Does Goldstein have reason to be worried?

Clifford Goldstein is not only the editor of our word-wide Sabbath School quarterly, but is also a well-known (and gifted) Adventist author and one of the regular columnists of the Adventist Review. Faithful readers of this journal (and its digital by-products) will know that Clifford (“Cliff” for those, like me, who know him well personally) has a sharp pen and will also know that there are two topics in particular that he keeps coming back to. One is his concern that various forms of theistic evolution are invading the church. He sees this as a threat that leads many church members to abandoning, or at least diluting, the “fundamental belief” in a recent, literal creation in six days. Often his way of dealing with those who deviate from the traditional Adventist creation viewpoint is far from subtle. In fact, he believes (and proclaims) that those who no longer accept the concept of a literal creation, as pictured in the Genesis account, must show their integrity and consider giving up their Adventist church membership.

Goldstein’s second major concern is that there is an increasing number of voices within contemporary Adventism that attack traditional Adventist eschatology. In his June 17 Review article, entitled “The Same Old Whine (of Babylon)”, he complains that no longer are the Adventist end-time concepts only attacked by our enemies on the outside, but also by enemies from within. He does not mince words. I quote: “It’s the same old whine (of Babylon), only coming from among us: Rome is no longer an important player; Sunday persecution will never arise; our end-time scenario is from Ellen White, not the Bible; and we must stop scaring people.”

Reading this article, I wondered what (or who?) had ignited Goldstein’s ire. I could not help but asking myself whether I am perhaps included among “the enemies from within”. I know that Clifford reads at least some of what I write and has more than once been very critical about it. And, lately, some of my weekly blogs about aspects of end time events may have upset him. Or are perhaps the authors of recent articles in the Adventist Today journal (and on the AT website) among those “enemies from within?” Or, could it be that a recent lecture by Jon Paulien, about coming Sunday laws and Ellen White’s perspective on the Great Controversy, are particularly worrisome to him?

It is my suspicion that this recent contribution of Jon Paulien to the discussion of the traditional Adventist end-time scenario may well have been the direct reason for Goldstein’s article. After all, Paulien is a widely recognized specialist on eschatology, with a long and esteemed career in the Adventist academic world. He wrote several books about end-time matters. They were in many ways thought-provoking, but not controversial. It probably surprised Goldstein (as it surprised me) that in this recent lecture Paulien told his audience he does not believe the traditional end-time scenario will necessarily play out in the way Adventists have proclaimed. There may not be a future worldwide Sunday law with fateful consequences for those who want to worship on a different day. And the end-time scenario that looked very credible to believers in the late nineteenth century has lost much of its credibility. Those who are curious what Paulien actually said, may to Youtube: ttps://

I listened to Paulien’s presentation with great interest. Paulien gave solid arguments for his views, and they largely coincide with conclusions I have also come to. I am not worried by what he said, but see it rather as a hopeful sign that perhaps the time is coming that we can have frank discussions about eschatology, without condemning one another and considering those who differ from what we think as “enemies from within”. In 2011, I gave a presentation during a conference of European Adventist theology teachers at Cernica in Rumania. I recently adapted it for an article in the journal SPES CHRISTIANA (of which I now happen to be the editor). It was entitled: “Is the Adventist Hermeneutical Approach to Daniel and Revelation Changing?” (vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 5-24). My tentative conclusion was that there are some signs that this is indeed the case. And Paulien’s lecture seems to confirm this. Goldstein may be worried about it, but it gives me hope that we can begin to update our end-time beliefs and ensure their relevancy and credibility for a future generation.

7 thoughts on “Does Goldstein have reason to be worried?

  1. Cliff Goldstein


    Two quick points

    1) I had written the column a good two weeks before I heard anything about what Jon said and so I was not obviously responding to him but if he said what you claim then it would fit him as well.

    2) I couldn’t help but notice that nowhere in your blog did you respond to my biblical arguments. Why not, if you disagree, deal with them?

    Your old friend,


    1. Reinder Post author

      Thanks, Cliff for your comment.
      Responding to the biblical arguments is not so straightforward it it may seem. The question is: How do we read the Bible, in particular its apocalyptic portions. And, what hermeneutical principles do we use? Do we see the historicist approach as the only avenue towards a correct understanding?
      I guess my main objection to your article (and to some of the other stuff you write) is that you see those who disagree as “enemies” of the church, where I believe we need to see those who think differently as dialogue partners. As we dialogue, we learn and may see reason to modify our standpoints. That constantly happens to me as I go through life. Blessings!

  2. Jovan

    You bring credibility to this church and your willingness to look at all angles of arguments is only going to strengthen those who love this church and have no intentions to undermine it.

    1. Reinder Post author

      Thanks, Jovan. Such comments give me courage and the sense that my writing does at least help some to stay committed to adventism, but at the same time long for more openness and true dialogue.

  3. Cliff Goldstein


    It will probably be fruitless to have an incessant back-and-forth on this topic but I want to respond and then you can respond if you want and then I will stop.

    First, I don’t remember ever calling people who disagree with me in the church “enemies.” As I have said to you before, there are certain doctrines that are very important to me. In fact the only reason that I am in the church is because of these teachings. And to have people in the church diss them or flat out deny them, is to me a big deal. Again I am an Adventist only, I mean only, because of the teachings it proclaims. And so when someone is attacking them, I don’t see it as a small thing. I see it as a full frontal assault on who we are as Seventh-day Adventists.

    Second, you question historicism for Daniel and Revelation? Are you kidding? When Daniel two starts out with four earthly kingdoms in a chronological sequence, beginning with Babylon and ending with God‘s eternal kingdom, the idea of historicism is built right into the prophecies themselves.. Daniel seven and Daniel eight are the same. Between the three of them Babylon Media-Persia, and Greece are named. And I don’t see the need to reiterate what I wrote in the column about the identity of the Rome. And so to question historicism is to attack the foundations of the seventh-day Adventist church because without it our whole justification for existence crashes and burns.

    Anyway you can respond and can leave it at that.


    Glad we are friends despite the differences

    1. Reinder Post author

      Hi Cliff. Apologies for being slow in responding. Just a short reply. Whether you actually use the word “enemy” is of little importance, but what else can I call it when you tend to rather aggressively attack those who disagree with you and feel that all should conform to traditional Adventist explanations?
      As to historicism: I realize that the sequence of kingdoms in Daniel is often acknowledged, even by scholars who adhere to a 2nd century origin of the book, though there are differences in how they enumerate these kingdoms. But when speaking of historicism I am thinking of the hermeneutical approach that insists in applying the content of Daniel and of Revelation to historical events, persons and organization during the Christian Era. There are other approaches that make sense to me.
      And: our church needs dialogue and must provide space for diversity in ideas, if it wants to remain alive and continue to provide a spiritual home to all of us, including you and me..
      Blessings! Reinder

  4. Ray Stovall

    When people suggest a person should leave the SDA church, they rather ignore the advice of one of their favorite authors/leader/founder……we have much to learn and the need to change(para phrase). Sometimes one gets the feeling they are suggesting, still, the correct way to heaven is the SDA church. I have no problems if they want me out of the SDA church, after all, it is but one of many .orgs. One thing they can not do is to ‘kick’ someone out of Christs Church. Which is more important?

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