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  • Challenging Questions For a Challenger of Our Faith

    Some Challenging Questions For a Challenger of Our Faith
    .
    On March 20, 2007, I celebrated my 41st anniversary of baptism as a Seventh-day Adventist. That happened in my early youth, after I left the Army service in my native Brazil. I was raised in a traditional Evangelical family, the Congregational Church, and to this day some members of my extended family are members of that denomination.

    I remember how I attended Sunday School in my boyhood regularly and sometimes after church I wished to go up to a soccer field near my home, where amateur clubs competed in a regional tournament. But my father, a veteran officer of the church, wouldn’t allow me, for that would not be permissible on the “Lord’s day”. Also, if either myself, or one of my four sisters, had test at school on Monday, we were not allowed to study for it, on Sunday.

    That seems funny to me now as I see the new trends in Protestantism, in a much “user friendly” attitude of what I call anydayism/nodayism/everydayism—no more mandatory days to keep to the Lord, everybody being free to administer his/her time as one pleases. Some even consider this as part of the “Christian freedom” they are entitled to.

    But that doesn’t correspond to what we read in the most representative Confessions of Faith, Creeds and Catechisms of mainline Evangelical-Protestant churches! They clearly enunciate the dedication of a 24-hour time span to God as “Lord’s day”, preferably on Sunday (supposedly the Resurrection Memorial).

    Now, the majority of Evangelicals with whom I interact in forums and debate groups seem to even ignore what their own Churches teach regarding this Sabbath principle. It seems that most think that the modern mindset of having Sunday, not as a holy day, but as a holiday, is what always prevailed in the Christian field.

    No, it is not. Something happened along the time that transformed Sunday in a day in which Evangelicals act exactly as the Roman Catholics. The RCC doesn’t emphasize the “sanctification” aspect of the “Lord’s day”, but the mere participation of the believer in Sunday mass. Since the Vatican Council II, even Saturday afternoons or evenings are okay for a Catholic to “fulfill his/her obligation” of attending mass, having, then, the remainder of the weekend free to accomplish whatever is wished, be it going to the Mall, or staying home watching a favorite sports show, doing business or even going to work.

    That is not the spirit of the Sabbath, according to God’s commandment, which first of all emphasizes the “sanctification” aspect of God’s recommendation, with the “rest” element coming second (Exo. 20:8-11).

    Now, as I already showed, that is not what Protestants traditionally learned and practiced as their faith expression, as I experienced in my own home as a child and adolescent. But times and mores have changed!

    Jesus said that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). That shows the universal character of the commandment, as is recognized in the above-mentioned Christian confessional documents. The Edenic origins of the Sabbath was always a clear understanding of those Christians, as well as the “division” of the law, as being “moral”, “ceremonial”, “civil”, “penal”, etc.

    Now, some Protestant instructors and preachers either ignore these facts, or are aware of them, but omit such information from their congregations. Many give the impression that these ideas of the Sabbath being a principle that stems from Creation, or the Ten Commandments as still being the rule of life for the Christians, are adopted only by Seventh-day Adventists or other few religious Sabbath-keeping groups, which is a clear misconception.

    Other day I came across a very finely produced publication, made of high-quality paper and design, called Proclamation. It is promoted by a certain former SDA Pastor called Dale Ratzlaff who seems to see his mission in life now as that of convincing Seventh-day Adventists of the error of believing in these aforementioned points (among other things), despite being part of the Protestant tradition. I wonder whether he would qualify as someone who ignores them, or is aware of these facts but omits them from his readers and listeners.

    So, I have some direct questions to submit to Mr. Dale Ratzlaff, and the first three are exactly:

    * do you ignore that the “standard” Protestant position about the 10 Commandments is that they constitute God’s law (as Martin Luther himself so refers in the first lines of his document, “Treatise Against the Antinomians”), as can be seen in such confessional Christian documents as the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Baptist Confession of 1689, or Luther’s Small Catechism?

    * do you ignore that the “standard” Protestant position about God’s law is the same presented by Seventh-day Adventists, being “divided” into ‘moral’, ‘ceremonial’, ‘civil’, ‘penal’, etc. as taught in these confessional documents and by important instructors in the Protestant field along the centuries?

    * do you ignore that the “standard” Protestant position about the 4th commandment is that it comes from God’s creation, thus being recognized as a universal principle, with Gen. 2:2, 3 and Mark 2:27 often quoted in said confessional documents and instructional works to confirm it?

    By the way, I have been asking my Evangelical friends in Christian discussion Forums in the Internet what they think about the way the Congregational Church, which I attended for many years, defines this question of God’s law in regard to His grace. I think it is the most concise, objective and to the point definition of all the ones I have examined from Protestant expositions. I translated it into English from the text that I found in a publication of my Brazilian Congregational Church:

    Topic 21—About the Believers’ Obedience – Although the saved ones don’t obtain salvation through obedience to the law, but by the merits of Jesus Christ, they receive the law and all God’s precepts as a means by which He manifests His will on the redeemed ones’ procedure and keep them even more carefully and thankfully for the reason of being found saved by grace. Eph. 2:8,9; I Jo 5:2,3; Tt 3:4-8. (From the document of the Congregational Church in Brazil, “The Twenty-eight Articles of the Short Exposition of the Foundational Doctrines of
    Christianity”).

    Additionally, I learned through a Sunday School quarterly of said denomination (dated Aug, 15, 1971):

    “The transmission of the Law on Mount Sinai represents one of the most remarkable and universal events. . . . Such as the rocks of the mountain upon which they were transmitted, these precepts form the immutable basis of the moral life of men and nations, the everlasting foundation of all worthy and firm civilization”.

    This prompts one more question to Mr. Ratzlaff:

    * do you agree with this definition of God’s law in relation to God’s grace expressed in the Congregational document, as well as the commentary of the Sunday School quarterly?

    I have a favor to ask you, also: if these statements are wrong, please point to me exactly where the error lies so that I can advise dear relatives of mine (sisters, brothers-in-law, nephews) who attend that Church. I don’t want seeing them under a false teaching regarding these points.

    I anticipate my best thanks for clear and objective answers to my questions above.

    Best regards
    Last edited by Azenilto Brito; 03-11-2017, 07:38 PM.

  • #2
    Mr. Ratzlaff Quiz to Challenge Seventh-day Adventists


    Speaking of Proclamation magazine, the January/February issue brings on page 3 a question, “Can you pass this quiz?” But this seemingly challenging and hard-to-answer series of questions shows some interesting and “quizzical” points, which I highlight in the format of some new questions to the author of the questionnaire. Mr. Ratzlaff, please, answer this:

    * why in your questions about the “law” in Matthew, John, etc. you have the options of “always”, “usually”, “seldom”, “never” regarding the Ten Commandments as the specific meaning of the term “law”, but you forgot to add, “including”? Yes, because in Matthew, John and other occasions in the Bible, the Ten Commandments ARE INCLUDED in the reference to “law”, not excluded.

    In Matthew 5:17, 18 Jesus says He didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Is He referring specifically to the Ten Commandments? No, He clearly refers to the complete Torah, which includes ALL aspects of the law. This is made clear in vs. 23: “. . . if you are offering your gift at the altar . . . leave your gift there in front of the altar”. That is typical language of the ritual part of the law.

    That prompts a few new questions:

    * do you agree that Jesus’ reference to the “law” in Matt. 5:17-20 comprehends all aspects of the Torah, INCLUDING, not excluding, the 10 Commandments and, with them, the Sabbath precept?

    * if your answer is yes, as I think it would be, does that mean that if someone keeps the Ten Commandments, with God’s help, that person is also obliged to offer gifts at the altar of sacrifices and perform all rituals of Israel’s laws?

    * if your answer is yes, as I also think is what you imply, does that mean that when Paul reminded the Ephesians regarding their necessity to remember “the first commandment with a promise”, which is the 5th of the Decalogue (Eph. 6:1-3), those Christians in Ephesus were obliged to also offer gifts at the altar of sacrifices and perform all rituals of Israel’s laws?

    * if your answer is no, why do you discriminate against the keeping of the Sabbath in that regard, teaching that those who keep the 4th commandment, plus the other nine, would be obliged to fulfill all the other ceremonial aspects of the law, but not those who keep the 5th, and the other eight (with the 4th excluded)?

    * why do you emphasize so much the EXCLUSION of the 10 Commandments from the expression “law” in the New Testament as something detrimental to the Christian faith? What is wrong with these commandments? Would it be,

    - the rule of not having other gods?
    - the rule of not utilizing images of sculpture in acts of worship?
    - the rule of not pronouncing God’s name in vain?
    - the rule on the duty of honoring the parents?
    - the rule of not to kill
    - the rule of not to commit adultery?
    - the rule of not to steal?
    - the rule of not to give false witness against others?
    - the rule of not to covet a person’s things or spouse?

    And a final question to Mr. Ratzlaff:

    * in the context of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-19 He referred to His hearers as “salt of the Earth”, “light of the world” and a little later taught them the “Lord’s prayer”. Why, then, His words in these texts cannot apply to those who TODAY consider themselves “salt of the Earth”, “light of the world” and pray the Lord’s prayer.

    [To be continued in the next frame]
    Last edited by Azenilto Brito; 03-11-2017, 07:39 PM.

    Comment


    • #3

      [Continuation of the previous frame]
      .
      The False Premise of Dale Ratzlaff’s Theological Stand


      When something begins wrong, chances are that it will continue being wrong all along its development.

      In 1990 I had the opportunity of visiting Europe in a tour of eight countries with some Brazilian friends. One of our tours included a visit to the St. Peter’s Cathedral, in Rome. One thing that caught my attention as I saw the artistic interior of the famous temple was the inscription, in golden letters, at the base of the “Rotunda” (the little dome at the middle of the ceiling). It was simply the reproduction of Matthews 16:18, 19—“You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church. . .”)

      When I saw that, I thought to myself: “Wow, such a fabulous physical and ideological structure encompassing so many millions of people, institutions, traditions, rituals, publications. . ., all that founded on a text out of its due context!”

      Later on I visited the Brazilian “Bethel” and printing plant of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (I also had passed in front of the Watchtower headquarters when traveling across the Brooklyn section of New York City) and I could see all their efforts and material means to proclaim their message, all that based on a certain date which has no confirmation of any serious historian, Bible chronologist and archeologist—607 BCE. That date is foundational to the “Bible Chronology” of that religious organization, but if it is wrong, the chronology is wrong, and if the chronology is wrong, the theology is wrong! And the date is simply. . . wrong!

      More recently I had to spend a day in Salt Lake City due to a technical problem in a plane I was traveling from New York to Portland, Ore., and I decided to take advantage of the delayed flight to take a tour of the famous world center of Mormonism. One of the places we visited was the Genealogy Institute, a building full of computers and a body of workers dedicated to investigate people’s forefathers, so that baptisms are performed in their behalf. The investment in construction, equipment and personnel is really immense, and all that is based on a text that is not sufficiently clear in the Bible—1 Cor. 15:29 (“. . . if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?. . .”).

      Without entering into the details about these wrong basic teachings, the fact is that Mr. Ratzlaff also has all his theology twisted because of a similar false premise—the notion that under the “grace and love” period, the New Covenant, there is a certain “law of Christ”, more user-friendly to the believer, that excludes the 10 Commandments, which are replaced by a sort of “Rule of Nine Commandments and One Suggestion”. It’s funny that the 10 Commandments are seen as nailed to the cross with all ceremonies of Judaism, but out of these 10, NINE remained intact after this “complete abolition” of the law. There are even those who emphasize that only nine of the 10 are repeated in the New Testament, with the Sabbath not being done so.

      Well, we have other questions regarding that to Mr. Ratzlaff:

      * when Jesus proclaimed the “golden rule” of only two commandments—love to God above everything and love to the neighbor as oneself—was He really creating something new, revolutionary, in terms of rule for His followers’ conduct (see Matt. 22:36-40)?

      * if the answer is yes, why did the scribe who clearly wanted to trap Him in a question that would cause Jesus to contradict Israel’s traditions end up complimenting the Master’s answer, instead of finding fault in it (see Mar. 12:28-34)?

      So, the false premise of Mr. Ratzlaff theology is to take this “golden rule” as a SUBSTITUTE of God’s moral law, when it is simply its SYNTHESIS, or a summary of the whole law. He mistakes the thing arguing that now there is only a “law of Christ” based on love to be fulfilled by the Christian. But Jesus was just reiterating what Moses had already said, for God’s law ALWAYS had as its basic principles “love to God above all else” and “love to the neighbor”. There was nothing new, no novelty, in Christ’s statement, as we already saw in Matt. 5:17-19. He is referring to the SAME complete Torah, the law that includes the ceremonial part, indeed.

      The summaries don’t override the originals. We can see that in the “Abstracts” that precede scientific articles, whose objective is to highlight the main points of the study so that whoever read them gets his/her attention called to a subject he/she might be interested in, and thus is led to the more profound presentation in the complete material.

      Then, why don’t we perform the circumcision and all the other rituals of the Judaic law? The answer is very simple, and is found in Matthew 27:50, 51:

      “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom”.

      In due time, the Christian community understood that all ceremonial aspects of the Jewish law were no more required of the followers of the Messiah, but its moral aspects could not find the same end, for that would mean complete chaos, at both individual and corporate levels. Imagine that such rules as “you shall not kill”, “you shall not steal”, “you shall not commit adultery” came to an end when the Temple’s veil was rent from top to bottom. . .

      All that brings us to the BOTTOM LINE of all this discussion—the notion that the Sabbath commandment was abolished because it pointed to the rest in Christ. So, He is our “rest”, and the believers are thus freed from any obligation of dedicating a day do the Lord.

      Well, we have a very objective Bible study showing the error of such reasoning—“Ten Reasons Why the Sabbath is Not a Ceremonial Precept”. We invite Mr. Ratzlaff to check it through the following link:



      At this juncture, another of our studies would be very appropriate to be examined: “10 Reasons Why the Sabbath is the Most Important Commandment of the Decalogue”. The same link indicated above leads directly to it. Take advantage of your visit to that page and also see the following articles:

      - 10 Questions The Anti-Sabbatarians Seem Incapable of Answering

      - 10 Questions on the Subject of the Law of God/Law of Christ

      - 10 Questions About the Sabbath for Anti-Sabbatarians to Think Seriously About

      - 10 Questions on the Theory of “Everydayism”

      - 10 Serious Difficulties For the Advocates of Either Sunday Keeping or the “Nodayism/Anydayism/Everydayism”

      - 10 Questions on Christ’s Attitudes Regarding the Sabbath

      A final question to Mr. Ratzlaff:

      * if Jesus is our Sabbath rest, and Hebrews 4 shows it, so that we don’t have to keep a day of rest, why the holy women who served Him so closely, having reached the spiritual rest of salvation, didn’t, because of that, neglect keeping “the Sabbath according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56)?

      Later on we will have some more food for thought to Mr. Ratzlaff. Let's see if and how he will answer our questions. . .
      Last edited by Azenilto Brito; 03-11-2017, 07:41 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Hello, friends

        Mr. Ratzlaff was prompt in answering our correspondence, which I appreciate. See two of his emails and replies:


        Azenito,

        I am just now nearly though an article for the Next Proclamation (May/June) on the law written on the heart.
        It is my conclusion after much study the law that is written is ALL the Old Testament laws. However, it is not the letter but the moral principle behind the law.

        Perhaps some examples will give needed insight. In Deuteronomy 22:8 we read, "When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, so that you will not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone falls from it". Deut. 22:8.

        First, we look for the eternal moral principle behind the law. Build homes in such a way that people won’t get hurt. Note how this principle can be reduced to love. It is the loving thing to keep people from being hurt!
        How is this principle applied today? Many ways. If you are building a second story deck make sure you have sturdy hand rails. Most building regulations require that the rails be constructed such that a six inch ball will not fall through or out of the deck. Why? To make sure that no small child wiggles through the posts. We might also apply this principle of safety to fire alarms, door locks, pool fences, wheel chair ramps for the disabled, etc. However, unless we plan to spend time on our roof, there is no need to build a fence around the perimeter of our roof in order to obey the letter of old covenant law. We apply the moral principle behind the law to the situation at hand.

        Next, let us consider the manna experience recorded in Ex. 16:16-30. The context shows that God is trying to get the Israelites to trust Him completely. He delivered them from the bondage of Egyptian slavery and is now leading them by the cloud. When the cloud moves, they move. He opened the Red Sea , He provided Water in the desert, now they are without food in the wilderness. Yes, and God lead them there. In Exodus 16:13-19 we have the record of God not only giving them meat to eat, but He also provided manna. Moses instructed them to gather an omer for each person in the household. Most did. They were to leave nothing for the next day. God was trying to get them to trust him for daily provision. Some, however, left some manna for the next day just in case there was none and it became foul and bread worms.

        Next, God expanded the test, again trying to get them to trust him for provision. They were instructed to gather two omers for each person on the sixth day as none would be there on Sabbath. Again, some thinking that what was left over on the sixth day might bread worms as it did on other days went out to gather it on Sabbath and found none.

        So what is the moral principle behind the letter of the law of manna and Sabbath as recorded in Exodus 16? The moral principle outlined here is to obediently rest in God’s ability to provide.

        Is this not the teachings of Christ in Matthew 6:31-34? Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

        I will not give you the complete article at this time as it is not in its final form.

        Let me know if this satisfies your need.

        If so, I will send you Sabbath in Christ.

        In His joy,

        Dale Ratzlaff


        My reply:

        Dear friend

        You are right. I think exactly so. All principles that are not prefigurations of what Christ accomplished on the cross are there, in the hearts of the sincere servants of God. What was abolished were those things that wouldn't contribute to people's being closer to God and His Messiah, whatever made that people far from the community of "spiritual Israel" (Eph. 2:11ss).

        Then, the bottom line is: why should the Sabbath be left out? It is not ceremonial, as I have proven and is what Christians along history have taught, although reinterpreting it to apply to Sunday--a day that has no backing in the Bible and, besides, has strong pagan roots--the Roman dies solis.

        Everybody knows, even atheists, how good it is to the physical life having one day a week dedicated to physical and mental rest. If somebody engages in work, work, work all seven days of a week, will be a nerve wreck after a few months. So, God wisely set a time for man's rest because He wanted the best for His people. This divine preoccupation with man's welfare is illustrated in Jesus' recommendation to His disciples in Mark 6:31: "And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while".

        He associates that free time with a time for reflecting on Him and His work. That is the objective of the Sabbath that was always considered part of the "Moral Law" (and that not ONLY by Seventh-day Adventists, you should know. . .).

        Besides, the Sabbath is not only a memorial of creation, but of redemption, as well (Deut. 6:15). So, if the Sabbath has something to do with salvation in Christ (and it does), remember that "salvation" is not only related to what Christ already accomplished on the cross and in our lives. "Salvation" has a more encompassing sense because we didn't have the "redemption of our bodies" yet, which will occur when Jesus comes for saving us not only from the consequences but of the presence of sin itself. And that is one of the objectives of the Sabbath commandment--pointing to that future eternal rest.

        Now, you should know that there is a clear rule in Theology that the shadows end their symbolic role when encountering reality. Since we haven't reached the eternal rest of the New Earth yet, it goes on until then. Then, how could it end with Christ's death?

        So, these points should be taken into consideration in any analysis of the Sabbath question:

        a - It is clearly a moral precept that comes from the origin of the world, sanctified (separated) by God to serve a double purpose of granting man a necessary regular rest period and serving as a reminder of Him as Creator. That IS NOT a Seventh-day Adventist originated concept, but is part of the Christian tradition of centuries.

        b - The Sabbath is not only a memorial of Creation, but also of redemption. Since it symbolizes the eternal rest of the complete salvation history, and since we haven't reached that final event, when "salvation" will be complete, there is no reason that it ceases to point forward to that day.

        c - Isaiah 66:22, 23 indicates that in the New Earth the Sabbath will continue being a special time for the redeemed ones. The fact that the context mentions "new moons" doesn't negate the fact that it means simply that there will be two marks of time--a monthly one (new moon in Israel was the beginning of a new month) and a weekly one--the Sabbath.

        Thus, as you can see, Hebrews 8:6-10 indicates the writing of God's law on hearts and minds of those who honor God as Creator, were redeemed in Christ and look forward for the completion of the salvation process when He returns, all of which simply confirm the important role of the Sabbath commandment.

        There is no justification at all to simply get rid of this principle that is not ceremonial, as I have demonstrated in the referred study, because both its practical function of granting people a regular day of rest and its spiritual role continue having its indisputable worth for all those who have in Jesus their "rest", and honor Him dedicating to Him a day to better think on the salvation He granted us. That could NEVER be accomplished through a nodayism/anydayism/everydayism mentality and attitude.

        Best regards

        P.S.: And it ended up that you DIDN'T answer objectively, to the point, my question on the passage of the Old to the New Covenant. Why the Sabbath commandment is left out of the picture.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hello friends

          As an update to our “dialogue” with Mr. Ratzlaff, the book he promised to send me hasn’t reached my address so far. May be he decided that it wouldn’t be worthwhile to throw his “pearl” to a stubborn “pig” like me.

          Speaking of pig, he concluded, in a lecture during an especial event—the FAF Weekend 2007 (which means a special meeting of the Former Adventist Fellowship), as featured in the new issue of Proclamation magazine that I received by regular mail—that in Acts 10, when Peter describes his vision of the sheet with many unclean animals, the Apostle is implying that the law that prohibited people from eating pork was abolished. Well, this idea of the abolition of the dietary laws is one of the points I want to analyze in this study to show one more serious error of Mr. Ratzlaff’s theology. By the way, we have all this discussion covered in the topic “The Dietary Laws in the Bible: Only For the Jews?” which can be reached in Spanish through the following link:



          And among the key studies in the mentioned meeting, I found some “gems”, as a certain Dr. Gary Inrig gave some tips in a class of which churches a former Seventh-day Adventist should favor to attend and/or join. Quoting from the article: “He stressed three non-negotiable beliefs” that should be “the Trinity, a high view of Scriptures’ inerrancy, and the centrality of the cross”.

          This is amazing, because our confessional document, adopted by over 15 million SDA’s all over the world, emphasize the Trinity, the centrality of the Scriptures as the foundation of our beliefs and practices, and the centrality of the cross.

          Let’s see the specific topics that deal with that:


          Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists

          Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as their only creed and hold certain fundamental beliefs to be the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. These beliefs, as set forth here, constitute the church's understanding and expression of the teaching of Scripture. Revision of these statements may be expected at a General Conference session when the church is led by the Holy Spirit to a fuller understanding of Bible truth or finds better language in which to express the teachings of God's Holy Word.

          1. The Holy Scriptures: The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God, given by divine inspiration through holy men of God who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In this Word, God has committed to man the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the authoritative revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God's acts in history. (2 Peter 1:20, 21; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Ps. 119:105; Prov. 30:5, 6; Isa. 8:20; John 17:17; 1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12.)

          2. The Trinity: There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation. (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Tim. 1:17; Rev. 14:7.)

          3. The Father: God the eternal Father is the Creator, Source, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all creation. He is just and holy, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. The qualities and powers exhibited in the Son and the Holy Spirit are also revelations of the Father. (Gen. 1:1; Rev. 4:11; 1 Cor. 15:28; John 3:16; 1 John 4:8; 1 Tim. 1:17; Ex. 34:6, 7; John 14:9.)

          4. The Son: God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Through Him all things were created, the character of God is revealed, the salvation of humanity is accomplished, and the world is judged. Forever truly God, He became also truly man, Jesus the Christ. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived and experienced temptation as a human being, but perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God. By His miracles He manifested God's power and was attested as God's promised Messiah. He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and in our place, was raised from the dead, and ascended to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf. He will come again in glory for the final deliverance of His people and the restoration of all things. (John 1:1-3, 14; Col. 1:15-19; John 10:30; 14:9; Rom. 6:23; 2 Cor. 5:17-19; John 5:22; Luke 1:35; Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 2:9-18; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4; Heb. 8:1, 2; John 14:1-3.)

          5. The Holy Spirit: God the eternal Spirit was active with the Father and the Son in Creation, incarnation, and redemption. He inspired the writers of Scripture. He filled Christ's life with power. He draws and convicts human beings; and those who respond He renews and transforms into the image of God. Sent by the Father and the Son to be always with His children, He extends spiritual gifts to the church, empowers it to bear witness to Christ, and in harmony with the Scriptures leads it into all truth. (Gen. 1:1, 2; Luke 1:35; 4:18; Acts 10:38; 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:11, 12; Acts 1:8; John 14:16-18, 26; 15:26, 27; 16:7-13.)

          (. . .)

          9. The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ: In Christ's life of perfect obedience to God's will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life, and the whole creation may better understand the infinite and holy love of the Creator. This perfect atonement vindicates the righteousness of God's law and the graciousness of His character; for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness. The death of Christ is substitutionary and expiatory, reconciling and transforming. The resurrection of Christ proclaims God's triumph over the forces of evil, and for those who accept the atonement assures their final victory over sin and death. It declares the Lordship of Jesus Christ, before whom every knee in heaven and on earth will bow. (John 3:16; Isa. 53; 1 Peter 2:21, 22; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4, 20-22; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15, 19-21; Rom. 1:4; 3:25; 4:25; 8:3, 4; 1 John 2:2; 4:10; Col. 2:15; Phil. 2:6-11.)

          10. The Experience of Salvation: In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righteousness of God. Led by the Holy Spirit we sense our need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our transgressions, and exercise faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ, as Substitute and Example. This faith which receives salvation comes through the divine power of the Word and is the gift of God's grace. Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God's sons and daughters, and delivered from the lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God's law of love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a holy life. Abiding in Him we become partakers of the divine nature and have the assurance of salvation now and in the judgment. (2 Cor. 5:17-21; John 3:16; Gal. 1:4; 4:4-7; Titus 3:3-7; John 16:8; Gal. 3:13, 14; 1 Peter 2:21, 22; Rom. 10:17; Luke 17:5; Mark 9:23, 24; Eph. 2:5-10; Rom. 3:21-26; Col. 1:13, 14; Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 3:26; John 3:3-8; 1 Peter 1:23; Rom. 12:2; Heb. 8:7-12; Eze. 36:25-27; 2 Peter 1:3, 4; Rom. 8:1-4; 5:6-10.)

          There we have the “non-negotiable” points highlighted by this instructor of former Seventh-day Adventists, all of them found in the “Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists” in its introductory remarks and topics 1-5 an 9, 10. Is there any need to leave the SDA Church to go after some church that teaches these non-negotiable tenets?!
          Last edited by Azenilto Brito; 03-11-2017, 07:42 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Mr. Ratzlaff’s Poor Articulation of the Theme of God’s Law

            Answering a letter from a reader of Proclamation magazine, Mr. Dale Ratzlaff says in its March/April issue: “Many letters we receive express a deep fear that by teaching the reign of law came in with Moses and lasted until Christ, new covenant Christians are left without any moral guides. The truth is, however, that the New Covenant Christians have a much higher and better—yes, better—moral guide than the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are external. The law of Christ is internal”.

            The first error in this statement is to consider those who adopt his views as “New Covenant Christians” with a “superior” moral guide, which supposedly supersedes the “poor”, “inadequate” Ten Commandments.

            What Mr. Ratzlaff and his allies should remember is that these expressions of degrading the Ten Commandments don’t match with the classic, historic view of Christendom that has always stressed the 10 Commandments as the undeniable “moral law” of God, summary of all that is ethical, moral, spiritual in the universe. In the first line of his document “Against the Antinomians” Martin Luther, that great champion of righteousness by faith, calls the 10 Commandment “God’s Law”.

            Calvin also speaks of “moral law” and “ceremonial law” naturally, as that is also expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith, the 39 Articles of the Church of England, the Baptist Confession of 1689 and many other confessional documents.

            And along the centuries Christian authors and authorities expressed the same convictions about the role of these 10 Commandments as the rule of Christian life. Confirming this we could mention Wesley, Spurgeon, Moody, John Davis, Billy Graham, James Kennedy, and so many others.

            In our present time we witness this new campaign in the US and other lands to highlight the importance of the 10 Commandments, like Oral Roberts who recently wrote a book exalting this divine rule as a necessity to be adopted as a national standard to save America from chaos.

            This prompts us a new question to Mr. Ratzlaff and his allies:


            * Are you, Mr. Ratzlaff and your allies, convinced of your superior understanding of this matter over all these past and present Christian confessional documents and leaders? Can Mr. Ratzlaff consider himself a new Reformer everybody should listen to, forgetting all the Christian documents and authoritative statements and instructions by the highest reputed Christian authors, pastors, and Seminary professors along the centuries, including Luther, Calvin, Chemnitz, Wesley?

            We have seen how our question on the passage from the Old to the New Covenant was never answered by Mr. Ratzlaff. As we addressed it to people under his influence, let’s see if we finally get any answers to it. The question deals with the most important Bible text to explain why we have the Bible as a divided book, split into two parts: Old Testament/New Testament. This text is Hebrews 8:6-10.

            There is no information in these texts of any new “Law of Christ” that replaced the 10 Commandments as the new Christian rule of life, as well as no “Law of the Spirit”, nor “Law of Faith”, nor “Law of Love”, nor “Law of Grace”, but MY LAWS [God’s] is referred to as those that God writes on the hearts and minds of whoever accepts the terms of this New Covenant [New Testament], according to “superior promises”. Of course God’s law incorporates all that—it’s is the law of Christ, the law of love, the law of faith, the law of the Spirit and the law of grace.

            But there is no information that these “My laws” are DIFFERENT from the same “laws” that Jeremiah knew, inasmuch as Hebrews 8:6-10 is simply a reproduction of what we read in Jer. 31:31-33. They are THE SAME laws, with nothing having changed in the sense that: a- God left out the Sabbath commandment; b- God included the Sabbath commandment, but transferring the sanctity of the seventh to the first day of the week; c- God included the Sabbath commandment, but leaving it as a vague, voluntary and variable principle, adjustable to the believer’s conveniences or interest (or that of his/her employer).

            This key text of the Bible is the exact one where this information should be clearly enunciated. Nevertheless there are no clues regarding any change of laws with the change of the covenant. Thus, the basic equation on this subject to be demonstrated, but never done so, would be:

            NEW COVENANT = NEW LAW

            Of course all the ceremonial, ritual, aspects of the law as known by Jeremiah are out. Both Paul and his primary readers of Hebrews were well aware that all the prefigurations of the ceremonial law had ended on the cross, as symbolized graphically by the curtain of the Temple being torn into two at the moment Christ proclaimed His “It is finished”.

            Then, we come to the bottom line of all this discussion: the only commandment among the 10 of the Decalogue that is said to have been abolished is the 4th. For that to have happened it had to be a “ceremonial” precept. But since we have our study “10 Reasons Why the Sabbath Is Not a Ceremonial Precept” that hasn’t been refuted, we are assured that NONE of the principles recorded by God Himself in the two stone tables was eliminated through the passage from the Old to the New Covenant. No such information is presented to us in Hebrews 8:6-10.

            And speaking of “internalization” of the law, no doubt, our key text deals with that alright. Again, there are no hints of this process being different from what the psalmist David had said: “To do your will, O my God, is my desire; your law is within my heart” (Psa. 40:8).

            We read in 1 John 5:2, 3: “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is the love for God: to obey His commands. And his commands are not burdensome”.

            The love factor is what produces this internalization of the law, making its obedience not burdensome, even though humanly speaking it seems so. To dedicate an entire day every week to the Lord seems a burden, as so many who wish to be faithful to God’s principles face difficulties in their workplace, lose jobs, work in activities below their professional potential, students face hard times negotiating with their teachers new schedules for examinations, etc. But when we love God above all else, the joy of obeying Him surpasses these hardships, which are challenges to our fealty to Him, burdens that are made light when we are attached to the Lord who offered us rest, not of keeping a day to follow more easily the faith in accordance to the world and its customs, but to have His salvation, which involves not only having Him as Savior, but as Lord on our lives.

            Another big mistake of Mr. Ratzlaff’s articulation of the God’s Law subject is when he engages himself in discussing the role of the Holy Spirit as a guide to the Christian. He says that the Spirit guides us in doing God’s will and empowers one to live producing its fruits, which is something obvious to any Bible student. But then he comes to a slippery spot as he alleges: “It is clear that the function of the Holy Spirit in the new covenant replaces the function of the law in the old”.


            [To be continued in the next frame]
            Last edited by Azenilto Brito; 03-11-2017, 07:43 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              [Continuation of the previous frame]

              Wrong! The Spirit is not given as a SUBSTITUTE to specific commandments given by God. At least that was not how Paul and James understood the question. Paul speaks specifically of commandments to be observed by Christians. To the Ephesians and to the Romans he mentioned naturally the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th commandments (see Eph. 6:1-3; 4:25-31; Rom. 13:8-10). In this last case, he quotes a few of the commandments but makes clear that he is just quoting the part for the whole in vs. 9 (“. . . and whatever other commandment there may be. . .”).

              To the Corinthians he said--after “dividing the law”, showing that commandments that were important in the past are no more so: “Keeping God’s commandments is what counts” (1 Cor. 7:19).

              It’s important to contextualize the Bible statements. What his readers had in mind when he refers to “God’s commandments”? Did they think of any different ones from those who are in the Bible regarding obedience to God? In order to know that one has to just read Rom. 7:7-13. See how many times he utilizes the word “commandment”, referring to a specific one derived from the Decalogue--“Do not covet”.

              And in vs. 25 we have a text that is a clear embarrassment to this abolished-law-replaced-by-the-Spirit theology. Paul says: “I myself with my mind am a slave to God’s law”. Since in the context he refers to the “Do not covet” commandment, besides exalting this law as holy, good, spiritual, pleasurable, it’s incredible to see a supposed New Covenant instructor teaching this theological aberration that the Spirit was given to replace the law of God as rule of life to the Christian. That is not what we find in either Rom. 7, 8 or Hebrews 8:6-10, as well as in James 2:10-12.

              The same Paul had asked rhetorically before: “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith?” He himself answers in a way to leave no doubt: “Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law” (Rom. 3:31).

              That is a language much different from teaching that the Spirit has replaced the law of God expressed in the 10 Commandments to guide man in doing what is right and averting what is wrong.

              Actually we find so many specific instructions about not doing this, and rather doing that throughout the New Testament. . . How about, just randomly browsing its pages: “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”; “when you come together to eat, wait for each other”; “try to excel in gifts that build up the church”; “brothers, stop thinking like children”; “do not be yoked together with unbelievers”; “do everything without complaining or arguing”; “make it your ambition to live a quiet life”; “warn those who are idle”; “encourage the timid”; “help the weak”, “be patient with everyone”; “be joyful always”. . .

              So many specific instructions. . . Why didn’t Paul just say: “Submit yourself to the guidance of the Spirit in all things pertaining to your relationship with one another that everything will be fine in the Church”?. . . But although he implied that, he was also specific in what to do and what not to do, which proves Mr. Ratzlaff wrong in his theological stand that the Spirit in the New Covenant replaces clear commandments of God.

              Finally, Mr. Ratzlaff insists that the New Covenant Christians abide by the “law of Christ”, rather than the 10 Commandments, which are “the law of God”. Well, that prompts us to recommend that he read our study and try to answer our, “10 Questions on Law of God/Law of Christ”. See the following link for both studies--that the Sabbath is not a ceremonial precept and about the question of law of God/law of Christ:


              Finally, trying to answer another question (“What is the difference between legalism and sanctified obedience?”), Mr. Ratzlaff says: “Sanctified obedience is not obedience that makes us right with God. Rather, it is the outworking of the principles of the law of love that the Holy Spirit writes on the heart of a Christian. This would include all New Testament admonitions and all the oral principles behind Old Testament laws. However, we are not to apply the letter of Old Testament law but the moral principle behind the law”.

              We have nothing to fear regarding this fine point of obedience not making us right with God. That is clearly taught in our “SDA Beliefs” document, as nobody has to leave the SDA Church to know that we are not saved by fulfilling the law, but by God’s grace in Christ. We obey God’s law not to be saved, but because we love God. And we love him “because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). That is our motivation in obeying His complete law, without finding pretexts to skip any of His precept.

              What we have in Mr. Ratzlaff exposition is simply a clear “Herodian theology”. All the principles “behind the law” means, all the commandments such as they appear in the Ten Commandments, BUT FOR THE SABBATH, which is to be reinterpreted in the sense that they were totally abolished, and replaced by the new law of “Nine Commandments and One Suggestion”. . .

              As Herod wanted to get rid of just one kid in the land of Judea, but for reaching his goal he ordered the killing of all babies there, those who want to circumvent the “inconvenient” Sabbath commandment preach the end of the WHOLE Ten Commandments just to guarantee that the one they want to get rid of goes away with all the rituals and ceremonies of the Jewish law.

              With that he and his followers just throw out the baby with the bath water. . .

              And a final question to Mr. Ratzlaff and his allies:

              * What will you do with this campaign promoted all across the US, now reaching other countries, to promote the Ten Commandments as a truly “national salvation” resource, with even the “10 Commandments Day” set for the first Sunday of May? Are you going to participate of such a campaign? It would be contradictory to your cause, don’t you see? Do you agree with what these religious leaders of Protestant denominations in the US are proposing? [See next frame]
              Last edited by Azenilto Brito; 03-11-2017, 07:44 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                An Embarrassing International Campaign to Mr. Ratzlaff & Co.:

                Who Would Imagine It?! Evangelical Leaders Proclaim the Importance of the 10 Commandments


                James Kennedy, Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, Chuck Colson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson are only some of the contemporary Christian leaders who are engaged in a campaign that you probably never heard of before: to exalt the 10 Commandments!

                That seems unusual, when what is taught in Evangelical circles around is the “abolition” of the law of the 10 Commandments, replaced by a supposedly superior “law of Christ” of the “new dispensation”. But these leaders, and many others, want the people of the United States and of the entire world now to pay greater attention to the moral imperatives of this divine code.

                It all began when Roy Moore, the chief justice of the State of Alabama, a Baptist, decided to order the installation of a 2-ton monument to the 10 Commandments right on the lobby of the Supreme Court building in Montgomery, Alabama’s capital. This caused a big fuss, for there were those who mobilized themselves to have it removed, under the allegation it was a measure that interferes with the separation of Church and State (and they are right—no religious symbol should occupy public buildings).

                There were fierce legal disputes about it, but finally said monument had to be removed by decision of a federal judge. And judge Moore ended up losing his post due to his insistence in maintaining the offensive monument in its place.
                Later, the monument was installed on a flat bed and made to circulate across the country, as a testimony of its promoters’ faith that “the 10 Commandments are the foundation of the American legislation”.

                From that point on, there was mobilization of Christian leaders to compensate for the discarding of the public exhibition of the monument. They launched a campaign for obtaining permission to display that religious symbol in public places, as well as encouraging the American population to honor these neglected 10 Commandments. It has been used as a revival of the Christians’ faith, in the face of so many disasters and problems of moral character that have affected negatively the nation (the destructive hurricanes, the gay marriages, the increase in crime and political corruption, and other evils, now attributed to a lack of duly considering the ethical biblical principles by the people of this nation, supposedly built on Christian foundations). Then, this “Ten Commandments Commission” was formed, backed by the most representative Evangelical leaders in the country.

                Seventh-day Adventist leaders see in these initiatives a golden opportunity to clarify to the general public the real meaning of these 10 Commandments, and the distortion that occurred regarding them, with the unauthorized change in the 4th commandment, when the Sunday worship was introduced, based on a tradition of suspicious origin—the sun-worship day of the Romans, the dies solis, that became Sunday through Roman Catholicism, substituting the true Sabbath day, which is the seventh-day of the week.

                And a petition is being prepared by the leaders of the Hope Channel, a SDA TV Ministry, to be sent to this Commission, signed by as many Seventh-day Adventists that they can gather [see its reproduction below].

                This petition will be sent to the leaders of the “Ten Commandments Commission” accompanied by a Bible Study on the role of God’s law, in a Christ-centered appeal to people really learn what these commandments mean in its original, pure form, without the distortions that were applied to it.

                As part of the campaign, on the coming May 7 there will be a special celebration in all churches in the USA that join the bandwagon of this 10 Commandments honoring. As an SDA leader put it, “there is nothing wrong with promoting the Ten Commandments. In fact, everything is right about it. We wish more churches taught the role of God’s holy law in our lives. But the pastors who follow the Commission’s script this Sunday will find themselves in an awkward position trying to explain why the Ten Commandments are so important when they keep only nine themselves”.

                Explaining that the petition letter will be sent to Ron Wexler [president of the Commission] and important leaders of the “Ten Commandments Commission”, he continues:

                “Using a positive Christlike spirit, we will encourage them to stand for God’s law while also protecting our religious freedoms. We will invite them to help people return to Christ and obedience to all ten of the commandments.

                And in conclusion, to his message, addressed to Seventh-day Adventists, he says:

                “This is an unprecedented opportunity to talk to these leaders on an issue that we both hold dear. No other group of believers can help them understand these things like we can. This is our hour to do our duty and stand for God. We believe you share our conviction that Jesus is coming soon”.


                The text of the Petition:


                TO THE TEN COMMANDMENTS COMMISSION


                As fellow believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ we want to encourage you in your work to uphold the Ten Commandments. We agree that our society has strayed far from God. People need to accept Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation. This will prove to be the only enduring solution for our world’s problems. Recognizing your purpose is to honor God’s eternal law, we encourage you to. . .


                * Invite Christians to repent of their sins. As Christians live according to Bible principles we will have the integrity to change society.

                * Call Christian leaders not to teach the Ten Commandments have been nailed to the cross. We find it difficult to lead the lost to Christ and honor the Ten Commandments while the church teaches God’s law was abolished.

                * Call upon believers to be loyal to all ten of God’s commandments including the fourth. The seventh-day Sabbath was given to bless society and help making stay connected to their Maker.

                * Commit to not urge the government to legislate the first four commandments that define how we are to worship God. True worship can never be forced by governmental decrees. God only accepts the service of love.

                Name and Date

                Links that lead to the 10 Commandments Comission’s website and to the “Lord’s Day Alliance” (an old Protestant institution that is concerned with a more faithful observance of the day of rest, preferably on Sunday):
                .
                .
                Last edited by Azenilto Brito; 03-11-2017, 07:47 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  William Miller Under Ratzlaff’s Scrutiny. Is He Being Fair?

                  In a previous edition of the Proclamation Magazine a strong case is made against William Miller’s being someone directed by God in his preaching of the Second Advent Message, due to his blunder of setting a date for that event. However, some reflections would fit at this point. Maybe, we could even start asking the critics of that Baptist fervent preacher, who triggered the Advent Movement, some pertinent questions:

                  * Was Martin Luther a man under God’s guidance when he attached his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg cathedral? Were Luther’s 95 theses a reflection of good theological research in the field of justification/sanctification? Was Luther’s later theological views exempt of errors? Was Luther’s personal conduct as a religious leader always flawless?

                  * How about the other great Reformer, John Calvin? Was Calvin’s theological views exempt of error? Was Calvin’s attitude towards his fellowmen always in harmony with the highest expectations from someone with his influence and authority? Was someone hurt by his personal conduct?

                  * And how about the other John, Wesley, who was such a wonderful revivalist in the Seventeenth Century, but his teachings in part are seen as the seed of the Pentecostal movement, due to his idea of “second blessing”, interpreted later on as the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”, manifested through the gift of tongues? Was that a good contribution to the Gospel cause on his part?

                  * Do you know that even Billy Graham, considered the greatest evangelist of modern times, who won so many souls to Christ, in so many different parts of the world, has been criticized by many people because of certain views he expressed, like considering Pope John Paul II as a real dedicated Christian leader, and other favorable opinions regarding the Catholic Church?

                  A reading of the Bible shows that time after time God used men and women to accomplish His work who were far from perfect in conduct, and even understanding of their role. Eli, Samson, Elijah, David, Solomon accomplished great things for God, but were so often so much short of His ideals.

                  Miller was a dedicated Christian and there is no doubt that the movement he launched had the highest and most sincere motivation. He was a man who really loved His Master and looked forward to meeting Him soon, and that was the leitmotif of all his campaign. Nobody can point to any selfish intentions on his part, no interest in acquiring fame and fortune, no plans to even start a new denomination (what for, since the world would soon come to an end?!).

                  Now, Miller had his blunders, no doubt. His too “optimistic” prophetic studies led him to the error of setting the 1843, later 1844, dates. But if he made mistakes, he also deserves credit for the good things we can glean from his efforts.

                  Yes, Miller set the date for the Advent, an error, indeed. But how about seeing him under a new perspective? First let’s remember that the apostles of Christ also made mistakes regarding the nature of Christ’s kingdom. They harbored false expectations concerning Jesus’ promised kingdom, as we can see in Luke 24:21 (“But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.”) and Acts 1:6 e 7 (“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”

                  Thus, the human founders of the Christian Church also “erred”! And how about the serious Peter’s flaw of conduct, which deserved a severe reprimand from Paul, in Galatians 2:11ff? Do these bad incidents disqualify the Christian religion or put it in jeopardy?

                  Many think that Miller is someone we have to be ashamed of. How wrong are these people! That farmer without theological training read his Bible correctly and realized that it predicted a premillennial return of Christ. Miller superseded the majority of the Christian scholars of his time. The main Bible commentaries for most of the 19th Century taught the postmillenial coming of Christ, which proved wrong and is a theory mostly abandoned today.

                  Who would have any enthusiasm with an event at least one thousand years away? Adam Clarke, Bishop Barnes, and, before them, Matthew Henry, made the same mistake. Miller helped to cause a breakthrough in the religious world regarding this vital question that resounds throughout the New Testament text—the thrilling hope of the soon return of our Lord. To harbor this hope is appropriate, either we live in the apostolic age or now.

                  Following the two world wars, almost the entire religious world has followed the direction set by Miller. The fact that he was wrong in following certain trends of religious people of his time to set “prophetic dates” doesn’t diminish significantly his stature.

                  How appropriate was the occasion for the essence of the SDA message. For example, Darwin wrote his first sketch for The Origin of Species in 1844 and simultaneously God revived the Sabbath truth to challenge all the atheistic theories regarding the origin of life.

                  Modern spiritualism also emerged in the 1840’s and was confronted by Adventist emphasis on the conditional immortality. Also it was about that time that Marx and Engels wrote the ‘Communist Manifesto’, stating that “law, morality and religion are only bourgeois prejudices”. Thus, I affirm that God raised the Adventist movement for His purposes in the latter days.

                  Now, back to Miller, while he proclaimed the neglected message of Christ’s soon coming, the Protestants were expanding their plantations (of cotton and TOBACCO) because their preachers promised 1,000 years of peace and prosperity in anticipation of Jesus’ return. Postmillennialism prevailed at that time, a concept that nowadays is practically abandoned by the religious people who favor premillennialism as more correct. Thus, we conclude that on that point MILLER WAS RIGHT ALL THE TIME, after all. . .

                  To say nothing of how Miller’s Protestant contemporaries funded the Secession War because of their financial interest in maintaining slavery. And they employed Bible arguments to defend maintenance of slaves! Doesn’t that count as interpretive error?

                  On the other hand, Mrs. White, at this difficult time, wrote testimonies condemning slavery, which would not be considered a “politically correct” attitude on her part in that cultural and historical milieu.

                  So, when we put things in the due perspective and cultural and historical context, they acquire a very different logic.

                  William Miller was a hero of the Christian faith and should be honored as such, not disparaged so unfairly by biased and not well informed people, no doubt about that.
                  ______

                  Note: Some of the material above has inputs from some good points of the polemic SDA theologian Desmond Ford, in an interview he gave to an independent Adventist publication.
                  Last edited by Azenilto Brito; 03-11-2017, 07:47 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    THE TREE: ARE YOU CONNECTED?
                    Theology associate teacher Rick Langer writes a good article with just one flaw. We have a question to him. Will he answer it?


                    Rick Langer, an associate professor in the Biblical Studies and Theology Department of Biola University, contributes with a good and informative article to the May/June issue of Proclamation Magazine (2007), featured as the main one on the cover. It discusses the basic Christianity tree, with its different branches, and how we should check if the branch we belong to is attached or not to the original trunk.

                    He mentions some of the branches that seem to be related to the others, but just apparently, not for real, because a careful examination of its basis won’t show the necessary connection to the original trunk of the Apostolic faith.

                    So, he mentions particularly Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons as examples of movements that cannot be identified with this basic Christian trunk, something that seems to us quite obvious.

                    In his development of the history of how the branches developed along the centuries he refers to Martin Luther and his ideals of ecclesia reformata semper reformanda [The reformed church should be always under reform]. We know how Luther himself didn’t live up to his own ideals in that respect because he simply attached himself to the truths he had uncovered from error, but rejected other advances in the restoration of important truths and practices of the Christian faith. For example, Lutherans to this day baptize children, which has no backing in Scripture, and practice the baptism by sprinkling (which some could think is no big deal).

                    But, besides this supposedly not important issue, there was Luther’s neglect of reforming other things. To Luther’s credit, however, according to Lutheran historian Paul Althaus, he even suggested that the popular belief in the immortality of the soul should be discarded among the false teachings of Rome. Unhappily later Lutherans didn’t pay attention to that, even though I was informed that there are certain branches of Lutheranism that accept the teaching of immortality only in Christ and the coming back to life after death only through resurrection as the correct view on subject of man’s nature.

                    But if Luther advanced some steps in the right direction regarding that and the basic understanding of the justification/sanctification issue, he neglected correcting other important points. For example, his Minor Catechism on the 10 Commandments strangely keeps the same numerical order of commandments as in the Roman Catholic Church traditional catechisms. There is no commandment against the use of sculpted images, like in the Catholics doctrinal documents. Why didn’t Luther correct this according to the Biblical original Decalogue, which clearly condemns this idolatrous practice of Roman Catholicism?

                    And, of course, together with the neglect in correcting this failure, Luther also neglected to correct the Sabbath question. He even wrote some texts condemning the seventh-day Sabbath as a Jewish institution, in which he certainly contradicted himself completely, for he also admitted that the 10 Commandments were the pattern of Christian conduct, even saying that he tried to memorize each one of them, and taught clearly their validity in his 1539 document “Against the Antinomians”. Besides, if the Sabbath is a Jewish institution, the same applies to any of the other Decalogue’s commandments, for they belong to the same law. Why discriminate against the 4th among them, when all the others had the same origin?

                    Anyway, in the progress for restoring truth, there were the Baptists, certainly more advanced than the Lutherans in correcting errors neglected by the Reformer, like the immersion baptism only for those who believe (which excludes babies). The Baptists certainly are seen as plainly attached to the trunk of the original faith, aren’t they? And since Mr. Langer mentions the rule of thumbs “to check a belief by seeing if it attaches to the apostolic foundation”, which includes “the credal confessions, and the canon of Scripture”, it would be interesting to see what the Baptist Confession of Faith historically establishes as the day of rest commandment. Differently from Luther, the Baptists (and Presbyterians in their Westminster Confession of Faith, before them) established that the “Lord’s day”, not only is a principle that comes from the creation of the world (thus being universal and moral), but should follow the pattern set by the 4th commandment—to be kept holy, without any secular or recreational activities. They even quote as Scriptural basis for their reasoning such verses as Exo. 20:8-11 (the Sabbath commandment), Isa. 58:13, 14 (how to keep the Sabbath) and even Jer. 17:21-27 (God’s punishment to transgressors of the Sabbath).

                    Of course they reinterpret the commandment to apply to Sunday, under the wrong allegation that the Apostles changed the seventh-day Sabbath to Sunday as the Lord’s day, but the texts quoted in that regard simply don’t serve as proof of that. They are right regarding the maintenance of the 4th commandment as unambiguously binding to the Christian community, but are in error to reinterpret it to apply to the day defined by Roman Catholic tradition as the Lord’s Day--Sunday.

                    Now, there were those Baptists who noticed this neglect on the part of the Reformers to correct that error, and from the seventeenth century started a new movement to put the 4th commandment in its due place, forming in England the Seventh-day Baptist Church. Aren’t they genuinely attached to the original apostolic trunk? I think Mr. Langer, or even Mr. Ratzlaff, won’t object to this statement.

                    Well, then the Seventh-day Baptists influenced the pioneers of Seventh-day Adventism. And SDA’s, as I have already made clear in articles above, don’t deny any of the basic Christian beliefs, like the sole authority of Scriptures to define doctrine and practice, the Trinity, the Incarnation of Christ, His glorious second coming, justification only by faith, and the keeping of God’s commandment, expressed in the Decalogue, not to obtain merits before God, but under the motivation that “we love because He loved us first” (1 John 4:19).

                    As to Mr. Langer mention of the Ebionites, trying to link them to Seventh-day Adventists, this is the only dissonant note in his study, otherwise profitable. He says that the connection of Ebionites with SDA’s is “obvious” for reasons that we have already proved to be totally false, “salvation as a human work . . .
                    accomplished by a return to the Jewish law—though generally with an emphasis on a pre-flood diet that abstained from eating meat”.

                    Since what is “obvious” is that Seventh-day Adventists don’t teach “salvation as human work . . . accomplished by a return to the Jewish law”, as topics 9, 10 and 18 of the Creedal Adventist document makes very clear, and the “pre-flood diet that abstained from eating meat” is no requisite for salvation (which cannot be proved as an Adventist belief), his innuendo proves a big flaw in his otherwise good study.

                    Anyway, it is worth mentioning that vegetarianism is recognized as a good and profitable regime by many specialists, and is even suggested as causing greater impact than driving a hybrid car in the campaign to reduce CO2 gas, in an especial edition of Time magazine [April 9, 2007] with suggestions on what one can do to contribute for that—suggestion # 22. At that point Mr. Langer’s article shows a lack of better research on his part. But then, if he had taken these facts into consideration his article would hardly be approved for publication. . .

                    Besides, if keeping the seventh-day Sabbath is “a return to the Jewish law”, why not abstaining from utilizing sculpted images, which is the 2nd commandment of THE SAME LAW? Paul said that with his mind he served “God’s law”, which he himself identified as the one that brings the commandment, “ye shall not covet” (compare Rom. 7:25, with verses 7 and 8).

                    So, we have this special question to Mr. Langer: Would obedience to the commandment “ye shall not covet” be also considered a return to the Jewish law? If not, why not?
                    Last edited by Azenilto Brito; 03-11-2017, 07:48 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ratzlaff’s Concern With Those Who Abandon the Faith -- A Wider Problem Than He Thinks


                      In a previous edition of his Proclamation magazine Mr. Ratzlaff expresses great preoccupation with a proportionately large number of Seventh-day Adventists who, after a time, leave the Church. He seems to keep thinking of his ministry as the most valid alternative for this kind of people (besides those who already belong to the Church and are living their faith faithfully, who he wants to woo to his “new alliance” supposedly superior understanding of the Scriptures).

                      Now, it is really regrettable that so many leave the ranks of the SDA Church every year. But we should remember that a church with the fast growth and intense evangelistic efforts like the SDA Church runs this risk most unavoidably. Many join the church through public evangelism campaigns and often are more enthused than converted, and sooner or later give up their faith for a series of reasons. Besides, being a Seventh-day Adventist represents to face challenges and restrictions that others don’t experience. Barriers to the practice of their faith are much bigger than for those belonging to other more easy-to-follow churches (Sabbath keeping, dietary rules, tithing, etc.).

                      However, the problem is that even in other more “stable” and easy-to-follow churches, that don’t promote all these evangelistic campaigns and don’t have large number of baptisms, as happens with our Church, the problem with defection is also worrisome.

                      One Hispanic congregation in our area, with which I contribute preaching to their congregation every second Sabbath, had to rent the premises of a Baptist church for their Sabbath services until they concluded negotiations for the acquisition of their own temple. I met the pastor of that Baptist church there who went to attend our meetings as courtesy, or to serve in any needed support for the use of the installations and equipments, and I asked him: “How many members do you have here in your church?” He answered candidly: “In the books they are 250, but only about 50 or 60 attend church regularly. I don’t know where the others are. . .”

                      A recent piece of news in our area’s main newspaper, The Birmingham News, reproduced a news dispatch from the Associated Press that has as title, “Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Shrinking”. And, the main body of the information:
                      .
                      Louisville, Ky, (AP) – Membership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) declined again last year, dropping by more than 46.000 in 2006, the denomination says. The number of active Presbyterians fell from 2,313,662 in 2005, to 2,267,118 in 2006, according to an annual church survey released June 7. . . . In addition, the number of congregations fell by 56 to 10,903.
                      .
                      Like other mainline Protestant denominations, the Presbyterians have seen membership rolls shrink over the last couple of decades. In 2004 and 2005 alone, the denomination lost 48,474 active members.
                      The latest drop comes as fighting intensifies within the church over how Presbyterians should interpret Scripture. Congregants are divided over whether the Bible bars gay relationships, among other theological issues. – The Birmingham News, June 15, 2007, page 4-H.
                      .

                      So, if Mr. Ratzlaff is concerned with those who left their Churches, the field is really very ample for him to act about. He doesn’t have to concentrate on Seventh-day Adventists.

                      May be his own “new alliance” members could lose their initial enthusiasm after they discover his poor articulation of the gospel theme and that what he teaches is not even in accordance with the traditional doctrines of Protestantism, as we have stressed in previous analyses of his SDA-centered “evangelistic” efforts.

                      So, maybe he should take better care of his own fold, providing them consistent instruction that doesn’t represent new and dysfunctional ideas, alien to what is the real understanding of the gospel and law relationship throughout the centuries by the most representative Protestant-Evangelical confessional documents and leading instructors in that milieu.

                      Now, the May/June edition of Proclamation magazine (2007) again brings some testimonies of SDA Adventists who abandoned their faith because they discovered the supposedly “new alliance” message, which inspired them and led them to discover the true meaning of the gospel.

                      But, one question arises at this point: what is the true meaning of the gospel? How about this?:
                      .
                      The Bible makes it clear that our walk with Christ doesn’t end on the day of conversion. On the contrary, when people give themselves totally to Christ, they begin a whole new life, a whole new existence (Rom. 6:4). It’s not that a new Christian has to work to reach salvation, as in other faiths; instead, because he or she already has salvation, already stands perfect and accepted in God, the Christian begins to live a life that reveals and reflects that salvation. Sure, we are saved by faith, but what kind of faith? A faith that is expressed in a life that reveals a commitment to Jesus Christ.
                      .
                      Central to our new life in Christ is spiritual growth. As Christians, we can’t remain static: We are always in the process of change as we should better reflect the image of Jesus Christ. And crucial to the whole growth process is the Word of God, which shows us how and why we must “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18, NIV). – Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, Lesson 12, “Growing Through the Word”, p. 137.
                      .

                      Millions of Seventh-day Adventists around the world studied this lesson, which reflects exactly what is the Church’s official teaching. Again we wonder: Is there any need for someone to leave the SDA Church to encounter somewhere else these important truths, with which Mr. Ratzlaff and his followers certainly would agree? Or wouldn’t? If not, why not? What is wrong in that statement that would disqualify it as a real Christ-centered and gospel based language? I wonder what failure in terms of transmitting the real meaning of what it means to be a Christian is lacking in these two paragraphs, that introduces Lesson 12 of the referred to Sabbath School quarterly.

                      Next we will analyze Mrs. Colleen Tinker’s real exercise in intellectual dishonesty in her assessment of the Church’s and, especially, Ellen G. White’s development of the Divinity issue in the article she wrote, "Discovering the Adventist Jesus".
                      Last edited by Azenilto Brito; 03-11-2017, 07:50 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        “Discovering the Adventist Jesus”—The Contradictory and Confusing Theology of Proclamation Magazine’s Editor


                        In her article, “Discovering the Adventist Jesus”, Colleen Tinker, who is the editor of Proclamation magazine and a former Seventh-day Adventist, says something very interesting in one of the first paragraphs of her article, recalling something of her religious experience:
                        .
                        “It was May 1996, when Richard and I attended an Adventist Forum meeting in San Diego, California, and heard Dale Ratzlaff explain that the New Covenant, unlike the Old Covenant, was an unconditional promise. Where the Old Covenant promised Israel blessings in exchange for obedience, the New Covenant unilaterally promised that God would write His law on human hearts. This covenant did not depend upon promises of obedience from me. Dale explained that Jesus fulfilled the covenant obligation on behalf of humanity by fulfilling the law, by dying for sin, and by conquering death. In the New Covenant, God’s blessings are ours when we place our trust in Jesus. Our own behavior and performance are not involved in our acceptance into the New Covenant. God Himself makes and keeps the terms of the New Covenant. Jesus represents humanity before the Father, and the New Covenant blessings are ours when we are in Christ”. – Op. Cit., May/June edition, 2007.
                        .

                        Besides the poor theology of that statement, the incredible contradictions found in it shows additionally how confusing is this supposed “new alliance” message of Ratzlaff & Co. First, Jesus said: “If ye love Me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), while Mrs. Tinker says that our “own behavior and performance are not involved in our acceptance into the New Covenant”. Now, how someone can keep Jesus’ commandments without involving his/her behavior and “performance” she didn’t explain.

                        Well, there is that beautiful Evangelical Hymn that really says, “Just as I am, without one plea but that Thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bid’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come. . .”. But, another hymn completes the picture: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. . .” Both hymns are part of the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal (respectively ## 590 and 314) and sang regularly in our churches. They simply teach that we go to Jesus just as we are, but that is because He promises to FORGIVE OUR SINS. And, again, let’s not forget the Bible’s definition of sin: “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). What law? Wouldn’t that be exactly the one that Mrs. Tinker confirms that God writes on human hearts? The context of Heb. 8:10 says that it is “My laws” (God’s), the same that Jeremiah knew, because this text is a mere reproduction of what Jeremiah says in Jer. 31:31-33.

                        Someone could allege that Jesus, in the context of John 14:15, refers to the commandment of loving one another. That is true, but doesn’t He also imply the other part of His double “golden rule” of loving God above all else and loving the neighbor as oneself? He certainly does. After all, the word “commandments” in John 14:15 is plural. So, it must be, at least, two.

                        But still we have the law that God writes on human hearts. What law is that? God’s law, certainly. And isn’t God’s law also Christ’s commandments? Isn’t it expressed in the double principle of love to God above all else, and love to the neighbor? For centuries Baptists and Presbyterians say that the first four commandments have to do with our relationship with God, and the last six, the same regarding our neighbor. . . Have they being wrong all that time? I don’t think so. . . Don’t also Mr. Ratzlaff and his followers?

                        Related to that there is that very special question that I asked Mr. Ratzlaff months ago, and so far he gave me no answer. Who knows his editor-in-chief is better at answering questions? Well, let’s try, then, to address her the same question he snubbed:
                        .
                        Where is it written that in the change from the Old to the New Covenant, when God writes what is called “My laws” in the hearts and minds of those who accept the terms of the New Covenant [New Testament] (Heb. 8:6-10), transferring the contents of the cold tables of stone to the hearts warmed by the divine grace (2 Cor. 3:2-7), He
                        .
                        a – leaves out the 4th commandment of the moral law;
                        .
                        b – includes the 4th commandment, but changing the sanctity of the 7th to the 1st day of the week?
                        .
                        OR
                        .
                        c – includes the 4th commandment, but leaving it as a vague, voluntary and variable principle that can be reinterpreted as any day or time which is most convenient to the believer (or his employer)?
                        .
                        Basic texts: Hebrews 8:6-10; Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 11:19, 20 and 36:26, 27.
                        .
                        Now I will act differently. As I do in some discussion groups and forums, when I address this question to “new alliance” adherents, since they normally show no disposition to answer, preferring rather to continue trying to manipulate the debates through the well-known technique of ignoring questions and questionings, I set a deadline for having it responded. If not, I advise that I will publish what I deem to be the CORRECT ANSWER at the end of the time set. Then, the opponents have two options: a – to accept the answer as correct; b – to refuse it offering convincing arguments to prove that it is not correct.

                        So, Mrs. Colleen Tinker has 10 days to give us a good and convincing, Bible-based answer. If not, we will offer the CORRECT ANSWER and she has the two options above to deal with.

                        Now, we find something very strange as we read further Mrs. Tinker understanding of the New Covenant in her article: “God Himself makes and keeps the terms of the New Covenant”.

                        But a “covenant” is tantamount to a contract, a pact, an alliance, or an agreement. And there are always at least two parties involved in any of such deals. What is she really saying? It seems very confusing on the light of her own context.

                        [To be continued in the next frame]
                        Last edited by Azenilto Brito; 03-11-2017, 07:53 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13

                          [Continuation of previous frame]

                          Does that mean that God does everything that the New Covenant comprehends, including “our obedience”? Oh, Jesus fulfilled the law for us, of course. But what does that mean, in practical terms?

                          * Did He fulfill the law of not having other gods? He certainly did. Does that mean we are free for worshipping other gods?

                          * Did He fulfill the law of not utilizing sculpted image in our acts of worship? He certainly did. Does that mean we are free from obeying this principle? Then the Roman Catholics and members of the Orthodox Church are right, we can’t criticize them for utilizing images and icons in their churches and homes. . .

                          * Did He fulfill the law of not pronouncing God’s name in vain? He certainly did. Does that mean we are free from obeying this principle?

                          * Did He fulfill the law of respecting the parents, of not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to give false witness against the neighbor, and so on? He certainly did. Does that mean we are free from obeying all these commandments?

                          The apostle Paul, the great champion of justification by faith, said something so much different from Mrs. Tinker’s theology to those who live under the new covenant. He wrote to the Romans in the 7th chapter of his epistle to the Christian community there that God’s law is holy, just, good and pleasurable, and that He obeyed it with his mind. That he refers to the 10 Commandments is clear comparing vs. 25 with 7 and 8—it is the law that brings the commandment, “Thou shalt not covet”. Which one is that?

                          The entire chapter speaks of a new life for those who abandoned sin (remember, “transgression of the law”) and “got married” with the new “husband”, Jesus Christ (vs. 4-6). And this new life is one of struggle against temptation, because, as he adds in the following chapter, “the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7, 8).

                          Then, in another paragraph, the author shows how far she was from being a well knowledgeable believer regarding the official teaching of the church she decided to abandon:
                          .
                          “My entire worldview changed at that moment [as she heard Ratzlaff’s explanation on the contrast between covenants]. Jesus was no longer a piece of the salvation puzzle. Instead, He IS salvation. In order to be saved, all I needed was Jesus. A flood of emotion overflowed in tears, and I felt something completely new: awe, reverence, and love for Jesus”.
                          .
                          She goes on speaking of her lack of knowing the “real” Jesus in Seventh-day Adventism. Another poor lady who missed some important materials that only the SDA Church has to provide its members and the public in general, two magnificent works especially dedicated to lead people to this wonderful Jesus that she alleges having discovered only after she left the SDA Church, to embrace this confusing and contradictory “new alliance” current: Steps to Christ and The Desire of Ages.

                          Seventh-day Adventists are really privileged to have these books available in their publishing houses and ABC stores. There is no need to discover that “special” Jesus with Ratzlaff or whoever intends to be the “guru” of a new alliance that doesn’t have anything new to tells us regarding the plan of salvation.

                          For one thing, I already published topics 9, 10 and 18 of our 28 basic beliefs, and there is nothing, but absolutely NOTHING, that Mrs. Tinker alleges about “discovering” the real Jesus that is not part of the mentioned topics, wonderfully enriched by the two books. The first of them had its first editions published by the Evangelical publishing company Revell, because its editor saw its Christ-centered character and evangelistic potential.

                          After discussing her own feelings and supposed lack of clear understanding of the real Jesus in 7th Day Adventism, she enters a new field, trying to discuss our understanding of the Godhead, presenting a brief history of what the SDA pioneers said about, later dealing with Ellen White’s treatment of the subject, coming to the absurd conclusion that she taught a tritheist Godhead. That is certainly strange, because if she had that view, how come the Church, either in her own time or in the future, never adopted such a position?

                          For now I will just discuss the first part of her discussion on that, reproducing the introduction of the book Questions on Doctrine, where the problem of the SDA pioneers who dealt with the Divinity question is fully clarified. Later on I will discuss how Mrs. Tinker presents Ellen White dealing with the Godhead in a totally distorted way.

                          [To be continued in the next frame]
                          Last edited by Azenilto Brito; 03-11-2017, 07:54 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            [Continuation of previous frame]
                            .
                            The SDA Pioneers’ Struggle to Form a New Church

                            .
                            The founding fathers of the SDA Church over a century ago came out of various denominational backgrounds. While all were premillennialists, some were Trinitarians, others were Arian. The majority were Arminians; a few were Calvinists. Some insisted on immersion; a few were content with sprinkling. There was diversity on these points. And as with various other religious groups, our early days were characterized by transition and adjustment. As these men were already born-again believers, the initial study and emphasis was placed upon the distinctive teachings of the movement. And they were similarly occupied in developing an effective organization.
                            .
                            In those early years relatively little attention was paid to the respective merits of Arminianism in contrast with the Calvinist position. The historic differences of thought involved had reached back to Augustine and Chrysostom. They did not concern themselves with “absolute decrees”, “divine sovereignty”, “particular election”, or “limited atonement”. Nor did they, at first, seek to define the nature of the Godhead, or the problems of Christology, involving the deity of Christ and His nature during the incarnation; the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit; the nature, scope, and completeness of the atonement; the relationship of law to grace and the fullness of the doctrine of righteousness by faith; and the like.
                            .
                            But with the passage of years the earlier diversity of view on certain doctrines gradually gave way to unity of view. Clear and sound positions were then taken by the great majority on such doctrines as the Godhead, the deity and eternal pre-existence of Christ, and the personality of the Holy Spirit. Clear-cut views were established on righteousness by faith, the true relationship of law and grace, and on the death of Christ as the complete sacrificial atonement for sin.
                            .
                            A few, however, held to some of their former views, and at times these ideas got into print. However, for decades now the church has been practically at one on the basic truths of the Christian faith.
                            .
                            The very fact that our positions were now clarified seemed to us sufficient. Our teachings, we felt, were clear. And no particular statement of change from those earlier ideas appeared necessary. Today the primary emphasis of all our leading denominational literature, as well as the continuous presentation over radio and television, emphasizes the historic fundamentals of the Christian faith.
                            .
                            But the charges and attacks have persisted. Some continue to gather up quotations from some of our earlier literature long since out of date, and print. Certain statements are cited, often wrested out of context, which give a totally distorted picture of the beliefs and teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church of today.
                            .
                            Another consideration should be taken into account. Is it that Seventh-day Adventists, having no formal creed, do not rigidly bind the thinking of their ministry. It would be strange indeed if from some Adventist writer there did not appear an occasional statement that was out of line with the consensus of Seventh-day Adventist belief. Most religious bodies face this problem and embarrassment from time to time.
                            .
                            All this has made it desirable and necessary for us to declare our position anew upon the great fundamental teachings of the Christian faith, and to deny every statement or implication that Christ, the second person of the Godhead, was not one with the Father from all eternity, and that His death on the cross was not a full and complete sacrificial atonement. The belief of Seventh-day Adventist on these great truths is clear and emphatic. And we feel that we should not be identified with, or stigmatized for, certain limited and faulty concepts held by some, particularly in our formative years.
                            .
                            The statement should therefore nullify the stock “quotations” that have been circulated against us. We are one with our fellow Christians of denominational groups in the great fundamentals of the faith once delivered to the saints. Our hope is in a crucified, risen, ministering, and soon returning Savior. -– Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine (Review and Herald Publ. Assn., Washington D.C., 1957), pp. 29-32.
                            .
                            ______
                            .
                            Actually, the different origins of our pioneers explain certain doctrinal points they still adhered to for a time, among which we also can identify what characterized the consensus of the conservative Christian churches: a) The Ten Commandments as God’s law in all their precepts; b) Within the Ten Commandments, its principle of a day of rest derived from the creation of the world, thus being of moral and universal character; c) the divine laws being classified as “moral” (the Decalogue), “ceremonial” (the prefigurative rites of Christ’s atoning death, abolished on the cross), “civil”, “judicial”, etc.
                            .
                            Do Mr. Ratzlaff and his admirers admit these three historic “non-negotiables” in the understanding of the Bible among Evangelical-Protestants, brought into the SDA Church by its pioneers? Or is he, rather, pioneering other views that won’t match the typical doctrines of the Protestant Christendom (even Roman Catholicism) on these points?
                            Last edited by Azenilto Brito; 03-11-2017, 07:56 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Ellen White’s Discussion on the Trinity—Not According to Mrs. Tinker’s False Allegations

                              As I pointed out in my last analysis of Mrs. Tinker study on Ellen White’s discussion of the Godhead, if Ellen White were to start a new view on the subject, like tritheism, that would have been adopted by the Church as a whole, which never was the case.

                              To discuss things pertaining to God is not easy and our poor human language will always be inadequate to express exactly how the Godhead “operates”. So, one can easily stumble on words in exploring EGW’s attempt to make sense of the “heavenly trio” (an expression of hers), which is exactly Mrs. Tinker's problem in her tritheism interpretation of the SDA author’s language.

                              Proclamation magazine’s editor makes certain statements that are purely speculative and have absolutely no basis. She says, at a certain point in her article:
                              .
                              “While Ellen White grew up believing in the Trinity, she changed her views in adulthood. No doubt James influenced this change, but she claimed that her visions established her unorthodox beliefs. Early in her career she was overtly Arian, and although her later views endorsed ‘a heavenly trio’, she never taught an orthodox Trinity”[1].
                              .
                              Evidence for that statement is simply absent. What she presents as “proof” is no proof at all. It’s the text when Ellen White discusses the attitude of the rebel angel in Heaven, envious of Jesus’ privileges and proximity to God, as is well known to SDA’s [Spiritual Gifts, Vol., 3, p. 37]. But Mrs. White never gives the least impression that she is considering Jesus inferior to the Father.

                              Mrs. Tinker is engaging herself in an exercise in intellectual dishonesty, quoting the Adventist pioneer out of due context, jumping to biased conclusions of what could be going on in Ellen White’s mind. That is speculation of the worst type.

                              If we study seriously Ellen White’s writings unbiasedly we will come to at least two conclusions: 1. Her understanding of the Trinity question was gradual; as she received more light on the issue, she expressed her opinion; 2. It can’t be proved that in any moment she had gone against the Trinity, but for some aspects of what doesn’t match with what the Bible says, like the position of a certain SDA medical doctor (Kellogg) that was totally in contradiction with the SDA viewpoint, and a Methodist confessional document that said that “there is only one living, eternal and true God, without a body or parts”.
                              .
                              Dr. Jerry Moon, Ph. D., who is the chairman of the Church History Department of the Andrews University Theological Seminary, discusses that in a very illuminating essay that I would recommend to Mr. Ratzlaff and his associates, especially Mrs. Tinker, “Ellen White and the Trinity”, that can be found in Dr. Bacchiocchi's webpage (http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/endtimeissues/et_150.htm), he says:
                              .
                              “Perhaps her first statement that clearly disagreed with [Ellen White’s SDA leading contemporaries] . . . came in 1869 in a landmark chapter, ‘The Sufferings of Christ,’ where in the opening paragraph she asserted on the basis of Heb 1:3; Col 1:19; and Phil 2:6 that Christ in His pre-existence was ‘equal with God.’[2] Here it became evident that if no one else was listening, her husband was. Though James White’s early statements about the Trinity were uniformly negative,[3] by 1876 and 1877 he was following his wife’s lead.
                              .
                              “In an editorial comparison of the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists with Seventh Day Baptists, James included the Trinity among the doctrines which ‘neither [SDAs nor SDBs] regard as tests of Christian character,’ that is, tests of fellowship. James now held that one could believe in the Trinity and still be an Adventist in good standing, because the Trinity was not a test of membership. ‘Adventists hold the divinity of Christ so nearly with the trinitarian,’ he continued, ‘that we apprehend no trial [controversy] here.’[4]
                              .
                              Clearly James was moving away from his early polemics against trinitarianism. A year later, 1877, in a Review article titled, ‘Christ is equal with God,’ he showed he was in sympathy with certain aspects of trinitarianism. ‘The inexplicable trinity that makes the godhead three in one and one in three is bad enough,” he wrote, “but ultra Unitarianism that makes Christ inferior to the Father is worse.’[5]
                              .
                              “In asserting Christ’s equality with the Father, James was echoing what his wife had written eight years earlier. For another evidence of her leading her colleagues, note that her assertions that Christ was uncreated[6] preceded by more than two decades Uriah Smith’s published acceptance of that concept”.[7]
                              .
                              The problem with Mrs. Tinker presentation is twofold: bias and lack of objectivity. Both are connected, because when someone acts under a prejudiced standpoint, objectivity is absent. Is Mrs. Tinker really interested in presenting a balanced view of Ellen G. White’s ministry and work?
                              .
                              That I think is something we could hardly see in her writings, as a former Adventist who just wants to disparage not only Ellen White, but everything that is related to the teachings of the Church she now clearly despises.
                              .
                              But then, as her guru, Mr. Ratzlaff, is so ready to recommend books to better clarify his positions, how about he giving us a chance to also recommend books to clarify ours? I have another very special one to recommend to him and his editor-in-chief, as I will mention a little later.

                              The Real Role of a Prophet
                              .
                              Many problems related to Ellen White’s articulation of doctrinal material doesn’t take into account that the Adventist pioneer didn’t intend to act as the “final word” on these matters. Actually, the function of a prophet is not to set doctrinal matters, even though reference to doctrinal understanding of the leaders of the Church could be alluded to.
                              .
                              Paul sets the role of a prophet, writing to the Corinthians: “But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement, and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3).
                              .
                              Once, Ellen White admitted frankly:
                              .
                              “We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed.”[8]
                              .
                              Even though in occasions when the SDA Church faced serious challenges, as in certain crisis, like Dr. Kellogg’s pantheistic ideas, Ellen White stressed the importance of following her writings as a source of divine truth, she also stressed the importance of the Bible as our only source of truth and in many other places she even says that we should not use her writings to settle doctrinal issues. For instance,
                              .
                              “The testimonies of Sister White should not be carried to the front. God’s Word is the unerring standard. The Testimonies are not to take the place of the Word. . . . Let all prove their positions from the Scriptures and substantiate every point they claim as truth from the revealed Word of God.”[9]
                              .
                              Authorities of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, in response to requests for a clarification of the relationship between the Bible and EGW’s writings, affirmed that “The ministry and writings of Ellen White were a manifestation of the gift of prophecy, that her writings . . . are applicable and authoritative especially to Seventh-day Adventists.” But the statement also denies that “the writings of Ellen White function as the foundation and final authority of the Christian faith as does Scripture”.[10]
                              .
                              Actually, the 28 Fundamental beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists document makes clear that we believe that “The Holy Scriptures are the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the authoritative revealer of doctrines.”[11]
                              .
                              [To be continued in the next frame]
                              Last edited by Azenilto Brito; 03-11-2017, 07:59 PM.

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