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Jeff Pippenger Articles — The Old One

Fresh Concerns Related to the Recent Teachings of Jeff Pippenger

Several years ago I wrote a paper on the methods used by Jeff Pippenger to interpret the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. That paper was more or less a critique of a book Jeff wrote long ago.

In that paper I commended Jeff for his respect for Ellen White, for his avoidance of time-setting, and for his great respect for the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. All of these virtues are yet to be commended.

And I still recommend reading that paper (www.bibledoc.org). There I explain some of the inherent dangers in critiquing a man’s teachings when the man has the virtues just mentioned.

But to save time I will not rewrite my reasons for being hesitant to oppose Jeff’s teachings.

It is also fair to say that since the time that I wrote that paper that Jeff and I have corresponded via email. There have been a series of misunderstandings that have threatened to alienate Jeff and I even more than our doctrinal differences might. While Christian duty and courtesy demand that Jeff and I try to harmonize as Christian brothers, that duty is a private one. For everyone else the questions should take on a distinctly non-personal character.

In other words, the question should be, “Is Jeff correct? Or is Eugene correct? Or are they both wrong?” rather than “Is Jeff kind and sweet? Or is Eugene kind and sweet? Or as they both obnoxious?” The question of our character is one that can not well be evaluated at a distance and has always been a nearly useless one when judging the truthfulness of a proposition. (In other words, a Jehovah’s Witness might be very sweet and self-sacrificing and humble, and a Seventh-day Adventist might be coarse, suspicious, and exacting. And yet for all that, the Adventist would be right on many points where the Witness was in error.)

Recent Developments and Sources

Recently (December 2008) Jeff gave a series of prophecy lectures at an Ozark camp-meeting. As I have listened to this series I have realized that my earlier paper is inadequate. Jeff’s teachings have certainly progressed and so I offer this updated critique.

No one should lightly evaluate Jeff. His claims are too solemn for that. He believes he is teaching (with others) the present truth message. He believes the Latter Rain is the Spirit empowering the messages that he is teaching. This is no laughing matter. At least in the abstract, it is plausible. God did indeed, for example, send a message in 1888 that came with a power that was the beginning of the Latter Rain.

And if Jeff is right, then in opposing his special teachings I am opposing the Latter Rain. That would place me in a dangerous and utterly unenviable position.

So what am I saying? If you have heard Jeff’s teachings you owe it to yourself to love the truth enough to calmly study and slowly conclude. Do not let Jeff nor I nor an angel pressure you to decide before you have had time to prayerfully and thoughtfully weigh the evidence.

Here is some evidence to consider.

The Time of the End

Jeff teaches that the time of the end for Adventists began in 1989 at the fall of communism.

Is this a Biblical truth? Phrases that mean an equivalent of the “time of the end” occur ten times in Daniel (8:17; 8:19; 11:27; 11:35; 11:40; 12:4; 12:6; 12:8; 12:9; 12:13).

In these ten verses a few thoughts are shared repeatedly:

First, a section of the book of Daniel has been sealed until the time of the end (8:17; 12:4; 12:9; 12:13); then that section will be unsealed and understandable.

Second, the time of the end concludes a period of noted for persecution (8:17; 11:35; 12:7-8).

Third, the time in the phrase “time of the end” has been set or appointed to be at a certain time (8:19; 11:27; 11:35).

 

Affirming two of these points, Habakkuk 2:2-3, says the vision “is yet for an appointed time” and that “at the end, it shall speak.” There we are admonished to “wait for it” when it appears to tarry. So Adventist, on the basis of the teachings of Daniel unsealed “at the end”, were waiting for a fulfillment of the prophecy that appeared to “tarry.”

And Hebrews 10:35-39 shares what ought to be obvious, that what the early Adventist were waiting for was the Second Coming.

Taken together these twelve scriptures show the relation between the “time of the end” and the Second Coming. When the appointed “time of the end” arrives men are enabled to understand Daniel and are expected to conclude that Christ’s Coming is near. This is why Daniel 12:12-13 connects the special “waiting” of the Advent movement to the “speaking” of the vision at the end.

And this is why 2Th 2:2-3 warns first-century Christians not to be “shaken” in mind by any false epistle that might indicate that the Second Coming is near. Rather, “that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed.”

So the “time of the end” is that specified period  of earth’s history when men can know that Christ is coming soon on the basis of the unsealed prophecies. Children can understand this.

Contrasting with these ideas is the thought that there are multiple times of the end. A simple truth (that Christ’s coming will not be “nigh” until the “time of the end”) that anyone can understand is replaced by a fuzzy one.

What happened in 1798, the beginning of the “time of the end”? Since 1798 light has been shining on Daniel 8-12 so that men can come to understand it by study just as they come to understand other never-sealed portions of the Bible.

This explains why Adventism rose at the time that it did. But add something to this profound Adventist idea and the waters are muddied. Are there two times of the end? Or more? Then are they all “appointed”? Then at which one is Daniel unsealed?

And while a dozen passages above combine to make a “rock solid” Adventist doctrine that is easy to locate on a time-line, easy to explain by making the visions of Daniel plain upon tables, which of the ten verses referring to the “time of the end” can be shown to mean something different or something more?

In his eighth Ozark lecture Jeff goes so far as to say that there is a “time of the end” for every generation. And on the basis of what, pray tell, scripture or testimony can we say something like that? The scripture is of no private interpretation. And the 1989 “time of the end” for Adventist is the one point that he wants us to remember in lecture eight.

The Time of the Latter Rain

We live during the time of the Latter Rain. On this Jeff and I are agreed. But did the time of the Latter Rain begin in 2001? The Bible testifies that the time of the Latter Rain corresponds with the time of the blotting out of sins. If we want to get even more specific than that, the times of “refreshing” in Acts 3:19 are the times when the sins of the righteous are blotted out.

And that period of time corresponds to the judgment that began in 1844. Indeed, the world could have ended in the 1860’s, and again in the 1890’s. And the Latter Rain abortively began to fall in 1888. And all these things confirm what is implied in the statement below, namely that Ellen White could say in her own life time, “now”, “in these last days” is the time to look for the promised Latter Rain. We have been in the times of the Latter Rain since 1844 and since that time men have been bidden to pray earnestly for that gift.

So it may be now. Let Christians put away all dissension and give themselves to God for the saving of the lost. Let them ask in faith for the promised blessing, and it will come. The outpouring of the Spirit in the days of the apostles was “the former rain,” and glorious was the result. But the latter rain will be more abundant. What is the promise to those living in these last days? “Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee.” “Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.” Zechariah 9:12; 10:1.128 {CCh 98.6}

But Jeff places the time of the Latter Rain as beginning in 2001. But since we both agree that we are now in the time of the Latter Rain, that point is not as significant as the next one.

The Timing of Revelation 18:1-3

The Fourth Angel’s Message , the Loud Cry, will lighten the earth with its glory. Ellen White comments on this event:

“Now comes the word that I have declared that New York is to be swept away by a tidal wave. This I have never said. I have said, as I looked at the great buildings going up there, story after story: ‘What terrible scenes will take place when the Lord shall arise to shake terribly the earth! Then the words of Revelation 18:1-3 will be fulfilled.’ The whole of the eighteenth chapter of Revelation is a warning of what is coming on the earth. But I have no light in particular in regard to what is coming on New York, only I know that one day the great buildings there will be thrown down by the turning and overturning of God’s power. From the light given me, I know that destruction is in the world. One word from the Lord, one touch of His mighty power, and these massive structures will fall. Scenes will take place the fearfulness of which we cannot imagine.”  {LS 411.5}

Let us observe this statement for a moment.

What will the Lord do? He will “arise to shake terribly the earth.” What will happen next? The words of Revelation 18:1-3 will be fulfilled.

What will happen in New York City? The “great buildings there” will be thrown down by the “turning and overturning of God’s power.”

Now the timing of these things is vital to the purpose of this study. Jeff sees in this statement reason to connect Revelation 18 to the date 9-11-01.

But when will it be that the Lord will arise “to shake terribly the earth”? This terrible shaking of the earth precedes the fulfillment of Revelation 18:1-3, and the whole of the chapter. And when does the Lord arise to “shake terribly the earth?” This happens, interestingly, in connection  with the universal Sunday Law.

The substitution of the laws of men for the law of God, the exaltation, by merely human authority, of Sunday in place of the Bible Sabbath, is the last act in the drama. When this substitution becomes universal, God will reveal Himself. He will arise in His majesty to shake terribly the earth. He will come out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the world for their iniquity, and the earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. –Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 141.  {ChS 160.2}

Is 2:19  And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.

In short, when the Sunday law becomes universal then it will be true that Babylon will have become the habitation of every unclean and hateful birds, then it will be that the earth will be lighted with the glory of the Lord, and a Loud Cry will go forward.

Jeff has a lot to say about the first of the two statements above, however. He connects the collapse of the world trade center with the fulfillment of Revelation 18 and, if I am not mistaken, makes this connection a test of one’s prophetic legitimacy.

Yet the connection seems, in terms of simple timing, to be wholly a false conjecture that reasons that since buildings fell in NYC that the prophecy was fulfilled.

It wouldn’t be fair, however, in my opinion, to hold Jeff to his statement that if this point is in error, then he is into deep fanaticism and those that follow him are also. A man may be mistaken even in his accidental self-condemnations.

The Only Way to Warn the World

We have a message to take to the world. In a thousand different ways God calls on us to use our talents to do this work. Jeff has apparently been criticized (I have never heard such criticism, only I have heard Jeff respond to it) for having a non-evangelism-oriented ministry.

I am not one to say that every ministry must be evangelism oriented, so I would not level this criticism at Jeff. But I am very concerned with how Jeff responds to it. He quotes the following powerful statement from Ellen White.

The work of the Holy Spirit is to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. The world can only be warned by seeing those who believe the truth sanctified through the truth, acting upon high and holy principles, showing in a high, elevated sense, the line of demarcation between those who keep the commandments of God and those who trample them under their feet. The sanctification of the Spirit signalizes the difference between those who have the seal of God and those who keep a spurious rest day.  {7BC 980.8}

When the test comes, it will be clearly shown what the mark of the beast is. It is the keeping of Sunday. Those who, after having heard the truth, continue to regard this day as holy bear the signature of the man of sin, who thought to change times and laws (Letter 12, 1900).  {7BC 980.9}

Quoting this is great. This statement is like many others that Ellen White has written. I think of the one in Ministry of Healing where she writes:

It is our own character and experience that determine our influence upon others. In order to convince others of the power of Christ’s grace, we must know its power in our own hearts and lives. The gospel we present for the saving of souls must be the gospel by which our own souls are saved. Only through a living faith in Christ as a personal Saviour is it possible to make our influence felt in a skeptical world. If we would draw sinners out of the swift-running current, our own feet must be firmly set upon the Rock, Christ Jesus.  {MH 469.3}

The idea that our character determines the influence that we carry, this is a profound truth.

The original statement, quoted by Jeff, takes the principle to its logical conclusion. Those that are sealed, who have the character of Jesus, will be plainly different from those with the mark of the beast.

But the idea that “only” a character contrast can make our work effective must not be read as if we the world will be warned without evangelism by the character contrast.

Personal sharing of the truth with unbelievers is one the very means chosen by God to develop in us the character needed to give a proper warning to the world. The fact is that the world only sees that holy character when we are in the field meeting the wordlings.

The 2520

I have written a separate paper on the 2,520 year prophecy that is directly related to the teachings of Jeff Pippenger. That article is available at www.bibledoc.org.

The Fall of Babylon

In one of his lectures on Revelation 18 Jeff early mentions that Adventist in the end of time will understand the fall of Babylon. This he immediately explains to be the “judgment” on Babylon, the “execution” and punishment of that power.

That the word “fallen” can be used this way it should be readily admitted. It is used in a manner similar to this in Revelation 17:10.

But that the word can be used in other ways should also be admitted. It is used to describe a spiritual fall, a loss of moral strength or standing, in Revelation 2:10.

Re 2:5  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

That the latter sense is to be understood by “is fallen, is fallen” has been established by Ellen White and attested by the pioneers. Observe in the following statements from the Great Controversy how the Catholic church fell, and then the Protestant bodies fell. The recent fall of Protestantism was announced in 1844 and in view of the fact that Babylon is already “fallen” men are called leave her so as not to receive “of her plagues.”

Babylon is said to be “the mother of harlots.” By her daughters must be symbolized churches that cling to her doctrines and traditions, and follow her example of sacrificing

the truth and the approval of God, in order to form an unlawful alliance with the world. The message of Revelation 14, announcing the fall of Babylon must apply to religious bodies that were once pure and have become corrupt. Since this message follows the warning of the judgment, it must be given in the last days; therefore it cannot refer to the Roman Church alone, for that church has been in a fallen condition for many centuries. Furthermore, in the eighteenth chapter of the Revelation the people of God are called upon to come out of Babylon. According to this scripture, many of God’s people must still be in Babylon. And in what religious bodies are the greater part of the followers of Christ now to be found? Without doubt, in the various churches professing the Protestant faith. At the time of their rise these churches took a noble stand for God and the truth, and His blessing was with them. Even the unbelieving world was constrained to acknowledge the beneficent results that followed an acceptance of the principles of the gospel. In the words of the prophet to Israel: “Thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through My comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God.” But they fell by the same desire which was the curse and ruin of Israel–the desire of imitating the practices and courting the friendship of the ungodly. “Thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown.” Ezekiel 16:14, 15.  {GC 382.3}

“I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Revelation 18:1, 2, 4.  {GC 603.1}

This scripture points forward to a time when the announcement of the fall of Babylon, as made by the second angel of Revelation 14 (verse 8), is to be repeated, with the additional mention of the corruptions which have been entering the various organizations that constitute Babylon, since that message was first given, in the summer of 1844. A terrible condition of the religious world is here described. With every rejection of truth the minds of the people will become darker, their hearts more stubborn, until they are entrenched in an infidel hardihood. In defiance of the warnings which God has given, they will continue to trample upon one of the precepts of the Decalogue, until they are led to persecute those who hold it sacred. Christ is set at nought in the contempt placed upon His word and His people. As the teachings of spiritualism are accepted by the churches, the restraint imposed upon the carnal heart is removed, and the profession of religion will become a cloak to conceal the basest iniquity. A belief in spiritual manifestations opens the door to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, and thus the influence of evil angels will be felt in the churches.  {GC 603.2}

Of Babylon, at the time brought to view in this prophecy, it is declared: “Her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Revelation 18:5. She has filled up the measure of her guilt, and destruction is about to fall upon her. But God still has a people in Babylon; and before the visitation of His judgments these faithful ones must be called out, that they partake not of her sins and “receive not of her plagues.” Hence the movement symbolized by the angel coming down from heaven, lightening the earth with his glory and crying mightily with a strong voice, announcing the sins of Babylon. In connection with his message the call is heard: “Come out of her, My people.” These announcements, uniting with the third angel’s message, constitute the final warning to be given to the inhabitants of the earth.  {GC 604.1}

Only once have I heard Jeff speak of Babylon’s fall as being the judgments on Babylon. It may be that this is not a hallmark of his teaching. It may have been a slip, an anomaly. And as the Bible indicates that we ought not to condemn a man for a “word” Is 29:21, I advise no one to reject Pippenger’s teachings generally on the basis of this. On the other hand, I advise everyone to reject this particular incident of teaching as untrue.

Conclusion

In my first article I argued that Jeff uses unreliable methods in the interpretation of prophecy. Yet, I suggested, he borrows most of his conclusions from the pioneers and so generally concludes correctly.

Now I reverse the latter of these assessments. The most recent teachings, regarding 1989 and 2001 and the Loud Cry and the Latter Rain, are faulty conclusions. And to this end faulty methods will, it must be admitted, typically lead. There are other concerns, other doctrinal issues, that could be addressed. But these are the center, Jeff and I are agreed. And so they are addressed.

— Eugene Prewitt

April 3, 2009

For the Word Document, see here: Thoughts_Regarding_Jeff_Pippengers_Teachings

(4) Comments

    • A little data, Friend, might have been more helpful. But I do appreciate calls to repentance and prophecy study, so thank you for such a call.

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