The subject I want to share with may be a little controversial, but I believe, that it has very significant meaning to us.
For some time I have been noticing some inconsistencies within our interpretations of Biblical prophecies, concerning the role of United States, Papacy and the false Christ. Nowadays we are using terms like New World Order and Antichrist for the false Christ, terms we didn't use back when Ellen White was alive. She never wrote about something, with which we would associate NWO or New Age, she never wrote about Freemasonry in important end-time context, and she never used the term Antichrist for false Christ, but for the Papacy. I believe these terms and ideas to be actually borrowed from other Christian Churches, especially the fundamentalist ones.
Someone may argue, that today we know much more about international affairs and and that the prophecies may find their fulfilment in ways, that were not thought of in 19th century. Of course this may be true. Still using terms and ideas like New World Order give a very different meaning, and from what I know about Freemasonry, New Age and Papacy, these powers cannot be fully blended - these first two are non-Christian at all, and as far as I know, Papacy seeks to Christianize the whole world.
I believe, that non-Christian powers like New Age, Freemasons and New World Order concept will have their own role in leading us to the end-times, and it will become evident in this entry. So let's look at a few points of difference between ideas believed by Adventists today and ideas given in "The Great Controversy":
1. Issue: "New World Order" term and its usage. My response: it should be more like "Kingdom of God" or "Millenial Kingdom"
The New World Order term is used by both New Age believers and Christians. New Age believers actually believe, that it's the Freemasons, who are runing this system right now. On the other hand, fundamentalist Christians believe, that Freemasons and New Age movement come hand in hand in creating a future NWO. The issue is, this term implies a non-Christian (or anti-Christian) power, and it is believed, that the "one worldwide religion" will be New Age or Secular Humanism.
Ellen White wrote something different in "The Great Controversy". In chapter 36 "The Impending Conflict" (588.3) she wrote about a "long-expected millennium", which is awaited by most Christians. Most Christians believe, that after His coming, Christ will set up an everlasting Kingdom of God or a Millennial Kindgom (depending on denomination). The issue is, it will be set up on Earth.
2. Issue: secret implementation of Sunday laws. My response: the Sunday laws will be publically debated
The idea, that Sunday laws are underway in secrecy has its roots in conspiracy theories about Freemasons and Jesuits. Although it may be true, that Jesuits at the top are thinking about this, it's hard for me to believe, that Freemasons themselves are trying to issue this decree. Not mentioning the fact, that in our present circumstances this idea will be outrightly criticized by almout everybody and have very little support.
Ellen White wrote, that Sunday laws will be the matter of every person on Earth, and that the issue will become widespread before its full implementation. So there will be a time, when the matter of Sunday observance is going to be pushed openly, not only by Papacy (as is right now), but by masses of people.
3. Issue: New Age interfaith unification, which includes all religions. My response: it's the Christian ecumenism, that should matter most
One of big mistakes we make, when it comes to worldwide ecumenism, is that we use the word "ecumenism" in reference not only to Christians, but also including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and other non-Christian faiths. It is sometimes argued, that this is the goal of New Age, to blend all religions into one. This is true, but this is not ecumenism! Ecumenism is centered in Rome and has a profoundly Christian countenance. Everything else is just interfaith relations.
"The Great Controversy" speaks mostly about Protestants coming back to Rome. In one place it says, that Protestants will reach their hand to Spiritualism, but this is different from Protestantism (and Christanity as a whole) being vaccumed by Spiritualism (if we understand this to be New Age). I believe, Protestants and Catholics will borrow some ideas from non-Christians. The most known example to me is the so-called "spiritual formation". Still the real issue is, that Protestants are coming closer and closer to Rome, and that in the end virtually all of the Christian world will be guided by the Pope.
4. Issue: false Christ as Antichrist. My respose: Papacy is the true Antichrist
The idea strictly comes from fundamentalist Churches. It is thought, that the Antichrist will lead the global New World Order. Many of us believe, that this Antichrist will set up the Sunday laws, but obviously this is not the case within Catholic and Protestant eschatologies. They believe, that Antichrist will truly be anti-Christian, that he will teach New Age or Humanist principles. New Age movement actually believes in the coming of Lord Maitreya, and that every religion seeks for the coming of a person, who will bring peace on Earth. So this Lord Maitreya may be presented as Christ by New Age movement (they have their own understanding of "Christness"). But it seems unlikely, that fundamentalist Christians will acknowledge him as true Christ.
Even thought, Ellen White never uses the word Antichrist in regard to the coming false Christ, she always uses the term as describing the Papacy. I've heard the idea, that the false Christ will be the last manifestation of Antichrist, that is Papacy. But for me this seems very unlikely. The next point will contain an answer to this.
5. Issue: false Christ as a possessed human, who will be the dictator of the world. My respose: false Christ will only appear in a revelation, but will deceive people
Many of us are not sure, how Satan will present himself to people. There is an idea, that he will possess a willing man of flesh and bone, who will actually become a true totalitarian dictator of the New World Order. He will show himself as Christ, but also as the Messiah, Mahdi, Maitreya, Kalki, Buddha etc. Since he will be a dictator, he must stay on Earth for at least a few years. This also seems to be an idea, that was borrowed from other Churches. It is thus believed, that his countenance will be that of an ordinary postmodern man, but with a superior charisma.
But what does Ellen White say? In chapter 39 "The Time of Trouble" (624.2) she wrote, that Satan will present himself as Christ. She wrote, that he will show himself in different places on Earth, and that his glory will surpass anything seen before. This description does not involve someone able to show himself in one place only (excluding television), but it sounds more like a mass revelation. A revelation, that will last relatively short and change everything. This is why Satan cannot be termed Antichrist, for he will not stay on Earth as a dictator, but will only bless the true Antichrist (Papacy).
6. Issue: worldwide preaching of the gospel attributed to all Christians. My response: only true Seventh-day Adventists will preach true gospel
Sometimes it is stated, that recent worldwide preaching of the gospel by all Christians fits Mat. 24:14. While this understanding may have an impact, when we ourselves preach the gospel in order to bring people back to God, the idea itself is again based on false assumption, that most Christians are true Christians. It is again borrowed from Catholics and Protestants, who believe in a future "conversion of the world" (see GC 588.3 again).
On the other hand, Ellen White portrais two future big movements: false Latter Rain and true Latter Rain. It must be said, that the false Latter Rain clearly fits into what other Christians believe to be the "conversion of the world" idea. The according to GC, "conversion of the world" will bring the "long-expected millenium" on Earth. Is it possible, that the Kingdom of God or Millennial Kingdom, as believed by most Christians (so not the New World Order), will actually be the true "image of the beast" from Revelation? It becomes evident, that this is not the preaching spoken in Mat. 24:14. But we have another future movement, the true Latter Rain, Seventh-day Adventist Fourth Angel movement, and I believe this is spoken of in Matthew.
The purpose I'm sharing all these thought with you, is that we are in great danger of misrepresenting the upcoming events. Right now it seems, that things are fulfilling in a way, as believed by nominal Christians: the rising of Israel, New World Order and such. I believe, that truly we are on the eve of setting up a worldwide totalitarian system. But this system will not be Christian at all. On the contrary, we may be confronted with a reality, where all Christians are being globally persecuted. But nominal Christians believe in a great Christian movement, which will confront the New World Order. They believe in Latter Rain, conversion of the world, and the Second Coming to establish the Kingdom of God. The issue is, that all this will be of a false nature! I think it is hardly possible to fully deceive nominal Christians into thinking they are true people of God, if they will not suffer the "persecution such as never before was". This may be Satan's big deception, and we are in great danger of being swept right into it.
Our Adventist eschatology is very different from eschatologies of other Christians (even that of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, who have many similar points with Catholics and Protestants!) and it would be wise not to borrow such concepts from them. This alone is one of the things, which assures me, that Seventh-day Adventism is a true Christian movement.