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Author Topic: The Wholistic View of Man’s Nature and Destiny—An Adventist Oddity?  (Read 10025 times)

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Azenilto Brito

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Re: The Wholistic View of Man’s Nature and Destiny—An Adventist Oddity?
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2008, 07:37:28 PM »

Jesus Did Not Teach Immortality of the Soul

     In Christ’s words in John  14:1-3 and 5:28, 29 there is no hint of any “immortal soul” in either of these texts, as he said:

       “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

       “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told, you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

       Christ’s words “I go to prepare a place for you”, followed by the promise of His return—“I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also”—are very significant, indeed. Now, if Christ taught immortality of the soul he would have said that the promised abodes would be available to the redeemed ones as they died and their souls got to heaven to occupy them. The fact that He relates His return to the encounter with the redeemed ones at His return so that, then, they occupy their mansions cannot be taken lightly. They show that in Christ’s speech there is simply no room for the notion of souls or spirits going to heaven when one dies.
       On the other hand, the text on the resurrection in John 5:28, 29 is preceded by some very noteworthy comments by the Master:

       “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” (vs. 25).
       Notice that He speaks of  “the dead” hearing the voice of God's Son to LIVE. According to the context, in this specific verse He certainly refers to the saved ones. That would make no sense in terms of the belief in the immortality of the soul, for those who hear His voice ARE ALREADY ALIVE, in the form of “immortal souls”. However, those who “shall live” are found in their tombs, not in some location in the universe waiting to “hear the voice” in order to have life.
       If the souls come from different places, first they have no need to hear any voice to be awakened—since they are well awake. And if so, it’s because they are alive, and the “SHALL LIVE” couldn’t apply to them!
       And there is one more point to ponder: Jesus says “the DEAD shall hear the voice. . .” Now, if Jesus taught immortality of the soul He would have said—“the souls of those who died will reincorporate and hear the voice. . .” His preoccupation is not with those who are supposedly in some part of the space, but the DEAD ones. And these dead are those “that are in the graves”. The theme in the context is the judgment to which all should submit—the resurrection of life and that of JUDGMENT.

What to Say About Lazarus’ Resurrection?

       When one reads what is considered the greatest of Christ’s miracles—the resurrection of His friend Lazarus, dead for four days (John chap. 11)—the Savior’s words don’t leave the least clue of belief in the immortality of the soul. Let’s check that:

       a) Christ tells His disciples that the friend Lazarus was “sleeping”, utilizing the sleep metaphor to refer to death, something very common in the Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments. Death is pictured in the Bible as an unconscious sleep (Psalm 146:4; Eccl. 9: 5, 6 10; 1 Tes. 4:13-18).

       b) In the brief conversation He had with the distressed sisters, Christ never says something on Lazarus being enjoying the heavenly bliss, rather points to the resurrection “in the last day” as the source of consolation. Martha reacts to His words on the same basis—confirming her hope in the resurrection (John 11: 23, 24).

       c) Christ makes the wonderful and comforting statement: “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (vs. 25). The emphasis is not on souls going to heaven, but, again, on the resurrection at the final day.  For that reason, whoever accepts the Gospel will live, not for being in possession of an immortal soul, but thanks to the resurrection that results in immortality, granted as a gift to those who believe (2 Tim. 1:10).

       d) When Lazarus is brought back to life he has nothing to relate of his time in the “intermediate state”. If he had something to narrate of the period he was dead, John would be glad to record his report without hesitation. That would be a tremendously important theme, of the greatest interest to the community of believers. However, Lazarus brought no information about his possible stay in heaven because he had nothing to tell about.

       e) If Christ had brought Lazarus from heaven to come back to the hardships of life on Earth He would have done a bad thing to His friend. If He brought him from hell (improbable, for he was a follower of the Master) He would have granted him a new opportunity of salvation, which is antibiblical (see Heb. 9:27).

       Christ’s words and actions are consistent with what He had said in John 6:39: “And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again, at the last day.” Such words are repeated in vs. 40, 44 and 54. This last verse is very special: “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up, at the last day.” And in 58 He stresses once more: “This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.” It is very clear that He relates the possession of life eternal with the resurrection in the last day!
       If Christ taught immortality of the soul undoubtedly His words would reflect such notion in these statements, for it is incredible that He missed to mention such a relevant fact regarding the destination of the saved ones--the theme He is exposing in these passage.


Azenilto Brito

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Re: The Wholistic View of Man’s Nature and Destiny—An Adventist Oddity?
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2008, 07:38:55 PM »

The Parable Paradoxes

       What is the real intention of the rich man and Lazarus parable? Dualists often challenge those who harbor a holistic view with that text and we have considered it, but in retribution, we raised 10 difficulties for the advocates of the dualistic view (belief in the immortality of the soul) based on this parable (in truth they are 11). Let’s first see our analyzes of the parable itself, then the 10 difficulties that the objectors seem unable to overcome:


       Christ does not have the intention to teach the immortality of the soul theory in that parable, because, to start with, He NEVER taught that in any other part of gospels, nor is it taught in any other part of the Bible.
       On the contrary, Christ always emphasized the resurrection of dead as the only possibility to reach life eternal, which will be granted at His glorious return (see John 5:25, 28, 29 and 14:1-3). What He does is to present an illustration in a scenario of divine justice—whoever in this world lives indifferent to the principles on justice and mercy can think that he takes advantage in everything, but things, in the divine consideration, will be inverted in the due time.
       Jewish tradition had certain notions regarding the “bosom of Abraham”, which Jesus took advantage of to stress His point. The use of an illustration through something just partially grounded on popular beliefs is normal and common among preachers. Histories of extraterrestrial visiting the planet are examples of resources of that type.
       The Bible presents two illustrations of trees that chat in Isaiah 14:8 and Judges 9:8 (“Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us”; “The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, reign thou over us. But the olive tree said . . .”).
       Would it be the case to ask: if the Bible is a book that only had to present the truth, how come it can use something so much absurd as the notion of trees that speak? Then the “difficulty” that the advocates of the literalness of the parable present to us is solved.
       How about, now we also presenting 10 difficulties to them as to the notion that the parable of the rich man and Lazarus “proves” the belief in the immortality of the soul? Let’s see:

       1 – How do you explain that in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus the words “soul” and “spirit” never appear, but the characters in it are normal people interacting to each other, in case its objective was to teach the immortality of the soul?

       2 – How do you explain disembodied souls having eyes, fingers, tongue that could be even wet?

       3 – Since the condemned one appeals to Abraham, could not the Roman-Catholics justify their teaching of “intercession of the saints” by means of such hypothetical story?

       4 – How do you explain that in the parable itself, at the end a possibility is raised that some among the dead return to preach to the brothers of the rich man, but Abraham says that “though one ROSE FROM THE DEAD. . .” (vss. 30 and 31), confirming that only through the resurrection is the return into existence of those who died guaranteed?

       5 – How do you explain the story of conversation between trees in Scriptures, being that entirely nonsense in normal terms?

       6 – How do you explain the necessity of special attention to understand the parable that comes exactly before this--that of the smart butler--because literally an impression is left that Christ is teaching people to act unethically in the field of businesses?

       7 – How do you explain the language of the same Christ in Marks 9:43-45 that cannot be understood literally, since nobody must remove parts of his/her body to obtain salvation, and in heavens there will be no people with such physical defects?

       8 – Could you present an example of any basic doctrine of the Christian faith that has as its foundation a parable?

       9 – If Christ wanted to teach the dualistic nature of man through this parable, why such idea is not found in any other part of His many spiritual lessons?

       10 – Since the promise is that memories of bad things of the past will not exist, how could a father or mother forget the sufferings of a son or daughter who is eternally in tortures, since, according to the parable, both heaven and hell are is such proximity that it is possible for those in one side to witness what happens in the other?

       Note: And one more difficulty could be highlighted: The GLOBAL TENOR of Biblical teaching on the final punishment of the reprobates is that it will occur on that “great and terrible day of the Lord”—at the end of history and when Christ comes (see Psa. 37:9, 10; 68:2; 92:7; Eze. 28:14-19; Ose. 1:14-19; Mal. 4:1-3; Mat. 10:28b; 2a Tess 1:7-10; Rev. 20:14, 15 and 21:8). Thus, how could hell be presented like being already in operation in the present time, when Christ has not come yet bringing His “flaming fires, taking vengeance”?


Azenilto Brito

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Re: The Wholistic View of Man’s Nature and Destiny—An Adventist Oddity?
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2008, 07:40:02 PM »

Not To Be Found Naked

       Both Mr. Lee and Mr. Ratzlaff, in their discussions of man’s nature, mention the importance of the context of the Bible verses they quote. Unhappily, they don’t follow their own advice, for they neglect to consider the ampler context of the general tenor of what the Bible authors say, especially Paul, whose writings are the main source of their discussions.
       Mrs. Colleen, for example, writes in the editorial page how certain she was that her deceased father went straight to heaven at his death, quoting Fil. 1:23:

       “. . . for I am in a straight betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better”.

       However, she forgot to proceed reading what else the Apostle has to say on the matter, further down in the same epistle:

       “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (chap. 3, vs. 20, 21).
       And how about the same Paul speaking of the world’s suffering in the face of the future glory?:

       “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also . . . even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption , to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:22, 23).

       So, where is the focus? Clearly, not in dying and going immediately to heaven. Paul himself expresses again his hope of life eternal in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, stressing THAT DAY, not of his death, but of the resurrection, when all those who have the same hope as Paul’s will be reunited to the Redeemer:
       “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing”.

      In 2 Cor. 5:1ff Paul utilized the illustration of the tent to compare to the human body, which would disappear in death, to be replaced with another tent, of heavenly making. Now, Mr. Ratzlaff clearly misunderstood the Pauline illustration and engages in a theological reasoning according to the popular view of immortality of the soul based on Paul’s language there.
       But his exposition just show the superficiality of his exegesis, for a careful reading of the text, especially in the context of other Pauline expressions of his hope of eternal life, as we have just seen, indicates a different conclusion than his.
       Paul clearly welcomes death yearning for being with the Lord (vs. 2), but in vss. 3 and 4 he refers to death as being NAKED, which is very significant within the language of  clothed/unclothed he resorts to.
       In other of his texts, as in 1 Cor. 15:35-55, 1 Tess. 4: 15-17; 2 Tim, 4: 6-8; etc. he affirms that all will be simultaneously “clothed” with the heavenly body at the resurrection of the righteous ones, not when dying and having their souls going to heaven.
        In vs. 4 he declared that “life”—evidently eternal life—is reached when one is “clothed” with his heavenly “tabernacle”, and the condition of being “naked” is exactly what he doesn’t want for himself, which means—without being clothed with the heavenly body after leaving the earthly one.
       In the context of that passage, amplified with the wider context of his other discussions on the death/resurrection subject, it is clear that to be “absent from the body to be with the Lord” doesn’t mean to be in a disembodied condition, but, rather, to either participate of the final resurrection or to be transformed in a twinkle of an eye at Jesus’ coming (when this which is mortal is “swallowed up” in incorruptibility). That is the hope he also expressed in different occasions.
       I don’t think we have even to spend much time discussing the exegesis of such texts, so badly dealt with in this edition of the magazine we have been analyzing. The questionnaires that accompany these discussions bring enough material for serious reflection on these subjects, but besides the discussion on how Jesus didn’t teach immortality of the soul and 10 topics by which we can see how the holistic view is much more logical and clearly superior to the dualistic conception of man’s nature.
       We address all those contributors to that Proclamation! Magazine edition to have them trying to present to us at least ONE point by which they could prove that the dualistic understanding of man’s nature is superior over the holistic one, according to the ten points that we listed [See below the study “10 TOPICS THAT DEMONSTRATE THE SUPERIORITY OF THE HOLISTIC VIEW OF HUMAN NATURE OVER THE DUALISTIC VIEW”].
       Before concluding this, let’s see one more text where we find a clear additional proof that the Apostle’s emphasis was not on the immortality of the soul, but on the coming of Christ to take home the redeemed ones, ALL TOGETHER, not some preceding others, all bound to the place He promised to prepare for His elect ones, which would could be occupied when He returns:

       “And all these [Israel’s heroes of faith, listed in the chapter], having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Heb. 11:39, 40).

       “The context is all”, indeed, as the writers of this publication’s material stress. But if they read carefully the entire chapter they will see where its focus is—not on the idea that those heroes receive their inheritance as soon as they die, rather, they looked forward to the “city, which hath foundations, whose builder and marker is God” (vs. 10, compare with Fil. 3:20, 21).


Azenilto Brito

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Re: The Wholistic View of Man’s Nature and Destiny—An Adventist Oddity?
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2008, 07:42:50 PM »


       The dualistic view of the human nature and destiny (belief in the immortality of the soul) cannot be considered superior in any way to the holistic understanding of these themes. We would challenge the advocates of that position to present what superior aspects they could find in their understanding of the question in comparison with the enumeration that we present below of items in which one can perceive the indisputable superiority of the holistic view over the understanding of immortality of the soul.

1.) Much more Christ-centered. The holistic understanding stresses that only in Christ we have hope of obtaining immortality, at the resurrection of the just ones, not being something we already possess inherently in the form of an immortal soul. “He who has the Son has the life” (cf. John 5:28, 29; 1 John 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54).

2.) Greater foundation on the basic doctrine of righteousness by faith. There is only one who is good, Jesus said (see Mat. 19:17). In an absolute sense only God is just, while we are infinitely far from possessing justice of our own. The holistic vision highlights that as we have no justice in ourselves by which to appear before the Supreme Judge to obtain approval (see Isaiah 64:6), we also don’t have inherently the gift of immortality, which only belongs to God (1 Timothy 1:17; 6:16) and is granted to us through the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:10).

3.) Greater emphasis and valuation of the theme of Christ’s advent. For those who believe in the immortality of the soul the theme of Christ’s second coming doesn’t receive the same importance, for, in practical terms, such event becomes irrelevant, since the eternal inheritance occurs at death. This explains the emphasis on the second advent and the conclusion of the evangelization work among Seventh-day Adventists by every means possible (radio, TV, literature, personal witnessing, public lectures, health and social assistance). The fulfillment of Matthew 24:14 is the great preoccupation and motivation of the SDA Church, which has one of the largest number of penetrated lands and proportionally one of the largest number of missionaries among all those who are engaged in the task of world evangelization.

4.) Greater consistency with the theme of each one’s judgment. Those who believe in the immortality of the soul turn the theme of the final judgment into a non-sense thing. Why and what for will a final judgment be set, since people at their death go directly to their final destination--saved ones to “the glory”, lost ones to a site of tortures or, at least, a place not agreeable at all, where they will be expecting a punishment already defined?

5.) No identification with pagan beliefs. The identification of all pagan peoples with dualistic concepts demonstrates the superiority of the holistic view. Nobody is capable of indicating at least one pagan people that have renounced to belief in souls and spirits of people (or even of animals and inanimate things) to believe in the final resurrection as the only means to return to existence after death, a point even highlighted in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, one of the foundations of the dualistic view (cf. Luke 16:31).

6.) Better defense against dangerous doctrines. The holistic view is the best protection and antidote against subtle errors that exist or has come to existence in these last times, such as spiritualism, Catholic doctrines as the purgatory and intercession of the saints, Mormonism, New Age, Eastern religions, etc., especially in the face of Christ’s and Paul’s warnings regarding the growing deceits of the final times (Matthew 24:24; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).

7.) Higher estimation of the divine love and justice. The vision of God’s justice and love is harmed by the belief in an eternally burning hell, with punishments totally out of proportion with the impenitent ones’ guilt. According to the holistic view, the pay will be proportional to the guilt and it will be liquidated, not made eternal (Matthew 5:26 and 18:30).

8.) Greater consistency with the meaning of basic Bible terms. Even though in the Bible language there are many mentions to “soul” and “spirit”, the Scriptures don’t authorize any concept of either an immortal “soul” or “spirit”. Besides informing us that only God is possessor of immortality, the Bible states that the soul can die (Ezekiel 18:4; James 5:20), not the opposite of it.

9.) Greater valuation of bodily health. It is well known that the Christians who maintain the dualistic understanding of human nature conceptualize the present life dualistically. They tend to consider the cultivation of the soul as more important than the care of the body. The physical well being of the body is often intentionally ignored, or even suppressed. That explains the holistic preoccupation of Seventh-day Adventists with health and the emphasis on the care of the body as “temple of the Holy Spirit”, to be wholly consecrated to the Lord  (1 Corinthians 3: 16, 17).

10.) A more mature and real picture of the world to come. The popular notion of an eternal paradise, where glorified souls will spend eternity wearing white robes, playing harps, sailing on clouds and drinking the nectar of gods is alien to the Scriptures. The Bible speaks of the resurrected redeemed ones dwelling on this planet, that has been purified and transformed, turned into a perfect world at the second coming of the Lord (2 Peter 3:11-13; Romans 8:19-25; Revelation 21:1). The “new heavens and new Earth” (Isaiah 65:17) are not a remote and inconsequent spiritual retreat in some corner of the Universe. Rather, they are the present heavens and Earth renewed back to its original perfection. - By Prof. Azenilto G. Brito.


Azenilto Brito

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Re: The Wholistic View of Man’s Nature and Destiny—An Adventist Oddity?
« Reply #19 on: October 27, 2008, 12:46:57 PM »

Distortions in the Bible and Beyond

       Going back some former discussions we’ve seen how Proclamation! magazine’s editor, Mr. Coleen Tinker tinkered with Ellen White writings distorted the meaning of her teachings regarding the Divinity. This can be checked in our article “Ellen White’s Discussion on the Trinity--Not According to Mrs. Tinker’s False Allegations”, when analyzing the May/June edition of that publication. We then said, regarding that point:

       As I pointed out in my last analysis of Mrs. Tinker study on Ellen White’s discussion of the Godhead, if Ellen White were to start a new view on the subject, like the tritheism that our opponent suggested as being Ellen White’s stand, that would have been adopted by the Church as a whole, which never was the case.
       To discuss things pertaining to God is not easy and our poor human language will always be inadequate to express exactly how the Godhead “operates”. So, one can easily stumble on words in exploring EGW’s attempt to make sense of the “heavenly trio” (an expression of hers), which is exactly Mrs. Tinker’s problem in her tritheism interpretation of the SDA author’s language.
       Proclamation! magazine’s editor makes certain statements that are purely speculative and have absolutely no basis. She says, at a certain point in her article:

       While Ellen White grew up believing in the Trinity, she changed her views in adulthood. No doubt James influenced this change, but she claimed that her visions established her unorthodox beliefs. Early in her career she was overtly Arian, and although her later views endorsed “a heavenly trio”, she never taught an orthodox Trinity.

       The evidence for that statement is simply absent. What she presents as “proof” is no proof at all. It’s the text when Ellen White simply discusses the attitude of the rebel angel in Heaven, envious of Jesus’ privileges and proximity to God, as is well known to SDA’s [Spiritual Gifts, Vol., 3, p. 37]. But Mrs. White never gives the least impression that because of that she is considering Jesus inferior to the Father. What Mrs. Tinker does is no more than engaging herself in an exercise in intellectual dishonesty, quoting the Adventist pioneer out of due context, jumping to biased conclusions of what could be going on in Ellen White’s mind, which is simply speculation of the worst type.

       In a past issue we caught Mrs. Tinker again tinkering with SDA practices and customs, distorting the facts. It’s the March/April of 2008, where in her editorial Mrs. Tinker, now tinkering with a Bible text that she doesn’t understand, alleges:

       I was blind to the impact of certain recorded facts. For example, the plain reading of Luke 23:43 and 56 tells us that when Jesus died, His spirit went to His Father. Further, one thief who died with him could be confident that he would be with Jesus in paradise that very day. Yet for years I believed Jesus’ breath went to God while He honored the Sabbath by lying lifeless in the tomb, His personality non-existent, inaccessible to His Father until Sunday. Jesus might die, I believed, but Sabbath was eternal.

       We will see the distortion in Bible understanding at that point later on, but first there is one more distortion of hers, this time about SDA’s attitude regarding those who celebrate Easter. She seems happy to have adopted the larger society’s ways regarding that festival:

       Now I can celebrate! On this day I honor the Lord Jesus and praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for accomplishing within the Trinity all that is necessary for my eternal security. I go to church and worship; I smell the Easter lilies and eat Easter brunch with a house full of brothers and sisters in Christ--and we rejoice because we no longer scoff at Easter. Instead, we praise Jesus for His death and life, and we stand before God and call Him our Father.

       I wonder if she also follows the popular tradition of Halloween so enthusiastically. . . Anyway, the fact is that in over 40 years as a member of the SDA community I never heard anyone in our midst “scoffing” Easter. Why should we? On the contrary, what I see, checking Bro. Bacchiocchi’s website, is something very different. In his Newsletter # 169 he mentions several activities by SDA congregations across the States taking advantage of this special festival to celebrate the Resurrection, not as an admission of the validity of the date, set by Catholic Tradition (and highly reputed Ecclesiastical Church historian, Sam Bacchiocchi, also discusses the historical roots of Easter in the sequence), but as an evangelistic tool.
       Let’s see what we find there as a sample of these special Easter programs:

       . . . the Department of Religious Affairs and Religious Liberty of the North Pacific Union of SDA, has invited Pastor Richard Elofer, President of our Adventist Mission in Israel to Los Angeles “to help us celebrate the Passover, a sacred memorial for Jews and Christians alike, a Festival of Freedom. He will be joined by Alan J. Reinach, Esq., Director of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty for the Pacific Union Conference.”
       The announcement that has been forwarded to me reads: “Come Celebrate a Passover Weekend from a Seventh-day Adventists Perspective, April 6 & 7, in Los Angeles, California. . . . A special service will be conducted at the Burbank Seventh-day Adventist Church on Friday evening, April 6th at 7:30 p. m.


       While some Adventist congregations will be celebrating Passover, other Adventist Churches in the USA and overseas will hold Easter Sunday services for their congregations and community people. Some of these Adventist churches are listed in GOOGLE. This is the announcement I received from the Pacific Union College SDA Church.
       There will be Good Friday and Easter Sunday services this year. Nathaniel Gamble, a PUC theology student, will coordinate the programs.
       The Good Friday service will begin with foot washing from 7:15-7:45 p.m. The main service will start at 8 p.m. and share The Lord‚s Supper at the end.
       Sabbath morning Pastor Mitchell will preach at both services, “Trading Places: The Story of a Father’s Two Sons.”
       The Easter Sunday service will take place at 9:30 a.m. All who are planning on coming to these two events should arrive at least 15-30 minutes before the start of the service for seating.”

       That all could be checked through this link:

       So, we can see how Mrs. Tinker’s tinkering with SDA affairs simply denotes a dishonest assessment of our beliefs and practices.
      But, again her regrettable distortions of Ellen White’s statements can be seen in the last edition of her magazine. She again comes up with another farfetched allegation against Ellen White. She says in an article she contributed to the last issue, “Are Humans More than Living Bodies?” that “Both Ellen and James White taught that both Jesus and God had literal physical bodies”. Then she reproduces certain selections by Ellen White in the her Early Writings, p. 77, also indicating pages 55 and 92 that I checked. Even worse is the false statement that SDA’s have the same conception of a “physical body” of God like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons!
       I asked my wife, who happens to be a SDA for longer than me, whether she had learned these ideas in the many years she attends church and she was simply startled with such a fabrication! Never in her life, attending church regularly, that was ever mentioned by any pastor or Bible instructor, Sabbath School teacher, that she can have any recollection of.
       What Ellen White says is no different from what we read in Isa. 6:1-10 (God sitting on His throne) or Daniel 7:9, where he describes the “Ancient of days”. Or how about Moses’ narrating his own experience of seeing God’s “back parts”?:
       “And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before, thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover, thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen”. Exo. 33:18-23.

       The Bible presents these glimpses of the Divinity, but never elaborates on these things. The psalmist speaks about being under God’s “wings”. Does that mean that God has a body similar to that of an angel, or a bird?! And how about John’s strange descriptions of the Divinity in heaven, as he records his visions in the Revelation?
      Ellen White’s very brief description of what she saw in vision, with no elaboration, NEVER prompted any SDA doctrine or understanding regarding an attribution of a physical body to God. The Seventh-day Adventist Commentary, by the way, thus discusses John 4:24, “God is Spirit. . .”: “As an infinite spiritual being, God is not subject to the same limitations of the finite material beings”. So, no hint of any SDA doctrine of God having a physical body can be found there. In the SDA Bible Dictionary, entry “God”, nothing also gives the least impression of any physical body related to God.
       I just wonder what is the real size of Mrs. Pinocchia’s nose, which doesn’t show in her smiling picture on the magazine’s internal cover. . .
Did Jesus receive an immortal human spirit?

       The Incarnation is as beyond man’s finite understanding as God’s nature itself. However, since Jesus was made flesh and lived among men, there are some serious problems to understand the real link between the Divine Word who was made flesh (John 1:14) and his “Son of man” feature. For example, the prophecy regarding Him says:

       “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me”. Heb. 10:5.

       Nothing is said about Jesus receiving a human immortal soul or spirit at His Incarnation. He died as any man, and before dying He simply expressed the same idea that Solomon had expressed in Eccl. 12:7, submitting His human life to the Father, delivering His spirit, or breath of life, not His soul or spirit. Now, even by the mere logic of it, why would He (or Stephen, in Acts 7:59) say something of “receive my [immortal] spirit” when they would immediately be personally there? It makes no sense. The language itself denotes a bidding farewell to life, in the sense that even though their human life span came to and end, that spirit that left then would be returned through resurrection. Christ got His back on the third day. Stephen will have his on that final day.
      Now, that poses a big problem for dualists, and I never had any clear answer on the part of them to this question: did Jesus receive a human immortal soul (or spirit) when He took over man’s nature? If so, will He be tied to that forever? How could God Himself be limited by a human “soul” or “spirit” when He is already a spiritual being, a Spirit much superior to any created being?
       While the advocates of these notions of immortality of the soul think over this matter, let’s discuss the text of Luke 23:43, which Mrs. Tinker tinkers about but shows no “greater light” in understanding the matter, through this study that we composed and have been publicizing in different Internet site in four languages, Portuguese, Spanish, English and German:


Azenilto Brito

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Re: The Wholistic View of Man’s Nature and Destiny—An Adventist Oddity?
« Reply #20 on: October 27, 2008, 12:47:55 PM »

Luke 23:43—Today I Tell You, or You Will Be With Me Today?

The problem of punctuation (or lack thereof) in the original

Introduction: Some people who believe in the immortality of the soul doctrine quote the text of Luke 23:43 as one of their best arguments to defend their ideas. They think that the wording in the text makes clear that the condemned man on the cross by that where Christ died, who expressed repentance and faith in Him, was offered by the Savior being with Him on that same day on Paradise.

However, there are important grammatical and other considerations to be weighed and that show that things shouldn’t be interpreted that way. Let’s see:

1. Good Bible translations in different languages have the repenting condemned man asking Jesus to remember him “when you come in your kingdom”. (vs. 42) That is how it appears in the Italian version of G. Deodatti, the Portuguese of Mattos Soares, the French published by the Alliance Biblique Universelle, as well as the highly reputed version of Louis Segond that reads--”Et il dit à Jesus: Souviens-toi de mois, quand tu VIENDRAS dans ton règne” [when you will COME. . .].

The King James version says “Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom”, not,  “when you enter into thy kingdom”. Since Jesus spoke often of the coming kingdom, and that clearly shows a rather distant future at that time (“When the Son of man shall come in his glory . . . then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. . .” Matt. 25:31), he is asking to have secured a place in the kingdom at that occasion. Jesus assures him that “today”, on that last of their lives, he would be in Paradise with Him. So, he didn’t have to think of being remembered only on that far away time of His coming.

2. Certainly the repenting condemned man couldn’t be with Jesus in Paradise on that day, because Jesus said He hadn’t been there Himself on the third day after his death. He told Mary Madgalene at His appearance to her when he rose from the dead: “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father” (John 20:17).

3. Also, a careful analysis of the text shows that the repenting condemned man didn’t die on that same day because in John 19:31-33 it is said: “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs.”

Why break the legs of the condemned? Because a crucified man wouldn’t die on the same day. Christ was an exceptional case and we know that He didn’t die due to his wounds or hemorrhage, but from a broken heart. He died due to the moral pain of bearing the sins of the entire world. The others, however, didn’t die immediately. There are some reports about a crucified man languishing for days.

J. B. Howell, for example, says:

“The crucified one remained hanging on the cross until, exhausted by pain, by weakening, by hunger and thirst, faced death. The suffering generally lasted three, sometimes even seven days”.
In this case, the Jews wouldn’t permit that a criminal remained on the cross on the Sabbath day, for it was considered disrespectful of the sanctity of the rest day. “According to the costume, they broke the criminals’ legs after having them removed from the cross, leaving them laying on the ground, until the Sabbath was over so that they won’t escape. After the Sabbath was over, the two bodies were undoubtedly put back on their crosses until they died.

If it was necessary to break the legs of the two malefactors before sunset, it’s because they hadn’t died yet. They could even last in their struggle with life for one or two more days than the Master. So, it would be impossible that one of them be with Jesus in Paradise on the same day of the Savior’s death.

4. There are authoritative Bible translations that has the Luke 23:43 reading harmonizing with the tenor of the Bible teaching regarding the reward of the saved ones, when Jesus comes. Let’s see:

a) Trinitária, in Portuguese, published in 1883 by the “Trinitarian Bible Society” of London, says: “Truly I tell you today, that you will be with Me in Paradise”.

b) Emphasized New Testament, by Joseph B. Rotherham, printed in London in 1903, says: “Jesus! Remember me at the occasion that thou comest into thy kingdom. And He said unto him: Truly I tell unto thee this day: Thou shalt be with me in Paradise”.

c) The New Testament, by George M. Lamsa, according to the Eastern Text, translated from original Aramaic sources, has it this way: “Jesus told him: Truly I am telling you today, that you will be with Me in Paradise”

d) The Concordant Version, thus translates the text: “And Jesus said to him: ‘I am truly telling you today, you will be with me in Paradise”.

e) An important manuscript, the famous Curetonian Manuscript of the Syriac Version, that exists in the British Museum, thus translates the text: “Jesus said to him: Verily I tell you today, that you will be with Me in the Garden of Eden.”

And in a commentary of the Oxford Companion Bible, one finds this statement: “‘Today’ agrees with ‘I tell you’ to give emphasis to the solemnity of the occasion; it doesn’t agree with ‘you will be’.”

In the Appendix nb. 173 of the Oxford Companion Bible, it is clarified:    

“The interpretation of this verse depends entirely on the punctuation, which is wholly based on human’s authority, for the Greek manuscripts had no punctuation up to the ninth century, and even at that time only a dot amidst the lines, separating each word. . . . The condemned man’s prayer referred also to that coming and that Kingdom, not to something happened on the day the words were uttered.”

And the commentary concludes, at the end of the same Appendix: “And Jesus said unto him: ‘Truly I tell you today’, or on that day when, soon to die, this man manifested such a great faith in the Messiah’s coming Kingdom, in which He will only be King when the resurrection occurs—now, under such solemn circumstances, I tell you: you will be with Me in Paradise.”

The expression “today”, related to the verb, is not redundant, but emphatic. It is found in other parts of the Bible. One can read, for example, Deut. 20:18; Zac. 9:12; Acts 20:26, and other texts. The fatal conclusion is that Luc. 23:43 is one more false pillar of dualism, a text taken out of its due context, which many take to defend a false doctrine, which stems from both Greek Platonist philosophy and heathenism in general.

Note: The different Bible version and other related commentaries above were not taken from their English original, but as quoted by Arnaldo B. Christianini’s book in Portuguese, Subtilezas do Erro [Subtleties of Error], and put back into English by me, which might not correspond exactly to the original wordings. The important feature certainly is their basic meaning.


Azenilto Brito

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The Worm That Never Dies/The Fire That Never Quenches--What Does That Mean?
« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2008, 05:17:18 PM »

       In the edition of  Proclamation! Magazine under consideration, dedicated to the subject of man’s nature, there is no emphasis on man’s destiny, which is regrettable, for it’s so much important. If man’s nature is immortal due to his possession of an immortal soul, that is a fact impossible to be detached from a study of man’s destiny. And the Bible points to just TWO destinies—either living forever in the presence of God and all the holy ones, or being separated forever from God.
       Since the Bible presents two conditions at the end of man’s journey—eternal salvation or eternal perdition—how the understanding of man’s nature related to the possession of an immortal soul is affected by the fact that many will not be granted salvation, but will face perdition? What happens to his immortal soul or whole being under the circumstances of not being saved?
       The popular notion is that they will be thrown into an eternally burning hell, an idea based on a few Bible texts that the Proclamation! folks decided not to deal with. But we will, since that is a very important subject, referred to in so many ways and so often in both Old and New Testaments.
       Let’s begin analyzing a text that I consider the real key to understand this subject of the eternal punishment of evildoers:

* Mark 9:48: “. . . where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched”.

       This is a text that people mistake as to its meaning, thinking that it says that the soul never dies, and the hell fire is never extinguished.
       But Christ is simply using a metaphor that had been employed by Isaiah long ago (cap. 66:24). The Prophet there speaks of the troops of the enemies of God, whose CADAVERS are left unburied, with worms consuming them. He uses that gory language to highlight the horror of the scene, but as “cadavers” is clearly mentioned, that is an indication of death, not of continuous existence of some immortal soul. Jesus speaks of “worm” that never dies, and not “soul”. Why, soul is soul, worm is worm.
       In Isaiah 34:9, 10 we find another example of hyperbolic language employed by John in the Revelation, as well as in Jeremiah 17:27 which speaks of a fire that burns the doors of Jerusalem being an  “unquenchable fire”, however there is no fire burning the doors of Jerusalem these days.
       Hyperbolic language is the use of words that “exaggerate” something they refer to in order to highlight its character. It’s like in the Brazilian national anthem that, at a certain point, says, “Beloved and IDOLIZED motherland . . .”. Actually, nobody idolizes literally the motherland. . .
       In the New Testament the “eternal judgment” of Hebrew 6:2 doesn't refer to a process that has a beginning but not an end, rather is everlasting in its effects and consequences. And what to say about the “eternal fire” that burnt Sodom and Gomorrah, but is not burning these days any longer (see Jude 7)? After all, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). In the Psalm 68:20 we read: “Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death”.

Conclusion:  Clearly, the language that should PREVAIL in this paradox is that of the eternal death of these sinners, contrasted by Christ with life eternal of the redeemed: “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Mat. 25:46). Thus, the hyperbolical language utilized by Christ in Mark 9:48, about the “worm” that “does not die”, when used to prove the immortality of the soul ends up revealing an excellent explanation of the eternal condition of the sinners’ death, being, thus, another interpretative “shot” that backfires.

Note: We have posted a series of articles that deal with the burning hell and final disposition of sin and sinners in another topic, for which we direct those who want to proceed examining this subject through didactic Bible studies, like “10 Reasons Why Revelation 20:10 Doesn’t Prove the Theory of an Everlasting Burning Hell”.

That is the link that leads directly to this series of studies:

« Last Edit: November 19, 2008, 09:41:33 AM by Azenilto Brito »

Azenilto Brito

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Re: The Wholistic View of Man’s Nature and Destiny—An Adventist Oddity?
« Reply #22 on: January 17, 2009, 05:26:26 AM »

I came across a brief but excellent study on 2 Cor. 5:8 in another site, which I transcribe below to enrich the discussions above:

Being Absent From the Body

       In 2 Corinthians 5:8 Paul speaks of being absent from the body and present with the Lord. Does this mean that when a person dies, he leaves his body and goes to be with the Lord? Let’s read the whole context to see what the apostle is saying.
       In Chapter 4 Paul discusses the trouble and affliction which come to us in this life. Yet, he says, this trouble is nothing when compared to the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (4:17) which we will receive in the future life. We don’t need to worry about what happens to this body. We are now but earthen vessels (4:7). The Lord will one day give us new bodies which will never deteriorate.
       In Chapter 5 Paul discusses the two bodies, the earthly, and the eternal. He metaphorically refers to them as houses. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (5:1).
       Next, the apostle speaks of his longing to be clothed with the immortal body. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven (verse 2). To be clothed here means to be living in a body. In this life we are clothed in a mortal body. In the next life we will be clothed in an immortal body.
       Now notice Paul’s emphasis in verse 3. If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. If clothed means to be in a body, to be naked is to be without a body. Notice that Paul makes it very clear that the future life is a clothed state and not a naked state! He gives absolutely no support to the teaching of life without a body. Speaking of the future life, he says, Being clothed we shall not be found naked.
       In verse 4 he re-emphasizes the same thing. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon. It was not an unclothed, bodiless state which Paul anticipated, but a clothed state in a body.
       The next question is, When will we receive the immortal body? When will mortality be swallowed up of life (verse 4)? To the Corinthians this was no question. Paul had already told them in his first letter. He had devoted the whole of 1 Corinthians 15 to the subject of the resurrection. There Paul had clearly told them when mortality is swallowed up in immortality: "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:52-54).
       When does it happen? At the last trump, at the resurrection, at the coming of Jesus. Then it will be said, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:55).
       For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:22, 23).
       So far we have learned that:

       (1) There is no life in the unclothed, bodiless state; and

       (2) It is at the time of Christ’s coming that we will be made alive.

       Let’s go back to 2 Corinthians 5. At this point in our passage Paul begins an evaluation of the two bodies the mortal body which we have now, and the immortal body which we will receive at the resurrection. Keep in mind that the setting of this whole discussion is Paul’s encouragement to his readers not to become discouraged with present afflictions. Not only will the resurrected body be incorruptible and eternal, there is another factor which will make it far more to be desired than the present life. That factor is the presence of the Lord.
       This theme of being with the Lord is found also in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
       As Paul considered the two bodies, the present and the future life, he longed for the privilege available only in the future life, of being bodily with the Lord. Therefore, he continues in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the [present] body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
       Keep in mind that Paul is not describing an unclothed, bodiless state. He is referring to the time when he will receive the immortal body. The body from which he will then be absent is his present earthly body, but he will not be bodiless (naked) at that time. He has made that very clear in the preceding verses.
       Notice again in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17, how Paul expected to get present with the Lord. He describes the glorious coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the translation of the living saints. Then he says, And so shall we ever be with the Lord. That word so means, thus, in this way, or by this means. He is saying, This is how we will get with the Lord.
       If, therefore, it is by means of the coming of Christ and the resurrection that we will get to be with the Lord, then it is obvious that we will not be with the Lord before that time.
       It is clear from the above facts that when Paul spoke of being absent from the body and present with the Lord, he was not thinking of the time when he would be dead. He was not earnestly desiring death. He was looking beyond the grave, beyond the resurrection, to that glorious moment when he would greet Jesus face to face, and live with him for ever.


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