Well-known historian, theologian, educator, speaker, and writer, Dr George Knight has recently released his 93rd book either written or edited—48 authored, 45 edited! He spoke recently about his new book and what it means for the church.
The tone of your new book—End Time Event and the Last Generation—seems to indicate that the subject is personal one for you. Why is that?
In many ways, the book is extremely personal since I have struggled with these issues ever since I became an Adventist in 1961. At first, I heartily accepted “last generation theology” and, soon after my baptism, promised God I would be the first perfect (sinless) person since Christ. After eight years, I gave up, left ministry, and thought I was finished with both Adventism and Christianity. But after six years in a “far country”, I was converted to Christ as a Saviour rather than primarily as an Example. The next year found me teaching at Andrews University for a 30-year stint during which a great deal of my writing dealt with topics related to last generation theology and helping people see its fallacies.
Why should someone read this book?
People should read this book because it unmasks a very powerful deception that has led many Adventists into wrong paths. It should be read not only to escape a destructive belief system but to understand the controversial issues at its centre. The most important take-away is a firm understanding that Christ is our perfectly sinless Saviour in all ways and that He wants to develop His loving character in each of His followers.
Do you see any parallels between the issues in this book and issues the Church has had to deal with in the past?
The issues in this book are both present and historical. In one way or another, Adventism has been struggling since the 1890s with false ideas of perfection and the role of the last generation in relation to the Second Coming. We need to rely less on Adventist tradition and more on the Bible’s clear teachings.
What changes have you seen in how church members view our heritage?
The good news about our heritage is that Adventism has become more open to looking at the facts of Adventist history rather than excitedly proclaiming apostasy on every side when someone does not line up with what have often been false understandings. In the past 50 years, we have become less fearful of historical facts, even if they disagree with the “party line”. [pullquote]
Given your knowledge of the Church’s past, what do you feel is the most crucial issue facing the church today?
The most crucial issue facing Adventism today is authority. My impression is that, for a large sector of the church, the foremost authority is Adventist tradition, followed by administrative authority, the authority of the writings of Ellen White, and finally the authority of the Bible—in a descending order. Of course, no-one openly admits the existence of such a hierarchy, but listen to the ongoing discussion and you will see the flow of the argument.
If Ellen White were exercising her prophetic voice in the Church today, what do you think she would see as her most crucial message to the Church?
I do not believe Ellen White would find acceptance if she were to appear today. We are too wrapped up in our traditions and administrative procedures. She would face off with Adventist leaders, tell them to stop playing games, and point us to our biblical mission—and even to new ways to accomplish it. I think her most crucial message in 2018 would be for Adventist members and leaders to quit their ongoing bickering and get back to gospel outreach through the power of the Holy Spirit.
End Time Events and the Last Generation—as well as many other books by George Knight—is available from Adventist bookstores in Australia and New Zealand.
Dale Galusha is president of Pacific Press.