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 Articles: Raymond Cottrell on Dr. Ford
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Exegesis of Daniel

by Raymond Cottrell

A History of Problems With the Sanctuary Doctrine

In 51 pages the first chapter reviews the experience of seventeen church leaders over the preceding 130 years who struggled with the sanctuary problems. Twelve of the seventeen left the church primarily or in part because they could not reconcile the traditional sanctuary doctrine with the Bible, or who were disfellowshiped for presumably heretical views on the subject. The remaining five were equally aware of the problems but elected to remain with the church rather than make an issue of them.11 First of the twelve was O.R.L. Crosier, author of the original exposition of the sanctuary doctrine in the February 1846 Day-Star Extra. Scarcely had James and Ellen White adopted Crosier's heavenly sanctuary interpretation of Daniel 8:14 and the disappointment of October 22, 1844 when Crosier himself abandoned the idea.12 (In 1850 James White wrote that the idea of a "day of judgment . . . prior to the second advent . . . is certainly without foundation in the word of God," but six years later ardently defended the investigative judgment.13) Notable among the others Ford mentions as challenging the sanctuary doctrine were D. M. Canright in 1887,14 A. F. Ballenger in 1905,15 E. J. Waggoner about 1907,16 E. S. Ballenger about 1911,17 W. W. Fletcher in 1930,18 L. R. Conrade in 1931,19 Harold Snide about 1945,20 and R. A. Greive in 1955.21 All of these had served the church faithfully for many years as ordained ministers, Bible teachers, or administrators, and in each instance their departure resulted in the loss of talented service to the church.

Among more recent leaders Ford documents as acknowledging unresolved problems with the sanctuary doctrine but remaining with the church are W. W. Prescott, M. L. Andreasen, F. D. Nichol, L. E. Froom,22 and W. E. Read.23 For fifty years Prescott, for instance, distinguished himself as an able and respected minister, Bible teacher, educator, and administrator. His views on the sanctuary were similar to those of Ballenger, Fletcher, and Conradi, yet he remained a faithful servant of the church to the close of his life.24

Repeatedly in his Glacier View document Ford cites the SDA Bible Commentary as tacitly recognizing the inaccuracy of the traditional sanctuary doctrine--for instance, its comment on the sixth and ninth chapters of the Book of Hebrews. He quotes at length from an exchange of correspondence initiated by F. G. Clifford, president of the Australasian (now South Pacific) Division, with F. O. Nichol, editor of the Commentary, protesting the proposed comment on these chapters, which Nichol defended and retained.25

Ford recalls the sharp challenge of Walter Martin and Donald Barnhouse to the sanctuary doctrine in the mid-1950's, and the 1958 questionnaire in response to which twenty-seven leading Bible scholars of the church acknowleged the lack of any linguistic or contextual basis for the traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14.26 He refers also to the GC Committee on Problems in the Book of Daniel, which deliberated for five years (1961 to 1966) without resolving any of the problems.27 Another facet of the problem to which Ford calls attention is the fact that over the past 130 years the church has found it necessary to modify fifty-five details of the doctrine in its original form.28 Chief among these changes were abandonment of the shut-door theory about 1851, and the "old view" of "the daily" about 1910. He points out that the pioneers originally adopted the sanctuary doctrine because it seemed to them to confirm their "shut-door" theory, according to which human probation closed October 22, 1844.29 This theory limited eligibility for salvation to those who then awaited the return of Christ.

The expression "shut door" originally referred to the shut door in the parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, which was considered prophetic of the 1844 experience. The sanctuary doctrine with its door to the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary shut on October 22 was thought to add support to the shut door theory. Over the years 1846 to 1851 the sanctuary doctrine was considered one facet of the shut door theory.30 By about 1851, however, the pioneers had abandoned the shut door idea, but retained the heavenly sanctuary explanation of the great disappointment of October 22, 1844.30

The first decade of the twentieth century witnessed an acrimonious debate between the so-called "old view" and the "new view" of "the daily" in Daniel 8:11-13. According to the old, or pioneer view, "the daily" represented pagan worship, which was "taken away" by the papacy (identified as the "abomination that makes desolate"). This interpretation, which originated with William Miller, was based on an incorrect verbal analogy with 2 Thessalonians 2:7 that isolated Daniel 8:14 from its context. But the question of verse 13, to which vers 14 purports to be the answer, insists that verse 14 is intimately related to its context.

By identifying the daily of verses 11 to 13 as the ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, and its cleansing as a restoration of the knowledge of His ministry there (by the sanctuary doctrine), the new view exalted Christ and gave verse 14 a more direct and logical relation to its context. "The battle over the 'daily' was a battle to give the context its right place, and thereby to understand the answer of 8:14 in harmony with the question of verse 13."31 To advocates of the new view such as Conrade, Prescott, Daniells (then president of the General Conference), W. C. White, F. M. Wilcox, and W. A. Spicer, these were the primary reasons for adopting the new view.

But to proponents of the old view, the new view tacitly ignored the traditional interpretation of verse 14 as the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary from the confessed sins of God's repentant people transferred there by the atoning blood of Christ, in an investigative judgment,32 approved by Ellen White in Early Writings and The Great Controversy. To advocates of the old view such as C. W. Irwin, S. N. Haskell, J. N. Loughborough, G. I. Butler (a past president of the General Conference), O. A. Johnson, L. A. Smith (son of Uriah Smith), F. C. Gilbert, J. S. Washburn, and G. B. Starr, the new view constituted a tacit rejection of Ellen White, and they appealed to her for support. She, however, refused to decide the issue and sent the proponents of both views back to the Bible for an answer.33 More or less by default and attrition the new view eventually replaced the old view.34

In addition to this intermittent internal debate over various aspects of the sanctuary doctrine, Ford notes that non-Adventist biblical scholars have consistently branded it as unscriptural. For instance, Donald G. Barnhouse characterized the investigative judgment as

the most colossal, psychological, face-saving phenomenon in religious history. . . . We personally do not believe that there is even a sus- picion of a verse in Scripture to sustain such a peculiar position, and we further believe that any effort to establish it is stale, flat, and unprofitable . . . unimportant and almost naive.

Ford also mentions the fact that no non-Adventist Bible scholar has ever accepted the Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14, the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, and the investigative judgment.36

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