Saturday, May 24, 2008

Response to agaricus on SDA-ism

This is a response to agaricus who is a professed Seventh -Day Adventist (SDA) over at Isaiah's blog on 'Church-ianity'. I have queried her regarding whether she believes in two of SDA's distictive beliefs; namely the doctrine of 'Investigative Judgment' and the 'Heavenly Sacntuary', and to that she replied in the affirmative. I then asked various question regarding the compatibility of such beliefs to biblical Christianity, and this is her response:

Daniel, You have raised several interesting points in your queries above. From what I can understand, there are essentially three questions:

1) The Investigative Judgment and Salvation by Grace; 2) The Heavenly Sanctuary and Christ’s perfect atonement; and 3) Apostasy within the church.

Questions 1 and 2 are related, as the doctrines of the Investgative Judgment (”IJ”) and Heavenly Sanctuary (”HS”) are inseparable from each other. Before I get around to answering your question directly, I will first explain to you what these SDA doctrines are, and how they are derived.

IJ essentially is a judgment of all who have ever claimed Christ, to separate true believers from mere professers. The IJ takes place in respect of every believer who has lived, and who is currently living, in this world - up to the close of probation. It is seen as the fulfilment of Old Testament typology in the sanctuary service. In particular, it is seen as the antitype of the Day of Atonement which was one of the most significant observances of the old Hebrew calendar.

Under the old covenant, the high priest would enter the Most Holy Place with the blood of an animal slain as a sin offering, and offer that blood in addition to sweet incense, to atone for the sins of the nation committed during the antecedent year. The blood of a sin offering, as I think you will agree, was a type which met its antitypical fulfilment in the blood of Christ, sacrificed upon the cross. That Christ is our High Priest may be found in the writings of Paul in Heb 7:25 - 27, and Heb 8: 1 & 2. In Heb 9, Paul writes further, in the context of the Day of Atonement, and states that Christ has “by his own blood… entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” See also Heb 9:22 - 24. This parallels the function of the OT high priest, who entered the Most Holy Place both to make atonement for the sins of the nation (literal Israel), as well as to seek the pardon of God for all who believed. But there is something else. If you look at the observances enjoined upon the people for this day, it is plain that the people were called to repentance and confession of every sin. A period of fasting preceded the Day of Atonement in which the children of Israel were meant to confess all their sins before God, and ‘afflict their souls’ in preparation for the solemn event. Grave sentences were pronounced against those who would not come humbly before God.

In the same way, Christ our High Priest stands before the Father in the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle above, the one “true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man,” His blood the offering for sin, interceding for the sinner before the Heavenly Father. Just as the Israelites were to look by faith to the remission of sins through the shedding of animal blood, typifying the coming Messiah, so Christians are to look by faith to forgiveness of their sins and justification through the blood and merits of Christ. The parallel carries further: inasmuch as the Day of Atonement solemnly called the nation of Israel to repentance, so is spiritual Israel called also to repentance - and to bearing the fruit of repentance - before God. There can be no forgiveness without repentance. Therefore the IJ is as much about separating the tares from the wheat, as it is about wiping the slate clean for those who have truly repented, and cast themselves entirely upon the grace of Christ in accepting His salvation.

The next question is, does the Bible teach that there is actually a phase of judgment such as the IJ? My answer would be ‘yes’. Matt 13:30 - 50 makes it clear that a separation of true believers from mere professors must take place at the end. Matt 22:10 - 14 is another parable with a similar import. Furthermore, before God hands down a sentence or executes judgment, He always investigates the facts of the case, even though He already knows everything. First He searches hearts, then He rewards. Examples would be the manner in which the Lord dealt with Adam and Eve, and His conversation with Cain after the latter pretty much clobbered Abel to death; also in how the Lord “came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded” at Babel, and again in pronouncing judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah: “The Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.” Rev 2:23 is a reiteration of this pattern.

Taking a look at the parable of the wedding in Matt 22, notice how the king first took a look at the guests assembled, and cast out the one who did not come properly dressed, before the party started. Spiritual Israel is referred to very often in Scripture as being the ‘bride of Christ’. Hence the wedding parable can be interpreted as follows: Christ conducts an ‘inspection parade’ before He comes to take his Bride home (the wedding). Daniel 7 provides additional support for this view: see Dan 7:9 - 14. In those verses, it is clear that a judgment occurs before “dominion, and glory, and a kingdom” are given to Christ.

Putting all this together, what we have is a picture of Christ as Intercessor and High Priest, ministering for those who claim His name. Those who have trusted to His blood for their salvation, and have demonstrated a living faith in their works (faith without works is dead, remember), are adjudged righteous and their names entered into the Book of Life. Those who profess belief in Christ but who yet see no need of reform, or of obedience to the just claims of God’s law, fall short. The command of God is the same today as it was in the days of the children of Israel: obey, and live.

Coming directly now to your query: does the doctrine of an IJ conflict with that of salvation by faith alone? Well - that depends on what you mean by ‘faith alone’. If you mean a real, living, Spirit-filled faith that claims unceasingly the Perfect Sacrifce of Christ and throws itself entirely on His merits, and which evidences itself in loving submission and obedience to the laws of God and which bears the fruit of the Spirit, then my answer is that there is no conflict. God is simply ‘checking to see’ if your faith hath wrought with works, and if “by works was [your] faith made perfect.”

But if by ‘faith alone’ you are referring to a nminal belief that Christ is the Son of God, and that He died to take away my sin, but to which belief the life does not bear witness, then my answer is, “Thou believest… thou does well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”

I think the second part of your question, as regards the completeness of Christ’s atonement, may be answered in the following way. Heb 9:27 and 28 plainly state that there is a judgement. What is described therein as being ‘complete’ is the ACT of atonement, by way of sacrifice, in that Christ was “once offered to bear the sins of many”. It does not necessarily follow therefrom that the other aspect of atonement, viz. the high priestly aspect as alluded to repeatedly by Paul in his writings, is already complete or that such does not exist.

Now to your question regarding the SDA view of apostasy within the church.

Let me state for the record that I do not, and have not, ever looked down my nose at any non-SDA Christian as being an ‘apostate’. Apostasy occurs when you know something to be the truth, when you know that God demands XYZ of you, and you wilfully close your eyes to the light and wilfully continue ‘as you were’, thus denying the truth and grieving the Holy Spirit of God. That is Apostasy. You can be a Catholic, and be a perfectly sound Christian - as long as you are living up to all the light that you have. Similarly, you can be a Protestant - an Adventist even! - and a complete apostate because lip service, not heart service, is all that you’re willing to pay to God.

The Adventist view of apostasy in the church is simple. Any church that claims the Bible as the foundation of all its precept and doctrine, and yet which fails to teach, uphold, preach, and declare the Law of God as immutable, holy, just, and a transcript of His perfect character, and to exhort its members to do the same, and which fails to trust in the blood and merits of Christ as our only Surety, Mediator, Intercessor and Saviour; and which allows the teachings of men and tradition to supersede that which God has delivered in Holy Writ, or which teaches that grace and salvation are obtainable by works or purchase, or that there is any other way to the Father than through Christ, is an Apostate church.

In this light, looking at the 10 commandment law of God, and particularly at the Fourth commandment which enjoins upon Mankind the keeping of God’s Sabbath holy, if a church were to teach that the Sabbath has been ’set aside’, superseded by another day of the week, unnecessary of observance, irrelevant or that it has the authority to change God’s holy day of rest, or that it ‘does not matter which day you keep, as long as you keep one out of 7′, then that church has apostasized from the truth. Just as there can be no other foundation than that which God has laid for the church in Christ Jesus, and just as the Scriptures and all they contain are to be the sole rule of faith and practice, the Law of God is to be the sole standard by which the actions of man are judged. God has only one Law, and that Law is unchanging.

Let me put it this way: if you were to come across a church that taught that the commandment against graven images was a thing of the past, something under the ‘old dispensation’, wouldn’t that teaching strike you as apostate? Or if there was a church which taught that, say, honouring one’s parents was simply unnecessary, or that the need to do so had been overruled by the church, wouldn’t you immediately decry that church as being in a state of apostasy?

As far as I know, no Protestant denomination actually teaches that Sunday is THE Sabbath, or that Sunday is THE day of worship mandated by Scripture, or that the church has the authority to change the Law of God. Historically, however, there have been many leaders of mainline Protestant denominations who acknowledge that there is not one shred of Scripture that points to a change having been made in the law of God as regards the Sabbath. These admit that the Sabbath is Saturday - and not Sunday. Yet the churches they led still keep to Sunday as opposed to Saturday, and the justification given is that this is due to the ‘long tradition of the church’. Sadly, obedience to tradition - however long established - is not a substitute for obedience to the Law of God.

Which brings me back to what I was saying in my earlier comment: if one is given light on the Sabbath issue and is convinced as to the necessity of the Sabbath, and its continued claims upon humanity, then one is obliged to heed the call and obey. A church may, through the rejection of what it knows to be the plain truth, apostasize, but that does not make all its members inherent apostates: we are not saved (or condemned) by virtue of which church we belong to. It is the faith of the individual in Christ and His atonement, and their living by whatever light they have been given, that matters. People are saved (and lost) individually, not corporately.

As to the matter of Sabbathkeeping in the greater context of salvation, Adventists believe that the last great conflict in which people will have to choose once and for all whom they will serve, will be between obedience to an institution set up by God (i.e. the Sabbath) and the keeping of the commandments of man (in the form of a universal Sunday law). Without going into the specifics, we believe that the testing truth for the last days will see people either casting their lot fully on the LOrd’s side - or not. Before that happens, the truth about the Sabbath will already have gone out fully to the world, so that it is without excuse. Serving the Lord requires a ten out of ten commitment - not nine out of ten.

First of all, I must congratulate agaricus for being consistent in her profession. She claims to be an SDA, and she can indeed articulate what she was taught to believe. Yet, this response is indeed worrisome.

It can be of course immediately seen that such an articulation of SDA doctrine is an evangelicalized version, for historical SDA doctrine is not indeed formulated in such a manner, as we shall see as we respond to agaricus now.

First of all, regarding 1) IJ and Justification by Faith Alone & 2) the Heavenly Sanctuary, agaricus said:

Those who have trusted to His blood for their salvation, and have demonstrated a living faith in their works (faith without works is dead, remember), are adjudged righteous and their names entered into the Book of Life. Those who profess belief in Christ but who yet see no need of reform, or of obedience to the just claims of God’s law, fall short. The command of God is the same today as it was in the days of the children of Israel: obey, and live.

This here demonstrates a confusion between faith and works. Is the contention here that faith must be demonstrated before a person can be saved? Is Salvation conditioned on a demonstration of faith? How about the dying thief on the Cross next to Jesus who believed in Him?

Also, to think that when the Bible in Mt. 13:30-50 teaches Investigative Judgment is wrong both exegetically and historically. Historically, that is NOT what is meant by the doctrine of Investigative Judgment. Reading up the history of SDA-ism, the doctrine of Investigative Judgment is linked to the fact that William Miller and Ellen White got it wrong when the date (in 1843) on which they 'prophesied' that Jesus would come back passed without the Second Coming actually occurring. Therefore, the doctrines of Investigative Judgment and the Heavenly Sanctuary were invented to explain away the failures of Miller's prediction. Investigative Judgment historically meant that at that date which Miller predicted, Jesus decided to come spiritually in 1843 to investigate the state of the Church in Judgment. And such a judgment was based upon the works of Christians, not upon faith at all.

Exegetically, that passage, and many others like it which you quoted, teaches us about God's Judgment at the Second Coming of Christ, and therefore is about whether a person truly believes in Christ or not. Yes, there is works mentioned, yet works are mentioned not as meritorious towards salvation, but as evidences of salvation, a Scriptural teaching taught in such passages such as Rom. 4:2-5.

From what has been said so far, you seem to be confused about faith and works; justification and sanctification. Again, we are not talking about living the Christian life here, but the issue is whether faith alone apart from any consideration of works saves. Your answer seems to be no, for you have factored in works as being evidences of salvation without which you cannot be saved. Yet, Rom. 4:5 refutes your position entirely. Works are never considered for salvation at all, either a priori or a posteriori. As it is written, "The Just (Righteous) shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17; Hab. 2:4). We are not saved by faith working itself in good works, but by faith alone apart from any prior or posterior consideration of good works.

My brother Vincent quoted in a comment SDA's Uriah Smith's words concerning the Gospel:

“The whole object of Christ’s work for us is to bring us back to the law, that its righteousness may be fulfilled in us by our obedience, and that when we at last stand beside the law, which is the test of the judgment, we may appear as absolutely in harmony with it, as if we had never belonged to a sinful race who had trampled it in the dust.”

“There is a righteousness we must have, in order to see the kingdom of heaven, which is called ‘our righteousness’; and this righteousness comes from being in harmony with the law of God.”

If such is indeed correct; that "The whole object of Christ’s work for us is to bring us back to the law, that its righteousness may be fulfilled in us by our obedience", then how do you explain the Scriptures when it is written

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Gal. 3:10-11)

Note the words "rely on works of the law", yet the SDA position seems to be Christ's work is to bring us back to the Law. So how can this be?

With regards to the doctrine of the Heavenly Sanctuary, I think I will just quote from a book review I did which touches on this topic here:

The doctrine of the "Sanctuary" is based on a literalistic reading of the Old Testament ceremonial rites and rituals into the New Testament book in general and Hebrews in particular. Instead of the correct interpretation which has been held for Christians for centuries that the book of Hebrews is an exercise in contrast between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, and that the New Covenant priesthood of Christ is something which denotes the atoning sacrifice of Christ only, the Adventists read the entire book backwards. Instead of reading the Old Testament in light of the New, they read the Old into the New Testament, even to the details of the heavenly "Holy Place" being distinct from the heavenly "Most High" place. This technique places the Adventists already on very shaky ground for their doctrines, since it is written that the earthly high priests of the Old Covenant on earth serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (Heb. 8:5). We should interpret what is the copy of and the shadow of anything using what is said to be clear of that thing, and thus the Old Covenant should be interpreted according to the New Covenant, and not the other way around.

The Achilles' heel of the Adventist's doctrine of their "Sanctuary" lies in their artificial distinction of the ministry of Christ as being intercessor in the first part of His ministry in the "Holy Place" of the heavenly sanctuary, and then after 1844, begin his work of judgment in the "Investigative Judgment" in the "Most Holy" place. If such a distinction and differentiation is disproved, the doctrines of the "Sanctuary" and of the "Investigative Judgment" (which depends on the validity of the doctrine of the "Sanctuary") would be proven to be in error.

The first most obvious point to note in the book of Hebrews is obviously the lack of any differentiation of "apartments" in the heavenly sanctuary. The nearest thing to different "apartments" can be seen in Heb. 9: 1-10. However, they only dealt with the earthly rituals of the priests under the Old Covenant, not that of Jesus of the New Covenant. If one goes down the text even further, we can see the passage which destroys the entire Adventists' position:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (Heb. 9:11-12. Bold added)

Earlier in the text, it can be seen that only the High Priest can enter the Most Holy Place and he does it by offering blood to atone for the his sins and the unintentional sins of others (v. 7). In the passage quoted above, Jesus is said to be the High Priest, and he entered into the holy places (plural), which could probably include the "Most Holy Place" if there is any. Most damaging to the Adventist position is that Jesus has offered His own blood, which do in fact signifies that He did entered the "Most Holy Place" apartment if it did existed as a separate entity. However, as we have seen before, the Scriptures do not make such an artificial distinction but instead just use the more generic term "holy places", since Jesus went through both "holy places" in order to pay for the sins of His own. In fact, the fact that Jesus was said to secure an eternal redemption by His blood shows that the purpose of entering the holy places and the "Most Holy Place" in the heavenly tabernacle is linked to the doctrine of the Atonement.

Earlier in this same article, I have quoted from the Adventists' website on what they believe, which I shall reproduce here:

24. Christ's Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary: There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent. (Heb. 8:1-5; 4:14-16; 9:11-28; 10:19-22; 1:3; 2:16, 17; Dan. 7:9-27; 8:13, 14; 9:24-27; Num. 14:34; Eze. 4:6; Lev. 16; Rev. 14:6, 7; 20:12; 14:12; 22:12.) (Source)

My question to agaricus then is: Why is this not promoting the error of works-righteousness? Does Jesus investigate on the basis of our works and decided then who will go to heaven on the basis of what he finds? How does this then impact us about the doctrine of God's omniscience also?

Next, we would look at the final topic: that of the apostasy of the Church.

In this, we are encouraged by agaricus' response that she does not look down on any non-SDA Christian as being an 'apostate'. Most certainly, this is a deviation from traditional SDA beliefs however. After all, that was one of the reasons SDA was considered a cult during the 19th century, because they denounced ALL denominations as being apostate (mainly because they worship on Sunday instead of Saturday), and this is a historical fact.

However, agaricus here seems to be espousing inclusivism. After all, what does she mean when she says that "You can be a Catholic, and be a perfectly sound Christian - as long as you are living up to all the light that you have. " What 'light' is here being mentioned? Christianity is NOT based upon how much 'light' you are living up to, but whether the Gospel is present and believed! If a person, group or denomination believes the Gospel, they are Christian; conversely if they don't, they are not Christian, even though they 'lived up to all the light that they have'. As the apostles John says:

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. ... Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 Jn. 5:10, 12)

I only see God using the Gospel as a criteria for salvation, not the amount of 'light they are livng up to'.

With regards to the Sabbath issue, the only thing I will say here is: Since when was obedience to the Sabbath a salvation issue? Furthermore, whence comes this insistence on Saturday as the Sabbath? Surely, agaricus should know the reason why Sunday was made the Christian Sabbath, and this was NOT because of the Roman Catholic church (which didn't exist at all during the time of the early church). Go read Mt. 28:1, Mk. 16:2, Lk. 24:1, Jn. 20:1 to see the reason why. Fact is, Sunday was made the Christian Sabbath because Jesus rose on Sunday, the first day of the Jewsish week, and this is found in Scripture. Agaricus said that she does not know of any Protestant denomination that actually teaches that Sunday is the Sabbath. Well, I got news for you. All Reformed and Presbyterian denominations (as well as Particular and Reformed Baptists) who do talk about the Sabbath believe in that. In the Wesminster Confession of Faith for example, it is stated:

VII. As it is of the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lord's Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath (WCF Chapter XXI Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath day)

My only contention with regards to the strict Sabbatarians is that they make the keeping of Sunday as the Sabbath an obedience issue, whereas my position is that Sunday should be ideally kept as the Sabbath, but the more important principle of keeping one day out of seven as a day of rest should be adhered to when keeping Sunday as the Sabbath is impossible (for example, for pastors who are busy preaching etc on Sundays).

So in conclusion, while it is important to obey God, let us not make obedience a condition for our salvation. And therefore to agaricus, it is hoped that you will see the light and amend your beliefs accordingly. For to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

31 comments:

agaricus said...

Daniel,

Thank you for your reply to my comment. I cannot say that I agree with your views, although I respect them as being ones which you hold and believe in.

I happen to believe differently.

Your post is pretty long, and I think I've answered some of the issues you raised re the law-grace dichotomy, in my reply to Vincent's comment back on Isaiah's page; so I'm not going to go back over the same ground again.

You raised the 'prediction' purportedly made by William Miller and Ellen White that Christ would return in 1844. In that you are partially correct: it was William Miller who made that prediction, but Ellen White did not herself play any part in making that prediction. I don't know how much you know of the history of the Adventist church. In a nutshell, the date of 1844 was arrived at by Miller following his study of the 2300 prophetic day period in the visions of Daniel. I'm sure that you'll be able to find plenty of detailed information compiled by practicing Adventists re the 2300 day prophecy, online - so I won't go into that here.

William Miller understood the reference in that prophecy to the 'cleansing' of the 'sanctuary' to refer to the final cleansing of Earth from sin, and concluded that this must necessarily refer to the second coming of the Lord. How he arrived at this conclusion I am not sure, because the Bible does make it very plain that "no man knoweth the hour". I rather suspect sometimes that having spent months studying the prophecy of Daniel, and having actually made a pretty good job of it, he made one vital oversight.

At any rate, once the Great Disappointment of Oct 1844 had passed, many Millerites became discouraged and some even left Christianity altogether. Of those that remained, some decided that Miller might have been 'off' in his calculations and went about setting new and improved dates for the second coming. Still others went back to the Bible, re-studied the prophecies which Miller had gone over, and came to the realization that Miller - though correct with regards to timing - was in error regarding the 'sanctuary' which was to be cleansed.

The portion of Scripture in which the relevant vision in Daniel appears is full of images drawn directly from the sanctuary services such as an observant Jew of the time would have been familiar with. It is based on this parallel, and the statement of Paul's in Hebrews that there is also a sanctuary in Heaven, added to the fact that Moses was shown a "pattern" and told to make the earthly tabernacle after the patter n of the things which he had seen, that what came to be known as the Adventist doctrine of the HS was discovered.

You have also said that I seem to hold to an 'evangelicalized' Adventism, which is vastly different from 'traditional' Adventist teaching. I beg to differ. A lot of Adventist beliefs and teaching is heavily misrepresented, not least because there are many detractors of the church who, unfortunately, have made it almost a point of honour to publish extracts of Adventist doctrinal writings completely removed from their context. What I have written is what I have been taught from my earliest days, and what I have myself learnt from the writings of Ellen White, from the Bible, and through my own study. Of course, you and I may not agree on this - but that is ok.

As to your charge that I espouse inclusivism: I've read over what I wrote to you and think I see how the misunderstanding occurred. By 'as long as you are living up to all the light that you have', what I am referring to - if you look at the context - is the case of a professing Christian person, Catholic or Protestant. Such a person already has the Gospel, yes - but he or she may differ in terms of their level of spiritual insight. If you have been blessed with greater spiritual insight but adopt an attitude of nonchalance as regards the light that you already have, that is not good.

Compare this to a person who, though having the Gospel, nonetheless has less spiritual insight - his responsibility for living up to the light that he has is correspondingly lessened.

I agree with you that a person who does not have the gospel is not a Christian, regardless of how virtuous the life.

Hopefully this has cleared up that misunderstanding.

As to your comment that the RCC is not responsible for the change from Saturday to Sunday, may I please point you in the direction of the Vatican. Rome has claimed proudly for centuries that it was on her own authority, power and God-instituted infallibility that the sanctity of the seventh-day Sabbath was transferred to the first day. Rome holds this act up as the ultimate expression of her temporal and spiritual dominion. You can Google for it and find it online.

As an aside, I'm really quite amused that you think I'm a guy... :)

agaricus said...

...most people think I sound like a GIRL.

PuritanReformed said...

agaricus:

I will look to the law/grace comment on Isaiah's blog later, but right now I will interact with your comment here.

Before that, I would like to thank you for your graciousness in answering. Not too many people I know can stand their ground without resorting to ad-hominem etc. Those that do I can respect even though I disagree with them.

With regards to Miller and White, I guess who exactly did make the prediction was pretty irrelevant in this case. The thing is that both of them were the 'founders' of Seventh-Day Adventism so to speak. What I know about Seventh-Day Adventism is only limited to books and the information that I glean from Adventist websites, as I have no prior interaction with SDAs. Yes, the history of the Miller's prophecy is well-known; in fact, it is one of the most well-known fact about Adventism, besides keeping the Sabbath on Saturday, that is.

With regards to misrepresentation of SDA, I'm sure there are misrepresentations around. From what I read, I can see that certain stuff you all believe are not as heretical they are made out to be. Yet, I think I have made it clear in my review of Walter Martin's book The Kingdom of the Cults that my main bone of contention is with SDA's view of salvation, not any of your other teachings. I will immediately look at your answer to Vincent after posting this to see what you have to say about the matter.

With regards to the charge of Inclusivism, I guess it is truly is a misunderstanding. Yet the reason why I interpret it that way is not only because you mention the phrase 'live up to the light you have', which sounds rather like Vatican II in its phraseology, but because you think that Roman Catholicism has the Gospel. The historic Protestant view is that RCism has rejected the Gospel back to the time of the 16th century Reformation, and as such she is a false church, and the Pope the Antichrist. Therefore, we would never say an RC has the Gospel, though we can admit that individuals RCs may be Christians despite the apostasy of Rome.

Lastly, with regards to the Sabbath, yes I do know Rome claims a lot of things. She claims apostolic continuity from Peter and Paul even. Yet, it matters not what she claims, because these are just empty boasts void of truth, both doctrinal and historical. Just because Rome claims anything does not mean that she has indeed possess it. Rome claims to give us the Bible even, so are you going to concede that to her? I most certainly hope not! Therefore, just because Rome claims to be responsible for the change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday does not make it so. The whole issue rather should be decided without any reference to that manifestation of Mystery Babylon.

>As an aside, I'm really quite amused that you think I'm a guy

:$ ..... And please do tell, how am I supposed to know that you are a girl?

PuritanReformed said...

>...most people think I sound like a GIRL.

I hate to burst your buble, but no, I don't see it.

PuritanReformed said...

Maybe you can post using a nick which sounds more like that of a girl... =P

PuritanReformed said...

agaricus:

I have amended my post accordingly, so that you are now stated as being a girl.

Anyway, I have seen your response to Vincent, and yes we do agee with certain things that you have said. The traditional Presbyterian and Reformed teaching as stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) together with its attendents the Shorter and Larger Catechism do teach about the distinction of the law into three categories: moral, civil and ceremonial. The moral law which consists of things like the ten commandments are still binding on Christians today. That said, we do not see the keepig even of the moral law as being part of our justification and salvation at all.

From what I have seen, you still do not grasp the issue. The issue is not whether believers are to obey God and follow His law, but whether any law-keeping is meritorious for our salvation. That's why at least for me I would like to redirect you to the book of Galatians. Please read to find out what exactly was the teaching the apostle Paul was so angry with that he pronounced anathema against the teachers who were teaching such a doctrine. I can tell you that is it neither salvation by works nor by keeping the Law even. That is why my friend Vincent asked you whether you believe in forensic justification (imputed righteousness) or imparted righteousness, and it most definitely is not a trick question. I hope you do think through this issue, because I hope you do not want to be lumped together with the Judaizers which Paul condemned, don't you?

With regards to the example of Samson, please read Heb. 11:32-34. Samson here is included in the arena of faith. But even in your admission he did not qualify by his works, so why was he then included in the arena of faith?

vincit omnia veritas said...

Dear Agaricus,

PS: As I am busy now, I do not have the time to give you an extensive reply.

It seems that Daniel has answered you on my behalf.

My question is found here http://wordnverse.com/2008/05/21/church-ianity/

I feel you haven't answered this:

"Do you believe in forensic justification (imputed righteousness) or imparted righteousness?"

See http://grace-for-today.com/2194.htm for a brief distinction between imputed, imparted and infused righteousness. It seems to me that SDA-ism as described by "Agaricus" believes that only one who is judged (ironically, by men or fellow SDAs?) to exhibit "imparted righteousness" is justified, which seriously confounds forensic justification with the process of sanctification. Also cf. http://www.theopedia.com/Imparted_righteousness.

David H. Linden gave us a good summary of the doctrine of Justification here:

http://www.grebeweb.com/linden/imputed_righteousness.html

Any deviation from this gospel faces the condemnation of Galatians 1:8-9.

1. Justification is an act of God, not a work in progress. However, God’s act of justification always results in His work of sanctification.
2. In justification, God declares the sinner righteous; in this forensic doctrine, God does not make the sinner righteous, but gives him first a standing with Himself. The basis of this declaration is Christ’s obedience, not the progress the Christian is making in holiness.
3. God pardons the sinner in a decree so absolute it has the finality of the final judgment. This decree of God is certain and irrevocable.
4. The basis of our pardon is the atoning blood of Christ alone.
5. The means to justification is faith. "Faith alone" means there is no consideration of our works whatsoever in God’s declaration of righteousness. It does not mean that faith can be devoid of good works, because real faith always results in obedience to God.
6. The principle of grace excludes all participation and cooperation by the believer in the bestowal of a gift. All sense of merit or contribution by sinners toward the decree of "righteous" is excluded. Such contribution would destroy the nature of a gift.
7. Since our pardon is based only on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, all penance and atoning activity by sinners is contrary to this basis. Scripture says, "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" Galatians 2:21
8. The faith by which we are saved is by nature one that embraces Christ for cleansing, not a false faith that seeks to have the benefit of a pardon, so that indulgence in sin may be perpetuated. (Here on #8, the Roman Church would agree.)

Let's compare this with what SDA literature teaches.

According to John Rice, "Mrs. White, the 'prophetess' of Seventh-Day Adventists, is quoted in their book, Answers to Objections, by Francis D. Nichol (published by the Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D.C.), page 402, as saying: 'Those who accept the Saviour, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or to feel that they are saved. This is misleading. Every one should be taught to cherish hope and faith; but even when we give ourselves to Christ and know that He accepts us, we are not beyond the reach of temptation ... Only he who endures the trial will receive the crown of life."

Again, "On page 409 (of Answers to Objections) Mr. Nichol says, speaking officially for Seventh-Day Adventists: 'Thus we escape on the one hand, the false doctrine of Universalism; and on the other, the equally false doctrine of claiming full and final salvation for a man before he has endured 'unto the end.' "

Francis D. Nichol, in his book, Answers to Objections, states on page 243, "Here is our position: Only those will be saved who, having been redeemed by the grace of Christ, walk in obedience to all the light that God sheds on their way."

Ellen G. White said in the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald of 10-26-1897 this statement, "...The terms of salvation for every son and daughter of Adam are here outlined. It is plainly stated that the condition of gaining eternal life is obedience to the commandments of God".

People are never told at Seminars that if they become SDA's and are baptized, a recording angel is watching their every move to determine their salvation eventually. Ellen G. White issues this warning in The Faith I Live By, page 210, "Every man's work passes in review before God...Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered, with terrible exactness, every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel."

Christians will say, "sure we slip sometimes into unintentional sin, but we have a mediator in Christ Jesus". No, you don't in Seventh-day Adventism. Be prepared for this SDA doctrine by Ellen G. White: "...Those who are living on the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil....". (The Great Controversy p. 425).

From a SDA tract deceptively titled Saved By Grace: "Christ says to every man in this world what He said to the rich young ruler: ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments,’ Matthew 19:17. In other words, THE STANDARD FOR ADMISSION INTO HEAVEN IS A CHARACTER BUILT ACCORDING TO THE TEN SPECIFICATIONS, OR COMMANDMENTS, OF GOD’S LAW. ... He can lift you up to the place where the requirements of the law are met in you. ... THE MASTER BUILDER WILL STAND RIGHT WITH YOU AND IN YOU, AND SEE TO IT PERSONALLY THAT YOUR LIFE COMES UP TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF GOD’S LAW" (Charles T. Everson, Saved By Grace, pp. 45-46).

From SDA correspondence courses. "It is not the work of the gospel to weaken the claims of God’s holy law, but to bring men up to where they can keep its precepts" (Prophetic Guidance Correspondence Course, Lesson 10, p. 36).

"Before Christ comes a second time to take us to His Father’s house in heaven above, we must allow Him to conquer sin in our lives. ... Because in this life we have chosen to accept these lovely graces of Christ as our own, the sudden transformation at Jesus’ appearing will seal our characters. ... ONLY THOSE WHO LIVE THE JESUS-LIFE CAN BE FREED FROM SIN. ... Jesus counseled the rich man who was seeking eternal life, ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’ ... It is Jesus who delivers us from sin but not in sin. WE MUST ACCEPT HIM AND THROUGH HIS POWER IN US BE SEPARATED FROM THE IMPURE, THE UNHOLY, THE DEFILING—ALL DISOBEDIENCE TO THE COMMANDMENTS" (New Life Guides, #10).

From a SDA catechism. " ... We were slaves to sin. Jesus came down and suffered with us, and for us, and delivered us. As we behold Him in His word, and in prayer and meditation, and serve Him in the person of others, WE MAY BE CHANGED MORE AND MORE INTO THE GLORY OF HIS LIKENESS; THEN, IF FAITHFUL, WE SHALL SOMEDAY SEE HIM FACE TO FACE" (Bible Footlights, 1960, p. 17).

From a SDA doctrinal study. "To whom will God impart immortality? ‘To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality’ (Rom. 2:7). What shall be their reward? ‘Eternal life’ (Rom. 2:7). Upon what conditions may men obtain this blessing? ‘Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life’ (1 Tim. 6:12). ... Will a man’s final destiny be in accordance with the life he has lived? ‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap’ (Gal. 6:7)" (C.B. Haynes, When A Man Dies, pp. 46-47).

From one of Ellen White’s major works. While discussing the doctrine of Investigative Judgment, Mrs. White presents the following teaching about salvation: "The righteous dead will not be raised until after the judgment at which they are counted worthy of ‘the resurrection of life.’ ... As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. ... every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance. ... all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance ... the work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another" (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pp. 425, 431).

Observation:

From the aforementioned quotations - and if the SAD still teaches such doctrines today - it is clear as day that they confound forensic justification with a believer's sanctification at best. At worst, it is a false gospel of works-based salvation.

Sanctification may not be complete on this side of eternity; sinless perfection is not a present reality. But a believer can have an assurance of salvation (1 Jn 5:13) and a sense of security in Christ because salvation is a present possession. As David Cloud has summarized for us:

Justification is a present possession (Ro. 5:9).

Peace with God is a present possession (Ro. 5:1).

Reconciliation is a present possession (Ro. 5:10).

Atonement is a present possession (Ro. 5:11)

Eternal life is a present possession (1 Jn. 5:11- 13).

Being a child of God is a present possession (Ep. 1:6).

Being accepted in Christ is a present possession (Ep. 1:6).

Forgiveness of sin is a present possession (Ep. 1:7).

Being made alive in Christ is a present possession (Ep. 2:1).

Being made fit for heaven is a present possession (Col. 1:12).

Being delivered from the power of darkness is a present possession (Col. 1:13).

Being translated into Jesus’ kingdom is a present possession (Col. 1:13).

Mercy is a present possession (1 Pe. 2:10).

Healing of sin is a present possession (1 Pe. 2:24).

So Agaricus, why don't you answer my question and stop giving us red herrings and ignoratio elenchi.

Do you believe in the imputed righteousness of Christ as the ONLY basis for our salvation (i.e. forensic justification)?

vincit omnia veritas said...

An interesting article by an Adventist.

http://www.greatcontroversy.org/documents/papers/kir-cond.html

I am not surprised when the writer, Larry Kirkpatrick, admits that theirs is a DIFFERENT gospel:

Quote "Obedience does not follow faith, it comes in the same wave as faith. But... This means an altogether different gospel. There is no sliding in this gospel. Consider how this gospel plugs into the great controversy in a way that no other gospel does:

Through obedience to the commandments of God, our characters are built up in such a way that we may be safely entrusted with the gift of eternal life. Justice, truth, love, pity, forgiveness must be found in the heart of the Christian, for in His sermon on the mount Jesus said, 'Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.'28

Our business today is not to downplay the law of God, to hold to an ill-conceived idea that never makes our position any stronger.29 The ark of God's covenant is open in heaven.30 The way into the holiest of all is standing open.31 We are heaven's currently designated agency for upholding that law. For anyone to say that obedience is not a condition in salvation is quite sad; for Seventh-day Adventists to say it is almost infinitely worse; for our publications to say it is criminal." End quote.

So Agaricus, which side do you take? Does obedience FOLLOW salvation, or does obedience accompany salvation?

Which side of the great (SDA) controversy so you take?

Either way, at least one of those two gospels is anathematized by Paul (Gal. 1-8-9); both cannot be true.

Yours truly,
Vincent

PuritanReformed said...

Vincent:

=)

Sicarii said...

Sorry if this is OT, Daniel, but I'm also surprised that you're a lady, Agaricus.

Gender is not immediately discernible online if a person only uses their nick. ;)

Just been to your blog too, pretty entertaining. :)

agaricus said...

Vincent, Daniel

Apologies for not having gotten back to you both sooner. Please understand that I have many committments offline, which does not allow me the pleasureof being able to potter about online - or even with my computer! - as much as I'd like. My response to you both will be of necessity a long one: and as it's being written in snatches of spare time, I'm afraid you will have to be patient. Hence this note, to assure you both that I haven't forgotten about replying.

Phew. The iPhone is murder to type on.

vincit omnia veritas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vincit omnia veritas said...

Dear Agaricus,

Like myself, we are both very busy!

I am mugging most of the time. When I am free, I am working from 8-5pm :P

But I am only asking you a very simple question. It only requires a ONE WORD ANSWER. How difficult can it get?

"Do you believe in the imputed righteousness of Christ as the ONLY basis for our salvation (i.e. forensic justification)?"

Multiple choice:

a) Yes
b) No
c) I don want to say
d) I don't know and I don't want to know
e) Let me think about it again and I'll answer a or b or c.

What is your take?

vincit omnia veritas said...

Dear Agaricus,

RE: SDA-ism is another Gospel according to your Articles of Faith.

I refer to your official articles of faith:

http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/27/index.htm
http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/27/27-10.htm

"The Ground of Our Acceptance With God
Neither Christlike character traits nor faultless behavior is the ground of our acceptance with God. Saving righteousness comes from the one righteous Man, Jesus, and is conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit. We can contribute nothing to Christ's gift of righteousness; we can only receive it. No one other than Christ is righteous (Rom. 3:10); independent human righteousness is only filthy rags (Isa. 64:6; see also Dan. 9:7, 11, 20; 1 Cor. 1:30).14

Even what we do in response to Christ's saving love cannot form the basis of our acceptance with God. That acceptance is identified with the work of Christ. In bringing Christ to us, the Holy Spirit brings that acceptance.

Is our acceptance based on Christ's justifying righteousness or His sanctifying righteousness or both? John Calvin pointed out that as "Christ cannot be divided into parts, so the two things, justification and sanctification, which we perceive to be united together in him, are inseparable."15 Christ's ministry has to be seen in its totality. This makes it paramount to avoid speculation about these two terms by "trying to define minutely the fine points of distinction between justification and sanctification. . . . Why try to be more minute than is Inspiration on the vital questions of righteousness by faith?"16

Just as the sun has light and heat—inseparable, yet with unique functions—so Christ has become to us righteousness as well as sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30). Not only are we fully justified but also fully sanctified in Him.

The Holy Spirit brings the "It is finished" of Calvary within, applying the only experience of God's acceptance of humanity to us. This "It is finished" of the cross calls in question all other human attempts to gain acceptance. In bringing the Crucified within, the Spirit brings the only ground of our acceptance with God, providing the only genuine title to and fitness for salvation available to us."

The serious error lies in this phrase: "Is our acceptance based on Christ's justifying righteousness or His sanctifying righteousness or both? ... Christ's ministry has to be seen in its totality. This makes it paramount to avoid speculation about these two terms by "trying to define minutely the fine points of distinction between justification and sanctification. . . . Why try to be more minute than is Inspiration on the vital questions of righteousness by faith?"

Here, is it very clear that the article misquotes Calvin (see end note 15) out of context and made him say what he was actually refuting in his Institutes in III, XI, 6 against the errors of Osiander.

Here, we may peruse the writings of Seng-Kong Tan in "Calvin's doctrine of Our Union with Christ," Quodlibet Journal 5 (2003) to put the issue in perspective:

"Through participatio Christi, Calvin asserts that “we principally receive [the] double grace” of justification and regeneration. Both “our purgation and regeneration” are fundamentally trinitarian “events” wherein one recognizes “in the Father the cause, in the Son the matter, and in the Spirit the effect.”[52] Echoing the Chalcedonian Christological principle, this double grace of justification and sanctification are not to be separated,[53] but united in Christ;[54] and yet, they must be distinguished and not confused.[55] Calvin considers the sun to be a most apposite metaphor in explicating this double grace: “The sun, by its heat, quickens and fructifies the earth [sanctification], by its beams brightens and illumines it [justification by faith].”[56] To pull apart justification and good works is to hold a “Nestorian” soteriology;[57] to make them indistinguishable is to hold on to an “Eutychian” view of salvation, as Osiander did.[58] Union with Christ is, therefore, the soteriological correlate to the Christological notion of the hypostatic union."

SDA-ism commits the same error of "Eutychain" soteriology by confounding justification and sanctification, and making these two doctrines indistinguishable as Osiander did. John Calvin was refuting this error in the respective portions of his Institutes. He writes:

"Yet reason itself forbids us to transfer the peculiar qualities of the one to the other. In this confusion of the two kinds of grace that Osiander forces upon us there is a like absurdity. For since God, for the preservation of righteousness, renews those whom he freely reckons as righteous, Osiander mixes that gift of regeneration with this free acceptance and contends that they are one and the same. ... [The apostle Paul] clearly indicates that to be justified means something different from being made new creatures." (III, xi, 6)

This reflects very badly upon the integrity and scholarship of SDA scholars, even in their articles of faith which should all the more be reflective of honest research.

SDA-ism therefore conclusively preaches another gospel, which is different from the one I know.

Yours truly,
Vincent

vincit omnia veritas said...

The following quote from "Questions on Doctrine" speaks clearly concerning the SDA's repudiation of forensic justification based upon the mere imputation of the righteousness of Christ apart from works of Man.

Page 420, QUESTIONS ON DOCTRINE

"IX. Investigative Judgment as Part of the Program of God

In view of the principles here set forth, it seems to us abundantly clear that the acceptance of Christ at conversion does not seal a person's destiny. His life record after conversion is also important. A man may go back on his repentance, or by careless inattention let slip the very life he has espoused. Nor can it be said that a man's record is closed when he comes to the end of his days. He is responsible for his influence during life, and is just as surely responsible for his evil influence after he is dead. To quote the words of the poet, "The evil that men do lives after them," leaving a trail of sin to be charged to the account. In order to be just, it would seem that God would need to take all these things into account in the judgment."

So, according to SDA-ism, "it seems to [them] abundantly clear that the acceptance of Christ at conversion does not seal a person's destiny." This begs the question: is forensic justification conditioned upon the "life record [of the man] after conversion" i.e. works? According to SDA official doctrine, the answer is inevitably yes.

This seriously confounds justification with sanctification, and falls prey to the heresy of "Eutychian" soteriology - which is salvation by works.

vincit omnia veritas said...

The whole originally published "Questions on Doctrine" is available here:

http://www.archive.org/stream/seventhdayadvent027547mbp/seventhdayadvent027547mbp_djvu.txt
http://www.archive.org/details/seventhdayadvent027547mbp

PuritanReformed said...

Vincent:

I think you will scare her away... Heeheee..... ;)

agaricus said...

Daniel,

My apologies for this response being both lengthy and long in coming: I have plenty of offline commitments which leaves me precious little time to potter about online, or actually sit down and write at length - so this has been cobbled together in the fleeting moments of spare time that I do have. I'm sorry if I have kept you waiting.

There are several things I will need to expand upon in answer to the points you have raised in your comments. For the sake of clarity, these are:
- What the Bible has to tell us about the relationship between faith, grace, justification and the law;
- Related to the above, what it was actually that the Gentiles to whom Paul was writing, were doing in terms of works that called forth the Pauline responses;
- The Adventist position with regards to law, faith, justification and grace;
- Rome, and the change from Saturday to Sunday;
- The existence of 'proof texts' in the Bible regarding the change of the Sabbath day; and
- Samson, and other ancillary matters.

To see Paul's criticism of the law in its proper perspective, it is imperative to realize first and foremost that Paul's epistles were written to, and primarily for the benefit of, congregations made up predominantly of Gentile converts (e.g. in Epheseus, Corinth, Thessalonica, etc).

A major problem faced by these converts was their right as Gentile Christians to enjoy full citizenship in the people of God without having to themselves first become members of the Jewish covenant community through circumcision. The fact of the matter is that there were plenty of Jewish Christians who were going about these Gentile congregations, causing consternation by upholding the rite of circumcision as a compulsory ritual before a Gentile could be truly 'converted', and - by extension - saved. Such was the influence of these Jews that not only did they cause an uproar between the Jewish and Gentile Christian communities, but even managed to cow one of the apostles - Peter! of all people - into dissimulating, "for fear of them which were of the circumcision": See Gal 2:11-13. Thus Paul was compelled even to withstand Peter "to the face", because he saw that he "walked not uprightly", telling him, "If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" It was in this context - that of the compulsion of Gentiles to be circumcised in order to be saved that Paul directed his ire in Gal 2:16.

To better understand the position that a 1st-century Gentile Christian convert was in, one must also realize that the problem Gentile converts faced was a massive one.

The scholar, WD Davies, has pointed out that the relationship of Israel to the Gentile world was the foremost theological problem of Judaism in the 1st century. This problem consisted, for the Jews, in determining what precisely were the commandments (Mosaic? Ceremonial? Moral?) that the Gentiles had to observe, so as to 'qualify' for salvation. No clear-cut answer to this vexatious problem existed in the time of Paul. Some Jewish rabbis held that Gentiles had only to observe the Noachic laws; others (e.g. the House of Shammai) insisted that the Gentiles had to observe everything - including circumcision. It was exactly this climate of uncertainty that led to the rise of legalism - the doing of certain works to appease God and win His favour - as a Gentile Christian, and not a Jewish Christian, problem.

Salvation, as the Gentile Christian would have understood it, was for all who were members of the covenant community - but not knowing where he stood, the God-fearing Gentile was more or less 'pushed' into attempting to establish his own righteousness; so as to gain an assurance of salvation. This result is probably more difficult for us living today to understand, being as we are (more or less) far-removed from the atmosphere of idolatry and superstition that many of those Gentile Christians would have turned but freshly from. Incidentally, the phrase 'works of the law' does not appear in Jewish texts. It designates the adoption of selected Jewish practices by the Gentiles, to ensure their salvation as part of the covenant people of God.

Recognition of the background factors leading to the development of an attitude of legalism amongst Gentile Christians is vital to understanding Paul's critical remarks about the law. What started out as a Jewish problem of whether Gentiles were saved in or out of the covenant, soon escalated into a Christian problem. Prior to converting and receiving the divine commission to go to the Gentiles, Paul apparently shared the beliefs of his Pharasaic class that the Gentiles had to conform in every particular to the Mosaic law, in order for them to be saved. This is suggested by his use of the phrase "but if I still preach circumcision" in Gal 5:11, which implies that at some point in time, Paul did preach circumcision as a basis of salvation.Things changed for Paul after his conversion and commission to go to the Gentiles, when he understood that Gentiles share in the blessing of salvation without having to become part of the Jewish covenant community, through the rite of circumcision. His appeal to Abraham as the "father of faith" in Rom 4 and Gal 3 is part of Paul's defense of his conviction.

However, in proclaiming his non-circumcision gospel, Paul faced many challenges. On one hand, Jews and Jewish Christians opposed him because they failed to understand (see Rom 10:19) that the promises made to Abraham by God, regarding the Gentiles, had been fulfilled through Christ. On the other, Paul had to deal with the misguided efforts of sincere Gentile believers who were being sorely tempted to adopt circumcision and other Mosaic practices, so as to ensure their salvation (Gal 5:2-4). Hence, Paul was forced by circumstances to speak critically of the law as a document of election, and to appeal to Abraham's two sons as an analogy of the two covenants: Gal 4:22-24. This was particularly since the term 'law' had, by that time, come increasingly to be used to refer to the concept of the covenant.

It may rightly be asked at this point, why did Paul then attack so harshly the Sinai covenant which was, at any rate, established by the same God who made a covenant with Abraham? Weren't there provisions of grace and forgiveness in the Sinai covenant, besides principles of conduct? For the answer, we have to turn once again to Paul's concern to establish (for reasons already canvassed above) the legitimacy of the salvation of the Gentiles as Gentiles. Thus Paul's attacks on the understanding of the law (i.e. covenant) as an exclusive document of election. By no means does this indicate that Paul denied the possibility of salvation to those Jews who accepted Christ as the embodiment of the Sinai covenant. Indeed, Paul's referral to Christ as being the "substance" of which the Sinai covenant was but the "shadow", emphasized that Christ was the fulfillment of the Sinatic covenant; thus making it possible for Jews to be saved as Jews while retaining their identity as a covenant people; Christ being the One who ratified the covenant by making it operative (as per Matt 26:28).

In doing so, Paul affirms the value of circumcision for the Jews, although he stresses that the same loses its value as a 'marker' of being in a covenant relationship if the Law of God is broken (Rom 2:25), doubtless echoing the sentiment of Stephen in Acts 7:51. This is entirely in harmony with what he tells the Colossian believers in Col 2:11, i.e. that the circumcision which truly matters is the "putting off" of the "body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ".

Coming now to what the Bible has to say about the relationship between the law, faith, grace, and justification. Without repeating what I've already said to Vincent, I'd just like to point out that the apostles certainly did not teach that faith excludes works, for the evidence of a genuine, living faith - i.e. the evidence of a saving faith - is that as stated by James: "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God: thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham... justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?" "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." "For as the body without the breath is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2:12, 14-22, 24, 26.

From all the foregoing, I now arrive at a summary of the Adventist concept of the interplay between faith, the law, and justification.

This is easiest explained in point form.

- All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.
- Where the Law of God is, it points out and rebukes sin.
- The "whole duty of man" is to obey God and keep His commandments (i.e. Law).
- It is impossible for man, through his own efforts, to satisfy the demands of God's just and holy Law, for without faith, it is impossible to please God.
- Salvation is by grace, through faith.
- However, the believer cannot continue to wallow in sin after coming to Christ: Rom 6:1, 2.
- The faith-response of the believer, having accepted the sacrifice of Christ, is to follow the example of Christ, in keeping His Father's Law: John 15:10. These are the the "works" of faith.
- Faith without works is dead.
- Where faith is dead, it puts the believer in a worse position than he would have been in had he not believed: 2 Pet 2:20-22.

I hope this clarifies what I have been saying all along: the Adventist concept of justification is that the same comes by faith alone - but we do not subscribe to a 'once saved, always saved, no matter what the life' theology which nullifies the need to walk the walk of faith, which is where the 'works' bit comes in. A real faith evidences itself in a reformed life, lived - by faith - in obedience to the just Law of God (i.e. the 'works' of faith), trusting to the merits of Christ to perfect that walk by the agency of His Holy Spirit. Faith must live and be evidenced by the works, which are the fruit of faith; if it is to be of any vitality. This is what I have been saying in all my previous responses to you so far - perhaps I did not do as good a job of making myself understood as I thought I had.

Returning to the question which was raised re Samson, and the thief on the cross. I take your point that Samson was described as one of the heroes of faith, and therefore is counted amongst the saved.

Samson and the thief on the cross share, I think, a similarity in that neither survived their 'conversion' very long. Justification (and salvation) coming by faith, the moment Samson and the thief repented and accepted the blood of Christ (one by looking forward to the Messiah, the other by actually telling Christ he accepted) in faith, and repented from their sins, that faith would have 'wiped' the slate clean antecedent-wise from the time of acceptance. I.e., all their past misdeeds, up to the time of conversion, are forgiven and blotted out. They would, however, still have their own futures to look to. Which brings me back to my hypothetical situation in which the thief meets an apostle of Christ's in a back alley, gets converted, and then goes on with life. If, having been converted and all his sins forgiven, the thief then carried on with 'life as before', thus showing no fruit of salvation - no repentance or works of faith by living in obedience to God's Law - he would fall squarely into the category of persons denounced by the apostle in 2 Peter 2:20-22. Samson, too, would go the same way if, instead of having died justified with all the Philistines in their temple, he went on living the exact same life that he had led before.

The fact of the matter is that both men didn't live much longer post-conviction. Their having been saved without having 'evidenced' their faith through works does not detract from the necessity of having a fruit-bearing faith; because these men simply did not have the chance. If they had had a further lease of life, it would be a different story.

Hopefully this has answered your questions in this regard, and made it plain that the Adventist understanding of justification by faith, and its emphasis on teaching that works must follow faith in order for that faith to remain a faith that is acceptable before God - is not a departure from the gospel teaching that salvation comes by faith.

You also stated that Rome should not be taken purely at her word that she is responsible for the change of the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. In this there is a gem of truth, in that one should not merely take an assertion for granted. One has to look at history; and examine all the factors which gave rise to a particular event in order to be able to say with any degree of certainty what the aetiology of that event was. There is a book, entitled From Sabbath to Sunday, written by Dr Samuele Bacchiocchi, which is an extremely scholarly dissertation that is widely acclaimed in both Catholic and Protestant circles as being one of the definitive treatments of the subject. I am sure you will be able to find it if you look for it. The book is extremely long, and like all scholarly material, inclined to be slow reading - but it is certainly worth the time and effort! All the same, I'll attempt to summarize very briefly some points canvassed in the book, which shows that the great weight of historical evidence is that the church in Rome, which subsequently came to be known as the Roman Church, was the church which pioneered the change in day of worship.

A major contributory factor to the change of the day of worship to Sunday was the extreme repressive measures taken by the emperor Hadrian against Judaism in general, and Sabbatkeeping (as a 'Jewish' custom) in particular. These measures were adopted by Hadrian in a desperate attempt to stem the increasingly violent outbursts of Jewish insurrection against the Romans, which were fuelled (in large measure) by a resurgence of Messianic expectations. Following his successful suppression of the second major Palestinian Jewish revolt, the Barkokeba revolt, Hadrian marched against Jerusalem in AD 135 and destroyed it. Not only did he destroy Jerusalem; Hadrian went so far as to outlaw categorically the practice of the Jewish religion in general, and of Sabbathkeeping in particular: the prospect of Jews assembling in large numbers on a regular basis was, to Hadrian, as modern-day jihadists consorting freely to exchange bomb-making literature, to most modern governments. These measures were therefore taken with the intent of suppressing the Jewish religion, which was seen as the cause of all the uprisings (e.g. like modern-day extremist Islamics).

The repressive measures adopted by the Romans against the practice of the Jewish religion was not without its repercussions on the Christian communities, who became anxious to clarify to the imperial authorities that the Christians were separate and distinct from Judaism. Thus the church in Rome was encouraged to change the date and manner of observance of two characteristic Jewish festivals: the Sabbath, and the Passover. The weekly Sabbath was 'changed' to Sunday and the climax of the Passover date was moved from Nisan 14 to the following Sunday. Ultimately, this resulted in a break between the Eastern and Western Churches. Ever wonder why the Orthodox Easter and Christmas dates are different from those of Western Christianity? That's why.

The anti-Judaic motivation for these changes is best expressed by Constantine in his Nicene conciliar letter, where Christians are urged to adopt unanimously the Easter Sunday practice championed by the church in Rome, in order to "have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd... and to avoid all participation in the perjured conduct of the Jews." (Eusebius, Life of Constantine 3, pg 18 - 19, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Grand Rapids, 1973, vol 1, p 525)

Sabbathkeeping amongst Christians still being a regular practice, the church of Rome adopted significant theological, social, and liturgical arguments and measures designed to promote the abandonment of Sabbathkeeping and the adoption of Sundaykeeping. Theologically, the Sabbath was reduced from a universal divine institution to a purely Mosaic institution, one given exclusively to the Jews. To quote Justin Martyr, it was a "mark to single them out for punishment they so well deserve for their infidelities." (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 23, 3; cf. 29, 3; 16,1; 21,1.)

Socially, the church in Rome endeavoured to kill the festive gleam of the Sabbath by turning the day from a time of holy joy, to one of fasting and sadness (because Jesus lay in the tomb over the Sabbath, therefore Christians were to fast).

Liturgically, the church in Rome discontinued the celebration of the Lord's Supper on the Sabbath, and turned it into a non-religious day in which no religious assemblies were to be held.

The historical evidence is that the change in day of worship from Sabbath to Sunday occurred not immediately after Jesus' death by the apostolic authority of the church in Jerusalem, so as to commemorate the Resurrection: rather, the process of change began about a century after Christ's death, during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, by the authority of the church of Rome. Although the church in Jerusalem originally had the leadership of the Church (e.g. the Apostles' Council at Jerusalem, during which Peter was called to account for his actions amongst the Gentiles), the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem by Hadrian's armies and the ensuing diaspora of its survivors meant that the church in Rome, which originally stood as second in 'rank' to the church in Jerusalem, came to the ascendancy; due also to the favourable confluence of a number of other factors (political, social, geographical and economical) - although the primary cause remained the prevailing Roman repression of the Jewish people and religion. The conditions simply made it expedient for the Christians to show their separation and differentiation from the Jews, and by extension, Judaism, by adopting a different day of worship, and this was from start to finish the brainchild, and propagate of the church in Rome.

Lastly, you have also mentioned several 'proof texts' in Matthew and other portions of the NT which purportedly prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there is Scriptural backing and direction for Christians to keep Sunday, and not Saturday, as the Sabbath. The texts you quoted are only a few of the ones which are commonly used in support of that thesis, but there is nothing in any of those texts which you referred to that shows that a change was made. All that they state is simply that the women came to visit the tomb of Christ early on Sunday morning, and found it empty. There is nothing in those texts apart from that one plain statement of fact.

A study of all the references to the Resurrection in the NT reveals the incomparable importance of the event, but apart from so doing, there are no sayings in any of the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection which direct that the event of the Resurrection should be commemorated on the particular day of the week on which it occurred. Moreover, in the writings of the NT, the first day of the week is never called 'Day of the Resurrection'; the latter being a term which made its appearance much later - in the Fourth century.To say that Sunday was observed just because Jesus rose on that particular day is really a petitio principii - such a celebration might just as well be monthly or annually celebrated, and still be an observance of that particular day. Importantly, if Jesus had wanted to memorialize the day of His resurrection, he would have capitalized on the same to make such a day a fitting memorial of the event. But none of the utterances of the risen Christ reveal an intention to memorialize the day of his resurrection at all, much less by making it a new Christian day of rest and worship. All Biblical institutions, e.g. the Sabbath, baptism, the Lord's Supper etc trace their origin to a divine act that established them. There is no such divine act for the institution of a weekly Sunday, or even an annual Easter Sunday memorial of the Resurrection.

The very silence of the NT on this matter is unmistakable, as many of its books were written years after Christ's death and resurrection. If, by the latter half of the first century, Sunday had in fact already come to be viewed as the Memorial of the Resurrection which fulfilled the creation/ redemption eschatological functions of the OT Sabbath, then we would expect to find in the NT some allusions to the religious meaning and observance of Sunday as the same. It is the complete absence of any such allusions that indicates that such developments were post-apostolic ones.

agaricus said...

Vincent,

I did not see your replies as I am not online as much as you obviously are.

I think you will agree that if I am to give an answer for my faith, it must be in my own language and not yours. Meaning, you cannot reasonably expect me to simply pick a number from 1 - 5 and leave it at that. I am sure you would feel the same way if it were you in my position.

That said, you have raised certain allegations regarding the integrity and soundness of Adventist scholarship.

My reply to this is that neither you nor I know for sure that it was a scholar, as opposed to a lay person like you or I, who wrote the articles you found on the website. Besides, I cannot comment on whatever is written there as I have not myself read a single one of John Calvin's books or writings; so that I am unable to agree or disagree with you as to whether the same were quoted out of context.

I can see that you take the 'once saved, always saved, na matter what the life' position. Aport from saying that I do not see eye to eye with you in this, for reasons which I have already given in detail in my previous posts as well as the most recent, I think it is clear that we both have to agree to disagree. I respect your stand and am glad to have had a chance to share with you why I believe what I do. You are welcome, of course, to disagree with me.

vincit omnia veritas said...

Dear Agaricus,

Thank you for your kind response.

You said, "I think you will agree that if I am to give an answer for my faith, it must be in my own language and not yours."

I believe we both used English, the lingua franca in Singapore; so which portion of my question do you not understand?

Quote"I did not see your replies as I am not online as much as you obviously are."

I have to reply in OBEDIENCE to the biblical injunction of Jude 3. We simply cannot pussyfoot around pretending to be "friendly" when the gospel is at stake here.

So I believe you admit that yours is a DIFFERENT gospel. And yes, we'll "agree to disagree." That's nice.

Kind regards,
Vincent

vincit omnia veritas said...

"My reply to this is that neither you nor I know for sure that it was a scholar, as opposed to a lay person like you or I, who wrote the articles you found on the website."

Agaricus,

I'm surprised you said that. Of course, the articles of faith of SDA is written by untrained SDA laymen who are unfamiliar with SDA theology. And yes, "Questions on Doctrine" is only a draft by SDA laymen, not SDA theologians.

Are you really a Seventh-Day Adventist?

When I was a college student overseas, I was in CMF which comprised of a substantial number of SDAs. I am pretty familiar with your doctrines. Besides, Professor Larondelle's writings were used in a number of my "homework" ...

So yes, I have read some of your SDA theologians, and found them wanting. I disagree with Martin and other evangelicals who think that SDA teaches the biblical gospel. In theology, the wording is very important. I agree, together with A. Hoekema, John R. Rice, and M.R. DeHaan that SDA teaches a false gospel, the gospel of "works-righteousness," which must be distinguished from "works of the righteous."

Yours truly,
Vincent

PuritanReformed said...

agaricus:

>I think you will agree that if I am to give an answer for my faith, it must be in my own language and not yours

I will agree with my friend Vincent here. This statement is just plain postmodern nonsense, and exists only if you believe in linguistic relativism. But if you do so, then you might as well stop talking/writing, because then communication has no ontological basis whatsoever.

>"My reply to this is that neither you nor I know for sure that it was a scholar, as opposed to a lay person like you or I, who wrote the articles you found on the website."

On a separate note, are you telling me that any Tom, Dick or Harry can write articles etc and upload it to the SDA website?

PuritanReformed said...

agaricus:

That is indeed a long comment of yours. I would highly recommend that next time you can break them into more than one post, then it would be easier to read also.

I will tackle the miscellaneous issues later. Now let us tackle the main issue, the doctrine of Justification by Faith alone and the Investigative Judgment (IJ).

First of all, you are in error with regards to the Judaizers. Read again, especially Gal. 3:3. If the Judaizers are promoting Salvation by works, then how can Paul said that they have begun by the Spirit? Furthermore, why did Paul ask them whether they are perfected by the flesh? Why doesn't he instead ask them whether they are saved by the flesh instead?

>No clear-cut answer to this vexatious problem existed in the time of Paul

Have you read of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15? The Church has pronounced her stand, so what do you mean "no clear-cut answer"?

>God-fearing Gentile was more or less 'pushed' into attempting to establish his own righteousness; so as to gain an assurance of salvation

You are presupposing that the issue was not settled in the early church. Fact is: it was settled very early on, even by Jesus Himself in His dealings with sinners. Gentile Christians knew how to be saved, by faith alone as proclaimed by the Apostles. It was the early Judaists who came in claiming superior knowledge upsetting them, not that they were unsure in the first place (Acts 15:1).

>Incidentally, the phrase 'works of the law' does not appear in Jewish texts

What "Jewish texts"? The New Testament was written in Greek, not Hebrew, and thus it is the Greek that is the original, not the Hebrew or Aramaic.

>It designates the adoption of selected Jewish practices by the Gentiles, to ensure their salvation as part of the covenant people of God.

You are begging the question. You have not proven that the Gentile Christians then were not certain of their salvific status as the covenant people of God.

>Prior to converting and receiving the divine commission to go to the Gentiles, Paul apparently shared the beliefs of his Pharasaic class that the Gentiles had to conform in every particular to the Mosaic law, in order for them to be saved. This is suggested by his use of the phrase "but if I still preach circumcision" in Gal 5:11, which implies that at some point in time, Paul did preach circumcision as a basis of salvation.

This is utterly fallacious. The usage of the conditional hypothetical "if.. then" does not mean that such an event has happened before, or whether it is even possible. If I say that "If I were a unicorn in the past,..." does that mean I had been a unicorn in the past, or that is even remotely possible? You are seriously in error and misrepresenting the Apostle Paul, who have always preached the Gospel of free grace by Faith alone. Paul never did "preach circumcision as a basis of salvation", and the onus is on you to prove it instead of grasping at straws.

>Things changed for Paul after his conversion and commission to go to the Gentiles

Chapter? Verse? None!

> Paul had to deal with the misguided efforts of sincere Gentile believers who were being sorely tempted to adopt circumcision and other Mosaic practices, so as to ensure their salvation (Gal 5:2-4)

No! In context, Gal. 5 was referring to Gentile believers who were deceived by the Judaizers, not that they were tempted to do so. There is nothing tempting about placing yourselves under the yoke of the law.

>Hence, Paul was forced by circumstances to speak critically of the law as a document of election, and to appeal to Abraham's two sons as an analogy of the two covenants: Gal 4:22-24

Eisegesis! The analogy of Isaac and Ishmael is not to talk about two separate covenants of salvation, but about two "methods" regarding salvation, one of which (the one by grace - Isaac) does save while the other leads to bondage. The key point to note is that the one by works does not save.

Before I go any further, you seem to hold to a dual covenant theory. There is no two ways of salvation, one for the Jews and the others for Gentiles. That is made abundantly in Romans whereby Paul showed that both Jews and Greeks/Gentiles alike are under sin and condemnation (Rom. 3:9) and therefore only by faith alone can either of them be saved.

>Weren't there provisions of grace and forgiveness in the Sinai covenant, besides principles of conduct?
>By no means does this indicate that Paul denied the possibility of salvation to those Jews who accepted Christ as the embodiment of the Sinai covenant. Indeed, Paul's referral to Christ as being the "substance" of which the Sinai covenant was but the "shadow", emphasized that Christ was the fulfillment of the Sinatic covenant; thus making it possible for Jews to be saved as Jews while retaining their identity as a covenant people; Christ being the One who ratified the covenant by making it operative (as per Matt 26:28).

This is the heresy of the Dual Covenant theory. Scripture refutes your arguments, for it is establish that Jews are also under the condemnation of God (Rom. 3:9). None are righteous (Rom. 3:10), and all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Furthermore, God who is the God of the Jews and of the Gentiles (Rom. 3:29), justify both circumcised (Jew) and uncicumcised (Gentile) on the basis of faith and faith alone (Rom. 3:30). Jews are never saved as Jews! They can only be saved the same way as all others: by repenting of their sins and receiving the forgiveness of their sins through the cross of Jesus Christ alone!


>In doing so, Paul affirms the value of circumcision for the Jews, although he stresses that the same loses its value as a 'marker' of being in a covenant relationship if the Law of God is broken (Rom 2:25)

So are there any sinless Jews around? NO! For that is the entire argument of the first 3 chapters of Romans, in proving that both Jews and Gentiles alike are under condemnation; the former for disobeying the Law while the latter for sinning apart from the Law (Rom. 2:12)!


>All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.
- Where the Law of God is, it points out and rebukes sin.
- The "whole duty of man" is to obey God and keep His commandments (i.e. Law).
- It is impossible for man, through his own efforts, to satisfy the demands of God's just and holy Law, for without faith, it is impossible to please God.
- Salvation is by grace, through faith.
- However, the believer cannot continue to wallow in sin after coming to Christ: Rom 6:1, 2.
- The faith-response of the believer, having accepted the sacrifice of Christ, is to follow the example of Christ, in keeping His Father's Law: John 15:10. These are the the "works" of faith.
- Faith without works is dead.
- Where faith is dead, it puts the believer in a worse position than he would have been in had he not believed: 2 Pet 2:20-22.

These points do not address the issue at all. The issue is not whether faith produce works; the issue is whether faith alone justifies apart from any consideration of works. That is why Vincent has been asking you the same question over the over again, and you have consistently NOT been answering it.

>the Adventist concept of justification is that the same comes by faith alone - but we do not subscribe to a 'once saved, always saved, no matter what the life' theology which nullifies the need to walk the walk of faith
>This is what I have been saying in all my previous responses to you so far - perhaps I did not do as good a job of making myself understood as I thought I had

agaricus, you have just parroted the same thing you have said so far, which still doesn't answer the question. Fact is, the way you express it tells me that you think that a consideration of works in included for salvation. This is precisely the error of the Judaizers, and it deserves the same rebuke. It is another gospel; the same different gospel that condemns the Judaizers to hell. As such, I call upon you to repent and forsake your religion of works-righteousness! The Gospel is salvation by faith alone; your idea of salvation by faith is the same as Rome's idea of salvation by faith, and just as heretical!

PuritanReformed said...

>is that the church in Rome, which subsequently came to be known as the Roman Church, was the church which pioneered the change in day of worship

WRONG! The church in Rome is not the same as Roman Catholicism. Roman Catholicism originated sometime after the 11 century after the split with the Orthodox churches - the Great Schism. The characteristic pervasions, both doctrinal and practical, were introduced gradually, and thus the transformation was gradual. So therefore, your argument falls flat.

With regards to the rest of your arguments, it is fallacious that just because the Church declared Sabbath to be celebrated on a Sunday instead of a Saturday means that they must have changed it. It could rather be that it was a Sunday originally, and then it got mixed with the Jewish Sabbath due to the fact that Jewish Christians still celebrate their traditional Jewish Sabbath, and the Church is reminding the flock what the apostles had taught them. Historical facts seldom establish the reasons behind the facts presented, and most definitely in this case, whereby you are arguing from silence for the fact that the sabbath day was changed from Saturday during the apostolic times to Sunday. As an afterthought, if such were truly the case, then how can you explain how the church has the manpower to enforce the change in the Sabbath across the whole Roman Empire (plus outside it also in places like Ethopia) when it is undergoing persecution from the Roman Empire? This type of argument ("the church did it") sounds like that made in the infamous Da Vinci Code: that the church managed to suppress the truth about the "Holy Grail", as if the church have so much time and power when it is actual fact small and undergoing severe persecution during that period!

>There is no such divine act for the institution of a weekly Sunday, or even an annual Easter Sunday memorial of the Resurrection

You have not been reading what we are writing. We have already said that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath, so therefore it is instituted by God because it is the Sabbath; it is not a "weekly Sunday".

>But none of the utterances of the risen Christ reveal an intention to memorialize the day of his resurrection at all, much less by making it a new Christian day of rest and worship

Why should he when the Sabbath is not a sacrament?

>If, by the latter half of the first century, Sunday had in fact already come to be viewed as the Memorial of the Resurrection which fulfilled the creation/ redemption eschatological functions of the OT Sabbath, then we would expect to find in the NT some allusions to the religious meaning and observance of Sunday as the same. It is the complete absence of any such allusions that indicates that such developments were post-apostolic ones.

The fact of the matter is that Sabbath observance was never a sacramental thing. It does not play that sort of significance that SDA-ism teaches it to have. Read for example Col. 2:16, which says

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Since such is the case, it is natural, expected even, that little would be said about the day of the Sabbath in the NT. For Paul and the other apostles, mandating Sabbath observance on fixed days is Legalism, and contributes to the false gospel of works-righteousness. As long as the Sabbath is kept, Paul and the apostles are not so particular what day it is kept, though ecclesiastically, Sunday is the preferred day becuase the Church has established this day to worship her Lord who rose on this day 2000 years ago.

In fact, traditional SDA-ism was judged as a cult precisely because they attack Christians denominations as being of the devil as we worship on Sunday. That you don't believe the same shows that you have deviated from your historical roots, that's all.

Lastly, it can be seen that the entire 'Saturday as Sabbath' issue has done much to contribute to the Legalism in SDAism. As such, I would commend to you Col. 2:16-17 again:

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

PuritanReformed said...

Vincent:

>So yes, I have read some of your SDA theologians, and found them wanting. I disagree with Martin and other evangelicals who think that SDA teaches the biblical gospel. In theology, the wording is very important. I agree, together with A. Hoekema, John R. Rice, and M.R. DeHaan that SDA teaches a false gospel, the gospel of "works-righteousness," which must be distinguished from "works of the righteous."

Amen. Salvation is by faith from beginning to end, without prior or posterior recognition of works.

vincit omnia veritas said...

Whew! Daniel,

I guess your comments (and agaricus' comments) are probably longer than the original post!

I hope Agaricus appreciates the time you put in to post these comments. I read her comments, and I guessed she's "begging" an answer.

I remember that it all started when Agaricus tried to "convert" Isaiah (and readers) to the false gospel of SDA-ism ... :P

Don't get me started ...

PuritanReformed said...

Vincent:

=). I sure hope so. It takes time to type, format and proof-read. Hehee..... I though you were studying... ;) ?

vincit omnia veritas said...

Yes Daniel,

I'm busy studying ... I have no time for toilet breaks - but I have the time to post comments :P

Seriously, it gets really boring trying to plough through 8 modules x 8 = 64 textbooks. I'd rather blog ... hehhehhehheh ...

PuritanReformed said...

Vincent:

haha..... Just wondering, 'coz you didn't respond to my email also, but then you posted a lot of comments at various places... =) Loooooooooong comments too

vincit omnia veritas said...

Daniel,

Emails? ... Did I miss something here ...

PuritanReformed said...

Vincent:

yup, I did send an email... to your yahoo account. Looks like it didn't get through