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Should a Question be Answered?
A Study of Daniel 8:14
Article by C. L Price in New Light on Old Problems (1973)
Should a Question be Answered?
Yes, I suppose so, if the question is proper and timely.
And should an answer be questioned?
No doubt it should be, if it is not considered a true and correct reply to the question.
No, that's not the thought. Should an answer have a question to it at all?
Now you are getting silly; how can it be an answer if there is no question asked?
Well, that's a good question. So further:
Should an answer to a question be considered and treated and expounded without taking into consideration what the question was which induced the answer? Could we trust well to the correctness of an exposition of an answer given in that way?
"After three days"; "at four o'clock"; "for two weeks, then I went over"; "for five years, then we have a new one." Now, could those answers be properly considered without taking into consideration what the questions were which induced the answers? Take, for example, the last one. My friend asks me a question, I reply, "For five years, then we have a new one." A third man hears us talking and catches my answer, but not the question. He goes to his neighbors and reports: "Mr. Price gets a new car every five years; I heard him telling his friend that he makes his old car last for five years and then he gets a new one." How much confidence could be given to such a comment? For the question actually asked me was: "How long does your Canadian Parliament last?"
You will say, "But that's foolish; nobody is so silly as to treat of an answer without considering the question with it." But wait a minute. Would you believe that one of the best known Seventh-day Adventist writers, in one of the most popular book ever put out by the denomination comments at length on the answer to a question in just that way--comments just thus on a Biblical answer given to a Biblical question--and comments thus at length on that answer without referring at all to the question which induced the answer?
And would you further believe that one of the chiefest, special doctrines of the Adventist faith is based upon those comments by that writer thus given--the answer to a Biblical question being expounded by that writer, and the doctrine based upon those comments, without the question being considered at all, or referred to in any way, or without letting her readers know that there was any question to which that answer was a reply?
"Well," you say. "Show us the goods;
place your cards upon the table."
Open your Great Controversy to page 324 (I have the 1888 edition) and you will note that the writer quotes the Bible passage: "Unto 2300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." Daniel 8:14. Now that text is the answer to the question asked in verse 13; and the question was provoked by the conditions portrayed in verses 9-12. But is the question referred to in Great Controversy along with the answer? I don't find it. The writer does not mention the question at all.
After giving that text on page 324, the writer goes on for more than 100 pages, largely in a discussion of that text, mentioning it and referring to it again and again; but, in it all, I have looked in vain for any mention whatever of the question asked in verse 13 which induced the answer of verse 14.
Silly, isn't it?
What's silly, mentioning the matter, or the fact itself?
You will doubtless say that it makes no difference, for Sister White gives a true exposition of that answer in verse 14, even without mentioning its question in verse 13. Of course, an Adventist must say so. But does she? Does she make verse 14 correctly answer the question asked in verse 13? Just look at the context. In verses 9-12 the prophet saw a wicked power, the "little horn," defiling the sanctuary, treading it down, taking away the daily sacrifice, setting up its own abomination. Then in verse 13 the question was asked as to how long that evil work of that evil power was to continue to give the sanctuary to be trodden under foot; and to this question comes the answer: "Unto 2,300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
Now remember: as she expounds the answer in verse 14, Sister White does not refer to that question of verse 13 at all; and she makes that answer a reply to something wholly different from the question asked in verse 13, and wholly different from the context of verses 9-12; for she makes verse 14 reply to such a question as this: "How long shall the sanctuary be defiled by the sins of God's people, which have been transferred to it by confession?" In her writings the little horn had nothing to do with defiling the sanctuary; that defilement was caused entirely by the confessed sins of the righteous. Just read her chapter "What is the Sanctuary?" and you will see that this is so. Why, that is the foundation of the doctrine of the Sanctuary as held and taught by SDAs. God's people confess their sins, and by their faith in the atoning blood those sins are, day by day, hour by hour, transferred to the sanctuary, where they accumulated year after year, until at the end of the 2,300 days, in 1844, the atoning blood is again applied in some other way, and the Sanctuary is cleansed from all those sins. You see by Sister White's exposition that the little horn had nothing to do with it; nothing whatsoever; it is just as though that evil power had not been brought into the picture at all. Her theory doesn't need it. Indeed, her theory gets along far better without it. So, no wonder Sister White, as she expounds Daniel 8:14, doesn't refer to the little horn at all.
But in all that chapter of Daniel 8 there is no mention of the matter in Leviticus 16 at all; no hint of any connection between them, though it was the Day of Atonement ceremony in Leviticus 16 that Mrs. White says proves that confessed sins are transferred to the sanctuary and defile it; in all of Daniel 8 the sins of God's people, or any confessed sins, are not referred to whatever; for what has defiled the sanctuary and made necessary its "cleansing" is its defilement by the little horn. Confessed sins are not referred to at all; that is an alien thought, wholly brought in by the Adventist writers themselves.
Now what shall we do about it? Is a peculiar church doctrine safe and secure, based on a text separated from its context--an answer divorced from its question and separated from the facts that provoked its question? Honestly, what absurd theory could not be worked up by a method as that?
Permit me an illustration. Suppose I am a Universalist. I quote from Revelation 7:14: "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." From this I proceed to argue that "These are they" refers to "the kings of the earth and the great men and the rich men" spoken of in chapter 6:15, which is part of the same vision. All these, no doubt, "come out of great tribulation," as most men do--and so we prove universal salvation.
You would reply: "What folly! Look at the context. What you quote in verse 14 is an answer to the question asked in verse 13, and the question in verse 13 was induced by the picture given in verses 9-12. What hope for finding truth is there if you divorce an answer from the question asked, and from the context that provoked it, and instead supply a question and context of your own?"
And you would be right. But such is the treatment given by Adventist writers to the text of Daniel 8:14.
Now I suppose that many of you who read this will just drop it into the waste basket and say: "Oh well, our Adventist leaders are educated men, well versed in matters of the Bible, and they will have it right." Others will say: "We are the remnant church; we have the truth and no error; so why should we spend time on such a problem?" And still others will say: "The Adventist church is doing a mighty work for God; Adventists are surely God's special people; what they teach is good enough for me." But a few may be more noble than those in Thessalonica and really will search the Scriptures whether these things are so.
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