Introduction to the Seven Trumpets
There are four views of doing prophetical exegesis in the book of Revelation: 1. Preterist: The book of Revelation is viewed through the eyes of John the disciple and takes place during the first century. 2. Futurist: The prophecies in the book of Revelation all take place at the end of this world before and during Armageddon. 3. Historical: The prophecies in the book of Revelation take place during earth´s history from Adam and Eve to the Second Coming of Christ. I have added a fourth view which is emerging from Seventh Day Adventist theologians and the ecumenical movement. 4. Ecumenical world view: anything goes, if it fits your exegesis, then use it. This would also include the scientific theory used in Biblical exegesis today. However, they do not criticize any church denomination, a method many mega churches use from the pulpit today.
When doing an exegesis using the historical method of the Seven Trumpets in the book Revelation, we find in chapters 10 and 11, the sweet and bitter experience of the Adventist message in 1843. Revelation chapters 10 and 11 reveal the foundation of the Adventist teachings on the heavenly sanctuary from the Bible and Bible only.
However, upon reading Ranco Stefanovic´s commentary: “Revelation of Jesus Christ,” one can see that his analysis of the Seven Trumpets, especially in chapters 10 and 11 is completely void of the early Adventist Bible teachings of the sweet and bitter experience of 1844.
He does however, say on page 340, “Seventh-day Adventist Christians have seen in Revelation 10 a special prophetic significance for their life and mission. In John´s bitter and sweet experience they have seen what is known as the great disappointment experienced by the Millerite movement in 1844.”
When Stafanovic writes about Seventh-day Adventist Christians, he writes in the third person, as if he is not an Adventist or even believes in the 1844 Adventist experience. Upon researching Stefanovic´s background on the internet, we find that he has grown up in a Roman Catholic family. When analyzing the Seven Trumpets in the book of Revelation, we find he is very much pro-Roman Catholic in his teachings. That is, he avoids, using negative words pointing to the Roman Catholic Church or the papacy, e.g. The mark of the beast in Rev 13.
The historical method is very clear whom the scriptural text is talking about when referring to the sea beast in Rev 13:1-10 e.g. the papacy in the Roman Catholic Church system. However, Stefanovic on page 347 in his book says, “Whatever the time designation of forty-two months might refer to, in Revelation it is always associated with the wicked who, for a long period, held dominion over God´s faithful people.” He does not name the papacy in the Roman Catholic Church system, who held dominion over God´s faithful people, but calls them, “wicked.” This is just one of many statements he uses to avoid using the name papacy in the Roman Catholic Church system.
When referring to the sea beast in Rev 13:1-10 on page 410 and 411 in his book, he calls the sea beast a political power through which Satan works actively throughout the earth´s history. This statement is far from the truth as Seventh-day Adventists understand or teach, because we understand the sea beast as both a religious and a political power who did not live throughout earth´s history. Again, we can see Stefanovic is whitewashing Adventists understanding and teachings of prophecy, in the book of Revelation.
In referring to the 1260 day/year prophecy from 538-1798. Rev 12:6.14. 11:3.2. This prophecy is one of the central teachings of the Adventist church, yet we find that Stefanovic does not accept or even believe in this teaching. In referring to antichrist he quotes from Le Roy Froom on page 346, “Le Roy Froom observed that among the historicist interpreters there is a disagreement as to when to begin and when to end the 1,260 day/year period of Antichrist.”
We also find that Stefanovic is not alone in not believing in the 1,260 day/year prophecy. Samuele Bacchiocchi in www.biblicalperspectives.com/endtimeissues/eti_90.html also does not believe in this prophecy. Bacchiocchi lists a few other Adventist theologians who agree with him positively on the subject: Hans LaRondelle, Jon Paulien, Ranko Stefanovic, Zdravko Stefanovic, Roy Gane, and Robert Johnson. Jacques Doukhan was the only one who disagreed with Bacchiocchi´s conclusion about the 1260 day/year prophecy.
Stefanovic wrote on Bacchiocchi´s list: “The information presented in your paper are factually documented and the evidences are weighty. I find the concerns you have expressed to be very similar to mine while I was writing my commentary on Revelation. Also, your perception regarding my position is very correct: I avoided assigning any date to the threefold time designation [of the three and half years/1260 days/42 months] in Revelation. I agree with you that A. D. 538 has been exaggerated; in order to get that date, the year 1798 was established first, and then the 1260 years were deducted from it.”
When one makes a statement like this, one questions the beliefs of Stefanovic. Does he believe in the Adventist teachings and prophecies of Daniel and Revelation? Does he believe in the writings of Ellen G. White, especially the book: The Great Controversy? Does he believe in the atrocities of the papacy in the Roman Catholic Church system during the Dark Middle Ages: that they killed over 50 million Roman Catholic members of the church, because they read the Bible and became Protestants? I have a feeling that this man does not believe in these things, and much more. That is why he writes in the third person when referring to Seventh-day Adventists.
As regards to a correct exegesis on determining the dates of 538-1798 for the 1260 day/year prophecy, see my website on www.ayin.dk Dan 11:14. Who are the Sons of Robbers? The two dates from 538 to 1798 reveal the time the papacy was allowed to rule with political and military power during the Middle Ages. This political power began when Clovis the king of Franks (later called France) supported the bishop of Rome, later called the papacy, in establishing their policies. The papacy came to use military power of the state to enforce its dogmas. This political power was taken away in 1798, and the papacy has remained a spiritual power ever since.
On Bacchiocchi´s list of theologians who do not agree with the 1,260 day/year prophecy, is Jon Paulien. Paulien was Stefanovic´s professor, when he did his PhD, dissertation. Therefore, Paulien has had some influence in the way Stafanovic has written his theological teachings on Revelation.
What kind of influence?
Paulien expresses his method of communicating theology in his talk on “www.YouTube.com: Revelation 13 and the Papacy”. This was at the 12th Annual Seminary Scholarship Symposium at Andrews University Seminary.
Paulien´s views come from his own life´s experience. He starts off, with his first evangelistic series in New York. He talks about his experience of presenting the subject: The Mark of the Beast to a group of Roman Catholics in his audience which backfired, and they did not come to his meetings anymore. Hence, the lesson he learned from that experience was to preach the love of Christ and be silent on the teachings causing hostility to the church. This is the same evangelistic tool the congregational church and mega churches use to attract members throughout the USA.
This ecumenical world view is clearly outlined in Stefanovic´s book: Revelation of Jesus Christ.
What is wrong with this ecumenical world view, which so many Adventist theologians embrace today?
First of all, the method of evangelism is different to the study of theology when using hermeneutical tools. I have spent over 40 years doing evangelism and have learnt that one can tailor make your evangelistic meetings to suit your audience. One learns to adapt.
On the other hand, the purpose of theology, especially the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, is to bring the truth out of the text and not to adapt it to suit the reading audience. This is what Paulien and Stefanovic are doing. They are uplifting Christ, which is positive, but they are avoiding the theological texts which bring hostility to the church. They call this exegesis, however this kind of exegesis is based on the world ecumenical view of the Bible, and not the Biblical view. That is they take a common consensus of what the theologians of the world from different denominations have written on a certain text, and express this as theological truth.
The question with this form of theological study is, who knows that these theologians are correct in their theological studies. A PhD, degree in theology does not give a guarantee the right explanation to a Biblical text they are writing on. Furthermore, one can have more than one theologian writing on a given text and they come to two different conclusions. Hence, bringing confusion and ambiguity to the text, e.g. Stefanovic´s book: Revelation of Jesus Christ. As a result, they incorporate quotations saying, “Seventh-day Adventist believe this,” and the message comes through, that they do not believe what the Adventist teach.
This kind of hermeneutical study does more harm than good, and brings confusion to our members in the Adventist church, and trains a new generation of young ministers at our theological institutions to think ecumenically to suit the audience. Hence, neutralizing and dismantling the prophetical teachings of the Adventist church from the books Daniel and Revelation.
The Problem with theologians named by Bacchiocchi and their attitude to the 1,260 day/year prophecy
What these theologians are saying is, we do not believe in the 1,260 year/day prophecy from 538 – 1798 A.D., because it cannot be verified from the Bible or church history. They come to this conclusion, because they have been trained in the PhD, theological program using sources from other theologians of different church denominations e.g. Roman Catholic and Lutheran etc. Many theologians from different church denominations belong to the world ecumenical church view of theology and know nothing about Seventh-day Adventist theology. They use each other’s sources even if they might be wrong, bringing double meanings to the text in question.
These Adventist theologians named by Bacchiocchi have a problem, and that is they do not believe in the writings of Ellen G. White, especially the book The Great Controversy, which gives the opposite explanation to their ecumenical theological worldview from different denominations. Hence, one finds for example Paulien attacking the book The Great Controversy, by calling it “Roman Catholic bashing,” because it does not belong to his ecumenical theological worldview from different denominations.
This creates a large problem amongst our theologians in the Adventist church, of which they do not have a solution. If we take this problem to the General Conference, it would be too great for them to handle, because they would be up against the PhD, theological program in the church worldwide.
The solution is, to change the way we do exegesis. We should never start by using sources from theologians from different church denominations, or even our own theologians from the Adventist church. Why? Because they might be wrong in their exegesis. We should start with our own personal long tedious word studies from the Bible and Bible only, using the Greek and Hebrew when necessary, along with syntax and word analysis and grammatical construction. We should never use the theological dictionaries available because all theologians come to their text with preconceived ideas and beliefs. When we have done our own exegesis, then we can compare our results with other theologians and never before.
The norm today, is to avoid personal exegesis and go straight to the sources of other theologians. This kind of hermeneutics brings double meanings, ambiguity and confusion to the text. In addition, I find doing a correct exegesis gives no problems with the book: The Great Controversy or from the writings of Ellen G. White on prophecy. But the ecumenical world view of doing exegesis gives many problems of which Paulien and Stefanovic are encountering.
This ecumenical world view of exegesis is being taught in our theological institutions around the world today. If this kind of teaching continues as outlined in Stefanovic´s book : “Revelation of Jesus Christ,” then I can see Ellen G. Whites prediction being fulfilled shortly, when over half of our ministers and theologians will leave the Adventist Church during the time of trouble. Why? Because they have failed to learn to do a correct exegesis of the Bible and Bible only. Martin Luther said at Worms, “Her I stand, I can do no other.” This is solar scriptura, the Bible and Bible only in exegesis.
See my website www.ayin.dk Daniel 11: are we doing exegesis or eisegesis? For a further analysis of exegesis in the church.