prophetic interpretation, with respect
to which it acknowledges that "Seventh-day Adventists stand virtually alone
as exponents" today. Historicism interprets the predictive prophecy of the
Bible as providing an uninterrupted continuum of fulfillment from Bible
times to the present. In so doing it rejects the Bible's own, inherent,
perspective of salvation history, which explicitly anticipates the climax of
earth's history, Christ's promise to return, and the establishment of God's
eternal, righteous dominion over all the earth at the close of Bible
times.161 The DRCS reaffirmation of historicism is the crux of the issue to
which this paper is addressed. It is the ultimate, "scholarly,"
demonstration of the perennial obscurantism that has characterized
Adventism's perennial reaffirmation of the sanctuary doctrine for more than
It is not the objective of this paper
to review the five DRCS Daniel volumes
in detail, but rather to evaluate the credibility of its historicist
interpretation in terms of faithfulness to the sola Scriptura principle and
to generally recognized principles of exegesis, particularly the crucial
importance of context. Most of its 1600 pages are devoted to scholarly
analyses of the text of Daniel that only a trained Bible scholar would be
able to evaluate. Others would probably depend on their personal
presuppositions with respect to the sanctuary doctrine in accepting or
rejecting the conclusions to which the respective authors draw from the
evidence they present.
1519 of the 1600 pages consist of articles
by 18 authors. One author
contributed 418 pages (28%), another 176 pages (12%), and a third 111 pages
(9%), for a total of 705 pages. The other 15 authors contributed an average
of 54 pages each, five of them as little as 12 pages or less.
The disorganized way in which DRCS deals
with the sanctuary doctrine
reflects the disorganized way in which its parent "committee" (DRC) must
have operated. A committee is expected to integrate the contributions of its
members into a consensus that represents the committee as a committee. A
Bible translation conducted by a group of translators working together is
considered to be far more accurate and reliable than one by a single
individual, however qualified that individual may be. The consensus of the
group tends to eliminate individual idiosyncrasies, however "scholarly" they
may be. DRCS offers no such consensus or synthesis.
The eighteen DRCS authors are to be
commended for their knowledge of ancient
and recent literature relevant to the prophecies of Daniel, for their
expertise in ancient Hebrew and cognate languages, and for their obviously
diligent labors encapsulating all of this for modern readers. On the other
hand, their labors were flawed because of their obviously overriding
subjective use of this information in defense of an interpretation of the
prophecies of Daniel that, as a matter of fact, contradicts what Daniel
intended what he wrote to convey, as determined by context.158
Almost without exception the DRCS authors
tacitly assume the validity of the
historicist principle as their fundamental presupposition and then,
reasoning in a circle, offer what they write as proof of that
presupposition! At four major points they assume the accuracy of the KJV
translation where it misrepresents the Hebrew text. They ignore the
historical context within which Daniel locates his visions and to which he
applies them, and his explicit, composite, salvation history perspective. In
at least seven major instances they ignore or contradict Daniel's explicit
statements in the context. And in the year of our Lord 2002 BRI, with the
full approval of the GC, affirms DRCS as final and conclusive proof of the
traditional understanding of Daniel 8:14, the sanctuary, and the
investigative judgment! Reductio ad absurdum and the ultimate exercise in
obscurantism posing as the highest level of scholarship Adventists have to
In another noteworthy anomaly, the several
chapters dealing with the
supposed analogies between the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 and the sanctuaries
of the books of Leviticus and Hebrews is based on the supposition that its
sanctuary is the heavenly sanctuary, whereas, as noted in section 8 above,
context explicitly identifies it as the sanctuary, or temple, in Jerusalem.
These two analogies are valid only if the context in Daniel permits them. It
does not, period! Thus the several chapters devoted to the sanctuary in
Leviticus and Hebrews are irrelevant to the exegesis of Daniel 8:14!
Dr. William Shea's protracted and convoluted
chiastic literary analysis of
significant passages of Daniel throughout volume one of the DRCS and
elsewhere, sometimes in explicit contradiction of context, may be impressive
to the uninitiated but wearisome beyond measure and otherwise
counterproductive. DRCS would have been vastly improved without his 418
pages of comment! Much of Dr. Gerhard Hasel's 176 pages consists of
detailed analyses of non-Adventist interpretations of Daniel that are of no
value or relevance to any Seventh-day Adventist studying the book of Daniel.
Accordingly, some 40% of DRCS's 1519 pages of comment is really of little or
no practical value with respect to clarifying the Adventist understanding of
its prophetic pericopes. In many respects DRCS is a mute witness to the
uncoordinated and irrelevant way in which DRC evidently functioned, yet BRI
informs us that it has settled, once for all, every question about the
traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14, the sanctuary, and the
Currently in progress is another General
Conference project which seems
destined to solidify the Pierson-Hyde-Hasel objective of transforming the
Seventh-day Adventist Church from a community dedicated and open to the
continued guidance of the Holy Spirit into an ever more accurate and
complete "knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,"162 into the
closed, obscurantist, fundamentalist church that they envisioned---the
International Board for Ministerial Training and Endorsement with its
sub-boards in the various divisions. This project is already proving to be
divisive, and has the possibility of repeating the fate that overtook the
Lutheran Church---Missouri Synod in December 1976---schism.163
13. A Permanent Remedy for Doctrinal Obscurantism.
The church urgently needs a bona
fide consensus of all of its qualified
Bible scholars in order to ascertain as accurately as possible all matters
of biblical exegesis in harmony with the sola Scriptura principle,
preliminary to the formulation of doctrinal statements in partnership with
church administrators. Such a consensus can be achieved only by an
organization that would provide its members with an opportunity to confer
together apart from every influence or concern other than faithfulness to
sola Scriptura and loyalty to the church.
(1) This organization would serve as
an agency of, funded by, and dedicated
to cooperating with the General Conference, with the specific objective of
providing GC administrators with a bona fide consensus of its community of
Bible scholars on all biblical and doctrinal matters. (2) It would
participate with the GC in defining their working relationship. (3) It would
select its name (for example, "Bible Scholars' Council on Biblical
Exegesis"). (4) It would define its membership requirements, (4) select its
officers and specify their terms of service, and (5) elect an executive
committee and a permanent staff. (5) It would define its operating
procedures, (6) set its own agenda, (7) receive and respond to requests from
the GC, (8) select topics of its own for consideration, and (9) define its
principles of exegesis.
(10) It would report to GC administration
only, and not otherwise publicize
its findings beyond scholarly circles. (11) Its reports to administration
would reflect both the majority consensus and the degree of minority
dissent, if any. (12) It would conduct most of its business via e-mail, but
(13) hold an annual convocation which all members would be invited to
attend, with their employing organizations funding travel and accomodations.
(14) It would ordinarily meet in camera, but might, at its discretion,
invite non-scholar observers. (15) Its formative stage might be limited to
North American Bible scholars, but eventually it should include all
qualified Adventist Bible scholars worldwide.
Such an organization would be of inestimable
value to the church. It would
help the church to be a faithful witness to the sola Scriptura principle in
all aspects of its witness to the everlasting gospel, and to avoid the
obscurantism and intermittent doctrinal controversy of the past century.
14. The Authenticity of Adventism
This review and analysis of the traditional
Adventist interpretation of
Daniel 8:14, the sanctuary, and the investigative judgment is designed to be
constructive and remedial, not critical, accusatory, or punitive. I
sincerely hope that it will be received in the same spirit, and that
appropriate action will be taken to spare the church and its members from a
repetition of the traumatic episodes of the past for which this
pseudo-biblical doctrine, historicism, and obscurantism have been
For two reasons Seventh-day Adventism
remains an authentic, credible witness
to the everlasting gospel despite its all-to-human imperfections such as its
traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14, the sanctuary doctrine, and the
investigative judgment: (1) Its unique emphasis on applying the gospel of
Jesus Christ to every aspect of human personhood, mental and physical as
well as spiritual and social---practical, loving concern for the well-being
and happiness of all human beings, and (2) its emphatic witness to His
promised, imminent return to transform this suffering little world into the
permanent abode of righteousness and peace He originally designed it to
In view of the fact that Seventh-day
Adventists have, historically and
today, relied on the authenticity of the 1844 experience and the basic
credibility of the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14, and in view of
the above evidence that that interpretation is not tenable when tested by
the sola Scriptura principle (which the church affirms but compromises in
its interpretation of Daniel 8:14), the question inevitably arises, "What
basis is there for concluding that Adventism is an authentic witness to the
everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ?" An inevitable and appropriate question
The pragmatic response to that question
is the extent to which the church
conforms to, and reflects, the teachings of Jesus Christ and complies with
the gospel commission. Whether or not it does so uniquely is none of our
business or concern. Even to be concerned with that question violates His
specific instruction on record in Mark 9:38-41. Someone was casting out
demons in Jesus' name and the disciples "tried to stop him, because he was
not following us. But Jesus said, 'Do not stop him; for no one who does a
deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.
Whoever is not against us is for us.'" On another occasion Peter, pointing
to John, asked Jesus "What about him?" In His reply Jesus said to Peter,
"What is that to you? Follow me." It is none of our business as Seventh-day
Adventists to question the credibility or integrity of others as authentic
witnesses of Jesus Christ. Let us focus our attention on the credibility of
our witness to the everlasting gospel---and banish any "holier than thou"
questions from our minds. In Acts 10:35 Peter says, "In every nation [and
religious community] anyone who fears him and does what is right is
acceptable to him."
Jesus' summary of the gospel is on record
in Mark 12:29-31: "You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all
your mind, and with all your strength," and "You shall love your neighbor as
yourself." This is the true test of us corporately as a church as well as of
us individually, as members of the church. In other words, gospel principles
apply to every aspect of our individual and corporate being---our love for,
and the dedication of our entire individual and corporate being, to
God---and in our relationship to one another and to every other human being.
"As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to
me."159 The agape love of God is selfless concern and care for the
well-being and happiness of others. That must be the ideal and practice of
the church with respect to every human being everywhere, in theory but even
more importantly, in practice. "In as much . . . "!
We are admitted to eternity on the basis
of the kind of people we are,
individually, not what we may sincerely believe about Daniel 8:14 or any
other passage of Scripture. A person may conscientiously believe in the
traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14, and if everything else in his or
her life is in harmony with the gospel he / she will encounter no problem at
the pearly gates of eternity. And if a person sincerely believes that is not
its import, but everything else in his / her life is in harmony with the
gospel, he / she will encounter no problem at the pearly gates of eternity.
But is we become abusive of one another in our discussion of the subject we
will both arrive at the pearly gates only to find them bolted and barred
against both of us.
Let our corporate attitude as a church
be in moderated by this fact, but at
the same time let the church, corporately, be in full harmony with the sola
Scriptura principle in its delineation of, and witness to, Daniel 8:14. In
terms of sola Scriptura its sanctuary witness to the gospel is grossly
defective and alienates the confidence and respect of biblically literate
people, Adventist and non-Adventist alike. Let us be willing to recognize
and remove that obstacle to acceptance of our message to the world that
Jesus will soon return.
In the years immediately following October
22, 1844 the traditional
sanctuary doctrine was an important asset for stabilizing the faith of
disappointed Adventists. Today it is an equally significant liability and
deterrent to the faith, confidence, and salvation of biblically literate
Adventists and non-Adventists alike. It was present truth following the
great disappointment on October 22, 1844. It is not present truth in the
year of our Lord 2002. Quod erat demonstrandum!
Raymond F. Cottrell,
335 Midori Lane, Calimesa, CA 92320-1615
February 9, 2002
N O T E S
Most of my papers cited in the following
notes are on file in the Heritage
Room of the Del E. Webb Library on the campus of Loma Linda University. The
Association of Adventist Forums is currently planning a website and has
requested a list of all my major papers.
01. Le Roy Edwin Froom, Prophetic
Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4,
02. Cf. Matthew 27:51.
03. 1 Peter 3:7-12.
04. Hebrews 8:2.
05. Leviticus 16.
06. Matthew 25:1-13.
07. Cf. Ellen G. White, Early Writings, p. 58.
08. White, The Great Controversy, p. 409.
09. Ibid., pp. 409-422.
10. White, Evangelism, p. 221.
11. " , Letter 10, 1895.
12. " , Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 112,
126. Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 21; Book 2, p. 85; Counsels to Writers
and Editors, p. 145; Testimonies to the Church, vol. 5, pp. 663, 691; vol.
6, p. 402; Great Controversy, p. vii; Colporteur Ministry, p. 125.
13. " , Selected Messages, Book 1, pp. 37, 164; Book 3,
14. Comprehensive Index to the Writings of E. G. White, pp.
21-176. An estimate of the entries.
15. White, Letter to E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones (Letter 37,
2-18-1887). J. H. Waggoner, The Law of God, an Examination of the Testimony
of Both Testaments, Rochester, N.Y., The Advent Review Office, 1854, pp. 70,
108. In 1856 James and Ellen White and others met for two days in Battle
Creek, Michigan, and decided that Waggoner was wrong in identifying the law
in Galatians as the Ten Commandments. James White withdrew the book from
16. White, Sketches from the Life of Paul, pp. 188-192.
17. " , Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 234.
18. " , Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 233.
19. " , Acts of the Apostles, pp. 383-388.
20. D. M. Canright, Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, pp. 118-126. For an
extended discussion see my Eschatology of Daniel, Chapter 20, "Daniel in the Critics' Den,"
21. Albion F. Ballenger, Cast Out for the Cross of Christ,
Introduction pp. i-iv, 1, 4, 11, 82, 106-112. See Note 20.
22. W. W. Fletcher, The Reasons for My Faith, pp. 6, 17, 23, 86,
107, 115-138, 142-170, 220. See especially pp. 111-112, where he quotes a
plaintive letter to Ellen White.
23. See Chapter 20, "Daniel in the Critics Den" in my
Eschatology of Daniel, where I quote extensively from original documents
preserved in the General Conference Archives.
24. For detailed information concerning R. A. Greive see Desmond
Ford, Daniel 8:14, the Day of Atonement, and the Investigative Judgment,
Glacier View edition, pp. 89-95; printed edition pp. 55-61.
25. For a summary of highlights of Desmond Ford's 991-page
Daniel 8:14, the Day of Atonement, and the Investigative Judgment, see my
18-page paper, "Dr. Desmond Ford's Position on the Sanctuary" For a very
detailed account of proceedings at the Glacier View meeting of the Sanctuary
Review Committee, August 10-15, 1980, see my report "The Sanctuary Review
Committee and Its New Consensus" in Spectrum, 11:2, November 1980, pp.2-26.
This article is based on my complete shorthand notes of every speech and all
proceedings at the morning Study Group 2, of which I was a member, and the
afternoon and evening plenary sessions. My unpublished 20-page paper "Group
Dynamics at Glacier View" explains what happened at Glacier View and why it
happened as it did. My 21-page unpublished paper "A Post-mortem on Glacier
View" summarizes my reaction to events at Glacier View. My 38-page paper "A
Hermeneutic for Daniel 8:14," was distributed as an official Glacier View
document. My 14-page "Report of a Poll of Adventist Bible Scholars
Concerning Daniel 8:14 and Hebrews 9" summarizes responses to 125 questions.
The poll was sent to a list of all Bible scholars in North America (teaching
and non-teaching) provided by the GC Department of Education, and to several
overseas. This report includes, also, a list of responses to a 1958 poll I
sent to 27 teachers of Hebrew in North American SDA colleges, and a few
others proficient in Hebrew, all personal friends of mine.
26. Ford is still a member of the Pacific Union College church.
27. Dale Ratzlaff's 1996, 384-page Cultic Doctrine of
Seventh-day Adventists focuses on the traditional Adventist doctrine of the
sanctuary. Jerry Gladson's 383-page A Theologian's Journey from Seventh-day
Adventism to Mainstream Christianity (2001) is an account of obscurantist
leadership persecution as a result of the traditional sanctuary doctrine.
28. Janet Brown gives her e-mail address as
29. Mrs. Donald W. Silver (Christine M. Silver) is the daughter
of Dr. and Mrs. Robert H. Brown.
30. White, The Great Controversy, p. 409.
31. " , Evangelism, pp. 221, 224.
32. My 28-page unpublished paper, "Questions on Doctrine: A
Historical-Critical Evaluation," is a detailed review of the eighteen
Martin-Barnhouse interviews with General Conference personnel in 1955 and
1956. My 10-page "Questions on Doctrine: Footnotes to History" recounts a
number of humorous moments during the Martin-Barnhouse interviews.
33. Donald G. Barnhouse, ed., Eternity, 7:67, September 1956,
pp. 6-7, 43-45.
34. My 16-page "An Evaluation of Certain Aspects of the Martin
Articles" quotes from, and summarizes, comment in the contemporary (1956)
Evangelical Christian press regarding the Martin-Barnhouse interviews. This
document was prepared at the request of the editorial committee preparing
Questions on Doctrine for publication.
35. My article "The Role of Israel in Old Testament Prophecy" in
volume 4 of the SDA Bible Commentary (pages 25-38) classifies and summarizes
some five thousand Old Testament passages relating to God's dealings with
Israel under the covenant relationship, including the Old Testament
perspective of salvation history, which culminated in the coming of Messiah
and the establishment of His eternal reign of righteousness at or soon after
the close of Old Testament times. These five thousand passages were
accumulated during the course of teaching the class Old Testament Prophets
for several years at Pacific Union College during the 1940s and 1950s. The
parenthetical sentence on page 38, "This rule does not apply to those
portions of the book of Daniel that the prophet was bidden to shut up and
seal, or to other passages whose application Inspiration may have limited
exclusively to our own time," was added by F. D. Nichol during the editorial
process. He personally agreed with everything in the article and made no
alterations in it, but feared for the adverse reception of the Commentary
except for this caveat.
36. See Note 26.
37. My set of the committee papers considered is in the GC
38. My study of 150 important words in the Aramaic and Hebrew
portions of Daniel fills 108 typewritten pages.
39. My correlation of the prophecies of Daniel 7, 8, 9, and
11-12 fills 14 typewritten pages.
40. For my own convenience, I wrote out (in parallel columns)
key passages of the prophecies of Daniel in Hebrew, Greek (both the LXX and
Theodotion), the KJV, and RSV.
41. Especially the first four chapters of 1 Maccabees, where I
found twenty-four points of specific identity between Daniel's little horn
and the career of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. I concluded, however, that Christ
assigned the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecies to New Testament times, and
that the New Testament writers nearly forty times anticipate Jesus' promised
return within their generation. Chapters 4 "The Old Testament Perspective of
Salvation History" and 12 "The New Testament Perspective of Salvation
History" in my unpublished book manuscript, The Eschatology of Daniel, sets
all of this forth in detail. See Note 131.
42. Chapter 13 of my unpublished book manuscript The Eschatology
of Daniel, "Jewish Interpretation of Daniel," traces Jewish interpretation
in some detail from ancient to modern times. For this I relied primarily on
Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews and Wars of the Jews, Abba Hillel Silver's
A History of Messianic Speculation in Israel, and Joseph Klausner's The
Messianic Idea in Israel.
43. Chapter 14 of my unpublished book manuscript, The
Eschatology of Daniel, "The. Sanctuary Doctrine and the Investigative
Judgment," traces the development of the traditional Adventist
interpretation of Daniel 8:14 in considerable detail.
44. Chapter 17 of my Eschatology of Daniel, "The heavenly
Sanctuary in the Epistle to the Hebrews," explores its comment on Christ's
ministry in the heavenly sanctuary in considerable detail.
45. See Section 9, "Flaws in the Sanctuary Doctrine."
46. See Section 14, "A Permanent Remedy for Obscurantism."
47. See Note 44.
48. Hebrews 7:27; 10:11-12.
49. Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-15; 6:19-20; 7:24-28.
50. Hebrews 7:25; 9:12, 24.
51. Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-16.
52. Hebrews 9:28; 10:37.
53. 2 Timothy 2:15. Biblical hermeneutics has been the focus of
my study for more than fifty years, the chapter "Principles of Biblical
Interpretation" in Problems in Bible Translation (pp. 79-127) being one of
my first (1953) published papers in this area. Among my many papers on this
subject have been "Hermeneutics: What Difference Does It Make?" (37 pp.),
"Ellen G. White and the Bible" (43 pp.), "The Role of Biblical Hermeneutics
in Preserving Unity in the Church" (18 pp.), and many others.
54. See Note 35.
55. The paper "Historical Conditioning in the Bible and the
Writings of Ellen G. White" (92 pages) was written on assignment by and for
the Biblical Research Committee (BRC/BRI).
56. See Note 35.
57. See chapter 12 of The Eschatology of Daniel, "The New
Testament Perspective of Salvation History." Nearly forty times the New
Testament writers anticipate the return of Christ within their generation.
See Note 131.
58. I relied on the third edition of Rudolf Kittel's Biblia
Hebraica and two Hebrew dictionaries: Ludwig Koehler and Walter
Baumgartner's Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros, G. Johannes Botterweck,
Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry's Theological Dictionary of the Old
Testament, eleven volumes of which are now available in English.
59. Except as otherwise noted I used the Revised Standard
Version of the Bible, but often referred to other translations.
60. Two problems limit the value of the King James' Version for
serious study: (1) it was based on late manuscripts that had accumulated a
considerable number of scribal errors, and (2) several hundred English words
convey a different meaning today than they did in 1611. Ronald Bridges and
Luther A. Weigle's The Bible Word Book explains several hundred English
words in the KJV that are either obsolete or archaic today.
61. Footnotes in Kittel's Biblia Hebraica list numerous helpful
variant readings in the ancient versions and translations of the Hebrew
62. My knowledge of Aramaic is limited.
63. Nehemiah 8:7-8.
64. From Robert Young'a Analytical Concordance to the Bible.
65. In the ancient Hebrew of Genesis 1:1 the word for "created"
was written br' (consonants only). The Masoretes supplied vowels to make it
read bara', "created." With equal reason they might as well have supplied
vowels to make it read bore', which would have verse 1 read "When God began
to create ... ," thus making verse 1 a dependent clause, with verse 2 the
66. See Section 7, on the analogy of Scripture. The heavenly
sanctuary of the Book of Hebrews is not a valid counterpart for the
sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 because because verses 9 to 13 identify it as the
sanctuary located in the "beautiful" land (tsebi), Judea. Chapter 11:16, 41
confirms this identification, and in 11:45 tsebi the "beautiful' holy
mountain in Jerusalem where the temple was located. Furthermore, context
(8:11-13) specifically identifies the reason the sanctuary needs "cleansing"
or restoration because of its trampling by the little horn (cf. 11:31).
67. The name "Seventh-day Adventists" was chosen in 1860, and
the General Conference was organized in 1863.
68. See Section 2, "Ellen G. White and the Sanctuary Doctrine."
I have explored Adventism's sense of mission in my paper "Adventism in the
Twentieth Century;" pp. 6 to 9.
69. In Moses' farewell address to Israel prior to their entrance
into the promised land (Deuteronomy 28) he set forth the good things that
would happen to them if they obeyed God's instructions (verses 1-14), and
the misfortunes if they disobeyed (verses 15-68). The argument that Daniel 8
and 9 are "apocalyptic" (and thus supposedly immune to the conditionalism
principle) ignores the fact that, contextually, they apply specifically to
the Hebrew people and therefore are subject to the conditions specified in
70. See note 69.
71. See my 49-page paper, "The Adventist Theological Society and
Its Biblical Hermeneutic."
72. Reading one of William Miller's books, I found his
uninterrupted misuse of commonly accepted principles of exegesis a deeply
73. For characteristics of the prooftext method, see Section 7.
74. For a list of changes the church has already made in the
Sanctuary doctrine see Desmond Ford's Daniel 8:14, the Day of Atonement, and
the Investigative Judgment, pp. 115-121 (Glacier View duplicated edition),
pp. 73-88 (printed edition).
75. Daniel 9:23 cf. 8:16.
76. Daniel 9:21-23.
77. Daniel 9:24.
78. Cf. Daniel 7:24-25.
79. Daniel 11:45.
80. Daniel 8:17, 26.
81. Daniel 9:22-25.
82. Daniel 2:37-40; 7:3-7; 8:3-8; 11:2-3.
83. Daniel 2:41-43; 7:7-8, 17, 23; 8:8-9; 11:4-5, 25-29, 40-43.
84. Daniel 9:25.
85. Daniel 2:44; 7:28; 8:17, 19, 26; 9:24, 27; 11:35, 40.
86. Daniel 7:21, 25; 8:10, 13, 24-25; 9:26; 12:1, 2, 7.
87. Daniel 8:9; 9:36; 11:22, 24, 41.
88. Daniel 8:11, 25; 11:36.
89. Daniel 7:25; 8:11-12; 9:26-27; 11:31; 12:11.
90. Daniel 8:13; 9:27; 11:31.
91. Daniel 8:12-13; 9:27; 11:22.
92. Daniel 7:25; 12:7.
93. Daniel 7:25; 9:27; 12:7.
94. Daniel 8:14.
95. Daniel 9:27; 12:1, 7.
96. Daniel 7:22, 26; 8:25; 9:27; 11:45; 12:11.
97. Daniel 7:22, 27; 8:14; 12:1-3, 13-14.
98. See Note 35.
99. Enumerated below.
100. Daniel 1:12; 8:26-27; 10:13-14; 11:20; 12:11-12.
101. As in Leviticus 16.
102. A comparison of the career of Antiochus IV Epiphanes as set forth in
1 Maccabees 1 to 4 with the little horn of Daniel results in 24 points of
undeniable identity. This led ancient Jewish scholars to identify him as the
fulfillment of the Daniel's predictions. However, Christ's statements in
Mark 1:15, Matthew 24 (etc.), and some forty times by New Testament writers
locate the fulfillment of Daniel's end-time prophecies at the close of New
Testament times. See references cited in Notes 130 and 131.
103. The prophetic day-for-a--literal-year concept was originally
formulated by the Karaite Jewish scholar Nahawendi in the ninth century in
an endeavor to identify events of his time as the fulfillment of Daniel's
prophecies. The idea that this "principle" was operative with respect to the
seventy "weeks" of years of Daniel 9 ignores the fact that it was, as a
matter of fact, an application of the ancient Jewish jubilee-year system of
dating, not the purported day-for-a-year "principle." The ancient Jewish
Book of Jubilees uses this system of dating scores of times for dating
events in Jewish history. See Chapter 15, "Jewish Interpretation of Daniel,"
in my Eschatology of Daniel for a number of relevant examples from the Book
of Jubilees. See also Abba Hillel Silver, A History of Messianic Speculation
in Israel, pp. 52-55, 208; Le Roy Edwin Froom, Prophetic Faith of Our
Fathers, vol. 1, p. 713; vol. 2, p.196.
104. Cf. verse 11.
105. Verses 11-12.
106. Verses 3, 21-23.
107. Verses 2-6, 27.
108. Daniel 8:16, 26-27.
109. " 9:24-27.
110. " 9:25.
111. Ezra 7:21-27.
112. " 6:13-15.
113. Daniel 9:3-19.
114. " 9:17-19.
115. Verse 24
116. Verses 25-27.
117. Verse 25.
118. Verse 23.
119. Verse 24.
120. Cf. Daniel 11:23.
121. Daniel 8:11-13; cf. 9:27.
122. Verse 27.
123. Daniel 8:23-25.
124. " 8:20, 23.
125. Verse 26.
126. See Note 35.
127. Matthew 24:44; Romans 13:12; 2 Peter 3:11-12.
128. Matthew 24:42.
129. See Note 35.
130. Matthew 24:1-3l 30-34.
131. PETER: 1 Peter 1:20; 4:17, 27; 2 Peter 3:11-14. JOHN: John 21:21-23;
1 John 2:18; Revelation 1:1, 3; 3:11; 12:12; 22:6-7, 10, 12, 20. JAMES:
James 5:7-9. PAUL: Romans 13:11-12; 1 Corinthians 1:7-8; 7:29; 10:11;
Philippians 3:20; 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 4:15-17. HEBREWS 1:2; 9:26-28;
132. Revelation 1:1, 3; 3:11; 22:6-7, 12, 20.
133. See my 82-page paper, Adventism in the Twentieth Century. pp. 34-54.
134. See [R. Allen Anderson] Minutes of Council of Teachers in Bible,
Seventh-day Adventist Colleges, Washington, D. C., July 30 to August 25.
1940, p. 32 and [L. H. Hartin] Report of Bible Teachers' Council, Angwin,
California, July 23-31,1950, p. 74 (in the GC Archives).
135. My complete file of BRF papers is in the Heritage Room of the James
White Memorial Library at Andrews University. (During the first year or two
of our monthly Sabbath afternoon meetings at PUC some presentations were
oral only, without formal papers.)
136. See Note 135 for the 1950 meeting.
137. "Let Us Have an Associate Secretary for Bible Research in the
Ministerial Association." I sent this proposal to Le Roy Froom, founder of
the Ministerial Association and a personal friend of mine for 28 years; R.
Allen Anderson, incumbent director of the Ministerial Association; and W. E.
138. "A Draft Proposal for a Seventh-day Adventist Institute of Biblical
Studies" (14 pp.) Appended to it was "Twenty-five Years of Cooperative
Research-type Bible Study" (16 pp.), in which I reviewed events of the years
1940 to 1966. The appendix was intended to provide him with information
about what had happened in Adventist Bible scholarship during his protracted
139. Raymond F. Cottrell, "The Untold Story of the Bible Commentary,"
Spectrum, 16:3, August 1985, pp. 34-51. The Commentary did not identify
authors because of numerous editorial changes made in some contributions. My
Spectrum article lists all the contributors.
140. See p. 10 of any volume of the Commentary.
141. Among the first Adventist "Bible teachers," as Bible scholars were
then called, to attend "outside" universities were: R. E. Loasby, E. C.
Banks, S. H. Horn, W. G. C. Murdoch, E. R. Thiele, L. H. Wood, and A. G.
Maxwell. They tended to avoid classes in theology as such, but focused on
such subjects as biblical languages, the history of antiquity, archeology,
142. General Council Spring Meeting minutes for April 4, 1969.
143. In the autumn of 1968 R. H. Pierson invited W. J. Hackett to serve
as a GC vice president. They had become acquainted on the 1968 Geoscience
field trip of that summer. Elder Hackett confided in me that one of his
principal objectives was to "clean up" the religion faculties at Loma Linda
and Andrews universities.
144. A personal friend of mine, a colleague then on the religion faculty
at Southern Adventist College, shared this information with me.
145. See my paper "Architects of Crisis: A Decade of Obscurantism" 40
146. For example, W. G. C. Murdoch, S. H. Horn, E. E. Heppenstall.
147. In personal conversation with W. G. C. Murdoch, Siegfried H. Horn,
and E. E. Heppenstall, long-time personal friends of mine.
148. See Note 45.
149. In conversation with a long-time personal friend of mine, then in
the inner circle of ATS leadership. He confided to me the fact that ATS was
organized specifically as a result of Hasel's loss of influence when demoted
from deanship of the Theological Seminary.
150. My paper, "The Adventist Theological Society and Its Biblical
Hermeneutic," evaluates the history and objectives of ATS. The section on
ATS hermeneutics is based on personal interviews and official ATS
151. See Note 25.
152. See pp. 49-50 of my 82-page paper "Adventism in the Twentieth
153. For Consultation I see Warren C. Trenchard, "In the Shadow of the
Sanctuary," Spectrum, 11:2, 1980, pp. 26-29; for Consultation II, Alden
Thompson, "Theological Consultation II," Spectrum, 12:2, 1981, pp. 40-52.
154. Volume 1: Selected Studies on Prophetic Interpretation, 174 pp.;
Volume 2: Symposium on Daniel, 557 pp.; Volume 3: Doctrine of the Sanctuary,
238 pp.; Volume 4: Issues in the Book of Hebrews, 237 pp.; Volume 5: 70
Weeks, Leviticus, Nature of Prophecy, 394 pp.
155. My paper "The Annual Council Statement on Methods of Bible Study,"
(5 pp.) notes the fact that after the committee released its report BRI
inserted a preamble reiterating ATS hermeneutical principles. As a result
some members of the committee told me that they had refused to sign their
names in approval of the document. ATS requires members to affirm acceptance
of it. .
156. Personal correspondence with both the former and the new (2002) BRI
directors and the president of the GC makes evident that they are firmly
committed to ATS hermeneutical policy.
157. For instance, Drs. Fritz Guy, Larry Geraty, Sakai Kubo, and Ivan
Blazen (at the Theological Seminary); and Drs. Lorenzo Grant, Edwin
Zachrison, and Jerry Gladson (at Southern Adventist University).
158. See Section 8, "Rightly Interpreting Daniel 8:14."
159. Matthew 25:40.
160. W. W. Prescott's letter is on file in the GC Archives.
161. See Note 35.
162. 2 Peter 3:18.
My series of six articles as an associate
editor of the Review and Herald
during January and February 1977 were designed to alert Adventists to the
same debate then incipient in our church, and with a possibility of the same
result (schism). Many have told me that they "got the point."
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