Homiletical principles of the Pioneers of Adventism not proper Exegesis?


The early pioneers utilized Scripture to the best of their abilities. They were faithful pious people who tried to understand the doctrines of the Bible properly and was open to new light that still in Christianity were to be unfolded by God. And He did.


Modern young scientists, Blanco [sometimes], Szalos-Farkas [sometimes] and nearly all the regular or past participators in Advent Today or Spectrum, except myself [for one article in Adventist Today, maybe the last one for them in that journal!] and others who also participated in these journals, operate with a rather “loose view” of the Bible and doctrines. It is for them a “new” paradigm and a shift that is seen as a progress out of a dilemma or “controversy”. They would opt for a view that “brand” the past pioneers including Ellen White, Uriah Smith et al, not as “proper exegetes” but rather as kind of “homiletical, systematic theological analyzers” rather than proper interpreters. Thus, renewal is called for. “New orthodoxy” is the name of their game. Almost a hermeneutics of difference, not so much suspicion, if they are pressed for an answer. But as Green below indicated, it is just another garment for the same: hermeneutics of difference in post-modern era is a hermeneutics of suspicion in Feuerbachian, Nietzschean garb.


Some problems should be highlighted here that consists of false or fake axioms:

1.      Axiom of “liberal thinking”: It is a false axiom to suggest that a professor from Oxford on the same subject of a farmer William Miller means that Miller is uninformed and the Oxford professor is “skilled” and thus more correct.

2.     Axiom of “liberal thinking”: Similarly is it fake to say only Harvard graduates can see science in it proper light and people who have graduated from Third World country universities have to “bow out” before the Harvard’s graduate’s views.

3.     Axiom of “liberal thinking”: The axiom that homiletics and exegesis are in a dichotomous way against each other and polarized, was a view of many in the Liberal camp in the Ford debates of the 1970’s. Ever so now and then one would make this comment: “Oh, Ellen White was not an exegete. She was just homiletically with the subject matter”. The same was suggested by Ernst Kasemann following Hermann Diem, saying that dogmatic theologians and New Testament scholars are working with two different Bibles. Can there be two different Bible? One for exegesis and one for dogtrines/dogma? Diem and Kasemann said yes. Heppenstall said no. “Doctrines are the formalized aspects of faith”.  (Heppenstall, Christ our High Priest chapter 12 paragraph 33). One cannot be without the other, says Heppenstall. “With Jesus Christ there was no conflict between the doctrinal statements and the experience of Biblical truth” Heppenstall, Christ our High Priest, chapter 12 paragraph 38).

4.     The composition of the Bible is a collection of sources from recipies, diaries, lists, descriptions, prayers, songs, poems, wisdom sayings, prophecies, legal material, case descriptions, strung together with intext footnotes/endnotes, written under the supervision of the Editor of the composition, the Holy Spirit, sewed together with divine historical, divine descriptive, holy reporting in mind, attempting to always shows the character of God and the sinful character of humans and some angels on this earth as part of the universe. Despite slips of the tongue, hand, ear, eye, mind, the imperfect text was canonized upon completion by the Holy Spirit as the very Word of God and was to be treated as such. All were inspired by the Holy Spirit working on this project over millennia. No discrepancies, no conflicts, no contradictions exists in this text. The incompletion of full data create for the eye of the beholder sometimes apparent differences, but they are just apparent since careful search for alternatives do provide explanations. Man’s inability to connect dots is the main problem. If man is not humble at the foot of the cross knelt down reading the text, the connection of the dots [hermeneutics] will be in a spirit of doubt, suspicion, denial, rejection, resistance, refusal, self-defence, audience pleasing, counter-confessionalism, sin-rationalizing, opportunism.

Exegesis cannot stop at the border of the recipe, or the diary entry but has to go into the faith zone where the divine relationship of the historiographer or author reflected from data to God creating fresh “holy data” [Holy Spirit enwrapped] which is part of total text for exegesis. One cannot humanistically extrapolate only the humanistic part and correctly report on the text in toto by this partial prejudice. Modern exegetes wants to stop at the poem and its beauty minus the God who is in the poem, stop at the recipe minus the God who expects bread to be baked that way and leave it to the Systematic Theologians to extrapolate the God-sayings in between these sources to strung together their logic system of understanding. This is a fallacy. It is fake. Without exegesis in toto of the toto text, as the pioneers indicated (see Blanco, although branding them as Baconists [meaning: truth is in the text before their eyes]) systematic theology or understanding of what God’s doctrine is on a specific topic, is not possible. To say that Miller used systematic theology rather than exegesis (see Blanco footnote 62 citing Szalos-Farkas) is not correct. Paying attention to the text was upheld by the pioneers as Blanco indicated and this is the first rule in proper exegesis even in modern times.

5.     Whether one sticks to the text [exegete] or extrapolated eclectic parts of the text strung together with other texts from other contexts under a topic [systematic theologian], both approaches are the same.

For example, the exegete’s eyes will read the poem and its beautiful alliterations, parallellisms, chiastic structures, rhymes, assonance, etc. but at one point, the poet is not just a secular poet. He is a faithful poet and will bring in a concept of the divine for him. That concept is what is lifted out by the faithful systematic theologian who recognizes that the concept is the same as another earlier or later poet or author or prophet in the biblical text. The faithful exegete will not ignore this “systematic theological” collectible item, but also embark on a proper systematic theological understanding in order to properly put the poet’s faith in total biblical context. It is not wrong to do that. It is a must. But notice, both faithful scholars came to the same end. The systematic theologian as faithful, will take the extrapolated text with care, since it is “pulled out” of a context, but will carefully search around the text to see if there are items giving a different understanding than what he/she himself can see. They are open for change. They are willing to adapt their thinking in faith. But, also the rest of the scripture should harmonize with this thought since it is the work of one Spirit as Editor. The end-results of a faithful exegete and a faithful systematic theologian should be the same.

6.    Axiom of “liberal thinking”: Homiletics depends on systematic theology which is contrary to exegesis that is depending on the text.

This axiom is false. As just pointed out, just the secular speaker or reader will argue this way. Some of my professors were this way. At the Calvinistic University where they taught me, he said that on Sunday standing on the pulpit he speaks with faith to faithful people but when he is in the class behind his lectern, he does not believe anything he said on Sunday on the pulpit. This is textual psychopathy. Two ontologies, two epistemologies, two methodologies and two different outcomes: one exegetical as opposed to the other which is homiletical. The content of the pulpit speaker should not be any different than the context of the exegete or the content of the systematic theologian. This is the proper Adventist view on the matter. It is with this understanding that Adventists as pioneers operate and their rules of interpretation (see Crocombe [although he branded SDA hermeneutics as derived from Miller, which is not correct since it was tapped potentials up to their time utilized around a common doctrine that expanded as consensus for both doctrines and method of hermeneutics as feasible that led to the common hermeneutics] and also Blanco [2017], Damsteegt [2013], Timm [2000], Waggoner [1887], James White [1851, 1854], Uriah Smith [ ], Ellen White [1883, 1891]). 

7.     James White is not a systematic theologian as opposed to an exegete when he says:

“Scripture must explain Scripture, then a harmony may be seen throughout the whole”.

When he said that to study the Bible one must “collat[e] the dierent portions of it”.

“Let us have a whole Bible, and let that, and that alone, be our rule of faith and duty”.

And also that the student need to search “the Scriptures for the whole truth, and for his whole duty”.

8.     It is not systematic theology building joy that James White had when he said that the Adventist position on points of faith is:

“a connected system of truth, the most beautiful in all its parts, that the mind of man ever contemplated”.

If exegesis is done properly then the truths of each exegetical portion of the text from different biblical books, should all ring one sound and that sound will be beautiful because it is truth as opposed to error. This system of connection will have a clear, simple, logic beauty to it. And it always does. Phillip (in the Book of Acts) got into the chariot and although the Ethiopian was trying his best to do exegesis from Isaiah, Phillip had to take him as himself a skilled exegete who connected the dots as a systematic logic thinking throughout the Scripture, from text to text to see the Messiah in verity. It is not one or the other, it is both.

9.     Here is the rule then: All faithful biblical exegetes will eventually become biblical systematic theologians and systematic theologians who are not biblical exegetes are philosophers or sophists but not the biblical way.

10.  Hermeneutics of suspicion is conventional in our day but is rooted in doubt and suspicion by men like:

F. Nietzsche “there are no fact, only interpretations”;

I. Kant “I have found it necessary to deny knowledge, in order to make room for faith”;

Hamann to Hans Jacob von Auerswald on 28th of July 1785 “…the heart beats before the head thinks”;

T. Kuhn “…the proponents of competing paradigms practice their trades in different worlds” [Evolutionism is not the same as Creationism, Preterism is not the same as Historicism];

L. Feuerbach “…an object first takes on its true intrinsic dignity when the sacred nimbus is stripped off; for as long as a thing or being is an object of religious worship, it is clad in borrowed plumes, namely, the peacock feathers of the human imagination”;

K. Barth, “We….need be afraid of no Feuerbach”;

F. Nietzsche, “Is the cross an argument?” [contra see 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing…”];


11. Hermeneutics of difference is a suspicion in postmodern guise.

H. W. Frei “…a good hermeneutics of a text is one that has ‘breathing space’, that is to say, one in which no hermeneutics finally allows you to resolve the text – there is something that is left to bother, something that is wrong, something that is not yet interpreted.” (Frei “Conflicts in Interpretation: Resolution, Armistace or Co-existence?” 1993, page 162).


G. Green, Theology, Hermeneutics, and Imagination: The Crisis of Interpretation at the End of Modernity [Cambridge University Press, 2000]. Downloaded from http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=105491683#

M. Blanco, “Early Adventists’ Homiletical Principles and the Expository-vs-Thematic Sermons Discussion.” Davar Logos. Vol. XVI no. 1 (June 2017): 29-60. Downloaded from Academia.edu. Principios homiléticos de los primeros adventistas y la discusión de sermones expositivos versus temáticos.

12. Final word by this writer here: Anyone who is an epigraphist will know that when you work with text, cuneiform or ostracon or mural (Deir ‘Alla) or parchment, or any Ancient Near Eastern text, you need to look at as many similar texts on the topic that are available as possible to get a proper understanding what is going on. “Systematic Theology” of these ancient religions are a necessary ingredient for understanding the exegesis of the text you are preparing for an article to be published. It is the same for the biblical text as exegesis. If I give a talk on my findings in the ostracon, I am not saying falsehood as opposed to my fine analysis in the article I published. The data, detail are the same. They ring the same truth. This is also the same with preaching an exegesis or preaching a systematic understanding.


Dear God

The young scholars at universities in Adventism, are scooping up from non-SDA books, universities and thinkers with preteristic, nihilistic and suspicion filled relativism ideas that confront Your Word and its doctrines. Help them to open their eyes and see the danger they put themselves in. In Jesus Name Amen.