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 Articles: Raymond Cottrell on Dr. Ford
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Exegesis of Daniel

by Raymond Cottrell

Ford's Analysis of the Problem

In his Glacier View document Ford makes an exhaustive analysis of the problems contemporary Adventist scholars encounter in the traditional sanctuary doctrine. In Chapter 2 he enters into an exhaustive study of the fact that the Book of Hebrews does not teach the traditional view of two apartments, or phases of ministry;45 in Chapter 3 a similar study of the Rook of Daniel.46 All of the pioneer positions on the sanctuary were wrong exegetically,47 and the church has already modified fifty-five details of the doctrine in its original form.48 At some length he explores twenty-two points of difference between the original teaching of the church on the sanctuary, and its present official position.49 Elsewhere he enumerates twenty facets of the doctrine which most of our scholars who have worked in these areas would agree are defects.50 Twelve "popular presentations of the sanctuary doctrine" during "the proof-text era of Adventism (until the establishment of our seminary) . . . have repeatedly been challenged by Adventist scholars, and several of them at least, repudiated by a majority of those who are specialists in the areas of Scripture concerned.51 Dr. Roland Loasby, one of his professors at the Seminary, repeatedly affirmed in class that "the traditional sanctuary doctrine was one built on sand."52 Numerous studies conducted at the Seminary over the years have sided "against the earlier positions."53

In an extended footnote Ford lists eighteen points on which the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary implicitly takes exception to the traditional interpretation of the sanctuary, Daniel 8:14, and the investigative judgment.54 Our own Commentary, he says, "has laid foundations which effectually make it impossible to build the former doctrinal structure in this area." Among these are (1) its denial that the Book of Hebrews teaches our sanctuary position, (2) plain statements that the New Testament writers all expected Christ's return in their generation, (3) the conditional element of prophecy, (4) the fact that prophecy always had a direct relevance for the people first addressed, (5) the meaning of various Hebrew and Greek terms, and (6) the Commentary's refusal to be dogmatic in areas where the facts do not permit. "These," Ford says, "have, for those who read, changed the complexion of our former apologetic in the area of the sanctuary."55 The Commentary clearly affirms that Christ could have returned to earth within the first century of the Christian Era.56

The Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly for the first quarter of 1967 was "light years beyond all previous studies in published form on Daniel and the sanctuary."57 Among other things it affirmed the conditional nature of Old Testament prophecy, the fact that Daniel 8:14 is related to its context, and the fact that the judgment of Daniel 7:9-13 is concerned with the little horn rather than with the saints. That Quarterly was "revolutionary in Adventist literature."58

The basic problem Adventist scholars today see in the traditional doctrine of the sanctuary is that it makes Daniel 8:14 out to be a contextual island.59 Contextually, verse 14 is the answer to the question of verse 13, which summarizes the vision of verses 9 to 12, whereas the traditional view ignores this relationship and interprets verse 14 by analogy with Leviticus 16 and Hebrevs 9.60 Instead of listening to Daniel and giving him an opportunity to explain verse 14 it goes to Moses and Paul, neither of whom is dealing with the same subject as Daniel, as determined by context.60

In context, the sanctuary of verse 14 is the Temple in Jerusalem, whereas the analogy with Hebrews 9 defines it as the sanctuary in heaven. Also in context, the sanctuary of verse 14 has been defiled by the little horn (verses 9-12), but the traditional interpretation has it defiled by the confessed sins of God's repentant people transferred there by the atoning blood of Christ.

According to the KJV of Daniel 8:14 the sanctuary is "cleansed" (folloving the LXX instead of the Hebrew text), and the traditional view equates this presumed moral cleansing with the ritual cleansing of the earthly sanctuary on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). Hut the word the KJV trans- lates "cleansed" in Daniel 8:14 is nisdaq, which means "made right" or "restored" but never "cleansed," whereas the word for cleansing in Leviticus 16 is taher, which always refers to ritual cleansing.61

In context, the 2300 evenings-mornings of verse 14 are 2300 sacrificial worship services, one each morning and one each evening, as would be conducted over a period of 1150 twenty-four-hour days. The twenty-two assumptions the traditional interpretation makes in reckoning the 2300 evenings and morn-are "interlocking in such a way that if one falls, so do the others."62 By a series of twelve interlocking assumptions--for not one of which is there clear biblical or historical evidence--the traditional view terminates the 2300 evenings-mornings on October 22, 1844. The year-day principle is not an explicit, or even implicit, biblical datum,63 and none of the dates the traditional interpretation associates with the 2300 evenings-mornings can be verified historically beyond a shadow of a doubt.64 The 2300 evenings- mornings do not begin at the same time as the seventy weeks of chapter 9. In context, they commence with the desolation of the sanctuary by the little horn and span the time during which it lies desolate. In the traditional interpretation they begin with the decree to restore and build the Temple in Jerusalem. The traditional interpretation, following the proof text method of Bible study, thus "entirely ignores the context."65

In context, the sanctuary of verse 14 is restored to its rightful state after having been desecrated and laid desolate by the little horn of verses 11 to 13. The traditional interpretation has it cleansed of the confessed sins of God's repentant people, transferred there by virtue of the atoning blood of Christ on the cross. This cleansing is described as an investigation of the life records of God's professed people, to determine their eligibility for admission to heaven. This "investigative judgment" is equated with that of Daniel 7, which, in context, is the judgment of the fourth beast and its little horn, and that of Revelation 14:6-7, also in context, is the judgment of Babylon the great.66 On seven points Old and New Testament scholars both "frequently confess that it is scripturally impossible to prove our doctrine of the investigative judgment." The investigative judgment "is dependent, not upon plain didactive statements of Scripture, but upon a prolonged series of assumptions and inferences--most of which are highly debatable."67 "Certainly the Scripture teaches a judgment for all men, but it is not one that holds fear for the true believer."68

According to the Book of Hebrews, Christ entered upon His high priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary at the time of His ascension, when He cleansed, or purified it in the sense of Hebrews 9:23-24,69 whereas the traditional view has Him doing so on October 22, 1844. Almost unanimously contemporary Seventh-day Adventist New Testament scholars affirm this interpretation of the passage.70 "The consequences of these facts are momentous for the church.71

Christ and the New Testament writers unanimously refer to His return as occurring within their generation.72 This the traditional interpretation denies when it affirms, on the basis of Daniel 8:14, that He could not return until 1844.73 "This writer [Ford] wholeheartedly agrees with the Spirit of Prophecy, the SDA Bible Commentary, and numerous of our scholars, such as R. Cottrell, D. Neufeld, etc., that the long delay in our Lord's return was not necessary, but caused by the failure of the church.74

The Bible teaches that sins are fully atoned for when we confess and forsake them, and are forgiven; tradition has them transferred to the heavenly sanctuary by the blood of Christ, there to await a final atonement during an investigative judgment that began in 1844. Anciently the blood of sacrificial animals presented by the common people was never taken into the first apartment of the sanctuary--representing the transfer of their sins to the sanctuary, as the traditional view holds. According to the Bible, sacrificial blood always cleanses; according to the traditional view the sin-laden blood of Christ defiles the heavenly sanctuary.75

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