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INDISPUTABLE FACTS ABOUT THE TRINITY DOCTRINE IN ADVENTISM!!
(SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT)
By Derrick D. Gillespie
*Edited & Updated in August, 2011
―The only true anti-Trinitarian is one who rejects the ‗trio‘ of personalities existing in, and operating within the Godhead, and teaches that the Holy Spirit is a force‖ -Anonymous
Did you know that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was not always officially Trinitarian in doctrine? Why is it a Trinitarian church today, which believes in a trinity in the Godhead? Here is your chance to know why. Dear reader, this writer believes that if you are an Adventist (S.D.A.), this may just be one of the most important researches you may ever read about your church‘s doctrinal heritage. The real background to the S.D.A. Church‘s historical and doctrinal heritage is too often ignored, and while I believe it is, for the most part, an ‗unexplored frontier‘ for most Adventists, yet it can, and does provide an interesting adventure into the past. Too often, the doctrines of the church are taken for granted, and are believed by too many in the church to have been easily arrived at or effortlessly ‗hammered out‘. However, this historical research draws back the curtain to show some rather interesting twists and controversial turns in the pioneering history of the Adventist Church, as it concerns the “Godhead” doctrine (of a trinity in the Godhead). I am a Jamaican History/Social Science (and Geography) teacher by profession, and believes my God-given expertise (as an Adventist) lies in this area; thus the reason for my special interest in historical matters, and especially in this area of our Adventist background. Now, I dare you to look behind the historical curtain and see how Adventism became a Trinitarian church. This presentation may just serve as a means of strengthening your faith in Adventism, or it may just open the door to more controversy, a controversy that is presently ongoing within the Church, regarding the subject of the Trinity doctrine. This very subject has been causing division within the ranks of Adventism for a while now, and it is time that the church confronts the issues of contention squarely. Some may ignore this research; some may read it for information, while some may just read it with a view to finding fault with it. However, whatever may be your motivation for reading this research, as an Adventist (or non-Adventist), you are advised not to put away, and or disregard this research, until you have exposed yourself to its‘ critical findings. I believe you will be the better for it. God bless you as you read. Always, however, keep this thought in mind as you read: ―The only true anti-Trinitarian is one who rejects the ‗trio‘ of personalities existing in, and operating within the Godhead, and teaches that the Holy Spirit is a force‖ [this fact the Watchtower‘s, ‗Jehovah‘s Witnesses‘ know to be very true]. -Anonymous
From Author, Derrick Gillespie
Munro College P.O., St Elizabeth, Jamaica, West Indies Phone: (876) 963-1847 or 385-5982; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Page Author‘s Foreword. ……………………………………………………………………………2 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………….4 Landmark 1: James White‘s Change of Attitude to Trinitarianism as a Test………………….7 Landmark 2: The 1888 Doctrinal Turning Point………………………………………………10 Landmark 3: E.G. White‘s Endorsement of, and Parallel Statements to the 1888 Message (1888 – 1915)…………………………………………………………..16
Landmark 4: The First Publication of Trinitarian Teachings in Adventism (1892), And the Aftermath. …………………………………………………………….31
Landmark 5: Personalizing the Holy Spirit in Adventism After 1888 (1892-1915) – The Key To Trinitarianism…………………………………………………….38
Landmark 6: The First Trinitarian Statement By An Adventist General Conference Committee, in 1931….……………………………………………………………….….45
Landmark 7: The 1942, and 1950 General Conference Vote to Accept a Trinity in Adventist Theology………………………………………………………………50 Epilogue: - Does the Adventist ―Trinity” Statement of Belief Make Sense? …………………51 Bibliography. ………………………………………………………………………………….63
Appendix 1: Crucial Facts and Interesting Tit-bits About Some Key Pioneers, Regarding the Trinity Doctrine. …………………………………………………………….64 Appendix 2: What Does the ‗Nicene‘ Creed Really Say About the Godhead? ………………72
INDISPUTABLE FACTS ABOUT THE TRINITY DOCTRINE IN ADVENTISM!!
(SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT) By D. Gillespie
In February, *1892, probably for the first time in all of the Seventh Day Adventist pioneering history, the Pacific Press Publishing Association (P.P.P.A.) officially published a pro-Trinitarian tract, entitled by SDA pioneers themselves: ―THE BIBLE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY‖- a tract outlining the arguments for the doctrine of the Trinity without certain traditional speculative thought involved!! When as a writer, I saw for the first time this provable piece of history, it almost blew me away, because it meant a whole lot in my continued search for forensic type evidence to understand the, sometimes, rather puzzling Adventist history concerning this controversial doctrine. What became even more startling were the other facts surrounding this monumental first-time event. And before giving the full evidence, this writer challenges any and all readers of this presentation to disprove (if they can) the facts being presented here, by even going to the publishing houses and historical archives of the S.D.A. church, and determining otherwise. *For so long I thought that it was true that it was Leroy Froom (the SDA historian) who first introduced Trinitarian thinking among Adventists in the 1920s, and only after Mrs. E.G. White (SD Adventism‘s leading pioneer) died in 1915. But here now is the full evidence effectively debunking that faulty viewpoint. Dr. E.J. Waggoner was the editor at the Pacific Press, one of the main publishing organs of the S.D.A church, up to just before 1892 (serving as assistant editor from 1884 to 1891). This tract, which Pacific Press officially published in 1892, presented the straight Trinitarian hypothesis (for the most part), but devoid of certain traditional speculative thought as it concerns the “mode” of the oneness of the Godhead, and was (note this carefully) not even written by an Adventist, but by a Trinitarian non-Adventist, Dr. Samuel Spear (a Presbyterian minister)! It was reprinted and published by permission from the New York Independent, November 14, 1889! Interesting!! Even more interesting is the fact that it was the SDA pioneers themselves who renamed the article ―The Bible Doctrine [or true biblical version] of the Trinity‖, since the article was originally titled “The Subordination of Christ” by the Trinitarian non-SDA minister who penned it. This kind of reminds me of the 1845 Sabbath tract, reprinted and published among Adventists, by permission through T.M. Preble, a Sabbatarian Baptist who introduced Sabbath keeping to SD Adventists for the first time. While the Sabbath was and is today a very controversial issue only outside Adventism, Trinitarianism was controversial for the early SDA pioneers, and today is still very controversial among some (the minority) within Adventism. However, certain similarities in their official introduction into Adventism are astounding! What is even more astounding is that the 1892 pro-Trinitarian tract was published while Mrs. White was alive, and was published by Pacific Press just four (4) years after the 1888 “Godhead” and “Righteousness by Faith” controversies at the General conference session, which had Waggoner
5 himself presenting in a “new light”, certain ―old truths” about Christ being “a part of”, and “one of the constituent persons of” the “Eternal Godhead” (later described as a “Trio”). But there is more. A full reproduction of this tract was personally and permanently recorded by M.L. Andreason (another SDA pioneer) in his book entitled: “The Book of Hebrews” (1948). There, on pages 115-124, is, unabridged, the same reprint of the entire Dr. Spear tract, defending the Trinity, but avoiding certain speculative thought of traditional Trinitarianism!! The question is why, if they had not become supportive of the Trinitarian doctrine in basic terms, while Mrs. White was alive, would the Church publish unabridged, and evidently unchallenged, this REPRESENTATIVE non-Adventist article, and in the face of (what is easily proven to be) so many anti-Trinitarian pioneers? Now a number of other things can be observed here also: 1. It was E.J. Waggoner (along with A.T. Jones) who brought to the S.D.A. General Conference of 1888, of four years before 1892, anti-Arian doctrine which was opposed and resisted by very many pioneers in Adventism (even rejected by some), but fully supported by Mrs. White, and later even expanded on in her own writings regarding the “Eternal Godhead” of a “Trio” of “Three *LIVING [i.e. literal, real, genuine] Personalities/Persons”, with the expression ―three living personalities‖ or ―persons‖ borrowed directly from another nonSDA Trinitarian writer by Mrs. White herself…but more on that later. 2. It is evident that, from 1844-1888 (44 years), no Trinitarian doctrine or supportive was in print in Adventism; only Arian and or semi-Arian (both anti-Trinitarian) sentiments were being aggressively presented by Adventist writers, while Mrs. White, it seemed, remained silent and observant on this issue. Then immediately after 1888, then came the 1892 tract, and other new and ‗ground breaking‘ events, written expressions, and circumstances in Adventism which gradually led to the official acceptance of a new version of the trinity doctrine by a growing majority (not all) in the S.D.A. Church by 1913, yes, by 1913 (note that I did not say by 1931). This will be proven by irrefutable documented evidence later. Just read on. * It took over forty (40) years for the denomination to start to officially break with Arianism and or semi-Arianism, and another forty or so years to fully accept trinitarianism (if even in a revised/non-traditional form). What happened to reverse this pre-1892 anti-Trinitarian sentiment in the S.D.A. Church? And the greater question is why did it happen? The purpose of this presentation is to answer these questions in the most honest way possible, and in effect showing or debunking the faulty viewpoints and groundless arguments of certain detractors, who claim that trinitarianism was first introduced through ‗a new generation of thinkers‘, such as Leroy Froom in the 1920s and, (as it is often argued by some) only after Mrs. White died, an introduction which culminated in what they call the “omega heresy” of 1931, led by the ―heretical” LeRoy Froom, and his General Conference “cohort”. This presentation will trace the historic events, starting as early as 1876, which led to greater tolerance for basic trinitarianism, and then the gradual, but resisted acceptance of a new version of trinitarianism in Adventism before 1915. Yes, despite there was continued resistance all along the way among some (both verbal and written resistance), but starting from 1892, while Mrs. White was alive, „tailored‟ trinitarianism was destined to be what most in Adventism would see as revealed Bible truth. The format of the presentation will be as follows: an explanation of seven (7) historical „landmarks‟ (chapters) in Adventist history which led to the acceptance of ‗a trinity‘ or ‗ a trio‘
6 (three persons) in the “Eternal Godhead”. See any dictionary about these two words (―trinity‖ and ―trio‖), as they are defined as simple nouns from their root, ―tri‖.
SEVEN HISTORICAL LANDMARKS TOWARDS ACCEPTANCE OF A TRINITY DOCTRINE IN ADVENTISM
LANDMARK No. 1: James White‘s Change of Attitude to Trinitarianism as a membership Test (1876-1881) LANDMARK No.2: The 1888 Doctrinal Turning Point LANDMARK No.3 Mrs. White‘s Endorsement of and Parallel Statements to the 1888 Message (1888-1915) LANDMARK No.4 The First Publication of Trinitarian Teachings in Adventism (1892), and the Aftermath LANDMARK No.5 Personalizing the Holy Spirit in Adventism after 1888 (1896-1915) – The Key to Trinitarianism LANDMARK No.6 The First Trinitarian Statement of Belief in 1913 and the General Conference Committee Endorsement in 1931 LANDMARK No.7 The 1942, and 1950 General Conference Vote to Accept a Trinity in Adventist Theology This writer believes that any and all facts that will be presented under the above listed headings can be easily verified, and are „provable‟, if one is willing to take the time to investigate objectively, and piece together the evidence that is available about the Seventh-day Adventist history. However, before moving to the subject at hand, note the following historical facts. THE TRINITY- CRITICAL HISTORICAL CONSIDERATIONS 1. In just the same way there was no Jew until Abraham there was no true ―Roman Catholic‖ until the conversion of Constantine (after 313 A.D.), and the making of Christianity into the official state religion of the Roman Empire (thus forming ―Christendom‖). Before that, all Christians were just simply that; ―Christians‖, even being persecuted and martyred by Rome itself up to Constantine.
2. Also, the Papacy (the supreme rule of the Pope through the Roman Catholic Church), or the ―little horn‖ in prophecy, had no real separate existence as a political force until after the collapse of the political Roman Empire under the emperors, thus ―coming up after‖ the ―ten kingdoms‖ arising out of the collapsed Roman Empire after 476 A.D. There was therefore no true Papacy or ―little horn‖ until the emperors all passed off the scene, despite popes (very important Roman bishops) existed in the Western part of the Roman
7 Empire before this reality. Constantine joining Church and State in 312 A.D. was just the embryonic stage of the Papacy‘s origin, and the founding of Roman Catholicism. 3. Thus it is not true to say that the trinity doctrine was “invented” by the Roman Catholics and the Papacy, since many early Christian writers such as Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Polycarp, Hippolytus, Athenagoras, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Ignatius, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian in the West, Origen in the East, etc. (whom are usually called the ―Apostolic Fathers‖ and ―Church Fathers‖) existed during the period covering the stages of the Christian Church prophetically called ―Ephesus‖ and ―Smyrna‖, from about 60 – 313 A.D., and they wrote the basic truths of the trinity doctrine, if even in rudimentary form, long before the Roman Catholic system of state religion was founded (see the website http://www.bible.ca/trinity/ for the historical facts and pre-papal documents, writings, etc, on the Trinity). During this time the word ―trinity‖, and concepts of the ―eternal co-existence‖, and unity/similarity of ―substance‖ of the Persons of the Godhead already existed alongside basic Arian concepts (evident in early Christian doxologies and written expressions). The Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. only provided a ―universal‖ (i.e. ―catholic‖; not a Roman Catholic), non-denominational Christian conference for the airing of the views of Trinitarians and Arians alike. A pope was not even present at Nicea, and those bishops who could be called ―Roman Catholics‖ of the West numbered less than 10 out of over 300 bishops (pastors) in attendance. Later, despite Nicea, Arianism and or semi-Arianism even became the official doctrine of Rome for a time after emperor Constantine became ―Christian‖… proving that it was not only Trinitarianism as a Godhead doctrine that was associated with the Church of/at Rome.
LANDMARK No. 1: James White‟s Change of Attitude to Trinitarianism as a Test
It is no secret, and is easily proven, that James White, the husband of E.G. White, like quite a few of our leading pioneers, prior to 1888 and even after (note- James White died in 1881), not only NAMED but also registered in writing their serious objection to the doctrine of the trinity (as traditionally taught at the time); leaving no room for tolerance or compromise. Those who held on to the doctrine of the trinity (no matter the version), they believed (it was felt) in the most grievous of errors, and were threatened with certain doom if they rejected the ‗truth‟- that it destroyed the deity of Christ, and that it resembled nothing even close to the truth. Condemnation was thus a certainty, once the ‗light‟ concerning this „abominable‟ teaching was rejected; thus no hope of heaven. Note some of James White‘s early sentiments from the 1850‘s (emphases supplied), illustrating the forgoing sentiments: “As fundamental errors, we might class with this counterfeit Sabbath [Sunday] other errors which Protestants have brought away from the Catholic Church, such as sprinkling for baptism, *THE TRINITY, the consciousness of the dead [soul immortality] and eternal life in misery…
8 As the true light shines out upon these subjects, and is rejected by the mass [in the ‗Catholic‘ and Protestant Churches] then condemnation will come upon them” [after failing the test of fitness for heaven, as it were]. -James White, September 12, 1854, Review and Herald, Vol.6, No.5, pg. 36 Notice carefully that he saw “the trinity” as one of the *―FUNDAMENTAL ERRORS‖ (not a minor or secondary issue), and that anyone who rejects the “true light” about it, and other chief errors in the same ―class” will be condemned, and would in effect not be fit for heaven after failing to adhere to the revealed ―test‖ of truth. Thus none of the above listed errors, it seemed at the time, could ever be ignored, or removed from the list, when highlighting the “errors” of “Babylon” (i.e. Roman Catholicism and her ‗daughter‘ Protestant churches). It would be unthinkable; it seemed, to ignore the trinity. Now it abuses literacy and reason, or would probably show dishonesty or hypocrisy, if someone read the following and did not see a CHANGE of attitude to the subject of the trinity by James White in later years. This is absolutely critical, so read and analyze very carefully, what this leading pioneer felt long before 1892. In an editorial, on the differences between the Seventh-Day Baptists (Trinitarians), and Seventh-day Adventists (largely anti-Trinitarians at the time), he said in 1876 9inserts and emphases mine): “The principal [fundamental or chief] difference between the two bodies is the immortality question [not the Godhead issue]. The S.D.A.s hold the divinity [deity] of Christ so [notice]*NEARLY WITH THE TRINITARIAN [i.e. the Seventh-day Baptists] that we apprehend no trial here… Seventh –Day Adventists cannot afford a controversy [with the Trinitarian] on doctrines which NEITHER regard as tests of Christian character …In the divine Law, and in the gospel of the divine Son are the *tests of Christian character [producing fitness for heaven]. And it is with an ill grace that those who have been splitting up into petty sects [offshoot groups] during the nineteenth century [still happening today] over forms of church government, matters of expediency, * TRINITY [the Godhead consisting of three persons united] and Unity [the Father only is the Godhead], whether we may sing any good hymn in church, or only the Psalms of David, and other matters [of similar nature or class] which constitute no test of fitness for heaven [hence no condemnation involved] now pounce upon us [Adventists], and display any amount of religious horror, simply because we regard strict conformity to the Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, the only true test of Christian character”. - James White, Review and Herald, October 12, 1876, pg.116
COMMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS
1. This statement was the official voice of the church at the time (amidst other Adventist voices saying otherwise); coming from a General Conference president of many years; coming from a man who was the closest to the leading pioneer and the inspired and molding influence in the pioneering S.D.A. church, namely Mrs. White; and coming from a man who must have shared his viewpoints with his wife before publishing them (that she agreed with him is evident, and will be proven hereafter).
2. Notice his now more ‗mature‘ attitude to the Trinitarian concept of Christ‘s‘ deity; that it was even then, in 1876, in nearness to the Adventist high esteem of Christ, and more importantly 3. Notice that the Trinity doctrine, as held by original/traditional Trinitarians was now removed from the list of issues of grave concern, which included the ―immortality question”, and placed among perspective related issues of lesser concern (such as, what hymns to sing in church), issues being fought over, and still today being fought over, by those “splitting up into petty sects” or off-shoot groups. Clearly trinitarianism was by then, that is, by 1876, not seen by James White as breaking the first of the Ten Commandments, because if it was, then it would have to be a seen as a FAILURE of the ―test of fitness‖ for Heaven, and would have to be the first of all errors mentioned by anyone writing about Babylon. Clearly Mrs. White was supportive of her husband in this regard. *Could this be the reason why if you search all of „spirit of prophecy‟ writings by Mrs. White you will not find her even once NAMING, much more condemning the trinity doctrine? How could she spend so much time detailing the errors of ―Babylon‘ and the Papacy in particular, and ignore this issue in her most critical book, “The Great Controversy” of 1888 (revised in 1911 herself)? It is absolutely clear that she agreed with her husband from as early as 1876 even before the dramatic events of 1888 and 1892. What precipitated this change of attitude? Clearly a more mature approach, a greater spirit of tolerance for the view points of others on this issue, and a focus on what really is important as a ―test of fitness for heaven”; obedience and faith in Jesus (or faith like that of Jesus‘, which bears the natural fruit of obedience). Another important question could be: Can we understand what Mrs. White would also class among issues mentioned by her husband that should not be made a ―test‖ of ―fitness for heaven? Yes we can, from the following quote: “I have words to speak to…all who have been active in urging their views in regard to the meaning of „the daily‟ of Daniel 8 [Dan. 8:11,12]. This is not to be made a *test question, and the agitation that has resulted [among Adventists] from it being treated as such has been very unfortunate.” E.G. White, Selected Messages, Vol.1, pg .167 This establishes the principle of respect for fellow S.D.A.s who may have valid reasons for holding their point of view on certain issues, especially in cases where not everything is crystal clear, and thus could afford more than one possible explanation which may be close in meaning, or where “mysteries” are involved. It also shows what can be classed among issues not to be regarded as a “test” of fitness for heaven; “matters of expediency”, views on “forms of church government”, the exact meaning of “the daily” in Daniel 8, and yes, the exact explanation of all the “mysteries” of the “three persons” in the Godhead!! One may wish to take issue with this 1876 approach of James White, and the example of Mrs. White in ignoring the trinity when
10 dealing with “fundamental errors” of ―Babylon”, but this writer believes that if one follows the example of Mrs. White, then an ounce of inspiration is for greater than a ton of speculation! Now back to James White. In my final words on this first historical landmark of 1876, it should be noted however, that it is true that, after 1876, James White still disagreed with, not just the supposed immortality of the soul, but also many points in the Trinitarian creed (even valid points such as there being “three persons” in the Godhead, or Jesus being fully equal in authority with the Father, or Jesus being “very God‖, in just the same way/sense he is ―very man‖), but clearly would not have been around, in 1888 or in 1892, when new and revolutionary events took place in his church regarding the Godhead doctrine. He died in 1881, but had established a principle of tolerance for Trinitarians as it related to „Godhead” issues. Even while he still disagreed with them on some points, he became less judgmental on this matter as a test. If only he could see what fully happened later in 1892 in his church, and in the written expression of even his very own wife… a coming change which began to be signaled, somewhat, just before his death; signaled probably by the following honest historical account of D.M. Canright before he left the SDA Church, as a pioneer. D.M. Canright said, in an article which he published in the Review and Herald, the Seventh-day Adventist Church paper, under the date of April 12, 1877: “Do we not all agree that in the providence of God, special light is now being given upon the subjects of the second advent near, the kingdom, the new earth, the sleep of the dead, the destruction of the wicked, the doctrine of the Trinity, the law of God, God's holy Sabbath, etc.? All Seventh day Adventists will agree in these things.‖ Notice how all the things listed here by Canright in 1877, ―subjects‖ he then declared that ―special light‖ was then ―shining upon‖ them, are doctrinal subjects Adventism came to accept eventually and within Mrs. White‘s lifetime, but each in their own time? Interesting indeed, when one considers what James White said about the Trinity just the year before, in 1876 (as just quoted in this chapter), and considering what happened as of the publication and endorsement of the Spear‘s Trinitarian article among Adventist pioneers in 1892!! I repeat. Interesting indeed!!
LANDMARK No.2: The 1888 Doctrinal Turning Point
It is no secret and is easily proven (yet too many Adventists are today unaware) that “many‖ (not all) of the Adventist pioneers had either strict Arian, or semi Arian viewpoints about Christ, prior to and even after 1888; not Trinitarian viewpoints. What this meant then, in essence, according to E.J Waggoner in 1888, was that despite they all honestly and strongly believed in the divinity of Christ, but, through certain faulty views and opinions, “many” (especially the strict Arians) did in fact “actually deny his divinity” (Christ and His Righteousness, 1890, pgs.19, 20). This early pioneering reality is often denied by some today in the minority in Adventism (i.e. the dissident anti-Trinitarians), but was candidly admitted by SDA pioneer W.W. Prescott:
―WE [many Adventists] BELIEVED A *LONG TIME THAT CHRIST WAS A CREATED BEING, in spite of what the Scripture says…‖ -W.W. Prescott, The 1919 [S.D.A.] Bible Conference Transcripts, July 6, 1919, pg. 62
Who should we believe? Honest pioneers who were there at the beginning, or modern SDA antitrinitarians in the minority with certain biases to support? I suggest that the former seems more prudent. And even though some pioneers (who could be termed ‗homoeans‘ or semi-Arians) expressed before 1888 that Christ is fully divine and was begotten (not created), they still could not all accept (along with the strict Arians in Adventism) that Christ is ―God in the highest sense”; that He is “one of the constituent persons of” or “a part of the Godhead”, “completely and intrinsically”; that He is ―equal with the Father in all respects”(thus co-equal), and is ―of one substance” with the Father. Hence the prime reason why so many would resist and reject the 1888 message that brought these and other monumental considerations to the young Adventist movement for the first time. At the 1888 General Conference of S.D.A.s, E.J. Waggoner and A.T. Jones brought before the representatives, not only the truth that Christ is‖ begotten”, not created, but also other truths never before presented in that light, or in those terms, regarding Christ. This fact was clearly attested to and affirmed by Mrs. White, who was at the Conference herself; to be proven hereafter. While it is true that Waggoner‘s *main intention was to counter the subtle spirit of ‗legalism‘ by Law keeping among Adventists, he also highlighted controversial concepts about Jesus‘ divinity, as he uplifted the righteousness of Christ as the only means of salvation. Apart from Christ‘s saving righteousness, here now is a quick summary of the other, according to Mrs. White, “old truths”, presented in a “new light” (thus revised) by both E.J. Waggoner and A.T Jones, followed by the subsequent endorsements by Mrs. White. Keep in mind that their exact words, and the concepts used at the Conference of 1888, they themselves recorded in books written later, and thus can be easily proven and contextually analyzed.
E.J. Waggoner‟s Testimony about Christ
*(All taken from “Christ and His Righteousness”, 1890) Emphasis supplied 1. “He [Christ] must receive the same [equal measure of] honor that is due to God, and for that reason He is God” - pg.8 2. “He is *of the very [identical] substance and nature of God” – page 22 [Thus He is ―very God‖ in the same sense as He is said to be ―very man‖]. *N.B – see what the word ―of” means in a good dictionary 3. “When He comes it will be as „the Mighty God‟ [Ps.50: 1-6;Is. 9:6;Is. 25:8,9]‖ – page 11 4. “Life inheres in Him” [pg. 22] and ―Having life in Himself He [also] is properly called *Jehovah [LORD, I AM], the self- existent One” [Why not just the ‗Son of the selfexistent one‘?] – page 23 *N.B see Ps. 83:18 about the name “Jehovah”
12 5. “Christ is a part of the Godhead, possessing all the attributes of divinity, being the equal of the Father in all respects [thus co-equal] as Creator and *Lawgiver [Is.33: 22]…If He lacked one iota [the smallest item] of being equal to God [the Father] He could not [as the human Messiah and sacrifice] bring us to Him”[this denies all concepts of Christ‘s inferiority to the Father] – page 43. *N.B see Is. 33:22 before continuing 6. “He did not first become *Mediator at the fall of man, but was such from eternity” [―all eternity‖, Mrs. White later said]. – Page 141 *N.B see ―mediator‖ in the dictionary, and determine the meaning of Jesus‘ personal (individual) distinction from ―all eternity‖. 7. Only a*TRANCENDENT Christ, who is completely and intrinsically one of the constituent persons [essential members] of the Eternal [without beginning or end] Godhead in the highest [nothing higher] and fullest [absolute] sense could be our all –sufficient Creator [John 1:1-3], Lawgiver [Is. 33:22], Atoning Sacrifice, Redeemer, Judge [2 Cor. 5:10], Advocate, Justifier [Heb.2: 11], Sanctifier [Heb.2: 11], Glorifier [Phill.3: 20,21] and Coming King [Rev. 19:11,13,16/Is. 33:22]. Only such a One could constitute the sole and completely adequate source of righteousness imperative for sinful man…” – Page 43. N.B-*see who the word ‗transcendent” usually refers to, in the dictionary (e.g. Oxford Dictionary) 8. “If the reader [of Waggoner‟s 1890 book] finds it difficult to harmonize some of the statements in the bible concerning the nature of Christ, let him remember that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to express it terms that would enable finite minds to grasp it fully” – pages 25 and 26 9. “Finally, we know the Divine unity of the Father and the Son from the fact that both have the same *Spirit [Rom. 8:9]… we find that the Holy Spirit is both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ” [this denies that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father, as stated by strict Arians]. –pages 23,24 *NB Waggoner said very little in 1888 about the Holy Spirit‘s nature, since the real focus of his message was Jesus‟ nature, but Pacific Press (which he led up to the 1890s) probably made known his viewpoint on the Holy Spirit‘s nature by later presenting and publishing, in 1892, the Trinitarian viewpoint. It is quite possible that he saw the Holy Spirit, even then, in 1888, as (in his own words) “one of the constituent persons of the Eternal Godhead”. Who knows whether or not even then he had not started to see the Spirit as indeed one of the “three living personalities of the Heavenly Trio”, or the “third person of the Godhead” (expressions subsequently borrowed from Trinitarian authors, and then clearly endorsed and presented for the first time by Mrs. White herself in the succeeding years). But of course we can only speculate, yet what is certain is that 1888 was a time of transition to new viewpoints and the use of certain expressions that started to lean somewhat towards Trinitarianism, though still being clearly Semi-Arian. But the clear support for basic Trinitrianism was to come, and long before 1915.
13 Before moving on, the question could be asked: Was the word, “Godhead”, *in the sense of a plurality of “constituent persons”, a ‗favourable‘ context Waggoner was using in 1888? Was it favourable to all Adventists? The answer is NO! The honest answer is that the word ‗contextualized‘, or used in this sense, is NOT specifically stated anywhere in the Bible, and was, historically, a word so used only by Trinitarians! Thus it can be seen, from the following quote, that Adventists, prior to the 1888 and 1892 ―doctrinal turning point‖, opposed the use of the word in the ―three persons‖ context (which was then, exclusively, a Trinitarian type usage of the word). “What a contradiction of terms is found in the language of [the] Trinitarian creed: „In [the] unity of this [God] head are three persons*of one substance, one power and one eternity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost‟. There are many things that are mysteries, written in the word of God, but we may safely presume the Lord never calls upon us to believe impossibilities” [i.e. that three personalities are operating in and form the one Eternal Godhead]. -A.J. Dennis, May 22, 1879, Signs of the Times The above quote is sufficient to establish the opposition Waggoner probably faced in 1888 regarding the use of the word ―Godhead‖ in the context of a plurality of persons involved. Now let us turn to A.T. Jones‘ testimony in 1888, one which he later recorded in a book, entitled, “The Consecrated Way” (1905), and the issues of contention will definitely be made even clearer. Both Jones and Waggoner presented the 1888 message, so Jones‘ testimony cannot be ignored, or divorced from Waggoner‘s. Inserts and emphases are mine.
A.T. Jones‟ Testimony about Christ
“In the first chapter of Hebrews Christ is revealed as God, of the name of God [thus ―Lord‖ or ―Jehovah‖ is also his name]; because He is of nature of God. And so entirely is His nature of the nature of God, that it is the very [identical] impress*OF [i.e. possessing, came from, characterized by] the substance of God…This is Christ the Savior, spirit of spirit, SUBSTANCE OF SUBSTANCE, of God…Therefore as in heaven He was higher than the angels [equal with Father in all respects, including authority] as God, so on earth He was lower than the angels, as man [thus could then declare the Father greater than He]. As when He was higher than the angels, as God [divine], He and God [the Father] were*OF ONE [note the wording]; so when He was on earth, lower than the angels, as man, He and man are [still presently] ‗of one‟ [Heb. 2:11]. So that just as certainly on the side of God, Jesus and God [the Father] are*OF one Spirit, of one nature, *OF ONE SUBSTANCE [Why not ‗of like substance‘?]; so on the side of man Christ and man [all humanity] are „of one‟ – of one flesh, of one nature, OF ONE SUBSTANCE” [see the exact wording of the Nicene Creed in Appendix 2] -A.T. Jones, The Consecrated Way, 1905, pgs 16,20 Clearly he meant Jesus and the Father had the same type of ―substance‖. However notice carefully his stress on the ―of ONE substance‖ wording. Why, if he wanted to present the historically strict semi- Arian wording of ―like‖ or of ―similar substance‖, did he not choose his words more carefully, so as not to have his intended meaning or context misconstrued? Where did he get such a precise phrasing? Certainly he did not quote verbatim from the Bible. Who is it that would spend so much time clarifying the nature of Christ as it regards his ―substance‖? Only
14 someone versed in theology, and history! And A.T. Jones himself must have known that it was traditionally the Trinitarian preference to express the Trinity of ―three persons‖ as being ―of one substance‖. It was A.T. Jones who honestly and candidly remarked/admitted after 1888, in his historical account of what happened at Nicea, that there never was any dispute among early Christians that there is in fact a ―trinity‖ of ―three persons‖ (since that was a given), but rather the REAL debate was about the nature and mode of unity of the persons involved. He admitted clearly: ―In consequence of these misunderstandings, each of them [i.e. those supporting either Arius or Alexander at the Council of Nicea] wrote volumes, as if contending against adversaries: and although it was admitted on both sides that the Son of God has a distinct person and existence, and *all acknowledged that there is one God in a Trinity of persons, yet, from what cause I am unable to divine, they could not agree among themselves, and therefore were never at peace [quoted from Socrates]… There was no dispute about *THE FACT of there being a Trinity; it was about the nature of the Trinity. Both parties believed in precisely the same Trinity, but they differed upon the precise relationship which the Son bears to the Father‖ -A.T. Jones, The Two Republics, 1891, pg. 333 A.T. Jones and E.J. Waggoner knew very well the historical facts concerning the expressions used in the debate over the centuries by the ―orthodox‖ Trinitarians and opposing Arians and semi-Arians, and knew the controversial import of the Trinitarian expression, ―of one substance”, yet he freely used it. Notice, too, in the foregoing quote how A.T. Jones came to recognize the trinity as a ―fact‖ (not just a teaching), and a “fact” that was a given before Nicea, and accepted by all at the Council of Nicea, including those opposed to Alexander (despite differences on the nature of that trinity). Thus, I must repeat and emphasize that the Nicene debate was not about whether three persons were in the Godhead, since that was already a given among Christians from the first century, but the debate was over the nature of Christ and the mode of the Trinity. Notice as a result what A.T. Jones finally brought himself to admit later in 1899: “God is one [person]. Jesus Christ is one [i.e. another person]. The Holy Spirit is one [i.e. the third person of three]. And these three are one: there is no dissent nor division among them.‖ -A. T. Jones, Review and Herald, January 10, 1899, 24 Seems clear which position he eventually took from as early as 1899 after 1888 and his earlier stanch anti-Trinitarian viewpoints; viewpoints which earlier rejected ―three persons‖ of the Godhead in the first place, and which earlier denied that ―these three are one‖ in the Godhead. One anti-Trinitarian Sabbath keeper, Colin Gyles (a Jamaican), with some amount of ‗Adventist‘ orientation, stated recently that: ―The Bible is entirely silent on such questions as the substance of the Father and the preincarnate Son.” [Thus anything else is speculation] Colin Gyles -“The Trinity and the Foundations of the Christian Faith”, Open Face, No. 26, June 2002, pg.6, column 2
15 Now if this statement is to be taken seriously, this could be seen as an indictment against A.T. Jones‘ effort to be so clear and precise on this matter (and also an indictment against Mrs. White, for endorsing his expressions on this matter), a matter that the Bible is, according to Gyles, so ―entirely silent on”. The truth of the matter is that, historically, the Arian and Trinitarian controversy made it necessary for the precise phrasing of this matter. The truth of the matter is that, for instance, all reputable encyclopaedias (e.g. Britannica) show that all anti-Trinitarians are careful to avoid using the expression, “of one substance” (from ―homoousion” in Greek). Semi-Arians (sometimes called ‗Homoeans‘ or ‗Homoiousians‘) never say ―of one substance with the Father‖ (from ―homoousion to patri‖), because they are ever careful to say, “of like substance” (from ―homoiousion”in Greek), to avoid confusion of meanings; while strict Arians (sometimes called ‗Anomoeans‘ or ‗heteroousians‘) always say Jesus is ―unlike” the Father, or “of a different substance” (from “anomoios‖ in Greek), and thus is of a different order of being (specie). Now the question is, why would E.J.Waggoner team up with A.T Jones to present the, “of one substance” concept, but all along really intend to present the full semi-Arian concept (as some claim today), while using phrases that may be misconstrued as Trinitarian? To make it even worse, how could Pacific Press, four years after 1888, in 1892, totally create further difficulty by publishing a pro-trinitarian tract, if all along Waggoner and Jones intended to present the so called full semi-Arian hypothesis? It does not make one bit of sense; only probably to these who are either unable or unwilling to face the truth; that 1888 saw a „doctrinal revolution‟ in Adventism regarding “Godhead” issues, and one which would have Adventism gradually starting to accept, as of 1892, certain basic truths in Trinitarianism before 1915, while still rejecting certain traditional explanations traditionally given about the three persons and the mode of their unity. Quoting what certain pioneers said against the trinity before and after 1888 (and 1892) does not really solve the problem either, because it is clear that there were differing viewpoints on the issue among pioneering Adventists, especially made clear after 1892. What must now be ascertained must be, what was Mrs. White‘s viewpoint, as she guided the S.D.A. church towards gradual unity on this controversial matter? A careful analysis of her endorsements of, and parallel statements to (with even expansions made on) the message of Waggoner and Jones, is now a matter of prime importance, and will be attempted hereafter. But before doing so, please note carefully the following points: 1. If Mrs. White, after 1888, felt that all variations of the Trinitarian type thinking were ‗abominable‘, and borrowing phrases or ideas from the doctrine (whether fully or in part) was so seriously objectionable, then she could only make this known by clear statements, not silence; especially in the face of what happened in 1892! Why? Because Waggoner and Jones (in 1888) and then even Mrs. White herself (after 1888) clearly borrowed and presented concepts which either resembled or came straight from trinitarianism, even if there were slight variations in their use, and Pacific Press later affirmed and endorsed, in 1892, that the Godhead “trinity” is biblical- “The Bible Doctrine of the Trinity” was the title of the 1892 tract it published, AND AS A MISSIONARY TOOL!!
16 2. A comparison of the literal wording of the original Trinitarian/Nicene creed, with what Waggoner and Jones presented in 1888 (and what Pacific Press affirmed in the Trinitarian tract of 1892) show very little (minor) difference in wording about Christ. A simple quote will suffice to show this, and also some of the basic premises of the Trinitarian creed, which compares with Adventist beliefs after 1888 and 1892 (see Appendix 2). Inserts and emphases mine.
“We believe…in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten from the Father, only begotten [now notice] *that is, from the substance of the Father, God [divinity] from God, light from light, true God [true divinity] from [the] true God, begotten not made [i.e. not created], *OF ONE SUBSTANCE with the Father [‗homoousion to patri‘] through whom all things came into existence…” Encyclopedia Britannica, ―The Nicene Creed‖ 1970, Vol. 6- pg.719 Obviously the Waggoner and Jones‘ use of the controversial Trinitarian expression ―of one substance‖ was used to show that Christ and the Father are exactly alike in substance as separate beings; not that they are one Being as traditional Trinitarians explain. The Nicene Creed went on to state that the Church should see as accursed anyone who believes that Jesus is of a different or unlike substance from the Father, or who believes that Jesus is not from all eternity as a distinct person, simply because He was begotten. Did Mrs. White condemn this belief or ideas resembling this statement of belief? I am yet to see evidence anywhere in all of her writings to that effect. Her never mentioning or naming even once the trinity (in all of her writings), to speak against it, speaks volumes. Let us now turn to her endorsement of, and expansions made on the 1888 Message.
E.G. White‟s Endorsement of, and Parallel Statements to the 1888 Message
For those who may be in doubt, regarding the real place that Jesus occupies in the minds of Adventists (since 1888), as the Son of God, here now is the real confession of what true Adventism today believes: “Christ Himself was the Lord of the temple [see Is. 6:1-5]. When He should leave it, its glory would depart- that glory once visible in the holy of holies over the mercy seat…This was the Skekinah, the visible pavilion of Jehovah. It was this glory [notice, in a scene in heaven, not on earth] that was revealed to Isaiah when he says, „In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the *Lord [Christ Himself] sitting upon a throne high and lifted up‟…” E.G. White, Manuscript 71, 1897 Some read the description of Isaiah‘s vision of Jehovah, in Isaiah 6:1-5, and 8, in which the Person on the throne is worshipped, or of whom the angels cry, ―Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD [Jehovah]‖, and they feel this can only apply to the Father of Jesus. However, both the
17 apostle John (John 12:36-42), and Mrs. White in Adventism, testified to the truth of the unity of its application to Jesus as well as to the Father (who are both represented by the personality of the Holy Spirit) despite they are separate Persons or Personalities. If that was not so, then the Father would not be our ―Lord‖ (Acts 17:24), but only Jesus, the ―one Lord‖ (1 Cor. 8:6), and Jesus could not be called our ―God‖ (John 20:28, 29), but only the Father, the ―one God‖. It is their “oneness” which solves the problem. That is what the unity of the Persons in the Godhead, and their total co-equality is all about, in terms of rank, authority, dignity, and glory, despite their distinction, or ‗separateness‘ of personality. Ever wonder why no Old Testament scene of the throne room in heaven ever shows two, or three divine thrones (always just one), and never shows visibly three, or even two beings of the Godhead on the one throne… despite we now know that more than one divine person/being was there all along? The unity of the three persons are of such that the Bible depicts ONLY one seat/throne of divine authority (Rev. 3:21), and we see only Jesus tangibly and visibly manifesting the invisible Godhead of the personal Father and His personal Spirit…despite admittedly they are all distinct persons. Now, despite certain weaknesses in the original/traditional explanation, only the doctrine of the Trinity has, historically, accepted all the truths of the ―1888‖ Message; not Arianism, not semi-Arianism, and not Unitarianism- all of which placed Jesus *below the Father‘s rank and authority. Those who proclaim otherwise have simply ‗invented‘ the historical facts, or are ignorant of the real facts. In truth, Jesus is equal with the Father in all His authority and rank, as His ―only begotten Son‖, not ―next‖ in rank or authority, ―because He was given all things‖, as was unfortunately stated by James White (a leading SDA pioneer) before he died in 1881 (Review and Herald, Jan. 4, 1881). Now, concerning the co-equal Son of God, Mrs. White (James White‘s own wife), in repudiation of her husband‘s earlier view on the matter, later declared, in no uncertain manner in 1895, that which was initially established by Jones and Waggoner in 1888 (years after James White‘s death), that: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son – not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father‟s Person, and in all the brightness of His majesty and glory, One equal with God*IN AUTHORITY, [notice] DIGNITY [i.e. rank, office, title], and divine perfection. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”. -E.G. White, Signs of the Times, May 30, 1895 Clearly this is a basic premise of the Trinitarian ‗Nicene‘ Creed, and thus in 1899 she naturally expanded on this thought by stating distinctly, for the very first time, the following, which, before 1888 and 1892, would have been resisted by most in Adventism: “The *Godhead was stirred with pity for the race, and [now notice] the Father, the Son *and the Holy Spirit gave themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption. In order to fully carry out this plan, it was decided that Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, should give himself an offering for sin.” -E.G. White, Counsels on Health, pg.222 (from an *1899 manuscript)
18 Now dear reader, if you search all of ‗Spirit of Prophecy‘ writings it will be realized that it was only after 1888 and indeed especially after 1892 and that Mrs. White started to use the term, ―the Godhead‖ TO MEAN THE ―THREE PERSONS‖, FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT! A careful analysis of the years of her ―Trio‖ statements will also reveal this fact. The year 1888 saw her publishing the monumental book, “The Great Controversy”, in which she had already stated that, “The Son of God was the acknowledged *Sovereign [supreme ruler] of Heaven, one [equal, united] in power and AUTHORITY with the Father” (G.C., pg. 494), but only in the years subsequent to 1888 did she start to clearly pen the concept of ―three persons‖ of/in the ―Eternal Godhead‖. What are we to make of this? 1. This was simply the logical aftermath of 1888, and the 1892 Trinitarian tract 2. This simply means that A.J. Dennis‘ recorded objection (as a pioneer, in 1879), to the ―Godhead‖ having, “three persons” united, and them being “of one substance [and], one power” (as quoted earlier), was now repudiated by Mrs. White (his pioneering colleague), despite the oneness of substance of the Godhead was explained in the non-traditional sense to mean personal beings united; not one invisible substance or Being. 3. This also means that the following recent statement by David Clayton (a Jamaican), another anti-Trinitarian of somewhat an ‗Adventist‘ orientation, needs to be reexamined by him: “When all the evidence is examined and assessed in a reasonable and logical way it is evident that Michael [Christ] is NOT EQUAL TO GOD *IN AUTHORITY, though he is Lord of the angels and superior to them” [clearly contradicting Mrs. White] -David Clayton, ―Paradox of Michael‖, Open Face, No. 16, July 2000, back page
Mrs. White (whom he upholds), after years of uncertainty in early Adventist thinking, clearly stated the official Adventist position. She, on the contrary, stated that: “The world‟s Redeemer was equal with God. His authority was AS [to the same amount, nature or degree as] the authority of God… The authority by which He spoke and wrought miracles [while on earth], was expressedly *His own, yet He assures us that He and the Father are one… As Legislator [Lawgiver], Jesus exercised the authority of God”. -E.G. White, Review and Herald, Jan. 7, 1890 4. This means that Jesus was now (after 1888) seen as, notice, “one in power and authority with the Father”, simply because He was now accepted as being, “of one substance with the Father”, but not together forming one Being (if any would think this is what it automatically means).
19 All of this was the aftermath of Mrs. White clearly expressing her endorsement of the Waggoner and Jones 1888 Message, and giving deeper insights into the issues presented, in the face of resistance and mixed reactions within the Adventist Church at the time. Note her words carefully in the following series of quotes, as she made it clear what happened in 1888. Was the message just about the Law and Christ‘ righteousness? Mrs. White‟s Testimony about 1888 Among the main intentions of Waggoner and Jones, in 1888, was that of establishing the naturally inherited co-equality of Jesus with the Father. If that was not an indication that too many in Adventism before 1888 failed to see it that way, then the widespread resistance to the message would be unexplainable, the following quote from Waggoner would be irrelevant and pointless, along with the endorsements of Mrs. White which will follow: “Our object in this investigation is to set forth Christ‟s RIGHTFUL position of EQUALITY with the Father, in order that his power to redeem may be better appreciated”. -E.J. Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness, 1890, pages 19-22 Those were his exact words as he and Jones set about to give Biblical truths, notice, in their “investigation” to “set forth Christ‟s rightful position of equality with the Father.” This was because, as Mrs. White‘s own words will now reveal, “many” (not all) in Adventism did not present Christ in relation to the law in that light before. Inserts and emphases mine. ―That which God gives his servants [Waggoner and Jones] to speak today would perhaps NOT have been present truth twenty years ago [i.e. up to 1868] but is God‘s message for the time‖ [thus this was a new development]. -E.G. White, Manuscript 8,1888 ―You say, many [not all] of you, it [Waggoner and Jones‘ message] is light and truth [present truth]. Yet you [many of you] have NOT presented it *IN THIS LIGHT HERETOFORE [before]”. -E.G. White, Manuscript 15, 1888 Notice she was endorsing their “investigation” into *ALSO proving the full “equality” of Christ with the Father, which was not presented by ―many‖ before. Why “set forth” and why “investigate” what was already accepted by all from the beginning (as some falsely argue today), or was already “present truth” long before 1888? That argumentation by some makes no sense and is a vain anti-Trinitarian attempt to clutch at straws. However, notice E.G. White capturing the essence of this new development among SD Adventists: ―The fullness of the Godhead in Jesus has been *SET FORTH [same words of Waggoner] among us with beauty and loveliness…we know that God has wrought among us.” -E.G. White, Letter dated, June 17, 1889
20 *Notice what she thought was the ‗cream‘, or real essence of their presentation- “the fullness of the Godhead in Jesus”; thus His “equality with the Father” ―in all respects‖ (thus his co-equality) was “set forth”. Now, was this only a repetition of what all Adventists had accepted before? Well, Mrs. White‘s own words give the answer (from the same letter quoted above): ‗It [Waggoner and Jones‘ message] was the first clear teaching on this subject [Jesus‘ full Deity and power to redeem] from any human lips [including other pioneers] I had heard, excepting the [private] conversations between myself and my husband‖ [remember James White died in 1881, seven years before the 1888 Conference]. -E.G. White, ibid What were others saying, before 1888, about Jesus‘ position in Heaven with the Father? Note E.J. Waggoner‘s own father saying what he labored to refute in 1888: *―We cannot believe what men say about his [Jesus] being co-equal [i.e. fully equal] with God in every [all] respect…‖ - J.H. Waggoner. The Atonement, 1872, pg. 108 That was early and standard belief among early SDA pioneers. Then came these two men (E.J. Waggoner and A.T. Jones) to proclaim that Jesus is not unequal with the Father, not even in the least iota!! Fancy that!! This was a marked development!! No wonder the widespread resistance and rejection even by some. Could it be possible that E.J. Waggoner‘s father was among those who Mrs. White referred to after the 1888 Conference, when she said the following? ―All the evidence produced they decide [those disagreeing] shall not weigh a straw with them and they tell others the doctrine is not true [showing disunity], and afterward when they see as light, evidence they were so forward to condemn, they have too much pride to say I was wrong; they cherish doubt and unbelief, and are too proud to acknowledge their convictions.‖ -E.G. White, Manuscript 15, 1888 Some today say that what the pioneers resisted (or were not ready for) was only the truth that the commandments could not save them, or probably they disliked the manner and accusative spirit in which Waggoner and Jones presented the “righteousness” of Christ. However, only certain anti-Trinitarians within Adventism today will grope for this rather unconvincing explanation as the *only reason why some (not all) rejected the 1888 message. The closing quotes from Mrs. White, on this 1888 Conference, speaks volumes, and give certain clues about the issues directly related to the truth about Him who was effectively “God manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16); whose full equality with the Father is as important to believe and accept as His saving righteousness (the two truths are inseparable).
NEW [revised] LIGHT, if we are ready to receive them‖
―I have been shown that Christ will reveal to us precious OLD TRUTHS in A -E.G. white, Ibid
21 ―God has raised up men to meet the necessity of this time who will cry aloud and spare not, who will lift up their voice like a trumpet…Their work is not only to proclaim the law, but to preach the truth for the time – the LORD [i.e. Jesus as Jehovah] OUR RIGHTOUSNESS…‖ [equal with the Father in all respects] -E.G. White, Review & Herald, Aug. 13, 1889, pg. 514 This emphasis by Mrs. White, after endorsing the message of Waggoner and Jones in 1888, was not appreciated by quite a few in Adventism, and it took time for unity by the increasing majority to be achieved. Note the words of another pioneer, S.G. Haughey, who lived in the time of the aftermath of the 1888 Conference, and was able to report ‗first-hand‘. “Despite the misunderstandings and the polemics [controversies] in the decade FOLLOWING 1888, minds began increasingly to open to a truer and fuller concept of truth as it centered in Christ*AND HIS FULLNESS [of the Godhead]. The nineties were marked by a succession of powerful revivals…and confessions, and surrender to truth on the part of a growing majority of the Minneapolis [Conference of 1888] disputants…from 1888 to 1890 Mrs. White constantly urged acceptance of the righteousness of Christ as *special light calling for advance to higher ground… We were to become foremost among all professing Christians in preaching Christ*IN ALL HIS FULLNESS. However, prior t o 1888, with some still holding to a *RESTRICTED concept of Christ, that call was NOT previously sounded by her. Christ, in all his effulgence [glory], was now to be made pre-eminent. And Christ is to be lauded, not merely the message” [about His saving righteousness]. *-S.G. Haughey, Letter dated, May 26, 1930 It should be noted that Haughey was a delegate at the General Conference (G.C.) of SD Adventists just after 1892, that is, in 1893, and notice he mentioned nothing about a condemnation of the 1892 Trinitarian tract, which was published one year before 1893. Notice too what he stressed in his report about the period following 1888, and what was the reality before 1888. When the full evidence, including the circumstantial evidence, is weighed and assessed, only one conclusion is logical: Waggoner introduced the first stage of „tailored‟ Trinitarianism among Adventists in 1888, and then Pacific Press followed suit, and plainly and directly introduced the other elements of „tailored‟ Trinitarian sentiments in 1892, but with less opposition than at the 1888 Conference. This will be looked at even more closely in the next historical ‗landmark‘ (No.4), because the issues are too important and the implications too serious for me to be careless in drawing conclusions. Let us now look at Mrs. White‘s parallel statements to and the expansions made on the 1888 “Godhead” concepts (of Waggoner) in the years following 1888.
Mrs. White‟s Parallel Statements To, And Expansions on the 1888 Message
Before dealing with the truths which flowed from Mrs. White‘s pen after 1888, it would be appropriate to address the view of some, that Mrs. White thought that the 1888 message was ‗perfect‘ in its scope, and hence no new thought on, or addition to it was necessary. However, what she actually said will speak to the context of her meaning regarding what
22 “harmonizes perfectly” with all the “light” God gave her before and up to 1888 (when she spoke thus).
“I see the beauty of truth in the presentation *OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST IN RELATION TO THE LAW as the doctor [Waggoner] has placed it before us…Is it not possible that through earnest, prayerful searching of the Scriptures he has seen still greater light on some points? That which has been presented harmonizes perfectly with the light which God has been pleased to give me all the years of my experience [up to that point in 1888]”. -E.G. White, Manuscript 15, 1888
You will notice that what she said “perfectly harmonizes” with what light she was given up to 1888 was the “truth” about “the righteousness (notice her focus) of Christ in relation to the law‖. It is evident that no one presentation can be ‗perfect‘ in its scope about the ―mystery of godliness‖ in Christ‘s nature, because its‘ scope is transcendent, and involves a “science” which is ever giving new and deeper insights as it is studied. She herself later said: “The MYSTERIES of redemption, embracing Christ‟s divine-human character, his incarnation, his atonement for sin, could employ the pens and the highest mental powers of the wisest men…but though these men should seek with all their powers to give a representation of Christ and his work, the representation would FALL SHORT OF THE REALITY…” -E.G. White, Letter 280, September 3, 1904 “The existence of A PERSONAL GOD [singular], the *UNITY of Christ with his Father lies at the foundation of all TRUE SCIENCE. From nature we can gain only an IMPERFECT idea of the greatness and majesty of God.” [See Romans 1:19, 20] -E.G. White, Manuscript 30, October 29, 1904 I think these two quotes set the stage, first to refute the claim of some that Waggoner and Jones had it ‗perfect‘ in scope about the deity of Christ‘s nature, and no new light or additions were necessary, and second, to see why 1888 was just the beginning of new advancements in Adventist theology regarding the, “Eternal Godhead”. After all, wasn‘t Mrs. White candid enough to admit about Waggoner‘s 1888 message that: ―Is it not possible that through earnest, prayerful searching of the Scriptures he has seen still greater light on some points?” -E.G. White, Manuscript 15, 1888. That‘s instructive!! The doctrinal ―old landmarks‖ were not to be moved, true, yet they were ―landmarks‖ that they “HAVE BEEN BUILDING UPON‖ (present tense), a process which clearly allows for things to be added to the ―building‖ process…not a tearing down of the foundation. Note what Mrs. White saw as the doctrinal “old landmarks” before 1888: ―In Minneapolis [1888 Conference] God gave precious gems of truth to His people in new settings [i.e. old truths seen in a new light]. This light from heaven by some was rejected with all the stubbornness the Jews manifested in rejecting Christ, and there was much talk about standing by the old landmarks. But there was evidence they knew not what the old landmarks were. There was evidence and there was reasoning from the word that commended itself to the conscience; but the minds of men were fixed, sealed against the entrance of light, because they had decided it was a dangerous error removing the "old landmarks" when it was not moving a
23 peg of the old landmarks, but they had perverted ideas of what constituted the old landmarks. The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God's people upon the earth, [also] the first and second angels' messages and the third, unfurling the banner on which was inscribed, "The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of God's law. The non-immortality of the wicked is [also] an old landmark. I can call to mind nothing more that can come under the head of the old landmarks. All this cry about changing the old landmarks is all imaginary.‖ —E.G. White, Counsels to Writers and Editors, page 30-31. ―We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed. As long as we hold to our own ideas and opinions with determined persistency, we cannot have the unity for which Christ prayed.‖ —E.G. White, Counsels to Writers and Editors, page 37. What frankness and honesty! But more importantly, we see that up to that point NO MENTION IS MADE OF THE GODHEAD DOCTRINE AS A SETTLED “LANDMARK” WITH NOTHING MORE TO DISCOVER BEFORE I888, AND OR THE 1890s. It is indisputable that the early Adventist Godhead doctrine (except, of course emphasizing the separate being of Father and Son) was not seen by EGW as forming the settled, and unmovable ―old landmarks‖ before 1888 and the 1890s, since 1888 proved that new light came on this subject, and there were varying anti-Trinitarian viewpoints among early Adventists about even these two divine beings. Here is one SDA pioneer‘s honest admission of the situation in the early days:
―Although we [Adventists] claim to be believers in, and worshippers of one God, I have thought that there are as many gods among us as there are conceptions of the Deity. And how many there are of these, and how limited are most of them. Rather, how limited are all of them! We do not half study the character of God the Father and [now notice very carefully] God the Son (!!), and the result is we make Christ such beings as ourselves‖ [that is, having a beginning and limited as the Son of God] -D.T. Bordeau – Review and Herald, Vol. 67, Nov. 18, *1890, pg. 707
Thus E.G. White could not mention this Godhead subject as fully hammered out, since more was to come on the Godhead matter, especially as it concerns Christ‟s and the Holy Spirit‟s nature. And more did come, starting from 1888, and 1892, as the irrefutable evidence will show hereafter. Keeping in mind that Adventism‘s Pacific Press, immediately after 1888, published a Trinitarian tract in 1892 outlining and endorsing the reality of the three persons of the Godhead in basic Trinitarian (yet non-speculative) terms, now notice this subsequent and very critical development thereafter. While Waggoner probably had his eye one the matter in 1888, yet he did not go as far as Mrs. White did in actually stating that our “personal God” can be considered as not just the Father (which she did emphasize to be just the Father in very many places), but also admitted that ―God‖ (obviously the group or specie of divinity) can be seen as a ―unity‖ of
24 ―Christ with his Father‖, and ―God‖ (the specie of divinity) can be thought of as the unity of all three speaking and acting in unison. Proof? “The existence of A PERSONAL GOD [singular], the *UNITY of Christ with his Father lies at the foundation of all TRUE SCIENCE. From nature we can gain only an IMPERFECT idea of the greatness and majesty of God.” [See Romans 1:19, 20] -E.G. White, Manuscript 30, October 29, 1904
"God says, [notice after this whom she means says this] "Come out from among them, and be
ye separate, . . . and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." [Now notice carefully] This is the pledge of [not just one person, but] the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit [i.e. the *pledge to receive and be a Father to you]; made to you if you will keep your baptismal vow, and touch not the unclean thing…‖ -E.G. White, Signs of the Times, June 19, 1901 This again was a marked development after 1888 and 1892. Why were these kind of statements never written by Ellen White before 1888 or 1892. It was simply because it was a case of one thing leading naturally and logically to the other. Adventism first relied on the statements of a Trinitarian, Dr. Samuel Spear (a non-Adventist), to express its endorsement of certain basic elements in Trinitarianism for the first time in the pioneering Church. What Waggoner stated before, in 1888, was simply that Christ and the Father share, not only an evident oneness or unity by both having “the same Spirit”, but did so as co-equal and “constituents persons of the eternal Godhead” ; co-equal “in all respects”. We now know that to be absolutely true, and yet this revolutionary message sent a shockwave through the pioneering Church, and created much stir, resistance, and rejection even. The Church (through Pacific Press) then later expanded on that message through the full Trinitarian discourse of a non-Adventist Trinitarian in the 1892 tract….a tract that was never condemned by Mrs. White. Never!! The content of the tract will be looked at under the next chapter; “Landmark No. 4”. The question could be asked at this point, did Mrs. White mean for her statements about the Godhead, together speaking as ―God‖ in unison for instance, i.e. the Father, the Son and the Spirit, or because she agreed with Waggoner and Jones that Jesus and his Father have one Spirit, or because they are ―of one substance‖, that they are one individual Being? Did Mrs. White mean for her statement regarding “the existence of a personal God”, the unity of Christ with his Father”, to reflect the Papal concept of the trinity (or three persons united as one Being) in the Godhead, as one body with three faces (as others in Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are sacrilegiously portraying)? The honest answer is, NO! That is why I am careful to point out that the Adventist concept of the trinity, from 1892 onwards, is markedly different from the original/traditional …despite the closeness. That also explains why some detractors (both within and without Adventism) point out that the Adventist version of the trinity is ‗unorthodox‘, and that mainstream Adventists actually worship ‗three Gods‘, or three persons (beings) as God, because the Adventist version of the doctrine divides the “substance” of the Godhead into co-equal beings. Notice the three beings that were even prayed to by Mrs. White:
25 ―You are baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. You are raised up out of the water to live henceforth in newness of life--to live a new life. You are born unto God, and you stand under the sanction and the power of THE THREE HOLIEST *BEINGS IN HEAVEN, who are able to keep you from falling. You are to reveal that you are dead to sin; your life is hid with Christ in God. Hidden "with Christ in God,"--wonderful transformation. This is a most precious promise. When I feel oppressed, and hardly know how to relate myself toward the work that God has given me to do, I just *CALL UPON THE THREE GREAT WORTHIES, and say; You know I cannot do this work in my own strength. You must work in me, and by me and through me, sanctifying my tongue, sanctifying my spirit, sanctifying my words, and bringing me into a position where my spirit shall be susceptible to the movings of the Holy Spirit of God upon my mind and character. And this is the prayer that every one of us may offer. . .‖ -E.G. White, Manuscript Release, Vol.7, pgs. 267, 268 (taken from Manuscript 95, 1906, pp. 8-12, 14-17; "Lesson from Romans 15," October 20, 1906.) While I think that the anti-Trinitarian detractors in Adventism may be honest and sincere in their opinion of “three Gods” in Adventism, I can only honestly respond that the same could be said about their worship of ‗two Gods‘, one higher, and “Almighty”, and the other lower, and just “Mighty”. That would be so if their argument was valid, or if brother Thomas had it wrong in John 20:28,29, in calling Jesus his ―Lord‖ and his ―God”, the separate being whom the Father sent, and if he was ignoring Matthew 4:10 or Exodus 20:3. The truth in John 20:28 was not just about the presence of another divine being (apart from the Father), but a recognition of ―sovereignty‖, as an object of veneration equal with and united with the Father (John 5:23). There is no escaping the unity and co-quality of Father and Son in the Bible! Was the Father confused about Himself, that He was “God” alone, but then declared His Son the same as Himself, to be worshipped by man and angels (Hebrew 1:6,8,10)? No! Because His Deity is never considered in isolation from that of His Son or His Holy Spirit, with whom he is naturally united as the one Godhead from all eternity. He being ―God alone‖ is in comparison with all false gods of human and Satanic devising on earth. Thus Waggoner was dead right in 1888, about the Godhead unity, made even plainer by Mrs. White below. How are the Father and Son “one”? “It seemed that divinity flashed through humanity as Jesus said, „I and my Father are one‟! The words of Christ were full of deep meaning, as He put forth the claim that He and the Father were [notice] *OF ONE SUBSTANCE, possessing [notice] the SAME attributes”. -E.G. White, Signs of the Times, November 27, 1893, pg.54 COMMENTS: It is absolutely clear to this writer that1. A.T. Jones had it right in 1888, five years before this 1893 E.G. White statement was made; involving a first time use of the words “of one substance” by Mrs. White. Why did she not avoid this popular Trinitarian type expression, and instead used, “of like substance” or “of similar substance”, as all ancient and modern semi-Arians (Homoeans or homoiousians) would always say? Here again she obviously borrowed the statement from Trinitarians, just like many others she did after 1888.
26 2. If, after the 1892 tract of one year before, in this 1893 statement she saw no need to be careful in not using “of one substance”, then it follows logically that she was not promoting strict semi-Arianism, but rather ‗tailored‖ Trinitarianism.
Semi-Arians, though they accepted that Jesus was ―begotten‖ from the Father‟s substance, and that He is truly God in nature (similar in substance), they never historically accepted the absolute equality of the Son with the Father. Some have been known to accept even the three personalities as “beings” in the Godhead, but believe that there is a gradation (not equality) of the personalities in rank, from the Father down to the Holy Spirit. This truth is reflected in the following quote from the Encyclopedia Britannica: “Semi-Arians…refused to call he Son a creature, were prepared to acknowledge *a trinity [group of three persons in the Godhead]… and affirmed a GRADATION [denies equality] of beings within the Trinity” [Godhead]. -Encyclopedia Britannica, ―Arianism”, 1970, pg. 382 N.B. – as a simple noun, “trinity” means three persons The honest truth is that strict Arianism and semi-Arianism have never placed Jesus on the same level of equality with the Father, that is, He is NOT “equal with the Father in all respects”. And the honest truth is that the 1888 doctrinal turning point repudiated this constricted type thinking by way of employing Trinitarian sentiments. The “oneness” of Christ with the Father was affirmed to be in “substance”, in “power”, in “equal” “authority”, in “eternity”, and in specie or order of being, BUT NOT IN TERMS OF THE FORMING THE SAME BEING!! The truth is that only Trinitarians, historically, have had to *defend themselves against attacks regarding the “distinction” of “persons in the Godhead”, but their “oneness” in “substance”, in answering the logic questions. Now notice Mrs. White defending the Adventist theology from those married to logic, not faith: “As God‟s servants proclaim these things [the unity of Father and Son] Satan steps up to some of those who have itching minds and presents his scientific problems. Men will be tempted to place science [logic] above God…Let not finite man attempt to interpret Jehovah…Christ is ONE [united] with the Father… but the unity does not destroy the personality [individuality] of either” [the very same type of argument used by historic Trinitarians]. -E.G. White, Manuscript 58, May 19, *1905 *Notice that it was only after 1892 and after Kellogg tried (in 1903) to make God and nature to be synonymous (pantheism) that Mrs. White saw the need to make this clarification, and stage this defense (in 1905). Why? She needed to clarify the meaning of the „ONENESS‟ of the inseparable Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to prevent these ―three persons‖ being seen either as one indivisible Being in the Godhead of a ―Trio‖, or as some omni-present pantheistic substance or essence present in nature. The Father, as God, has always been seen through His co-equal Son, who, in essence, is all that He Himself is, with both represented by the, “third person of the Godhead” a “living person” of “three”. That is trinitarianism in the most basic terms, despite pioneering Adventism‘s rejection of the traditional explanation
27 of the unity of the three forming one Being. Notice carefully how Christ is seen as God by her, much like the Trinitarian of her time: “Christ Himself was the Lord of the temple [citing Is. 6:1-5]. When should He leave it, its glory would depart- that glory once visible in the holy of holies over the mercy seat…This was the Skekinah, the visible pavilion of Jehovah. It was this glory [notice, in a scene in heaven, not on earth] that was revealed to Isaiah when he says,‟ In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the *Lord [Christ Himself] sitting upon a throne high and lifted up…” -E.G. White, Manuscript 71, 1897 *N.B. – see John 12:36-42 to confirm this E.G. White explanation “It will baffle the keenest intellect to interpret the divine manifestation of the burning bush. It was not a dream; it was not a vision; it was a living [literal] reality – something that Moses saw with his eyes. He heard the voice of God calling to him out of the bush, and he covered his face, realizing that he stood in the immediate [not just representative] presence of God. God was conversing with humanity…Heaven came very near to him, and with reverent awe, he listened to the words „I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob‟! What wondrous condescension for God to *leave the Heavenly courts and manifest himself to Moses, talking to him face to face, „as a man speaketh unto his friend‟ [see Heb.11: 27]”. -E.G. White, Youth Instructor, December 13, 1900 “The burning bush, in which *Christ [God] appeared to Moses [after leaving the courts of Heaven] revealed God. The symbol chosen for the representation of *THE DEITY was a lowly shrub… This [bush] enshrined the Infinite. The all-merciful God shrouded his glory in a most humble type… It was Christ, who from the bush on Mount Horeb spoke to Moses saying,„I AM THAT I AM‟…” [Thus Jesus is also “I AM”, but as a separate person from the Father- see Genesis 18:1] -E.G. White, Desire of Ages, 1898, pages 22-24
*N.B. Jesus as “the Deity” and “the Infinite” spoke on both his own behalf, and his Father‘s
“Christ lived and died as a man, that he might be *God both of the living and of the dead” [some of the living refuse him as their God] -E.G. White, Letter 97, 1898 Thus, the post-1892 use of this ‗Trinitarian-type‘ kind of language (by Adventists), which is quite similar to that used by Trinitarians, is usually seized upon (by anti-Trinitarians, like the Jehovah‘s Witnesses) to mean that Jesus is being presented as the being of the Father Himself, simply because He is called our ―God‖, when this has never been so for Adventists. Now notice also why it is easy to mistakenly see the “absolute Godhead‖ as one person or being: ―Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them (Matt 18:20). Where *Christ is even among the humble few, this is Christ‟s church, for the presence of the HIGH AND LOFTY ONE WHO INHABITETH ETERNITY [Is. 57:15] can alone constitute a church” [The ‗Jesus-Only‘ adherents would be here confused] -E.G. White, Letter 108, October 28, 1886
28 This was a statement Mrs. White made two years before 1888, describing Christ with titles which some in Adventism had claimed before 1888 could only belong to the Father. However, notice how she expanded on this truth in the logical aftermath of 1888 and 1892. ―The name of God [Jehovah, I AM], given to Moses to express the idea of ETERNAL PRESENCE, has been claimed as his OWN [John 8:58,59] by this Galilean Rabbi [Jesus]. He had announced HIMSELF [not just the Father] to be the Self-Existent One…‖ - E.G. White, Desire of Ages, * 1898, pgs.469-470 ―I AM means an ETERNAL PRESENCE: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE…‖ -E.G. White Comments, S.D.A Bible Comm., Vol.1, pg. 1009 ―Christ was GOD *essentially, and IN THE HIGHEST SENSE. He was with [alongside] God [the person of the Father] FROM *ALL ETERNITY [Ps. 93:2/Micah 5:2]” E.G. White– S.D.A. Bible Comm., Vol. 5, pg. 1126 *N.B. – Notice her use of the words “essentially” ―He [Jesus] who said, ‗I lay down my life that I may take it again‘, came forth from the grave to life that was in Himself. Humanity died, divinity did not die. In his divinity Christ possessed the power to break the bonds of death… Only He [Jesus] who alone hath immortality, dwelling in light and life could say, ‗I have power to lay my life, and power to take it up again‖ [see 1 Tim 6:16] -E.G. White, S.D.A. Bible Comm., Vol. 6, pg. 1113 “It was Christ [‗the LORD‘] who spoke with Abraham under the oaks of Mamre [Gen 18:1]; with Isaac…with Jacob…with Moses” [compare Ex. 6:3] -E.G. White, Desire of Ages, pgs. 290-291 Thus the *exact representation of the Father through the distinct Son is clearly seen without confusing the Persons. This is trinitarianism in basic terms!!
NOTICE: 1. That, “many” in Adventism after 1888 now had to accept that almost every title applied to the Father is equally attributable to the Son, since they are “equal in all respects”. Thus the idea as expressed by several SDA pioneers before 1888 that only the Father is called “The High and Lofty One who inhabiteth Eternity”, or “the Blessed and only Potentate who only hath immortality”, or “the Self-Existent One” was, after 1888, repudiated by Mrs. White. 2. Also, the truths about the individual existence of Jesus “from all eternity” despite being “begotten”, and Him being “God in the highest [absolute] sense” were firmly established, along with why Pacific Press could agree with Trinitarians in most
29 things they believed in 1892, e.g. that the church should disregard those who say that Jesus is not from “all eternity” like the Father. 3. Clearly the ‗begetting‘ of Jesus (in the Biblical sense), from the Father, enhances His full Deity and “eternal” nature with the Father, it does not deny it, even if it cannot be explained. It must be accepted by faith! Too many Adventists (like myself in the past; no longer anyway) felt that the two ideas were Biblically conflicting. That idea needs to be changed since Mrs. White clearly believed He was both “begotten”, and at the same time ―God in the highest sense‖ “from all eternity”, as a “distinct person”. Clearly this truth is, “infinitely mysterious in itself, and incomprehensible”, but Mrs. White represented all true Adventists in acknowledging this fact, in 1906 (Review and Herald, April, 1906). While most traditional Trinitarians try to explain the ‗how‘ of his begetting, and some Adventists try to reconcile this truth with logic and theological exegesis, however, that is simply futile speculation, and speaks to the ‗awesomeness‘ of the nature of the Godhead! The point I think is already made – Waggoner and Jones were indeed right about the nature of Jesus; about him being fully equal with the Father as his “begotten‖ Son. However, Mrs. White went further than they did, in declaring Jesus to be an individual (“distinct‖) being ―from all eternity”, despite “begotten”, and, as the final quotes will show, that He is so “equal” with the Father that he is *ALSO “the Deity”, the “King of Glory”, and “Sovereign” [supreme ruler] of the universe, just like “the Almighty” Himself. This fact most Adventists have accepted. In fact, while opinions differed, Uriah Smith, who never seemed to accept Jesus‘ full ―distinct‖ eternal existence, was even prepared, after realizing the truth to some degree, to call Jesus “the Almighty”. Note his words from the 1897 version of his book, ―Daniel and the Revelation‖, before comparing the same idea in the words of Mrs. White, who was more pointed than he was. “He [Jesus] is seated with his Father upon the throne of*UNIVERSAL DOMINION and RANKS EQUALLLY WITH HIM…‖ -Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation, 1897, pg. 346 (paperback). *[Commenting on Rev. 1:8, Smith stated distinctly] “In declaring who he is, he [the Speaker] uses two of the same characteristics „Alpha and Omega‟… as found in Rev. 22:13, where according to verses 12 and 16 of that chapter [Rev. 12] it is plainly Christ who is speaking. We conclude then, that it is Christ who is speaking in [Rev.1]*VERSE 8‖ [as the Almighty‘]. -Uriah Smith, ibid. Pgs. 350-351 (paperback)
Notice how far he was prepared to go, in recognizing that MOST of the titles applied to the Father are equally attributable to Christ. Thus we can even call Jesus, “Everlasting Father” in prayer (Isaiah 9:6), and would in no way be discrediting, but instead honoring the Father equally with Him, despite they are separate!!
30 Notice too FURTHER AFFIRRMATION in absolute terms: “I am the Good Shepherd…This figure the prophet Isaiah had applied to the Messiah‟s mission, in the comforting words, „O Zion, that bringest good tidings… say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God…Is. 40:9-11. David had sung, „The LORD [Jehovah] is my shepherd… *Christ applied these prophecies to Himself [see Ps. 80:1]…” “Hosea will tell you, He [Jesus] is „the LORD [Jehovah] of Hosts; the LORD [the name] is His memorial‟, Hosea 12:5…” “Over the recent sepulcher of Joseph, Christ had proclaimed in triumph, „I am the resurrection, and the life‟. These words could be spoken only by *THE DEITY [the Supreme God]…only He who is one [in unity] with God [the Father] could say, „I have power to lay down my life‟… In His divinity Christ possessed the power to break the bonds of death!!” -E.G. White, Desire of Ages, 1898, Pgs 476, 578, 785
NOW NOTICE VERY CAREFULL AND FINALLY:
“Christ ascended to Heaven amidst a cloud of angels who glorified Him, saying, „Who is this KING OF GLORY?‟ And from thousands times ten thousands the answer comes, [He Jesus is] the Lord [Jehovah], He is the King of Glory‖. - E.G. White, Signs of the Times, May 10, 1899 “Unbelief [in Jesus as our ―Lord‖ and our ―God‖] is seldom overcome by controversy. It is rather put upon self-defense, and finds new support and excuse. But let Jesus, in His love and mercy, be revealed as the crucified Savior, and from the many once unwilling lips will be heard the acknowledgement of Thomas, * ―My Lord and my God‘‖ [Compare Exodus 20:3] -E.G. White, Desire of Ages, 1898, pgs. 807-808
Now, looking at what the expressions, “the Deity‖, ―Sovereign‖, “the LORD” and “equal” mean, in very many dictionaries, only heresy would deny that Jesus is ―co-equal‖ with the Father and is Himself ―God in the highest sense‖. Only heresy would return to the past restrictions of declaring that there cannot be more than one person as the “Highest Authority” or “Sovereign” [supreme] or “the Deity” in Heaven. It is clear that Jesus is all of these, by reason of being united with His Father, and by reason of, or by being His” only begotten Son”, thus “of one substance” with Him, and “equal with the Father in all respects”; but as a separate individual or being. Thus Jesus brings the Father‘s presence by being all that He Himself is in nature. But what about the Holy Spirit? The question is, how can the Holy Spirit not be all that the Father is, in substance, in authority, in rank, in divinity, if “God is spirit”, and, “the Lord is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:17,18)? Clearly the Spirit is God, but is He another person, the “third person of the Godhead”? See ―Landmark, No.5‖ on that matter.
31 If the foregoing expressions were not, in many respects, related to the Trinitarian type thinking, then why would Pacific Press, four years after 1888, in 1892, further present controversial views, and in essence declared itself pro-Trinitarian, by publishing a protrinitarian tract, which SDA pioneers themselves later spoke glowing about and which was never condemned by Mrs. White? Let us now look at this reality very, very closely, and in so doing recognize that the Dr. Spear‘s 1889 thesis of a ―trinity‖ of personalities (―trio‖), in the “Eternal Godhead”, may just be where the real truth is.
The First Publication of Trinitarian Teachings in Adventism (in 1892), and The Aftermath.
We now turn to the year 1892 (mentioned in the introduction), which was just four (4) years after 1888, and a few crucial things must now be noted. It was in 1892, long before the death of Mrs. White, that Pacific Press, published a proTrinitarian tract, entitled, “THE BIBLE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY”. And it was published as REPRESENTATIVE OF the S.D.A. church‘s growing majority; not published independently but officially, and thus Adventists cannot disown it. The article was originally titled in 1889 as ―the Subordination of Christ‖, but subsequently RENAMED ―the Bible Doctrine of the Trinity‖ by SDA pioneers themselves, and published as a missionary tool (―Bible Series, No 90‖) expressing what Adventists had come to believe/endorse…or at least was beginning to endorse in basic elements.
In fact, in 1892 and 1894 respectively here is what SDA pioneers said glowingly about the same Spear article quoted above: ―… We believe that it sets forth the Bible doctrine of the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with a devout adherence to the words of the Scripture, in the best brief way we ever saw it presented." -Signs of the Times , Vol.18, No.22, 1892. ―…It presents the Bible view of the doctrine of the Trinity in the terms used in the Bible, and therefore avoids all philosophical discussion and foolish speculation. It is a tract worthy of reading." -Signs of the Times, Vol. 20, No. 29, 1894
Now if anyone had doubts, regarding from what doctrinal thesis it was that Waggoner and Jones drew their carefully phrased expressions, which created so much controversy, and rejection by some in 1888, then this 1892 development leaves no honest person in doubt. Waggoner clearly saw some validity in most of the Trinitarian type thinking. Why else would Pacific Press, almost immediately after their 1888 controversial presentation (with A.T. Jones stressing so much the “of one substance” concept), then turn around and publish, an unabridged, non-Adventist pro-Trinitarian tract? And what was the tract saying in 1892?‖
CONTENT OF THE 1892 TRINITARIAN TRACT (BY DR. SAMUEL SPEAR)
Now here is some of what SDA pioneers published/endorsed as ―the Bible doctrine of the Trinity‖ way back in 1892, long before 1915 (note the distinct Trinitarian undertones and expressions, despite the article‘s rejection of the traditional explanation of ―the mode‖ of the Trinity): ―…The Godhead makes its appearance in the great plan for human salvation. God in this plan is brought before our thoughts under the personal titles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, with diversity in offices, relations, and actions toward men. These titles and their special significance, as used in the Bible, are not interchangeable. The term ―Father‖ is never applied to the Son, and the term ―Son‖ is never applied to the Father. Each title has its own permanent application, and its own use and sense. The distinction thus revealed in the Bible is the basis of the doctrine of the tri-personal God… The exact mode in which the revealed Trinity is … must be to us a perfect mystery, in the sense of our total ignorance on the point. We do not, in order to believe the revealed fact, need to understand this mode. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity—whether, as to its elements, taken collectively or separately — so far from being a dry, unpractical, and useless dogma adjusts itself to the condition and wants of men as sinners…. The truth is that God the Father in the primacy attached to Him in the Bible, and God the Son in the redeeming and saving work assigned to Him in the same Bible, and God the Holy Ghost in his office of regeneration and sanctification – whether considered collectively as one God, or separately in the relation of each to human salvation—are really omnipresent in, and belong to, the whole texture of the revealed plan for saving sinners." - The Bible doctrine of the Trinity- Pacific Press, 1892
Rather telling isn‘t it?
This tract declared:
1. On page 3, that “Jesus is truly divine and truly God in the absolute [highest and fullest] sense”; thus He‘s ―very God‖ as (in the same sense) He is said to be ―very man‖. 2. On page 4, that there is a clear “distinction between God the Father and Christ” as l persons, despite they are of the same order of being (existence or specie) 3. On page 5, that the “unity of the Godhead” consist of three Personalities 4. On page 6, that the “Arian” view is “fallacious”
33 5. On page 9, that there is “diversity in the offices, relations and actions towards men” on the part of the Persons of the Godhead, and that “Trinitarians are not tri-theists”, or believers in three Gods, but rather in three Personalities described as ―God‖ 6. On page 10, that the baptismal formula of Matt. 28:19 emphasizes the singular “name” of the “one Spirit”, the “one Lord‖, and the “one God and Father of all,” and
7. On page 14 that it is the three distinct Persons who make up, comprise, or are the constituent Persons of the ―divine trinity‖ of the Godhead. -N.B. The word ―trinity‖ (as a simple noun) simply means ―a group of three persons‖ in unity, just like the word, ―Trio‖. Now a release for the first time, of this type of tract from one of the two highest publishing houses of the S.D.A. Church, if it was not preceded by the CONTROVERSIAL 1888 General Conference, and time between 1888 and 1892, for those objecting to the 1888 Message to think over the new issues presented (for four years), then this 1892 occurrence would have resulted in the most widespread condemnation among most Adventists. Even more controversy than 1888 would have resulted, and a highly-publicized E.G. White commentary, in a way similar to, and even greater than her coming out, clearly and in no uncertain manner, against the Kellogg ―pantheistic‖ teachings in the late 1890s, and against his „heretical‟ book, ―The Living Temple‖ (1903). This 1892 move by Pacific Press would have to have been called the “alpha [beginning] of apostasy”, that is, if Mrs. White had objected; not the later Dr Kellogg ―heresies‖. But notice very carefully that: 1. There is no record of condemnation specifically related to this tract of 1892. This condemnation would have been necessary to prevent any future re-occurrence, or the confusion of the issues, that is, if the Pacific Press‘ action was so ‗abominable‘
2. M.L. Andreasen (another pioneer) would probably not have LATER reprinted this entire tract in a book that he wrote, entitled, “The Book of Hebrews” (1948), if the Pacific Press‟ actions were condemned, because he was a pioneer during the time when Mrs. White was alive, and saw the church‘s reactions to it then. 3. If E.J. Waggoner did not mean for his 1888 Message to be misconstrued and the A.T Jones ―of one substance‖ concept of the Godhead (equally presented in 1888) to be associated with trinitarianism, as it could have easily been, then why would Pacific Press make such a “blunder‖? And more importantly Mrs. White could not, for any justifiable reason, remain so completely silent on this specific event, since this would have been the introduction of ―heresy‖, as some detractors in Adventism today feel about the trinity. She could not leave any room for any confusion; that of comparing the Trinitarian creed with the “new” advancements in Adventist theology, that is, as it concerns the “constituent persons of the Eternal Godhead”.
34 This she could not have done if the actions of the Pacific Press in 1892 were so ‗abominable‘, as it probably would have been seen by some today. If “heresy” was involved, action was demanded; not silence! However, she remained completely silent unit her death, and never once, in all her writings, directly condemn this 1892 first time action of Pacific Press, nor directly name or condemn the doctrine of the trinity for that matter. What instead happened was she herself started to borrow Trinitarian phrases and expression subsequent to that, and tailor them to express „tailored‟ Trinitarianism herself. Plain and simple. Four years before 1892, in her most critical book “The Great Controversy” (1888 version) she said nothing about the trinity as spoke in detail, and listed the ―errors‖ of the Papacy. Now it stands to reason that if she had (by oversight) left out the trinity in her 1888 version of the book, then after 1892 she would be duty bound to now mention and speak clearly against the trinity. But again in 1911, when she revised the same book, she did NOT mention the Trinity. This would not be like her not to call by name this subject, if she had opposed it. Talk about circumstantial evidence! Well, there is more!! Uriah Smith (unlike Mrs. White) was, prior to 1892, vocal, and on record as an antiTrinitarian who NAMED and denounced the Trinity. In 1897 he revised his book ―Daniel and the Revelation‖, and he too REMARKABLY ignored or left out the trinity as an error of “Babylon” and the Papacy. If he too had made an earlier oversight in not listing the trinity as an error, and indeed as one of the ―fundamental errors‖, according to James White (prior to 1888 and 1892), how do you explain this 1897 revised version of his most memorable and detailed work on “Babylon” ignoring the trinity? How could he, after 1892, proceed to detail the errors of “Babylon” (in chapter 14), listing over twenty (20) false doctrines under the heading, “Babylon is Fallen”, and ignore what he was himself before 1888 declaring as the most fundamental error? If you read ANY unabridged and unedited copy of the 1897 version of ―Daniel and the Revelation‖, you are called upon to account for this curious absence of the trinity from his list of false doctrines, i.e. after the 1889 pro-Trinitarian tract of Dr. Samuel Spear, published by E.J. Waggoner himself in 1892. Dear reader, in all honesty, you are left with only one possible conclusion, one which fit all of the facts and happenings in the S.D.A. Church from 1888 to 1897: Uriah Smith also changed his position on the trinity as one of, or, as he himself felt before, the chief error of “Babylon”!! He was now (in 1897) evidently refusing to speak against it, even if he did not necessarily share all of the viewpoints the Pacific Press after 1888. And if you think there is another explanation, what justification can you give for him presenting such a long list of false doctrines, in detailing the errors of Babylon, and ignored what is regarded by anti-Trinitarians as the “mother of all heresies”? His own words made it clear what he now (in 1897) saw as critical, even after Dr. Spear‘s tract. “The Church which is to be prepared for the second coming of Christ must be entirely free from papal errors and corruptions. A reform must hence be made on the Sabbath question. The third angel of revelation 14 proclaim the commandment of God, leading men to the true Sabbath in place of the counterfeit.” -Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation, 1897, chapter 13, pg. 616 (paper back version).
35 Now, notice that he brought to the fore what the “third angel” saw as the most critical issue in rejecting the errors of “Babylon” - a rejection of the “counterfeit” Sabbath (Sunday), in favor of the unchanged law of God, which upholds the true seventh day Sabbath (Saturday). Notice even more carefully that, when he, in the following chapter (chapter 14), highlighted the other counterfeit doctrines of “Babylon”, which are to be likewise rejected, he totally ignored the trinity! Oversight? Unthinkable! It is futile to speculate and ‗manufacture‘ arguments to account for this curious absence of the trinity in Smith‘s main work on “Babylon”, and also in Mrs. White‘s main work on “Babylon”, ―The Great Controversy‖ (the 1888 and 1911 versions), if the logical arguments do not have a bearing on the circumstantial evidence, and especially considering what took place in1892. To close on the fourth ―landmark‖ (the 1892 Trinitarian tract, and the aftermath) it must be said to those in Adventism who are now proclaiming that the trinity, not the false Sabbath (Sunday), is what will ‗ecumenically‘ unite all of Christendom in the future, be careful not to make of non-effect the visions of Mrs. White herself, who declared: “Clinging to the papal error of natural immortality, and man‟s consciousness in death, they have rejected the only defense against the delusion of spiritualism…. As the work of Sabbath reform extends… rejection of the divine law to avoid the claims of the fourth commandment will become well-nigh *UNIVERSAL… Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness [the trinity not even mentioned], Satan will bring the people [of the ecumenical movement in the future] under his deceptions. While the former [soul immortality] lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter [Sunday sacredness] creates a *BOND of sympathy with Rome.” -E.G White, Great Controversy, 1911, pgs.586-587 Again you will notice no mention of the trinity. And this came not from just scholastic interpretation of prophecy, or from speculation, but from the eyes of vision seeing into the future. Today it seems that the Trinity is an article of ecumenism, but where is the evidence that *after 1892 the Adventist pioneers (including Mrs. White) felt this will be the real issue? In the first place it can be seen that many of the Protestant Churches (e.g. Pentecostals, or ―Jesus only‖ believers of large numbers) do not even subscribe to the trinity, and yet are part of the ecumenical movement. They subscribe to the more commonly held Sunday observance, and supposed soul immortality. Secondly, only the false doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul (Satan‘s first earthly lie), and Sunday observance (more than any other) are clearly held by most of Christendom, Trinitarians and anti-Trinitarians alike (e.g. the Watch Tower observe Sunday, as their main meeting and worship time, out of convenience, despite they are anti-Trinitarians). Thirdly, and critically, we are not left to speculate, because the foregoing quote, from the visions of Mrs. White, and the following from her husband before his death, are instructive: “The principal difference between the two bodies [the Trinitarian Seventh-day Baptists, and nonTrinitarian Adventists in 1876] is the immortality question [both were Sabbath keepers]. The S.D.As hold the divinity of Christ [even before 1888 and the 1892 trinitarian tract] so nearly with the Trinitarian that we apprehend no trial here…Seventh-day Adventist cannot afford a controversy [with the Trinitarian Baptists] on doctrines which neither regard as tests of Christian character.” -James White, R. & H., October 12, 1876,pg. 116
36 What is true is that the Adventist can afford a controversy on the “immortality” and the “Sabbath” questions, clearly issues of distinction between the true and the false *Church (as indicated by Mrs. White), despite only Christ‘s righteousness can fit one for Heaven. Always remember that the trinity was never NAMED and placed on record (thus cannot be quoted) to be an issue of concern for Mrs. White, and, I say here, this speaks volumes in unanswerable tones of silence, which is as loud as if she had shouted from the rooftop. Why? When she began repeatedly to speak clearly on ―Godhead‖ issues, it was in the post- 1888 and post-1892 period, when Pacific Press had already accommodated non-Adventist literature on the trinity, which was published within the church. This move was representative of the changing ideology among some pioneers long before 1915 or 1931. No one can disprove the fact that the 1892 Trinitarian tract was published, and thus must account for the aftermath of silence from Mrs. White, and the limited resistance from the majority of the pioneers. Denial of the fact is simply futile attempt at ‗escape‘. If the 1892 Trinitarian tract was a reversal of the truths presented in the in 1888, about the “constituent persons of the Eternal Godhead”, why is there so little anti-Trinitarian sentiments expressed by the leading pioneers after 1892? If this 1892 occurrence were not representative of changed sentiments, then the bulk of the anti-Trinitarian expressions of the pioneers would have come after 1892, not before. Written anti-Trinitarian expressions among Adventists became significantly less after 1892, and the following pre-1915 sentiments were increasingly appearing on record, until in 1913 (I didn‟t say 1931) the Church declared for the first time its belief in the Trinity while Mrs. White was still alive (despite differences in explanation from the traditional version):
1900 ―[The Holy Spirit] is one with and sent by the Father and the Son… He [the Holy Spirit] would make us know His personality, but ever IN LIVING CONNECTION with Christ… Let Him [the Spirit] make you know, beloved, how surprisingly beautiful are the BLENDED PERSONALITIES of our *TRIUNE GOD (!!) manifested by the personal presence of the Holy Ghost.‖ ―Blended Personalities‖, Review and Herald, Vol. 77, April 3, 1900, pg. 210 1909 There is a trinity, and in it there are three personalities…We have the Father described in Dan. 7:9, 10…a personality surely…In Rev. 1:13-18 we have the Son described. He is also a personality… The Holy Spirit is spoken of throughout Scripture as a personality. These divine persons are associated in the work of God…But this union is not one in which individuality is lost…There is indeed a divine trio, but the Christ of that Trinity is not a created being as the angels- He was the ―only begotten‖ of the Father…‖ Robert Hare, Australasian Union Conference Record, July 19, 1909 1913
In 1913 a statement of some of the points of the SDA faith was published on page 21 of the October 9 edition of The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. The following is the section important for our study, revealing quite clearly how modern SDA anti-Trinitarians are debunked and continue to be debunked) by our own historical records regarding what Adventist came to believe WHILE MRS WHITE WAS STILL ALIVE:
37 "For the benefit of those who may desire to know more particularly the cardinal features of the faith held by this denomination, we shall state that Seventh-day Adventists believe, 1. In the divine Trinity. This Trinity consists of the eternal Father, a personal, spiritual being, omnipotent, omniscient, infinite in power, wisdom, and love; of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the eternal Father, through whom all things were created, and through whom the salvation of the redeemed hosts will be accomplished; the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, the one regenerating agency in the work of redemption..." F.M. Wilcox, SDA pioneer, chief writer and editor at the time, whom Mrs. White herself recommended among those charged to guard her estate upon her death (thus he was no heretic) was careful to point out exactly what was meant in the 1913 SDA Statement of Belief, when he explained: We [Adventists] recognize the divine Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, each possessing a distinct and separate personality, but one in nature and in purpose, so welded together in this infinite union that the apostle James speaks of them as "one God." James 2:19. This divine unity is similar to the unity existing between Christ and the believer, and between the different believers in their fellowship in Christ Jesus…” - F.M. Wilcox, Christ is Very God, Review and Herald
And get this too. Mrs. White was actively publishing even up to this point in 1913 (despite her age) because an article from her appeared in the very same publication right beside this first Trinity belief declaration of Adventists. Now, Mrs. White, who was so pointed in calling sin, ―sin‖, and error, ―error‖, and clearly listed and called by name, or described directly the errors of “Babylon”, would not, could not ignore calling direct attention to what some call the “mother of all heresies” (the trinity), that is, if she saw it as such. However, notice her clear words below, regarding what is the ―mother of all heresies”. See also Appendix 1 for more on the pioneers after 1892. “No error accepted by the Christian world strikes more boldly against the authority of Heaven, none is more directly opposed to the dictates of reason, none is more pernicious in its results, than the modern doctrine, so rapidly gaining ground, that God‟s law is no longer binding upon men [including the Sabbath command]” -E.G. White, Great Controversy, 1911, pg.583 This writer is thus not left to speculate or ‗clutch at straws‘ of possible ‗hints‘ here or there. The foregoing is plain for all to see. If trinitarianism broke the first commandment, then Mrs. White would have no choice but refer to it directly. Did she see it as such? Well let us now look at ―Landmark No. 5‖ to discover more telling evidence which declares a resounding, NO, NO, NO!
LANDMARK No. 5:
Personalizing the Holy Spirit in Adventism After 1888 (1892-1915) - The Key to Trinitarianism
Let us begin here with these provoking quotations: ―The only true anti-Trinitarian is one who rejects the ‗trio‘ of personalities existing in, and operating within the Godhead, and teaches that the Holy Spirit is a force‖ [this fact the Watchtower‘s, ‗Jehovah‘s Witnesses‘ know to be very true]. - Anonymous ―No circumstances, no distance can separate us from the Heavenly Comforter [the Holy Spirit]. Wherever we are, wherever we may go, He is always there, One [notice, „some-One‟, not ‗something‘] given [by the Father] in Christ‘s place, to act in His stead [as a Representative]‖ -E.G. White, That I May Know Him, pg. 171 N.B. Certainly, the words, ―One given‖ [as a Representative], are profound and can hardly be explained away. In 1896, the Review and Herald publishing house, probably for the first time in all of Adventist history, officially published the following type of statement in Adventism: “He [the Holy Spirit] is included in the apostolic benediction [2 Cor.13: 14], and is spoken by our Lord [Jesus] as acting in an INDEPENDENT and PERSONAL [thus individual] capacity as Teacher, Guide, and Comforter. He is an object of *VENERATION [honor, reverence], and is A [singular] Heavenly INTELLIGENCE, everywhere present, and is always present [Heb. 9:14]. But as limited beings we cannot understand the problems, which the contemplation of *the DEITY presents, to our minds.” -G.C. Tenny- “To Correspondents”, Review& Herald, June 9, *1896, pg. 362 *N.B. “Veneration” – comes from Latin, “Venerari” – which means, “to worship”!! This was the first time, as far as this writer knows that such a statement was published in Adventism, setting forth the ‗personhood‘ and independence (thus individuality) of the Holy Spirit, and presenting Him as “a heavenly intelligence”, who is an “object of veneration”. Service to, honor, reverence or ―veneration‖ being given to the Holy Spirit is a Trinitarian concept!! One only has to read the Nicene Creed and that reality is undeniable. Semi-Arians in Adventism today (modern anti0Trinitarians) see this idea as ‗abominable‘ that is, serving the Holy Spirit as you would serve the Father and the Son, not just responding to His impulses or urgings by being obedient. Yet here again they are debunked by their own historical records. Four years before this 1896 statement, in 1892, Pacific Press published the straight Trinitarian hypothesis in tract form, while, in that same year, Mrs. White for the first time directly referred to the Holy Spirit as a “being”. Evidence? Well here it is:
39 ―The Savior‘s [Jesus‘] life and death and resurrection, the ministry of angels, the pleading of the Spirit, the Father working above and through all… the unceasing interest of Heavenly *BEINGS – all are enlisted in behalf of man‘s redemption.‖ -E.G. White, Steps to Christ, *1892, pgs. 20,21 No true Adventist will deny that in Heaven (apart from the already translated saints, e.g. Enoch, Elijah, and Moses), there are two sets of “Heavenly beings”, namely, the angels, and the members of the Godhead (Father, Son, and yes, the Holy Spirit). Now notice carefully here that Mrs. White clearly lists the Holy Spirit as *one of the “Heavenly beings”, showing “unceasing interest” in, and is “enlisted in behalf of man‟s redemption”. And why would she call upon Him as one of the ―three Great Worthies‖ or ―three holiest Beings‖ in prayer (!!) if inspiration did not lead her to see Him as an entity. Do you number a non-entity, and call upon it? Carefully take note of her later clarifying statement in 1906: ―You are baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. You are raised up out of the water to live henceforth in newness of life--to live a new life. You are born unto God, and you stand under the sanction and the power of THE THREE HOLIEST *BEINGS IN HEAVEN, who are able to keep you from falling. You are to reveal that you are dead to sin; your life is hid with Christ in God. Hidden "with Christ in God,"--wonderful transformation. This is a most precious promise. When I feel oppressed, and hardly know how to relate myself toward the work that God has given me to do, I just *CALL UPON THE THREE GREAT WORTHIES, and say; You know I cannot do this work in my own strength. You must work in me, and by me and through me, sanctifying my tongue, sanctifying my spirit, sanctifying my words, and bringing me into a position where my spirit shall be susceptible to the movings of the Holy Spirit of God upon my mind and character. And this is the prayer that every one of us may offer. . .‖ -E.G. White, Manuscript Release, Vol.7, pgs. 267, 268 (Ms 95, 1906, pp. 8-12, 1417; "Lesson from Romans 15," October 20, 1906.) Now, some faced with this truth may quickly respond, ―but the Holy Spirit is not really seen as an individual being since other pioneers stated otherwise‖. See again the 1896 Review and Herald quote, as outlined before. Well, who says that full unity in this matter was immediately achieved after 1892, or 1896? However the truth of the root meaning of words cannot be denied. What does the word “independent” mean? What does “personal capacity” mean? What does “One given” (as a Representative) mean? What does ―representative‖ mean? What does ―three beings‖ means? Some would force the word “Representative” to *falsely mean the ―actual presence‖ of the Father and Son when it relates to the “Third Person of the Godhead”, yet declare Jesus as the “Representative” of the Father in a different sense, that is, ‗not actual presence‟. That is what dishonesty, and truth ―twisting‖ is all about. One cannot send Himself, and yet the Spirit is repeatedly sent by BOTH the Father and Jesus, just as Jesus was by the Father and the Spirit (see Is. 48:16), and so he is not the person of the Father or the Son literally. Notice now the indisputable sequence of events in Adventism, which makes the matter so clear. In 1898, immediately after the (earlier quoted) 1896 statement from G.C. Tenny, then came the new “Desire of Ages” publication of Mrs. White, declaring for the first time that the
40 Holy Spirit is the “third Person of the Godhead” (remember only Trinitarians at the time were speaking of the Spirit as the third person of the Godhead; not anti-Trinitarians). One year after that, in 1899, she then stated in “Counsels on Health”, on page 222 (excerpted from an 1899 speech made), that the “Godhead” of ―Father, Son *AND HOLY SPIRIT gave Themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption”. Now it is logical that only an individual can have a „self‟ to „give‟, even if he is ―sent‖ by another. The same way Jesus was ―sent‖ by his Father, but gave Himself, is the same way that Mrs. White described the Holy Spirit, after the „doctrinal turning point‟ of 1888. When you combine all of these expressions concerning the Holy Spirit– His independence, His ―personal capacity‖, Him being ―a heavenly intelligence‖, Him being one of the ―heavenly beings‖, and Him being also an ―object of veneration‖, as the ―third person of the Godhead‖ – what do you get? A Trinitarian type concept of the Holy Spirit!! To say otherwise would mean dishonesty, and or ignorance of the meanings of words. Now, not many Adventists know this, but it is a fact that even ‗Catholics‘ have fully endorsed the book, “Desire of Ages”, and even went as far as advertising and recommending it to ‗Catholics‘ for reading, in the “Universal Fatima News”, of 1965!! Why? Because Roman Catholics felt that it was not just a sterling discourse on the life of Christ, but is also theologically sound as far as basic Trinitarian thinking goes. Yes! That‘s how they saw it in September 1965. Now it is logical to assume that the ‗Catholics‘ know what they teach (at least at that level), and would not promote that which does not compare with, or is not close in essence to what they believe! I have already stated that this does not mean that there are not some differences in what the Adventist pioneers after 1892, came to accept, and what ‗orthodox‘ Trinitarians believe. But notice that the closeness was sufficient grounds for Mrs. White not to condemn the Trinitarian type thinking, and for the Roman Catholics to endorse her teachings. Roman Catholics would not endorse the ―Desire of Ages‖ referring to the ―third person of the Godhead‖, if it did not reflect Trinitarian type thinking. They would not recommend a book referring to Jesus, as “the begotten” Son of the Father, who was Himself also called “the Deity”, and “Jehovah” (or “LORD God”), as a result of being the Son of God, if that was not Trinitarian type thinking! That too is beyond dispute, as is also the fact that Mrs. White never once named trinitarianism, as a subject to be condemned. Remember the book, “The Great Controversy”? Remember “Daniel and the Revelation” of 1897? Even Uriah Smith, who was vocally anti-Trinitarian before 1892, became, it seemed, tolerant of the Pacific Press‟ 1892 Trinitarian tract, and he too (just like Mrs. White) did not decry, much more condemn trinitarianism after 1892. Remember how he did not list the trinity as an error of Babylon in his unabridged 1897 version of “Daniel and the Revelation”? That too is beyond dispute, and speaks volumes about how he responded to 1892. Now dear reader, whether you agree with these observations or not, it is a fact that you must pause and give them some amount of thought. It should also be remembered that, what would make any doctrine draw support from the Trinitarians (of the Roman Catholic order of thinking), despite some differences, would of necessity have to be the declarations: 1. That, with the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit too must be equally an “object of veneration” and must be “served” (according to Mrs. White), despite religious service of this nature only should be given to ―the Lord thy God‖ or “ALL that is called God” [see 2 Thess. 2:4]. You do not number, and venerate, etc, a non-entity!!
41 2. That the Holy Spirit, just like Jesus, is part of the Godhead, and thus “must also be a divine person”, the “third person of the Godhead”, proceeding from (and is sent by) both the Father and the Son, and who, with the Father and Son together form the “Great Threefold [unity of three] Power” [Authority], as stated by Mrs. White in S.D.A. Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, page 1102. 3. That Jesus is “equal with the Father in all respects”, is a “distinct person” while “of one substance” with Him, that is, “begotten” from His substance, but is also “from all eternity” as a “distinct person”; all believed to be true by Mrs. White (as already proven or will hereafter proven). The above would serve the criteria of being seen as basic Trinitarianism, whatever the prophetic truth is about the Papacy as the “man of sin”. Truth is truth, no matter if Roman Catholics mishandled that truth. That truth about trinitarianism is what Pacific Press recognized in 1892, and chose to align itself with, despite its sad history of being associated with those who mix truth with error. Read again the preceding chapter in this presentation, “Landmark No.4”, and see whether you can disregard or successfully refute all of those critical considerations. It would take considerable “kicking against the pricks” to do so. Denial will not silence the conscience. It must be seen that all that took place in the Adventist Church between 1888 and 1892, from 1896 to1899, and then from 1900 to 1913, as described in this book so far, was simply a matter of, ‗one thing leads to another‘. The question is, why are the detractors today so ‗ignorant‘ of these pre-1915 facts, especially the 1892 Trinitarian tract? Could it be that they chose to become aware of, or probably just select only those events, and doctrinal expressions of some pioneers, which can be skillfully manipulated to give a certain slant or impression, while ignoring the others? It is hardly an argument worth worrying about, that some pioneers still opposed the trinity in writing even after 1888 and 1892, because that was only natural. What must be seen is what was gradually taking place: a new way of thinking was presented by a few in 1888, then expanded on in 1892, endorsed by and expanded on by Mrs. White in 1888 and after 1892, but was RESISTED BY SOME IN THE CHURCH. Another indisputable fact is that if you look at the anti-Trinitarian sentiments of the Adventist pioneers, it will strike a careful analyzer that the ‗bulk‘ of them came before 1888 and 1892. The opposition continued after 1892, but faded out and became *less over the years following 1892. Notice I said “less”, not absent. This is simply explained by the fact that Arian and semi-Arian thinking existed after 1892 but alongside Trinitarian thinking among the pioneers, EVEN WHILE MRS. WHITE WAS ALIVE!! Some still showed resistance (as some still do today), and an unwillingness to break with the past. Even Mrs. White‘s own son, William White, after her death in 1915, said he was “perplexed” over some things written by his mother in the period after 1892, and wished he could have understood some of these statements as it concerned Godhead issues. Of course he gave his personal opinions which, at times, reflected what many in the pre-1892 period thought, especially as it concerned the ‗personhood‘ of the Holy Spirit that his mother eventually prayed to as one of the ―three Great Worthies‖: the third of ―the three holiest beings in heaven‖. However, it can be seen that gradually the Church came to a more full understanding of Bible
42 truth; “old truth” seen in a “new light”, which the ‗prophetess‘ was leading Adventism back to, despite resistance. This can be clearly seen, for instance, in 1890 (2 years after 1888), when an Adventist pioneer, initials “J.W.W.” [J.W. Westphal?], asked: “Are we [Adventists] to understand that the Holy Ghost is a person, the same as the Father and the Son? Some [among us] claim that it is, others that it is not.” -Review and Herald, October 28, 1890 Some today say that the Adventist Church was never divided on this issue before or after 1888. Only dishonesty, or a morbid desire to paint the “perfect picture” of a “perfect” pioneering Church, would fail to see that full unity in 1890 was not yet achieved on Godhead issues. Even up to that point, in 1890, the issue of the ‗personhood‘ of the Holy Spirit was not yet a settled issue in Adventism, contrary to what some today claim. Uriah Smith was among those who did not believe the Holy Spirit to be a person, as is clearly evident from his answer to the above question in 1890; a question which would be unnecessary if it was a settled issue. He clearly said: “Respecting this Spirit, the Bible uses expressions which cannot be harmonized with the idea that it is a person like the Father and Son. Rather it is shown to be a *DIVINE INFLUENCE…” -Uriah Smith, ibid However, Mrs. White, G.C. Tenny (quoted earlier), A.T. Jones, along with M.L. Andreasen, R.A. underwood, F.M. Wilcox, etc, were among those breaking with past thinking; and declared the Holy Spirit‘s personal independence, and distinct/separate „personhood‟ (He is “a person as God is a person” Mrs. White personally said), even though He is seen as inseparably linked to the Father and the Son. Why else would Mrs. White state categorically (after 1890) the following? ―The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, in Christ's name. He personifies Christ, yet is a distinct personality.‖ -E.G. White, Manuscript Release, Vol. 20, pg. 324 “The Holy Spirit HAS [note „has‟] a PERSONALITY… He MUST ALSO BE A DIVINE PERSON” [seems clear enough]. Evangelism, pg. 615, excerpted from a *1905 manuscript There is a clear difference between saying „something [the Spirit] is the personality‟ (or expression) of another, and in saying instead that*someone [the Holy Spirit]―has a personality‖ [of His own], simply because He is ― a divine person‖ ―AS God is a person‖ among ―three persons‖ who are divine; not just two. The latter expression is clearly what Mrs. White emphasized, by even saying, there are ―three living [literal, real, genuine] personalities‖ in the Godhead, or ―three holiest beings in heaven‖ who can ALL be called
43 upon in prayer. Oh how sad it is when someone will twist and deny these clear meanings, and lead others astray!! Notice carefully: “The Comforter that Christ promised to send after He ascended to Heaven is the Spirit in all the fullness of the Godhead [compare Col. 2:9]. There are three LIVING [literal, real genuine] personalities [persons] of the Heavenly Trio” [group of three persons]. - E.G. White, Evangelism, pg. 615, excerpted from a *1905 manuscript Notice how far Mrs. White was prepared to lead the Church regarding ‗personhood‘ of the Holy Spirit, after her 1898 affirmation that the Holy Spirit is the ―third Person of the Godhead”, not just a “personality” (see “Desire of Ages”, 1898, pgs.469-470). Now the question could be asked, why did it take over forty (40) years (after the church‘s 1844 inception), for her to make this, and the following clarifying statements, regarding the Holy Spirit‘s nature? 1899 - “The Godhead was stirred with pity for the race, and [not just] the Father, [but also] the Son *AND the Holy Spirit gave Themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption.” -E.G. White, Counsels on Health, pg. 222 (from an 1899 speech) Feb. 27, 1899- “He [Jesus] determined to give His Representative, the third Person of the Godhead [the Holy Spirit;, ‗One given to act in Christ‘s place‘]” -E.G. White, Bible Echo 1900 – The Holy Spirit is one of the “Three Persons” of the Godhead – S.D.A. Bible Comm., Vol. 6, pg. 1074 (from Manuscript 57) 1901 – He is one of “The [Three] Eternal Heavenly Dignitaries” of the Godhead, and one of the “Three Powers, Infinite and Omniscient” in the Godhead – S.D.A Bible Com., Vol. 6, pg. 1075, (from Manuscript No. 145) 1901 – He is a member of “The Great Threefold [unity of three] Power” [Authority] – S.D.A. Bible Comm., Vol. 6, pg. 1102 (from Manuscript 11) In brief commentary it can be said that while some today, unwittingly, play games and semantic „hopscotch‟ with the words ―person‖ (being) and ―personality‖, the same *cannot be done with the words, ―three holiest beings‖, ―three great personal dignitaries‖, ―eternal heavenly dignitaries‖. The Spirit is a divine ―being‖, a ―personal dignitary‖ or ―living person‖ of three‖. Plain and simple. That is how Mrs. White truly saw the Holy Spirit after 1888, ―One given to act in Christ‘s place‖, that is, after Pacific Press proclaimed the ―constituent persons of Eternal Godhead‖, by endorsing Dr. Samuel Spear‟s Trinitarian tract in 1892. The Adventist Church therefore had a firm foundation on which to fully formulate its doctrine on the Holy Spirit, that is, after 1892 when it was made clear to those agreeing. Thus in 1915, A.G. Daniels, the then General Conference President (who served for 21 years), could then officially declare, at Mrs. White funeral service, that in her teachings:
44 “The Holy Spirit, the third *PERSON of the Godhead, and Christ‟s Representative on earth is set forth [by her] and *exalted [venerated] as the Heavenly Teacher and Guide sent to this world by our Lord…[notice the repeated use of the words “Third Person”]” -A.G. Daniels – Review & Herald, August 5, 1915 (as reported by F.M. Wilcox, another pioneer, in “Testimony of Jesus”, 1934, pg.43) Why could he now be so bold and reject Uriah Smith‘s (and even William White‘s) view of Him not being a person in the true sense? All he was doing was echoing Mrs. White‘s confessions; what many in Adventism had been resisting just before and after her death (which Willie White, her own son, was ―perplexed‖ about; confessions also stating that: ―When we have accepted Christ, and …have pledged ourselves t o *SERVE God, the Father, Christ *AND the Holy Spirit, the Three Dignitaries…pledge THEMSELVES that every facility will be given us if we carry out our…vows‖ – E.G. White, Manuscript 85, 1901 Some today in Adventism, make much ado about their description of the Holy Spirit‘s nature, nailing it down to either “the extension of the Father”, or the “split personality” of the Father and the Son – all the while usurping and denying the counsels of Mrs. White on this matter. Clearly we are not left to speculate about ―who‖ the Holy Sprit is – He is the ―third person of the Godhead‖; He is ―One given‖ as ―Christ‘s Representative on earth‖; He is ―the Comforter‖; ―He personifies Christ, yet is a distinct personality‖; He is one of the ―three living [literal, or genuine] personalities of the Heavenly Trio‖; He is one of the ―Eternal Heavenly Dignitaries‖; and He is one of the ―three holiest beings‖ or three ―Highest Authorities in Heaven‖. That was Mrs. White‟s testimony about who the Holy Sprit is. However, concerning ―what‖ He is – whether an “extension”, or “split personality”, or “projection of the Father”, or “transported energy” of the Father and Son, like a telephone connection – all are speculations failing to accept Mrs. White‘s plain counsels stating that, just the Father: “It is not essential for us to be able to define just *WHAT [not ‗who‘, but ‗what‘] the Holy Sprit is. Christ tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, „the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father‟. It is plainly declared regarding the Holy Spirit that, in His work guiding men into all truth, „ He shall not speak of Himself‟ (John 15:26; 16:13). The nature of the Holy Spirit is a MYSTERY. Men cannot explain it [the nature]. Many having fanciful views may bring together passages of Scripture and put a human construction on them, but the acceptance of these views will not strengthen the Church. Regarding such MYSTERIES, which are too deep for human understanding, silence is golden. The office of the Holy Sprit is distinctly specified in the words of Christ: [declaring „who‟ He is] When He is come; He will reprove the world of sin… „He shall receive of mine and shall shew it unto you” [―He shall speak what He hears‖, clearly from the Father and Jesus- John 16:13, 14]. -E.G. White, Acts of the Apostles, pgs. 51,52 This was the same conviction, and testimony of pioneer, G.C. Tenny, in the 1896 Review and Herald, that is, accepting the same “problems” related to the Spirit‘s nature, in
45 “contemplating the Deity”. He was content, like Mrs. White, to accept ―whom‖ the Spirit is, but left, unmolested, the subject of ―what‖ He is, preferring rightly to see it a ―mystery‖. Today, it is interesting to see some in Adventism, seeking to uphold the pioneers, not only reject this counsel, but, through logical reasoning and intellectual arrogance, even draw diagrams to show the “extension of” the Spirit, proceeding from the Father, and mediating through the Son to all creation. And yet forgetting this is the same concept held by ‗orthodox‘ Trinitarians, who, in accepting the ―mysterious personality‖ of the Holy Spirit, even try to represent the nature of the Godhead in pictures and diagrams. “Oh what a tangled web we weave…” This writer stands on firm foundation in accepting the following: 1. While Jesus was on earth He spoke of the Sprit that “proceedeth from the Father”, but now that He has returned to His place of equal glory with the Father, the Holy Spirit “proceeds” also “from the Savior” (Jesus) – See Acts of the Apostles, by E.G. White, pg. 284, and confirm in Rom.8: 9 2. “The Holy Spirit is [‗representationally‘] Himself [Jesus], divested of the [limiting] personality OF HUMANITY [not ‗divested of personality‘ but ‗of the personality of humanity‘]…He would represent Himself *AS [like or as if He was] present in all places, by His Holy Spirit”. - E.G. White, Manuscript Release, No. 1084 3. It is speculation and presumption, which manufactures argument to say ―what‖ the Holy Spirit is, to belittle the declared truth of ―who‖ He is. It is heresy, which denies the ―MYSTERY” of His nature, and tries to assume more than that which has been revealed; all the while asking, “where is the third person?” Jesus, the final authority on the subject of the Holy Spirit, said, “He shall not speak of himself” (John 16:13), and clearly He [the Spirit] has not. Thus the reason for all the mystery! There is no danger in declaring, “thus saith the Lord” about the Spirit, even if what is declared cannot be thoroughly explained to satisfy the need for reconciling with all logic. That is the truth about how Adventism advanced to a more Biblical view of the Holy Spirit‘s nature, “confirmed in the Spirit” (or the writings of Mrs. White).
LANDMARK No. 6:
The First Trinitarian Statement in 1913, and Official Acceptance by an Adventist General Conference Committee (in 1931)
We now come to that very crucial year in Adventist history, 1931. You will notice that so far nothing was said about Leroy Froom. He is said by detractors in Adventism to be the first person to inject Trinitarian type thinking among Adventists (in the 1920s), when he used (for the first time, it is claimed) non-Adventist writings or literature on the Trinity, as he did a series of
46 studies among Adventists on the personality of the Holy Spirit. By now you realize that this assumption is far from true. While it is true that Froom did use non-Adventist literature on the Holy Spirit, he was not the first, and he did not even go as far as Pacific Press did in 1892 to *PUBLISH (almost unabridged) a non-Adventist pro-Trinitarian tract, neither was he the first to declare, as F.M. Wilcox did in 1913, in an official editorial in Adventism‘s Review and Herald magazine (and as chief editor), that SD Adventists had come to ―believe in the divine Trinity‖!! Now dear reader, lest one may take this lightly, it must be remembered that the 1892 tract spoke about the “Divine Trinity” as a * “Bible Doctrine” and it defended “Trinitarians” in saying they “are not tri-theists” even while believing in a “clear distinction between God, the Father and Christ” (and the personality of the Holy Spirit) who are, however, united by the singular “name” of the “One Spirit”, the “One Lord”, and the “One God and Father of all” (Matt, 28:19). Why should I point out again that this is basic trinitarianism that Pacific Press published, and that Adventism‘s Signs of the Times magazine declared itself supportive of the same article twice, in 1892 and 1894 respectively (without any rebuke from Mrs. White, mind you), when it is self evident to he who will to his own self be true? Your conscience, dear reader, tells you that this event in Adventism, and Mrs. White‘s silence on the trinity*after 1892 is a powerful argument. We now come to the period after Mrs. White died, that is, after 1915. Some declare that Leroy Froom influenced the General Conference towards trinitariansim in the 1920‘s, because Mrs. White was now out of the way to arrest the so-called, “apostasy”. However, that too will fall by the wayside when the true facts are examined carefully by anyone interested in the historical facts; facts, which are as unbeatable as the truth about the year in which Adventism first published Trinitarian teachings (1892). In the General Conference “Minutes” of December 29, 1930 are the following (easily proven) words (in verbatim). Inserts and emphases are mine:
“Statement of Faith For Year Book –
A request was presented by the African Division [not Leroy Froom] that a statement of what S.D.A‟s. believe should be printed in the year book, since they felt that such a statement would help government officials and others to a better understanding of our work. -Voted; that the chair [C.H. Watson, G.C. president] appoint a committee of which he shall be a member, to prepare such a statement for publication in the year book. -Named: M.E. Kern, F.M. Wilcox, E.R. Palmer, C.H. Watson [G.C. president]”. – General Conference Minutes, Dec. 29, 1930, pg. 195
COMMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS
1. First of all, notice carefully that the above is the report of what was voted on by a meeting of the world body of Adventists (the General Conference); not a clandestine group. A new statement was requested for the “Yearbook”; not for debate and putting to vote. Why did they not just ask for a reprint of the old statement, which existed from 1899? A request of this nature (not from Froom of course) meant that for many years the last printed statements of belief, i.e. the ones before F.M. Wilcox‘s 1913 Trinity Statement of Belief in the editorial of Review and Herald, was not fully
47 comprehensive, as it was appearing in the Adventist yearbook. Was this only happening after Mrs. White (the leading pioneer) died? The truth is, NO! Edson Rodgers became the G.C. statistician from 1903 (to 1941), and since that time, even while Mrs. White was alive, he was agitating for a *new statement of belief because much had changed in Adventist thinking since 1888. This again is self-evident. Remember the 1892 Trinitarian tract published by Pacific Press, and the gradual personalizing of the Holy Spirit after 1892 (the very key to trinitarianism)? It is also self-evident that because there was ongoing conflict about the new doctrinal changes in Adventism since 1888, it just so happened that the last statements of belief (written while Mrs. White was alive, and before 1913) did not take into account all issues eventually agreed upon.
2. The official request from the African Division, headed by President J.F. Wright at the time, made the earlier unheeded requests of Edson Rodgers even more forceful and thus led to final action. This just happened to be the series of events as they unfolded, not some ‗diabolical plot‘ (as some would think) to wait until the old pioneers all died off to then change Adventist thinking. And by the way, several of the pioneers who worked alongside E.G. White were still very much alive. The facts will show hereafter that all the individuals involved were pioneers from the time of Mrs. White, and not a new generation of Adventists. 3. Notice, carefully, that Leroy Froom had nothing to do with the request for the Yearbook. He also had nothing to do with the G.C. committee of 1930-1931. He was not in the picture at all. He was only later responsible for reporting the facts as they took place, in his historical treatise on Adventism entitled, “Movement of Destiny” (1971). Of course he was just one among many Adventists at the time gradually recognizing, as Pacific Press did before him (while Mrs. White was alive), that there was some validity to much of the Trinitarian type thinking, as it related to the “Eternal Godhead”, and the personhood of the Holy Spirit (even if not all explanations by original/traditional Trinitarians were valid). He along with the Pacific Press (in 1892) and another pioneer called R.A. Underwood (way back in in 1896) recognized that because of the earlier ‗acidic‘ antiTrinitarian sentiments in Adventism, there was very little written in Adventism to recognize the personhood of the Holy Spirit, except for, according to Froom, “priceless leads” in Mrs. White‘s writings. They therefore drew on non-Adventist literature as a starting point (just as the Adventist Church did when it first accepted the true Christian Sabbath); the only difference being the Pacific Press, in 1892, published non-Adventist writings on the Trinity while Mrs. White was alive, but Froom studied non-Adventist writings along with Mrs. White‘s thoughts on the Holy Spirit, and then published his own book entitled, “The Coming of the Comforter” (1928), after Mrs. White died. Mrs. White herself drew on Trinitarian literature and authors (it is now being discovered more and) to borrow several phrases and expressions which were then tailored to express truths about the Holy Spirit‟s personhood as well as the personhood of the “three living persons” of the Godhead. Fancy that!
48 Notice too that Froom had nothing to do directly with the FRAMING of the 1931 statements of belief, as they appeared in the Adventist Yearbook of that same year. Four others (all pioneers) were responsible. The committee of four were all top ranking men at the G.C. (who all knew Mrs. White personally). Two of these men, F.M. Wilcox and E.R. Palmer, personally experienced what happened in 1888 and 1892, but all four were fully aware of all the doctrinal developments after 1892 (M.E. Kern and C.H. Watson became Adventists in the early 1900‘s while Mrs. White was alive). Were they a “new generation” of Adventists? Hardly!! This writer has personally read one of F.M. Wilcox‘s pioneering works on the life and teachings of Mrs. White entitled, “Testimony of Jesus” (1934), and I personally feel that he, more than any other, was the most suitable member of the committee. Why? He (apart from being the chief editor of the Review & Herald while Mrs. White was alive) was also one of the original members of the E.G. White Publication Board of Trustees (or E.G. White Estate) who, despite his 1913 editorial declaring Adventist as then believing ―in the divine Trinity‖, was selected for this role personally by Mrs. White herself before she died. It would therefore be difficult on my part to see him betraying the trust of Mrs. White, and after being declared as trustworthy and spiritual by Mrs. White, then help to frame statements contrary to her teachings he was entrusted with. No! No! I will believe Mrs. White had too much insight into his character to see him leading the church into apostasy. F.M. Wilcox, along with E.R. Palmer, was there (as pioneers) in 1888 and 1892, and saw all the happenings (as described so far in this historical review) and thus fully conversant with their implications in Adventism. C.H. Watson (the G.C. President) and M.E. Kern (Associate Secretary of the G.C) were fully learnt in Adventist thinking from the early 1900‘s (while Mrs. White was alive) and knew what Adventists had come to believe since 1888 and 1892, despite the resistance from the “old timers”, who were bent on holding tight to either the Arian type or semiArian type thinking. Semi-Arians would hardly affirm, as Pacific Press did, Dr. Spear‘s tract on the “The Bible Doctrine of the Trinity”, since even the word, “trinity” (a group of three persons), in its root meaning as a simple noun, they believe has no parallel in scripture. I wonder where they found the parallel to ―trio‖ (as used by Mrs. White) in scripture, upon which the Adventist ‗Trio-istic‘ version of the Godhead is based. “Oh what a tangled web we weave…” 4. The committee of four were doctrinally competent to frame the statement *for the Yearbook! The statement was not to be framed for putting to the vote. This is selfevident to those willing to see the facts. Also, it is evident to the insightful that the four men were intelligent enough to realize that what was needed at the time was the publishing of a new statement, which would probably need sufficient time for gradual acceptance overtime, not an immediate vote by a representative few at the G.C. which would ‗force‘ it upon the entire world church. So in 1931 they did just that. An introduction of the word “trinity” (i.e. “three persons” being “constituent persons” of the ―Eternal Godhead‖) into the official Adventist ‗creed‘ (statement of belief), while it was then really just an evident ‗repeat-affirmation‘ of non-Adventist
49 expressions (like Dr. Spears, in 1892) and was the just a logical summary of what started in 1892 and what F.M. Wilcox signaled in his Trinitarian editorial of 1913 while Mrs. White was alive, however, this move in 1931 still needed gradual acceptance. So from 1931 to 1942, this new statement, having for the second time since 1913, the word, “trinity” in the sense of the “three persons” (or ―Trio‖) of the “Eternal Godhead”, was allowed to go un-voted for a few years. Now notice carefully the wording of the 1931 Statement of Belief “No.2”; emphases in brackets supplied: “FUNDAMENTAL BELIEFS OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS  2. That the GODHEAD, or * TRINITY consists [notice] of the Eternal Father, a Personal, spiritual being, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, infinite in wisdom and love; [secondly] the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, through whom the salvation of the redeemed hosts will be accomplished; [and thirdly] the third person of the Godhead, the Great regenerating Power in the work of redemption. Matt.28: 19.That Jesus is very God, being OF the same nature and essence as the Eternal Father. While retaining his divine nature took upon himself the nature of the human family…” -Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1931 Yearbook, page 377 N.B. Please notice the word ―of‖ coming before the words “the same nature and essence”, and notice the Father being called “a being” separately, all indicating that Jesus was not seen as the same Being as the Father. This was therefore tailored Trinitarianism; not the traditional version.
Now dear reader, anyone is free to take issue with any, and all Adventist beliefs, but what no one can dispute is that this is the very same thing the Pacific Press affirmed in the Dr. Spear‘s pro-Trinitarian tract of 1892 and expressed by F.M. Wilcox in the Review and Herald‘s editorial in 1913, WHILE MRS. WHITE WAS ALIVE! Now it follows logically that affirmation is almost the same as a direct proclamation. Also, “silence means consent” (our wise grandparents would say), and since Mrs. White did not oppose or take issue with the 1892 tract, or with F.M. Wilcox, then what are we to make of this? Her consent! It stands to reason that since Mrs. White never directly defined her own use of the phrase “Eternal Godhead” to mean nothing more than what Pacific Press affirmed in 1892, that is, it being a “trio” or “trinity” (three persons united) in the Godhead, then no honest thinking Adventist could say that this 1931 statement was contrary to what went before. Also, as so clearly outlined in the foregoing chapters, namely “Landmark No.2” and “Landmark No. 3”, since Waggoner and Jones personally declared Jesus to be, “very God” (divine), and “of one substance”, “of one nature” (or essence) and “of one Spirit” with the Father, then no one can hardly say this was contrary to what went before Mrs. White died, except to say Father, Son and Spirit are not one being, despite they are together our God (John 20:28).
50 I am prepared to allow anyone to disagree with me on interpretation of scripture, but cannot find myself respecting someone who has clear *historical facts before him and endeavor to deny them or explain them away in order to deceive. That is what some in Adventism are doing today, and the fruit of their labor will prove itself in the end. But in closing on this sixth historical “landmark”, it must again be acknowledged that, yes, the 1931 Trinitarian statement was not officially voted until later. Yes it just started appearing in the Adventist Yearbook after 1931, but only in fulfillment of a direct General Conference mandate; but unwittingly it served as a stimulus to test the responses and reactions within Adventism. However only those unwilling to be objective enough to see the wisdom in this move (as just described) would feel that this was ‗underhanded‘ and ‗demonically designed‘ to be surreptitiously ‗passed off‘ on the masses of Adventists. But notice now what then took place thereafter. And again I challenge any and all readers to disapprove if they can, the historical facts being presented here, upon which I am prepared to recant or retract publicly my statements as a writer. This writer is prepared, as many of the early pioneers were, to accept that truth is constantly unfolding, and one must be prepared to see truth triumph (at the personal expense of even your pride), and show a humility, low enough and willing enough, to admit that even when you think you knew it more than others, you can still be taught by others, and be prepared to say, “I had it wrong”.
LANDMARK No. 7:
The 1942, And 1950 General Conference Vote to Accept ‗A Trinity‘ in Adventist Theology.
In 1942 (on January 14), as the “Minutes” show, the General Conference Committee then voted that the revised “trinity” statements from 1913, which had been appearing in the Yearbook since 1931 (and the Church Manual since 1933), be made available in leaflet from, since by common consent it was agreed to by most, despite it met some, but not widespread resistance. Then in 1950, as revealed by the General Conference Bulletin of July 23, 1950, page 230, the FULL General Conference body of world representatives officially voted in San Francisco (U.S.A.) that no change be made in the “Fundamental Beliefs” statement which had the word “trinity” to mean the Godhead Trio of BEINGS. This session of 1950 would have afforded the airing of the necessary objections by those opposing, but as is well known, the S.D.A. Church has always respected the DEMOCRATIC principle of ‗majority vote‘. Not that truth is to be held hostage to a vote, but unity in doctrine must also subscribe to the organization of the church, else there would be utter confusion among the brethren, as some are “tossed to and fro” by “every wind of doctrine” (see Eph. 4:11-16 and Rom 16:17). FINAL WORD: The foregoing facts stand on record, and only when ALL or even MOST facts (here presented) can be discounted or successfully proven false, would this writer see the arguments of the detractors or „nay-sayers‟ as valid. Today the Adventist Church is
51 „Trinitarian‟, if even it is so after many years of gradual development before 1931, and not the result of a „voted-by-a-few‟, „overnight‟, occurrence. Today the Adventist Church will remain „Trinitarian‟, even if it is so in an „unorthodox‟ way (as so often pointed out by the detractors). Historical events cannot be denied, even if doctrinal matters may be a matter of interpretation and is opposed by some. Let every man be convinced in his own mind. *The Epilogue that follows is open to all for analysis, as it looks at whether the Trinity statement in mainstream Adventism is logical, and or Biblical.
Does The Adventist “Trinity” Statement of Belief Make Sense?
Detractors and ‗nay-sayers‘ in Seventh-day Adventism, both today and in the past (since 1931), charge the Adventist Church with ―heresy‖ and ―apostasy‖, for introducing trinitarianism into the church‘s theology only after Mrs. White and the early pioneers all died. However, if the historical facts and data, as presented in the main body of this research, were to be presented in a court of law, for analysis, there would be too much ‗reasonable doubt‘ existing, based on the evidence, to declare the post-1915 Adventist church guilty of introducing new thinking. The honest verdict would either be ‗case dismissed‘, or ‗not guilty‘, based on irrefutable evidence. The actual truth is that the post-1915 church simply built and expanded on the ideological changes, which were already evident in Adventist literature since 1888 and 1892. Since the 1890s Mrs. White had been drawing on Trinitarian authors, borrowing popular Trinitarian expressions and phrases, and penning expressions similar to the essence of the following quote, which had not yet been expressed in the official Statements of Belief of the Adventist Church until F.M. Wilcox‘s Review and Herald (Oct. 9) editorial in 1913 (as seen in the following). "For the benefit of those who may desire to know more particularly the cardinal features of the faith held by this denomination, we shall state that Seventh-day Adventists believe, 1. In the divine Trinity. This Trinity consists of the eternal Father, a personal, spiritual being, omnipotent, omniscient, infinite in power, wisdom, and love; of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the eternal Father, through whom all things were created, and through whom the salvation of the redeemed hosts will be accomplished; the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, the one regenerating agency in the work of redemption..." All the Statements of Belief up to, and including the one in *1912 (the last one formulated before the 1913 “Trinity” affirmation seen above) never expressed these truths about the Holy Spirit‟s place in the Godhead as the “Third” member, simply because they were not yet fully „hammered out‟ in Adventism. In 1889 for instance, certain truths were not yet established about the Holy Spirit, to be finally expressed in the Statements of Belief of that year. No one who really knows the full truth can deny this fact. This is what 1931 was therefore all about-- a public re-acknowledgement and official declaration of what many in Adventism had been endorsing since 1892 and up to 1913, that is, an affirmation of Trinitarianism, if even in a „tailored‟ form (that is, the Holy Spirit was fully personalized,
52 and Jesus accepted as equal with the Father, but the Godhead Persons were still not seen as one individual Being). IT‟S ALL A MATTER OF CONTEXT OF MEANING Some detractors in Adventism try to show, but rather unconvincingly, that their belief in a ―Trio‖ of ―Personalities‖ in the ―Godhead‖ is not basic Trinitarianism, but they do so only by either DENYING in one sense, or LIMITING in another sense the very similar root meanings of the simple nouns ―trinity‖ and ―trio‖, and by denying or forgetting the exclusive Trinitarian use (historically) of the word ―Godhead‖ in the COLLECTIVE “threefold” sense. Only if the words ―trio‖ and ―trinity‖ had unrelated root meanings, and the word ―trinity‖ could not, in any shade of meaning, be correctly applied to the unity of the Personalities in the Godhead, would their arguments be seen as valid. „Trio-ism‟ in Adventism, as far as semantics go, is basic trinitarianism to a certain degree, despite protestations to the contrary. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is no less Trinitarian, despite its “unorthodox” version of the doctrine, than a ―liberal‖ Jew is Jewish. Jews are categorized today as ―orthodox‖, ―conservative‖, and ―liberal‖ based on how close they stick to the tenets of Judaism (traditional, that is). And yet not all traditional Jewish beliefs were supported by Jesus (a Jew) while he was on earth. He himself added on to and amplified traditional Judaism. It is therefore an argument that is invalid, and steeped in ‗intellectual pride‘, which argues that trinitarianism is not trinitarianism, or even Arianism is not Arianism, unless it is so in an ―orthodox‖ way. It was “orthodox” Judaisers that rejected Jesus as “God”, and yet the first “Christians” were all Jews accepting new and unfolding truths about the Godhead!! Remember that. Trinitarianism is predicated upon the principle of a belief in ―three Persons‖ within the ―one Godhead‖, no matter how you explain the relationship of the three Personalities (the trio), or the nature of the three Personalities. It is Biblical to affirm “three living [literal] personalities” in the Godhead, and this is what “a trinity” is. Even the false trinities, triads and trios in pagan religious – proclaim the true definition of ―trinity‖. Once, by a Christian, ―three persons‖ are affirmed in the Godhead, whether as three separate persons (beings), or personalities, but all are related and in union (which some mistakenly call tri-theism), or as three personal ―manifestations‖ of the one ―existence‖ or reality (being), but all related in ―substance‖, then that Christian is a Trinitarian (whether in an unorthodox or orthodox/traditional way). Some, unwittingly, are Trinitarians (unorthodox maybe), and believe in a “Trio” in the Godhead, but resist and deny the label. J.H. Waggoner (a pioneer), a few years before the SDA church affirmed three persons in the Godhead, stated that trinitarianism is simply based upon the true definition of the word “trinity”, which means “three [distinct] persons” who exist together by close relationship; just like “trio”, “triplet”, “triad” and “triumvirate” – all coming from the prefix “tri” [three].
―A Trinity is three persons. To recognize [admit to] a trinity [the true type], the distinction between the Father and Son must be preserved.‖ -J.H. Waggoner, 1884, The Atonement, pgs. 167-169
Thus a TRUE trinity is simply ―thee persons‖ (trio), and is not supposed to be, in by Waggoner‘s own admission, a single person, personality, individual, or even a three-faced singular Being, as critics rightly charge the Roman Catholics, for instance, to be sacrilegiously teaching since the Apostle‟s Creed (of the fourth century) summarized the early Trinitarian-type expressions of the first and second century Christians. See Appendix 2. But if in Adventism, between 1892 and 1913, and long before 1931, the three Persons in/of the Godhead (and in fact ―Biblical‖ trinitariansim through Dr. Spear‘s article) were directly affirmed by SDA pioneers in the church and declared to be “three holiest beings in heaven” by Mrs. White, then as sure as trilogy, tricycle, triennial, triplicate, trident, tripod, and tripartite all relate to ―three‖ distinct, but related entities, pioneering Adventism became supportive of a “trinity” in the Godhead (if even not by orthodoxy); the type which accepts the persons three as distinct beings, just as J.H. Waggoner defined a true trinity to be in 1884. This seems more logical, it would appear, and underscores the reality that if Father and Son are separate beings then these two could not be the same being of the Holy Spirit at the same time, but the Spirit must, of necessity, be a third representative being, in order to “preserve” the “distinction” of the beings of the Father and Son that Waggoner spoke of above…hence ―three holiest beings in heaven‖ by Mrs. White‟s own admission; not just two!! With that said, let us now look closely at the “trinity” statement in Adventism as it concerns three beings of the Godhead. ANALYSING THE S.DA. ―TRINITY‘ STATEMENT OF BELIEF The Adventist Statement of Belief, regarding the “trinity” [unity of three Persons] in the “Godhead”, has since 1931, undergone some changes in terms of the wording. Look back at the 1931 statement, under “Landmark No. 6” (Chapter 6). Today (since 1981), it reads; emphases in brackets supplied:
―Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists 
2. The Trinity There is *one God [i.e. one divine specie of beings, or divinity]: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal [each existing from all eternity] Persons. God [the divine specie] is immortal, all-powerful [that is, omnipotent], all knowing [omniscient], above all [sovereign], and ever present [omnipresent]. He [all of divinity] is infinite and beyond human comprehension [transcendent], yet known through his self-revelation. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service [or veneration] by the whole creation… [Notice that the ―He‖ here is collective; similar to the ―he‖ for all mankind] 3. The Father God the Eternal Father is the Creator, Source, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all creation…the qualities and powers exhibited in the Son and the Holy Spirit are also revelations of the Father… 4. The Son God the Eternal son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Through him all things were created, the character of God is revealed, the salvation of humanity is accomplished, and
54 the world is judged. Forever truly God [divine], He became as truly man [human], Jesus the Christ… 5. The Holy Spirit God the Eternal Spirit was active with the Father and the Son in Creation, incarnation, and [our] redemption… sent by the Father and the Son to be always with His children…” -Fundamental Beliefs of S.D.A.s, Adventist Yearbook, 1981, pg. 5 *N.B. Orthodox Trinitarians declared, ―We worship One God [i.e.one divine Being] in trinity [three persons or personal manifestations] and trinity [three persons or personal manifestations] in unity [in union]‖. Adventists, even after the above 1981 statement insist on three separate Godhead beings when explaining the trinity; note one Being only
Evidently the foregoing was the same doctrine, at least in basic terms, which the Pacific Press affirmed in 1892, by publishing Dr. Samuel Spear‘s article, which it renamed “The Bible Doctrine of the Trinity” long before 1931. This has to be so, since Dr. Spear made it clear that the mode of the oneness of the Trinity is a mystery, and so all one is left with after affirming ―three persons‖ are three persons or beings united in a way we cannot fathom, and any speculation beyond that is unnecessary. Pioneering Adventism accepted a Trinity only on those terms. But be that as it may, one is probably moved to ask the following honest questions, when one reads the foregoing Adventist statements of belief, especially Belief No.2: 1. Does the foregoing statement make sense; is it intelligible? 2. According to this statement, is God a person (or is He personal), or just a ―unity‖, a group entity? And how can more than one person be called a ―he‖? 3. Does that not mean that three persons are one person? 4. Would you say that the statement is Biblical, to see God as a unity of persons or group of persons? 5. And doesn‘t the Bible refer to the “one God”, our “personal God”, as the Father only? In response I say, compare the following E.G. White quotes (representing true Adventism), and then ask the same type of questions about the persons involved. “The existence of A [singular] PERSONAL GOD, the UNITY [oneness] of Christ with His Father lies at the foundation of all true science.” -E.G. White, Manuscript 30, October 29, 1904
"God says, [notice after this whom she means says this] "Come out from among them, and be
ye separate, . . . and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." [Now notice carefully] This is the pledge of [not just one person, but] the Father, the Son, and the Holy
55 Spirit [i.e. the *pledge to receive and be a Father to you]; made to you if you will keep your baptismal vow, and touch not the unclean thing…‖ -E.G. White, Signs of the Times, June 19, 1901
The foregoing statements make perfect sense (whether two or three persons of the Godhead are in focus), if the full truth of the Bible is considered, and not turned against itself by ‗human wisdom‘ (Cor. 2:5-7) to produce nonsense. The statements are intelligible to those who make intelligent summary of spiritual things, which can only be ―spiritually discerned‖, by ―comparing spiritual things with spiritual‖ (1Cor. 2:13, 14), not scientific with the spiritual. Science will not always explain that which is transcendent, infinite, mysterious, and divine; which is what the ―Eternal Godhead‖ is. Sometimes logic is helpful, but other times not. Sometimes, only by looking at the simple illustrations of certain spiritual things on earth, are we then able to capture a glimpse of the complex nature of eternal things in Heaven. Notice the following very helpful illustration, also from Mrs. White‘s writings, which proves this point: “Man [collective] came from the hands of the Creator, perfect in organization and beautiful in form. The fact that HE [collective] has for six thousand years withstood the ever increasing weight of disease and crime is conclusive proof of the power and endurance with which HE [collective] was first endowed.” – E.G. White, S.D.A Bible Comm., Vol. 1, pg. 1082 Now does the foregoing statement make sense? Is it intelligible? Is “Man” a person, a group entity, or specie? How can more than one human person/being, male *and female, be called “he”? Does that mean that all humanity existing for the last six thousand years is just one person? And would you say that the foregoing statement about “man” is Biblical? The answers are all obvious. The truth is that *CONTEXT of language is all that matters, in order not to turn the simple and intelligible meaning (within a certain context) into complex nonsense. Firstly, notice that the word ―is‖ (not ―are‖) always comes after the word “man”, despite the word is, at times, collective in nature. Thus in the same way the generic word ―Man‖ is a collective noun for all persons of humanity, properly referred to as “he”, while at the same time it functions as a singular noun, the same is true of the word ―God‖, meaning all Persons of divinity within the Godhead (see 2 Thess. 2:4). The word “God” is both a collective and a singular noun describing all persons of the ―Eternal Godhead‖, properly referred to as “He”, whether in collective or in singular, while it also refers specifically to the Father of all, Jehovah Himself. So “God” for the Christian is, firstly, the Father, but also Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit (“the third Person of the Godhead‖), their Representative. To deny this is to deny the full teaching of the Scriptures (e.g. John 1: 1; John 20:28, 29; and Acts 5:3-5). ―Man‖ (meaning all humanity) *is an earthly being (reality, or existence) or specie, who is mortal, finite, limited and is not worthy of veneration, unlike ―God‖ (meaning all the Persons of divinity), who is forever immortal, infinite and transcendent. The meaning in context is clear, at least to this writer.
56 Ellen White, Adventism‘s chief pioneer, almost everywhere she wrote about God usually means the Father exclusively, BUT NOT ALWAYS!! In several places she calls Jesus God, or the Deity‖ as if it was the Father she was talking about. This is not unlike her because she usually means that Jesus being seen as God has to do with his office of representing the Father, as well as his right to the transcendent title because of not just his unity with the Father, but also his natural inheritance to be “God over all” and “God in the highest sense” ―from all eternity‖. Notice the context in which she calls Jesus God in just one place: “God has a church [who is she talking about here? Read on]. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). Where Christ [notice whom she makes the subject of her discourse as God and the High and Lofty One and the eternal Rock] is even among the humble few, this is Christ's church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church. Where two or three are present who love and obey the commandments of God, Jesus there presides, let it be in the desolate place of the earth, in the wilderness, in the city enclosed in prison walls…. They that will be doers of the word are building securely, and the tempest and storm of persecution will not shake their foundation, because their souls are rooted to the eternal Rock. --Letter 108, Oct. 28, 1886 So we see that Mrs. White at times speaks of Jesus as God just as she would speak about the Father, despite it is true that most times when she speaks of God she was indeed speaking of the Father. In fact, whenever she was speaking of ―our personal God‖ she usually meant the Father, but not always, and in fact sometimes means Father and Son united, and at other times (especially after 1892) she wrote about the Father, Son, and the Spirit (all three) united and depicted as speaking or acting together as ―God‖ or ―the great threefold Power‖ (singular); obviously with the Father being seen through Jesus as His visible Revealer and Representative, and the Spirit as His omnipresent but invisible Representative. That is precisely the way historic Trinitarians explain the relationship of the three in the one Godhead. Notice carefully in the following quotes from her: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 1 Cor. 1:21. The existence of a personal God, the unity of Christ with His Father, lies at the foundation of all true science. From nature we can gain only an imperfect idea of the greatness and majesty of God. We see the working of His power and His wisdom, but He Himself is beyond our comprehension. The ocean, the cataract, the lofty, rugged mountains reveal but imperfectly His handiwork. Satan has introduced confusion and deformity into the creation of God. Something more than nature is needed to reveal the character of the Father. Christ came to this earth to reveal what finite minds can comprehend of the glory of God. He came to unite divinity and humanity that through Him, with character made perfect, human beings might at last behold God in the fullness of His glory.” - Manuscript 30, Oct. 29, 1904, "Redeem the Time." “When you accept Christ, you are in one sense cut away from the world. You are dead to its ambitions, dead to its greed for advantage over your brethren and neighbors. God says, "Come
57 out from among them, and be ye separate, . . . and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." This is the pledge of [the Lord Almighty, and yet it was NOT the saying or pledge of one person only but notice] the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; made to you if you will keep your baptismal vow, and touch not the unclean thing. You are to turn aside from all that would pervert the pure, sacred principles of truth. You are to enter into no intrigue. Sharp practice with believers or unbelievers, is an offense in God's sight. It is a sin which places those who commit it in connection with the author of all sin. -Special Testimonies, June 19, 1901 par. 6 After we have formed a union with the great threefold power [singular], we shall regard our duty toward the members of God's family with a sacred awe. We shall seek to answer the prayer, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," by living pure, sanctified lives, showing the world how the will of God is done in heaven. –Special Testimonies, June 19, 1901 par. 8 COMPARING GOD‟S NATURE WITH MAN‟S So far I have just looked at context of language. Let us now compare ―spiritual things with spiritual‖, in order to get a deeper insight. At creation God made only one human race; not different species of “Neanderthal”, “Homoerectus”, or “Cro-Magnon” human-like beasts (Acts 17:26) All humanity is “of one blood” (or of one substance- Acts 17:26), of one nature, of one specie or order of being. At creation only one specie of ―Man‖ was created, but notice that two persons of humanity, both of one substance, and forever more truly human, were together called “Adam” (Gen. 5:1,2) or “man”, but as far as distinction goes are male and female serving different functions. ―Man‘s‖ own nature reflects God‘s own image (see Acts 17:28). Today, with billions on the planet, all persons are still together called ―Man‖, and properly speaking called ―he‖, and on the spiritual level the male and female united form “one flesh”. Notice, Man (collective) in his billions, male and female, is the creature of God. Is there any difficulty here? Evidently, NO! There is no difficulty, for instance, in understanding that God drove “the man” or “him” out of the Garden of Eden (Gen.3: 22-24), but in fact drove a plurality of persons out – two individuals! There is no difficulty in understanding that, in the spiritual sense, the male and female united produce, spiritually, “one flesh”, and hence the reason why the Bible called both (of one substance) “Adam”. There is no difficulty in understanding that, spiritually, the male of the specie is the ―head‖ of the wife, but each are still absolutely equal (co-equal), even if the woman came from the male. Simply, by reason of being of one substance (flesh), of one nature (essence), and should be of one purpose, as a specie acting together, they are co-equal. God made “man” (plural) “in his own image” to be a plurality of persons, who would exist together, whether as male or female, or even as all humanity, *IN UNITY, to reflect His own nature within the Godhead. That is seen as perfectly understandable and logical, but the idea of “God” speaking as an “US”, that is, the Father speaking about Himself and His Son (see Gen.1: 26/Gen 3:22/Gen 11:7/Is.6:8), and thus are revealed as a specie of divine Persons – the Father, revealed in the Son, and present everywhere by the Holy Spirit – is an idea that is seen as ridiculous.
58 I put it to you dear reader, for contemplation, that “all that is called God, or that is worshipped” [2 Thess. 2:4], as far as divinity is concerned, is NOT one Person, in just the same way that “Man”, as far as humanity is concerned, is not one person. The Bible, while distinguishing them as personalities, also clearly describes and identifies the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as “God”. And they are rightly so, “in the highest sense” Mrs. White declares, but the Father is the “head” of Christ (the God-man), His “equal in all respects”, just like Adam was to Eve, his equal in all respects. The Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit are each “of one [the same type] substance”, having “the same attributes”, and thus, being of the same kind of specie, or same order of being, are therefore each fully “God”, and each possess the “fullness of the Godhead”! I put it to you that they are not one Person, but three – thus a “trio” or “trinity”, as the various dictionaries prove the two simple nouns to mean the same thing.
CAN MONOTHEISM AND TRINITARIANISM RECONCILE? Lest one forget, it was J.H. Waggoner (a pioneer) who declared this dictionary meaning of the simple noun “trinity”, that is, “three persons”. Why should the word “trio” be any different? If only he knew (at the time) that the Pacific Press, and his church, would come to acknowledge this in 1892, 1900, and 1913 , that is, in the truest meaning of the word, not the faulty explanation given by some. If only he knew that Mrs. White would affirm monotheism, or belief in ―the existence of a personal God‖, to be more than one divine Person in ―unity‖. The truth is that Christianity is the only monotheistic religion which uses the conjunctive ―AND‖ (John 17:3; 1 Cor. 8:6) when talking about God, because ―God‖ as a Person, and ―God‖ as a specie, was truly ―manifested in the flesh‖ (1 Tim. 3: 16) in the human Personage of Jesus Christ. Thus ―God‖, as a Person, and as a specie, is both divine and, by way of Christ, also human. But the Father and Son are truly distinct beings. Muslims (monotheists) say, “there is no God but Allah”, full stop. Why? God, they believe, cannot have a Son, or share his glory and supremacy, or cannot exist as a specie of divine persons (according to the Koran). Jews, without accepting the unfolded truths of the New Testament, say there is no God but Yahweh, the Person of the Father; “He reigned alone” (as quoted from the Jewish hymn, “Lord of the World”). Why? This is because they, like the Muslims, reject Jesus, and never accept the “us” of Genesis to mean more than one divine Person described as “God”. Christianity, however says (according to the Bible): 1. There is but “one God the Father *AND (notice the conjunctive) one Lord Jesus Christ” [the man]-1 Cor 8: 6. Interestingly, the portion of the text SOME endeavor to omit begins “and one Lord Jesus Christ”. Notice that in the verse before, Paul shows that the word “God” and “Lord” was meant to convey the same meaning of divine supremacy or deity. Thus Jesus was also seen as the Christian‘s “Lord” and “God”, as testified to by Thomas (John 20:28,29 compared with Isaiah 25:8,9) without making of non-effect Ex. 20:3. Thomas was not just recognizing ‗divineness‘ in Jesus, but His supremacy equal to the Father. This can only be denied by twisting Scripture.
59 Now here is where many get into difficulty. If Jesus only is the “one Lord”, then is the Father not our Lord, (but see Jude 4,5/Acts 17:24) and if only the Father is supposed to be our God, (the “one God”) what was Thomas saying, in John 20:28, calling Jesus *his God and Lord (with Jesus endorsing his words in verse 29)? Also, what was Mrs. White really saying in her letter, titled, “Letter 97”, in1898? She clearly said: ―Christ lived and died as a man, that he might be *God both of the living and of the dead‖ [Here He is not just seen as ‗divine‘, but Supremely ―God‖ just like the Father, yet some of the ―living‖ in Adventism refuse Him as their God, despite the existing clear evidence] -E.G. White, Letter 97, 1898 Did God not say “My glory will I not share with another”, and “There is none other like me”? The only explanation for this seeming difficulty is in the spiritual (not numeric) ―oneness‖ of the Father and Son, who are represented by the Holy Spirit, the “third person of the Godhead”. They were together “from all eternity”, forming the one “Eternal Godhead” They are our God, and our Lord, our “personal God” in “unity” (said Mrs. White), but as separate personalities. Signs of the Times, 6-27-1895, paragraph 3— "The greatness of God can not be measured or comprehended. And that doctrine that denies the absolute Godhead of Jesus, denies also the Godhead of the Father; for no man knoweth the Son but the Father." But what about the Holy Spirit? The word “representative” has no relevance or meaning if the Holy Spirit (and the Son) were not distinct personalities from the Father. Their presence was not the actual, but representative presence of the Father. Why? This is because they are exactly like the Father in nature and authority, that is, fully “God”, and in the highest sense. If Jesus is equal with the Father, then is there only one Supreme Person in Heaven? NO! Yet there is only “one God”, the Bible says. He is distinctly called “the Father”, but He makes Himself known in a way inseparable from Jesus and the Spirit, who are ―completely and intrinsically‖ ―constituent Persons of the Eternal Godhead‖. Who am I to question why it is so? I simply accept it by faith. 2. Luke, along with the Apostolic Church, testified to the Divine presence of the “third person of the Godhead” (the Holy Spirit) and they distinctly recognized him as “God”- Acts 5:3, 4 and Acts 13:2 3. John testified that anyone that has God has both the Father and the Son, obviously by way of having the Holy Spirit (2 John 9). And we all know we will have to greet both the Father and the Son on the final day as ―King of Kings‖ and saying to both ―this is our God we have long waited for Him‖ [not them] – Is. 25: 8, 9. That is unity of acceptance. 4. Today, many directly or indirectly “deny the only Lord God AND Jesus Christ” (Jude 4, 5). How? It cannot be denied by an honest Adventist, exposed to all the facts, that the Father is not the only Person in the Godhead called “Lord” or “God”, or “Jehovah”, or “I AM”, or “Everlasting Father”, or “Mighty God”, or “Sovereign” (the Supreme One), or “First and Last”, or “King of Kings” or “the High and Lofty One who Inhabiteth Eternity”, or “the Deity”, or “God essentially and in the highest sense” – because Jesus is all of the above, “equal with the
60 Father in all respects”. That is what “co-equal” means in the 1981 statement of belief. Denying this denies the Father‘s own words in Hebrews 1: 8, 10. So a belief in the “one God” of the Bible (monotheism) does not conflict with these truths, since it is the same God who declares them to be true. Faith in what He reveals about His “Eternal Godhead” is all this one true God asks for, not a seeking to fully explain all things about Him. THE REVEALED NATURE OF THE ―ETERNAL GODHEAD‖ The Father is clearly the ‗Leader‘ of the Godhead, a Godhead consisting of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, but the Son and Holy Spirit are not inferior to the Father. Despite Jesus was “begotten” of the Father, He is no less eternal or less supreme than He, likewise the Holy Spirit ―proceeding from‖, and “sent” by both the Father and Son. Only as a man did Jesus worship God! It was already clearly established that Jesus was “begotten” of the Father, but, in an “incomprehensible” way (according to Mrs. White) He is “from all eternity” as a “distinct person”; not just because His Father‘s substance is eternal, but because He Himself is from the “dateless ages” of “all eternity”. That is what “co-eternal” means; each existing “from all eternity”! A man is 100 years old, not by virtue of the age of his father‘s substance, but by his own existence as a distinct or separate person. Thus Jesus is “eternal” by reason of his own distinct or separate existence “from all eternity”, just like the Father from whom he was “begotten”. Incomprehensible? Yes! Mysterious? Yes! But that is official Adventism, as confirmed in the confessions of Mrs. White. That is why she described him as “leaving the courts of Heaven”, where he is the “Lord of the temple”, as seen by Isaiah in Is. 6: 1-5, and declared Himself the ―I AM‖ to Moses (see again under “Landmark No. 3” or Chapter 3). Yet in declaring Himself such, He was simply manifesting what the Father is also. That is why He is the Godhead‘s Mouthpiece, Representative (just like the Holy Spirit), and the “Word of God” (John 1:1).
IS THE GODHEAD JUST ACTING OUT ROLES? Some declare that Jesus should not be called “God, the Son” because it reduces Him to an Actor, and does not portray Him as a true Son. That limited view is based on simple lack of insight. Jesus is the ―Son of God‖ and ―God, the Son‖, based on context of usage. If Jesus, as the “Son of God”, is Himself “God”, and He takes the names of the Father (whether that name is “God Almighty” from “El Sheddai”, or “LORD” from “Yahweh”, or “Jehovah”, or “I AM”) then when He is called “God”, or “LORD”, or “Yahweh”, or “Lord God”, then the words “the Son” seem logical as a means of differentiation. Thus, in just the same way that a human father and son share the name “Gillespie”, and to differentiate between them it is appropriate to say “Gillespie, the son” or “Gillespie, the father”, since both are titled ―Mr.”, the same is true with the members of the Godhead. It was “I AM”, the Son (that is) who spoke to Abraham, to Moses and Jacob, and it was “God”, the Son (that is) who Isaiah saw “high and lifted up”. It was however, “God”, the Father (that is) who declared, “this is my beloved Son of whom I am well pleased”, and “God”, the Spirit (that is) who revealed to Peter the sin of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:3,4 – the sin of lying to the Holy Spirit, who is also called “God”.
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD, BUT IS HE A SEPARATE, AND THIRD PERSON? Adventist (like many other Christians) spend so much time on the subject of Jesus as “the Deity”, simply because historically He is tangibly known as a man, but can only, by faith in the Scriptures, be believed to be in a rightful position of being truly “equal with the Father in authority, dignity and divine perfection”, and is “God essentially and in the highest sense” (as stated by Mrs. White in 1895 and 1906). However, I submit to you dear reader that it may come as a surprise, but it is probably easier to establish the Holy Spirit‟s place as ―God‖, in substance, in eternity, and Creatorship, and as One whom we must ―serve‖, than even Jesus; at least it can be done in less words. The Bible says, ―THE LORD IS THE SPIRIT‖ (2 Cor. 3:17, 18), and the Spirit is the God of Israel (2 Samuels 23:2, 3). Notice that the Holy Spirit is called “He” all over the Old Testament, and has a personality, and sometimes assumes personal form, as seen in Ez. 8:1-5. Notice however that despite the Bible says God is the Spirit, Mrs. White confessed that ―He must *also be A divine Person‖, or one of the ―three holiest BEINGS‖ in heaven, and thus she could only logically see Him NUMERICALLY as the “third Person of the Godhead” (of a ―Trio”, and not a ―Duo‖). This seems perfectly logical and natural since, as “God”, the Spirit is “sent” to “speak what He hears” (John 16:13), obviously from both Father and Son. But the point is, God is not a ‗thing‘ or ‗force‘, and since “the Lord is the Spirit”, how dare anyone reduce the Spirit to a personified force or influence. Only a person can represent the other Godhead Persons as the Spirit does. The Bible also says that the Spirit is ―eternal‖, even presented by Ellen G. White as one of the “eternal heavenly dignitaries” of the “Eternal Godhead” (see Hebrews 9:14), and because the Spirit is never presented as “begotten”, then there should be no controversy regarding His co-eternity with the Father, or Him being “of one substance with the Father”. Why? Well, since God Himself is the Spirit, and is Himself Spirit, and He (God) is eternal, then why should the Holy Spirit be less than ―co-eternal‖ with God, as His eternal “Representative‖ all over the universe? Everything God did in creation was as a Spirit, and by way of the Spirit (Ps. 104:30), that is, while the Father and Son conferred with each other in the courts of Heaven (Gen. 1:26). Thus the Holy Spirit is our Creator (Job 33:4), who did the work on behalf of the Father and the Son; not as just a force or power, but as NUMERICALLY the “third Person of the Godhead”, one of the “Eternal Heavenly Dignitaries” (as Mrs. White so delicately phrased it in Adventist literature, after 1892). That is plain personal distinction, which is supported in Scripture (Is. 48:16). HOW DO YOU SERVE GOD WITHOUT SERVING HIS SPIRIT? In closing it could be asked, how do you serve God who is “a Spirit” (John 4:24), and “is the Spirit”, without serving His Spirit? To talk of the Father is to talk of the Eternal Spirit automatically. How do you sing to, pray to, worship and obey a spirit Father without worshipping His Spirit present in Church, that is, what He is entirely composed of? The Bible never told us to worship the Spirit because clearly it is simply not necessary to state the obvious; that worshipping God automatically results in that reality. It told us to worship
62 Jesus, because of the fact that Jesus was known tangibly as a Man. Now, back to my main point. How is our spirit Father and the Holy Spirit not composed “of one substance”? Talk about nonsense to believe otherwise!! The real crux of the Christian religion is: ―Whom do you serve?‖ in a spiritual sense, after you have accepted Christ? Is it only the Father that Jesus was seemingly instructing the Devil to worship in Matt. 4:10? See Heb. 1: 6,8,10 for the Father‘s own answer. Notice the same unity of service, in the following statement of Mrs. White, as she captured the truth in words so clear, even a child would understand why pioneer G.C. Tenny, in 1896, said even the Holy Spirit too is “an object of veneration”: “When we have accepted Christ, and in the name [singular] of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit have pledged ourselves to *SERVE [Joshua 24:14,15] God, the Father, Christ AND [thirdly] the Holy Spirit – the Three Dignitaries and Powers of Heaven – pledge themselves that even facility will be given us if we carry out our... vows”. -E.G. White, Manuscript 85, 1901 I find it absolutely ridiculous to believe that I must “serve” only One who is truly called “God” (as Joshua 24 declares), and yet fail to see Jesus and the Holy Spirit as truly “God”, worthy of being “an object of veneration”, in the above E.G. White quote. Thus, rightly understood, the profound truth of the Bible is this – There is one God, the Father Almighty, but He cannot be known, and has not been made known apart from His Eternal Son, and Eternal Spirit. Only by way of and through the Son can He be worshipped or served, and only by the „unction‟ of, and through the Holy Spirit can we accept Him and ―serve‖ him. In serving the Father it automatically means you MUST serve the Son, who is God (divine) equally, and obviously you are automatically serving the Holy Spirit, who is God (divine) also. However, the unity does not destroy the Personality of neither, because ―there are three living [literal] personalities of the Heavenly Trio‖, said the leading pioneer in Adventism, Mrs. White (who sheds clear light on the Word of God).
CONCLUSION? The basic premises of the Trinitarian thinking are correct, but who is to say that the ‗unorthodox‘ version of the doctrine, as taught by Adventism since 1892, is not the real truth rescued from Papal contamination (despite certain RECENT weaknesses which has crept in regarding the explanation about the “begetting” of Christ)? God knows! Here, however, is what this writer knows, without any shadow of doubt or intent of turning – ***Every man must be convinced in his own mind, for ―we must all [individually] appear before the judgment seat of Christ‖. Each man should, to God, and his own self be true. That is all he can do. Amen
NOTE TO READER: The Appendices that follow will, firstly, deal candidly with the indisputable facts about certain key pioneers in Adventism, and their expressions on the trinity before and after 1892. Secondly, the actual wording of the Nicene Creed, accompanied by a brief analysis of what it really says, as opposed to what critics declare it to be saying, will be presented, and in the process comparing it‘s statements with undeniably similar confessions by Mrs. White in Adventism. This further reading should prove to be quite helpful to any reader who would like to delve further in to this historical adventure.
Beach, Walter R. –THE CREED THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (The Apostles Creed) -Pacific Press Publishing Association 1971 Beachy, Lynnford- DID THEY BELIEVE IN THE TRINITY? -August 1996 Benton, William- ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITTANICA, Volumes 2, 6, and 22 (1970 edition) Cooper, Emma M. - THE GREAT ADVENT MOVEMENT- Review and Herald, 1968 edition Clayton, David- “OPEN FACE” PUBLICATIONS (Periodicals)- Restoration Ministries (Independent) – Vol.16, July 2000 – Vol. 26, June 2002 Froom, Leroy E. – MOVEMENT OF DESTINY -Review and Herald, 1971 Smith, UriahDANIEL AND THE REVELATION -Review and Herald, paperback version of the1897 edition
White, Ellen G. - GREAT CONTROVERSY (1888) DESIRE OF AGES (1898) STEPS TO CHRI ST (1892) COUNSELS ON HEALTH (1951) EVANGELISM TESTIMONIES, *Various Volumes BIBLE ECHO *Also quotes from her, from Review & Herald Magazines, Signs of the Times, the S.D.A. Bible Commentaries, the Youth Instructor, and various Manuscripts (especially in Manuscript Releases). Wilcox, F.M. – TESTIMONY OF JESUS -Review & Herald 1934
64 AUTHORISED KING JAMES VERSION OF THE HOLY BIBLE Word Publishing 1997 edition COLLINS DICTIONARY 1985 edition LONGMAN NEW GENERATION DICTIONARY Longman Publishing 1987 edition ROGET‟S THESAURUS OF ENGLISH WORDS AND PHRASES 1852 (first publishing); Edited by Betty Kirkpatrick in the1980‟s -Penguin publishers
APPENDIX NO. 1 – Crucial Facts and Interesting Tit-bits About Some Key Pioneers, Regarding the Trinity Doctrine
It is certainly important to take a look at some vital, yes vital considerations about certain Adventist pioneers, in order to get a better understanding of the S.D.A church‘s history regarding the doctrine of the trinity, before and after 1892 (and the first Trinitarian tract). Some, without being objective enough to look carefully at ALL the facts, proclaim that most pioneers died off before Adventism accommodated trinitariansim, and only after Mrs. White (the leading pioneers) died, along with most of those who opposed the trinity. Is this true? Well, here are the real facts about some key pioneers, to test this proclamation. The evidence will speak for itself. The following list of pioneers is sufficient, as a reasonable sample, to test the fore mentioned proposition, and to highlight crucial facts. J.M. Stephenson Joseph Bates James White J.N. Andrews J.H. Waggoner Uriah Smith E.J. Waggoner A.T. Jones J.N. Loughborough A.G. Daniells W.W. Prescott F.M. Wilcox M.L. Andreason J.W. Westphal
1. J.M. Stephenson was the first to publish Arian teachings in Adventism in 1854, thus was among those who opposed trinitarianism. He, however, apostatised from (left) Adventism in 1855 (10 years after the church‘s 1844 inception as a movement), but his views were not singular, but REPRESENTATIVE of “many” in Adventism (the “many” alluded to by E.J. Waggoner in 1888, to be believing in a “created” Christ). Other pioneers who evidently shared his “Arian hypothesis” and came from (or was associated with) the Christian Connection church (an Arian group) included Bates, White, Himes, Fleming and Cole. Other early supporters of his views were J.H. Waggoner and Uriah Smith, who both later adjusted their views to reflect Semi-arianism. Stephenson wrote that Christ was “created” and is not an “Eternal Son”. Some, in Adventism today, quote his antiTrinitarian statements to support their position against the Church‘s trinity doctrine, but craftily omit his statements expounding on a “created” Christ. This is evident in Lynnford Beachy‘s, “Did They Believe in the Trinity”, (1996), who is an associate of the Smyma (independent) Ministries in the U.S. With so many errors in Stephenson‘s writings, it is no wonder that those who quote him, in their support lead others astray. See Selected Messages, Book 1,page 165 (Mrs. White) on “errors in our older literature”.
2. All the following key pioneers (listed from 2a-d), who stayed with Adventism, and who are on record to have opposed trinitarianism, all died before 1888 and 1892. Yes, they all died years BEFORE the church saw a gradual change in ideology among most of its pioneers (since 1892), in terms of a new version of trinitarianism, accommodated even while Mrs. White was alive. Thus they would not have been around to oppose or share in the new developments of 1888 and 1892. Thus it is faulty reasoning to say if they arose today they would be “disfellowshipped” from their church, because who can say that they would not have supported E.J. Waggoner in 1888, Pacific Press in 1892, and F.M. Wilcox in 1913? The dead know not anything. a) Joseph Bates died in 1872 (16-20 years before 1888 and 11892 respectively) before his antiTrinitarian views were repudiated by the church, starting from 1892 onwards.
b) James White died in 1881, after showing that trinitarianism was not to be made an issue for determining “fitness for heaven” (see “Landmark No.1”), but obedience to the Ten Commandments and faith in the Son and the “gospel” about him. It is logical that trinitarianism does not fall within the scope of breaking the first commandment, as indicated by James White. Thus that is why Mrs. White never condemned it after James White made this 1876 ‗revolutionary‘ declaration. If trinitarianism broke the first commandment, how could James White say it should not be seen as ”test”, of “fitness for heaven”, but obedience to the commandments, which some say condemn Trinitarians? Interesting! Remember too that Mrs. White herself ignored the matter entirely, as proof that attitudes had changed in Adventism regarding the trinity.
c) J.N. Andrews also died in 1883, after opposing trinitariansim, but before the 1892 developments within his church – new developments accepting “three persons” in the “Godhead”, or “the nature of God”. d) J.H. Waggoner (the father) – died in 1889, just as the issues of contention, presented by his own son, were being understood and gradually accepted by those who disputed the 1888 declarations, that Jesus is “equal with the Father in all respects”, and that he is ―one of the constituent persons [of a trio]” which make up the “Godhead”, not just the Father. Who can say that Waggoner (the father) did not now agree with his son that Jesus is “co-equal” with the Father “in every respect”, which would be a change on his part, a recanting of his earlier 1872 statements that: ―we cannot believe what men say abut his being co-equal [fully equal in rank] with God in every respect‖ (The Atonement, 1872,pg. 108)? Who can say that he would also not have agreed with Pacific Press publishing, in 1892, Dr. Spear‘s, “Bible Doctrine of the Trinity”, which taught this same 1888 truth. J.H. Waggoner is on record, yes, opposing the trinity, but before 1888 and 1892. It was he who pointed out that “a trinity is three persons” (Atonement, 1884) long before the Church accepted the “trio of three living persons” within the Godhead, including the Holy Spirit; the same Holy Spirit he denied was a person (in “The Spirit of God”, 1877, pg.8). If only he was alive long enough after 1888 to see his church accepting the literal definition of the word “trinity” in 1892, but later using a word also not found in scripture, “trio”, to convey a more precise meaning. 3. We now look at all of the pioneers in the list who died after 1888 and 1892. All of the pioneers mentioned after this (listed from 3 a-h) died after 1892, and were either never as vocally antiTrinitarian as before (clearly shown by the written records), or helped to promote the new ‗revolutionary‘ ideas about the Godhead, after 1888 and 1892, which eventually led to the official “trinity”, statements of belief in 1930-31. Why are there less anti-trinity expressions of pioneers on
record after 1892? The truth is that the bulk of their anti-Trinitarian statements should come after 1892, in order to dispute the Dr. Spears Trinitarian tract, published by Pacific Press, that is, if there was widespread opposition. The written record proves the opposite situation. That also speaks volumes, about the changed attitudes after 1888 and 1892. a) Uriah Smith – died in 1903, eleven years after the Dr. Spear Trinitarian tract was published by E.J. Waggoner. The report of certain pioneers indicated that Smith initially opposed E.J. Waggoner‘s message in 1888. The records clearly show that he also opposed trinitarianism in his writings up to 1888, but, curiously, there is very little he said after 1892 mentioning, much more condemning the trinity. Before 1888 he had shared Stephenson‘s view of a “created” Christ, but then moved away from this view to support the ‗homoean‘ (semiArian) view of a “begotten” Christ, and an impersonal Holy Spirit, who he saw as just an “influence” (Review and Herald, Oct. 28,1890). His views, like J.H. Waggoner‘s, were REPRESENTATIVE of “many” in Adventism, since he used the word “we” so much in his writings, to show that his views were not singular. Although after the 1892 publishing of Dr. Spear‘s Trinitarian tract, and the 1888 declarations, Smith did not seem to accept the personality of the Holy Spirit or that Jesus is “from all eternity” as a “distinct person”, as Mrs. White did clearly in her writings, he did show in his writings after 1888, that Jesus “ranks equally with the Father”. He even went as far as recognizing Jesus speaking as “the Almighty” in his commentary on Rev. 1:8 (see Daniel and the Revelation, 1897 version). His writings showed some ideological adjustment, but not a full adjustment to reflect the new thinking of the Pacific Press, F.M. Wilcox, and the endorsements of Mrs. White. Who can say, however, what his thoughts were in his aging years? God knows! b) E.J. Waggoner (Dr.) – died in 1916 (just after Mrs. White died in 1915), after championing and promoting the ‗revolution‘ in Adventist thinking on “righteousness by faith” over law keeping, and “Godhead” issues, in 1888. Though he was among the minority putting forward his views on the “constituent persons of the Eternal Godhead” in 1888, Mrs. White stoutly supported him in that regard. His views then gradually became representative of the increasing majority after Pacific Press‟ publishing of Dr. Spear‘s Trinitarian tract, and coming after his E.G. White-supported declarations in 1888. He is not on record opposing trinitarianism, he actually promoted its basic concepts (using even similar expressions, e.g. “of one substance”), which he ‗tailored‘ to reflect the full Bible truth. He evidently later believed (like Mrs. White) in the “three persons” in the Godhead; that they are equal and united; that they all are “eternal” (in the “eternal Godhead”); that they are “of one substance”; and that Jesus is “properly” called “Jehovah, the Son of God (inheriting from all eternity this name) but as a separate person from God, the Father (see Christ and his Righteousness, 1890).
c) A.T. Jones - died in 1923, after his colleague published a pro-Trinitarian tract saying almost everything they (he and E.J Waggoner) presented in 1888 at Minneapolis. He helped Waggoner in 1888, to establish that the law cannot save (despite obedience is inseparable), and that Jesus and the Father are “of one substance”, are “equal in all respects”, and that they are united, by having the “same Spirit” as “constituent persons of the Eternal Godhead”. Thus his writings in the book, “The Consecrated Way” (1905), expounding on the 1888 issues should never be divorced from Waggoner‘s 1890 recording of his views on the same issue, in “Christ and His Righteousness”. This some forget. A.T. Jones is not on record opposing the 1892 trinitarian tract, but is on record only mentioning, the trinity after 1892, as he compared the Papacy, in past history, forcing the people (by state law) to believe in the “inspiration of the Holy Scriptures”, the doctrine of “the trinity”, and
Christianity in general, with the U.S. presenting a similar threat to liberty of conscience by forcing politicians to be “religious” or ―belong to a religious denomination”, to be qualified “for office under the United Sates” (see his books,” Ecclesiastical Empire”, 1901, pgs. 837-838, and “The Two Republics”, 1891, pages 590 and 801). This could hardly be seen as him opposing trinitarian ideology, since he also spoke against forcing anyone (by state law) to accept the “Holy Scriptures”, “a religious denomination”, and Christianity “professed by almost the whole community”. He even mentions the belief in the “communion” of saints and the “resurrection of the dead” as part of the Christian faith that Roman state religion, in the past, forced upon people. His subject was “religious liberty” as against “religious test” (as seen by the U.S. Constitution), NOT the trinity! But if you want clues to suggest how he began to favorably see the trinity itself AFTER 1892 then see the quote below: “God is one [person]. Jesus Christ is one [i.e. another person]. The Holy Spirit is one [the third person of three]. And these three are one: there is no dissent nor division among them.‖ -A. T. Jones, Review and Herald, January 10, 1899, 24 ―In consequence of these misunderstandings, each of them [Arians and Trinitarians] wrote volumes, as if contending against adversaries: and although it was admitted on both sides that the Son of God has a distinct person and existence, and ―all acknowledged that there is one God in a Trinity of persons, yet, from what cause I am unable to divine, they could not agree among themselves, and therefore were never at peace [quoted from Socrates]… There was no dispute about the [notice, not ‗opinion‘, or ‗teaching‘, but the] *FACT of there being a Trinity; it was about the nature of the Trinity. Both parties believed in precisely the same Trinity, but they differed upon the precise relationship which the Son bears to the Father‖ -A.T. Jones, The Two Republics, 1891, pg. 333 ―Alexander [REPRESENTING ORTHODOXY] declared: -"The Son is immutable and unchangeable, all-sufficient and perfect, like the Father, differing only in this one respect, that the Father is unbegotten. He is the exact image of his Father. Everything is found in the image which exists in its archetype; and it was this that our Lord taught when he said, `My Father is greater than I.' And accordingly we believe that the Son proceeded from the Father; for he is the reflection of the glory of the Father, and the figure of his substance. But let no one be led from this to the supposition that the Son is unbegotten, as is believed by some who are deficient in intellectual power: for to say that he was, that he has always been, and that he existed before all ages, is not to say that he is unbegotten." ( Theodoret's "Ecclesiastical History," book i, chap. iv. ) Arius [REPRESENTING DISSENTION] said: -"We say and believe, and have taught, and do teach, that the Son is not unbegotten, nor in any way unbegotten, even in part; and that he does not derive his subsistence from any matter; but that by his own will and counsel he has subsisted before time, and before ages, as perfect God, and only begotten and unchangeable, and that he existed not before he was begotten, or created, or purposed, or established. For he was not unbegotten. We are persecuted because we say that the Son had a beginning, but that God was without beginning. This is really the cause of our persecution, and likewise, because we say he is from nothing. And this we say, because he is neither part of God, nor of any subjacent matter." (Quoted from Theodoret's "Ecclesiastical History," book i, chap. v. ) From these statements by the originators of the respective sides of this controversy, it appears that with the exception of a single point, the two views were identical, only being stated in different ways. The single point where the difference lay was that Alexander held that the Son was begotten of the very essence of the Father, and is therefore of the same substance with the Father, while Arius held that the Son was begotten by the Father, not from his own essence, but from nothing; but that when he was
thus begotten, he was, and is, of precisely the like substance with the Father. Whether the Son of God, therefore, is of the same substance, or only of like substance, with the Father, was the question in dispute.‖
The Two Republics – A.T Jones, pg.. 333
d) J.N. Loughborough – died in 1924. He had opposed the ‗Catholic‘ (Roman) and general Protestant (‗Athanasian‘ or ‗orthodox‘) explanation of the Godhead “trinity”, but only before 1888 and 1892. He is not on record taking issue with Pacific Press, or F.M. Wilcox, because of 1892, or 1913 respectively, or taking issue with A.G. Daniells‘ 1915 proclamation about the “third person of the Godhead”, or with W.W. Prescott‘s 1920 views that Christ is called “the I AM” (all trinitarian type concepts). He, before the 1890‘s and early 1900‘s, stated that the word “trinity” is found nowhere in scripture, but had to later accept that, though as a word it is not there, as a basic concept it is there, but described as “trio” (though ―trio‖ is also not there). e) A.G. Daniells – died in 1935. Being the longest serving General Conference President, for 21 years (1901-1922), he saw all that happened in 1888 and 1892 and never opposed the issues presented in those years except for the pantheism of Dr. Kellogg mixed with trinitarianism. He is not on record opposing the 1892 trinitarian tract, the 1913 and 1931 trinitarian statement of belief, or the 1933 Church Manual with the word “trinity”. What did he support? Here‘s a clue. At Mrs. White‘s funeral service (1915), he is on record declaring the Church‘s acceptance (officially), yes, official acceptance of the fact that her teachings “exalted” (venerated) the “third person of the Godhead”, as one who is “Christ‟s Representative on earth” (Review and Herald, Aug. 5,1915). No one can deny that there is no “trinity” (three persons) in the Godhead without the “person” called the Holy Spirit, and without Him being venerated, exalted and served as you would the Father and Son. See again “Landmark No.5” on the “Personalizing of the Holy Spirit in Adventism” after a1892. Evidence speaks louder than opinion. The facts in chapter 5 are clear for all to see, about the “Heavenly Trio”. f) W.W. Prescott – died in 1944 (13 years after the 1931 trinitarian statement of belief, and 52 years after the 1892 trinitarian tract). He was an associate and close working partner of E.J. Waggoner after the Waggoner-headed Pacific Press published Dr. Spear‘s Trinitarian tract in 1892. Despite he had opposed A.T. Jones‘ ‗mannerism‘ in giving the 1888 message, he accepted the message (as reported by other pioneers), and never opposed Pacific Press‟ 1892 actions, nor the 1913 and 1931 Trinitarian statements of belief (in the 1931 Yearbook). Prescott is remembered as the first to publish in the 1920‘s, in the book form, the same truths of 1888 (and the 1892 tract) entitled “The Doctrine of Christ” (1920). In chapter (section) 4, he showed how Christ appeared as ―I AM” in the Old Testament, and was incarnated in the New Testament as the manifested “I AM”, but as a separate Godhead person, equal with the Father. The following quote, from an earlier post-1892 article he wrote, in the Review and Herald, shows just how he saw Jesus as “I AM” (clearly a Trinitarian type argument): “It has come to be quite fashionable in some quarters to acknowledge the divinity of Christ, using the term however, in an accommodated [restricted] sense, while denying his DEITY [or his place as being supremely God like the Father]”. -W.W. Prescott, Review and Herald, Feb. 11,1909 In 1919 (at the famous 1919 Bible Conferences) he was instrumental in showing why
trinitarianism, already declared by pioneer F.M. Wilcox in 1913, was a warranted belief. He was honest to represent the last surviving pioneers in admitting: ―WE [ many Adventists] BELIEVED A *LONG TIME THAT CHRIST WAS A CREATED BEING, in spite of what the Scripture says. I say this, that, passing over the experience I have passed over myself [my limited views] in this matter – this accommodating use of terms which makes Deity without eternity, is not my conception now [in 1919]of the gospel of Christ. I think it falls short of the whole idea expressed in the Scriptures…the Deity[of Christ] involves [full] eternity. The very expression involves it. You cannot read the Scripture and have the idea of Deity without eternity‖. -W.W. Prescott, The 1919 [S.D.A.] Bible Conference Transcripts, July 6, 1919, pg. 62 g) M.L. Andreasen – died after 1948. He was a pioneer in the 1890‘s and observed the church‘s reactions to the 1892 publishing of the Dr. Spear Trinitarian tract. The tract was clearly Trinitarian because upon the official publishing of the 1931 Trinitarian statement of belief, Andreasen added the full reprint of the tract to his book, entitled “The Book of Hebrews”(1948), a few years after 1931. He too was not a new generation member but personally knew and spoke to Mrs. White about Godhead issues, just like F.M. Wilcox. He too was able to observe, ‗first hand‘, how Mrs. White ‗accepted‘ Dr. Spears Trinitarian tract.
H) F.M. Wilcox - died in 1951. He was a pioneer in 1888 and 1892, and accepted the new developments related to the new version of the doctrine of the trinity. He never opposed trinitarianism and was well learnt in what Adventists had come to believe after 1888. He was trusted by Mrs White, and was chosen by her to be among the first five (5) men to be in charge of her estate (Board of Managers of E.G. White Estate) after she died. He helped to frame the new ―trinity‖ statement of belief in 1931 based on his vast knowledge of the history and later pre-1915 teachings of pioneering Adventism, that is, after distinctly declaring in 1913, in full view of Mrs. White: ―Seventh-day Adventists [not just myself] believe [now] in ... the Divine *TRINITY. This Trinity consists of the Eternal Father… the Lord Jesus Christ…[and] the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead‖- F. M. Wilcox (editor of Review and Herald), *Review and Herald, October 9, 1913 See again “Landmark No. 6”. This chapter (chapter 6) clearly shows Wilcox‘s qualification to take on such a monumental and revolutionary task in 1931. -N.B. See “Landmark No. 5” (chapter 5) for the role played by J.W. Westphal (died 1949).
THE TRINITY ACCEPTED IN ADVENTISM BEFORE 1915- The Clearest Evidence in the Pioneers‟ Own Words!
Here are some crucial quotes from certain Adventist articles, showing conclusively that among some pioneers there were changed attitudes to the trinity doctrine, its terminology and its teachings, long before the death of Mrs. White in 1915, and before the first official “Trinity” statement of belief of 1931. Note carefully the years of the quotes and the titles of the articles. Emphases supplied. “[The Holy Spirit is] one with and sent by the Father and the Son… He [the Holy Spirit] would make us know His personality, but ever in living connection with Christ…Let Him [the Spirit] make you
know, beloved, how surprisingly beautiful are the blended personalities of [now notice carefully] our *TRIUNE GOD (!!), manifested by the personal presence of the Holy Ghost‖ The Kings Messenger, *―Blended Personalities‖, Review and Herald, Vol. 77, April 3, *1900, pg. 210 ―It seems strange to me now [in 1898], that I ever believed that the Holy Spirit was only an influence, in view of the work He does‖ -R.A. Underwood – ―The Holy Spirit a Person‖, Review and Herald, Vol. 75, May 17, *1898, pg. 310 ―We need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a Person [not just split ‗personality‘] as [in same way that] God is a Person (!!) is walking through these grounds…He hears every word we utter, and knows every thought of every mind‖ -E.G. White- Manuscript Release, Vol. 7, pg. 299 (from an 1899 speech at Avondale College) ―There are three living [literal] Personalities of the Heavenly Trio…‖ E.G. White – Evangelism, pg. 615 (from *1905 Manuscript) ―Seventh-day Adventists [not just myself] believe [now] in ... the Divine *TRINITY. This Trinity consists of the Eternal Father… the Lord Jesus Christ…[and] the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead‖ F. M. Wilcox (editor of Review and Herald), *Review and Herald, October 9, 1913 Note CarefullyNow notice carefully that by *1900 there was now an acceptance of the term ―TRIUNE GOD‖ by the Review and Herald, in referring to the ―blended Personalities‖ of the Godhead; a clear similarity in meaning to the earlier published Trinitarian pamphlet (of Dr Spear) in 1892, a tract which stated and supported the basic tenets of trinitarianism. The tract, among other things, stated that: ―This doctrine [‗The Bible Doctrine of the Trinity‘], as held and stated by those who adopt it, is NOT a system of tri-theism [belief in three Gods], but is the doctrine of one God [one divinity or divine nature] subsisting and acting in three Persons [a tri-unity]…‖ Pamphlet No. 90 – “The Bible Doctrine of the Trinity”, Pacific Press, March 1892 (A reprint of Dr Samuel T. Spear‘s article of 1889, included in the 1892 Bible Student Library series, as a missionary tool) There is no getting around this reality of the church publishing basic trinitarianism at this point, despite the resistance of some. While, admittedly, the tract also spoke about the “eternal generation” of Christ as, at best, just “mystical speculation” , and Jesus being “subordinate” to the Father, both in His “divine as well as human nature” (pages 3, 7, 11 and 12), to focus only on this aspect of it is to ‗bury one‘s head in the sand‘ regarding the ‗bigger picture‘ of it‘s Trinitarian teachings. Its statements about Jesus being ―subordinate‖ or, in one context of the word, ‗accountable to and led by‘ the Father are probably best understood in light of the following considerations: (a) Mrs. White saw Jesus as ―God in the highest [not just delegated] sense”, and equal with the Father in all respects‖ [and would never contradict herself], but still saw ―the Father working above and through all‖ (Steps to Christ, 1892, pgs. 20-21). All modes of operation demand leadership, even among true equals (just like Adam and Eve). (b) Orthodox Trinitarians still accept, in a certain context, the ―primacy‖ of the Father,
that is, His leadership in “Eternal Godhead”, despite the “absolute” co-equality of Christ with Him as “head”, and the Holy Spirit being one with and representing them both. What is critical here is that the Spear article laid out the basic Trinitarian viewpoints that Adventism was now gradually leaning towards, after years of anti-Trinitarianism in Adventist literature. After this 1892 article, reprinted for the church‘s use, the change in Adventist thinking was gradual, but took on momentum after Mrs. White‘s 1898 “Desire of Ages” publication (coming six years after 1892). Now we can clearly see why Mrs. White for the first time referred to the Holy Spirit as the “Third Person of the Godhead” in this book. She clearly supported the earlier publication of 1892, which came long before her death in 1915, and before the “Trinity” statement of belief 1931(despite opposing views were still being expressed by some). Mrs. White *never once (after 1888) wrote against her colleagues now accepting the Holy Spirit as a Person, or using terms such as ―God the Son‖ (in 1890), and “our Triune God” (in 1900). Yet she named and spoke against the “pantheistic teachings” of the Dr Kellogg heresies, which came later. Where is the evidence of Adventism using the expression “God the Son” before the death of Mrs. White? Notice carefully again: ―Although we [Adventists] claim to be believers in, and worshippers of one God, I have thought that there are as many gods among us as there are conceptions of the Deity. And how many there are of these, and how limited are most of them. Rather, how limited are all of them! We do not half study the character of God the Father and [now notice very carefully] God the Son (!!), and the result is we make Christ such beings as ourselves‖ [that is, having a beginning and limited as the Son of God] -D.T. Bordeau – Review and Herald, Vol. 67, Nov. 18, *1890, pg. 707
Why did the Review and Herald publish this expression? This was simply because the truths of the Godhead controversies of the 1888 Conference had begun to take effect. Notice it was just two years after 1888 that brother Bordeau was expressing that Jesus was “God the Son”, and just two years after that (in 1892) that trinitarianism was then published, clearly indicating that only trinitarianism was seen as placing Jesus in a rightful and natural place of being fully eternal, and fully ―God in the highest sense‖, without the resultant teaching of an “Almighty God”, and a lower, separate, and just “Mighty” Son of God, that is, two Gods!! That is why the brethren started to use the expression “our Triune God”!! And if this evidence is not enough, here now is the final ―bombshell‘ for all those who are very limited in their command of the facts, having a zeal for ‗restoring‘ Adventist heritage, but not armed with all the knowledge of the true facts: ―WE [many Adventists] BELIEVED A *LONG TIME THAT CHRIST WAS A CREATED BEING, in spite of what the Scripture says. I say this, that, passing over the experience I have passed over myself [my limited views] in this matter – this accommodating use of terms which makes Deity without eternity, is not my conception now [in 1919]of the gospel of Christ. I think it falls short of the whole idea expressed in the Scriptures…the Deity[of Christ] involves [full] eternity. The very expression involves it. You cannot read the Scripture and have the idea of Deity without eternity‖ -W.W. Prescott- 1919 [SDA] Bible Conference Transcripts, July 16, 1919, pg. 58 This quote effectively shatters the arguments of some anti-trinitarians in Adventism today, who say that the pioneers were not for “a long time” Arians. Who should we believe; those who were there on the scene as pioneers, and reported ‗firsthand‘, or those who today (not being pioneers) deny the obvious, EVEN THE WORDS OF THE PIONEERS, because they refuse to see the truth, or accept all that happened? In the final analysis, every man‘s work will prove itself. However, no one can cover up or distort the truth for too long. It simply will refuse to remain imprisoned. The most crucial truth is, in the words of our pioneers, who accepted the Trinitarian type
approach to the subject of the “Eternal Godhead”: ―…Moses stood in the presence of the Eternal One [Christ], and he was not afraid; for his soul was in harmony with the will of his maker…The Deity [Christ] proclaimed *Himself, ‗THE LORD [I AM], THE LORD GOD, merciful and gracious…‖ - E.G. White- Patriarchs and Prophets, 1890, pg. 329 ―Our Lord Jesus Christ is to His people an Eternal Father, because He is *ETERNALLY ‗the same yesterday, and today, and forever‖ [that is, “God overall , blessed forevermore” and “God essentially and in the highest sense”, as Mrs. White earlier testified, in April 1906]. -J.M. Cole, ―The Everlasting Father‖, Review and Herald, Oct.31, 1929, pg. 3 The cornerstone of the Trinitarian doctrine is that Jesus is “essentially” God “in the highest sense” along with the Father, “of one substance” with Him, and with both being represented by the Holy Spirit as “a Person”, “the third Person of the Godhead”. “How surprisingly beautiful are the blended personalities of our Triune God?”, as stated by Review and Herald in 1900! Want more evidence? It was Mrs. White who said: ―All the evidence produced they decide shall not weigh a straw with them and they tell others the doctrine is not true, and afterward when they see as light, evidence they were so forward to condemn, they have too much pride to say I was wrong…‖ -Manuscript 15, 1888 May God help us all to be honest with ourselves in this matter.
CONCLUSION: The charge of the detractors, that it was a new generation of ―philosophers‖, who knew nothing about the beliefs of the pioneers, that led the church to ―abandon‖ what ALL pre-1915 pioneers held to firmly until Mrs. White‟s death (1915), is a spurious charge, and is based on either ignorance of all the facts, or the inability to be objective despite personal opinion. „Tailored‟ Trinitarianism showed its head in Adventism from as early as 1892, long before 1931 and was never condemned by Mrs. White until her death in 1915. Also, Mrs. White never saw it as, the ―mother of all heresies‖, because, apart from clearly showing another issue to be the chief ―heresy‖, she never once even spoke against the trinity, not even mentioning the word in order to condemn it! That too is indisputable!
APPENDIX NO. 2 – What does the ‗Nicene‘ Creed Really Say About the Godhead?
The formal (orthodox) doctrine of the Trinity (three persons united in the Godhead) is based upon the Nicene Creed of 325 A.D. (expanded on in 381 A.D.), which was formulated in response to the unscriptural teachings of Arianism. The creed itself is an expansion on the earliest Christian expressions (of the first centuries A.D.), which was first summarized in the Apostles Creed, which Arius was deviating from, in terms of fundamental Bible teachings of the early Apostles. See Walter R. Beach on this much earlier Creed (earlier than Nicea), in “The Creed that Changed the World” (Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1971). Thus the Nicene Creed sought to be more pointed and clear (than the
Apostle‘s Creed) about God, the Father Almighty, Jesus, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit – the three personalities in the Godhead (Romans 1:19,20). Suffice it to say that the idea of a ―trio‖ of personalities in the Godhead is nowhere explicitly stated in the Bible, but historically was the result of the summary of evident truths, first brought together in the Nicene Creed, upon which trinitarianism is based. Though Seventh-day Adventists have affirmed trinitarianism since 1892, it cannot be said (justifiably) that the church after that fully supported ALL of the ‗Athanasian‘ explanations of the Nicene Creed, as given by the Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church and Protestant churches of the West. The ‗Athanasian‘ explanation of the Nicene Creed came over three centuries after Nicea, and is what the early Adventist pioneers found offensive, especially as it concerns the explanation of the ―oneness‖ of the ―Persons‖ in the Godhead. The ―oneness‖ they felt (and rightly so) was not numeric, forming one individual Being (numeric organism), but spiritual, forming a united “Eternal Godhead”. However, since 1888 and 1892, the S.D.A. Church has found it difficult to deny most of the declarations in the Nicene Creed and that is why it is absolutely important that we take a look at what the creed states. In so doing, we can see why Adventists share many of the basic tenets in the creed, to the point where Mrs. White evidently refused to condemn trinitarianism after 1892. Some condemn the Nicene Creed, without taking the time to read and or analyze it carefully, thus failing to see that many of the same things they support Mrs. White in saying, are actually found stated in the Creed. Here now is what the creed says quoted in part, as it relates to the Godhead. Emphases in brackets, and added Scripture references, are supplied for a better understanding of the Creed: “We believe in [firstly] one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible; and [secondly] in one Lord Jesus Christ [1Cor. 8:6], the only begotten *Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages [from all eternity]; only begotten, that is [or meaning], from the substance of the Father, God [divinity] from God [divinity], light from light, true God [true divinity] from [the] true God, begotten, not made [not created] but, of one [same type] substance with the Father [‗homoousion‘], through whom all things came into existence, who because of us men, and because of our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate [made flesh] from [by or through] the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became a man and was crucified…buried, and rose again…ascended to the heavens, and sits on the right hand of the [distinct] Father, and will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead…;and [thirdly] in the Holy Spirit, [who is] the Lord [2 Cor. 3:17-18] and the Life Giver [Job 33:4], who proceeds [comes from and is sent] from the Father *AND THE SON [a later addition by the Western Church – see Rom. 8:9], who with the Father and the Son is together worshipped [venerated or served – Joshua 24:14,15] and glorified…” ―The Nicene Creed‖ -Source – Encyclopedia Britannica, 1970 edition COMMENTS Now it is interesting how, when taken as they read, many of these statements could not be denied by many honest Adventists, when they are confronted with similar statements by Mrs. White, especially as they relate to: 1) The ‗begetting‘ of Jesus from the Father‘s substance “before all ages [from all eternity], despite he is seen as a ―distinct person” “from all eternity”. Trinitarians, like Mrs. White, saw no Biblical contradiction in these two truths. Adventists (some, not all) run into trouble by thinking that the two ideas are incompatible. See “Landmark No.3” (or Chapter 3). 2) The “of one substance”[homoousios] clause of the creed - the key factor in explaining the relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are all similar and equal in nature, but distinct personalities. Notice how the creed was emphatic in explaining the meaning of the same
“of one substance” expression used by Mrs. White (see again “Landmark No.3” or chapter 3). The clause is not the problem, just context of explanation. 3) The fact that ”three living [literal] personalities” make up the Godhead, the “Eternal Godhead” as stated so clearly by Mrs. White (see “Landmark No. 5” or chapter 5), despite neither the word “trio”, or that the Godhead has three personalities, are explicitly stated (but implied) in the Bible. The Nicene Creed and Mrs. White agree on the matter of the “constituent persons of the Eternal Godhead” being a “trio”. 4) The serving (venerating, worshipping) of the Holy spirit, together with the Father and the Son – a key factor in trinitarianism. See again “Landmark No. 5” for the clear evidence in Mrs. White‘s writings on this matter of ”serving” or “venerating” the Spirit, “the third person of the Godhead”. These are all the basic premises of trinitariansim, even if explanations differed somewhat between the original (orthodox) explanation and the Adventist explanation (e.g. the “oneness” in the Godhead, and the distinction of Christ from the Father). Another consideration could be that, too many criticize Trinitarians for, in their opinion, making Jesus seem “subordinate” [subject] to the Father, forgetting that Trinitarians, more than many other, declare that in the Godhead there is “no superiority or inferiority of RANK”, rather ―co-equality‖ [full equality of all]. However Trinitarians *HAVE reconciled this truth with the ‗leadership‘ of the Father in the Godhead, just like a husband must (or should) reconcile leadership over his wife, with her co-equality (full equality) with him as a person. Mrs. White accepted that Jesus is equal with the Father, but also clearly accepted the Father “working above and through all” (Steps to Christ, 1892,pgs. 20-21), that is, the angels, Jesus himself, and the Holy Spirit – all referred to as “Heavenly beings” by her in this quote. Some, without really coming to grips with what really are the criteria for trinitarianism, quote the following from Mrs. White and triumphantly declare it to be “anti-trinitarian”, because the Spirit is not mentioned at this juncture: “All things Christ received from God [the Father], but he took to give. So in the heavenly courts, in his ministry for all created beings; through the beloved Son the Father‟s life flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in praise and joyous service, a tide of love, to the Great Source [the Father] of all.”[Remember Father & Son are both “from all eternity”] -E.G. White, Desire of Ages, 1898, pg.21 This is a huge mistake on their part (on two counts), to believe this to be an anti-trinitarian statement. Here are the true facts. Firstly, the Roman Catholics (Trinitarians) read the book, “Desire of Ages”, cover to cover, and in September 1965, recommended it for reading to Roman Catholics, in the “Universal Fatima News”. Why? Because they felt it was, apart from beautifully portraying the life of Christ, also theologically sound as far as trinitarian thinking goes, in its basic tenets. Secondly, the following quote, from the Encarta Encyclopedia (2000), on the subject of “The Trinity”, shows why Trinitarians supported the above description by Mrs. White: “The doctrine of the trinity may be understood on different levels. On one level it is a means of construing the word „God‟ in Christian discourse. „God‟ is not uniquely a Christian word, and it needs specific definition in Christian theology…Paul says, there are many „gods‟ and many „lords‟ – yet for us there is one God, the Father…AND one Lord, Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 8:5-6). These words constitute the beginning of a process of clarification and definition, of which the end
product is the doctrine of the trinity…The God of the Hebrew tradition had become known in a new way, first in the person of Christ, [tangibly], and then in the Spirit that moved into the Church. On a speculative level of understanding, the doctrine reveals the dynamism of the Christian conception of God [the specie] - INVOLVING NOTIONS OF A SOURCE, A COMING FORTH, AND A RETURN (PRIMORDIAL, EXPRESSIVE, AND UNITIVE…)” -“Trinity”, Encarta Encyclopedia (Microsoft) – 2000 This reveals clearly that some, unwittingly, are Trinitarians (Roman Catholics and Jehovah Witnesses know it about them), but they deny and resist that the are, all the while pronouncing that which betrays and identifies trinitarianism in basic terms (if even not in ‗orthodox‘ terms), that is, the Father begetting the Son equal with Himself, and the Godhead Persons united in Spirit as a ―Trio‖. Notice the starting point for the Trinitarian – 1 Cor. 8:5,6 – the very passage so many think is anti-Trinitarian, forgetting the conjunctive “AND one Lord Jesus Christ” in the text, as well as the synonymous meanings of “Lord” and “God” in the passage!! Notice that the same Spirit unites the Father, and Son, in action and representative presence. Once the Spirit is ever shown to be a “mysterious personality” proceeding from the Father through the Son, then trinitarianism is affirmed. Obviously the Father must be distinct (separate) from the Son, for the Father (the Source) to see his Son as the Medium ―through” which his life flows out to all, and return in praise. That is what the Roman Catholics recognized in “Desire of Ages”, as the deepest level of understanding about the nature of the Godhead, and thus recommended it without reservation TO THEIR TRINITARIAN BRETHREN!! Why? Because the same basic truth is found in their Nicene Creed! It is clear that this is the same premise on which the Nicene Creed is built, with the very opening words of the creed affirming 1 Co.8: 6. Could it be that those who claim, in Adventism, to be antiTrinitarian, but support Mrs. White in affirming that the Holy Spirit is evidently a mysterious personality inseparable from the Father and the Son, KNOW NOT WHAT BASIC TRINITARIANISM IS? Could it be that they fail to recognize that ‗semi-Trinitarianism‘ or ‗Trio-ism‘ is, in essence, trinitarianism just the same– the same way semi-Arianism (by ‗homoeans‘) is a brand of Arianism? Being under the same theological ‗roof‘, does not necessarily mean being in the same specific ‗room‘ (contextually). Thus, logically, in order not to be seen as under the Trinitarian ‗umbrella‘, the only true anti-Trinitarian is one who rejects the ―Trio‖ in the Godhead, and teaches that the Spirit is just a force.
*OTHER INDEPENDENT PRESENTATIONS BY THE AUTHOR, ON THE SUBJECT OF THE
GODHEAD IN ADVENTISM: 1. THE ADVENTIST HERESY? -Did the S.D.A. Church change its Doctrine on God after 1915? (A 2000 booklet and audiotape) 2. DO ADVENTISTS WORSHIP THREE GODS? (A 2001 booklet) 3. THE OMEGA HERESY EXPLORED! (A 2001 booklet) 4. WHAT IS HERESY? (A 2001 tract or leaflet) 5. LUCIFER THE MOST HIGH GOD? (A 2001 tract/leaflet and audiotape) 6. ITCHING MINDS IN ERROR! (A revised 2001 pamphlet)
7. SEVEN EXPLOSIVE TRUTHS IN ADVENTISM! (A 2001 audiotape) 8. TRINITY- THE ISSUES OUTLINED! (A 2000 audiotape) *AND MORE!!
Call (876) 539-4734 or 385-5982 email@example.com Or Write: Derrick Gillespie Munro College P.O., St Elizabeth Jamaica, W.I.