Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Steve Wohlberg's End Time Delusions Revisit

See also Zeteo 3:16

While I've had some positive feedback, another reader has taken exception to a previous post on Seventh-day Adventist author Steve Wohlberg.

So, once again, here are my thoughts…

Wohlberg has written numerous polemics targeting dispensationalism and national Israel’s future relevance. He’s also produced a number of videos attempting to debunk these and maintains a website of articles doing so while promoting his books.

His critiques are peppered with pejoratives. The words deception and delusion are found in the titles of his books: The Left Behind Deception; The Rapture Delusions; End Time Delusions; Exploding The Israel Deception etc. Considering that he’s expended substantial energy criticizing the disp system, some responses are inevitable. These rejoinders are not personal attacks.
My reader said she was thrilled to discover that Wohlberg was an Adventist and noted “after only skimming the book that he was sharing truth with his reader. However, the truth is that he misrepresents dispensational thought, intention and revises history. See HERE and HERE for some of these errors.

Wohlberg informs his readers that pretribulationism was influenced by Margaret MacDonald. Yet he merely parrots journalist Dave MacPherson, who happens to write a glowing review for the book. We can read Margaret’s vision HERE to see that she was, in fact, posttribulational.
He infers that, because this idea is (allegedly) new, it is also unscriptural. Yet he employs a double standard. Ironically, Adventism began in the 1840s and its tenets owe much to the failed 1843 & 1844 prophecies regarding Christ’s return (see Investigative Judgment etc), and the writings of Ellen G White. If you live in a glass house it is unwise to throw stones.

In “Delusions” Wohlberg cautioned his readers about leaning on any person to expound Scripture for them. He listed a set of disp teachers and included himself in the mix. What about Ellen G White?
In fact Adventists are more amenable to consider that the Bible contains human errors rather than admit to Ellen G White’s numerous contradictions. Whereas dispensationalism uses a literal hermeneutic, Adventism understands Scripture through the filter of White’s lens, which is why they so desperately defend her.

On his website Wohlberg misrepresents disp teaching on Salvation: “First of all, the notion that God saved Old Testament Jews by law, but now saves New Testament Christians by grace, is not only subtly anti-Jewish itself, but it's entirely unbiblical.

He might have done better to study and research a PRIMARY SOURCE instead of Wiki. Disp teaches that Salvation has ALWAYS been by Grace through Faith. He further infers that the literal disp understanding of Zech 13:8 is somehow anti-Semitic. Yet his own Adventist view asserts that all of Israel’s land promises are now forfeit (Exploding The Israel Deception) and the nation is prophetically irrelevant.

In “Delusions” Wohlberg claims the word “covenant” (briyth) in Dan 9:27 is never used apart from a Messianic context. Adventists need this verse to be Messianic to support their eschatological assumptions. Yet a straightforward word search of the OT on briyth reveals that it is used in multiple non-Messianic contexts.

He takes dispies to task for alleged eisegesis but then he spends a significant amount of time explaining problematic issues like why the 144,000 aren’t really Jews, contrary to the plain meaning of Rev 7; and that the armies gathering at Armageddon isn’t really what Scripture means, contrary to a literal reading of Rev 16:16.

His view teaches that the Antichrist is a system (RCC) even though the Antichrist is unambiguously portrayed as an individual in Revelation. The mark of the Beast morphs into Sunday worship despite abundantly clear statements indicating that the process involves worshiping the Antichrist and accepting a physical mark on the hand or forehead. The Great Seal is Sabbath worship though we are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13). The saints reign in heaven despite Rev 5:10.

Adventists claim that Satan is forced to wander a desolate earth’s surface - which is the abyss during the thousand years of the Millennium - so that he cannot deceive the nations. Yet a study of the abyss in Revelation has the locale BELOW the earth’s surface. See Rev 9:1; Rev 9:2; Rev 9:11; Rev 11:7; Rev 17:8 and Rev 20:1-3. Luke 8:31 and Romans 10:7 also testify that its location is below the earth.
Logic demands that the abyss cannot be the earth’s surface. Satan cannot deceive nations which have already been destroyed at the Lord’s coming. Adventists teach Soul Sleep; therefore the nations cannot hear Satan, regardless of his locale. Not only can the nations not hear him but even if they did, they couldn’t do anything about it. Furthermore, according to Adventists, Satan is going to deceive them again anyway.

They employ “Types and Shadows” arguments. Key sections of Revelation and OT prophecies are redefined, re-interpreted and virtually changed. They shuffle primary events around in contrast to the natural chronological order of Revelation. They claim that John’s style was to write something, recapitulate and elaborate. That’s true. John gives a chronological block of events and then adds a narrative BUT he never mixes the order within a set of contextual occurrences, which is what Adventists must do to support their end-times scheme (especially Rev 20 & 21).
Finally, my reader made some statements about the Law, the Sabbath, and the Catholic system which she claims most of Christendom follows. Adventists often see themselves as the true Church, with all the rest in error or apostate – especially the RCC. The Sabbath teaching is a vital distinction for them - in particular from an eschatological viewpoint.

That being the case, I criticized Wohlberg’s “Delusions” for avoiding the issue in the chapter discussing the commandments when he should have been open and direct regarding his Adventism and the importance of the Sabbath to his system. The only clue to Wohlberg’s affiliation is a reference to his website at the back of his book. This stealth approach appears to be the modus operandi for many SDA websites and Revelation Seminars.

The questions regarding the Sabbath and the Law are beyond the intended scope of this essay. I’m aware of the standard arguments used by Adventists to defend their doctrine.
The post-Pentecost disciples had numerous opportunities to invoke obligatory Sabbath observance. If it was so important, why didn’t they? In fact, Col 2:16 plainly contradicts it. Instead, like the previous examples, Adventists will reason around that verse – even going so far as appealing to Luke 23:56 for support. That verse doesn’t help them because, at that point, the disciples didn’t even fully understand that Christ was to be resurrected let alone anything about a New Covenant. Yet faced with the implications of Acts 1:6 some Adventists will cite disciple pre-Pentecost ignorance. Note here that Christ did not correct their assumptions.

In conclusion, there’s a fair degree of irony in that Wohlberg calls dispensational teaching the “the third frog of false prophecy” and refers to it as delusional when his own system fails to take Scripture at face value and even relies on a “modern prophet” to interpret it.

Further resources:
For further studies on the Law, Covenants and the Sabbath go to: Ariel Ministries Resources
A great book that refutes both Replacement Theology and obligatory Sabbath observance is Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s ISRAELOLOGY
Dr Randall Price’s resources on Various Subjects e.g. the 70 weeks
Another worthwhile book is Dr Fruchtenbaum’s Footsteps Of The Messiah and read Richard’s comment towards the end of this ARTICLE

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