Prophecy and Community

Speaker: Categories: Mar 10, 2007


[56min, 54sec / 52min, 19sec]


"… no prophecy recorded in Scripture was ever thought up by the prophet himself. It was the Holy Spirit within these godly men who gave them true messages from God."(Living Bible) And as SDAs we would comfortably rephrase the above for our Living Bible to include himself and herself as well as godly men and women - or at least men and woman. Our Twenty-seven (now Twenty-eight) Fundamental Beliefs makes this clear in item #17:"One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White,"Dr. Baldwin points out in his overview of the topic he'll present on March 10."In the 70's and 80's,"he continues,"a number of Adventist scholars re-evaluated the prophetic gift of Ellen G. White. Popular Adventist theology has held that a prophet does not make significant errors and is original, not depending on sources. The publications of the reevaluators, (however), showed that she made significant errors and was dependent on sources. Most of the Adventist defenders of her prophetic gift tried to present historical evidence that she did not make significant errors and was original, and they were unsuccessful. For many Adventists this information destroyed the claims for her prophetic gift. Most Adventist biblical scholars knew that Old Testament prophets made significant errors and were not prevailingly original, but they did not emphasize this idea, perhaps because it would appear to undermine the authority of the Bible. We need to develop a doctrine of prophecy which will clarify the divine activity in individuals and the community which produces authoritative documents like the Old Testament. In 1980 Robert Wilson, an Old Testament scholar at Yale, published Prophecy and Society in Ancient Israel, in which he applied sociological and anthropological analyses of contemporary religious specialists to the prophets of the Old Testament. He summarizes behavioral science analysis by saying,'The anthropological evidence suggests that if charisma is a gift of the gods, it is also a gift of the society.'(p.58) This proposed theory of prophecy and revelation assumes that God creates and sustains laws of psychology and sociology. These laws are not self-working through power delegated to them at a remote moment of creation in the past.'God does not annul His laws, but He is continually working through them, using them as His instruments. They are not self-working.'(8 T 259.9 paraphrased from a Sermon by Henry Melvill) In prophecy God works through the laws of psychology and sociology in individuals and communities. Worldviews are developed when communities pool through socialization what individuals have learned about God, man, the world and the community. One strand of the Abrahamic community has recorded aspects of world view, selected from these records and developed the Bible.


Dr. Dalton Baldwin has shared his research and convictions with SDAF on three previous occasions:• 9-96 Development of Biblical Concept of God • 2-00 Creation and Time: Biblical Reflections • 2-03 Life (Death) Before Adam"The Ellen White blue print of Dr. G. F. Wolfkill and Dr. Mary C. McReynolds,"he notes,"dominated the Pacific Union College community throughout my childhood and my elementary, secondary and college education. During my first quarter century I lived at Angwin. When studying at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, I emphasized systematic theology and wrote an M. A. thesis entitled, The Concept of the Will in the Writings of Ellen G. White. Some of the faculty who resonated with Luther's On the Bondage of the Will thought this thesis was too rational and philosophical. The second thesis for the Bachelor of Divinity inquired from the writings of Ellen G. White about the proper role of reason and disciplined thought in the life of faith. She emphasized the importance of the scientific pursuit of health for the life of faith and taught that we should base our faith on evidence that appeals to our reason. (SC 104) I concluded that all faith decisions should be guided by a carefully reasoned weighing of evidence. Edward Heppenstall, my advisor, gave me an A for effort, but asked me if I had ever read Kierkegaard or Barth and told me that I did not know what faith was. He pointed to'the paradox'as the object of Kierkegaard’s faith. After teaching Bible at Shenandoah and Blue Mountain academies, I studied at Princeton Theological Seminary while pastoring a three church district near Philadelphia. My Th. M. thesis at Princeton, Paradox, Nonsense and the Role of the Understanding in Soren Kierkegaard, sought to overcome my"deficient"appreciation of the paradox. I agreed that Kierkegaard was a brilliant genius but retained my conviction that faith decisions should be guided by a rational and scientific weighing of evidence. Graham Maxwell apparently thought my emphasis on scientific rationality might be helpful at Loma Linda where the religious significance of the scientific pursuit of health is so important. He called me to teach religion to students in scientific disciplines. After teaching there for thirty years, I have concluded that I need another thirty years to work out a scientifically responsible systematic theology. I married Barbara Britton in 1956. We have three children: Cheryl, an Ob-gyn physician, Yvonne, a pediatrician, and Duane, urology staff member, LLU .”

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