Is the Investigative Judgment biblical?

Little taught and now little known, this is the first generation of Seventh-day Adventists to be determinedly oblivious to this most polarizing of doctrines. The Investigative Judgment is a doctrine scholars can’t defend; pastors won’t preach; and Adventists, in general, don’t understand. Yet the costs of the doctrine weigh like an unbearable burden on those few Adventists who take it seriously.

Despite its flaws, the Investigative Judgment is so central to the genesis of Adventism that it cannot be revised without discarding Ellen’s prophetic mantle. For Ellen’s career was founded on the Investigative Judgment and its precursor doctrine the shut door. Remove these foundation stones and the facade of Ellen’s spiritual authority crumbles.

The following documents outline what happens when you search for the Investigative Judgment in scripture. They also describe Ellen’s complicity in maintaining this indefensible teaching, and why Seventh-day Adventist administrators were willing to risk the lives and careers of hundreds of its pastors rather than suffer the ignominy of admitting Adventism’s historical blunder.


Biblical study

Former Seventh-day Adventist pastor Dale Ratzlaff presents what he calls the Cultic Doctrine of Seventh-day Adventism. Don’t be put off by the title. He isn’t using the word “cultic” pejoratively, he’s using it in a technical sense. This book presents an extended Bible study assessing the biblical basis for the Investigative Judgment. When we learn to really see what scripture really says we discover a Gospel brighter and more glorious than any we had hoped for.

Theological reflection

Raymond F. Cottrell (1912–2003) was one of Adventism’s finest and most accomplished theologians. In his paper The “Sanctuary Doctrine”—Asset or Liability? Raymond reviews the inception of the sanctuary doctrine, Adventist protests against it, an examination of the doctrine directly from scripture, and a final reflection on and appeal to authenticity within Seventh-day Adventism.

Glacier View materials

On October 27, 1979, Dr Desmond Ford made a fateful address to the Pacific Union College Forum on the matter of Adventism’s corrupt Investigative Judgment doctrine. The reaction of some within the audience provoked the administration of the General Conference to convene a working group at Glacier View to examine Des’ critique of the received Adventist position.

The fallout of Glacier View was severe. Adventist congregations and families were divided by the issues. More than 180 Seventh-day Adventist pastors exited from denominational employ (which was equivalent to 40 per cent of the ministerial workforce within Australia and New Zealand).

The following materials represent Des’ apologia for the course he took before and after Glacier View. These documents reveal the crisis Adventism was thrown into when its leaders refused to abandon their received dogma.

Milton Hook’s Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist is a sympathetic biography and defense of Des’ actions leading up to Glacier View. Milton doesn’t pull any punches. He calls out the skulduggery involved, naming and shaming the parties responsible for allowing the Seventh-day Adventist community to remain mired in a life-destroying dogma.

Within Seventh-day Adventism: The Investigative Judgment And the Everlasting Gospel Des provides a series of source documents before and after Glacier View. It contains a transcript of his fateful speech at Pacific Union College; a series of reflections on the processes at Glacier View; and third-party analyses that appeared in various Adventist-aligned journals. Perhaps the most valuable part of this document is the listing of twenty-two incorrect assumptions Adventists make when interpreting Daniel 8 and 9.

Des Ford presents his doctoral thesis, Daniel 8:14, the Day of Atonement and the Investigative Judgment, in three volumes.

The first volume details the history of the sanctuary problem within Seventh-day Adventism and an analysis of the sanctuary within Hebrews.

The second volume—which constitutes his infamous Glacier View material—analyzes the Day of Atonement in Daniel and Revelation.

The third volume contains Des’ suggested emendations to Adventist theology and an overview of Ellen G. White’s views on the Day of Atonement.

Taken together, these materials summarize Des’ life work to reform what has proven to be unreformable within Seventh-day Adventism.