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Reviewing the Review: Deeply Disturbing

September 2008

Vol. 4, No. 9

This issue of Adventist World is deeply disturbing if one believes that Adventist theology is based on the bedrock of sound biblical scholarship. The theological contributions of the Director and Associate Director of the SDA Biblical Research Institute might be more easily dismissed if the writers were amateurs.

Consequently, Black Eyes have been awarded to Foundations for Ellen White’s Prophetic Call by Gerhard Pfandl and Angel Manuel Rodriguez’s Our Influence Over Others.

With these two exceptions, the articles and editorials of this issue and thoughtful, nicely illustrated, and well written.


Going Forward Thoughtfully by Jan Paulsen.

“We engage in mission with an unwavering conviction of God’s truth, but also with a spirit of humility. We recognize that growth and discipleship are always works in progress. Our witness is not an exercise in judgment or caricature, which condemns everyone before they have had the chance to know and experience something better. Instead, our mission work is a constant drive to lift people into a knowledge and relationship with God that is richer, deeper, more fulfilling, more true.”

God’s Printing Presses by Nicole Batten, The History of the Pacific Press, is beautifully documented in pictures and words.


Gerhard Pfandl’s The Foundations for Ellen White’s Prophetic Call is an extremely odd defense of Ellen White’s prophetic credentials.

“According to the principle of interpreting Scripture with Scripture, this leads to the conclusion that “the spirit of prophecy” in [Rev.] 19:10 is not the possession of church members in general, but only of those who have been called by God to be prophets. . .’According to the parallel in [Rev.] 22:9 the brothers referred to are not believers in general, but the prophets. . .This is the point of verse 10c. If they have the marturia Iesou [the testimony of Jesus], they have the spirit of prophecy, i.e., they are prophets, like the angel, who simply stand in the service of marturia Iesou.’

“In summary, we can say that one of the identifying signs of the remnant church, which according to prophecy exists after the 1,260-day period, i.e., after 1798, is the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy, or the prophetic gift. The Seventh-day Adventist Church, from its very beginning, has believed that in fulfillment of Revelation 12:17* the spirit of prophecy was manifested in the life and work of Ellen G. White.”

*Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Angel Manuel Rodriguez attempts to answer the question, “According to Exodus 34:7, God punishes children for the sins of their parents. Does not this bring into question God’s justice?”

Instead of speaking directly to the idea prevalent in the evangelical community that God punishes entire countries, geographic regions, religious or political groups for the “sins” of others, Rodriguez launches into an exegetical dance that could only have meaning for biblical literalists.

“We find in the Old Testament what has been called collective, or transgenerational, retribution. This is a complex subject about which I can say only a few things that I hope will be helpful. Some of the biblical evidence may provide an interpretational grid with which you are welcome to disagree.”

“Transgenerational retribution could and would be abused in any human legal system. The Lord is the only one who can enforce it because He has perfect knowledge. This clearly suggests that WHEN COLLECTIVE RETRIBUTION IS ENFORCED BY GOD (my emphasis), it is based on knowledge that justifies its enforcement and may not be apparent to the outside observer.


Andy Hanson just became Professor Emeritus of Education at California State University, Chico (congratulations!) and blogs at Adventist Perspective.

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