Article by columnist David Qualls published on GreatControversy.org Dec. 10, 2003

QOD 2003 Annotated Edition Series

A Response to Ministry'sQuestions on Doctrine: Then and Now”

Document Structure

Introduction
Whidden Describes Andreasen's Dissent
       Andreasen's Theology of Atonement
       Andreasen's Nature of Christ and “Last Generation” Concept
       Ellen White's Ladder Metaphor
       Whidden Misses the Point
       Two Disagreements Over the Atonement
       First Disagreement Over the Atonement: Simply Terminology?
       Second Disagreement over the Atonement: What is the Final Atonement?
       Two Controversial Issues Stemming from QOD
              QOD View Versus Historic Adventist View
              Ellen White on the Nature of Christ
Whidden's “Suggestions for Further Study”
       First Question—The Last Generation Theology
              Revelation and the Last Generation
              Staying True to the Types
              The Mystery of God is Finished in the Last Generation
              Peter and John Describe the Last Generation
              The Final Sealing and the Last Generation
              Jesus and the Last Generation
              Enoch and the Last Generation
              Job and the Last Generation
              Jesus at the Center of the Last Generation
              God's Last Generation Brings Glory to Him
              God's People Vindicate Him in the Last Generation
              Ellen White and the Final Atonement
       Second Question—God “Dependent” on His People? 
              Remnant Must be Perfected Before Atonement Completed
       Third Question—Didn't Christ Fully Vindicate God's Demands?
       Fourth Question—Is How Christ Disposes of Cases Involved in Vindicating God?
       Fifth Question—Human Effort in Salvation and Vindication
Conclusion
Endnotes

Introduction

In the August 2003 edition of Ministry magazine, there appears a most interesting article by Woodrow W. Whidden entitled, “Questions on Doctrine: Then and Now.”1 In this article we are told that, “Andrews University Press recently released a new edition of the groundbreaking 1957 book, Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine.” The author describes how Questions on Doctrine (QOD) “proved to be one of the most controversial publishing events in the history of Adventism.”2 We hope that republishing QOD does not become the second most controversial.3

Whether that occurs or not remains to be seen. The article's author assures us that the new edition comes complete in its original form, but with new features added. These include “an introduction, annotated footnotes, and an updated bibliography by well-known Adventist historian and writer George R. Knight.”4 Knowing that many Adventists will be disturbed by the reintroduction of QOD, Whidden offers that “Knight has sought to honestly and fairly review the controversial countercharges the book generated.” He describes how Knight purportedly “has pulled no punches,” especially in dealing with the two main issues that propelled QOD into the annals of infamy: (1) the atonement being completed at the cross, and (2) the human nature of Christ. While Whidden's declaration may disarm the concerns of some, caution is in order. Whidden writes from the standpoint of one holding sympathy for certain far-reaching theological positions promoted by QOD—as we shall see.

Whidden Describes Andreasen's Dissent

The Ministry article continues by describing the key background issues and personalities surrounding the initial publication of QOD, at one point acknowledging that certain of the book's answers, “proved to be seriously disturbing for many Seventh-day Adventists.” Whidden next turns his attention to the most prominent voice that had been raised in opposition to the fatally flawed book: that of M. L. Andreasen.

Whidden concedes that Andreasen's “distinctive views on the atonement and the humanity of Christ did seem to represent a certain consensus within Adventist thinking…[and that] many considered his views to be solid Adventist orthodoxy.”5 Interesting concessions—and understatements, these! Regretably, Whidden neglects to follow up on them. Although he doesn't “go there,” QOD represented a whole new direction for the church, one many identified as impossible to reconcile with core Adventist belief.

Andreasen's Theology of Atonement

Whidden gives a brief summary of Andreasen's theology of the atonement, explaining it thus:

The core of Andreasen's theology is that the atonement involved three essential phases. The first consisted of Christ's sinless life of perfect obedience to God's law; the second was His death on the cross where ‘Christ finished His work as victim and sacrifice.’6 While these first two atonement phases were certainly foundational to Andreasen's teaching on the atonement, it was the third that contained the essential focus of his theology, and Andreasen had laid it out in clear and unmistakable language: ‘In the third phase Christ demonstrates that man can do what He did, with the same help He had. This phase includes His session at the right hand of God, His high priestly ministry, and the final exhibition of His saints in their last struggle with Satan, and their glorious victory.’ This third phase, Andreasen said, is now in progress in the sanctuary above and in the church below. Christ broke the power of sin in His lifework on earth. He destroyed sin and Satan by His death. He is now eliminating and destroying sin in His saints on earth. This is a part of the cleansing of the true sanctuary.7

So far, so good. But the above view and its implications are irreconcilable with the New Theology, which is why Whidden moves inexorably to critique the “last generation” concept.

Andreasen's Ideas on the Nature of Christ and His “Last Generation” Concept

The author continues with an analysis of Andreasen's atonement theology, focusing on the aspect of the human nature of Christ and how that relates to Andreasen's “last generation” concept.

The key theological principle that undergirded this Most Holy Place phase of the atonement was Andreasen's Christology. He firmly held that Christ had taken a sinful human nature, just like Adam's after the Fall (in other words, a sinful nature with tendencies to sin). Thus with the empowering Christ as an example to His last generation followers, the final atonement could be effected from the heavenly sanctuary as it played out through the sinless perfected characters of the embattled saints on earth. This final atonement, final generation theology was most clearly set forth in the chapter ‘The Last Generation’ in Andreasen's well-known book The Sanctuary Service.8

Much of this analysis is correct. The author accurately pinpoints the key issue that has divided Adventism since the 1950s: the question of which human nature Christ took when He was upon this earth—the nature of Adam before he fell, or his nature after his fall? Andreasen contended for the position that had prevailed in Adventism for a century—the post-Fall nature.9 On the other side, the small group of church leaders in the 1950s intent on changing the church's theology (so as to improve its image), were exerting every means at their disposal to introduce views that would please their new evangelical friends. Andreasen correctly recognized that the sinful human nature of Christ (post-Fall nature) is key to a complete understanding of the gospel, the cleansing of the sanctuary, and the final atonement as they relate to the culmination of the great controversy. The QOD authors realized that the same issues were key to evangelical acceptance. The church was thus headed for collision between these two conflicting purposes.

We now turn to a brief examination of Ellen White's understanding of this pivotal issue. Was Andreasen correct or are the QOD apologists correct concerning the human nature of Christ and the associated issues of the atonement and last generation?

Ellen White's Ladder Metaphor

In Ellen White's comments on the Sermon on the Mount, she sums up the importance of our understanding concerning Christ's humanity as follows,

Christ is the ladder that Jacob saw, the base resting on the earth, and the topmost round reaching to the gate of heaven, to the very threshold of glory. If that ladder had failed by a single step of reaching the earth, we should have been lost. But Christ reaches us where we are. He took our nature and overcame, that we through taking His nature might overcome. Made ‘in the likeness of sinful flesh’ (Romans 8:3), He lived a sinless life. Now by His divinity He lays hold upon the throne of heaven, while by His humanity He reaches us. He bids us by faith in Him attain to the glory of the character of God. Therefore are we to be perfect, even as our ‘Father which is in heaven is perfect.’10

If we rightly understood the above paragraph, the argument would be over. There would be no need for further discussion; this paper would be complete. Consider what it tells us.

First, the use of the ladder metaphor should not be missed. What is a ladder useful for? To enable a person to reach a place that they are otherwise incapable of reaching were it not for the ladder. How does the person reach that otherwise unreachable place? By climbing one step at a time. What happens if the person climbs partway up the ladder and then decides that the ascent so far is sufficient; that they will be satisfied with the attainments they have already achieved? Do they reach the top-rung destination? Clearly, the answer is no.

Second, what idea is Ellen White emphasizing by her statement that “if that ladder had failed by a single step of reaching the earth, we should have been lost”? In unambiguous language, Ellen White forcefully drives home the point that Jesus must come in a humanity that is like ours. Christ reaches us “where we are.” The ladder rests on the earth; not on an insulated, shock absorber-outfitted platform above the earth. He “took our nature”; His “humanity reaches us”; He was made “‘in the likeness of sinful flesh.’” This isn't simply speaking of the effects of sin. The fleshly desires of sin pulled at Jesus, else He could not have been “tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Note the following,

When Adam was assailed by the tempter, none of the effects of sin were upon him. He stood in the strength of perfect manhood, possessing the full vigor of mind and body.… It was not thus with Jesus when He entered the wilderness to cope with Satan. For four thousand years the race had been decreasing in physical strength, in mental power, and in moral worth; and Christ took upon Him the infirmities of degenerate humanity. Only thus could He rescue man from the lowest depths of his degradation.… But our Saviour took humanity, with all its liabilities. He took the nature of man, with the possibility of yielding to temptation. We have nothing to bear which He has not endured.11

Clearly, the message is that we sinful humans have no excuse. Christ had no advantage over us. He had nothing that we cannot also have. We note that the “effects of sin” that Christ took upon Himself were not limited to the physical and mental aspects. The third dimension of “moral worth” leaves us with no other conclusion than that He took upon Himself those aspects of morality and spiritual weakness that we have to struggle against.

Returning to our previous passage above, we recognize a third point: the ladder reaches to the gate of heaven, it does not come short. It does not take us partway there and leave us to complete the journey on our own. Nor does it excuse our not making it all the way to the “threshold of glory.” And this brings us to our next point.

Fourth, Christ overcame; He was victorious. Not in Adam's nature, but in our fallen, sinful flesh. He condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3), in sinful, human flesh where sin holds its ultimate power. Does He offer the same victory to us? Does He expect the same from us? Unquestionably, according to the quoted passage above, the answer is a resounding yes. “He took our nature and overcame, that we through taking His nature might overcome.” This two-way exchange is a most profound truth. We can partake of His Divine nature and thus overcome as He overcame. Jesus offers a unique promise to the seventh and final church on earth, that last generation, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in my throne, even as I also overcame” (Revelation 3:21).

Finally, the passage above lays out a grand truth and high calling. “He bids us by faith in Him attain to the glory of the character of God.” So this is what it is all about. Indeed the ladder does reach all the way to the “very threshold of glory.” None need be left behind. God's ideal for us is lofty, nevertheless it is attainable through the grace of God. Jesus has shown us the way; He provides the power; He gives us the strength; He will fight our battles if we will but cooperate with Him. “All His biddings are enablings.”12

Summing it all up, the passage ends with the sentence, “Therefore are we to be perfect, even as our ‘Father which is in heaven is perfect.’” “Therefore…” In other words, because (a) Christ came in our fallen, sinful, human nature, and (b) Christ overcame in that fallen nature, and (c) He had no advantage over what is available to us, and (d) He willingly gives us Divine aid in helping us to gain the victory that He won for us, and (e) He bids us to exercise faith and to attain to the glory of the character of God, therefore, (f) He calls upon us to be perfect.

Unmistakably, Mrs. White links the human nature of Christ with the kind of victory that will bring perfection to God's people. The ladder reaches from the lowest to the highest with not a single rung missing. This is a message of hope for the weakest of God's saints. No one need be discouraged by the high calling of God, for there is no depth to which that ladder has not reached. “The very essence of the gospel is restoration.”13

The Desire of Ages (source of the above passages) stands among the most forthright statements of Mrs. White in relation to the nature, purpose, and meaning of the life of Christ. It was the pinnacle of her views of the Savior and His work in our behalf. It may be more difficult to determine the context of some originally unpublished writings by Mrs. White, but this, being prepared for the widest circulation, speaks with great clearness to the issues at hand.

Whidden Misses the Point

Continuing with the Ministry article, Whidden describes Andreasen's views as set forth in the chapter, “The Last Generation” in the book, The Sanctuary Service.

In this chapter Andreasen stated that Satan was not definitively and conclusively defeated at the Cross. Satan's ultimate defeat would be effected through the sinless, perfect histories of the final generation. Andreasen was quick to claim that such a final victory would be achieved only through grace, which would be imparted to the saints from the Great Exemplar in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary.14

While it seems that Whidden makes some effort to treat Andreasen's theology in a fair and accurate manner, here he has slipped. In my reading of the chapter (by Andreasen) under discussion, I did not come away with anything that suggested that “Satan was not definitively and conclusively defeated at the Cross.” To the contrary, Andreasen states that “When Christ died on the cross… Satan was defeated.”15 In the face of Christ's perfect life right up to and including the cross, “Satan was baffled.”16 And again, Satan “knew that when Christ died without his having been able to make Him sin, his own doom was sealed.”17 Surely if Satan realized this, then the heavenly intelligences realized it even more.

What Andreasen does say is that Satan, while knowing of his complete and utter defeat at the cross, refused to accept it. Just as when Job proved him wrong after he had opportunity to take away everything of value to Job, Satan would not accept the defeat, but went back to God and demanded more power to afflict God's faithful servant. Andreasen points out that Satan did not give up in his efforts to fight against Christ. He might have been defeated by Jesus, but he was not going to give up easily. He now went to make war with the remnant of her seed (Revelation 12:17).

Whidden seems to miss the point that Andreasen is making. That is, God takes the opportunity afforded him by Satan's unreasonable obstinacy and makes of it one last demonstration to the entire universe of His love, graciousness, mercy, and power to effect change in the lives of sinful, erring humans. This final demonstration is to be carried out in the last generation upon the earth when man is at his weakest and Satan is at his strongest.

Interestingly, Satan does not give up even after all of this. At the end of the Millennium, when God openly reveals to the universe the whole history of the great controversy18 and when Satan joins the entire universe in confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He was right after all (Philippians 2:10, 11), still he stubbornly persists in his rebellion. Within a short time of his bowing before the universe in defeat, he rallys himself and then persuades that countless throng of the wicked to make one last desperate attack upon God and His people so as to take control of His government. Once more, God has to demonstrate His power. This time, it is final. Satan is truly defeated and destroyed in the fire.

And so, we begin to understand why most Seventh-day Adventists have never seen anything wrong in Andreasen's views as set forth in the chapter “The Last Generation.” What it says makes perfect sense and agrees fully with the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy writings! No problem here.

Nevertheless, Whidden continues,

In other words, this faithful remnant would develop sinless characters that would replicate the sinless perfect life that Christ had wrought out in the very same fallen, sinful human nature. It is this nature that the final generation would overcome. Thus Christ, through the remnant's victory, will defeat Satan, vindicate God's demand for perfect obedience, and this vindication of God will finally enable Christ to come.

What is to be made of this understanding of the atonement in relation to the answers given by the Seventh-day Adventist respondents in QOD?19

We will consider the issues raised in this paragraph further on in this document. We will suggest answers to certain questions posed by the Ministry article. But now we turn our attention to the crucial issue of the atonement. How does Whidden see the QOD view versus the historic Adventist view as set forth by Andreasen?

Two Disagreements Over the Atonement

In his section titled, “Where are we now?” Whidden offers this observation:

When all the dust has settled, we can clearly affirm the following. Neither the authors of QOD nor Andreasen really disagreed about Phases One and Two. There were, however, two disagreements over Phase Three:

The first disagreement had more to do with terminology than substance: The term ‘completed atonement’ that QOD used was fully consistent with Andreasen in the following sense: The atoning work of Christ on the cross was completed in that full provision had been made there to save all. But it was not complete in that the ‘completed act of atonement on the cross is valueless to any soul unless, and until, it is applied by Christ our High Priest to, and appropriated by, the individual recipient.’

It is clear that Froom and Roy Allan Anderson were not doing away with a Most Holy Place phase of atonement. They consistently used the language of “atonement provided” at the Cross and “atonement applied” in Christ's heavenly ministry during the day of atonement antitypes in the Most Holy Place.20

Unfortunately, he misses something crucial. The QOD author's changed terminology drained away the significance of Christ's work in co-operation with us now, and in a slide back to the pre-1844 understanding, put the emphasis back onto a truncated, essentially forensic view of salvation.

First Disagreement Over the Atonement: Simply Terminology?

We take issue with Whidden's characterization of the “first disagreement.” There were and are differences over terminology. However, there is substantial difference that goes well beyond a simple quibbling over terminology.

The QOD sympathizers and apologists clearly want to restrict the atoning act to the cross, thus aligning themselves and the Adventist Church (they hope) with the broader evangelical world. In their minds, any mention of atonement beyond the cross is to be interpreted as a distribution of the benefits of the act of atonement achieved at the cross. Using this terminology, they can then appear to remain within the bounds of authentic Adventism while in reality, they are (we hope unwittingly) denying its very essence. For a profound and well-written article on the significance and meaning of the issue of the Final Atonement for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, please see Dennis Priebe's, “What is the Final Atonement,” available at http://www.dennispriebe.com/documents/What%20is%20the%20Final%20Atonement.html.21

A few quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy will suffice to show that atonement is an ongoing action at present and that it was not completed at the cross:

The intercession of Christ in man's behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross. By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven.22

Jesus is our great High Priest in heaven. And what is He doing?—He is making intercession and atonement for His people who believe in Him.23

Christ died for the sins of the world [why?] that we might have an opportunity of showing to the universe loyalty to God and His law. Today He is making an atonement for us before the Father.24

We are in the great day of atonement, and the sacred work of Christ for the people of God that is going on at the present time [1882] in the heavenly sanctuary, should be our constant study.25

The great plan of redemption, as revealed in the closing work for these last days, should receive close examination.… All need to become more intelligent in regard to the work of the atonement, which is going on in the sanctuary above. When this grand truth is seen and understood, those who hold it will work in harmony with Christ to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God, and their efforts will be successful.26

The blood of Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel the sin; it would stand on record in the sanctuary until the final atonement; so in the type the blood of the sin offering removed the sin from the penitent, but it rested in the sanctuary until the Day of Atonement… Then by virtue of the atoning blood of Christ, the sins of all the truly penitent will be blotted from the books of heaven. Thus the sanctuary will be freed, or cleansed, from the record of sin. In the type, this great work of atonement, or blotting out of sins, was represented by the services of the Day of Atonement—the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary, which was accomplished by the removal, by virtue of the blood of the sin offering, of the sins by which it had been polluted. As in the final atonement the sins of the truly penitent are to be blotted from the records of heaven, no more to be remembered or come into mind, so in the type they were borne away into the wilderness, forever separated from the congregation.27

These quotes clearly demonstrate that the current work of atonement, not just an application of the sacrificial atonement of the cross, but an ongoing atonement in heaven, is the crucial truth to be understood for this time. This is present truth. In fact, Christ's people will not be prepared for His coming until this truth is seen and understood. “When this grand truth is seen and understood…” Satan knows this and he is attempting to lead us down a path that will hide this truth from God's remnant. Unfortunately, QOD moved us significantly along that path toward a view of the atonement that has left us bereft of the power of this message.

Second Disagreement over the Atonement: What is the Final Atonement?

The Ministry article notes the QOD author's second disagreement over Andreasen's Phase Three of the atonement.

However, the second disagreement over Phase Three was much more substantive and significant: The QOD respondents were not enthused about Andreasen's vision of the people of the ‘final generation’ being the agents through which Christ would effect the final atonement. While it appears that they did not directly attack Andreasen's final-generation atonement, they did disagree with the Christology that undergirded it.28

Whidden rightly points out the significant disagreement between the QOD authors and the views of Andreasen over the issues involving the final atonement and the “final generation.” But, contrary to his assertion there is a real difference concerning the meaning of the atonement disagreement over Andreasen's Phase Three. We mustn't miss this. Whidden makes a significant observation in noting that the QOD authors leveled their attack at the final atonement/final generation view, by striking at the undergirding truth of the human, fallen nature of Christ.

We deal with the issues raised in the above section later as we answer questions posed by Whidden.

Two Controversial Issues Stemming from QOD

Continuing, Whidden summarizes as follows:

Therefore, it is safe to say that the two most controversial and ongoing legacies of QOD are that it sparked new discussions of what Adventists mean by the following:
1. The expressions ‘final atonement,’ and
2. The ‘fallen, sinful human nature of Christ.’

These are indeed two crucial points. If we get them wrong, we are liable to misconstrue the whole of our theology.

QOD View Versus Historic Adventist View

It is quite clear that the authors of QOD and their modern-day sympathizers have a view of these two vital issues that is out of harmony with Inspiration and with historic Adventism. This has been well demonstrated in various works such as Ralph Larson's, The Word Was Made Flesh,29 and J. R. Zurcher's, Touched With Our Feelings,30 as well as numerous other articles, books, and other material. Also noteworthy for especially addressing the overarching theological implications is Dennis Priebe's book, Face-to-Face With the Real Gospel.31

An article that should prove pivotal in any discussion of the nature of Christ is Kevin Paulson's, “The Lower and Higher Natures: The Key to Resolving the Adventist Christology Debate.” http://www.greatcontroversy.org/reportandreview/pau-lhnature.php332 available on this website. Paulson's article brings together all relevant Ellen White statements from both sides of the discussion showing that a beautiful harmony emerges once we allow Inspiration to be its own interpreter.

In his book, Zurcher makes the following important point.

Between 1953 and 1957, while unofficial meetings between three or four Adventists and two or three evangelicals were taking place, about 40 theologians under the leadership of Francis D. Nichol were working on The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary.… Although the seven-volume commentary was published in 1957, the very same year as Questions on Doctrine, no trace of the new theology is found in it. On the contrary, many of the supplemental Ellen White statements found in the back of each volume tend to confirm the historical position.33

History is not on the side of the changed nature of Christ view propounded by advocates of the New Theology. Nor is Ellen White found in support as the following section shows.

Ellen White on the Nature of Christ

Here are just two examples of such statements from Mrs. White:

Christ's overcoming and obedience is that of a true human being. In our conclusions, we make many mistakes because of our erroneous views of the human nature of our Lord. When we give to His human nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan, we destroy the completeness of His humanity… The obedience of Christ to His Father was the same obedience that is required of man… Man is, through faith, to be a partaker in the divine nature… The Lord now demands that every son and daughter of Adam, through faith in Jesus Christ, serve Him in human nature which we now have. The Lord Jesus has bridged the gulf that sin has made. He has connected earth with heaven, and finite man with the infinite God. Jesus, the world's Redeemer, could only keep the commandments of God in the same way that humanity can keep them.34

We need not place the obedience of Christ by itself, as something for which He was particularly adapted, by His particular divine nature, for He stood before God as man's representative and was tempted as man's substitute and surety. If Christ had a special power which it is not the privilege of man to have, Satan would have made capital of this matter.35

Even if we were to concede (we don't) that Christ's human nature was somehow closer to the QOD view than to the historical Adventist view, Inspiration still refuses to let us off the hook. Leaving off for the moment the discussion of what her view on the human nature of Christ was, clearly she allows nothing short of complete victory as the Divine expectation—the same victory that Christ was able to achieve. This indisputable fact alone should cause the QOD apologists to stop dead in their tracks. At the same time, it should provide courage to those who seek power over sin in this life.

Whidden's “Suggestions for Further Study”

Whidden then closes the Ministry article with some perspective and several questions intended to serve as “suggestions for further study.” His primary difficulty seems to be with Andreasen's last generation concept as it relates to the final atonement and the perfection of the remnant. In his words, “While there are still those who advocate Andreasen's last generation version of ‘final atonement’ (through the sinless perfection of the remnant), I would like to raise the following questions.” (We've numbered the questions for ease of discussion):

  1. Where in Scripture or in the writings of Ellen White do we find this theology explicitly laid out?
  2. Do Scripture and Ellen White clearly teach that God has made the ultimate success of Christ's atoning work dependent upon the perfecting experience of the ‘remnant’?
  3. Is there not solid Bible and Ellen White evidence for the claim that Christ has fully vindicated God's demand for perfect obedience by His own life and work?
  4. Would it not be more appropriate to suggest that Christ vindicates His Father in the Most Holy Place phase of the ‘great controversy’ by demonstrating that the Trinity has been completely consistent with its nature of infinite love in the disposition of the cases of every human being?
  5. Furthermore, could it be that we are all wrestling with a more foundational issue: (a) What is the role of human effort and accomplishment in the great plan of salvation? (b) How dependent is God on the successes of His professed followers for His own vindication?36

These are the questions he is asking. Are there some answers?

First Question—The Last Generation Theology

Taking the above questions one at a time, we examine the first question, “Where in Scripture or in the writings of Ellen White do we find this theology explicitly laid out?”

“Explicitly laid out”? Frankly, this seems like a strange question coming from a learned theologian of Whidden's caliber. If the bar were set this high for other areas of theology, we would be in trouble. For example, Whidden himself staunchly (and rightly) advocates a position for the doctrine of the Trinity (the co-eternal, co-existent, three persons of the Godhead) in his co-authored book, The Trinity.37 In this book, Whidden and his co-authors go to great lengths to carefully build their case using various Bible passages, grammatical structures, historical analysis, and other methods. Do I hold him to the same standard in his presentation of the Trinity as he demands for the “final-generation” theology? Should I require him to produce from Scripture and Ellen White where his theology is “explicitly laid out”? The fact is, he relies on the same method in his exposition of the Trinity doctrine that I would use in proving the “final-generation” theology, that is, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, rightly dividing the word of truth, and allowing the full weight of Inspiration's consensus to emerge (Isaiah 28:10; 2 Timothy 2:15).

We've already provided some material above to demonstrate the reality of what some have preferred to call the final generation theology, but let's look at yet more evidence…

Revelation and the Last Generation

Consider the following texts:

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12.

And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father's name written in their foreheads. Revelation 14:1.

And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. Revelation 14:3-5.

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. Revelation 19:7-8.

Let's note several things from the above passages.

  1. First, this is unquestionably a prophetic picture of the end-time people of God, the remnant who “ keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17).
  2. Second, Revelation singles out this group as a unique category, designated as the “hundred forty and four thousand.” It further details the number of this group from the 12 tribes of Spiritual Israel (Revelation 7:4-8).
  3. Third, these people are true overcomers under special circumstances.
    1. They have overcome the beast and his image when it is at its most powerful (Revelation ch. 13).
    2. They have gained the victory over sin, Satan, and self in the same way that Christ overcame (Revelation 3:21).
    3. They are not defiled with women; they are virgins. In other words, they have not associated with the harlot woman riding on the scarlet beast nor have they drunk of the wine of Spiritual Babylon (Revelation ch. 17). They have a pure and undefiled religion.
    4. There is no guile (deceit) in their mouth. This is a significant statement in light of what Christ says, “that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matthew 15:11) and what James says “But the tongue can no man tame” (James 3:8), and “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2). Therefore,
    5. They are “without fault” before God.
    6. The wife of the Lamb “hath made herself ready.” That is, the remnant church has taken full advantage of the forgiving and enabling grace of Jesus in overcoming completely. And thus,
    7. She is arrayed in “fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Note that this robe of righteousness is the character of Christ which He imputes and imparts to His remnant church, His bride.38
    8. This group has the Father's name (character) written in their foreheads. This is their identifying mark.
  4. Fourth, this humble group of people is singled out for unique treatment. Heaven bestows special honors and recognition upon them, not because they deserve it, but because God honors those who honor Him. When things were at their worst in the whole history of the great controversy, God could count on this group of people to honor Him. Thus,
  5. Fifth, God is at last, finally and fully vindicated before the entire universe. This final demonstration silences Satan's last lingering accusations. Heaven erupts in exclaiming, “Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are His judgments” (Revelation 19:1-2).

This special, designated group of people stand through the great “time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (Daniel 12:1). They are “wise” and they “shine as the brightness of the firmament.” They “turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

This same group stands through the time when the mediating ministry of their Great High Priest ends; when He pronounces, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still… and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still” (Revelation 22:11). They remain faithful and true even as Christ ends His forgiving intercession; when the “temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled” (Revelation 15:8).

They are among those of whom it is spoken, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). The time for repentance and confession of sin is now over. The antitypical Day of Atonement is in its closing scenes. The sanctuary has been cleansed, its record of sin removed and placed on the head of the scapegoat (Satan). He is about to be led into the wilderness. Leviticus 16.

Staying True to the Types

We would expect that the events of antitype would follow the same pattern as the type. The first few chapters of Leviticus describe the daily service of the sanctuary. But in Leviticus 16 a description of the Day of Atonement is given. Here we see that a special work of cleansing occurs to effect atonement, a final atonement. Note the passage,

For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD…and ye shall afflict your souls… And the priest… shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary… and for all the people of the congregation. Leviticus 16:30-33.

Moving to the antitype, we recognize that the great Day of Atonement began in 1844 (Daniel ch. 7; 8:14). The temple is being cleansed and it is being measured in that day of investigative judgment (Leviticus ch. 16, Daniel ch. 7, Revelation 11:1).

It is interesting to compare the items receiving atonement on the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16:33 to the items being measured (judged) in Revelation 11:1. The following table demonstrates this.


(Leviticus 16:33)
Atonement Made For:
(Revelation 11:1)
Measured (Judged):
Comments
the holy sanctuary and tabernacle of the congregation the temple of God The sanctuary is cleansed of its record of sins
the altar the altar The sacrifice is ultimately effected in the lives of God's people
the priests    Christ does not need to be atoned for, cleansed, or “measured”
all the people of the congregation them that worship therein The people of God are finally cleansed, making a final atonement

As the antitypical Day of Atonement enters its closing scenes, God's people have confessed and put away their sins. Their iniquity has been purged; their sins blotted out. The temple has been measured—God's people have been judged (Revelation 11:1; Daniel 7; 8:14). Staying true to the typical sanctuary service, all of this must be accomplished before probation ends; before the sanctuary closes its doors forever. Leviticus 16; Revelation 22:11; Revelation 15:8.

Once again the biblical data supports the idea of a last generation who will be cleansed of all sin and will be then prepared to stand before a holy God without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27). The at-one-ment is now complete. No sin separates between God and His people (Isaiah 59:2) for they are without fault before Him (Revelation 14:5).

The Mystery of God is Finished in the Last Generation

It is noteworthy to point out that according to Revelation 10:7, “in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished.” And what is this mystery? “God would make known what is…this mystery… Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). In other words, only in the last generation, just before Jesus comes, will the revelation of Christ in human lives be complete. Which is why, even though all promises to the seven churches are given to the overcomers, only the Laodiceans are promised an overcoming experience that duplicates that of Jesus Himself (Revelation 3:21).

Peter and John Describe the Last Generation

Peter describes the characteristics of God's faithful in that last generation,

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 2 Peter 3:10-14.

John describes the last generation of the faithful as follows,

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. 1 John 3:2-3, 7.

It seems that all the Bible is in agreement on this. But there is more.

The Final Sealing and the Last Generation

Revelation describes the sealing of the 144,000 (last generation) in this way,

And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. Revelation 7:1-3.

Who does the sealing?

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption [end of probationary time and the Second Coming]. Ephesians 4:30.

What is involved in the sealing work of the Holy Spirit?

That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Ephesians 3:19.

The following quote from Mrs. White sums it up with unmistakable clarity,

Are we striving with all our power to attain to the stature of men and women in Christ? Are we seeking for His fullness, ever pressing toward the mark set before us,—the perfection of His character? When the Lord's people reach this mark, they will be sealed in their foreheads. Filled with the Spirit, they will be complete in Christ, and the recording angel will declare, ‘It is finished.’39

Notice the sequence: “Filled with His fullness…perfection of character…Lord's people reach this mark…they are sealed in their foreheads…Filled with the Spirit…Complete in Christ…‘It is finished’ [close of probation].”

Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully.40

The Saviour… came to this world and lived a sinless life, that in His power His people might also live lives of sinlessness. He desires them by practicing the principles of truth to show to the world that God's grace has power to sanctify the heart.41

In the day of judgment, the course of the man who has retained the frailty and imperfection of humanity will not be vindicated.… He who has not sufficient faith in Christ to believe that He can keep him from sinning, has not the faith that will give him an entrance into the kingdom of God.42

These are just a sample of the passages from both the Bible and Ellen White that conclusively reveal that those who receive God's end-time seal will have gained complete victory over sin. We ask, do not the Scriptures and the writings of Ellen White in fact teach the “last generation theology” that Andreasen echoes?

Jesus and the Last Generation

But Inspiration says more…

And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. Revelation 14:5.

This is an obvious reference to the prophecy in the book of Zephaniah,

The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth. Zephaniah 3:13.

Compare this with the experience of Jesus,

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. 1 Peter 2:21-22.

Revelation reveals that the experience of Jesus will be duplicated by the experience of His followers in that last trying hour. The last prophetic church (Laodicea) has a unique promise given it,

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame. Revelation 3:21.

There is no cheap grace here, only the most expensive variety, that which cost the sacrifice of Christ our Lord.

Enoch and the Last Generation

Mrs. White calls our attention to those who will be “fitted for translation,” (the last generation), comparing their experience with that of Enoch:

While the eyes of the righteous are fixed upon the heavenly, priceless treasure, they will be more and more like Christ, and will be transformed, and fitted for translation.43

There should be a continual effort to imitate the society we expect soon to join; namely, angels of God who have never fallen by sin. The character should be holy, the manners comely, the words without guile, and thus should we follow on step by step until we are fitted for translation.44

Those who come up to every point, and stand every test, and overcome, be the price what it may, have heeded the counsel of the True Witness, and they will receive the latter rain, and thus be fitted for translation.45

There is to be a people fitted up for translation to heaven, whom Enoch represents... A theoretical knowledge of the truth is essential. But the knowledge of the greatest truth will not save us; [our] knowledge must be practical. God's people must not only know his will, but they must practice it. Many will be purged out from the numbers of those who know the truth, because they are not sanctified by it. The truth must be brought into their hearts, sanctifying and cleansing them from all earthliness and sensuality in the most private life. The soul temple must be cleansed.46

Notice how she ties together three concepts, (a) fitting up for translation, (b) Enoch represents this group, and (c) their soul temples must be cleansed, an obvious reference to Day of Atonement language.

Be ambitious, for the Master's glory, to cultivate every grace of character. In every phase of your character building you are to please God. This you may do; for Enoch pleased Him though living in a degenerate age. And there are Enochs in this our day.47

Here we see where she ties together character perfection with bringing glory to God as did Enoch (the prototype of those who are translated at the Second Coming). See also Maranatha, pp. 71-72. But of course, there's more:

May the Lord help us to make a success of perfecting Christian character, that we may be fitted for translation to heaven.48

The experience of Enoch and of John the Baptist represents what ours should be. Far more than we do, we need to study the lives of these men,—he who was translated to heaven without seeing death; and he who, before Christ's first advent, was called to prepare the way of the Lord, to make His paths straight.… As was Enoch's, so must be their holiness of character who shall be redeemed from among men at the Lord's second coming.49

Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God's people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages of Revelation 14.50

Here we note several things, (a) Christ ceases His intercession, (b) He ceases His work as mediator, (c) those righteous living through this time must have spotless robes and characters purified from sin, (d) there is to be a special work of purification and cleansing prior to the close of the sanctuary. The more we read from Inspiration the more we find that Andreasen's theology was right on the mark.

Job and the Last Generation

In the book of Job, God asks Satan, “Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8) In the book of Revelation, God declares that there is a whole group of Jobs at time's end. “Here they are,” He says; “These are My faithful, patient, enduring, saints.” They “keep the commandments of God,“ and they have “the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).

Revelation mentions the “patience” of the saints. This reminds us of what James says, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job…” (James 5:11). And his admonition to “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:8). Job vindicated God's character by his patient, enduring faithfulness. Similarly, God's patient, enduring saints at the end of time will vindicate God's character.

Jesus at the Center of the Last Generation

Enoch, Job, Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, and Jesus Himself are forerunners of those who are overcomers in Revelation's final generation. Just as Christ is the forerunner and firstfruits of those who will be resurrected to life eternal, so He is a forerunner of and example for those who will overcome as He overcame (Revelation 3:21). Because of His victory and example, the last generation will have victory. Christ ultimately wins in the end because of what He did while on this earth and because of what He does through His people in earth's last generation. Jesus is at the center; He is the Author and Finisher, the focus of the last generation and of the whole universe as He is vindicated in His faithful remnant.

All of these have one thing in common. Enoch, Job, Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, and Jesus were more interested in vindicating the character of God than in saving their own lives. In the case of Moses and Jesus, and arguably the others as well, they were willing to give up their own salvation in order to save others. This is the experience of the last generation. They are more interested in vindicating God's name, His character than even in having their own names in the book of life.

God's Last Generation Brings Glory to Him

Revelation's first angel tells us to “Fear God, and give glory to him” (Revelation 14:7). One way we glorify God is in how we take care of our physical health, “glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Jesus tells us that we “are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). So we see that Revelation portrays a people who give glory to God in their witness, their works, their life, their character. God is vindicated by His faithful people at the end. Mrs. White says it this way,

The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them. The light of the Sun of Righteousness is to shine forth in good works—in words of truth and deeds of holiness.51

Notice that the last message of mercy to the world is a revelation of God's character of love. How is this revelation given? By God's people manifesting in their lives what enabling grace can do in and for them. By their good works, deeds, and holy life.

Scriptures are replete with the concept of God's glory being synonymous with character. It also says much about the saints bringing glory to God by His empowering them to fruitful, righteous living. For example, Moses asked God to show him His glory. God's response was to show him His character (Exodus 33:18-19; 34:6-7). In Romans 3:23, Paul parallels sin and coming short of God's glory, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Ephesians 3:16-21 speaks of God's glory being revealed in the lives of His saints because of what God is doing in their lives, while Philippians 1:11 declares God is glorified by the fruits of righteousness in the lives of His followers, “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”

The Bible predicts that the whole world will one day be filled with the glory of the Lord (Numbers 14:21; Psalms 72:19: Isaiah 40:5). The remarks from Numbers and Isaiah are especially powerful, since God places His own honor on the line: “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Numbers 14:21). “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 40:5).

“As truly as I live,” and “the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” are the best guarantees one could ask for! God's last generation will bring glory to Him. Revelation 18:1 proclaims that “the earth was lightened with his glory.”

The evidence for Andreasen's last generation theology is found throughout the record of Inspiration. The question is, what are we going to do with this knowledge? Some want us to ignore the evidence, others would have us re-interpret it while they offer up alternative views; views that fit in with the prevailing current in the fallen churches around us. What are we going to do? God is waiting, longingly waiting for His beloved people to get serious; to allow Him to fulfill His promises in them.

God's People Vindicate Him in the Last Generation

The writings of Ellen White clearly teach that God's last generation people are called upon to vindicate God's character before the world and that this involves perfection of character.

Just before us is the closing struggle of the great controversy.… If there was ever a people in need of constantly increasing light from heaven, it is the people that, in this time of peril, God has called to be the depositories of His holy law, and to vindicate His character before the world.52

The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating agent, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail.… It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world's Redeemer. It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given His Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress His own character upon His church.… Of the Spirit Jesus said, ‘He shall glorify Me.’ The Saviour came to glorify the Father by the demonstration of His love; so the Spirit was to glorify Christ by revealing His grace to the world. The very image of God is to be reproduced in humanity. The honor of God, the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of His people.53

The sacrificial atonement would be “of no avail” without the Holy Spirit doing His part to glorify God by reproducing in humans the “very image of God.” And how is it that God is honored? “In the perfection of the character of His people.”

Could it be written any more plainly?

Ellen White and the Final Atonement

Whidden and the QOD sympathizers should not take up a case against Andreasen. In reality, their quarrel is with Scripture and with the writings of Mrs. White. Yet here is what such statements say:

On the Day of Atonement two kids of the goats were brought to the door of the tabernacle.… Not until the [scape]goat had been thus sent away did the people regard themselves as freed from the burden of their sins. Every man was to afflict his soul while the work of atonement was going forward. All business was laid aside, and the whole congregation of Israel spent the day in solemn humiliation before God, with prayer, fasting, and deep searching of heart.54

Now Christ is in the heavenly sanctuary. And what is He doing? Making atonement for us, cleansing the sanctuary from the sins of the people. Then we must enter by faith into the sanctuary with Him, we must commence the work in the sanctuary of our souls.55

We ask, are the above passages from both the Bible and the writings of Ellen White “explicit” enough? Is there not enough evidence to take Andreasen's final generation theology very seriously? Is there not enough light on this subject to cause us to admit the bankruptcy of the QOD sentiments touching the above issues?

Second Question—God “Dependent” on His People?

Moving on to Whidden's second question, “Do Scripture and Ellen White clearly teach that God has made the ultimate success of Christ's atoning work dependent upon the perfecting experience of the ‘remnant’?”

What the author of this question may not realize is that God's mercy is being questioned here. If God is not dependent on the perfecting of His end time saints, then He will have to close up the sanctuary with or without them. An attitude on God's part of “Ready or not, here I come,” is the only alternative, for it is abundantly clear in Inspiration that those who will be translated must be spotless in character, without sin in the sight of a holy God with no benefit of a mediator to forgive sin. The next section establishes this fact from Inspiration.

Remnant Must be Perfected Before Atonement Completed

In that fearful time, after the close of Jesus' mediation, the saints were living in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor. Every case was decided, every jewel numbered.… Now there was no atoning blood to cleanse the guilty, no compassionate Saviour to plead for them, and cry, ‘Spare, spare the sinner a little longer.’56

The Most Holy Place ministry of the atonement is now complete. God's people must have overcome every sin for there is no atonement available at this time. Christ's atoning work must be accomplished by the perfecting of His saints.

Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God's people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages of Revelation 14. When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing.57

When is Christ able to come? “When this work shall have been accomplished.” What is this work? “A special work of purification, of putting away of sin.” When is this work performed? While Christ is making “intercession“ in the heavenly sanctuary; while the atonement is taking place.

I also saw many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully.58

How can we miss the plainness of this?

I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful… Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had… no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father… I saw that none could share the “refreshing“ unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence.59

It is abundantly clear. First, the preparation during the atonement phase, then the saints live without an intercessor; without a mediator. They must be spotless, having obtained complete victory. How could it be stated any more clearly?

We are preparing to meet Him who, escorted by a retinue of holy angels, is to appear in the clouds of heaven to give the faithful and the just the finishing touch of immortality. When He comes He is not to cleanse us of our sins, to remove from us the defects in our characters, or to cure us of the infirmities of our tempers and dispositions. If wrought for us at all, this work will all be accomplished before that time. When the Lord comes, those who are holy will be holy still. Those who have preserved their bodies and spirits in holiness, in sanctification and honor, will then receive the finishing touch of immortality. But those who are unjust, unsanctified, and filthy will remain so forever. No work will then be done for them to remove their defects and give them holy characters. The Refiner does not then sit to pursue His refining process and remove their sins and their corruption.… It is now that this work is to be accomplished for us.60

Having established that God's last generation must be cleansed of all sin and have perfect characters, we look at the second aspect of Whidden's question, Is God “dependent” on His last generation to vindicate His character? We saw these passages above, but it is worth repeating.

If there was ever a people in need of constantly increasing light from heaven, it is the people that, in this time of peril, God has called to be the depositories of His holy law, and to vindicate His character before the world.61

The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating agent, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail.… Christ has given His Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress His own character upon His church.… Of the Spirit Jesus said, ‘He shall glorify Me.’ The Saviour came to glorify the Father by the demonstration of His love; so the Spirit was to glorify Christ by revealing His grace to the world. The very image of God is to be reproduced in humanity. The honor of God, the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of His people.62

The evidence given here and elsewhere throughout this paper is coercive and more than adequately answers Whidden's question number two. Inspiration undeniably affirms that God has made the ultimate success of Christ's atoning work dependent upon the perfecting experience of the remnant, an experience that He longs to impart to His people.

Third Question—Didn't Christ Fully Vindicate God's Demands?

The third question in the Ministry article states, “Is there not solid Bible and Ellen White evidence for the claim that Christ has fully vindicated God's demand for perfect obedience by His own life and work?”

We do not dispute the fact that Christ has fully vindicated God's demand for perfect obedience. Christ is the only human whom God can point to as a perfect example from His birth to His death. All other humans have sinned and come short (Romans 3:23). But there is one potential vulnerability for God. Satan can make the claim (whether true or false makes no difference to him) that Jesus, being both God and human, had some sort of advantage over others. Indeed, we hear echoes of this argument today.

If Satan could make this accusation stick, he could claim the victory. He could say, “Jesus was the only one who could really keep God's law. What do you expect? After all He was both God and man.”

The only answer for God is to produce a whole group of humans who keep God's law and, like Jesus, do it under the most trying of circumstances. Christ promises the last church the ability to overcome just as He overcame (Revelation 3:21). We should not miss this point.

Our God is not in the business of leaving any questions unanswered in the great controversy. He will meet all possible objections. We need only look at the life of Job for an example of this.

So while the perfect, sinless life and sacrifice of Christ should fully answer all questions (and ultimately it does), God will go the extra mile. He is very patient and long-suffering towards His finite creatures who do not fully comprehend His character versus the character of sin. God will not bring this controversy to an end until all questions have been answered. There will be absolutely no room for any doubts as to God's character, His requirements, or His power to give weak, sinful humans the ability to be in complete harmony (at-one-ment) with Him.

Which brings us to the last generation. Satan has been marshalling all the deceptive powers of hell to hurl at God's last generation people. He has nearly 6,000 years of experience on his resumé. He is pulling out all the stops in his endeavour to cause God's people to miss the mark; to fall short; to let God down.

On the other hand, God has unleashed the power of vital truths recovered, re-activation of the gift of prophecy as a special guiding light to His remnant, and the promise of Divine aid itself; all to enable His faithful in the last momentous showdown to come off more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). God's people will bring glory to God by His demonstrating His redeeming power in their lives.

When Satan threw everything he could at Job, God was proven right. When Satan throws everything at the last generation, God is again proven right before men and angels. Satan has exhausted his claims; he has been allowed to give it his “best shot” and he has failed miserably. Like Job, the last generation vindicates God's claims and His character. God will prove that He can empower a whole generation of His faithful saints and that He is able to keep them from falling, and to present them faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24).

Fourth Question—Is How Christ Disposes of Cases Involved in Vindicating God?

Whidden's fourth question asks, “Would it not be more appropriate to suggest that Christ vindicates His Father in the Most Holy Place phase of the ‘great controversy’ by demonstrating that the Trinity has been completely consistent with its nature of infinite love in the disposition of the cases of every human being?”

The wording selected by Whidden signals something. The final atonement has been underway in the heavenly sanctuary's Most Holy Place since 1844. Whidden, avoiding the term “final atonement” instead calls it “the Most Holy Place phase of the ‘great controversy.’” But it is better known to most Adventists as the “great Day of Atonement” or the “final atonement” or the “antitypical Day of Atonement.” These are, of course, terms that Ellen White and our pioneers used when referring to Christ's atonement process since 1844. Curiously, Whidden makes use of the term “great controversy” only here in his article.

Coupling the “final atonement” in the Most Holy Place period of Christ's ministry with the concept of the “great controversy” highlights the nature of the issues at stake and how God goes about resolving them. But the presently continuing atonement in Christ's heavenly ministry spotlighted by the great controversy tends to bring discomfort to those who have favored the QOD positions.

It is worth reminding ourselves that the New Theology has no true atonement phase with Jesus in the Most Holy Place, just a phase where the benefits of the already completed atonement are distributed. The New Theology has a truncated great controversy concept, one which is neither concerned to discover nor cares to explain any reason behind the delay of Christ's return. Inspiration spells out what that reason is—Heaven awaits a final demonstration in God's people of the power of the gospel to change people; to change people to the point that they can stand before God without fault (Revelation 14:5).

In any case, responding to the above question, we simply ask, Would it not be more appropriate for Christ to show His infinite love for humanity and to vindicate His Father's character of love by freeing His faithful at last from the power of sin? By bringing a whole generation of His people to the place where they would rather die than commit a wrong against Him? Revelation resounds with the victories of God's people over the worst circumstances in the history of the great controversy. This is heaven's triumphant hour. The Groom is coming to take His bride home to be with Him. His wife hath made herself ready and is clothed in spotless, white linen. God's character is vindicated. Satan's lies are silenced. As one person has put it, “God will demonstrate, not state, this incredible fact [complete at-one-ment] which Satan says can never happen.”63

We have certain expectations of judges on earth. We count on them to administer their cases in a fair, equitable, just, and hopefully merciful way. How God disposes of cases is how God saves people. He makes no arbitrary rulings in heaven's court. He does not clear the guilty by providing a covering for their unforsaken sin (Exodus 34:7). He is a complete Savior. His business is to separate sin and sinners; to save them from their sins (Matthew 1:21). That is what the whole atonement process accomplishes. Scriptures and Ellen White make this abundantly clear. God vindicates His character by demonstrating that salvation is complete; that sin is no match to his empowering love; that His faithful people will remain loyal under the fiercest of temptations and trials.

Fifth Question—Human Effort in Salvation and Vindication

The final question asks, “Furthermore, could it be that we are all wrestling with a more foundational issue: (a) What is the role of human effort and accomplishment in the great plan of salvation? (b) How dependent is God on the successes of His professed followers for His own vindication?”

First of all, we want to make it abundantly clear that man's part in the salvation process carries no merit toward that salvation. Second, and this is very important, while we can do nothing without God, He will do nothing for us without our cooperation. That is not to say that He has done nothing before we were born or that He did not send us enabling grace to empower us to choose to cooperate with Him in the first place. But, in His great plan of redemption, God has so ordered it that He does nothing in our lives by way of applying His grace to our lives unless we meet the condition of cooperation. What does Inspiration say about this?

We might ask a very simple question, What does salvation mean? The angel announcing the soon coming arrival of Christ provides a simple, yet profound answer; an answer that would solve many a theological debate were we to take it at face value.

And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

Salvation involves forgiveness.

Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).

In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).

Salvation involves sanctification of the Spirit.

God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

While God is the One who empowers, we have a part in the great work of salvation.

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13).

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily Colossians 1:27-29).

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1).

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).

Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin (Hebrews 12:4).

As seen here, Scriptures clearly place human effort within the salvation process, while just as clearly revealing that human activity receives no saving merit. Next we will discover whether Ellen White is in agreement with the Bible on the issue of human effort in the saving process.

‘For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.’ 1 Corinthians 3:9. Man cannot be towed to heaven; he cannot go as a passive passenger. He must himself use the oars, and work as a laborer together with God. If you think you can lay down the oars, and still make your way upstream, you are mistaken. It is only by earnest effort, by using the oars with all your might, that you can stem the current.… There are two grand forces at work in the salvation of the human soul. It requires the cooperation of man with the divine agencies—divine influences, and a strong, living, working faith. It is in this way only that the human agent can become a laborer together with God.64

In the work of salvation, God requires the cooperation of man. The Christian must put forth strenuous exertions, and God will unite divine grace with his human effort… In the work of salvation the grace of Christ is united with a willing and obedient service, on the part of man… Supplication will be made to God for His transforming grace.65

No man can of himself work out his own salvation, and God cannot do this work for him without his cooperation. But when man works earnestly, God works with him, giving him power to become a son of God.66

The Lord can do nothing without man's cooperation, and it is thus that man works out his own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in him to will and to do of his good pleasure.67

God will not do for man that which He requires man shall do for himself through his own earnest willing cooperation.68

He [God] requires your entire cooperation.69

Here is some abundant good news:

The heavenly intelligences will work with the human agent who seeks with determined faith that perfection of character which will reach out to perfection in action. To everyone engaged in this work Christ says, I am at your right hand to help you. As the will of man co-operates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings.70

The above passages provide conclusive evidence that human effort is a part of the salvation process; not for merit; but as a necessary condition. Could we thus say that God is dependent on human action? Surely it is by His own choice for God truly depends on no one unless He chooses to do so. Was God “dependent” on Job for vindication? Yes, but only by His own choice. Ultimately, God needs no one to vindicate Him. But in His great mercy and infinite wisdom, He sees this as the best way to win over the creatures He has made. This is the best way to resolve the whole rebellion problem and to make the universe a safe place once again. Who are we to question God's wisdom and methods?

For further study on the topic of human involvement in the salvation process, we refer the reader to Larry Kirkpatrick's book, Real Grace for Real People.71 This book deals with the role of human effort and accomplishment in the plan of salvation, and chapters 9-11 with the three positions commonly taken on the role of obedience.72

Conclusion

Again we ask, is the evidence in Scriptures and the writings of Ellen White “explicit” enough to debunk the New Theology that is espoused by QOD and its sympathizers? While seeking to avoid labeling anyone, we are left with little choice but to recognize that the five above quoted questions and other sentiments expressed in the Ministry article under discussion lead in the wrong direction. Unquestionably, the consensus of Inspiration strongly favors the views as set forth by our pioneers, by M. L. Andreasen and other faithful stewards of God's word.

One last quote from the Ministry article states,

In the final analysis, the most controversial outcome of the QOD debates flows from the issues surrounding ‘The humanity of Christ.’ Without Andreasen's undergirding ‘post-Fall’ view of Christ's human nature, Andreasen's version of the perfecting of the final generation and its role in God's vindication is called into serious question. Here too is the most important legacy of QOD.73

In reply, we concur that the humanity of Christ is a central issue to all the discussion surrounding the QOD debates. We would add to that the significance and meaning of the atonement. What is abundantly clear, is that the proponents of QOD have ignored an overwhelming body of Scriptural and Spirit of Prophecy evidence that conclusively contradicts their thesis. As we have demonstrated above, the views that were historically Adventist that were so persuasively and profoundly brought to us by M. L. Andreasen and other faithful saints, are firmly grounded in the Bible and writings of Ellen White.

We believe that God's truth still stands, both “then and now.” And it will stand at its brightest in that last generation when God can say, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12). In that hour, God will at last be able to “present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Thy judgments” (Revelation 16:7).


ENDNOTES
  1. Woodrow W. Whidden, “Questions on Doctrine: Then and Now,” Ministry, August 2003 (Seventh-day Adventist Ministerial Association, Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association), pp. 14-18.
  2. ________, Ibid., p. 14. Actually, an error in the printing of the original press run delayed the introduction of the book until October 2003.
  3. The Adventist News Network (ANN) released a statement announcing the recent release of the annotated, republished book “Questions on Doctrine” by the Andrews University Press,
    http://www.adventist.org/news/data/2003/10/1069166562/index.html.en, accessed 11/18/03.
  4. Whidden, “Questions on Doctrine: Then and Now,”, p. 14.
  5. Ibid., p. 15.
  6. M. L. Andreasen, The Book of Hebrews (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1948), p. 53.
  7. Ibid., pp. 59-60.
  8. Andreasen, The Sanctuary Service (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1937, 1947).
  9. Ralph Larson, The Word Was Made Flesh, (Cherry Valley, CA: Cherrystone Press, 1986); J. R. Zurcher, Touched with Our Feelings, (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1999).
  10. Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898, 1940), pp. 311-312.
  11. Ibid., p. 117. (All emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted.)
  12. ________, Christ Object Lessons, p. 333.
  13. ________, Desire of Ages, p. 824.
  14. Woodrow W. Whidden, “Questions on Doctrine: Then and Now,” p. 15.
  15. Andreasen, The Sanctuary Service, p. 309.
  16. Ibid., p. 310.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ellen G. White, Great Controversy, (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), pp. 662-671.
  19. Woodrow W. Whidden, “Questions on Doctrine: Then and Now,” p. 15.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Dennis Priebe, “What is the Final Atonement,” http://www.dennispriebe.com/documents/What%20is%20the%20Final%20Atonement.html, accessed November 30, 2003.
  22. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 489.
  23. ________, Testimonies to Ministers, p. 37.
  24. ________, Sermons and Talks, Vol. 2, Manuscript 21, 1895, p. 112.
  25. ________, Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 520.
  26. ________, Ibid., p. 575.
  27. ________, Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 357-358.
  28. Woodrow W. Whidden, “Questions on Doctrine: Then and Now,” p. 17.
  29. See Footnote 9.
  30. J. R. Zurcher, Touched With Our Feelings, (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1999).
  31. Dennis Priebe, Face-to-Face With the Real Gospel (Frederick, MD: Amazing Facts, 1990).
  32. Kevin D. Paulson, “The Lower and Higher Natures,” http://www.greatcontroversy.org/reportandreview/pau-lhnature.php3.
  33. Zurcher, Touched With Our Feelings, p. 167.
  34. Ellen G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, p. 929.
  35. Ibid., p. 930.
  36. Woodrow W. Whidden, “Questions on Doctrine: Then and Now,” p. 17.
  37. Woodrow Whidden, et al, The Trinity (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 2002)
  38. Ellen G. White, Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 310, 311.
  39. ________, Early Writings, p. 71.
  40. ________, Review and Herald, April 1, 1902, par. 8.
  41. ________, Review and Herald, June 10, 1902, par. 15.
  42. ________, Selected Messages, Vol. 3, p. 360.
  43. ________, Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 4b, p. 112.
  44. ________, The Faith I Live By, p. 69.
  45. ________, Lift Him Up, p. 375.
  46. ________, Review and Herald, May 24, 1887, par. 1.
  47. ________, Christ Object Lessons, p. 332.
  48. ________, The Youth's Instructor, September 6, 1894, par. 5.
  49. ________, Gospel Workers, 1915 edition, pp. 51-54.
  50. ________, The Great Controversy, p. 425.
  51. ________, Christ Object Lessons, pp. 415-416.
  52. ________, Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 746.
  53. ________, The Desire of Ages, p. 671.
  54. ________, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 355.
  55. ________, “Sabbath Talk at the Minneapolis General Conference,” October 20, 1888, Manuscript 8, 1888 Materials, p. 127.
  56. ________, Early Writings, pp. 280-281.
  57. ________, The Great Controversy, p. 425.
  58. ________, Maranatha, p. 41.
  59. ________, Early Writings, p. 71.
  60. ________, The Faith I Live By, p. 218.
  61. ________, Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 746.
  62. ________, The Desire of Ages, p. 671.
  63. ________, Dennis Priebe, “What is the Final Atonement,” http://www.dennispriebe.com/documents/What%20is%20the%20Final%20Atonement.html, accessed November 30. 2003.
  64. Ellen G. White, Our High Calling, p. 310.
  65. ________, Review and Herald, October 30, 1888, par. 3
  66. ________, Ibid., June 4, 1914, par. 8.
  67. ________, Signs of the Times, January 17, 1895, par. 1.
  68. ________, Manuscript Releases, Vol. 4, p. 336.
  69. ________, Ibid., Vol. 20, p. 290.
  70. ________, Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 332, 333.
  71. Larry Kirkpatrick, Real Grace for Real People (Ukiah, CA: Orion Publishing, 2003). Also available from most “Adventist Book Centers” (ABC).
  72. Kirkpatrick spends three chapters dealing with the issue of precedence—the relationship between obedience and salvation. He outlines three positions: P1 (first I am saved, and then I obey), P2 (first I obey, then I am saved), and P3 (God and man speak in the same moment; God empowers faith, man exercises faith, man obeys, all in the same moment. Salvation is a co-operative, univocal, transforming experience). This is an answer to the superficial understanding of “fruit and root” so common in Adventist circles, and which QOD systematically promotes.
  73. Woodrow W. Whidden, “Questions on Doctrine: Then and Now,” p. 17, 18.

Document Changes:
Minor changes, December 14, 2003.


David Qualls is an active member of the Tulsa, Oklahoma Seventh-day Adventist Church. Raised a Seventh-day Adventist by godly parents, he turned his back on God in his teens, but by the grace of God returned to the faith of his youth with a strong desire to serve God and to help others prepare for His soon coming. He has served in several self-supporting ministries and currently resides near Tulsa with his wife, Ruth. Having earned degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, he currently works in the software development field for a large telecommunications firm. Taking an active interest in current theological issues within the Remnant Church, he desires to let God use him to spread the true gospel and to help others avoid being blown about by every wind of doctrine.

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