Second Advent and Passivity – The Question and Conclusion

This brings us to the primary question. Why is passivity not possible? The answer is that the current work of the Spirit is to mature us and this maturity happens as we seek to live in God?s intention. For our purposes this is a call to active support of equality. Christ has not finished God?s current intention on humanity. God does not simply institute God?s intention in humanity without any work on our part. God is doing a work inside of humanity. That work is moving humanity to a maturation which will be the acceptance of God?s current intention.

Another reason why humanity cannot step back and do nothing is that if we do nothing then Christ will never have the Second-Advent for the maturation of God?s people is a component of God?s original intent. Therefore, this symbol of the heavenly sanctuary provides a way to understand the work of humanity in history that does not lead to despair for God is working to bring history to God?s intentions. Neither does it cause humanity to believe that there is no work for humanity to do.

Let me finally say that the Second Advent itself provides a check against despair. While we will not see the full institution of the Kingdom of God before the Second Advent, we will not give up to despair because we will fully overcome in that the culmination of this heavenly temple work is the Second Advent of Jesus Christ which means that our work does in some sense move history towards the climax. In addition, we cannot despair because as we work we see glimpses of the divine movement of history towards culmination. We see pictures here and there that remind us that the Kingdom of God has come even if it is not fully realized. These pictures are seen in the Sabbath symbol as well as the Heavenly Temple symbol.

I have shown that the Adventist symbols of Heavenly Temple ministry and Sabbath illuminate the Second Advent symbol in such a way that would work against any kind of passivity. These symbols help us to understand the role of human and divine agencies in the process of realizing the Kingdom of God. It also provides a glimpse of the appearance of the end by appealing to God?s intention (Sabbath). These symbols also provide a way to wrap up all of human history into the culmination of the kingdom of God.

Second Advent and Passivity – Heavenly Temple and Passivity

The Heavenly Temple ministry symbol provides a vehicle for understanding God?s current intention for the world. The heavenly temple ministry symbol reminds us that the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ are actively involved in human pursuits. In fact, both the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ have humanity as the emphasis of their ongoing work. They are working for humanities good within history. This understanding can also be derived from African American ?popular? theology that makes affirmation of God?s sovereignty and power over events seeking to bring them to a good end.See Soul Theology. by Henry Mitchell and Nicolas Cooper-Lewter These affirmations remind us that God is working today for our good. While other Christians use the symbol of Spirit to speak of God?s work in the world on humanities behalf, I believe that my own tradition speaks of this work being towards a resolution. This symbol is used to speak of not just the Spirit?s work, but also the deepening of the Spirit?s work as time moves forward to realization of God?s ultimate intention.

Many Adventists who teach this symbol have often only used it as an apologetic device that is meant to show that Seventh-day Adventism is a valid movement. Sometimes Adventists also fall into a trap of only using the symbol to calculate the timetable of the closing events of earth?s history. Such uses of the Heavenly Temple symbol cannot provide help in fighting passivity. The heavenly temple ministry emphasizes an increasing maturation process in the world. The Holy Spirit is working in the world largely through human agencies for the maturation of the world. This maturation includes not just individuals but also communities.Adventist theology usually follows evangelicals by emphasizing individuals and ignoring communities. I believe that this kind of thinking is not being true to where that symbol can take us. Reflection on the symbol reminds us that Christ is not working only for individuals but also for communities. The whole emphasis on individuals to the exclusion of communities can be very problematic. Another important component of the Adventist view is that humanity is being perfected by this work. This tells me that what I do changes me and makes me a better citizen of the kingdom. A final important concept is that the work must be completed for the second coming to happen.

Thus, humanity has a work to do. This work is required for the Second Advent. God does not wish to obliterate human agency. God wishes Humanity to choose the side that humanity wishes to be on. This choice is not a passive choice, but an active one. We choose by doing. We learn by doing. This is something that the Sabbath symbol teachesas well, we become more and more like God?s intention by participating in God?s intention. As we work to get our institutions and everything human to be in concert with divine will we become changed to be more like the divine. Humanity must follow where the Holy Spirit is leading. Humanity is not sitting idly waiting for the Second Advent. If the Holy Spirit is working in humanity to bring humanity to God?s current intention right now, then we are to cooperate with that working then. Thus we will not sit back while the demonic overcomes the divine in this world.

Second Advent and Passivity

History?s basic aim is towards the ultimate intention of God. We have a glimpse of the appearance of God?s ultimate intention by looking at Creation and can thus believe that it includes much of God?s original intention. So we can be assured that it includes equality and justice. But more than this we also see a reversal of the effects of evil. The Biblical record often shows a reversal of what is expected.For example the first is last in Matthew 20:16. The high are brought low and the low are brought high. Ultimately we are looking at the removal of all the results of sin. Like God?s original intention we cannot totally define God?s ultimate intention besides stating that it includes this reversal of sin and its effects. The Second Advent is the event that ushers in this era of God?s ultimate intention. The Second Advent is the finishing up or the doing for humanity what cannot be done through humanity in that God does not wish to overthrow human choice.

It is true that such a teaching could lead to passivity or ignoring of evil in this world. I believe that such a position is unfounded for Christians who accept the Sabbath as principle to live by in that the Sabbath calls for an active participation in God?s intention. As we have noted, the Sabbath calls for participation in God?s intention, but this problem of passivity will be more fully answered as we move to a look at the current work of the Spirit in humanity as shown in the symbol of the heavenly temple. In this work, God is doing all that God can do in humanity. If humanity does not do its work then they will put off the culmination of God?s intention.