Date of Award

1987

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Religious Education, PhD

First Advisor

Roy C. Naden

Second Advisor

Hans K. LaRondelle

Third Advisor

Abraham Terian

Abstract

Problem and purpose. Though Seventh-day Adventist theology is apocalyptically oriented, recent denominational studies indicate a lack of personal hope or assurance with respect to an imminent eschaton and the simultaneous revelation of divine judgment. Because existing studies focus specifically on judgment inRevelation to help Adventist teachers, this dissertation first offers a contextual study of judgment emphasizingits Christological/soteriological dimensions.

A second concern is with historicism as an exclusive interpretive model for apocalyptic. Though offering a sense of denominational uniqueness and mission, historicism leaves major portions of the Apocalypse with little relevance for and limited application to current issues confronting contemporary Adventists. This study offers an expanded interpretive approach in which historicism and a philosophy of history approach are united in a way that recognizes both specific historic fulfillments, and enduring principles which allow further applications relevant to Christians in every age.

Findings. Salvation (or vindication) and judgment (or condemnation) are presented in the Apocalypse as distinct opposites inseparably united. Both come as results of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb, and each individual experiences one or the other according to the response made to that sacrifice. Whenever John uses the term "judgment" (substantive or verb form) he intends the wrath of God, a selective retribution upon the wicked only, that simultaneously rescues those who trust in the Lamb. In practical terms judgment is universal inthe Apocalypse. All men are judged either in the Lamb or by the Lamb. Thus only those outside of Christ personally experience the execution of "judgment." This emphasis on the Lamb makes the cross the decisive eschatological event. The fatal sin in the Apocalypse is rejection of the Lamb. Its visions of judgment represent Christ's active consummation of His salvific work legally accomplished at Calvary.

Therefore the Apocalypse never calls God's people to trust in a personal saving righteousness, but in a saving righteous Person: Christ, the Lamb slain but glorified. Because the Lamb was slain, the saints will reign.

Conclusions. How men relate to the atonement of Christ determines how they will be related to at the appearing of Christ. Divine judgment simply confirms the verdict men have passed on themselves by their attitude toward God's saving purposes in Jesus Christ.

Subject Area

Judgment Day

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