Thus far the evidence of an investigative judgment long before the Second Coming found in The Silencing of Satan: the Gospel of the Investigative Judgment has proven sound and undeniable.

No critic has raised any significant arguments against the fundamental contentions in this book. In this assessment I would include Desmond Ford's response.

Adventist Today web site has a "review" by Desmond Ford of The Silencing of Satan. The first thing that should be noted about this "review" is that it is not a review. Note the examples of review format that follow. They show that a book review consists of more than rebuttal:

The first example of proper book review format is taken from the web site for Campbell University in, Buies Creek, NC. These are the main points of a very lengthy description of a critical book review:

What Critics Say:

1. Introduction: a brief overview of the book and the review itself.
2. Description: not a summary, paraphrase, or synopsis of the book, but rather an analysis of the approach and methods of the author, the organization of the book, and its major conclusions.
3. Evaluation: a careful demonstration of the strengths and weaknesses of the book, including how well the author achieves his purpose, how and why the author is convincing, whether and how the author is biased, and whether there are unsupported presuppositions or errors of fact, logic, or interpretation.
4. Conclusion: a summary of your evaluation of the book, and suggestions for how this book could be used.

Our next example of the proper format for a book review is taken from the web site for the Indiana State University School of Education in Bloomington IN. A few additional requirements have been left off due to the fact that they are specific to the education department's requirements:

____ Description of purpose of the work and main focus of author
____ Description of intended audience
____ Identifies major assumptions of the author
____ Explains primary arguments and evidence used to support main focus of work
____ Explains major strengths and limitations of work
____ Identifies sources of confusion
____ Explains broad applications of work
____ Provides personal response to the author
____ Uses direct quotations sparingly
____ List of references for citations

This may surprise the reader, but I feel the need to ask, Doesn't it seem that someone with a more objective view of the investigative judgment than Des Ford would be the best qualified person to write a book review on the subject? Nevertheless, on the Adventist Today web site, Ford "reviews" my book--and deems it a total loser. Nothing new.

Interestingly the contents of Des Ford's "review" shows that this is not a review in the true sense of the word. Ordinarily, a book reviewer does more that respond to a book. At a minimum the review gives a brief summary of a book's contents, and then renders a critical assessment of the author's work and its points. How is the reader to know what the book is about and whether he wants to read it if the reviewer doesn't at least provide the information necessary to make that decision? But in the present case, all of Desmond Ford's comments are strictly negative and he doesn't offer even the briefest summary. Why is this, and why is it called a review instead of what it really is, a mere rebuttal?

Be that as it may, here are a few responses I would like to offer in response to Ford's "review" of my book:

First, Des calls the eleventh chapter the crucial chapter. If any part of a book on Bible doctrine is crucial, it is that portion which provides the basis, or the proof, for what is maintained in the rest of the book. I wrote chapter eleven to show how my discoveries fit with the traditional presentation of the investigative judgment. So, it is no wonder Ford finds the traditional view in the last chapter. However, let it be noticed that singling out the last chapter allows one to more easily avoid grappling with the force of the foundational evidence found in the earlier chapters.

Secondly, I would point out the curious fact that Ford argues with me over what he should know we agree on. We both believe that God doesn't require an investigative judgment in order to "know them that are His." Jesus, of course, is not ignorant of who are truly His. So, I ask, why does Des make it seem as if we disagree?

It seems that His argument at this point is not with me but is rather a monologue. I was astonished by his suggestion that my references to Revelation 2:23; Psalm 1:4,5; 1Chron 29:17 were "invoked" to suggest that God must have an investigation of the saints to "fill out his ignorance by extended research." I was astonished, I say, because I had categorically denied that such was the case, or even could be the case. Yet such a categorical denial obviously either went unnoticed by the astute Dr. Ford or else he chose for some reason to ignore it and write as if he had struck a major blow. Could it be that Dr. Ford didn't actually read major parts of the book?

Thirdly we come to this other strange matter: In his ADVENTIST TODAY rebuttal of my book Dr. Ford stated that there was nothing new in the Silencing of Satan.

Let us put the his contention to the test. In 1980 Ford wrote, "There are no clear Scriptures that teach the investigative judgment." (D. Ford, Daniel 8:14, the Day of Atonement and the Investigative Judgment, p. 293.)

In 1980 in his book God and His Sanctuary Dr. C. Mervyn Maxwell, while defending Adventism's investigative judgment doctrine, stated, "Although the terms are not used in the Bible, for convenience we can speak of phases of the final judgment that deal with ‘investigation, . . . examination . . ." (op. cit., p. 88). In other words, Maxwell tells us that we are not going to find the Bible stating that God investigates believers.

In 1993 in his book The Sanctuary Roy Adams indicates his agreement that there are no scriptures that clearly teach that the judgment is investigative in nature. Adams wrote, "It has not always been easy to provide a straightforward demonstration of the particular notion of an investigative judgment in Scripture. . ." (op. cit., p. 125) He also stated, ". . . We venture to suggest that ‘investigative' . . . is not absolutely indispensable . . ." (op. cit., p. 124)

Adams suggested that there had been an unwise waste of a "vast amount of time and energy expended in years of controversy and debate over the use of the expression ‘investigative judgment.'"(op. cit., p. 124) So, Adams saw new terminology as a solution to this problem. He writes, "The expression ‘pre-Advent' . . . is currently finding growing acceptance. . ." (op. cit., p. 124)

It seems that each of these men concluded that there is a lack of any Bible passage that states that God investigates believers–and that this investigation is part of believer judgment. Now note this carefully: If any Seventh-day Adventist pioneer, or any of the later Adventist theologian, had come across passages of scripture that clearly stated that God investigates believers, one of these three men (Ford, Maxwell, Adams) would have known it–especially professor of Adventst history, C. Mervyn Maxwell. Therefore, it seems that if anyone found such evidence, it would be reasonably seen as new evidence in favor of the investigative judgment. That is exactly were the Silencing of Satan is helpful and precisely where Dr. Ford misses the mark in rating my book. In the Silencing of Satan it is shown that there are many passages of scripture that state quite clearly that God investigates believers. This has been news to many. Here is the comment of one such person,

"Brad, I finished your book. Obviously because I studied theology at both La Sierra and Andrews, I am well aware of the arguments for the Investigative Judgment. In The Silencing of Satan however, you plowed new creative ground. I found the (sic.) especially enlightening the first chapters where you show that although the exact word 'investigate' is not used in modern translations, there is plenty of evidence in the Greek and Hebrew that shows that many texts in both the New & Old Testaments could be translated using the word 'investigate.' This is new work that I have seen no where else . . . "- Rick Kuykendall (Former SDA pastor)

How can Ford circumvent the theological significance of these biblical statements in order to maintain that there is nothing new in the Silencing of Satan? He does so by rendering them mere "anthropomorphic" references to God.

However, these are not equivalent to the divine body parts Ford mentions. These are statements made by Christ Himself or His prophets about God's plan of salvation and judgment. If Des is really serious about using this anthropomorphic argument against Revelation 2:23; Psalm 11:4,5; 1Chron 29:17--and all the many other places in the Bible that say the same thing-- then, to be consistent, there is quite clearly no revelation of God in the whole Bible. According to Ford's way of thinking, any time God's prophet says something that runs counter to our viewpoint, we may ignore it by rendering it merely an "anthropomorphic" example of God "bending down to lisp to a little child." One could dismiss any and every doctrine by this means. The only other option is to use this hermeneutic selectively. But that is just another way of making the Bible student's personal biases rise above inspiration in authority. It invites one to determine what portions of the Bible are valuable and which are irrelevant according to one'favorite systematic theology. That is neither fair nor reliable.

The fourth response I have for Des returns to the matter of objectivity. On New Years eve of 2005, in Monterey, California, I heard Des tell about being a young minister and winning a debate against a non-SDA minister. This minister had been such a problem for other SDA ministers that the Adventist leadership was exultant over Des' success. The president wrote a letter which was sent around the Conference that proclaimed, "Ford slays dragon." Desmond Ford is a gifted man in many respects. He is my superior in many ways, but being a gifted debater has not made him kinder and more objective, but less. In Des' "review" of the Silencing of Satan there is not an indication of serious consideration and objectivity but of debate. Unfortunately debate is about winning, not about finding truth. Evidently one tactic of debate is to purposely limit the number of times that you admit your opponent is right. And, you must never agree that your opponent's arguments are as reasonable as your own. Therefore, debate is not about discussion that leads to better understanding as much as it is about being convincing and victorious. Ford's answer to my book is couched in the spirit of refutation, not review and analysis. Hence, I suspect that Des Ford's objectivity in any discussion of the investigative judgment doctrine is compromised. I also suspect that this is the biggest hurdle to solving problems some people have with the history and doctrine that came out of the 1844 experience.

I thank Des for his kind estimation of my love for my fellow man. It makes it easier to respond to his call to abandon the investigative judgment doctrine with this counter invitation:

Dear Des,

With great humility and sincere love I call upon you to carefully consider again The Silencing of Satan and all the books written since 1979 that contain answers to your objections. I ask you to humbly admit that there are many sound responses therein. I am not suggesting that you agree with them–just that you admit that they provide reasonable answers that are worthy of serious consideration. Admit that reasonable people could be expected to retain the doctrine of the investigative judgment based on those answers. Affirming your views to be correct is not as much a problem as your denial that other's views might be as credible as your own. Adapting your own words to the occasion, it is "not so much what people affirm as what they deny" that distinguishes the subjectively minded from the objectively minded individual.

Des, I am rather surprised to find that you meet the evidence of today's Adventist theologians that support the investigative judgment with the argument that scholars long ago determined that the investigative judgment doctrine has no foundation in scripture. And to hear you tell people that Clifford Goldstein has no credibility because he is not a scholar, is nothing more than avoiding their evidence by attacking their person. That may be a good tactic of debate, but is not worthy of your great abilities, it is not a gracious Christian attitude, nor is it sound reasoning.

While I cannot celebrate the pain brought upon the church, and upon you, over the investigative judgment issue since 1979, I believe that God brought some good out of it. As I told you face to face in Monterey, I think you did our church a favor in alerting us to the objections that some have raised over this doctrine. It is far better that we ourselves face these things openly and work them out satisfactorily than be embarrassed. It is better not to be humiliated by having to admit we did not even know our own history of problems with this doctrine, and that we therefore never grappled with the issues.

Sincerely,
Bradley Williams
The Critic's Comments