Date of Award

1982

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Religion, Theological Studies PhD

First Advisor

Hans K. LaRondelle

Second Advisor

Raoul Dederen

Third Advisor

William G. Johnsson

Abstract

The writings of Ellen G. White, pioneer leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, exhibit two apparently contradictory streams or thought on the time of the parousia. On one hand she wrote that the time of Christ's coming is fixed by God and will occur soon; on the other, that He has been delayed by the church's failures to preach the gospel and live holy lives. Her point of entry into eschatological thought was the prediction of William Miller that Christ would return in 1844, rooted in the time prophecies of Daniel and summarized in the three angels' messages of Rev 14:5-12. She based her conviction of the soon coming of Christ on the past fulfillment of those prophecies. They took precedence in her mind over the familiar signs of the times. Christ's soon coming became a motive behind all White's exhortations to holy living and diligent witnessing. Her ethical program was inspired by the Millerite movement and informed by the Holiness movement. The prophecy of the three angels explained her people's place in salvation history and gave them their commission: to prepare a people to meet the Lord. While White consistently wrote of the nearness of the end throughout her ministry, she added the concept of contingency and delay in 1883, in reply to a critic's charge that she was a false prophet because Christ had not come. She said He had been delayed by the past and present sins of His people. Delay then became a new motive behind the same exhortations seen in the nearness stream of her thought. The tension between nearness and delay can not be completely harmonized in Ellen White's writings, except perhaps by suggesting that the time of the end is fixed from God's view point but delayed from man's. She shares many characteristics with ancient apocalypses in which contradictory statements were often laid alongside each other without trying to work out all the logical questions. The fact that she used both nearness and delay as motives behind the same kinds of exhortations shows that White was more concerned about the ethical effects of her eschatology than about its chronology.

Subject Area

Second Advent, White, Ellen Gould Harmon, 1827-1915--Theology, Andrews University--Dissertations--Second Advent.

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