Why The Critics of the Investigative Judgment Have Failed


Why The Critics of the Investigative Judgment Have Failed
By: Mike Ciprian Manea
Co-author: Marcos David Torres

On October 22, 2015, the 171st Anniversary of the Great Disappointment of 1844, Spectrum Magazine published an article entitled, “1844 - Pillar of Faith or Mortal Wound.”

According to the author, “...the viability of 1844 as a prophetic marker continues to depend heavily on isolated proof-texts. It seems Adventist scholars who defend 1844 as an unmovable rock are satisfied with finding tiny hooks in a few chosen verses that appear to (albeit remotely) support our position.” Moreover, “...we have been given in to the temptation to hold on to tradition instead of continuing to study Scripture. We have overstated our case and stretched the evidence in order to confirm our “prophetic identity.” And frankly, that is all 1844 really is, it only massages our corporate ego, it does little for the individual believer. I can believe that Jesus has been my perfect intercessor since the ascension without jeopardizing my standing with God.” Therefore, “We should have the humility to accept that we may have been wrong all along about the nature and timeline of Christ’s priestly ministry in heaven.”[i]

This article is just one of hundreds that have been written over the years by non-Adventists, former Adventists and, church members alike, questioning the validity of this unique Adventist doctrine. Objections have been raised that:

-The Investigative Judgment (IJ) is nothing more than a feeble face-saving attempt to address the mistake of 1844. 
-It is an extra-Biblical doctrine invented entirely by Ellen White.
-It cheapens the Reformation gospel of Salvation by grace through faith.
-It robs Adventists of the assurance of salvation and causes them to live in constant fear.
-No other denomination has seen any value in this doctrine and hence all have rejected it.
-A good number of Adventist ministers and theologians secretly know the doctrine to be false but are afraid to admit it.

Adventists have repeatedly refuted each of these claims. Nevertheless, the critics do not relent. If we respond with a humble and open mind on these issues, we are interpreted as being uncertain. If we reply with perfect confidence, we are accused of being dogmatic and intransigent. It seems no matter what answers Adventists can come up with they appear to always be interpreted as reactionary inventions cooked up to keep ourselves from having to bury a dead concept; one that depends on the KJV translation for its veracity, on isolated and dubious texts such as Daniel 8:14, on the day/year principle, or on the translation of some uncertain Greek or Hebrew terms.

In light of these attacks, one would think the debate was over. Nevertheless, as we will now demonstrate, the debate is far from over. While critics may pride themselves in their long list of seemingly conclusive arguments, the truth is they have no argument. But if they have no argument then why do they continue to press the matter?

The answer is simple. Over the decades, Adventists have allowed the critics to portray the IJ as a sort of theoretical concoction that is entirely dependent on the veracity of a long series of prerequisite assumptions (such as day/year, Daniel 8:14, etc.). And if there is any doubt regarding any of these assumptions, the entire theological structure collapses like a house of cards.

However, the IJ cannot be refuted this way (as the author of the Spectrum article and other critics have gone about it). Their approach, in essence, has been a futile attempt to kill a tree by plucking off the leaves. This doctrine is not dependent on the day/year principle, Dan. 8:14, Leviticus or some passage in Hebrews - that is only the route by which Adventists came to discover it. In reality, the IJ is much broader and rests first of all on an Arminian understanding of the Protestant gospel.

Classical Arminianism and Free Will 
During the Protestant Reformation, two distinct camps emerged under the banner of Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide and Sola Gratia with conflicting views regarding the human will. The first, Calvinism, rejected the idea of free will in favor of predestination.[ii] This perspective was later articulated as five distinct points using the mnemonic T.U.L.I.P. (see chart below for more info).

(T)otal Depravity
(U)nconditional Election
(L)imited Atonement
(I)rresistible Grace
(P)erseverance of the Saints

In contrast, the second camp, Arminianism, fully supported the concept of human free will and therefore rejected each one of the five points above. Please take a look at the following chart for a more detailed explanation of the differences, paying special attention to point number five:

Copyright © 2016 CRI/Voice, Institute by Dennis Bratcher [iii] 
Now here comes the tricky part and, incidentally, the most important part:

Over time, a third camp emerged that took something of a hybrid approach. They adopted the first four points from the Arminian side and the fifth point from the Calvinist side giving rise to what is popularly referred to as the concept of Once Saved Always Saved (hereafter O.S.A.S). What's tricky about this is that they still call themselves Arminian even though, in discussions about the IJ, how they feel about point number five of the TULIP formula is the single, most important factor. (For the remainder of this paper I will be using the labels “Classical Arminianism” vs. “O.S.A.S. Arminianism”)

Therefore, in any discussion about the IJ, before any mention is made of Hebrew terms in Daniel or Greek terms in Hebrews or the validity of the day-year principle, two questions should be asked of any critic:

1) Are you a Calvinist?
2) If not, do you believe in Once Saved Always Saved?

Why does this matter? Because all Classical Arminians reject the idea of Once Saved Always Saved, they all believe that a person who has experienced a genuine new birth can still be lost, and therefore, all believe in some form of IJ differentiating between believers, even though they don't call it that.[iv] However, most Arminians also believe that when a person dies, they are carried directly into the presence of God for judgment. At this moment, it is determined if they were faithful or not and the sentence is pronounced for either reward or punishment.[v] Adventists, on the other hand, believe that people rest in their graves until the resurrection. Thus, there is no longer a necessity to force-fit the IJ immediately after death; we don’t need to rationalize away all the Biblical passages that speak of the judgment as being in the future. Since we believe Jesus will bring His reward with Him at His coming, the judgment needs only to take place shortly prior to that.

In essence, the Adventist doctrine of the IJ is the natural outgrowth of Arminianism and Soul Sleep. All the other elements (1844, the Hebrews passages, the day-year principle) are useful in understanding the judgment and its relevance, but they are not essential.[vi] In other words, the IJ does not stand or fall on any of those issues. Its necessity stands or falls on the validity of Classical Arminianism and its eventuality stands or falls on the validity of Soul Sleep theology. Since Adventists correctly affirm both of these foundations to be true, we are therefore correct about the nature of the IJ. At this juncture, the likelihood that we are also correct about all these other elements, including the timing, is extremely high before the conversation even starts.

In summary, if a person believes that:

1) Salvation can be lost,
2) That God judges,
3) That the souls of men sleep until the resurrection
4) And, that this reward/punishment is not received until the resurrection,

Such a person will very likely come to believe in an Adventist-like pre-advent IJ irrespective of any other factors. If salvation can be lost, this matter must be objectively decided before the church goes to heaven. If God judges, then part of his judgment work would be to determine the faithful from the apostate (the nature of the IJ).[vii] At this point, we have the basic building blocks for the IJ. And while 3rd and 4th propositions do not lead us to 1844 (the timing of the IJ) they leave the door comfortably open for such a possibility.[viii] And, this is why those who attack this doctrine on peripheral issues like Greek or Hebrew terminology are, quite honestly, wasting their time. If critics would like to tear the IJ down as a theological concept the only way to do it would be to deny its Classical Arminian foundation and the Mortal Soul concept which naturally gives birth to the IJ as Adventists understand it (Appendix A). However, the critics have not and cannot do this which is why, after many decades of effort, they have failed in their attempts to refute this doctrine.



Johnny, Jim, and Bob 
For the sake of clarity, let’s take a brief look at how each of the three theological traditions views salvation.

Calvinism

Before the foundations of the world, God decreed that Johnny would be lost, and Jim saved for reasons having nothing to do with them. So, for example, Johnny might be a relatively good person and Jim a criminal. Nonetheless, because God ordained it, Johnny would never come to recognize his need of a Savior or repent of his sins. Jim, on the other hand, at some point in his life, will come to repent and experience a genuine new birth.

Moreover, even if Jim falls away after being born again, some time before his death, he will come back to Christ and die having made peace with God. Again, all this for no other reason than that God has decreed it to be so; neither Johnny nor Jim chose any of it or could change their fate if they wanted to. Therefore, an IJ in such a case would be pointless.

O.S.A.S. Arminianism

Under this paradigm, both Johnny and Jim are offered the gospel invitation. They are both free to accept or reject that invitation, and God does not interfere with this choice. Johnny, of his own free will, chooses to reject it and Jim to accept it. However, having accepted the invitation and having experienced a genuine new birth, his salvation is secure and can no longer be lost. It does not matter if after being born again he turns away from God, becomes more evil than Hitler himself, or longs with all his heart to undo his former decision to come to Christ. His salvation is sealed; he no longer has free will in this respect. So a pre-Advent IJ in this situation would be pointless since there is, in a technical sense, no such thing as an apostate.

Classical Arminianism

To understand this perspective, we need to introduce Bob. As before, the gospel invitation is still being extended freely to all. Johnny, as usual, rejects it. Both Jim and Bob accept it. They both open their hearts to Christ; they are both born again, sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, pardoned of their sins, declared to be the sons of God, and there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels on behalf of both. However, only Jim makes it to heaven while Bob ends up lost in the end.[ix] So it is evident that an IJ, in this case, is far more complex a process than simply whether a person has accepted Christ or not.[x]

Again, Arminian Protestants would argue that this IJ of sorts takes place when Jim and Bob die. Both would be ushered into the presence of God where their case would be reviewed either for heaven or hell. Jim would make it to heaven by virtue of his faith in Christ. Bob, on the other hand, having decided to turn his back on Christ, would be turned away. Since, as Adventists, we do not believe in the immortality of the soul and therefore that God has to have a place ready for the soul immediately after death, there is no need to enter into this judgment then and there. In fact, there are even some Christians who, recognizing that the judgment takes place in the future, attempt to harmonize this by proposing some type of “holding cell” where people don’t immediately get their reward but only await their day in court. To support this, they make reference to Peter’s “spirits in prison” (1 Pet. 3:19 KJV) and to the example of the fallen angels whom “he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6). All these being workarounds Adventists don’t need because we don’t believe the dead are conscious. Nor does God need to judge each person one at a time but instead “has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world” (Acts 17:31).

For over a century and a half, the Adventist church has been challenged by critics from inside and outside the denomination, insisting that the doctrine of the IJ is unbiblical at best and cultic at worst. These voices have called us to discard this teaching if we wish to remain orthodox. Nevertheless, we remain unconvinced by the many peripheral attacks made against this doctrine for we see it, not as dependent on a long list of small exegetical presuppositions, but as the natural outgrowth of Classical Arminianism and Soul Sleep. In light of this foundation we concur that many critics of the IJ are, quite possibly, either:

1) Concerned with Classical Arminianism, a debate that was raging centuries before Adventism came around.
2) Concerned with non-essentials (day/year principle, Daniel 8:14, 1844, the meaning of chatak in Daniel 9, the connection between Daniel 8 and 9, Leviticus, the book of Hebrews, etc.) in which case, we are free to disagree without having to discard the entire doctrine.
3) Concerned with a pseudo IJ in which case they are really attacking a straw man.
4) Unaware of the real theological issues at hand such as the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism, and their development throughout the centuries.

In conclusion, the Adventist church will not discard the IJ because we have no need to do so and critics have failed in providing us with one. Therefore, our message to the critics of the IJ is as follows:

1) If you are a Calvinist/ OSAS Arminian, you need to be upfront about this. At this juncture, the debate is not so much about the IJ peripherals as much as the IJ foundation – Classical Arminianism. So rather than expending valuable time debating non-essentials let’s get to the core of it.[xi]
2) If you are a Classical Arminian, then we invite you to re-explore the topic with an open mind. There are countless resources that conclusively demonstrate that the IJ doctrine is scripturally sound.
3) If, regardless of anything the Adventist church does, you maintain that the IJ is heretical and false then we have no burden to enter into controversy with you. The church cannot consume valuable time and energy in attempting to satisfy the accusations of those whose minds are made up beyond reason.

Moreover, we have a message to the Adventist church as well. As a church, we need to be more proactive in confronting people of influence (counter-cult apologists, Christian leaders, etc.) who continue to either misunderstand or misrepresent our views.  There is no reason to keep struggling against the current when taking our message to the general public because a few key people continue to incite prejudice and superstition. We have a solid foundation for the IJ and we can stand firm on it as we continue to explore and perfect our understanding of the details that make this doctrine so unique in the Christian world.

Appendix A: Possible Objections 
The Classical Arminianism/ Soul Sleep combination gives Adventism a strong philosophical basis for believing in an IJ. However, some may continue to argue that while this combination may leave the door open to an IJ as the church understands it, it does not necessarily demand that such a conclusion be reached. In light of this objection, this appendix will explore each of the alternative views of judgment that are logically possible under the Arminian/ Soul Sleep combination and demonstrate how the official SDA understanding on the matter continues to be the most satisfactory conclusion.

The IJ Cannot possibly be true because it is anti-gospel/ perfectionistic in nature.

Little needs to be said regarding this attack. While we wholeheartedly agree that this doctrine has been abused to promote legalism and perfectionism, Adventist theologians and scholars have repeatedly demonstrated that this is a perversion of the doctrine, not its essence. The fact that critics continue to make this claim demonstrates that they are either Calvinists who think Classical Arminianism is anti-gospel, OSAS Arminians who think the doctrine of eternal security is a test of gospel orthodoxy, or they remain ignorant of Adventism’s soteriological heritage. Needless to say, any student concerned with the implications that the IJ has for a proper understanding of the gospel can find numerous resources that answer this question to the satisfaction of anyone who acknowledges the legitimacy of Classical Arminian soteriology. We recommend some in our resource page below.

God knows who is saved without a judgment

One might argue that while Classical Arminians reject once saved always saved it does not necessarily follow that a judgment is necessary for “God knows those who are his”. In this argument then, the need for any judgment of any sort remains unnecessary due to the omniscience of God. While the Arminian/ Soul Sleep combination may, in fact, leave the door open for a concept such as the IJ, it does not necessarily mandate such a conclusion. Because God knows who has turned their back on Christ, there is no need for him to perform a work of judgment to determine who has been faithful and who has not. God can simply allow the faithful in and reject the apostate on the basis of his own perfect knowledge.

Such a conclusion, while certainly permitted within the Arminian/ Soul Sleep framework, is nevertheless lacking in various aspects. The most obvious would be that such a position is more in keeping with Calvinism than Classical Arminianism. Part of Classical Arminianism’s meta-narrative is that God is benevolent. This benevolence of God opens the door for a fairness, transparency, and general other-centered concern that is not self-evident in Calvinism. Because Christians acknowledged that the sin-drama has affected the entire universe, including angels, it is only fair and transparent for God to allow the finite creation into his all-knowing judgments. However, the idea that God would judge everyone based solely on his omniscience denies this other-centered concern and does not fit the Arminian framework. Again, such a position is more logically consistent with Calvinism, which elevates the sovereignty of God to such a height that God becomes, in the estimation of all Arminians, arbitrary and aloof. In Calvinism, God acts according to his desires with no input or apparent concern for the thoughts of others. This makes perfect sense for Calvinism denies the freedom of the will. Thus, within this framework, a God who acts according to his omniscience without any benevolent concern for the thoughts of his created beings is perfectly in keeping. However, Arminianism is a denial of Calvinism, which, while maintaining the sovereignty of God does so by paradoxically balancing this with the freedom of man thus resulting in a much different picture of God. The picture that emerges from the Arminian concept of God is that of a God is certainly omniscient but likewise benevolent. Thus, to suggest that God would judge the world based on his omniscience alone is to deny his benevolence toward the angels who have been involved in the same drama over humanity’s salvation and the sin problem. Sadly, many Classical Arminians, in their desire to refute the IJ doctrine switch their God-picture from Arminianism to Calvinism in order to raise this objection without even realizing it. Thus, while it is true that God does know who is saved without a judgment, it is equally true that the judgment is not intended to be based solely on Gods omniscience but on his benevolence as well. As a result, it makes much more sense to see God as participating in a work of judgment that is transparent for the benefit of all creation.

Thus, while it is certainly permitted to argue against a judgment on the basis of God’s omniscience in the Arminian/ Soul Sleep framework Adventist theologians are under no obligation to do so and in fact, are more internally consistent by not switching their view of God from Arminian to Calvinist for the sake of arguing against a particular doctrine.

God judges through unconscious soul sleep.

One might likewise argue that while Adventists reject the immortal soul doctrine, it does not necessarily follow that the judgment must be a corporate event that begins at some point in human history. God could just as easily judge each person while they are unconsciously asleep. According to this view, the only difference between Adventists and other Arminians is that the human is not consciously present at their judgment but is nevertheless judged at the moment of their death.

This is certainly a viable position to take. However, those who take this position are still affirming that believers must be judged and that Christ’s ministry did not end at the cross. In addition, they still have to explain why God would have to judge if he is omniscient, what benefit the judgment has for creation, why the judgment has gone for so long, what the judgment actually means for believers, the relationship of that judgment to assurance, the relevance/ importance of such a judgment and the relationship of the day of atonement to the judgment (since every believer would face their own "day of atonement" where the faithful were separated from the apostates after death so to speak).

In other words, if a person affirms the need for an IJ they may continue to deny the validity of 1844 by suggesting that the judgment takes place at each individual person’s death. However, at this point, they would have to embrace all of the concepts of the IJ doctrine with the exception of its structure or timing. If a person decides to go this route, the entire debate has shifted from two fronts (soteriological and eschatological) to just one – the eschatological. By affirming the need for an IJ under the Arminian / Soul Sleep framework, we eliminate the soteriological debate and find ourselves in need of an IJ of some sort. At this point, the only question that remains is: How does God choose to perform the judgment? Does he do it individually? Or, has he ordained a day in history in which he will begin a judgment process? (We will address this question in more detail in a future article. Appendix B briefly explores this.)

Because Adventists do not believe in the immortal soul, we are under no obligation to force the judgment onto each individual at the moment of death. Such a judgment would be unnecessary since the person would rest in the grave until the second coming anyways. Thus, there would be no need for the judgment to take place at each individual death. As a result, Adventist theologians are free to take the Biblical texts pointing to a judgment day future of the cross but prior to the second coming as literally pointing to a judgment process that begins at a certain point in human history.

God may in fact judge, but has not revealed how.

Finally, one may attempt to argue that while the Classical Arminian + Soul Sleep combination may lead to an IJ of some sort the Bible does not reveal any details on how. In other words, the foundation for the IJ may be solid but everything else we believe about the IJ is false because scripture simply does not reveal the details of the IJ as much as Adventists claim it does. With this argument in mind, a critic may insist that the best we can do is affirm that all will be judged but will still have to discard all of the peripheral details which Adventists believe about the IJ leaving us with a similar pre-advent judgment theology to that of the United Methodists who, - in reference to the judgment – refuse to enter into specifics. Adventism’s IJ is, therefore, still false because it claims to understand more about God’s judgment than scripture actually reveals. To borrow the words of Andre Reis (the above cited article), “We have overstated our case and stretched the evidence…” A critic who raises this argument may, in fact, go on to say that the foundation for the IJ does not help the SDA case at all because all it does is give us the basics – but it’s not the basics that are the problem it’s the details that we foolishly claim to have ironed out (especially the idea that this judgment began in 1844).


However, this argument also fails. For starters, it’s really not that different to the previous “God judges through unconscious soul sleep” argument. And because it’s not that different it leads to the same conclusions. If we are agreeing to an IJ of some sort logic alone would lead us to the same questions as if we were talking about Adventism’s detailed IJ. Questions such as, “Why does God need to judge?” “Does this judgment deny assurance of salvation?” and “When does this judgment begin?” With these, and many other questions, Adventist theologians would have two options: 1) Opt for a “We don’t know and the Bible doesn’t say” or, 2) In typical Adventist fashion, go back to the scriptures and search for answers. It would be ridiculous to assert that the most noble course would be to evade the question and Adventist theologians and scholars are under no Biblical obligation to ignore the many texts that clearly answer the natural questions that would arise from a basic IJ motif. And it is by answering those naturally arising questions that we arrive at Adventism’s IJ doctrine. In addition, Adventist theologians and scholars have repeatedly demonstrated that the way in which we comprehend the details of the judgment are exegetically and theologically sound. Critics are free to disagree but our challenge would be that they not simply disagree but come up with a better IJ doctrine than what Adventism has discovered. And the truth is, they cannot do this. The best they can do is evade the question by claiming that scripture does not reveal these things. 

Summary

In summary, there are four primary objections that can be raised against the philosophical foundation of the IJ doctrine within the Arminian/ Soul Sleep framework. Those four arguments, while permissible, nevertheless fail to account for the meta-narrative of both Arminianism and Soul Sleep. And while other arguments can be raised we are convinced that these four constitute the most plausible alternatives. Thus, we conclude that to believe in both Classical Arminianism and Soul Sleep demands a judgment narrative that begins at some point in human history between the cross and the second coming. The only way to deny such a powerful foundation is to deny Classical Arminianism. However, at this point, a person is no longer debating the IJ but the age old Calvinism, Arminian, OSAS debate that has raged from centuries past until this very day. In addition, if a person takes this position they are certainly free to label Adventists as heretics so long as they are ready to label all Classical Arminians heretics alongside us. And if that is the case, I speak on behalf of many Adventists that I know when I say we will gladly accept the label.

The IJ stands strong, not based on little verses here and there, but on the logical outworking of the Arminian and Soul Sleep meta-narratives coming together into one cohesive theological system. While this certainly does not settle all of the questions it gives the SDA church a foundation for believing in the IJ from which we can confidently debate, discuss, and explore the sanctuary, Hebrews, and the eschatological ramifications of Daniel 8-9. It is to some of these themes that we now turn.

Resources
The Case for the Investigative Judgment by Marvin Moore: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Investigative-Judgment-Marvin-Moore/dp/0816323852

The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism by George R. Knight: http://www.amazon.com/The-Apocalyptic-Vision-Neutering-Adventism/dp/0828023859 

The Judgment and Assurance by W.W. Whidden: http://www.amazon.com.au/The-Judgment-Assurance-Woodrow-Whidden-ebook/dp/B0088HJJEA

The Pre-Advent Judgment by Marcos Torres: http://www.pomopastor.com/p/books.html

Facing Life's Record (An Analysis of the Great Controversy's Scariest Chapter) by Marcos Torres: http://www.pomopastor.com/2013/08/facing-lifes-record-analysis-of-great.html

Website: www.1844madesimple.org

Footnotes

[i] http://spectrummagazine.org/article/2015/10/22/perspective-1844-pillar-faith-or-mortal-wound
[ii] While technically Lutheranism classifies as the first camp to emerge during the protestant reformation it failed to answer certain questions which then gave birth to Calvinism and Arminianism. It is these two camps that are most relevant to our discussion.
[iii] http://www.crivoice.org/tulip.html
[iv] Some may argue that if all Arminians believed in a type of IJ differentiating between believers that they would A) have produced a parallel theology to the IJ by now or, B) have embraced Adventism’s IJ. However, these propositions can be rejected for the following reasons. A) Just because an IJ is logical within a Classical Arminian framework does not mean the theologians will willingly go that route. For example, in regards to the question of what happens at death (judgment, holding cell, etc.) United Methodists refuse to take a stance even exhibiting a level of uncertainty regarding their own immortal soul theology and using this as the basis for refusing to answer the question of the judgments eventuality. [http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/what-happens-after-a-person-dies] In addition, their rejection of Adventism’s IJ is most likely due to the way in which we as a church have failed to properly present this doctrine to the world. We elaborate on this in Appendix C which explores the relevance of the IJ but will elaborate in more detail in future articles.
[v] There are a variety of views in the protestant world regarding judgment. Some believe that the dead are judged right away. Others believe in a “holding cell theology” in which the dead are placed on hold until the return of Jesus at which point they receive their reward. With regard to the living some believe that they are judged just prior to the secret rapture. 
[vi] Some might argue that Arminianism and Soul Sleep are not enough but that we also need the Great Controversy theme in order to arrive at the IJ. However, we would counter by saying that without Classical Arminianism the Great Controversy theme would not exist. While the Great Controversy theme is instrumental in making more sense of the IJ it is not essential for its foundation and is, in reality, yet another outgrowth of Classical Arminianism.
[vii] Some are entirely at variance with the idea of God having to engage in a judgment process that would determine the faithful from the apostate by virtue of his omniscience. However, such a judgment must necessarily take place. It is of no consequence if this judgment takes place in God's mind, at death, a judgement prior to second coming or a judgement at or after second coming, or even if the knowledge of the faithful and the apostate has eternally existed in God’s foreknowledge. These are nonessentials. The point is, God necessarily engages in a judgment process that separates the faithful from the apostate. The timing of this judgment is a separate, non-essential (albeit relevant) issue.
[viii] By saying that the door is left comfortably open for the possibility of 1844 we do not intend to portray 1844 as an uncertain teaching. A future article will deal with the philosophical and exegetical foundations of the timing of the IJ and demonstrate that Adventists have no need to question this conclusion either.
[ix] Lest the reader be tempted into thinking that Classical Arminianism is inherently lacking in providing assurance of salvation observe the challenges that Calvinism and OSAS Arminianism have in this respect as well. In Calvinism God elects those he saves with no choice of their own. You can only become aware that you were elected. You cannot actually choose to be saved. But what happens when a seemingly born again Christian apostatizes? Calvinism only has two answers. Either he will repent again in the future (at which point you have a person whom God has elected for both salvation and apostasy and then salvation again) or you were never really elected for salvation to begin with. Thus, many Calvinists who struggle with a post-conversion fall have been left wondering if they are eternally reprobate or not. OSAS Arminianism faces the same struggle. Either your apostasy is proof you were never saved to begin with or you will forever remain saved despite your apostasy. In the end, believers are left having to wonder which one is true of them. Classical Arminianism teaches that we are saved by grace through faith and that we remain saved, not by works, but by continued grace through faith. Likewise, a Classical Arminian can potentially experience a lack of assurance knowing that its possible for he/she to apostatize and be judged accordingly. Thus, all of these systems fail to provide “air-tight assurance” meaning in the realm of assurance none can confidently claim to be superior to the other. Nevertheless, an Arminians hope never rests on his/her performance or ability to be “faithful” but on faith in Christ as their only hope. This faith can be rejected for either legalistic reasons (such as the book of Hebrews) or carnal reasons. But so long as that faith (a gift of God) is maintained we are secure in the one in whom we put our trust.
[x] Let’s be clear here that this has nothing to do with Adventists but applies to all Classical Arminians such as Methodists and Pentecostals. And again, while not in either category Lutheranism also rejects Perseverance theology and OSAS leaving the possibility of a genuinely born again person to turn their back on God and be lost wide open.
[xi] The article cited in the opening claims that "We should have the humility to accept that we may have been wrong all along about the nature and timeline of Christ’s priestly ministry in heaven.” However, its nature is derived from Classical Arminianism and its timeline is firstly based on Mortal Soul theology. The timing is discussed in Appendix B and a future article will tackle it in greater detail.

About the Authors:

mike_manea
Mike Manea studied theology at Andrews Theological Seminary and has served the church for over twenty years as youth pastor, missionary, Bible worker and teacher. He is currently a senior partner at Zahid|Manea LLC, a marketing and management consulting firm based in Southern California. He runs several theology and philosophy sites and podcasts and is cofounder of Intelligent Adventist. In his free time he enjoys spending time in nature with his wife and four year old son. You can follow his blog at mikemanea.com



Originally from New Jersey, Marcos now lives in Australia with his wife and children. His dream is to share the story of Jesus with the post-modern culture that pervades the continent. Marcos’ greatest passion is to help others realize that Christianity is a passionate and committed relationship with God, not a religion. He also runs his own blog at pomopastor.com

Why The Critics of the Investigative Judgment Have Failed Why The Critics of the Investigative Judgment Have Failed Reviewed by Pastor Marcos on January 15, 2016 Rating: 5

15 comments

  1. God is no more loving to allow someone not to choose Him (free will) than to not choose them in the first place ("...vessels of wrath prepared for destruction..." - Rm 9:22/Calvinism). Just sayin...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Anonymous. Am I accurate in assuming that you identify your faith with Calvinism?

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  2. Thank you for this very helpful article. I want you to know that I appreciated it very much. You should send it for publication to the Ministry magazine (AND to Spectrum, AToday etc., why not). I am a Romanian Adventist Bible teacher (in our Seminary), a good friend of Marvyn Moore, which you mentioned, and also I have friendly relations with some other theologians, like William Shea, Roy Gane, Richard Davidson, Jon Paulien, Rolf Poehler, Jacques Doukhan and many others. I appreciate very much the theological position of the late Australian theologian Arthur Patrick. I know Dr Ford and kept some dialog with him by mail and email. I have studied the IJ doctrine for about 45 years and it was and remained my favorite doctrine. Some people called me „Fordist”, while the true „fordists” reject my understanding. I want to express my satisfaction, that the position you put down in this article is essentially my view, though I did not write so eloquently about the basic theological assumptions of the two camps (Calvinist/OSAS critics versus classical Arminian/SDA). My concern was rather exegetical (linguistic, contextual) historical and Biblical-theological. I agree with some technical criticism about the traditional understandig of the IJ doctrine, but I am aware of its Biblical force of resistance and its basic results: the hour of God s Judgement began in or around 1844, and it ends with the judgment of the last living generation, in relationship to the test of worship in Rev 13-14. I am happy that I discovered your website. If you are interested in my theological articles in English (about IJ and related topics), you find them on Www.Academia.Edu. Mike, your name Manea is certainly Romanian. If you still understand this barbarian language, please visit also my website Academia Oswald Glait at www.florinlaiu.com . God bless you and your team loyal to our Adventist message.

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  3. Some who have experienced genuine salvation cannot be lost and we have to accept this just as we accept free will acceptance of salvation and predestination as both being true. We must agree with the Bible despite it's apparent contradictions such as Jesus being begotten of God and being God also.Job said in Job 19: 25, 26, that he knew that his Redeemer lived and that he would see God at the end of time. This truth that he was going to see God in peace and be saved was revealed to Job by God over 140 years before his death, which would mean come what may, Job was saved and was not going to be lost, regardless. We must accept this truth just as we accept the apostle Paul's declaration that he fought the good fight and that a crown of righteousness was already laid up for him in 2 Timothy 4. It is not true to say that the IJ is an outgrowth from Arminianism for it is not at all, but an outgrowth from a Hiram Edson vision and writings from Ellen White confirming such a theory. The Bible provides many assurances of salvation and God has confirmed with many that their salvation is certain and to say otherwise is to not be honest with what the Scriptures say. Arminianism and Calvinism are not the only two approaches to the Scriptures so to oversimplify the issue by concluding falsely that all Arminians reject the once saved always saved idea, is to not take into consideration a host of approaches and views with regards to the Scriptures. Those who reject Calvinism are not automatically Arminians, I certainly am not. I grew up as an Adventist and to force your argument into narrow terms in order to make your point is not honest at all.

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    1. Thanks for your comments dude! Allow me to make some simple points in reply. 1) There are only 3 orthodox approaches to soteriology in protestant thought. Calvinism, Arminianism, and OSAS Arminianism (also known as Eternal Security or 4 point Arminianism). All 3 approaches were covered in the article. There literally is no other approach for us to cover. So to say we oversimplified or forced the conversation into narrow terms is unfair. We covered all 3 approaches and there literally are no others. 2) From your comments it is clear that you are an OSAS Arminian. What this means is that you believe that genuine salvation cannot be lost. Calvinists and Classical Arminians alike (many of which have taken the Wesleyan route) disagree with this doctrine. Now I dont mind if you believe it. But if you are the kind of OSAS Arminian who thinks that anyone who disagrees with eternal security is a heretic then there is no point in discussing this. Adventists, along with Arminian Baptists, Pentecostals, Methodists, Nazarenes and Wesleyans reject the doctrine of OSAS. So do Lutherans. So to accuse Adventism of being legalistic or heretical for not embracing this doctrine is to accuse most of the protestant reformation as being heretical and legalistic. If that is what you believe then thats OK. Call us heretics. Im OK with it. 3) If you believe in OSAS but also accept that Classical Arminian/ Wesleyan thought are acceptable approaches to soteriology then you cant get away with suggesting Adventists are legalists because our soteriological approach is Classical/ Wesleyan-Arminian. What you have to do is demonstrate how the IJ contradicts Classical/ Wesleyan Arminian thought. The IJ is incompatible with Calvinism and OSAS, but it is not incompatible with Classical/ Wesleyan Arminian thought. In fact, it is a natural outgrowth of that system. I have written extensively on the IJ. Not once have I appealed to Hiram Edson or EGW as sources for the doctrine. The entire thing is in scripture alone. To reject it simply because of its origins is to succumb to the genetic fallacy of thought which - rather than looking at the foundational arguments for a proposition - rejects it on the basis of its origin. This is an uncharritable approach to any proposition. 4) As an OSAS Arminian discussing the IJ is premature. You are accusing Adventists of being anti-gospel by arguing that the only true gospel is the OSAS gospel. If anything is narrow it is this. OSAS theology is not a test of gospel orthodoxy. So if you want to disagree with the IJ feel free to do so. But dont accuse Adventists of holding to an unorthodox gospel just because we arent OSAS. Again, many protestant denominations do not embrace OSAS and that doesnt make them heretics.

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  4. My brother, I appreciate your answer, but you did not read what I said. I did start my article by saying "Some who have experienced genuine salvation cannot be lost and we have to accept this just as we accept free will acceptance of salvation and predestination as both being true." I do not believe in the Adventist idea of once saved always saved. I do believe that there are those who are saved regardless and is evidenced by passages such as: "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name. Those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled," John 17:12, which describes the tension between predestination and free will. John the Baptist was chosen and prophesied about in Isaiah and was going to make way for Christ and his mission and salvation was locked in. I do believe that genuine salvation can be lost for some but for others they will be saved regardless of what they do, so please accept the nuance of my argument and do not pigeon hole my view, for what you described is not my view and once again, I did begin my discussion with the word 'some' and not 'all.' The life of Solomon is an examples of a person who God reached out to in a special way but who lived a grossly rebellious life for many years and yet is saved and wrote Scripture. I'm not sure how you go from having visits from God Himself to having 1,000 women at your disposal and sacrificing to idols. Again, I said nothing about anyone being a heretic if they disagree with eternal security. In fact whether or not one accepts this or the opposing doctrine is not a salvific issue. I care not if large groups reject a certain view. A billion Muslims deny the deity of Christ. Hundreds of millions of Christians believe that when you die you go straight to heaven, but I don't believe that at all. I do not bend my beliefs toward the large majority of any Christian group, but toward what I read in the scriptures. Just because there is consensus among large Christian groups does not mean that I have to correct my view and it certainly doesn't mean that I label those groups heretical. To put words in my mouth and to accuse me of calling your church and other denominations heretics is grossly unfair and you are building a straw man and attacking a concept that I never claimed to support. No reader of the Scriptures would arrive at the Investigative Judgement without White or Edson. MY father is an Adventist scholar who did his Ph.D. thesis (which I actually edited)on Daniel 8:14 and the Investigative Judgement, so I'm deeply knowledgeable in that regard as an Adventist being born into the church and seeing rather complex arguments for its legitimacy closer than most pastors have even seen. The idea that Jesus has to go through names of the saved from the beginning of time until now and that He will at some point get to your or my name and make a decision is a preposterous and unbiblical one. So the IJ is faulty for my more reasons than stated here.

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  5. With just a casual reading of the Scriptures we already know who is saved: Adam, Enoch, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Joshua, Samson, Rahab, Lot (even though nothing good is spoken of him except that he fled Sodom, but he did sleep with his daughters and offered them up to be raped, but is called righteous in 2 Peter 2:7), Joseph, Samuel, Job, Paul, John the Baptist and Revelator, etc. Jesus doesn't need to review the names of every righteous person from Adam beginning in 1844. The following statement is a lie and is not Biblical at all: "Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected". (The Great Controversy, 1950 edition, page 483). So to make the IJ seem like a benign expansion of what the Bible already says is false. The Bible is clear in John 5:24, "Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth My Word and believeth in Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life." Everlasting life has already been awarded to the righteous dead and many of the living right now have it as we speak; they do not have to wait for Jesus to come across their name to make it official, or else John 5:24 and John 3:16 are lies. There is judgement of works for the righteous, but those are for the awarding of eternal blessings and not for the awarding or the taking away of eternal life. The righteous must give an account, but their salvation is already secure when they accept Jesus Christ's righteousness. This distinction must be made clear.

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    1. Thanks for your clarification! I apologize for “putting words in your mouth”. You did not call us heretics. Once again, my apologies.
      In order to reply to your arguments allow me to make 3 points. 1) The position that you advocate is indeed nuanced but it would nevertheless fall under the OSAS category. It is based on the doctrine of eternal security that you reject the IJ and so this doesn’t change anything with respect to our argument. The fact is that if you are an orthodox protestant Christian your soteriological views will, of necessity, fall under one of those 3 categories. Anything that doesn’t is not orthodox and so doesn’t get a mention here. You may not agree 100% with every little point in the OSAS camp, but you still fall under their banner. We must be careful of assuming ourselves so wise that we alone have developed a system of biblical thought that transcends thousands of years of study. No, you don’t have to adhere to every little point in these systems of thought and yes, you are free to read the bible for yourself and come to your own conclusions. But you must also be willing to accept that your view of salvation is a nuanced version of OSAS and as such would fall sub categorically under OSAS. I know people don’t always like labels but a spade needs to be called a spade.
      The SDA church does not agree with every point in the Classical Arminian/ Wesleyan tradition but we most closely align with that system of thought. All who adhere to this system of thought (again, Pentecostals, Methodists, Wesleyans, Nazarenes, Arminian Baptists etc.) believe that a truly born again person can be lost. Consequently, they all believe that when a person dies they enter Gods precense for a type of “investigative judgment”. Their life is reviewed and it is determined if they were faithful or apostate. The faithful go to heaven. The apostate goes to hell. Adventists have a similar view but we don’t believe a person is judged when they die. So for us, the judgment begins at a certain point in history. So even if we threw away Edson and White we would still have the basic building blocks for an IJ doctrine – Classical Arminian/ Wesleyan soteriology + soul sleep theology. From there, a focus on theodicy (also an element of Arminian/ Wesleyan thought) raises questions of how and why the judgment functions the way it does. For the Adventist this question is answered via the character of God. The IJ is not about keeping people out of heaven, its about getting people in. its purpose is transparency before the universe because that’s what God is like. This is explained in the article above.

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    2. Again, you cant dismantle the IJ just by saying it has all kinds of problems with it. The only way to dismantle it is to destroy its foundations (Arminian Wesleyan thought and Soul Sleep theology). If you want to destroy these foundations be my guest. Many have tried. All have failed.
      However, there is another element here I think is present that must be dealt with in order for the discussion to make more sense. Your view of the IJ and mine are actually not the same. The IJ does not contradict assurance of salvation at all. Yes, Adventists have taught it this way in the past. But this is not what I or any other sda pastor / theologian that I know believes. The only time the IJ maintains a legalistic stance is when it is interpreted through the lens of Last Generation Theology which is a distortion of true Adventist thought (and definitely heretical).
      I don’t believe the IJ has anything to do with throwing believers salvation into question. I believe it is about celebrating our salvation. My salvation is sure. When my name comes up for judgment it is not to question my salvation but to showcase it. I write about that more in the following posts:

      http://www.pomopastor.com/search/label/IJ

      http://www.pomopastor.com/2013/08/facing-lifes-record-analysis-of-great.html <--- I also deal with EGW in this article as it is a paragraph by paragraph analysis of “Facing Lifes Record” in “The Great Controversy”.

      So in short, the critics of the IJ have failed because they have tried to destroy the doctrine by picking apart its branches without admitting its roots. The IJ is Arminian/Wesleyan in soteriological root and is perfectly compatible with this system. Our view on Soul Sleep gives birth to its timing as taking place, not upon each individual death, but upon a day in which God has appointed to begin the process of judgment. And judgment itself does not damage assurance of salvation – it solidifies it. Again, to an OSAS or Calvinist mind this seems unnecessary. But to a Wesleyan Arminian mind this is not only compatible, but naturally flowing.

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  6. Ah, my friend this will be my final post as it is becoming apparent that you are so eager to defend Adventism and White that you will continue to be dishonest. We would not have the basic building blocks of IJ if one threw away Edson and White because the judgement for eternal life or damnation does not begin in 1844 or at any particular point in history. God is continually saving people while they live and throughout earth’s history. Abel’s blood cried out from the very beginning after he died. He was saved because he did the will of God; God did not need to perform any judgement at a particular point in history in order to make a salvation decision for Abel. God is not on trial before the universe; this is an Adventist idea and it is severely misguided. You are very smug and prideful in your delivery and you will defend White and Adventism at all costs. It is a feeble argument to say that “you cant dismantle the IJ just by saying it has all kinds of problems with it. The only way to dismantle it is to destroy its foundations (Arminian Wesleyan thought and Soul Sleep theology). If you want to destroy these foundations be my guest. Many have tried. All have failed.” That is a subjective, and arrogant statement based solely on your biased opinion that you hope is true, but it is not factual at all. Adventist loyalist Desmond Ford, who loved the SDA Church and Ellen White has long dismantled the IJ, even at great cost to himself. Walter Rea, Dale Ratzlaff, Robert K Sanders, Mark Martin, and many others have discredited many of the conclusions of White including the IJ. Even my own best friend who is a graduate of Andrews University, serving as a pastor in Colorado, has also exposed the sheer failure of the IJ and he admits that many of his friends have abandoned it and have decided not to preach on it at all. A good friend of mine, a professor at Oakwood University has confessed to me “no one really believes in the IJ anymore,” but he is a die-hard Adventist minister and scholar. My argument and dozens of other arguments I have heard and read destroy the IJ doctrine. I dismantled IJ with the Word of God; I did not just say that the IJ had all kinds of problems and leave it at that, but I used Scripture in my previous exchange. Please re-read it. I’m not sure if you are even reading or comprehending anything that I have written. You said, “Adventists have taught it (IJ) this way in the past. But this is not what I or any other sda pastor / theologian that I know believes.” My brother either this is a very dishonest statement or you know very little about the true origins and philosophies that plagued the movement. Additionally, you don’t know every Adventist pastor. Many pastors across Europe, North America, and in the Caribbean in recent years have admitted the IJ is false. Many Adventist theologians, recognizing the countless errors in the IJ doctrine, have sought to shift its focus and reinterpret it so that it can be viewed as a reassuring doctrine instead of the breeding ground of uncertainty that it is. You may not know many Adventist pastors but there are many who reject and won’t even teach the IJ doctrine because they don’t believe it at ll.

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  7. Once again, you are asserting actions that I did not take at all and it is rather troubling that you have a hard time responding specifically to what I write, but instead assert conclusions that I did not make and continue to force the issue that there are only two narrow views or approaches to the Scriptures; an assertion that I vigorously reject because two people Calvin and Arminius do not have the authority to neatly segregate the understanding of the Scriptures into two categories based on their personal own philosophies that were formed thousands of years after the Scriptures began to be written. I do not have to select either of their approaches or line up under either one of their views; so it is dishonest of you to place my beliefs under either category because it suits your purposes and that’s the only way for you to attempt to attack it. I will close with this. It is clear that you love the SDA Church and that you will speak positive things about it while ignoring clear problems. I just read your article “Adventism Oozes Social Justice – do you?” which interestingly enough calls upon the IJ as proof for the Adventist Church’s stand against social justice which I have no idea why the IJ, the Sabbath, and the Great Controversy, and the SDA diet would be evidences of the Church’s stand against social injustice, but is in fact a commentary of the SDA Church’s woeful stand against the inhumane treatment of African Americans in North America. Quite the opposite is true and the SDA church is just as racist as society at large and is complicit with the gross discrimination that has plagued the United States. With recent admissions by Andrews University president, leadership, and faculty concerning ongoing racism and prejudice at on campus, this has not helped at all. In a response to a video that had gone viral posted by AU students who had had enough, the leadership of Andrews admitted to being complicit to systemic racism at the flagship university of the SDA Church. https://www.andrews.edu/agenda/44898/ . The SDA church at the General conference, division, and local conference leadership level has certainly not stood for social justice in civil rights and equality for all races and hence the existence of the black conference because of the Church’s inability to demonstrate God’s love by being Ok with having leaders and pastors of color in positions of leadership and influence on equal footing with white pastors and leaders. So my brother, I understand your need to do all you can to defend the IJ and other questionable and false doctrines of the SDA Church. Your neat Arminianism VS Calvinism argument allows you to manage the IJ argument by attempting to place it under a widely accepted doctrinal system, but I am not fooled. I know too much and I pray that you will not abandon Christ, but that you will abandon what is “another gospel, which is not another.” Galatians 1:7

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    1. Thanks for the reply. I must clarify that I personally believe that the best classroom is conversation. I do not have an interest in defending the IJ or White. In fact, I haven’t quoted White at all. And I don’t have an interest in defending the IJ at the expense of conversation either. My only contention is to demonstrate that the IJ is has a foundation much stronger than both supporters and critics tend to realize. Those foundations, Arminianism + Soul Sleep, are very strong. Now allow me, before I respond, to apologize ahead of time for what may appear to be passioned language. I do not intend to be pejorative but I can get a bit direct. Please do not interpret this as a spirit of “arguing”. I do not like to argue about religion as everyone loses. I do like conversation however and am thankful that you have engaged me in this. I also apologize for coming across as arrogant. Again, this is not my posture.

      I could respond by likewise saying that you seem so intent on discrediting the IJ that you continually misrepresent my views as well. As I do feel this is going on. It appears we are both guilty of speaking past one another. So allow me to respond, not for the purpose of convincing you that I am right but for the purpose of inviting you into my thought process and seeing things the way I do (even if you disagree).

      You said, “We would not have the basic building blocks of IJ if one threw away Edson and White because the judgement for eternal life or damnation does not begin in 1844…”

      Once again, this demonstrates that you misunderstand my position. 1844 is not necessary for the IJ. We mentioned this in the article above. And although there is an appendix that touches on this lightly our contention in the main article is that one does not need 1844 to come to some sort of IJ. I personally do not make much of a big deal over 1844. The date only deals with timing it doesnt deal with the narrative of judgment itself. So while it is relevant its not my main contention here. Again, all Arminian Wesleyans believe in a type of judgment for believers at death because they all reject the doctrine of eternal security. Now here is where understanding and acceptance are necessary. It’s OK for you to say, the IJ is unnecessary from a Calvinist/ OSAS perspective but can you prove that it contradicts and Arminian-Wesleyan one? They already believe in one, the only difference is they believe in the immortal soul so the IJ happens everytime someone dies. Adventists don’t believe in the immortal soul. So for us, the judgment does not take place when a person dies. So my question to you is, how is this “another gospel” as you intimate in your closing comments? If you believe that eternal security is a test of gospel orthodoxy then your contention is not so much with the IJ but with Classical Arminian/ Wesleyan thought. If that is the case, lets drop the IJ and discuss the real issue at hand (Unconditional Perseverance {Calvinism} VS Eternal Security Perseverance {OSAS} VS Conditional Perseverance {Arminianism/ Wesleyanism}).

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    2. Now, from an Arminian-Wesleyan perspective there are 2 issues at hand. The first is when does the judgment take place if not at death? (timing) And the second is how does God administer the judgment? (theodicy) But again, those questions are secondary. We don’t need Daniel, 1844, day/year principle, the book of Hebrews, EGW etc. in order to know that God judges all men including believers (that’s Arminian/ Wesleyanism) and that he will begin the process of judgment at some point in history (Soul Sleep) since people aren’t marching into heaven or hell by the thousands every day.

      You also mention the IJ as being a time where God makes a salvation decision. This is not what the IJ is for though. God has already made a decision. But as mentioned above, how does God relate this decision to the rest of the universe? According to Calvinism he doesn’t have to because he’s in charge and so everyone just needs to get in line. But the Arminian worldview is all about the character of God. Yes, Adventists see this war over his character much more central than others have in the past but this idea is not alien to theology. Its called “theodicy”. It started with Arminius and worked its way down to Wesley. Wesley discovered a scriptural narrative that was a precursor to the great controversy which he referred to as the aesthetic theme. There he saw the character of God in the battle between good and evil as central in everything. So for Adventism the judgment is not about God making decisions (he’s already made those). Its for the benefit of his creation as he makes himself transparent in all his decisions.

      Now you name a bunch of thinkers as having dismantled the IJ. I am OK with that. But there are countless others who have defended it and responded to all their critiques (Marvin Moore, Clifford Goldstein, Angel Manuel Rodriguez, Edward Heppenstall, Gerhard Pfandl, Martin Weber, Roy E. Gane, and on and on). What Mike and I are doing in the article above is simplifying the conversation. The whole debate boils down to two basic foundations. The first is, can a born again believer be judged and even lost? Not according to Calvinism and OSAS. But yes according to Arminianism. And the next question is when does the judgment take place? At death? Or at some point in human history? And this is where soul sleep comes in. Everything else is peripheral. We can build an IJ doctrine from these 2 foundations and freely question and wrestle with all the other aspects of it. But its foundations are very secure.

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    3. You are correct that I don’t know every Adventist pastor, but neither do you. Truth is there are many who reject the doctrine, many others who don’t know what to make of it, and many who embrace and teach it. I used to be in the “don’t know what to make of it” group and moved into the latter group after studying the doctrine for myself.

      Now what about me forcing your views into a category? Please understand this is not intended in a stifling sense. No Calvinist or Arminian believes 100% in what Calvin and Arminius wrote. They are not canonical. However, after decades of study we have found that regardless of what theological position you take the systems of Calvin and Arminius are good umbrellas for which no other alternatives have ever been found. Either we are predestined to salvation with no free-will (Calvinism) or we have free will unto salvation (Arminianism). Those who vote for the second option take two routes. Either a person is eternally secure upon choosing Jesus (eternal security/ OSAS Arminianism) or a person is not (Classical/ Wesleyan Arminianism).

      Now if you insist that you do not belong in any of those categories then what you are saying is that your view of salvation is unorthodox. If it is unorthodox then you are free to believe it but as a student of theology I don’t have to take an unorthodox view seriously in my studies. Its not that I am trying to be mean or anything. Its that there are literally millions of different “unorthodox” versions of the gospel within christianity. There is no way to interact with them all. And they are unorthodox because no one has ever been able to present them in a way that is compelling enough for theologians to take them seriously. Now, I am not saying your view is unorthodox. I see it as a subcategory of OSAS Arminianism. So I am not trying to force your view or make the conversation narrow. I am simply doing what all theologians do and that is exploring the issue from central orthodox christian thought. Anything more would be a waste of time as there will always be people here and there with nuanced views and if I tried to respond to all of those i would need to write a 12 volume encyclopedia. However, I have found that regardless of what nuanced view someone claims to have they always fall under one of these 3 categories. If you believe we are predestined you are a calvinist of some sort (there are around 8 different kinds of calvinists). If you believe we have free will you are an arminian of some sort (there are about 5 differnt kinds of Arminians today). And if you believe we have eternal security (whether partial or full) then you are an OSAS Arminian of some sort (not sure how many kinds of this there are). I don’t see for the life of me how this is forcing the conversation into narrow grounds. Its simply keeping the conversation in orthodox grounds.

      In response to your closing statement on the “Adventism Oozes Social Justice” article I will say this. I make a distinction between Adventism as an institution and Adventism as a system of thought. Everything you said in your comment is true of Adventism as an institution. Our church is rife with all those issues. But I wasn’t talking about the institution in the article. I was talking about the system of thought. So I agree with your comments 100%. My point in the article was actually to call the church members to live up to the worldview they claim to believe in. So I am in full agreement with you in those comments. And my responsibility as a Jesus follower and Adventist pastor is to inspire our church and lead it in the right direction within the sphere that God has given me. That is my goal.

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    4. Your final statement demonstrates unequivocally not only your commitment against the IJ but also your caricature of it. Once again you attempt to dismantle the argument without providing an actual argument. You simply belittle the one we offer. But you can’t refute our argument simply by belittling it. You need to actually provide an argument against it. And this you have consistently failed to do. In addition, while in a previous comment you insisted that you were not calling the IJ heretical in this comment you call it “another gospel” via Paul’s writings. Is this not the same as saying it is heretical? Are not all “other gospels” herey? But here is what I would like to offer. I invite you to offer an actual argument in your next response (if you choose to continue the discussion). Now you might say that you have already offered an argument but you have not. All you have offered so far is exactly what we admit in the article - that the IJ is not compatible with either a view of predestination or of eternal security. So when you say “the IJ is wrong because eternal security is right” you are not offering an argument that we would deny. If eternal security is true then the IJ doesn’t seem to make much sense. What I invite you to do is to demonstrate how the IJ contradicts the gospel as understood by the Arminian-Wesleyan camp. So here are my questions:

      1) Do you believe the doctrine of conditional perseverance (as taught in Arminian-Wesleyanism) constitutes “another gospel”?

      2) If you do not, can you demonstrate how the IJ contradicts Arminian Wesleyanism to form “another gospel”?

      Thanks,

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