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.
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.
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.