The SDA Test of Faith
By Robert Brinsmead
...Many want to make less certain things into tests of faith. Some of these tests rest on the interpretation of a single doubtful text. In this category I must place the traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14. I do not mind if the Adventist wants to think his calculations give him an exact prophetic reckoning, including his use of a Karaite calendar. What concerns me is that this interpretation of a single text, with no other scriptural witnesses and no New Testament confirmation, should be made an article of faith alongside faith in the sinless life and resurrection of Jesus. Some Adventists think that believing this interpretation of Daniel 8:14 is as important as believing in Christ. October 22, 1844, is considered an event in salvation history that a person must believe as fully as one believes that Christ is risen from the dead. The mentality that makes a particular interpretation of Daniel 8:14 an article of faith to be placed alongside the certainties of the New Testament is rank sectarianism. It is esoteric and cultic.
Many Adventists will not really accept other Christians as sound in the faith if they do not believe that Jesus passed from one heavenly compartment to another in 1844. Yet not one Adventist in a thousand would know how to prove it from the Bible, and scholars like Raymond Cottrell and Don Neufeld have stated that it cannot.
Think of the obstacles the traditional Adventist must surmount to reach his desired goal of 1844:
Having juggled texts and leapt across gaps he has finally reached his goal. But he might well fear that someone will ask him to support the matter with one clear Bible text.
How can we continue to insist that this elaborate and tortured exercise should be a test of faith? It is one thing to think our interpretation of a passage of Scripture is correct. It is another thing to treat those who doubt our argumentation as apostates. Surely this is rank sectarianism.
William Miller's Questionable Scholarship
It is not difficult to believe an interpretation if you want to believe it. Miller "showed" that many verses would climax in the 1840's. For instance, Miller showed that the seven times of Daniel 4 (2,520 years) would end in 1843. He even showed that the number 666 would end in 1843.
This was the heyday of historicism. The pioneers saw the Bible prophecies were focused not only on the 19th century but on themselves. If the Book of Revelation were a series of predictions on such events as the invasion of the Turks, the French Revolution, the rise of the United States, and "1844," what sense could it have made to Christians of the first century who were commanded to read and understand the book?
Category: 1844 Movement
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