The three-angels’ message has always been an important concept in Adventist teachings. But never before have I encountered the term as often as in recent weeks. The church’s media are currently full of it. Even the readings of the week of prayer, that is currently underway, are devoted to it. Traditionally, the introduction to the booklet of the prayer readings and the first reading are written by the president of the General Conference–the umbrella organization of the worldwide Adventist Church. In his introduction, President Ted N.C. Wilson writes that there has never been a time when the passing on “with Holy Spirit-inspired power” of “the messages of the three angels of Revelation 14:6-12 was as crucial as it is today.”
There is a problem with this, however, because most church members don’t know exactly, or even know at all, what these six verses from the book of Revelation mean, and, therefore, what they are to communicate to others. And I have often wondered how a few Bible verses that most church members do not understand can be the core of the message of Adventism, as we are repeatedly told. And why every effort should be made to tell other people something that most of them probably won’t understand either.
In a recent article in the Adventist Review–the official journal of the Adventist Church–editor Marcos Paseggi underlines that probably only a minority of the church members can explain to others what the messages of the three angels embrace (Note that this is not a statement from a blogger who may be seen by many as quite “liberal,” but from someone who is co-responsible for the official organ of the church.). By the way, a few very simple small-scale surveys I conducted myself confirmed the massive, worldwide surveys which tell us that among the majority of Adventists the knowledge of Revelation 14:6-12 is extremely limited!
A wealthy fellow believer was so shocked by his discovery that knowledge of the three-angels’ message in the church is very poor, that he decided it was time to thoroughly address this problem. He has agreed to fund the development of a curriculum aimed at teaching children as young as six years old (!) what the three-angels’ message is all about.
While the week of prayer is going on, a very different event is attracting worldwide attention, namely the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland (November 1-12). Delegates from governments from all over the world are meeting to (hopefully) reach new and sharpened agreements to limit global warming, with all its associated catastrophic consequences, to a maximum of 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius. This is an issue that Seventh-day Adventists should be keenly interested in. After all, for Adventists stewardship is an important element of their faith. For most of them stewardship is a much more understandable and concrete topic than the three-angels’ message. A community of faith that seeks to honor God as the Creator (see the first angel’s message) must first and foremost make this visible in how we deal with what the Creator has entrusted to our care. Paying attention to what is going on in Glasgow would have a lot more meaning for many younger (but also older) Adventist believers than listening to readings about the three angels’ message for the umpteenth time.