Divine governance and judgment in history and in the context of the Seventh-day Adventist perspective of the cosmic conflict
This dissertation explores the concept of divine governance as related to the last judgment across Christian history and theology. It includes a description of the main views proposed, a theological construction of the topic of divine governance, and an interpretation of the last judgment according to the cosmic conflict worldview. It is a historical-theological study using the cosmic conflict framework as a hermeneutical tool in order to establish the proper interpretation of the biblical teaching of the last judgment. This study describes the three main historical views about divine governance as presented in Christian thought. The monergist-voluntarist view stresses God’s freedom and transcendence by setting His will as the ultimate determiner for everything that transpires in the universe. In contrast, the moral-synergistic view emphasizes the moral and relational character of God as the final explanation concerning divine governance. Interestingly, both views consider the judgment as only a revelation of God’s will, which was determined or foreknown by Him from eternity. Finally, the natural-humanistic view gives preponderance to the laws of nature and human decisions to explain what happens in the world. There is no room for a last judgment from this perspective. Seventh-day Adventists developed an understanding of the cosmic conflict worldview using a historical-literal interpretation of Scripture. Biblical motifs about divine governance include the kingdom of God, covenant, and heavenly council. Divine governance is Trinitarian and therefore, relational. God governs from the heavenly sanctuary according to His law of love, a reflection of His character, which provides a moral basis for His decisions. His governance is also synergistic. Creatures are free to act either according to or against God’s will. They can participate and collaborate in the decisions and activities of God’s government. His purpose is to act in a concerted action with His creatures. The Bible contains ample evidences for a judgment at the end of the time. According to the cosmic conflict worldview, this judgment not only decides the final destiny of all creatures but also vindicates God’s character and the decisions of His government. The judgment is moral and synergistic in nature because the moral law of God is the basis for all decisions and includes creatures who actively participate in this process. God postpones the final decision about the destiny of people until the end of the time with the purpose of taking these decisions together with His creatures. The judgment is a real, historical verdict resulting from a process of investigation done between both God and His creatures.