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Dear Kevin

This is an open letter of friendly dialog, as a reaction to Kevin Paulson’s paper  “1844: Embattled Yet Enduring”. (If somebody wants to read his paper, just ask me).

First of all, I want to express my appreciation for your longtime resistance in this sacred battle for the Sanctuary. I live in a country quite distant from yours, but our concerns are very similar. I frankly sympathize with your determination to stand for our pillars, with your sincere apologetic activity.

The only problem for me in your study is that it is limited to conservative evidence, as it is exposed especially in the DARCOM series. It seems to me that you pass too quickly over critical arguments. Some of them (which I have studied for decades) prove to be correct.

I know personally Dr Ford, and I had good dialog with him in 1989-90 and 2013. Most important is that I have studied his book about the Investigative Judgment. I cannot agree with some of his objections or affirmations. However, his book (or any critical book) helps us revise some of our exegetical scaffolding. I must confess that I did not abandon gladly some of our conservative stuff, and I am not at all anxious to see others passing through the same process of disappointment. However, it seems that the bitterness of that little book did not end with the 1844 episode. But anyway, bitter-sweet is better appreciated than 100% sugar.

To understand in summary my position, I put it in parallel to the 10 statements of Dr Ford, that you have mentioned.

  Desmond Ford’s
statements
My answer (FL)
1. The focus of the judgment and sanctuary cleansing in Daniel 7 and 8 is not the people of God, but their enemies.

 

In both Daniel 7 and 8, there are clearly two verdicts (against the wicked: 7:11, 26; 8:25; and in behalf of the saints: 7:18, 22, 27; 8:13-14: the sanctuary is vindicated / justified, including its „host” and its truth). See also Dan 12:1, where the „book” is for the saints, and the context (cf. Dan. 12:7) refers back to the vision of 7:9-10.
2. The year-day principle lacks clear Biblical support. Though historicist expositors sometimes have abused this hermeneutical key, or just have taken it for granted, without a thorough research, I wholeheartedly agree with the year-day code.
3. The word “cleansed” is not a correct translation of Daniel 8:14. True. The Hebrew term directs us straight to the judgment idea: vindicated / justified. The context does not support the basic idea of Leviticus 16, as we usually interpret.  The Old Greek translation (cleansed) is interpretive, not justifiable linguistically, since it reflects the application that the Jews made in those times (about 100 BC), namely the cleansing of the sanctuary after the Antiochus’ pollution. The book 1 Maccabees illustrate perfectly in their Greek, not only the „cleansing”, but also a range of echoes and images from Daniel. However, the term „cleansed” has led us to the same theological conclusion, through a long (but beneficent) detour, through Leviticus 16; Hebrews 9 and Revelation. I don’t believe in stars like the Magi, but I believe that God leads people by condescendence, not only by the best exegesis.
4. Antiochus Epiphanes was the primary, if not exclusive, fulfillment of the little-horn prophecy in Daniel 7 and 8. No Antiochus could be the fulfillment of Daniel 7. Regarding Daniel 8 and 10, there are some aspects that apply best to Antiochus, but not the whole prophecy, and certainly not the most important part of it (the 2300 days and the extension of that prophecy to the time of the end, cf. 8:17, 19; 12:1-3, 13). Thus Antiochus can be seen only in chapters 8 and 11, and only as a first, limited application, as merely a type.
5. The book of Hebrews teaches that Christ entered the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary at His ascension. True. But the same book teaches about the last phase of Jesus’ ministry: the Judgment of God’s people. The action is important, not the place, wherever it might be.
6. The Bible teaches neither a two-apartment heavenly sanctuary nor a two-phased ministry by Jesus in heaven. The Bible describes visions of the heavenly sanctuary, that superficially could be understood as witness for a two-apartment sanctuary. Actually visions describe the heavenly reality in earthly symbolic imagery, so that we should not necessarily take visions as a realistic description of the physical heaven, but as pedagogic spiritual lessons. But Revelation, as also the whole NT teaches us that Christ is not only our forgiving Priest, but also our Advocate and Judge, and there is a time when the door will be forever shut (Mat. 25:10; Lk. 13:25; Rev. 15:5-8 etc.).
7. The phrase “within the veil” in the book of Hebrews refers to the second veil, or entrance to the Most Holy Place. True. But this conclusion does not overthrow our doctrine. Its main argument is not based on the reality of two apartments in heaven. Jesus had access to God’s throne from the beginning of His ascension.
8. Seventh-day Adventists are wrong in teaching that sacrificial blood defiled the sanctuary, either on earth or in heaven. I did not study sufficiently this aspect, and I cannot say it is wrong. However, even if it were wrong, the truth of our doctrine is not affected, if we accept that Daniel 8:14 does not force us into Leviticus scenario.
9. The writings of Ellen White have no rightful authority in settling doctrinal controversy within the church. True. This was the position of our pioneers and of Ellen White herself. But this assertion should not be understood as a means to get rid of the light Ellen White left for us, when building theological structures. We might only acknowledge her limited understanding in some technical theological details, while accepting her messages and principles.
10. The sanctuary doctrine, as historically taught by Seventh-day Adventists, contradicts the New Testament gospel of grace. This is not true. Rather the incomplete and biased Evangelical Gospel cannot be harmonized with the sanctuary doctrine. Read, for example, this article of Mike Manea and Marcos Torres.

 

For exegetical details and academic debates, if you are still interested, you may read the following English papers published by me on Academia.Edu:

One may see also an English parallel table on the same topic at the article: “Florin Lăiu is not a Fordist”.

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