A few years ago I came across a book called End Time Delusions written by Steve Wohlberg. The book aggressively goes after the Left Behind novels and the theology behind them. The most obvious target in Wohlberg’s sight is the pretribulational rapture because that forms the basis of the LB series. But, essentially, he is opposed to all the standard premillennial positions. This includes mid-trib, pre-wrath and post-trib. I like reading opposing viewpoints so I checked it out. However, once having discovered Wohlberg was a Seventh Day Adventist, I promptly lost interest in the book.
He recently appeared on Jan Markell's Radio Show talking about the popular Twilight series although, at the time, Jan hadn’t realized who he was and what his beliefs were. Jan is a pre-trib Messianic Jew who believes God hasn’t finished with Israel. Wohlberg’s beliefs are the antithesis of all these things and he actively teaches against them through various mediums, with ever-increasing exposure. When the subject of End Time Delusions came up again on another blog, it prompted me to take another look at him.
Wohlberg flies under the radar - you can read his many articles at whitehorsemedia.com without discovering his SDA affiliation. The one reference I could find to that is HERE .
As I researched him and connected the dots, I found a large number of SDA sites all linked to each other. But in each case I had to dig deep to see the SDA connection. The dead giveaway was either references to Wohlberg’s books or Ellen G White.
So what’s the big deal? Who cares if he’s SDA if what he is teaching is biblical? My response is, why conceal the fact that you’re SDA? Incidentally, Herbert W Armstrong’s organization used the same tactic many years ago, and offshoots of that org still do. I was once a member of that organization.
On page 30 of ET Delusions, Wohlberg makes the following statement:
“We don’t need to depend on scholars to find the answer. In fact, it is never safe to lean completely on any man, no matter how smart or educated they may be. Christians should never be taught to rely solely on Tim LaHaye, John Walvoord, Thomas Ice, Jack Van Impe, Grant Jeffrey, Chuck Smith, John Hagee, or any other popular teacher, including Steve Wohlberg. We should all open our Bibles, pick up our own concordances, and find out for ourselves what truth is.....”
I might add that guys like Chuck Missler encourage people not to believe them and to search out Scripture. Ironically, Wohlberg immediately goes on to inform his readers what he thinks about Matt 24 etc, thus telling them what they should believe. In fact in so many cases, Wohlberg actually twists Scripture to convince his readers that what a particular verse is saying may actually mean something else.
But Wohlberg is being dishonest. Does he really want his readers to search the Scriptures for themselves or does he want to lead them down a particular path? Would he add Ellen G White to that list?
The SDA Biblical Research Institute has an online essay called Is the Bible Our Final Authority? It's a rambling article full of semantics and I suggest people read it thoroughly. The author refers to alleged Scripture problems and contradictions and raises the subject of hermeneutics. In reality there aren’t any Scriptural problems. All contradictions have been adequately addressed by scholars and it’s interesting that these supposed difficulties are entertained by the author in the first place.
Already Adventists have begun to work on these problems. Several carefully reasoned articles and a number of book-length essays and collections of essays have appeared. We have the BRI volume, Gerhard Hasel's Biblical Interpretation Today, which particularly addresses methods; George Rice's Was Luke a Plagiarist? and the BRI publications on prophetic interpretation. We should note as well Alden Thompson's Who's Afraid of the Old Testament God? which has implications for hermeneutics. The publication of several of Ellen White's writings on the nature of the Bible and workings of inspiration has proved invaluable. Indeed they set us on a path that offers at least partial resolution of the tensions.
The reference to Rice’s book “Was Luke a Plagiarist” may be a subtle defense of the fact that Ellen G White was found to have plagiarized many of her writings word for word. In other words, if Luke borrowed data from the disciples then why can’t White do the same? It gets more interesting:
To this point Ellen White's guidance has received only passing notice. We have noted her ringing endorsement of the truthfulness and authority of Scripture. A more careful study makes clear that for her the Scriptures remain the final authority, not only where they touch religious matters, but in their report of events as well.
However Mrs. White is not where Evangelicals are. While affirming the Bible's authority, she recognizes in far higher profile the human element in Scriptures. We review in brief excerpts what she has to say about the language and thought patterns in the Bible:
"Don't you think there might have been some mistake in the copyist or in the translators?" This is all probable. . . . All the mistakes will not cause trouble to one soul, or cause any feet to stumble.-Selected Messages, Bk. 1, 16.
The writers of the Bible had to express their ideas in human language.-Ibid. 19.
There is not always perfect order or apparent unity in the Scriptures.-Ibid. 20.
The Bible must be given in the language of men. Everything that is human is imperfect.-Ibid.20.
The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God's mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented.-Ibid. 21.
The writers of the Bible were God's penmen, not His pen.-Ibid.
It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man's words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts.-Ibid.
With the immense advantage of the gift of prophecy in modern times, Adventists are prepared for a genuinely integrated understanding of revelation, inspiration, and preservation of authority in the Word while others explore box canyons in search of understanding. But we will fall short of God's plan unless we allow the Holy Spirit to both interpret the Word and move it into proclamation.
Any SDA statement of faith will readily attest that Scripture is the inspired word of God. However, in my opinion, the gist of what the above article is saying is that, because of all the human problems associated with the Bible, the SDA especially benefits from prophets like Ellen G White to set things straight. Other sources confirm this fact and this is a major problem with that group. See page 12 "Writings of Ellen G. White".
Getting back to Wohlberg, my problem isn’t just the fact that he maligns pretribbers and Dispenationalists with condescending phrases. I could still be a posttribber and still be concerned about this guy. This issue goes beyond rapture timing differences. Wohlberg’s book isn’t just a “biblical” attack on the LB series per se; it’s a veiled introduction to SDA eschatology and everything that it entails. His mission is to undermine all elements of the LB series, not just the pre-trib rapture, and covertly introduce his own agenda.
A little bit of history:
SDA William Miller, using a series of erroneous calculations from Daniel, predicted that Christ’s second coming would occur in 1844. When it failed - instead of re-examining Miller’s error - SDA officials proposed several solutions finally settling on the doctrine of the Sanctuary, which was subsequently endorsed by Ellen G White. So the story was changed. Instead of returning, Christ moved from the First Compartment to the Second Compartment of the Sanctuary. This has major ramifications for the one-time Blood Atonement, Salvation by Grace and the exposition of the book of Hebrews, and it introduces the “Investigative Judgment” doctrine. But it was how Miller derived his original conclusion that locks Wohlberg into his calculations and arguments because the IJ doctrine is contingent to the same rationale and cannot be discarded.
The arguments that motivate Wohlberg to deny that the covenant in Dan 9:27 is made by the Antichrist are all tied to how SDA interpret the days into 1260 years and how they relate them to historical Papal Rome. He then needs to deny the single Antichrist we see in Revelation because, for Wohlberg and the SDA, the Great Seal of God in the End Time is not the Holy Spirit, it is actually Sabbath observance. To do this he also needs to allegorize Rev 13:15-18 and make it say something different. Thus the true Mark of the Beast now becomes enforced Sunday worship.
Up until recently I presumed the SDA chose Sabbath observance because it seemed the better day traditionally. I was wrong. Sabbath observance and the teachings of E G White lie at the heart of Adventism. To the SDA, Sabbath observance is critical to salvation. We only get a hint of this in ET Delusions in the chapter called “Thunder From Heaven’s Temple”. Here he discusses and emphasizes the Big Ten - The Ten Commandments. While he never states it; Wohlberg is really highlighting the Sabbath. Here is the perfect opportunity for him to speak plainly about Sabbath salvation in the End Time, yet incredibly, he only mentions the Sabbath once in connection with the other commandments. Why?
Wohlberg also believes the SDA is the true church and the true Remnant of Revelation. This includes the 144,000 of Rev 7 despite the clear teaching of those verses. SDA also becomes the true Israel and this apparently gives him license for allegorizing away the location of the battle of Armageddon in “Frogs, Fables and Armageddon” (pp 193-194):
“…(Rev 16:16) This is the only time the only time the exact word Armageddon is used in the Bible. The truth is, there is no literal place called “Armageddon” anywhere in the world….”
He then goes on to suggest that Armageddon - having being derived from Megiddo - could literally mean a mountain of slaughter upon which God’s enemies are cut off. To prop up his contention, he appeals to the mountain that fills up the whole earth in Daniel 2. Referring to Rev 16:16-20 he says:
“Contrary to the all-pervasive teaching of the third frog, these words clearly describe divine wrath upon spiritual Babylon and a global slaughter that reaches far beyond the Middle East”
“…Who is the gathering at Armageddon really against? Literal Jews? No! It is a gathering of the world forces of Mystery Babylon against the Warrior on the horse and against His army.”
Note: According to Wohlberg (p 192), “The third frog of false prophecy is now teaching a secret rapture, seven year tribulation, futurist antichrist (sic), literal drying up of a literal Euphrates, and a literal Middle-East Armageddon involving literal armies attacking literal Jews. Dear friend this is all false prophecy….”
Add to the "third frog" list the belief in a Tribulation Temple and the Antichrist persecuting Israel - as Wohlberg states elsewhere - and it pretty much covers every rapture view.
Back to the Sabbath issue; a couple of weeks ago I e-mailed an official SDA site asking about Sabbath observance and salvation. Here’s the response I got:
I think the correct answer to your question, which is really something of a personal dilemma for you, is to say that the real issue revolves around the question of the Sabbath. Which day is the true Sabbath? Which day does Scripture and History support? To find the answers to these questions may involve some reading and reflection. In the end we are all individually responsible to God for discovering what is right and true and for allowing Him to lead us into His truth. You will remember that Jesus said, “ Do not think that I came to destroy the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfil”, Matt 5: 17 and “If you love me keep my commandments”, Jn 14 :15. I can only advise that you seek to understand this important question both from the Bible and from what has happened to the Sabbath through history ( which includes how the keeping of Sunday began in the church after the apostolic era), and then make up your own mind on the basis of all the evidence. As to the matter of salvation, a good question to ask oneself about any spiritual matter, is “ Can a person be saved if he/she persists in living out of harmony with God’s will, once His will is known? “ It may take some time for you to work through these matters in your own life, but I believe you will feel more satisfied with this course of action.
Not satisfied, I asked him for clarification, “If I’m reading this correctly, I will lose my salvation if I continue to willfully worship on Sunday. Correct?”
To which he responded:
I can see that you are a thinking person who really wants to do what is right. But I cannot speak for God. Only He knows who will be saved and who will not, because He can read the heart, and knows the end from the beginning. Tomorrow (Saturday) is the day He set aside at creation for man to keep holy and the day that Jesus kept when He was on earth. I think you know that now. So it’s really over to you. I will be praying for you.
He meant YES, by the way. He just couldn’t bring himself to say it just as Wohlberg couldn’t let on because they both want to be considered normal Evangelical Christians. Yet they are NOT. They openly agree to free Grace salvation by faith but privately teach that salvation depends (and will depend) on Sabbath worship. It is legalistic and undermines Grace, and the doctrine of Investigative Judgment also undermines Christ’s work on the Cross. Their hermeneutical methodology is heavily dependant on White’s interpretation of Scripture.
Here's an excerpt from Hohmann's article, Sabbath Refutations
The crux of the matter boils down to this in the end: Does one need to keep the sabbath in order to be saved, or maintain their salvation status with God? Many a Sabbatarian will state that it is by grace apart from law they are saved, but turn around and claim one puts their salvation at risk should they sin habitually, and they define one of these sins as not keeping the sabbath. So they do indeed claim one has to keep the sabbath in order to be saved, disguising this belief in semantics.
See especially the videos of Dr Walter Martin in the following link. After initially refusing to classify SDA as a cult in his book, he began to have strong reservations.
EX Adventist Outreach
Ellen G. White - Prophet or Pretender?
Writings of Ellen G. White
The 2300-day Dilemma
Seventh-day AdventismBy Dr. James Bjornstad
Dr. Ford and Glacier View
THE 1844 INVESTIGATIVE JUDGMENT DOCTRINE
Seventh-day Adventism RENOUNCED
by D. M. Canright
Bible Contradictions and Other Bible Difficulties
Steve Wohlberg has told us what he believes the “third frog” of false prophecy teaches. Compare that to what we read in Revelation:
Rev 16:13 And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.Rev 22:18-19 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.