My Recommendation For A New Approach To Debating The Investigative Judgment

Since the publication of my article on the Investigative Judgment, I’ve been through several rounds of debates on the topic, and this is my recommendation for IJ debates based on what I’ve learned so far:

1) The first thing that should be dealt with is the soteriology. Most high-profile attacks are attacks on IJ soteriology even if this isn’t made prominent. But since shifting the timing of the judgment (due to soul sleep) cannot account for the alleged change in soteriology, the opposition must either attack all Arminians or dismiss this allegation altogether. And, this in itself is a victory for us because the majority of critics will stop caring if the soteriology is ok. (see article above for further explanation)

2) If the opposition insists that, even if the soteriology is orthodox, the theology is still wrong, the next thing that should be addressed is how the topic is framed. Critics portray the IJ as the apex of a house of cards; a long series of assumptions that all have to be true for the IJ to be true. In reality, only Arminianism and Soul Sleep have to be true. Everything else we approach from a position of strength because the doctrine is already established and the rest provides just details. (also see article above)

3) We need to dismiss any attempts to get sidetracked with Greek terminology in Hebrews. We don’t care if Jesus went into the Holy or the Most Holy at His ascension since our concern is not with heavenly geography/architecture but with the Daily vs the Yearly ministry of Jesus as High Priest.

4) The next part addresses the question of whether the Day of Atonement more likely symbolizes the IJ or the metamorphosis from the Old to the New Testament system.

And, the most important thing to recognize here is that this part is not essential to the debate. Everything else stands whether or not we can make the link between the IJ and the sanctuary.

If one chooses to debate this point however, I am not sure here if the best approach is to point out that, once you already accept the IJ based on the previously mentioned factors, the sanctuary symbolism fits much better with the IJ, or, if an independent case should be made for the IJ-Day of Atonement connection.

5) The last factor is the prophetic aspect which brings us to the specific 1844 date. Regarding the timing of the IJ, the first thing I try to do is take a step back and figure out how the opposition addresses the question of what evidence there is for the Bible and Christianity.

Those who follow Christian/Atheist debates, like with William Lane Craig for example, will have noticed that all the arguments for God they present except one (cosmological, fine tuning, moral etc.) are arguments for a generic God, not the Bible or Christianity. The only thing they ever present in defense of Christianity, is the resurrection argument, which is terribly weak, as I explain here.

So even though the unbelieving world has every right to demand evidence specifically for the Bible, Christians generally have no objective evidence to point to.

As SDAs, we see that God provided only one line of evidence that qualifies as objective evidence for the Bible by today’s standards: prophecy. And, this can only qualify as evidence using the historicist approach. The preterist or futurist views don’t cut it.

Thus, in my opinion, if debating a preterist/futurist, they have much bigger problems than we do so the IJ debate is way premature. They have a significant epistemology problem in that there is no objective grounding for their entire belief system.

So in essence, they are arguing that we replace a system of interpretation that has SOME chance of being correct with one that has ZERO chance of being correct. They are not just trying to take down Adventism but Christianity altogether. They have no alternative foundation to replace the one they are tearing away.

6) But let’s say the person we are debating does take a historicist approach and yet still disagrees with us.

The next question we have to address is how one determines the keys to interpreting symbolic prophecy. The Bible has prophecies where things are clearly spelled out, like in Matthew 24, and also has prophecies that use symbols.

Now the keys that other Christians use are simply, ‘whatever fits.’ Someone like Nostradamus can say that three brothers will be killed and all we have to do is find three brothers that were killed somewhere over the next millennium and, boom, Nostradamus was correct. This approach has zero value when it comes to prophecy as objective evidence. It deprecates Bible prophecy to the level of the common psychic.

The only way that prophecy has evidentiary value is if the keys of interpretation can be deduced independently and are then consistently applied. Someone who knows nothing about history should be able to use those keys to decipher the prophetic text, and, when that interpretation is compared with history, it should line up. Only then could it be claimed that prophecy qualifies as evidence.

And, the key that Adventists use is the principle of Repeat and Enlarge. We can deduce this principle from early examples of symbolic prophecy like Joseph’s and Pharaoh’s dreams.

Thus, when we come to Daniel, we use Dan. 2 as the prophecy that sets up the framework: from Daniel’s time to the second coming, history is divided into six parts; four kingdoms, a divided kingdom, and the second coming. We then apply this framework to the subsequent prophecies: chapters 7, 8, and 10-12. They all start with the time of Daniel and end with the second coming. We consider chapter 9 as part of the vision of chapter 8 because it is the only vision that breaks with this pattern. And, by using this framework, we avoid being arbitrary in our interpretation by assigning meaning wherever we think it fits best.

Now critics such as Ford reject all this because they have an irrational affinity to the scholarly claim that prophecy should be interpreted through the exegesis of the immediate text only. They reject the rationale I presented above as eisegeses. What they don’t realize is that the exegesis approach cannot avoid making the interpretation arbitrary and therefore bible prophecy is robbed of any evidentiary value. (For more on this see here)

7) Having now finally established all this, we come to the specific terminology of Daniel 8 from a position of extreme strength. It is in this context that works such as the this one, provide the finishing blow to anything the critics have to say.

8) In all the arguments brought against the IJ by critics, there is only one that is actually valid: that if the IJ is correct, Jesus should have returned by now. The rationale of the IJ cannot account for history continuing almost two centuries past 1844.

The only answer to this problem is to acknowledge that there has been a denomination-caused delay of Christ’s coming. But it must immediately be made crystal clear that the solution to this delay cannot be Andreasenist LGT.

For an explanation of the reasoning behind the delay concept as well as what the solution should be, see here.

9) Finally, even if Adventists are absolutely correct about every aspect of the IJ, why exactly does it matter?

Because this doctrines gives us our marching orders. It signifies that God began His closing work in heaven and that we need to complete the closing work on earth: preparing humanity for the close of probation.

When the harvest comes, any fruit that are not ripened get tossed out with the bad fruit. Our role is to be a catalyst that helps ripen the fruit in time for harvest. See this for further detail.

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I am writing this stuff out so others can think about it and provide feedback. If the thinking here is correct, more should do more than just publishing these views in unread magazines and personal blogs. Something should instead be put together and presented to the denomination after which the major critics should be invited to address it. It should become abundantly clear to church membership that the accusations of the critics have been debunked and that the church stands firmly on this doctrine.

This is especially urgent today because the opposition has changed tactics. They no longer openly attack the doctrine as has Ford or Spectrum/AT in the past. Instead, they make allowance for the doctrine (by heavily redefining it in their minds), but then assign it to the periphery of Adventist theology and draw attention instead to more important concepts, like, say, JESUS. The IJ no longer plays anything near the prominent role it traditionally played in SDA theology and, the preaching of the three angel’s messages is replaced with social justice. The essence of Adventism is thus dissolved from within.

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This brief synopsis comprises my complete system of thought regarding the Glacier View debate. I am currently working on a similar presentation regarding the QOD debate.

 

22 comments
  1. Greetings
    i would like to propose a third iteration of 1844
    Lets translate Daniel 8:14 as follows” “And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the Shabbat return to the Law of the sanctuary.”
    The two Hebrew words in the text “kodesh tsadek” are shorthand for the 7th day Sabbath, and the Sanctuary is the Christian Church.
    Given the above translation we could develop a more fitting narrative for our Church, as the Christian Church in the forefront of the Reformation.

    Return to the Biblical Decalogue being the next logical step in the Protestant Reformation.

    Regarding Investigative Judgement, as i understand it the point of which is to convince skeptical creation of the impartial justice of the Law, this supplants the plan of salvation.
    Impartial justice of the Law was demonstrated by the Son of God who living on earth as Man under the Law, not transgressing the Law, and dying for our sins.
    Culminating with resurrection the plan of salvation proved for all time, to all creation, that the Law is impartial and applied with justice, no other demonstration is required.

    Mike, your understanding of soul sleep is either misinformed, or disingenuous, what i know of the fundamental belief no.7 is that we teach extinction followed be re-creation.

    It would also be more correct to refer to Martin Luther s book ‘Bondage of the Will’ for understanding the nature of human free will, and the inscrutable will of God.
    An audio book of the above is available for free download at Librivox.org

    • Thanks for stopping by. I’m pretty sure I’ve read something very similar to this comment somewhere online.

      First, Soul Sleep is a commonly used term describing anyone who believes the dead are not conscious. It came from Jesus’ words that Lazarus is not dead but sleeps. I didn’t make up the term and I’m not gonna waste time debating its usage.

      Second, I suppose I should congratulate you on coming up with your own original theory regarding 1844. I personally have no interest in this theory however because I already have a theory that works just fine.

      Third, I have no reason to refer to Bondage of the Will because I categorically disagree with his position (the Augustinian position) as do all Arminians.

      Fourth, the plan of salvation is not supplanted in any way by the investigative judgment and this should be abundantly clear if you have read any of my papers. The Arminian perspective was around hundreds of years before Adventists came around and there is no distinction between traditional Arminianism and the Investigative Judgment perspective when it comes to Salvation. The only distinction is one of timing (i.e. people are judged right before the second coming as opposed to right after they die).

  2. Thanks Mike for your feedback, lots of us see a need for our Church to move forward, your thoughtful forum is appreciated.
    We must not ignore advice from EGW, and Rev 3:14-22, to acquire more light, and clearer sight. Proposal that i make regarding Dan 8:14 is allowable linguistically, and actually speaks about the prophetic calling of our Church here on earth in 1844, so should be part of the Church narrative.

    EGW believed in soul sleep, in the continuity of existence of our individual disembodied spirit in a state of unconscious sleep awaiting resurrection, as you know, our theologians teach indivisible unity of body mind and spirit, according to this teaching Man is a physical body only, and death is extinction not soul sleep.

    In my opinion the Bible teaches that when a person or nation (Israel) enters into covenant membership with God, it is not possible to withdraw from that covenant.
    In covenant membership our will is bound by the will of God as long as we have faith.
    When we sin it is part of a corrective educational process also subject to the will of God, we pray: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. I agree this is very complicated, and to explain this i would choose Luther over Arminius.
    Thanks again for the Intelligent Christian Conversation, there is so much to learn and disputation is the best way

    • Henry, your comments about soul sleep are nonsense. Adventists today believe the same thing Adventists and EGW have always believed: that man is entirely a physical being. When man dies he no longer exists. But, because God knows everything, He has an exact transcript of the person and, at the resurrection, He rebuilds the individual exactly as he was when he died.

      This point of view is known as ‘soul sleep’ by the greater Christian community. You can call it whatever you want but I don’t have the time to argue over labels.

      Moreover, I’ve read a lot about early SDA and EGW beliefs, so if you’re gonna claim that the church has changed its position on the subject you need to back that up with serious evidence.

  3. Mike, your belief that salvation can be lost is illogical, our relationship with God is a bit different to our human relationships, married couples do get divorced, but when we enter into a Christian relationship we are either in forever or not in at all.
    Jesus will say to some Christians ‘I never knew you…’ , the emphasis is on the word never.
    Its not possible to be a true Christian and then be lost, Jesus does not enter into the covenant membership with anyone based on an unknown outcome, Jesus knows all always.
    Forget Arminius, Luther is correct.
    Your second plank under IJ soul sleep, are you willing to admit that you mean extinction?
    I know that you do mean extinction, be brave and rewrite your article.
    I do hope that you are willing to dispute about this, otherwise all credibility is lost.
    Please read this as constructive criticism, in my humble opinion we as the Christian Church have no other option but to find the third iteration of 1844.
    The first one was wrong, second one is halfway there, the third one will give us the needed boost to go forward.
    What do you think?

    • Henry, your belief that salvation cannot be lost is illogical.

      But what’s more important is that it doesn’t matter. For hundreds of years now all the protestants in the world have been divided into three relatively equal camps:

      1) Those who reject free will – Calvinists (Presbyterian and Reformed Churches)
      2) Those who allow free will but only to accept Christ – Once Save Always Saved Arminians (Baptists, non-denominationals, etc.)
      3) Those who allow free will both to accept and to later reject Christ – Classical Arminians (Methodists, Pentecostals, Free-will Baptists, etc.)

      These three camps have been debating this stuff for centuries before Adventists came on the scene.

      So for you to want to fix the IJ while arguing for Calvinism or OSAS is like a guy who’s arm has been completely cut off in an accident but is insistent that the paramedics fix up a broken finger on that arm first. Adventists would abandon the IJ ten times over before switching to Calvinism or OSAS.

      So while we can definitely have a debate on Calvinism or OSAS, it would be completely useless to even consider your third iteration of the IJ while you hold Calvinist views.

  4. please consider one more argument for a third explanation of 1844
    The King James Bible was translated more then 400 years ago, at that time Daniel was a sealed book:
    “And He said, Go, Daniel! For the words are closed up and sealed until the end-time.”
    (Daniel 12:9)
    And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true. But you shall shut up the vision; for it shall be for many days. (Daniel 8:26)
    Translators of the Bible 400 years ago could not translate the meaning of the two words in Daniel 8:14, “kodesh”, “tsadak” with sufficient understanding because the vision was “shut up”.
    i believe the true translation of Daniel 8:14 is as follows: “And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the Shabbat return to the Law of the sanctuary.”
    Based on this translation we could develop a narrative more fitting for our Church.

    what do you think?

  5. Two messages were given after the disappointment in 1844, Rachel Oakes message, and Hiram Edsons vision in the cornfield, both were about the 7th day Sabbath, see Mat 12:1-8 “At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn…, For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.”, and then EGW was also given a vision about the Sabbath.
    From their perspective, at that time, it was not possible to understand that Dan 8:14 was being fulfilled here on earth, the Christian Church was being cleansed from the foreign Decalogue.
    What happened in Heaven in October 1844 we can only speculate, but ask yourself is there a need to speculate about heaven, when Dan 8:14 is clearly about the return of the Biblical Decalogue to the Sanctuary that is the Christian Church.
    Mike, my wish is not to be argumentative, but to suggest a vision for our Church which places us at the center stage of Christianity.
    The 19th century vision is size S, we need to change to size XL in the 21st century.

    • Henry, what you can’t seem to understand is that you keep trying to scratch something that isn’t itching. There are plenty of other Christians that keep the Sabbath so you’re welcome to take to them your message that in 1844 the Christian church was cleansed from a foreign Decalogue, not that anyone would care. Or, you can try to go after Adventists that no longer believe in the Investigative Judgment, although these people almost always disagree with the 1844 date even more.

      But as far as I’m concerned, I have no use for your interpretation because I have no problem with the current Adventist interpretation. In fact, the Adventist interpretation is about stuff that is much more significant than just the Sabbath.

      Again, the only reason you have a problem with the Adventist interpretation is because you’ve swallowed the kool aid of Calvinism, something that puts you at odds with Adventism at a much deeper level than your disagreement with the IJ. I’m not sure how much more clearly I can explain this to you. Until you resolve your Calvinism problem, nothing you say about the IJ has any value to Adventists.

  6. Mike, i have inquired of the leading Rabbi of the Karaite Jews in Israel regarding Daniel 8:14

    his translation is as follows:

    ויאמר אליי עד ערב בוקר, אלפיים ושלוש מאות; ונצדק, קודש

    “And he said to me till evening morning, Two thousand and three Hundreds; And we might be justified, holy”
    We should not construct the Sanctuary doctrine based on English KJV
    The suggestion that i put forward: Shabbat will return to the Law of the Sanctuary, is linguistically plausible and would normalize our theology.

  7. for me its Luther, not Calvin.
    I have challenged you on the following: your use of the term soul sleep, the need for IJ to demonstrate anything, and on using KJV Dan 8:14 as basis for Sanctuary doctrine, as you know the word Sanctuary is not in that text.
    i agree with the maths on 1844, but not with the 2nd explanation for 1844.
    W. Miller got it wrong, so why insist that the 2nd version is 100%?
    EGW advises that we should search for a 3rd version.
    In that constructive spirit we should all proceed for the common good of our Church, my intention is to help in any way i can. In my opinion the Biblical Decalogue was the missing ingredient in the protestant Church, the Christian Church follows the types of the Children of Israel, out of captivity with Luther and then the Mt. Sinai experience in 1844.
    We should not have a image of ourselves as one of many small Sabbath keeping groups, but of the cleansed Sanctuary, as in Psalm 150, etc, etc

    • Henry,

      This conversation is becoming nonsensical so this will be my last comment.

      1) Regarding Soul Sleep I already told you that I am using the term exactly how most Christians use it and they use it to mean exactly what Adventists believe. So no, I’m not going to stop using the term just because you have some private issue with it. If you’re claiming that Adventists used to believe something different on the subject, I asked you to provide proof and you provided none. 

      2) Regarding Luther vs. Calvin, by Calvinism I mean a view regarding human will that goes all the way back to Augustine. I already explained this to you. So whenever I say Calvinism, I mean Luther’s and Augustine’s view as well since they are identical.

      3) Regarding the need for the IJ to demonstrate anything, the only reason you say this is because of your Calvinist perspective.

      4) Regarding Dan. 8:14 I gave you a list of 22 popular Bible translations that all translate the text in a way that is compatible with Adventist theology. So the claim that our doctrine is based on the KJV is bogus.

      5) Everything else you say again means nothing to me because you’re trying to fix something that isn’t broken. The only reason you think it is broken is because you’re evaluating the issue through Calvinism-stained glasses.

      You seem incapable of recognizing that Adventism is not just casually opposed to Calvinism (Luther’s bondage of the will) but CATEGORICALLY opposed to it. In fact, I can pretty confidently say that there is no denomination in the world that is more opposed to Calvinism than Adventists are. We, more than any other denomination, have developed a complete system of thought that attacks the very core of Calvinism: the great controversy. Not just this, but our sanctuary doctrine has resolved all the issues that other Arminian denominations have so the accusations Calvinists typically bring against Arminians, don’t apply to us (http://mikemanea.com/conversations/how-adventism-ended-the-gospel-wars/)

      I find it amusing that you think it would be for the good of future generations that our church rethink its views regarding 1844. While Calvinism might have been acceptable to people during the dark ages, it is an embarrassment to the Christian church today. Just spend a few hours listening to what secular people have to say about it. In a world dominated by science, where the planet’s information is available at everyone’s fingertips, the best thing a denomination can do to ensure its future survival is to stay as far away from Calvinism as possible. So you are recommending a new interpretation of 1844 that stems entirely from your Calvinism; a doctrine that not only contradicts both reason and the entire Bible but practically will greatly reduce the church’s ability to reach the world. So, no thanks. Not interested. 

  8. Yes you are correct, the Great Controversy is the authority our theologians place over the Bible.
    Great controversy is not Biblical, it is Manichaean, and is the very reason why our Christian credentials are questioned by others.
    You are completely wrong in not distinguishing between Luther and Calvin on human free will.
    Assertion that humans have free will to enter into, and then abandon covenant membership is not correct, insulting to the majesty of God, is counter to the Reformation, it is not a Protestant idea.
    When you say soul sleep, you lead people to believe that you acknowledge continuity between this life and eternity, but you do no such thing, for the sake of intellectual honesty you should cease using the term soul sleep, and have the courage to defend extinction.
    Mike, there is no need to get flustered, disputation is fun

    • Yes you are correct, the Great Controversy is the authority our theologians place over the Bible.
      —–The great controversy is way more Biblical than any Calvinistic alternative.

      Great controversy is not Biblical, it is Manichaean, and is the very reason why our Christian credentials are questioned by others.
      —– Calling the great controversy Manichaean is downright silly.

      You are completely wrong in not distinguishing between Luther and Calvin on human free will.
      —– I am not wrong. I am not talking here about their entire theological framework but only about how they deal with free will. To the question, ‘do human beings have free will’ there are only two possible answers: YES or NO. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, as well as the entire Reformed tradition that followed (aka Calvinism) all say NO – human beings do not have free will. Arminius and the later Arminian and Wesleyan traditions say YES – human beings do have free will.

      Assertion that humans have free will to enter into, and then abandon covenant membership is not correct, insulting to the majesty of God, is counter to the Reformation, it is not a Protestant idea.
      — It’s what the Bible teaches. Moreover, I already told you that 1/3 to 1/2 of all the protestants in the world believe this so it is very much a protestant idea.

      When you say soul sleep, you lead people to believe that you acknowledge continuity between this life and eternity, but you do no such thing, for the sake of intellectual honesty you should cease using the term soul sleep, and have the courage to defend extinction.
      — Again, I’m not going to reinvent the English language just cause you say so. I use the terminology everyone uses so that when I use it, people know what I’m talking about. If you take issue with the term Soul Sleep, take that up with the Evangelical theologians that came up with it and popularized it. Moreover, the terminology you propose is even less accurate as it would only be correct if God didn’t exist. As long God has a backup copy/transcript of each individual’s complete personality/character, it cannot be said that the soul is extinct.

      Mike, there is no need to get flustered, disputation is fun
      — This isn’t much of a disputation Henry. It’s mostly you repeating the same arguments and me responding to them over and over wasting each other’s time.

  9. Mike, please consider the following differences between Luther and Calvin:
    In Institutes 3.21.7 Calvin writes, “We assert that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined both whom he would admit to salvation and whom he would condemn to destruction”
    and Luther writes “I hear that here and there among the nobles and persons of importance vicious statements are being spread abroad concerning predestination or God’s foreknowledge. For this is what they say: ‘If I am predestined, I shall be saved, whether I do good or evil. If I am not predestined, I shall be condemned regardless of my works.’ . . . If the statements are true, as they, of course, think, then the incarnation of the Son of God, His suffering and resurrection, and all that He did for the salvation of the world are done away with completely. What will the prophets and all Holy Scripture help? What will the sacraments help?”
    I agree with Luther on this point, as well as on traducianism, another important difference with Calvin.

  10. Hi Mike – I came here to read the Ford/Davises interchange. It was helpful in my ever-growing understanding of the IJ. I appreciate this article you wrote as well. A couple comments:

    1. You noted that “…In all the arguments brought against the IJ by critics, there is only one that is actually valid: that if the IJ is correct, Jesus should have returned by now. The rationale of the IJ cannot account for history continuing almost two centuries past 1844.” Particularly when Ellen White and others believed that we missed an opportunity in the late 1800s! My guess is that populations have grown exponentially since then, and it simply takes a lot more time for all of the universe to get a solid review of what God is done in terms of each individual human’s life. He’s going at their pace it seems, and while perfect, the other worldly intelligences don’t appear to be omnipotent. Some pace is required, perhaps? Also, I suggest that the SDA church is the fulfillment of the sanctuary restored in Dan 8:14 (aka, the furniture, being doctrine and behaviors, being finally restored into place in order for the world to know what to repent of. As you know, the people were supposed to repent outside the camp during the DoA). So God waits for SDAism to reach the world so that more people can confess/be included in the righteous judgment going on during the IJ.

    2. I like your suggestion that, after soteriology, there are two points to factor in being Arminianism and soul sleep. I can understand the Arminianism, but I don’t understand why soul sleep is important? What would make it hard for someone to understand the IJ relevance if they don’t believe in soul sleep? (I do believe in soul sleep, btw. SDA).

    Interested in your feedback, thanks…

    Adam

    • Other arminians who believe that Christians go to their reward (heaven or hell) at death, have the judgement immediately after death. Since we believe people are unconscious until the resurection, we place the judgment right before the second coming.

      For more on this see the article, ‘Why the Critics of the Investigative Judgment Have Failed.’

      Regarding the delay in Christ’s coming, see the free Ebook advertised on the right ‘The Conversation Adventists are NOT Having.’

  11. Hey Mike – one more comment. I am of the opinion at this point in my study that both Ford AND Davises are correct in many respects. The High Priest entered the Most Holy Place twice on the DOA, once to offer blood and begin the IJ (which could have started as early as Christ’s 1st century ascension), and, a second time to begin the cleansing of the compartments and furniture (which occurred in 1844 when God recollected the remnant to “upright” the truths that the Little Horn had cast down). Just a thought…

    • Ford’s position is more complex than that. He rejects the idea that anything done after the cross has anything to do with our salvation. In essence, he comes from a Calvinist/Once Saved Always Saved perspective.

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