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3. The Reformers and Current Issues

Nicholas Miller


Nicholas Miller

Professor of Church History at Andrews University




  • June 19, 2017
    10:00 AM
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I've been enjoying this campaigning very much it's been a number of you have spoken to me about how nicely many of the meetings are tying together right there's a number of different meetings about reading scripture and how to read scripture and and I feel like a number of us are speaking to a similar topic but we're not just duplicating each other we're complementing each other right and in giving. Different aspects of a similar truth and I've been blessed by Dr Weil in seminar and he happens to be in the back here today I was able to attend his this morning and I enjoyed it very much and in fact there was a point that he made in particular that caused me to make a new slide in my presentation here. In fact I'm going to open with a point because those of you who were here yesterday remember that I've talked about and Dr walling has talked about the different lenses that that special interest and ideological groups have read the scriptures through and what lenses that we read it through as Christians and you know the quest as we need to make sure these lenses are consistent with the teachings of the Word of God right we develop our hermeneutic and our view of the world from Scripture and from talking with other Christians and. What God reveals in natures and to some degree but scripture is always the ultimate authority in that and of course we've talked about how in the 20th century we've encountered 2 kinds of secular forces Oh it's actually 1 secular force modernism that has led ironically enough even though we think of liberals and fundamentalists as being dire enemies not agreeing on anything underneath it all they're a piston Mala G. their view of truth is very similar they have a need for absolute certainty in some objective sense in the liberal find it internally in the fundamentalists find it you know surely propositional truth and we can see from Ellen White in the pioneers that they didn't want to choose between those 2 things they said propositional truth is important and experience is important and to have a certainty you need a combination of the 2 you need evidence that you then combine with the experience that God gives you right and if you could have a certainty that was absolutely demonstrably verifiable in some scientific way. Where would the need be for faith the whole idea of faith is that you're believing in something that you cannot absolutely fully demonstrate God gives evidence is a very famous Elon white quote and I think I left that but I haven't in the book that God gives us abundant evidence to support the Bible History prophecy but it's not demonstration what does that mean there's evidence but not demonstration there's room for us to doubt if we want to choose to doubt so what are we left with probabilities she says no because there's another evidence and that is the evidence of experience when we test God's word and we rely on it with our lives then the darkness of any doubts we have can disappear in the experience that God gives us but the point is it's both right it's not. Either or it's an and and I thought that a point that Dr Weil Lane made this morning. Illustrated this very nicely and so the discussion between even the serpent I think yesterday we talked a little bit about how during the time of Christ she actually experienced the same conflict between fundamentalists and liberals that we do who were the Pharisees were the fundamentalists in all the absolute letter of the law and they put burdens on people's backs that were too heavy to carry and the Sioux with the liberals the Sadducees who didn't believe in resurrection or the angels and. The little colloquy at the tree and me realize that in fact the same thing existed in the Garden of Eden what was Eve doing when she said You shall not eat from the tree or touch it added a requirement that God hadn't given right. God had not said Do not touch it now was it a good idea not to touch it. Maybe if Adam and Eve had children they would have instituted a rule saying it's so bad to eat this fruit that we think that that we're going to say you shouldn't touch it right and it would've been a good thing not to touch it but it was a problem when they took what could have been a human tradition in teaching and made it into a divine command because when you create a divine command it isn't actually from God You set yourself up for a backlash right because Satan touches it and nothing happens and so L. and so so Eve went from being a fundamentalist adding human tradition to something God hadn't said and saying this is divine truth too in a matter of minutes the other extreme of liberalism of ignoring the divine command that God had given right so we can see right there in miniature the human capacity to go from 1 extreme to another and have you noticed sometimes in our own church in our own experience people who are the most harshly conservative on 1 side of the church a few years later you discover they've swung all over the other direction as happened in the 1970 S. with a number of our ministers you may have heard of the white lie by Walter Ray well before he wrote the right lie he wrote a series of books collecting Ellen White quotes on variety of topics because he was so in Nam or about this truth of her teachings and he felt that she was virtually inspired and this was information she only got from him and didn't have sources and then when he saw that this wasn't true he swung all the way over the other side and attacked not only Ellen White but the Bible and do we face the same temptation and danger today. To claim too much to set it up too high and then to swing over to the other side in ignore what God has revealed and requires of us I thought that. Dr walling at that very nicely. The 16th century reformer I've got a trivia quiz for you this morning I want to find out which 16th century reformer is the most important to add them to them and so I've got a picture of a group of them here how many of them can you identify who's this fellow in the middle Martin Luther Good I'm glad you get that 1 at least I THINK IT WAS TIME magazine that. Decided he was the most important man it was at least in the top 2 of the last 1000 years and when the millennium came and I personally think it's true I think Luther's impact on Western thought really the beginning of the modern world goes to Luther's discovery of the importance of the individual because once the individual speaks directly to God and that individual needs rights and protections and isn't merely a plaything or a pawn of the state modern democracies modern society even modern science is traceable I believe to this fundamental orientation in how we view. Man in relation to God in the state in the church sola scriptura Justification by Faith priesthood of believers all important doctrines for the end church. Now is there anyone else here you recognize. OK probably the next most recognizable figure is here John Calvin with a long beard who hung out in Geneva and wrote the institutes of the Christian religion we often don't view Calvin as somebody we've inherited a lot from because he's known for his strong predestination right Adam to tend to believe that Christ died for all and whosoever will can accept this invitation of of grace and salvation and we don't believe the Bible has a doctrine of predestination but it's not unconditional predestination which Calvin would set out but sometimes that difference obscures the fact that he also was a strong believer in just the case and by faith and also believed in church organization and order in ways that Luther never developed in fact our system of church organization with conferences which are representative of elected pastors and elders from local churches really that is related in any way to Luther to Calvin's notion of church government and Calvin also had a belief in the perpetuity in God's law there's something called the 3 uses of the law OK the 1st use of the law is that it tells all of humanity what right and wrong is and so it allows societies to have laws against theft and murder the 2nd use of the law is to bring the sinner to Christ and to show that you can't keep the law and that you need Christ well for Luther this was all he thought the law was good for once you accepted Christ there was no further use for the law you just walked in Christ and His love and grace and you may know some Christians today who believe this would be the stream who believe that the law has been nailed to the cross been done away with after you've been converted That's it for the law. But there's a 3rd use of the law and this is what Calvin believed in that the law continued to be a guide to morality for the Christian because you needed a kind of thermometer to know whether you were staying in Christ the staying near Christ and the law didn't save you when it didn't if you it was like the book of James right the law continued to be a mirror that you looked in to see if you were so still on the pathway of righteousness and if you weren't the solution wasn't the law when you look in the mirror you don't use the mirror to clean your face you use the wash cloth and the water and that would represent of course Christ and His grace so it was still a grace understanding but it was a grace understanding of the continuing role of the law now which of you do Adventists have Luther's of you or Calvin's view Calvin's you write so and actually so your Christian friends who are Presbyterians or go to any church with reformed in the name congregate not Congregational Church is but a congregation if Congregationalist churches. They will generally believe in the continuity of God's law they won't keep Sabbath but that's because they believe that Sabbath has been changed to the 1st day of the week but they still believe they should keep the commandment so you have a different kind of bible discussion with them and it's sometimes interesting to know these historic antecedents So you know who you're dealing with and how you might be able to effectively study with them so we do have some things in common with Calvin but his strong predestination has caused this too and if you read the great controversy Luther has about 3 chapters and Calvin has about half a chapter. And Calvin engaged in some activities in Geneva sort of ran the theocracy combining church and state and often we get after the Catholics for using persecution and and the Inquisition but Calvin actually oversaw the per the the execution of a fellow Christian because he didn't believe in the Trinity the American Puritans were Calvinists and also did similar things in New England though to the great important figures but maybe not the most influential on Adventists and here's a 3rd figure that's if you may have heard of him Philip lengthen it was a colleague of Luther's in Wittenberg a young genius he was a full Dr by the age of 21 and Luther was the great roaring Raging Bull of the Reformation who was passionate and often spoke without thinking things through entirely and spoke truth but often in rather blunt and sometimes even brutal ways and was the son of a miner and seem to have spent time around the language of miners and so He lengthened on the other hand was quiet studious careful thoughtful and so they made quite a powerful combination together and Luther came up with the big powerful ideas in the length and put them in careful systematic outline and Luther had a great deal of regard from a lengthen the mill length than was somewhere in between Calvin and Luther and lengthen actually had an acceptance of the some elements of a 3rd use of the law and unlike both Luther and Calvin and we don't think of Luther in this way but Luther also believed in predestination much like Calvin. Because I'm a lengthen had more of an openness to Free Will Lutheranism later on developed more along the freewill lines. And so most of us have forgotten that Luther was actually a strong predestinarian So in some ways Malenka than is more like more similar to our beliefs but not entirely because he was a strong advocate as Calvin was of keeping church and state together and of overseeing heretics and expelling them and imprisoning them and if necessary even executing them all rigged singly was part of the Reform tradition he died in combat fighting for the truth of Protestantism against the Catholic armies of Austria and Switzerland. So and then here is us who was around good 100 years earlier so these are all people who are important to Adventism but most of the beliefs that I've set out for them are held by many other Christians can't just say sola scriptura or justification by faith the advantage of the only ones that understand it sometimes we like to think that these are great solace that we've inherited in good part maybe the not perfectly understood by anybody maybe sometimes we think we have a fuller understanding of that but these are certainly important to Methodists and Baptists and others out there who appreciate the same teachings none of what I've said here have really been uniquely Adventists as a 3rd there's another group of reformers whose names most of the probably don't know but you've heard of their designation. They are the radical reformers the radical reformation the Anabaptist. Why Anabaptists baptized again because they were baptized as babies that they began to reject the notion of infant baptism and they said that you had to be have an intelligent faith in Christ and the church was going to be the cream unity of the faithful that came out of society and lived according to different values and standards now these days church ritual and sacrament is just like this kind of marginal trivia that we mostly don't care about except when it comes time to baptize our own children but in that day and age this was the kind of thing that battles were fought over and the reason for it was this if you're going to have a united society in church and state working together then everybody who was a member of the state needed to be a member of the church and how did you do that you baptized all the babies right whenever somebody born baptized them into the church now they were a member of the church and a citizen of the state and you had a justification for church and state working together to keep them in line morally and spiritually uncivilly and then you could have a stable society and what did the Anabaptist Do they came along and they broke up this this combination and they said no you can't baptize babies they were almost you this anarchists right what is this going to do to our stable society they were the ones based on Luther's priesthood of believers and if you were here on Sunday you'll know what I'm talking about they took his priesthood of believers idea very seriously even after he backed away from it and they said this is the way we're going to organize our church and the the Anabaptists then had churches full of baptized converted Christians that actually lived. Lives of purity and if somebody was too good goody 2 shoes they said you must be an end of this right you're actually living the truth of the Gospel and thus was born the notion of the Free Church the church that would be free from the constraints of the magistrate and from the constraints of society and not only then the day believe in infant baptism they believed in the separation of church and state. They believe that citizens shouldn't serve in the military or serve as magistrates because that would be using force and they didn't believe that force should be used they also some of them also believed in the state of the dead as we believe that. Some of them I'll put on this a bit later with the 1st Sabbath keepers in the early modern period that we can find record. So they had many elements that are more similar to the distinctive positions of our church they were also believed in free will unlike Luther and Calvin they rejected notions of predestination and this is an important point because the trouble with the radical reformers is that almost all of these names seem to have been largely unknown to our pioneers it's hard to say look at the radical reformers and oh yes we can draw a line from them to us because our pioneers didn't really seem to know about them the exception to that. His. Is this name here Simon in in the Netherlands in Holland and Ellen White actually talks about him in the great controversy. But he wasn't nearly the 1st 1 he came after a long line of others all of which we largely ignored I don't believe there's any evidence that he for instance kept the Sabbath or had some of our other distinctive beliefs but he does represent a small connection certainly someone our pioneers knew about but the man who took many of the radical reformation ideas even though he was an erratic reformer himself and became more associated with them was well I have a slight here on free will and God's nature so I've told you that while Calvin and Luther didn't bring believe in free will that Philip and lengthening the Anabaptists did in this case this caused them to have a different view of God in some ways if you believe that God from eternity decides which group of people are going to be saved and which group are going to be lost you have to have a certain view of how God acts in the world right there's a certain arbitrariness to that at least from our perspective that we're never going to understand Luther Calvin was very open about this and said we shouldn't expect to understand God or his ways at all right it's not that there's some mystery to God It's the whole thing is a mystery we just need to understand that he sovereign he's all powerful and we need to worship him for that. Luther wasn't quite so blunt he said Look Christ reveals a God of love and that's what we need to focus on there is this other aspect of God that we're never going to understand and he had a word for it duz absconded to the hidden God and underneath it all God has this nature that is arbitrary and it could do anything and we don't know anything about it but don't think about it too hard just let it go and that the Anabaptists weren't happy with this they wrote books in the 15 twenty's on freedom of the will and they weren't just concerned about human autonomy or as the Renaissance you know put the putting man at the center of all things they were concerned about the glory and honor of God because of God made some people who could only sin and do nothing but sin and how is God not in some sense the author of sin right he makes these people so they will sin so they will be and they felt that this would impair the glory and character of God and make him in some ways the the author of evil himself and so putting human free will in between God His creation humans and evil. Created a responsibility for evil that did not make God the author of it it made God the author of creatures who could choose that if they wanted to write you see the difference between the 2 Well these ideas were put together by 2 figures 1 you may have heard of the other you almost certainly haven't James Arminius who's heard of James Arminius your hands oh good Several of you here I think he is the reformer that is most important to the 7th Day Adventist Church he's a reformer from the Netherlands he believes in Justification by Faith in Sola Scriptura and all these important things he's a Calvinist and he even predestination but he believes that God has predestined those who have faith to be saved but it's up to you as to that you exercise that faith or not so all those in Christ will be saved that's predestination but it's up to you as to whether you're going to be in Christ or not he believes in preventing and grace the natural man on its own wouldn't even choose God left to our own devices we would all follow Satan but God gives all preventing and grace he awakens the moral capacity and man but that grace in a sense is resistible you can choose to push it away but that's a choice of yours or you can choose to accept it and then you can be saved so God's offer of salvation comes to everyone. Who want to talk about him for another minute or 2 this is Hugo Grotius who I 1st heard about in law school because he's a very famous lawyer who wrote the 1st tree to seize on international law and the law between nations natural law international law the International Law Society today is still called the Hugo Grotius society. Most lawyers and I didn't know this when I studied him at law school don't know that he was also a well informed theological writer who was a disciple and colleague of Arminius and Arminius is notion about God's freedom and the freedom he gives to humanity made him think like a lawyer does about God and his government what does it mean for the kind of world that God is running. Talk about Arminius a little bit more for a moment it's Roger Also who says that our many of his strongest objection to unconditional predestination is that it isn't jury as to the glory of God because from these premises we deduce as a further conclusion that God really sins that God is the only sinner that sin is not sin Arminius never tired of arguing the strong Calvinist doctrine of predestination cannot help making God the author of sin if God is the author of sin and sin is not truly sin because whatever God authors is good according to our many us God was not the arbitrary divider of humanity into vast camps of the eternally damned in the small camp of those who were saved. He defended God against being the arbitrary author of evil and reemphasize the Biblical teaching of the human choice the human choice reenergized by God preventing grace in choosing for good now Grotius he took this idea of Arminius about God and his freedom and moral freedom and he wrote on something called the moral government of God. And he wrote the most actually a famous apologetics book of his day you've heard of men like C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell He was like the C.S. Lewis of the 16th century 17th century he wrote a book defending the divinity and resurrection of Christ the inspiration of the Scriptures to be shared with Jews and Muslims as. Holland became a great seafaring nation and so they would take copies of this book so they could talk about the truth of Christianity to others his book was so effective that it was used into the 1900 centuries by Protestant missionaries. He also wrote another book. That talked about the importance of God's justice to running his government with the belief that God Government flowed from his character that character was love and the government of God was accordingly 1 of the many displays of his eternal Love this was the gross and system then if that language sounds familiar to you then when else teach that God's character is related to his governor his lot which is reflected in his government which is reflected which is related to love right this is what Ellen like is commonly known for saying well we the roots of this idea go deep back into the 16th and 17th century and how does this the the question that Grotius was answering was trying to understand why Christ had to die and I think we're still trying to explain this to our young people today if we can forgive each other without exacting a penalty or a payment Why can't God when I was growing up and my sister did something to harm me or offend me or and then she was sorry my parents made me forgive her. Without demanding you know $5.00 or or something of hers I mean sometimes she had to make restitution if she'd taken something of mine but in a sense I was taught if somebody is honestly sorry and ask for your forgiveness should you freely give it or are you going to require your pound of flesh before you forgive Well if you can do that why can't God and there were various theories on this that well it was God's honor that was being impaired it was his his justice that was needing to be paid but it made in some ways focusing on it in that way made it seem like we had this rather thin skinned deity that was really concerned about his honor right you know you can forgive but God so honorable and well Grotius came up I think with a better way of thinking about this rather than thinking about God as an individual like you and I are we need to think about him as the governor of a whole universe of a government that is based on certain important principles that if those principles are violated harm will come to everyone right that God's laws are the perfect laws that guarantee happiness and health and success and if you start violating those laws you undermine the whole system and it will come crashing down in some way and in some way this is what the great controversy Satan is arguing you don't have to follow these laws you can do what you want and everything will be OK but if this is true about God and his government then at what point can God start making exceptions to who he enforces the logons because once you make the 1st exception then the next person that comes along is going to say well hey. She got off the hook so rather than thinking about my sister taking my. M P 3 player and breaking it and my parents make me forgive her we have to think about it like I'm the judge in town and my sister has stolen from an electronics store and if she comes into the courtroom Can I just say oh well it's my sister I'm going to let her off right because it's not about my personal hurt feelings it's about this system of Law and Order that I'm upholding because if I let my sister off scot free then the next person that comes in having stolen from the from the supermarket is going to say well you just let her off right how can you throw the book at me so the point that's being made is that I'm being an unfair and unjust judge and favoring certain people who are somehow related to me the question over here right. So do you think that Jesus died for the sin that Mary Magdalene committed well so Christ is able to offer free forgiveness because in fact he's paid the price right that's precisely the point that he can't that the reason that he can offer this forgiveness and not violate this system of of moral government is because he has borne the penalty that the penalty is been paid and it doesn't have to do with his thin skin or God's thin skin it has to do that fact that he's acting on behalf of the benefit of all the beings of the universe who depend on the stability fairness and morality of his government not acting selfishly protecting his own it does have to do with his honor and it does have to do with justice but it's honor and it's justice which laid the foundations for this whole government which benefit all of us all not of just of us but of all created beings everywhere. This is why there had to be a price paid This is why the moral influence theory isn't adequate explanation on its own Now this was a very powerful way of thinking about God and his government and his oversight and it it caused people to think about human governments in different ways as well how does this theory and I hope as I said it out to you you're like yeah doesn't everyone believe this and the answer is no everyone doesn't believe this you believe this because you've read so much of Ellen White because this is affectively the system that has been transmitted to us not exactly 100 percent the same We've modified it a bit and I'll get to that in a little while but. Our great controversy model has roots deep in the Protestant Reformation How did it get to America you've probably heard of John Milton the famous author of Paradise Lost and many other. Works on church history church and state with a strong believer in a strong separation of church and state in religious freedom but he wrote this famous book Paradise Lost he was raised a Puritan which in that day meant a Calvinist a believer in predestination and the arbitrary nature of God but as a young man he toured Europe and he had a chance to spend time with Hugo Grotius who was by then a very famous jurist on the continent and after he left Grotius he would frequently refer to Grotius in his writings and it was he was clearly familiar with them he writes his famous book Paradise Lost which the opening lines say that it is written with the purpose to assert to turn all Providence and justify the ways of God to men justify the ways of God to men does that sound like a very Calvinist thing to say Calvinist is all about sovereignty right except God for what he does maybe some day you'll know but you're not going to now know this is a very moral government of God Arminian way of thinking about things Milton also believes in Christ died for everyone and freedom of the will and therefore his poem Paradise Lost he's trying to encourage people he's trying to show people that God has this wonderful kingdom that Christ deserves our worship not just because of who he is but because of the way that he acts and because of the sacrifice that he's given for us because it is wonderful character and so Paradise Lost and his writings help spread this view of God and the great controversy you probably also heard of John Locke he was also very familiar with Hugo Grotius and often referred to him as an authority Now think about God's moral government and it being open for the onlooking universe to examine and see. Well what about our human governments right we go from the Divine Right of Kings but now we have an understanding that government should treat people fairly that people have rights that governments should be accountable to the people that they should act on a moral basis while all of this is reflective of this theological construct that Arminius and Grotius put together and is now beginning to influence the way we're thinking about human government there's a 3rd person who I'm quite certain you haven't heard of at least read my book. A fellow called Thomas till I'm Thomas till I'm. He's a 7th day Baptist and I need to set this 1 up a little bit there's some people who say oh the AD This view of last day events in Sunday laws in the Mark of the beast in the seal of God You know that's so that's so last century or that So 2 centuries ago now right 880 S. when Ellen White wrote the great controversy there was pending on the floor of Congress the Sunday law Bill you know that and so some people say she was just reading the Book of Revelation kind of in the immediate context of her times and came up with this interpretation but they don't know if she didn't come up with the interpretation you write as Smith wrote about it earlier and it's Leroy Froome who says that it was actually Joseph Bates in about 849 in his book on the Sabbath that begins to connect the Sabbath with the seal of God and the test between days of worship and Joseph Bates doesn't he do this but froom was wrong about Bates being the 1 to originate this and when I was doing my dissertation a few years ago in the electronic archives of the university that I was studying at I found this document. By the 7th day Baptists that was written not 100 years before Ellen White and Joseph Bates but 200 years back in the 16th fifties there was a 7th day Baptists called Thomas Killen he was in New England for a while but then he returned to Britain and he wrote a tract on the Sabbath defending and explaining the Sabbath but it also dealt with prophecy and it dealt with the Book of Daniel and Revelation and I'm going to share just the title of that book with you because this was written at a time in the place when you didn't have to guess what the book said they put the whole argument in the title. And so. I want you to buy my book so I don't put the whole argument on the front cover but this is this is the title the 7th day sabbath sought out and celebrated or the Saints last design upon the man of sin with their advance of God 1st institution to its primitive perfection being a clear discovery of that black character in the head of the little horn in your 725 so we're still in the title the change of times and laws with the Christians glorious conquest over that mark of the beast and the recovery of the long slighted 7th day to its ancient glory. Right 200 years before the 7th they have this church comes on the scene our eschatology about Sabbath and Sunday in the Final Crisis is here right now some people are worried that oh good we copied this but actually you should be thinking No this is very helpful because it shows that other Christians have seen the same thing in the Bible right it wasn't Ellen White sitting in America in the 880 S. with Sunday laws on the floor of Congress here you have somebody 200 years earlier a continent away who is reading Daniel and Revelation and coming to the same conclusion remember what I said on yesterday about witnesses witnesses the Biblical truth just because Thomas Tillman believed this doesn't make it true but the fact that he believed it shows that there are other voices and other people outside our time and place who are seeing very similar things and it should give us greater confidence right in our own prophetic message and heritage now I raise this here because A I think you would find it interesting and I have a quote in my book reformation and Remnant So if you want the. Original context and source here's the the Chapter 1 titled The 7th day sabbath sought out and celebrated by saints obtaining the victory over the mark of the beast and the chapter begins with this sentence the 1st royal law that ever Jehovah instituted and for example celebrated namely his bless that 7th day sabbath is in these very last days become the last great controversy. Between the Saints and the man of sin the changer of times and laws no I have no evidence that Ellen White of the pioneers actually read or knew about Thomas till I'm We do know that we got the 7th day Sabbath from a 7th day back to us that Joseph Bates met with the lady somebody knows the name is I'm just going Rachael press the notes and so did Rachel Preston Oakes know about this I you know I don't know Joseph BATES We don't know there's no documentary evidence but it doesn't really matter what it shows is that other people are seeing the same truth now the reason I raise it here was because how much to love you the Sabbath as an expression in part of God's character because in this book on the Sabbath he says this that God's moral law is not merely good because commanded but it is therefore commanded because it is good and such is the nature of the 7th day see the difference between a is this is whatever God commands good and therefore if God said to do something evil it would be good because God said so or is it that God would only command good things and wouldn't command evil things we believe the 2nd and that's the point being made here Luther and Calvin would have believed the 1st and so this shows that the man who taught wrote so eloquently about the Sabbath also had his view of God's character in the god's moral government of love and this seems to be consistent Adams a scholar Emerson has pointed out that the 1st modern Sabbath keepers with the Anabaptist back in the 1520 S were not shore we can't find any evidence that Thomas till I'm was connected with these earlier Anabaptists But it's interesting that the free will Christians who cared about God's character are also the ones who discovered the Sabbath. I haven't quite put together a causal explanation for that but I do think it has something to do with the notion that the Sabbath is you know God's signature in the 10 Commandments and it's also a reminder that God is the author of the physical creation and the moral creation and got and we can understand through human reason some level of truths about God in his moral creation as we discussed earlier the heavens the clear the glory of God Romans says the nature points out the power of God His creative power and might that they are without excuse meaning there's some moral message there too so Sabbath shows that the physical order that God creates also has some kind of moral message into it and this is what allowed Grotius to be the international law expert he was you see the problem with international law is that there's no legislature that's overseeing it like the laws of the nation will grow to says God has put a moral order in the universe and we apply our reason to it we can come up with principles that should guide the interactions of nations this is reflected I think in what it means to be a Sabbath keeper I want to look at another aspect of this human government moral government of God Another way that it came to America you've heard of John Wesley the founder of Methodism his favorite his parents' favorite author was Hugo Grotius and when S. Lee was at Oxford he studied with his friends in the Methodist club the writings of Hugo Grotius So the moral government of God human free will was all part and package of Methodism and it's here that we clearly see how this model government of God impacts the way people think about the world around them. There began to be a correlation between those who believed in the moral government of God and those that believe that human government should be moral and I mention this with John Locke didn't knife but there's also a clear example if you heard of the name William Wilberforce the endor of what slavery in the British Empire Anyway he was a Methodist he grew up in a method his family he fell away he was reconverted and he was going to become a pastor but his friends persuaded him that his political influence and connections would actually allow him to do more good in society John Wesley and 1 of the last maybe the last letter he ever wrote wrote to William Wilberforce saying you should wage war against slavery that executable villainy which is the scandal of religion of England of human nature Wesley exhorted him oh be not weary of well doing go on in the name of God in the power of his might to leave an American slavery the violence that ever saw the Son shall vanish away before it right so the Methodists were strongly anti-slavery at least early on. American method is in the South began to make compromise with slavery at some point but there is a consistent pattern of those people believing in the moral government of God who then involve themselves in their communities to try to bring greater levels of fairness and justice their anti-slavery temperance reform preventing the sale of alcohol because not just to make men better but because the use of alcohol caused men to abuse the women and children and their families took away the bread and the food and the clothes from the women and children and caused them to be often physically abused so Methodism growth is comes to America in 2 ways Methodism comes to formally embrace his teachings and as you probably know Ellen White was raised a. Methodist So this is part and parcel of her theological heritage. American Puritans and their Calvinistic heirs were very impressed even though they didn't buy into Arminianism on the whole they liked very much Grotius is you the atonement of Christ and they kind of tried to take his moral government's theory of the Atonement and Wed it to their predestinarian views of the way God dealt with humility manatee it was kind of an unstable coalition of ideas but while it lasted it had some very interesting impacts you may have heard of Jonathan Edwards famous American divine he was a Puritan in a Calvinist believe or in predestination many people don't know because they met a Calvinist don't highlight this but he was a slave owner he actually owned slaves and defended the practice his son Jonathan Edwards Jr was also a minister and a theologian he came to adopt Grotius is moral government theory of the Atonement in God's moral government idea and I think it's no coincidence that he reversed his father's position and wrote books against slavery so you can see this close connection between the FIA logical views Nathaniel Taylor was a professor at Yale in the early 19th century and he laid the groundwork in good part for the 2nd great awakening he had a class called the moral government of God and he lectured on this topic of God having the moral government 1 student said while lecturing his voice often trembling at times that tears would start especially when speaking of the moral government of God. Now this may be hard for us to understand fully today because the moral government of God today contains 3 things that most people don't like right you've got morality which is not something that people are thrilled about today you've got government which we discredit and disbelieve and distrust and then you've got God and a lot of people are uncertain about him so moral government of God doesn't arise within us great feelings we're not about to weep as we talk about it but in his day in age the thing that caused him to feel so strongly about this with it allowed him to understand the fairness of God's government and that he was fully sincere do I have this in my next line now that he was fully sincere when he said Choose salvation this day when he when the Bible said For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe in him was true that whosoever meant you were your friend and your family and you could choose you didn't have to be elect and this was a deeply moving understanding for those who had grown up under a regiment if God selected you you're in and if you're not you're not you're out came to embrace the view that Christ died for all. This was the theology that caused in part the 2nd great awakening that great revival of Christianity in America that our church was a part of Taylor wasn't the preacher of the great awakening but you've probably heard of Charles Finney lawyer turned evangelist who transmitted Taylor's views through his popular preaching trying to stir the emotions of his listeners to make that moral choice. You may have heard of Albert Barnes he was a commentator his commentary sold a 1000000 copies in the 1000 century and he articulated these views of the model government of God It's not a coincidence I think that Finian Barnes were among the most ardent anti-slavery activists in the evangelical world they founded Finney did Oberlin College. Albert Barnes was put on trial for heresy wrote 2 major works against slavery he wasn't convicted actually of heresy he was acquitted. But now we come to Ellen White and I'm going to share a quote with you that on its surface doesn't seem overly significant but now I've told you the story it shows a direct connection between Ellen White and her thinking on this topic and this train of ideas that I've just shared with you so this is written in 1900 she wrote to Edson her son calling for her library to be sent to us trailer I have sent for 4 or 5 large volumes of Barnes notes on the Bible I think they are in Battle Creek in my house now sold somewhere with my books I may never visit America again and my best books should come to me when it is convenient very interesting isn't it the prophet of God that receives visions from God about what is true she still found it useful to read the writings of other dedicated Christians not only did she read writings of other dedicated Adventists but of new school Presbyterians who didn't keep the Sabbath but had a profound understanding of the moral government of God and if you read her writings you can plug in moral governor of God's government and you'll suddenly see this notion all over the place that she. Was heir to right she didn't create everything she was given from whole cloth or from Vision she was in the Protestant line and heritage it's not to deny the fruits of her own Bible study in visions which reinforce and expanded on the moral government of God theme in fact I think in her writings I would change the name from the moral government of God to God's moral government of love. Love becomes the central organizing theme. The conflict of the ages series begins God is Love it ends at the in the great controversy with God is love but she sees the importance of the morality in the structure too doesn't she since why can't we just call it God Government of love well ever since The Beatles wrote All You Need Is Love right what the modern day people think about love it's this subjective sense of the thing I desire and anything that stands in the way should go away including rules and regulations and and principles so we really need to keep both those notions together God's moral government of love I think is the central way of understanding this and I hope you can see the connection between this and the sanctuary What is the sanctuary if it's not in fact the place where God's moral government the control center of God's moral government of Love This is the place where the description of how sin is dealt with is described in detail is in the books are kept there to see how God deals this god not know who saved and whose loss why are there these books there right there for the onlookers effectively what did the Ark of the Covenant have over it the Angels with the on either side representing the hosts of heaven that are looking on that are seeing that God has dealt fairly with who he's saved and who he hasn't saved and that he does have a government of both love unravel O.T. and in talking about the cleansing the sanctuary it's very interesting Ridgeley of thought it was about the cleansing of the earth by fire. But they understood they got that wrong it was a heavenly sanctuary that needed to be cleansed but that didn't move remove them entirely from believing there was a cleansing on the earth but it wasn't with fire it was a cleansing from sin from the familiar with quotes about as the sanctuary in heaven is cleansed from sin so the soul Temple needs to be cleansed from sin here on Earth the filing thing should be put away but it wasn't just an individual act there was a notion that the church itself as a group as a community needed to be cleansed. We did not follow Christ and angels work in the hearts of the children of men the church above united with the church below is warring the good warfare upon the earth there must be a purifying of the soul here upon the earth in harmony with Christ cleansing of the sanctuary of heaven is cleansing extended to issues of sin in the community she talked about there are a few in the ranks of Sabbath keepers who sympathize with the slaveholder when they embrace the truth they did not leave behind them all the errors they should have left they need a more thorough draft from the cleansing fountain of truth interesting that she connects a social evil slavery with the cleansing that needed to take place both Abraham Lincoln and Ellen White view the Civil War as part of God both punishment and cleansing of not just America but the Christian Church in America of the evils of slavery it's very interesting that the biggest Protestant churches in America split in the year 844 over the issue of slavery right I think significant doesn't mean something didn't happen and happen and I think it did but should we be surprised at the same time that major events are happening on Earth to help Christians understand the evil of slavery the moral government of God right we see that in the history of this teaching and we see it in our own church. What's happened to it today I think as a people the evidence church should be mindful that our prophetic heritage and sanctuary message is closely tied in with movements to bring greater justice and equality to those that are marginalized and oppressed often too often we pit those who believe in the social justice and social gospel against those who believe in purity and truth in the church but really our prophetic message includes both that this is an artificial separation that's a product of the liberal fundamentalist divide in the 20th century that we shouldn't be confused by the now I want to tie this together with yesterday's presentation what I'm suggesting is that the central theme of Adventist teaching and theology was this belief about God and His moral government of love and then as you look at the doctrines that are reformers recovered questions that were difficult to answer what does God do with people after death what does punishment look like at the end of time what about creation and evolution what about slavery that in dealing with the interpretation of the Bible about these questions they used to hermeneutical principle to help shed light on what the correct understanding once and that principle was God Small government of love and as you look at some of our different teachings it seems a bit of a hodgepodge like we came up with the Sabbath in the sanctuary in the state of the dead and no alcohol and being against slavery in these seem to be kind of disconnected things. But you know they discovered the sanctuary 1st even before they discovered the Sabbath and the sanctuary is the thing that puts together this idea of God and his government and morality in the 10 Commandments and from there they work outwards and they came to conclusions like well forever didn't mean an eternity of hellfire the smoke of their torment ascended forever and ever what kind of god is this picturing we better look more closely at this word forever and it's not that we're going to disregard it but it's we're going to come to recognize that the Hebrew meaning of forever is somewhat different than our western Greek oriented concept right so we come up with an understanding that's consistent both with the language of the Bible properly understood and God's Merril character of love flavor a likewise slaves that they are master but once we know about God's moral government of love is this really something that would be acceptable in his kingdom when we go back and we look at the word slavery me say wait this is a bit different in the Hebrew than the racial kidnapping chattel slavery of the South it's not justified or defended and we came up with a different view wine didn't mean strong drink that caused men and women to abuse men to abuse women and children and what about theistic evolution and creation so I'm a young earth young life creationist perhaps is the best way of putting it and I think there's good reasons in the text of Genesis 1 and 2 to believe that but not that I feel I'm so compelled to read Genesis 1 and 2 literally because I must in some absolute literary sense it's that it's the reading that most makes most sense with what the rest of the Bible says about God. About the kind of God we serve if you think about evolution it requires suffering and death right if you're going to choose for the fittest you have to weed out the less fit the gene pool has to be purged you can't have evolution without some sort of mass suffering extension death and extinction so if you believe that God created through theistic evolution that he's created a good creation through pain and suffering and death you have something that's really hard to square with a god small government of love nice and good Christian friends that are also theistic evolutionists they just happen to be Calvin S. And if you're a Calvinist who believes that God creates much of the human race in order to torch them torture them forever in Hell and that God's most important characteristic is sovereignty Well you can be if the if that evolution this in some ways with without it causing too much conflict with your belief system but if you're an Adventist that believes that the central organizing truth of our church in the Bible in much many regards is God's moral government of love how can you accept that I don't think you can and I think that's why Ellen White in fact was so strongly against it as were our other pioneers and then of course there's religious freedom the separation of church and state doesn't mean the separation of morality in the state that's a different thing but that God gives us freedom to choose religious make religious choices and we should extend that to others so there's a whole series of ideas that are tied together by this belief system and I think if we understand this if we understand the central organizing theme of Adventism. We will see that these continue to be good things we're not going to be confused about people who insist on theistic evolution or say we have to somehow make a compromise with the scientific evidence we'll take that evidence seriously but we'll put it in the framework of God Small government of love and these other things also agree with but we'll also continue to use this framework to response of problems in our society today are fundamentalist tendencies have caused us in some ways to not think about the public square any more we never really added any public issues after Ellen White died though the issues that arose in her day with the last in the end of all public morality how do we relate justly and kindly to our immigrant neighbors in need how do we critique the war on terror based on shared human dignity how do we relate to our Muslim neighbors now that many of them are being demonized in scapegoated you see in the papers today a young Muslim lady killed the age of 17 on the streets of where was it in Virginia just yesterday 2 other Indian Muslim men shot in the bar by a man who was outraged at them being their hate crimes are up by a high percentage because of the heated rhetoric we've had over the last year how should we relate to this is Christians what does the moral government of God tell us we should do well there is a slide here that I sometimes divide into small groups to discuss to talk about the traditions we have as a church and what we should keep and what may be open for modification. But I just have a few minutes left and I think I'm just going to open the floor for questions about this presentation or the ones from the last 2 days because this is my last presentation and tonight I'm off to the Wisconsin camp meeting. So I will unfortunately be leaving all you happy people in Michigan but. Do you have in the any questions about any of this or how and I should say for those of you who haven't seen the book the presentations I've given today and yesterday don't pretend to answer all the hard questions about the issues the church is facing right those come in Chapters 45678910. I've given you the scheme the framework the outline that I think you will find helpful in coming to satisfactory answers and I've tried my hand at doing that on topics relating to the sanctuary in the Atonement creation and evolution of him I've kind of hinted that the direction to go here with that public affairs and religious liberty same sex marriage how should we approach that as a church the question of ordination ecumenism how we relate to other churches What about Sunday laws and other tests a history in conspiracy and then finally perfection last generation theology and I think that all of these things that are so contested in the church that there's a there's a more moderate way of thinking and talking about these things in light of this framework that I've set out. Yes. The moral government of God in this whole you know this is this this message is part of this reformation in the remnant book well he you know a lot of churches are dealing with these issues as well but things they say about creation and evolution. They may be less interested in the ones on prophecy in Sabbath but. You know I think most of the issues here are other churches are also wrestling with. So yeah that would be the 1. Born. Yes CLINTON Yeah yeah well. I think the answer is yes I mean you know that's sort of the point I'm making is that there is that their study of scripture led them to an understanding of the sanctuary which is in my mind shorthand for seeing this picture of the way God is relating to the universe and to humanity the way his morale morality and law are relate to his grace really puts together the framework of seeing how God. Relates to humanity that's the Biblical framework and then you need a kind of larger hermeneutic if you're going to really use total script you're taking all of Scripture I mean it's impossible to keep all the text of Scripture in mind as you reach each single text you usually do that in terms of larger concepts right the Bible teaches this about God's love he's just he's kind and then we take the individual texts and look at the immediate context and the larger context and so what I'm saying is this was the larger Biblical context that they did the individual study of these particular doctrines on and they but then they took those doctrines from Scripture but they did it in the in the light in the fame of what they thought was the central teaching of Scripture the love of God in running his government and you know I this is not like an original insight with me if it was there would be a problem because you know after 200 years of Adventism Nick Miller discovers what the central organizing you know it exists out there and other theologians have talked about it I think there's a reason Ellen White called her book The Great controversy which is really shorthand for this there's a reason that that book is probably our most popular book it's the 1 we decided to give out by the millions right in the last few years because it really encapsulates this idea so I I don't I don't want to create the impression that they came up with some alien idea about God and what he does and then decided to come up with their doctrines based on that I think they they came up with this from their bible study and said ah this provides the key to unlock. To interpret and you know I pointed out before there are some passages which are truly ambiguous right a plain reading sometimes only takes you so far we talked about the comma in today where does it go before or after that today when Christ says today you will be with me in paradise or today I say unto you the Greek doesn't tell us on its own we have to interpret it based on other biblical passages right and so this is 1 of those other biblical principles that used to deal with passages which are truly in big use. Anybody else good all right I can I can go unpack my trailer. Get home before midnight God bless you let me have a final closing word of prayer with you there Heavenly Father I appreciate the time that I've been able to spend with these saints and sinners. That's what we all are. As we walk the pathway to heaven by your grace and I pray that we will draw closer to you and understand more fully the truth of your mall government love and that to me. Help direct how we treat and reach out to our neighbors to those around us those in our communities there are always points of doctrine and policy that we will be discussing and perhaps even arguing over but Lord as we do this may people see in our countenance in an in our manner that we are truly members and citizens of the moral government of love in that we treat all others with respect and love as we can. Gauge these important I pray these things and for a blessing on the rest of the mission in Canada meeting in Jesus name. This media was brought to you by audio person a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio version or you would like to listen to more sermons Please Visit W W W dot audio person dot org.


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