In the Book Magnificient Disappointment Dr. Maxwell asks the Question, “Where did the word Adventist Come From?” Maxwell anticipates a standard answer of “An Adventist is a person who believes that Christ is coming soon.” Magnificent Disappointment page 89.
Maxwell finds such an answer inadequate because, as Maxwell states, the Dispensationalists believe that Christ is coming soon and they are not Adventists.IBID Instead of seeing Adventists as simply those who believe Christ coming soon, Maxwell sees 1844 as the reason that we are called Adventist.
Because historically the term Advent refers to the first coming, Maxwell makes a big deal out of the fact that early Advnetists were called “Second Adventists.” Over time the term was shortened to simply Adventist.
So Maxwell goes to the question, Why were Second Adventists believing that Christ was coming soon? His answer was that it was due to the fullfillment of the 2300 days in 1844. Thus we are Adventists becuase historically we believed that Christ was returning in “light of the fulfillment of the 2300 days.”IBID 90
Sanctuary Part of our History
All of the above simply reherses what we already know. Namely that the Sanctuary message and 1844 played a great part in our historical heritage. To deny or remove this pillar is to deny something about ourselves.
But to simply declare that the doctrine is true is not enough. When we discuss the Sanctuary message, we often spend most of our time defending or attacking the doctrine. However if we don’t spend enough time discussing the relevance of the doctrine we will ultimately set it aside.
I believe that this is what has happened to the Sanctuary message. Even though we are seeing a resurgence in interest regarding the Sanctuary message, a lot of this interest is in defending or attacking the doctrine. The larger question remains, namely, is the Sanctuary message relevant.
Today one must ask if 1844 is driving us to believe that Christ is returning soon? I would think that it did in early Adventism, but not at all today.
Can we rehabilitate and reframe the Sanctuary message for our end time? Does the Sanctuary message have anything to say to us today?
I think that there is something about the Sanctuary and the judgment that God has called us into existence to be a witness to in these final days. To get at this something we must push beyond just defining the doctrine or defending it as true, but push to understand and celebrate it in our daily lives.
My plan is to continue on this theme in the AdventistPulpit.Com for the foreseable future.