Pickle Publishing "Reinterpretation" Research Papers

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A Response to the Video:
Seventh-day Adventism, the Spirit Behind the Church

by Bob Pickle

Answers to Questions Raised by:
Mark Martin, Sydney Cleveland
Dale Ratzlaff, The White Lie
. . . and
Others

Discern Fact from Fiction


The Investigative Judgment and Shut Door, and Their Ramifications

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#46 & #47: "The investigative judgment doctrine that Seventh-day Adventists still cling to came from a reinterpretation of William Miller's failed prophecy that Christ would come to the earth on October 22, 1844."—Dale Ratzlaff.

#46: It's a reinterpretation. Not really. The whole Millerite movement was predicting that the day of judgment would occur around 1843 or 1844. That being so, it can't be a reinterpretation, for they already believed that.

Here's the evidence that Millerites were predicting the commencement of the judgment in the 1840's. First, we have William Miller as early as 1822 saying that he believed that the second coming and the judgment would take place at the same time:

"ART. XVII. I believe in the resurrection, both of the just and of the unjust,—the just, or believers, at Christ's second coming, and the unjust one thousand years afterwards,—when the judgment of each will take place in their order, at their several resurrections; when the just will receive everlasting life, and the unjust eternal condemnation."—Bliss, p. 79.

From his "Lecture 1" printed in 1842, he clearly predicted the beginning of the judgment to take place about 1843. Included also is a bit of his appeal to sinners to give their hearts to Jesus:

And now, my impenitent friends, what say you? . . . And are there no signs of the near approach of the Judgment Day? . . . "We say, 'You were very unwise to fix on the year 1843, or sooner, for this day to come; for it will not come; and then you will be ashamed." And I hope I may be able, by the grace of God, to repent. But what if it does come? You cannot with any propriety say positively it will not come, for you make no pretence to divination. But I say, what if it does come? Where will you be? No space then for repentance. No, no—too late, too late; the harvest is over and past, the summer is gone, the door is shut, and your soul is not saved. Therefore it can do you no harm to hear, and believe, and do those things which God requires of you, and which you think you would do, if you knew he would appear. First, I ask you to repent of your sins. Would this be right? Yes. Next, I ask you to believe in God. Is this right? Yes. And I ask you to be reconciled to his will, love his law, forsake sin, love holiness, practice his precepts, obey his commands. Would these things be right? Yes, yes. And last of all, and not least, I ask you to "look for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ."—Miller's Works, vol. 2, pp. 26, 27.

The investigative judgment doctrine of Seventh-day Adventism came from a realization, not a reinterpretation, that the judgment did begin after all on October 22 as predicted, but that the second coming was yet future.

And it has to be something like that anyway, for Jesus said, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be" (Rev. 22:12). Since Jesus will have his rewards with Him when He comes, the judgment which determines what those rewards will be must have already taken place before He comes.

As the apostle Paul said, "Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world" (Acts 17:31). Millerites before October 22 believed that the 2300-day prophecy of Daniel 8:14 pinpointed that "appointed" "day" (Ibid., vol. 1, p. 129). And over 150 years later, Seventh-day Adventists still believe that the 2300 days pinpoint the commencement of the judgment.

#47: William Miller's prediction of October 22 failed. As brought out under #6, William Miller did not make the prediction, did not teach it, and never accepted it as the certain date when Christ would come.

But let's take a look at the whole question of the "failed prediction." Over and over again the video asks us to believe that the calculation of the 2300 days was in error. We have already looked at this [p. 42] question under #20, but let us look at it again.

Miller and the Millerites merely drew conclusions based on the teachings of some of the greatest scholars of several centuries. The general dates Miller arrived at could not be faulted. Consider the comments of one of his most learned opponents, Dr. George Bush of New York City University, from a letter to William Miller:

I do not conceive your errors on the subject of chronology to be at all of a serious nature, or in fact to be very wide of the truth. In taking a day as the prophetical time for a year, I believe you are sustained by the soundest exegesis, as well as fortified by the high names of Mede, Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, Faber, Scott, Keith, and a host of others, who have long since come to substantially your conclusions on this head. They all agree that the leading periods mentioned by Daniel and John do actually expire about this age of the world; and it would be strange logic that would convict you of heresy for holding in effect the same views which stand forth so prominently in the notices of these eminent divines. . . .

Your results in this field of inquiry do not strike me as so far out of the way as to affect any of the great interests of truth or duty.—Advent Herald, Mar. 6 and 13, 1844.

This opponent of Miller freely admits that many famous scholars of old agreed that the prophetic periods of the prophecies would end in Miller's day! What problem, then, did Dr. Bush see with Miller's interpretation? Why did he not become a Millerite if he thought his calculations were correct?

Your error, as I apprehend, lies in another direction than your chronology. . . .

You have entirely mistaken the nature of the events which are to occur when those periods have expired. This is the head and front of your expository offending. . . .

The great event before the world is not its physical conflagration, but its moral regeneration. Although there is doubtless a sense in which Christ may be said to come in connection with the passing away of the fourth empire and of the ottoman power, and his kingdom to be illustriously established, yet that will be found to be a spiritual coming in the power of His gospel, in the ample outpouring of His spirit, and the glorious administration of His providence.—Ibid.

Dr. Bush didn't believe that Christ would literally come. He believed that the Scriptures that speak of Christ's coming should be taken symbolically, not literally. We cannot fault Miller for believing that the second coming would be literal like the Bible says, instead of spiritual like Dr. Bush believed.

That William Miller had a firm biblical footing for his teachings is attested by his basic agreement with the conclusions of multitudes of scholars spanning decades and centuries. Though his ideas were not free from error, the date of October 22, 1844, was correct. Or at least, no solid evidence to the contrary has been presented by his opponents back then or now.

A Response to the Video

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