Seventh Day Adventists :Soul Sleep and the Sanctuary


** My wife was received into the Catholic church last year in our 13th year of marriage . She was SDA ,but never attended her church . However her family is SDA and at her mom’s funeral the Pastor spoke about soul sleep and the preparation of the sanctuary.

It is self-evident that the sanctuary doctrine was a theory concocted to lessen the impact of the great dissapointment suffered by the early Adventists and that soul sleep is it’s necessary ancilliary.

Why is this so hard for them to see and grasp ?

Another of Sola Scriptura’s many gifts to Christendom I presume. Luther and his ilk had alot to answer for .:tsktsk:**


The Sanctuary doctrine is rarely spoken of in modern Adventism, though it remains a vital teaching. Most Adventists are not well-versed in it, and are often indifferent towards it. Within so apathetic a culture, there is little room for critical analysis.

If an Adventist scholar openly criticizes the teaching, he is usually suppressed or expelled by the denomination. Among Adventist laymen, those who actively cast doubt upon the Sanctuary doctrine also discard or discount the authority of Ellen White. At that point, most choose to abandon the denomination altogether (though some pockets of “progressive Adventism” persist).

The Adventist doctrine of the intermediate state, on the other hand, is readily embraced by all Adventists. They believe they have a firm scriptural basis for the teaching, and are quick to share it in witnessing contexts.

P.S. Congratulations to your wife! I will pray for your united spiritual growth.



There are have been several protestant theologians that have given explanations of this passage. In fact, Desmond Ford, who was expelled from the SDA Church for denouncing the SDA interpretation of the Sanctuary Doctrine, did no more than many protestant theologians have already done in pointing to Antiochus Epiphanes. The assertion that the SDA’s are the only ones who are offering an explanation or trying to understand this passage is patently false.

In fact you can order Dr. Fords examination of the doctrine here if you would like to see what other Christians have been saying for a long time.


What is the Sanctuary Doctrine?


Basically, in 1844 Jesus entered the Holy of Holies in heaven, and started an investigated judgement. Jesus is basically reviewing the books so to speak.

The hebrew grammar of Daniel 8 does not support it, nor does the book of Hebrews.


If we amalgamate this doctrine with the Lutheran sense of justification as Jesus blinding the Father from our sins and Americanize it a bit, then we can think of Jesus “shredding the documents notating our sins” while he is performing this “audit” that the SDAs speak of. Ken Lay and Enron are now martyrs.


“The Sanctuary” doctrine as explained in the Adventist “Fundamental Beliefs”:
There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent.


from what I have seen, if you want to really convince stout believers of soul sleep, you can’t get bogged down in the scriptures. You’ll end up arguing over a passage for days, and leave utterly frustrated. Instead, you must rise above the scriptural evidence because these strong supporters will ALWAYS have an answer for any text (this readiness to defend is just more evidence in my opinion). My argument goes as follows:

One of the reasons why SDA’s adhere to soul sleep is because they say that this theory was held by Jews of the OT. I think the thought is that OT Jews received a certain amount of divine truth, and are thus apparently INFALLIBLE in their theological stance. Truthfully, the Jewish concept of the afterlife has shifted more than can even be accounted for: from an ancient greek-like view of an indescriminent Hades, to a retributive heaven and hell (eye for an eye), to ressurection, to reincarnation. This site isn’t exactly scholarly but it works: . The point here, obviously, is that the Jewish understanding of the afterlife is very unsteady. FYI, today the Jewish THEORY is that the afterlife is a sort of long journey. I say theory because they admitt they know very little about the afterlife.

So, Christian supporters of soul sleep take this one point in the long history of Jewish understanding of the afterlife, because it is in the Bible, and say that because the Jews were God’s people, this is truth. From what I have seen, they also support the idea because they feel that over time God’s will has been corrupted (concept of eternal downfall of man from grace), and that the biblical Jews, who were closer to the point of the fall and therefore less corrupted, had the best understanding of God’s will and plan. However, this can ealisy be torn apart because in other ways, God did not reveal to them what he has revealed Christians. First, in the Catholic perspective, there is the fall of man from grace, which ceases at the crucifixion and turns to a rise back to grace, led by truths given from Jesus. This seems blindingly apparent in the book of Exodus when Moses asks God what His name is. The Jews, in the fall, have forgotten their God’s name, “Lord,” which abounds throughout the book of Genesis. Thus, if the Jews forgot the very NAME of their creator we can assume that God was not constantly revealing all to them, and that they had forgotten many other things, including a correct view of the afterlife.
Even more compelling, did the Jews know about the Trinity? They knew that their savior was coming, but they had NO IDEA that he is one piece of a three-part essence. We know that this essence has been in existence for all eternity, so why did OT Jews not know about it? The answer is because God HAD NOT REVEALED IT TO THEM yet. If we know for a FACT that the OT Jews had no knowledge of the very ESSENCE of what God is, then it seems strange to trust our understanding of the afterlife to their views on it.

So, in short, God has actually revealed more truths to us through Jesus as time has passed; truths which were not available to the Jews of the OT. This leads one to realize that OT Jews did not have all the devine knowledge some Christians would think, that closer historical relation to the fall does not equal greater knowledge of truth, and so biblical Jews did not hold truths about the afterlife that have somehow been changed through history by the will of man.

It’s not extremely well worded here, but I have found that if you tie a paraphrased version of this argument in with the scriptural evidence you have supplied, it is very difficult for Soul Sleep believers to wiggle out, and you might even get them to think about it. :thumbsup:

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