Editorial Keynotes

Advent Source Research Values--No. 3

L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry

5. Establishes, Unifies, and Enlarges Concepts

Rightful emphasis upon the world char­acter, or international aspect, of the nine­teenth-century advent awakening—the first angel's message sweeping simultaneously throughout Britain, Continental Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and North Amer­ica, but reaching its 1844 culmination in North America—will allay certain regrettable preju­dices and resentments as to the advent move­ment's having formerly been stressed chiefly as a North American affair. This balancing influence of its world character is highly desir­able, not alone because of our present world scope, but to correct certain constricted con­cepts of the past and bring them into har­mony with the full facts of historic record. This fact is likewise impressively borne out by "The Great Controversy," and by the writ­ings of William Miller.

Such a world emphasis will likewise help to check any unbalanced emphasis upon Ger­man, British, or South American aspects, which is just as unwholesome and divisive. There is definite need of unifying evidence to counteract such disintegrating and sectional influences; and this is furnished by the full source evidence. The vast sweep of the simul­taneous and largely independent nineteenth-century awakening concerning the advent, to­gether with essential agreement among its witnesses in the various countries, Shows more incontrovertibly than ever that the advent awakening was of God, and not of mere human devising. This enlarged view aids, therefore, in creating a true international balance and unity. It directs glory to God, and away from nationalistic emphasis or human instruments.

And this larger concept, instead of detract­ing from the uniqueness of the last message, adds to its glory, and lifts it to truly majestic proportions. This will be of very definite advantage not only overseas, but should also exert a balancing influence upon us in North America in these days of intensive world mis­sion expansion, and of rightful encourage­ment of national workers and indigenous leadership in other lands.

6. Confirmed by Spirit of Prophecy

To a unique degree the evidence of the source documents attests the supernatural guidance and character of the book, "The Great Controversy," as an inspired panorama of the Christian Era. Historical materials now in our possession, but not available in accessible libraries at the time of the writing of this book, confirm expressions, dates, and conclusions that have been pompously chal­lenged by hostile critics. Heretofore we have been without an adequate answer to certain attacks. But the answer is now in our hands for effective use. And these confirmations through the sources, deepen confidence in the unique authority of the Spirit of prophecy writings, for these qualified historical wit­nesses now rise up and testify to the accuracy of detail statement, as well as to that remark­able breadth of view and comprehensive grasp of the whole picture, far beyond the ken of Mrs. E. G. White personally, her denomina­tional associates, or the writings of the world available at the time. Her guiding counsels to the remnant church are thus more truly than ever shown to be of God.

On the other hand, the specific citation by the Spirit of prophecy of certain names—such as Wolff, Lacunza, Gaussen, and Miller, to­gether with "many others" in England, Scan­dinavia, and America—as divinely specified heralds of the first angel's message, is of in­estimable value as a guide in recognizing those who rightfully come within the purview of our study of the spokesmen of the centuries. Despite certain marked limitations and miscon­ceptions, these men are named by inspiration as heaven's designated heralds. They are definitely owned and approved as God's ap­pointed witnesses. The same is true of Ref­ormation leaders, likewise named and dis­cussed. Knowing now their positions in en­tirety, we can rightfully adjudge God's various instrumentalities through the centuries with a safety and a certainty otherwise impossible. Thus the Spirit of prophecy both confirms and is in turn confirmed in a most impressive way by fearless, reverent research endeavor.

There is constant danger that one continu­ously engaged in the exacting close-up of de­tail research work, may reach distorted con­clusions. Because of the very nature of such investigation, there is a strong natural tend­ency to focus the attention upon the details of a narrow field, to the neglect of the larger implications and relationships involved. It is imperative, therefore, that microscopic study be constantly balanced by the telescopic view, that is, surveying the entire field of investiga­tion, keeping the full picture in mind, unconfused and undiverted by engrossing details, thus being able to make sound deductions concerning basic principles and epochs, and the larger operations of the law of cause and effect. This principle we have kept continually before us, and resolutely employed in evaluat­ing all our findings. But it is freely confessed that the greatest of all factors in maintaining a clear and balanced perspective has been the Spirit of prophecy.

7. Furnishes Contact With Major Groups

Flattering as it might be to denominational pride—were it true—to be the sole originators of the main prophetic-outline interpretations climaxing in the advent, it is a source of even greater and more substantial satisfaction to know from the incontestable witness of the sources that these ancient prophecies of Dan­iel have been understood and interpreted in primitive outline back to apostolic times. It was verily perceived in progressive detail—with great fluctuations of course—down through the centuries, as history has steadily fulfilled and identified prediction. Standing thus in historic line as the climax of God's

 aitiong witness, the position universally held amok us today becomes invulnerable, and is protected from valid attack as a curious or dangerous modern innovation.

Uniquely in the apostolic line as the ap­pointed restorers and consummators of that witness that became lost or distorted after the early centuries, we are likewise seen ,as the commissioned revivers of those same truths largely recovered by the founding fathers of the Reformation, but now in large part dor­mant or abandoned since Reformation days. Thus we stand forth as the last and culminat­ing link in the chain of progressive witness spanning the centuries. In this way we are at once brought into unique relationship alike to Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and even skep­tics. And this relationship provides priceless points of contact, hitherto unrealized and un­employed, for approaching these leading reli­gious groups for whom we have a divinely commissioned message, but from whom we are definitely separated. This applies both to pub­lic preaching and to personal appeal. Observe:

a. As To Catholics. Rightly used, we have a most effective, but hitherto unused, point of contact with Catholics. This is because of the virtually "unanimous consent of the fa­thers" regarding the identity of the four world powers of Daniel 2 and 7, the fourth power of Daniel as the beast of the Apocalypse, Rome as "Babylon," the Roman break-up as preceding the dread antichrist, and of antichrist as portrayed alike by Daniel, Paul, and John. We can, with tact and logic, then lead from this common ground to the historical identity of the antichrist. This common-ground starting point will prove of immeas­urable value to us.

b. As to Protestants. We have likewise a marvelously winsome basis of appeal to Protestants, whose spiritual ancestors broke with Rome specifically over the identity of the recognized antichrist. Taking as foundational the unassailable primitive position—shared alike by Catholic, Protestant, and Jew—that the four world powers of Daniel 2 and 7 were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecia, and Rome; that after Rome—the "letting" or hindering power —had been broken up, they then took the logical position that the Papacy had been fully unveiled as the "little horn." This was the common denominator of all Protestant witness, and it occasioned the fateful break with Rome. Having adopted the year-day principle and ap­plied it to the prophetic periods, the Protes­tantism of the sixteenth and seventeenth cen­turies laid anew the primitive foundation stones, upon which they built to fair and lofty proportions.

Though they later, in large part, abandoned this position under the impact of the sweeping Catholic counterreformation and countersys­terns of interpretation, we have with Protes­tants this common advance platform with their founding fathers. This affords a matchless basis of appeal as we press upon their hearts their tragic mistake in later repudiating the prophetic truth of the ages. Thus we have a most effective basis of appeal for them to join us in completing the arrested Reformation. Such are the possibilities with Protestants.

c. As to Jews. Constituting a people apart, largely despised among the nations, we have, in addition to a common Sabbath, the common interpretation of the four world powers as the oppressors of the ancient people of God, of Rome's division, and the year-day principle applied to the time periods of Daniel, as enun­ciated by over a score of their own greatest scholars spread over the centuries of the Chris­tian Era. No other Christian body has such a cluster of appealing points of contact with the Jews as we have. And we can lead from these recognized fulfillments of prophecy to the true interpretation of the Messianic, or stone, kingdom, which they wrongly apply to Jewish restoration. This is an approach which has scarcely been touched, and which offers real promise.

d. As to Skeptics. To the skeptical mind, which is acutely aware of the glaring incon­sistencies and contradictions that blight the course of both Catholicism and Protestantism, and which is bewildered and disgusted with their strange shiftings and reversals through

the centuries, our candid portrayal of the fun­damental causes lying back of these betrayals of truth and righteousness, seen through the sources, must by its very candor, logic, and satisfying evidence appeal to all who are really seeking truth and a rational explanation of the seemingly mysterious tangle of history.

______ To be concluded in June

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L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry

May 1939

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