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BRIAN S.

NEUMANN'S RESPONSE TO WEIRS' KOETSER'S:
“Blogging Through “The White Elephant” No.3
Rethinking standards for testing prophets

4th February, 2017

Please read Weiers' entire post at the following link:
http://www.adventistsoapbox.org/doctrines/blogging-through-the-white-elephant-no-2/

I read Weiers' evaluation of the first chapter of The White Elephant with interest. However, I found his
reasoning rather odd. Odd, because it seemed to me that he was using circular reasoning. He used
arguments, intended to dispute or discredit the veracity of my hermeneutic that, by simple default,
ended up discrediting pioneering SDA Bible scholars and even Ellen White herself – interpretive
practices used to establish some of the foundational beliefs of the SDA Faith.

What I will do here in my response to Weier's evaluation is show that, in spite of his assertion that I
have approached my criticism of Ellen White/the prophetic gift from a questionable hermeneutic, it is
not true. Weiers has ignored or avoided certain pivotal facts that, had he addressed them, would have
rendered his evaluation, essentially, void.

If one reads my first chapter, The Standard, with an open mind, then it becomes clear that I am not just
saying that I am going to use Scripture (“the law and the testimony”) as the standard for testing ONLY
the prophetic gift. I am also saying that Scripture is the standard for testing ALL things. This is why, in
the very first paragraph of chapter one, after using the analogy of the defence and prosecution who, in a
court of law, make sure their arguments are compatible with the existing legal standard of the land, I
then state: “In presenting the case for The White Elephant, my 'legal standard' will be the highest
authority of all—Scripture.”

Even though, in a special sense, I am dealing with “testing prophets” (specifically Ellen G. White), it
becomes obvious to the reader, when delving into my entire book, that I address things that cover a
broad range of issues related to the Christian life – questions of doctrine, lifestyle, relationships, etc. In
the process, I make the point that every aspect of Christian life – mental, physical and spiritual – are to
be measured by the scriptural “standard,” My opening statement about using Scripture as the test is
broad, covering many questions I deal with in “The White Elephant” (the entire book). My “'legal
standard,'” for everything I am dealing with in the “The White Elephant . . . will be the highest
authority of all—Scripture.”

In spite of this, Weiers suggests that I am incorrectly extrapolating texts from Scripture and erroneously
using them as proof-texts for evaluating the prophetic gift – such as my reference to Christ's words in
Luke 24:44 (which I will shortly comment on) and my repeated use of Isaiah 8:20.

In reference to my use of Isaiah 8:20, “to the law and to the testimony . . .,” Weiers is of the following
opinion: He feels that I am incorrectly using Isaiah 8:20 as a “proof-text” for establishing the “Bible”
(the whole of Scripture) as the testing standard. After arguing his case for why I am erroneously using
this text he states: “I think we do the text a disservice if we pull it out of its original context and then
apply it for our own purposes in an argument that the original text never envisioned. It also makes the
case that we are trying to build a little less secure.”

Interestingly, this very text (Isaiah 8:20), from the very inception of the Advent movement, has been
used, one might say, as a watchword or slogan to indicate that SDA's test everything according to the
standard of Scripture – they are (it is said) the only body of faith who can claim to “keep the
commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”And, one of the prime reasons I
emphasise this text in the way I do is BECAUSE it has been such a vital/standard text for SDA's, right
from the start.

On the surface Weiers' critique of my use of this text appears to be warranted – I even agree with
certain of his assertions that the Bible student needs to use a correct hermeneutic. I often say the same
thing myself. However, when one examines the whole question of Isaiah 8:20 a little more deeply,
especially within the context of the SDA Church, Ellen White, the SDA pioneers and even the broader
history of Protestantism, then a different picture starts to unfold. One starts to see why certain texts that
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might not, in their strictly contextual setting, appear to expressly bespeak a particular theme, were and
still are used by prominent students of Scripture to defend or bolster/compliment a particular position
they are taking.

When one keeps these constituents in mind it then becomes very obvious WHY I specifically refer to
Isaiah 8:20 over and over again, and also why I use some of the other texts, such as Luke 24:44, as I
do. Indeed, in light of the issues I am addressing (Ellen White, the SDA Church, my target SDA
audience, being central considerations), then it makes absolute sense that I constructed my arguments
the way I did and am thus not erroneously making use of the texts in question. With these
considerations before us, let's consider Isaiah 8:20.

Although it is true, as Weiers states, that “the translation of these verses are quite difficult because at
least one of the words in these verses don’t appear in its particular form anywhere else in the Bible,” it
has been used by Christians, particularly Protestants (read Martin Luther's thoughts on Isaiah 8:20), for
hundreds of years, as their watchword or slogan. The reason for this is because they saw in the key
statement of this text the command to qualify any teaching or action, etc. on the basis of what is
revealed in Scripture. Of course, at the time when Isaiah wrote this, not even the whole of the Old
Testament existed. But for the Hebrew reader at the time it was council that would direct them to the
will of God as revealed in the Torah.

Weiers lends credence to his argument by saying that it is “clear” to him that, “Isaiah is saying in this
text that it is HIS message, his testimony, that is authoritative, and it would be wrong to follow any
alternative prophecy . . .” (emphasis supplied). Thus, with such a specific reference in mind, it would a
disadvantageous hermeneutical practice to make Isaiah's statement apply to Scripture in general.

Even IF, in the strictest sense of interpretation, Weiers is correct in his proposition, he is still entirely
out of line with how this text has been understood and used by Protestant Bible scholars, SDA's (from
the church's very establishment), and in particular how it was understood and used by Ellen White
herself, the very individual that my book, The White Elephant, is primarily about.

Let me present the evidence, regarding the text in question, as it comes from a number of Bible
commentaries (non-SDA and SDA), the pioneers of the SDA Church, Ellen White, and if her prophetic
testimony can be trusted regarding the God's use of this text, the very lips of God Himself.

Firstly I want to look at what certain commentaries say about the Isaiah 8:20, in particular the phrase,
“to the law and to the testimony.” The Pulpit Commentary refers to the use of this text as a standard
“watchword” for Bible-believing Christians:

Verse 20. - To the Law and to the testimony. A sort of watchword or battle-cry, to be used by
the faithful when God's enemies assailed them. Compare Gideon's cry (Judges 7:18), "For the
Lord and for Gideon." If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in
them; rather, Surely they will speak according to this word, when there is no dawn for
them; i.e. when they are plunged in darkness (ver. 22) and distress, and see no prospect of better
days, surely they - the people generally - will rally to this cry, and repeat it, "For the Law and
for the testimony."

Next, consider what Matthew Poole's Commentary says:

To the law and to the testimony; let this dispute between you and them be determined by
God’s word, which is here and in many other places called the law, to signify their obligation to
believe and obey it; and the testimony, because it is a witness between God and man of God’s
mind and will, and of man’s duty . . .

Barne's Notes on the Bible agrees and states it this way, indicating that he sees this phrase as referring,
not to simply the words of Isaiah, but to the broader evidence revealed in God's Word:

To the law ... - To the revelation which God has given. This is a solemn call of the prophet to
try everything by the revealed will of God; see Isaiah 8:16. If they speak not - If the
necromancers - those that pretended to have contact with the dead. According to this word -
According to what God has revealed. By this standard all their pretended revelations were to be
tried. By this standard all doctrines are still to be tried.
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Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible says it in a way that clearly suggests, at least from his point of
view, that “the law and the testimony” should be understood as a reference to the entire scriptural
standard (God's revealed will) as the test for all teaching:

To the law, and to the testimony,.... Kimchi takes this to be an oath, "by the law, and by the
testimony", it is so and so; but Aben Ezra observes there is no instance of this kind in Scripture;
it is a direction of Christ's to his disciples, to attend to the writings of Moses and the
prophets, to search the Scriptures, as in John 5:39 and particularly what is before said in
this prophecy concerning himself, the same is meant as in Isaiah 8:16. if they speak not
according to this word; this sure word of prophecy, to which men do well to take heed, as to a
light shining in a dark place, it being the rule of faith and practice, a lamp to the feet, and a light
to the path: it is because there is no light in them . . .”

It was on the basis of this type of perspective/argument that I referred Luke 24:44, where Christ
revealed himself and His mission (stated in prophetic statements, in symbolic types and shadows
contained in the Jewish ceremonial system, etc.). I did not do it to say that Christ was addressing the
question of a prophets authenticity but was rather, in the same way that Isaiah 8:20 is used, showing
that Christ Himself used Scripture (Moses, the Psalms and the prophets/ALL of Scripture) to reveal that
He was truly the Messiah – it was His testing/proving standard.

It appears to me that Weiers avoided recognising that this was my motive. If he did not, then he could,
at the very least have said: “I am not sure if Brian was literally trying to use Luke 24:44 as a specific
proof-text for testing a prophet, or if he is trying to convey the broader principle of Scripture (Moses,
the Psalms and the prophets/ALL of Scripture) being the means by which all things should be tested.”
He might also, for the sake of transparency and intellectual honesty, have made it clear that my use of
Isaiah 8:20 was no different to that of the pioneers and many current Bible scholars of his own
denomination.

Getting back to our primary text in question, Isaiah 8:20, let me quote my final commentary of choice.
This time it comes from the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, the denomination that Weiers
himself represents, but apparently, on the question of this text, vehemently disagrees with.

Verse 20. The law. Heb. Torah, denoting ALL the revealed will of God. This is the common
Biblical term for the inspired writings of Scripture, particularly those of Moses (see on Num.
19:14; Deut. 4:4; 30:10; 31:9; Prov. 3:1; see Vol 1, pp. 37, 38). . . . The prophets of God were
His witnesses, or spokesmen, and the “testimony” they bore was His message of wisdom and
life. Isaiah here directs men to the Word of God as the standard of truth and the guide to
right living . . .” (SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p.144. Emphasis supplied).

It appears that Weiers believes that leading SDA Bible scholars, from the very pioneer years of the
SDA Faith, till the present, not to mention other non-SDA Protestant scholars, are all in error and
devoid of hermeneutical judgement (in the same manner he evaluates me), because they choose to
interpret and apply Isaiah 8:20 in the way they do?

Let me emphasise, without having to resort to a considerable list of quotes from the pen of just about
every prominent SDA pioneer and Bible scholar, even many in the present, that they applied Isaiah
8:20 in exactly the way I did, including the texts I used in reference to “line upon line, precept upon
precept . . . ,” “three witnesses . . . ,” Isaiah 28:10; Deuteronomy 19:20, etc. (I encourage the reader to
investigate this in their own time). But, the evidence that is even more imperative, comes from the pen
of Ellen White herself, and indeed, according to her claim, from the mouth of God Himself. The first
quote I want to share gives us a clear understanding of how Ellen White understood and applied Isaiah
8:20:

OUR WATCHWORD IS TO BE, 'TO THE LAW AND TO THE TESTIMONY: IF THEY
SPEAK NOT ACCORDING TO THIS WORD, IT IS BECAUSE THERE IS NO LIGHT
IN THEM.' [Isaiah 8:20] WE HAVE A BIBLE FULL OF THE MOST PRECIOUS TRUTH. IT
CONTAINS THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA OF KNOWLEDGE. THE SCRIPTURES,
GIVEN BY INSPIRATION OF GOD, ARE 'PROFITABLE FOR DOCTRINE, FOR
REPROOF, FOR CORRECTION, FOR INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS: THAT
THE MAN OF GOD MAY BE PERFECT, THROUGHLY FURNISHED UNTO ALL

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GOOD WORKS.' TAKE THE BIBLE AS YOUR STUDY BOOK (Christian Experience and
Teachings, p.249. Capitals in original Ellen White CD Rom).

I could share literally dozens and dozens of quotes from Ellen White where she does exactly the same
thing with this text, e.g., Child Guidance, p.66; Christian Experience and Teachings, p.203; Christian
Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 116; Counsels to Writers and Editors, p.43; Faith and Works,
p.55, and MANY more). However, what stands out as probably the most revealing of her testimonies in
regard to Isaiah 8:20, based, according to White's claim, on a direct revelation from God, is the
following:

The Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the
way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say,
A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself; and
let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. . . . Bind up the testimony, seal the law
among My disciples. . . . To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to
this word, it is because there is no light in them." Isa. 8:11-20 (Counsels to Writers and
Editors, p. 90).

I am compelled to enquire: “What are SDA's going to do with this kind of “inspired” testimony? My
book deals with the prophetess of the denomination Weiers is a minister of. Thus, if he believes in the
veracity and scriptural genuineness of Ellen White's prophetic gift, especially when she is claiming
direct communication from God, then his argument is NOT with me at all. In a minor or secondary
sense, his debate should be with the “messenger of the Lord,” Ellen White. However, in a primary
sense, if he, or any SDA, believes that Ellen White is the fulfilment of the “Spirit of Prophecy” and that
she is not lying when she quotes “the Lord,” the argument is with none other than God Himself. It
would seem to me that even God, according to Ellen White, applies Isaiah 8:20 in the way I did.

FINAL REMARKS

Weiers' evaluation of my reference to Isaiah 8:20, Luke 24:44, and other texts I quote in my first
chapter ignores my motive for using them. Intentionally or not, he sets a precedent to add value to his
criticisms that do not, when examined in the way I have just done, make any sense at all – it is in direct
contradiction to the very faith and the prophet I am critiquing in my book. I am perplexed, because he
is not staying true to the very roots of the faith he is an expositor and representative of. He seems to
confirm EXACTLY the critique of Ellen White and the SDA Church that I deal with in my book The
White Elephant. Is Weiers' appraisal of my chapter intellectually honest and hermeneutically, in the
context of his own faith, resolute and non-contradictory?

When my wife, Kamy Lynn, read this article she responded by saying: “Spend an hour with and
Adventist theologian and he will have you convinced that no one has the ability to interpret the Bible
without a life-time of study in hermeneutics. That we must place our faith in the “superior” wisdom of
the Bible scholars, in the same way that the popes and priests must interpret the scriptures for the
common people of the Catholic faith. No wonder so may Adventist pastors are even questioning the
authenticity of the Bible itself. We can no longer grasp its meaning in a straightforward and simple way
through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

Kamy Lynn left the SDA Faith because of the dishonesty and double dealing of leaders in the church
(her testimony is in my book and was posted on this Adventist Soap-box blog). She responded to
Weiers' article in the way that many traditional SDA's would. She saw in his arguments what appeared
to be denial and debunking of his own faith. When reading his response to my book, SDA's who are
seeking to be true to the foundation of their own beliefs, might get confused or will immediately
recognise what Kamy Lynn saw. It's no wonder so many SDA's, such as Kamy Lynn, have, on grounds
of the contradictory practice of leadership and serious questions surrounding Ellen White, made the
decision to have their membership removed from the books of the church.

In light of these considerations, I challenge SDA's to decide if you are an SDA according to the
standard of the pioneers and prophet of your religion or something else entirely? Without those core
teachings, which were established by those historic SDA's, on the basis of their claim that they were
guided by the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit (via the ministry of Ellen White), resulting in the
establishing of the pillars of SDA faith, there would be little reason for the existence of the SDA
Church at all. After all, they claim to be the “only body of faith,” according to General Conference
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President Ted Wilson, and indeed Ellen White herself, who “keep the commandments of God and have
the testimony of Jesus Christ” (SDA General Conference President, Ted Wilson, leader of the SDA
Church, in a sermon he delivered at the 2014 Annual Council on Oct 11th, in Silver Spring, Maryland).
I think that Weiers' evaluation did not discredit the basis' for my arguments, but have, rather,
discredited the SDA institution, not to mention its prophetic voice, Ellen White.

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