April May June 2011
VOLUME 12, ISSUE 2
D E P A R T M E N T S
Your paradigm makes all the difference
Richard and I were walking through Loma Linda on his lunch break one day early in 1998. We had decided to remove our sons from the Adventist school they had been attending and to enroll them in a local Christian academy, and this decision had stirred up unexpected scrutiny of our reasons for moving away from our past.
As we walked we talked about the great controversy. We had always assumed it explained reality in a clear and accessible way, but we suddenly faced new questions. If Jesus completed His atonement and its application at the cross, disarming and humiliating Satan in the process (Col. 2:14-15), how could He be engaged in an ongoing battle with Satan?
I realized that the notion of Satan and Jesus struggling as more-or-less matched opponents was uncomfortably reminiscent of the Mormon idea that Lucifer and Jesus had been brothers, one of which had “gone bad” and one of which was good. The victorious Jesus we had been discovering in the New Testament had never been exalted to be equal to the Father; He had always been the eternal, omnipotent “I AM”.
We realized with a sense of shock that the great controversy represented a false view of reality. We knew we had to renounce our Adventist worldview and submit our minds and hearts to Scripture alone, allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us what was true and real from God’s own word.
It would take several more years for us to be able to distill the foundational doctrines out of the convoluted tentacles of the great controversy worldview, but as time passed it became increasingly clear that this paradigm is what all Adventists hold in common. The great controversy view of reality is what makes Adventists—from the most historic to the most liberal—Adventists.
Even when individual Adventists hotly and widely disagree over their interpretations of Adventism, they circle the wagons and stand as a united front when “outsiders” question them. Nevertheless, they have trouble articulating, even to themselves, what keeps them together.
The key to understanding Adventism is found in the great controversy paradigm. At the heart of this controversy lies the well-camouflaged belief that makes Adventism different from evangelical Christianity: a different Jesus and a limited God.
In this issue we will take a close look at the great controversy worldview and how it shapes reality for Adventism. I am indebted to a new book published by Pacific Press and compiled by Herbert Douglass, The Heartbeat of Adventism: The Great Controversy Theme in the Writings of Ellen G. White, for many of the EGW quotations in this article.
Also in this issue Martin Carey shares an in-depth analysis of Robert Brinsmead’s Awakening movement that started in the 1960’s and heavily influenced Adventist thinking for nearly three decades, and Dale Ratzlaff shares the conclusion of his two-part article on “Progressive Sanctification”.
Our faith story is written by “Bethany, A Child of the King”. Bethany tells her story of God rescuing her from the splintered, frightening existence caused by severe abuse within her Adventist family. Carolyn Macomber tells of her discovery of what it means that God is sovereign, and Chris Lee challenges us again to begin living “the life after” by engaging in active Bible study.
Why is this issue so late?
We are sorry that this magazine was delivered several months late.
This ministry has been impacted by the ongoing recession. Some of our supporters have lost their jobs or are facing other difficulties.
If you are being compelled by God to support this work, now is the time. We plan to produce two more issues this year. Most importantly, please continue to pray for Proclamation! magazine and Life Assurance Ministries.
New! Email updates, news and articles
We are offering a new service to our subscribers. If you send your email address we will send you our new weekly update, Proclamation! News, by email. †
Copyright 2011 Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., Casa Grande, Arizona, USA. All rights reserved. Revised July 27, 2011. Contact email: email@example.com
For further STUDY
Back issues of Proclamation! and additional studies:
Books and other materials by Dale Ratzlaff and the option to donate online with your credit card:
Commentary/study of the daily Sabbath School lessons: