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Sabbath School for a New Generation

Among Seventh Day Adventists, Sabbath School is a time for discussion and learning. It is the belief of this site that Sabbath School should be an exciting venue for the discussion of new ideas, instead of rehashing old arguments. So welcome to a virtual Sabbath School, a Sabbath School for a new generation.

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I am an Electrical Engineer, working at Intel in the Portland area. I received my undergraduate degree from Walla Walla College and graduate degrees from the University of Southern California. The views expressed on this website are my own and do not reflect the viewpoints of anybody else. I reserve the right to change my mind at any point in time.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Problems with Prophecy

Carlos Espinosa brings up a good point about Adventist interpretations of prophecy. His thesis concerns the statue in Daniel 2. Our traditional interpretation is that the head is Babylon (specifically called out in Daniel), with the other portions of the statue representing Persia, Greece, and Rome. Our church has maintained that there will be no significant empires after Rome. As Carlos points out, there have been several empires. He names Byzantine, the Arab empire, and Turk Ottoman empire.
Historical evidence does not support the assertion of most traditional Adventist writers that no other world empire would exist after Rome until the second coming. This brief survey makes clear that claims to the contrary are wrong. Any unbiased reader of history can follow the sequence of empires in biblical lands and other parts of the world until the twenty-first century without finding any hint that Rome was the last empire.

The fact of the matter is that our notions of prophecy are very Western centric. You will notice that most of our interpretations center on Europe and the United States. The world is quite a bit bigger than that. Don't you find it funny that we say almost nothing about China and India. Each of those countries have a population around a billion people. Each one of these countries has a population that is larger than the US and Europe combined. Additionally our interpretations only consider Catholics and Protestants and ignore the Orthodox church, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Our ideas about prophecy seem to have been inherited from the wars between Catholics and Protestants, when Protestants were using the Bible to demonize their opponents. They have not been updated to our time when we have greater knowledge and contact with other cultures.
If we want to reach the entire world with the message of Christ’s second coming, we cannot allow factual errors to hinder our credibility. If we retain those errors, we run the risk of being perceived as a sect, a small group that accepts some doctrines by faith (based on the magisterial authority of their religious leaders) despite their incompatibility with the factual evidence.

Additionally if we want to reach the entire world, our interpretation of prophecy must be inclusive to the whole world.

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