In the eschatology of Mrs. White we found these elements to be present. God controls His loving nature as a Father and, for our sakes, pours His wrath against sin on His Son. He controls His justice and allows evil men to inflict pain on the righteous that they might have time to respond to the revelation of Himself the suffering righteous give. He controls His mercy and justice draws a boundary line beyond which collective guilt cannot go. And through these all the consistency of God is revealed for some men will be saved—those who are life God in character, and some will be lost—those who are not like God in character.
In Ellen White’s works we also found a God who not only exercises self-control, but who controls even the elemental forces of our world—such as the rain, as the concepts of this thesis show, in order that man might understand God and prepare for His coming. Here the functioning of nature becomes a means of eschatological revelation.
God is in these works a person—one having personality, one who loves, reproves, guides, answers, invites our love, etc. And all these abilities are presented as being united in carrying forward His master plan for the world.
For Ellen White the essential function of eschatology is to control daily life and enable men to prepare to meet the future. The function of the Holy Spirit’s work the latter rain symbol portrays is that it completes the necessary changes that must be realized in man for him to successfully meet Christ when he comes again.
Although many contemporary groups were found to speak of eschatology and the latter rain in our research, not all the groups using these terminology were found to be using them with the same definitions. Therefore our research did not find the common use of a given terminology to bring unity between the users.
Seventh-day Adventists in particular are separated from other eschatology and latter rain terminology users by understanding the law to be a reflection of God’s character and an expression of His will which never changes.
This understanding of God’s will was not found to be present in current theological formulations by our research. If we did not make a serious error and fail to find this emphasis when in fact it was present, then it seems clear that for theology today to have any connection with Seventh-day Adventist theology, Seventh-day Adventist theology either must change its understanding of God’s law and its reason for existence, or contemporary theology will need to make an addition to its proclamations. Such a conclusion comes from us as rather a surprise considering our topic of latter rain and eschatology; however it is not such a surprise to students of Seventh-day Adventist theology after some reflection, for Seventh-day Adventist theology has always seen the law of God as the hitching post which gives stability to all connected to it.
To make improvements on what has sometimes been taught in the past as theology is obviously necessary—but the connection with the past must not be severed or the new theology is only contemporary thought of the same quality as the five o’clock news.
Theology is by definition not talk about the present but talk about God in His relationship to men. The cross is past history, but without it as the present experiential proclamation there is no news of God redeeming men.
This becomes especially clear when eschatology is studied. If today’s proclamation does not lead men to God in such a way as to unify today’s believers with the “great crowd of witnesses” with which they are said to be surrounded, Christianity as a historical continuity ceases to exist.
The tendency to omit eschatological formulations or to make eschatology merely a point of view breaks off the historical Christian root for hope.
The growth of Adventism may be pointing to the fact that a historical continuity united with an understanding of God’s law as the limiter of Christianity’s ability to adapt and adjust to the contemporary and current, provides a meaning and stability in life of such a quality that some people will respond to the call for preparation in spite of the current dispute surrounding such ideas.
With Dr. Freedman we feel that some of the abandoned-old needs a re-examination.