1975 Jan-MarVIII 1(75) - VIII 3(75)
1975 Apr-Jun VIII 4(75) - VIII 6(75)
1975 Jul-Sep VIII 7(75) - VIII 9(75)
1975 Oct-Dec VIII 10(75) - VIII 12(75)
1976 Jan-Mar IX 1(76) - IX 3(76)
1976 Apr-Jun IX 4(76) - IX 6(76)
1976 Jul-Sep IX 7(76) - IX 9(76)
1976 Oct-Dec IX 10(76) - IX 12(76)
1977 Jan-MarX 1(77) - X 3(77)
1977 Apr-Jun X 4(77) - X 6(77)
1977 Jul-Sep X 7(77) - X 9(77)
1977 Oct-DecX 10(77) - X 12(77)
1978 Jan-Mar XI 1(78) - XI 3(78)
1978 Apr-Jun XI 4(78) - XI 6(78)
1978 Jul-Sep XI 7(78) - XI 9(78)
1978 Oct-Dec XI 10(78) - XI 12(78)
1979 Jan-Mar XI 1(79) - XI 3(79)
1979 Apr-Jun XI 4(79) - XI 6(79)
1979 Jul-Sep XI 7(79) - XI 9(79)
1979 Oct-DecXI 10(79) - XI 12(79)
Feb Knight Descends On Jones. 1of 4.
Mar Knight Descends On Jones. 2 of 4.
1988 Apr-Jun 3 & 4 of 4.
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SHORT STUDIES - William H. Grotheer -
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Holy Flesh Movement 1899-1901, The - William H. Grotheer
Hour and the End is Striking at You, The - William H. Grotheer
the Form of a Slave
In Bible Prophecy
Doctrinal Comparisons - Statements of Belief 1872-1980
Paul VI Given Gold Medallion by Adventist Church Leader
Sacred Trust BETRAYED!, The - William H. Grotheer
Adventist Evangelical Conferences of 1955-1956
SIGN of the END of TIME, The - William H. Grotheer
of the Gentiles Fulfilled, The - A Study in Depth of Luke 21:24
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
Song of Solomon - Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary
Ten Commandments - as Compared in the New International Version & the King James Version & the Hebrew Interlinear
OTHER BOOKS, MANUSCRIPTS & ARTICLES:
Various Studies --
Bible As History - Werner Keller
Canons of the Bible, The - Raymond A. Cutts
Daniel and the Revelation - Uriah Smith
Facts of Faith - Christian Edwardson
Individuality in Religion - Alonzo T. Jones
"Is the Bible Inspired or Expired?" - J. J. Williamson
Letters to the Churches - M. L. Andreasen
Place of the Bible In Education, The - Alonzo T. Jones
Sabbath, The - M. L. Andreasen
So Much In Common - WCC/SDA
Which Banner? - Jon A. Vannoy
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WWN 1993 Jul - Sep
-- XXVI -- 7(93) -- THE
AGENDA OF DECEPTION --
Teaching Being Revived --
We have been warned that
"the power of Satan now
to tempt and deceive is ten-fold greater than it was in the days of the
apostles." (SG, 11, p. 277) The
intensity of the deception is in inverse proportion to the time remaining.
We are now being buffeted
"with every wind of doctrine" for the very objective "to
deceive." (Eph. 4:14) Yet we seem
oblivious to the fact that the "many voices" sounding today
in the community of Adventism are discordant even though they share the
same platform. Let us face the fact that "church bashing" is
not a safe criterion by which to judge the truthfulness of those "voices"
sounding in the community of Adventism, each declaring that he or she
has a message from God for Laodicea. Such "bashing," manifest
in headlining the latest sensational episode or questionable position
voiced by the Church, may in reality cover spiritual deception on the
part of the "voice" with resultant eternal consequences.
There has been in our Church history a short-lived
movement which never reached full fruition, but
p 2 -- by the introduction of the "celebration" type of worship.
The doctrinal positions as taught by the "Holy Flesh" men of Indiana are being reintroduced and widely accepted among many of the major "independent ministries."
The keystone doctrine of the Gospel is the
incarnation. Without Bethlehem, there would have been no Calvary. Only
by "dying in humanity" could Jesus destroy him that had the
power of death.
"He could not have done this as God, but coming as man Christ could
die." (Letter 97, 1898)
That life lived in human flesh was sinless, or else there would have been
no resurrection. He was "declared
to be the Son of God with power [over all flesh - John 17:2], according
to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead." (Rom.
1:4) Without the resurrection,
there would be no High Priestly intercession to bring an end to sin. (Heb.
We have become familiar with the stated positions
current in the official Church through the Tithe "Supplement"
in the Adventist Review in 1991, written by Dr. Roger W. Coon of
the Ellen G. White Estate. One in the Church can either believe that Christ
in assuming humanity took the pre-Fall nature of Adam, or that He took
the post-Fall. If you do not prefer either of these, you can accept the
position advocated in Seventh-day Adventists Believe...., the thinking
of the Anglican divine, Henry Melvill. (See pp. 47, 57) But few are aware
that the Church's ministry were given a resume of two of the above positions,
with a third alternative being the Holy Flesh teaching on the doctrine.
In the Ministry (June, 1985) two parallel
articles were published. One - "What Human Nature Did Jesus Take?
Unfallen" - was written under the pseudonym of "Benjamin Rand;"the
other - "What Human Nature Did Jesus Take? Fallen" - with the
pseudonym of "Kenneth Gage." One year later -
is forthright in stating that he believes that
the view he is propounding "could
bring together the two viewpoints discussed in Ministry" (June,
1985). Davis holds
"that Jesus was not incarnated with a nature common to all men. He
did not come to this world to be in all respects like all men. His human
nature was common only with those who have experienced a spiritual
rebirth. Let us express this another way: Of Mary, Jesus was born,
'born-again."' (Was Jesus REALLY Like Us? p. 30; emphasis
his) He holds in common with
the editor of the Adventist Review that Jesus had "a fully
human nature (while also being fully God)." (Ministry, June
1986, p. 15) All of this is impossible to reconcile. If Jesus had a "fully
human nature," that nature would be "a nature common to all
men" which Davis denies. Further a "fully human" nature,
the only nature known since the Fall, is a nature that has been defiled
by sin. Jesus took a "fallen,
suffering human nature, degraded and defiled by sin." (YI,
Dec. 20, 1900) But He
did not yield to the forces of the flesh; He did no sin. Whether a man
is born again, or not born again, there is still resident in all human
flesh, the potential to sin. That human nature "defiled by sin,"
Davis' teaching in regard to the incarnation
is identical to the teaching of the "holy flesh" men of Indiana.
Let it be clearly understood from the beginning that the men of Indiana
did not believe that their flesh was holy. One minister in the conference
who opposed the leadership described the teaching as "the
sinless flesh doctrine." (See, The Holy Flesh Movement, p.
27) It was finally dubbed the "Holy Flesh" Movement. While Ellen
White used the term "Holy Flesh," she described the doctrine
as teaching "perfection in the flesh." (SM, bk. ii, p.
Now what did the "holy flesh" men
of Indiana teach in regard to the incarnation? R. S. Donnell, titular
head of the Movement, wrote while president of the Indiana Conference,
a series of articles in the Indiana Reporter on the subject. The
internal evidence of these articles suggests they were a response to another
series published in the Review & Herald by A. T. Jones on the
same subject. Later, after being removed from the presidency of the conference,
he published these articles in a booklet - What I Taught in Indiana.
Included with these articles were his answers to a series of questions
which the newly elected president of the Conference propounded to him.
These articles and the answers to the questions give the evidence of the
teaching of the men of Indiana by which comparison can be made with the
teaching of Thomas and Margret Davis today.
Question 4 of the interrogatives reads -
"Please state in a few words your views on the nature of Christ?"
To this Donnell replied:
"Christ's nature was a divine human nature. [It was] a nature which,
prior to the new birth, has not been possessed by a single son or daughter
of Adam since the fall." (p. 20)
p 3 -- Not only
did Donnell teach, as Davis does, that Christ came born, "born again,"
but to support this teaching, he used the same identical arguments which
the Davises employ today. Donnell quoted
Hebrews 2:11 - "For both he that sanctifieth
and they that are sanctified [not those He is going to sanctify, but they
who are sanctified] are all of one; for which cause He is not ashamed
to call them brethren." Then
he commented -
"Notice that it is the sanctified ones who He is not ashamed to call
brethren. Further, it is the sanctified ones of whose flesh He partakes."
(Donnell, op. cit., pp. 4-5)
In the Ministry article noted above,
Davis likewise quoted Hebrews 2:11. Then he enlarges on the Scriptural
use of the word, "sanctified."
The logic appears to be without flaw. Then
"We read in Hebrew 2:17 that Jesus was made like his brethren
[the born-again, sanctified ones] in every respect." (Emphasis
his) Defending a hermeneutic
which he uses, he summarized - "In
the light of the foregoing we may conclude that there was something important
about the incarnate nature of Christ that was like born-again people but
unlike unregenerated people." (p. 14)
This is "holy flesh" teaching even using their arguments to
the dotting of the "i" and the crossing of the "t."
After the 1901 General Conference session
which ended the Holy Flesh Movement, Ellen G. White went to Indianapolis
to be present for the reorganization of the Conference. During this called
session, she bore a decided testimony to the delegates concerning the
experience through which they had just passed. At the close of her discourse
"When I am gone from here, none [and
this includes the Davises] are to pick up any points of
this doctrine and call it truth. There is not a thread of truth in the
whole fabric." (E. G. White Estate Document File 0190;
Today, we see a revival, as prophesied, of this doctrine among the major "independent ministries," led by Tom and Margaret Davis. This deception is disturbing many sincere concerned Adventists with baleful results. I have seen devoted seekers for truth become so discouraged in the application of this doctrine to "perfection" so as to doubt whether they were Christians. I have also seen fine young people after assimilating this deception, reach the conclusion they are no longer sinning. This later experience is exactly the results which Ellen G. White declared would have occurred back in 1901 had the "holy flesh" teaching been carried to its ultimate conclusion. (SM, bk. ii, p. 32)
At the 1901 General Conference session, the
night before Ellen G. White bore her decided testimony against the "Holy
Flesh" Movement, Dr.
E. J. Waggoner spoke to a question which had been given him
to answer. The question read:
"Was that holy thing which was born of the virgin Mary born in sinful
flesh, and did that flesh have the same evil tendencies to contend with
that ours does?" (1901 GC Bulletin, p. 403) Dr.
Waggoner told the delegates that in the very question itself was the idea
of the Catholic dogma of the immaculate Conception. Then he stated -
"We need to settle, everyone of us, whether we are out of the church
of Rome or not. There are a great many that have got the marks yet."
(ibid., p. 404)
What are these marks? The whole of the problem
revolves around the meaning of a dream given to a man fleeing the wrath
of his brother. The first night away from home, and with stones for a
pillow, the Lord appeared to Jacob in a dream. He saw a ladder which connected
earth with heaven bridging the gulf which sin had created. The text reads:
"Behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to
heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it."
(Gen. 28:12) This ladder
was a symbolism of Jesus Christ, and so recognized by Him. (John 1:51)
The ladder not only reached to heaven but it was set up on the
earth. It was not short on either end. Any theory, or concept which cuts
short the ladder bears the marks of Rome.
Rome rests this "ladder" in Mary
"unlike the rest of the children of Adam, the soul of Mary, was never
subject to sin, even in the first moment of its infusion into the body.
She alone was exempt from the original taint." (The
Faith of Our Fathers, 88th rev. ed., p. 171)
The Evangelicals rest that ladder in the sanctified womb of Mary:
"As the dust of the ground was enlivened by a miraculous act, and
the result was the individual body of Adam, so the substance of Mary was
quickened and sanctified by a miraculous act, and the result was the human
soul and body of Jesus Christ." (Quoted in Ministry, Dec.
1957, p. 39) The "Holy
Flesh" teaching rests the "ladder" on a "born again"
"the base of this ladder rests firmly on the earth, brought to the
very level of humanity." (ST, Jan. 6, 1898)
"If that ladder had failed by a single step of reaching the earth,
we should have been lost. But Christ reaches us where we are. He took
our nature and overcame." (DA, pp. 311-312)
"Made 'in the likeness
of sinful [not born again]
flesh,' He lived a sinless life." (ibid.)
p 4 -- It must be re-emphasized that
the potential to sin is not eradicated at the "new birth." We
still remain in the flesh until this vile body is fashioned "like
unto (Christ's) glorious body." (Phil. 3:21; Rom. 8:23) Recognizing
ourselves as sinners, we repent - change our mind - and we are to ever
remain in that state of repentance I am to die daily. (I Cor. 15:31) I
must remain at the foot of the cross - set up on earth - and there find
"my hope and stay." It is the highest place that I can attain.
(AA, p. 210) All that follows in life is but the outworking of
my heartfelt appreciation of what the crucified One provided for me. I,
a slave to the enemy of God, willingly become a slave of the Lord Jesus
Christ, but His matchless love lifts me up, and I become a son of God.
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that
we should be called the sons of God." (I John 3:1) But the theories
of man wish to remove that Christ from us, and supplant an "antichrist"
who did not come all the way down and set up on earth that ladder back
These false theories of the incarnation produce
with varying emphases a salvation by works program which negates the very
message which God brought to this people in 1888. Justification by faith
"is the work of laying the glory of man in the dust and doing for
man that which it is not in his power to do for himself. When men see
their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness
of Christ." (Spec. Test. to Ministers & Workers, p.
We need to review just what took place at the Incarnation, when the Lord of glory stooped low to set up the ladder on the earth. Basic is the fact that He who was born at Bethlehem had pre-existed as God. "There is light and glory in the truth that Christ was one with the Father before the foundations of the world were laid. This is the light shining in a dark place, making it resplendent with divine, original glory. This truth, infinitely mysterious in itself, explains other mysterious and otherwise unexplainable truths, while it is enshrined in light, unapproachable and incomprehensible." (R&H, April 5, 1906) This pre-existent Self-Identity took upon Himself a body formed in the womb of Mary.
It is at this point that the question of
Mary enters the picture. Was Mary immaculate? Was a section of her womb
sanctified? Did she produce a born-again body in which Christ was to dwell?
Each individual in formulating an answer to these questions must decide
as Waggoner suggested that night long ago at the 1901 General Conference
session - am I out of the Church of Rome or not? Tragically as he also
stated - "There are a great many that have got the marks yet."
These words were directed to the "holy flesh" men at the session.
You and I have an earthly father. From that father and that mother, we receive not only our body, but also our unique identity. We are fully human. Having by and from birth a fallen nature, we are unable to resist the forces inherent in the flesh. "The result of eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is manifest in every man's experience. There is in his nature a bent to evil, a force which, unaided, he cannot resist." (Education, p. 29) While the flesh of itself cannot sin, our weakened wills cannot resist the flesh's demands. We sin. Christ on the other hand recognized the power of the fleshly cravings, and admitted: "I can of mine own self do nothing." (John 5:30) Giving us this example, He let God work in Him of His good pleasure. (John 14:10; Phil. 2:13)
The problem with our theology is that we have in one form
or another adopted the "holy flesh" concept of a "divine
human nature." There is no such thing on earth. Even in Christ the
two natures - His pre-existent Identity, and the humanity He received
from Mary - were distinct. "The
two expressions 'human' and 'divine' were in Christ, closely and inseparably
one, and yet they had a distinct individuality." (ST, May
10, 1899) We,
too, can become partakers of the "divine nature" through the
acceptance of the precious promises of God. (II Peter 1:4) The promise
is His word to fulfill to us the provisions of "the redemption that
is in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 3:24) Accepting His word by faith, this
becomes my "treasure" held in an earthen vessel "that the
excellency of the power may be of God, and not of [me]" (II Cor.
4:7) The "treasure" and "the earthen vessel" are as
distinct in us, as the "divine" and "human" were in
Jesus. Never does the "earthen vessel become divine, so that we can
say we have a "divine human nature." Neither can it be said
of Jesus in the incarnation.
Jesus carried that body with its nature to the very end,
to the cross itself, and there let it be crucified. When He arose, His
was a glorified humanity which He has carried into the highest heaven.
It is a body like unto that "glorious body" which we will receive
in exchange for our "vile body." (Phil. 3:21) We, too, carry,
our fallen human nature to the very end. Daily it must be crucified.
But now the supreme question: Do we
continue to sin to the very end? The answer is - No! It is at this point
that the uniqueness of the gospel committed in sacred trust to Adventism
enters the picture. There is a final atonement. By the outpouring of the
Holy Spirit without measure there is to be realized in a victorious group
the same experience as was demonstrated in Jesus. (John 3:34) Basic to
that experience is a correct understanding of the doctrine of the incarnation.
Mariology in any form is a deception.
Note: Those who wish to study more thoroughly into the "Holy Flesh" history may obtain the manuscript - The Holy Flesh Movement - 1899 - 1901 from the Adventist Laymen's Foundation. .
p 5 -- "THE
GREAT MEDICAL MISSIONARY" --
Because of sin, sickness, disease, and death have been the lot of humanity.
Throughout time men have sought to alleviate the effects of sickness,
cure disease, and prolong life. Various methods have been used in seeking
to combat these results of sin. In the Hebrew economy, the priest was
given diagnostic authority in the recognition and determination of certain
diseases. See Leviticus 13. There are illustrations in the Old Testament
where the power of God working through natural means brought recovery.
(11 Kings 5:10-14; 20:7)
In the New Testament Jesus recognized the work of the
doctor. He declared they that were sick were in need of a physician. (Matt.
9:12) He himself combined natural means with divine power for restoration.
(John 9:6-7) The limitations of medical practitioners are also noted.
(Mark 5:25-26) Yet Luke, companion of Paul, is described as "the
beloved physician." (Co1.4:14)
When God raised up a people to proclaim His last warning
to the inhabitants of earth, He connected with the giving of the Three
Angels' Messages, a health reform program, and assigned to them a medical
missionary, work. It is stated thus: "The
medical missionary work is to be the work of the church as the right arm
to the body. The third angel goes forth proclaiming the commandments of
God and the faith of Jesus. The medical missionary work is the gospel
in practice." (8T:77)
This presents two important factors:
1) The medical missionary work is as the right arm.
This does not mean that it becomes the whole body. Herein many have erred.
2) The medical missionary work
is the gospel in practice. Dare we preach a false gospel? Then
dare we practice a false gospel? What corrupts a true gospel? Is it not
the mingling of error with truth? Was not the gospel as proclaimed by
the Apostles corrupted when mingled with paganism?
We have been clearly warned that in these final hours
"Satan will come in to deceive if possible the very elect. 'tie claims
to be Christ, and he is coming in, pretending to be the great medical
missionary." (Series B, #6, p. 33)
The same means he has used to corrupt the gospel, he will also use to
corrupt the medical missionary work -pagan philosophy and the occult.
This very combination is noted as the basis for God's rejection of those
professing to be His people in the last days. Describing these last days,
Isaiah wrote: "Therefore,
thou has forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished
from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines." (2:6) Received
from the east is the diagnostic tool of iridology. Kurt
E. Koch, Th.D. in his book, Occult ABC, wrote that
"historically, iris diagnosis...goes back to ancient Chinese methods
of healing," and is "associated
with astrology." (p. 100) He
stated further: "In
the case of iris diagnosis, the eye was originally (in ancient China some
three thousand years ago) divided into five concentric zones, alterations
in which were evaluated in making the diagnosis. The later division into
twelve fields corresponds to the astrological signs of the zodiac: (list
given)...In the last century, new shoots began to sprout from the primitive,
superstitious roots of iris diagnosis." (ibid.)
Dr. Koch referred
to a detailed work on Iridology by Professor P. A. Jaensch - Irisdiagnostick.
He noted that he was surprised to find in this work a chapter on "Eye
Diagnosis and occultism," and commented: "I
would hardly have expected to find such a subject dealt with by a university
Jaensch called iris diagnosis, "Afterwissenschaft,
meaning a pseudo-science, or fantasy under scientific guise."
(ibid., p. 102) Seeking
to give a balanced discussion, he noted that there are psychic, occult
methods of diagnosis, but that many iris diagnosticians have nothing to
do with spiritism, however,
"the medical value of their diagnosis is extraordinarily thin. In
many cases it is meaningless." (p. 103)
summarizes his experience in two observations: "1.
Eye diagnosticians who are not occult cause no harmful effects on their
patients. The medical value of their treatment, however, is very small.
This should tell us something. Only those, wittingly, or unwittingly, who are working under
p 6 -- the psuedo-"great medical missionary" can give the most accurate iris diagnosis.
In America, the leading proponent of the use of iridology
in the diagnosis of disease is Dr.
Dr. Bernard Jensen published
a book -The Science
and Practice of Iridology. The
second chapter, "The Philosophical Phase," gives
some insight into the thinking of Dr. Jensen. He quotes with fond recollection
a statement of one of his "old teachers" that
"the white areas in the iris are likened to the angels of heaven,
while the dark or black areas are compared to the devil of hell."
(p. 5) Further, he asserts
that doctors employing natural methods of healing are aware of the forces
and sources which affect the individual health. Besides the food we eat,
the air we breathe,
"there are vibrations that are around (us), which are food for (our)
'feeling' body." (p. 6)
In another chapter, noting that
"our seasons and our lives are considerably under the influence of
our sun," and that
"in the past some races of peoples were sun worshippers,"
"We should all be sun worshippers because all life comes from the
sun and we could not live without it." (p. 336)
Seventh-day Adventists who are enlightened in regard to
the origin of sun worship, and who
LETS TALK IT OVER
-- In the articles of this issue, there are two important factors involved,
one having to do with faith, and the other doctrinal, which is directly
related to one's Christian experience.
Let us consider the matter of faith. First, faith is the
evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1) Secondly, faith is based on the
word of God. (Rom. 10:17) There are things in life which may appear good,
and blessed by God. We may even attend a campmeeting, or some revival,
and experience a good feeling. The evidence as seen may indicate that
God's presence was there. Do we then judge by the feeling received, or
do we judge by the Word of God? As the Holy Spirit is being withdrawn
from the earth, it is being replaced by another spirit. The final walk
on earth will be by faith and not by sight!
The enemy was successful in the very first temptation
to challenge the Word of God, and substitute sight and feeling as the
basis for the acceptance of that which was projected by him as truth.
This he has successfully repeated over and over again. His final attack
will be no different. Why should he substitute something different when
he has used this approach so successfully for milleniums? So when we "see"
and sense a "feeling" of exhilaration, we take the fruit, and
partake, and tell others what a blessed experience we had, not stopping
to ask, is it all according to the Word of God.
We may boast of successes in medical missionary work. We may even point to documented results - the evidence seen! Yet if what we do is not according to the Word of God, but is based in methodology invented by the enemy, it is not of faith. It was not without reason that two questions are asked in The Great Controversy. Speaking of those only who "will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive," it is asked: "Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible, and the Bible only." (P. 625) Let us not put this off as speaking solely of some future day, that time is upon us now.
Turning to the second point - the doctrinal, which involves the incarnation, determines what I believe about sanctification and perfection. If, as in Catholicism, I believe that "the Ladder" reached down only to Mary, who in turn was
p 7 -- preserved free from all sin, then I must
find some means to reach the bottom rung. To find this means whether the
Roman Catholic teaching is believed, or one of the others - Evangelical
or "Holy Flesh" - results in some perversion of the Everlasting
Gospel. Either we fall into the abyss of "cheap grace," or we
plunge into the chasm of human works to accrue merit. The question in
simplest terms is - "Do I come to Jesus 'just as I am without one
plea,' or do I come to Him after I have demonstrated my worthiness to
Ellen G. White addressed this very point in her beautiful
summary of the 1888 Message. She wrote: "Some
feel that they must be on probation and must prove to the Lord that they
are reformed, before they can claim His blessing. But they may claim the
blessing of God even now. They must have His grace, the Spirit of Christ,
to help in their infirmities, or they cannot resist evil. Jesus loves
to have us come to Him just as we are, sinful, helpless, dependent.
We may come to Him with all our weakness, our folly, our sinfulness, and
fall at His feet in penitence. It His glory to encircle us in His arms
of love, and to bind up our wounds, to cleanse us from all impurity."
(Steps to Christ, pp. 56-57, 1940 editon)
This coming to Jesus must be a daily matter, for we carry
with us our fallen nature to the very end. It is never eradicated, as
was taught by the "Holy Flesh" men of Indiana, until these vile
bodies are exchanged for a body like unto Christ's glorious body. (Phil.
3:21) It is by God's power that we are kept day by day from falling into
acts of sin. (Jude 24) As a glorious climax to the plan of redemption,
God proposes to have a people who will stand "without fault"
as a final demonstration of HIS power to save to the uttermost.
This He will accomplish through the final atonement. But this is another
subject - a much neglected subject by those inventing theories of the
incarnation other than the Biblical, for they must devise a way to reach
the first rung of the Ladder which they have removed from the earth.
--- (1993 Jul) --- End --- TOP
Aug -- XXVI -- 8(93) -- STEPS TO LIFE RESPONDS TO ISSUES
-- TWO ERRORS DO NOT MAKE ONE TRUTH -- Following
the publication by the North American Division of Issues: The Seventh-day
Adventist Church and Certain Private Ministries, most of the "Certain
Private Ministries" responded with a rebuttal. The first received
by this Foundation was published by Steps to Life. It was bound by the
same color of cover stock and the title printed in gold ink letters as
was the North American Division publication. It was authored by Dr. Ralph
Larson. The title was also similar, Issues The Real Issue, the Side
Issues and the Pseudo Issues. It is as seriously flawed as was the
Division publication, and more detrimental to the spiritual well-being
of sincerely concerned Seventh-day Adventists, because by most of the
supporters of the "Private Ministries," it will be accepted
without question. The devotion to men rather than devotion to truth still
dominates the thinking of the vast majority of Adventists whether they
be in the regular church, or have become a part of the dissident movement.
major premises are set forth by Dr.
Larson in the Steps to Life publication. In Chapter IX under
the caption of "The Pseudo-Search for Historic Adventism," he
"We understand and use the term ' historic' to refer to the truths
that were held by viturally all Adventists before the book Questions
on Doctrine appeared in 1957." (p. 39)
Further, on the same page, he wrote:
"It is to the common faith of the pre-1957 era that we have reference
when we describe ourselves as ' historic Adventists."'
examining what Larson
designates as "The Straw-Man Technique," he writes that instead
of defending personal opinions as charged,
"we are actually defending our historic faith as set forth in SDAs
Believe ..., etc." (p. 54) This
statement presupposes that the book SDAs Believe... rectified the
deviations from the "historic faith in the book, Questions on
Doctrine, and thus restored the pre-1957 faith. These two premises,
we shall examine.
discussing why the axis of dissident leadership - Larson-Grosboll-Osborne-Trefz
"have preferred to call themselves ' historic Adventists',"
Larson writes: "We
are not ignorant of our church's history. We are well aware that the formation
of our doctrines was a gradual process, with major principles being established
in the early years and further refinements coming later. We are also aware
of the difference between ' landmarks' and 'pillars' of our faith and
the less important items." (p. 39)
Let us examine our church history in the light of the Divine Guidance afforded this church through the ministry of Ellen G. White. She clearly defined the landmarks. (Ms. 13, 1889; Counsels to Writers & Editors, pp. 30-31) She also warned: "We must not think, ' Well we have all the truth, we understand the main pillars of our faith, and must rest on this knowledge.' The truth is an advancing truth, and we must walk in the increasing light." (R&H, March 25, 1890) Concerning the "pillars of our faith," she wrote: "If the pillars of our faith will not stand the test of investigation, it is time that we knew it." (TM, p. 107) What Larson refers to as "further refinements coming later," Ellen White wrote: "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." (TM, p. 30)
The problem that has accentuated the crisis in
2 -- Adventism is two-fold: 1)
We did not in our history do as advised - learn and unlearn - but rested
satisfied in a false sense of doctrinal security. We did not experience
God's design for His people, that of "constantly obtaining a clearer
understanding of His word," and discerning "new light and beauty
of its sacred truths." But rather, as spiritual life declined, we
rested "satisfied with the light already received from God's word,
and discouraged any further investigation of the Scriptures."
2) God had a remedy. He
"will arouse His people; if other means fail, heresies will come
in among them, which will sift them, separating the chaff from the wheat."
has occurred. What has been the response? We have compromised our faith
instead of cleaning up our act - unlearning - so as to have pure basic
truth unencumbered with traditional error. Now what is the cry? Stay with
"historic" Adventism instead of doing what the Lord counseled
through His messenger - learn and unlearn. So we place ourselves back
where our immediate past leadership was when God permitted "heresies"
to come in among us. Instead, we should be growing in grace -advancing
in truth, and walking in increasing light.
directions given were clear and specific. They read: "The
Lord has made His people the repository of sacred truth. Upon every individual
who has had the light of present truth devolves the duty of developing
that truth on a higher scale than it has hitherto been done."
(Ms. 27, 1897; emphasis supplied)
we had been following counsel, and had developed the truth committed to
our trust, learning what "increasing light" God had for us through
a deeper study of the Holy Scriptures, and unlearning the errors that
had become tradition, we would have been able to stand up to the attacks
that the Evangelicals made upon our unique perception of the types of
the sanctuary services and related prophecies.
answer to ISSUES, is not the slogan, "Stay with 'historic'
Adventism," and pin-pointing that Adventism to be perceptions of
doctrine held at a particular point of time. To do so is to place concerned
Adventists back into the same positon the Church was prior to 1957, when
they could not defend their positions on the incarnation and the Sanctuary
truth against the questioning of Barnhouse and Martin. Since that time,
the Church has had to face the attacks of Dr. Desmond Ford in regard to
the Sanctuary truth in particular. His attacks are also a part of the
onslaught which concerned Adventists have to likewise face because of
their identity with the corporate body of truth committed to Adventism.
A few years back, I listened to a series of tapes of an exchange between
Dr. Ford and Dr. Colin Standish. Ford actually made Standish look as "sick"
as Walter Martin made Johnsson look on the Ankerberg Show. Yet Standish
is still not willing to study the Scriptures to be adequately prepared
to meet Ford's positions. The only answer to the present crisis is to
follow the counsel we have been given. Is it being done? The answer is
clearly - No! That is the real issue!
Lesson from History -- in
1620, a group of Pilgrims were embarking from Leyden, Holland, to sail
for the New World. Their Pastor, John Robinson, in a Farewell Message
plainly told them, "The
Lord has more truth yet to break forth from His Holy Word. I cannot sufficiently
bewail the condition of the reformed churches, who have come to a period
in religion, and will go at present no farther then the instruments of
their reformation. Luther and Calvin were great and shining lights in
their times, yet they penetrated not into the whole counsel of God. I
beseech you, remember it - ' tis an article of your church covenant -
that you be ready to receive whatever truth shall be made known to you
from the written Word of God." (Source Book for Bible Students,
1922 edition, p. 528)
evaluation of the condition of the reformed churches in 1620, that they
had "come to a
I recall in the golden-age of Adventist evangelism, when in visiting interested attendees at the meetings who were contemplating whether
3 -- to make a change from the church of their forefathers into the
Adventist Church, we told them that they were merely walking in the advancing
light of truth. We assured them that indeed Luther, Wesley and others
were great and shining lights in their day, but God was now giving them
additional light and truth. Has this ceased? Are we now going to tell
God's concerned people there is no more advancing truth for today, that
that advance stopped in 1957?
Ellen G. White's comment on this incident from history is noteworthy, After commenting on the Covenant the Pilgrims had taken to which John Robinson referred, she wrote: "Here was the true spirit of reform, the vital principle of Protestantism." (Great Controversy, p. 291) If this were truly believed, there would be the removal of Catholic orientated concepts from the teachings of many of the "independent ministers." There is a great enthusiasm to distribute The Great Controversy, when in reality some of those so promoting would do well to do some reading in it themselves.
Seventh-day Adventist Believe... (SDAB) -- Dr. Larson, in Steps to Life's reply to ISSUES, makes the claim that "our historic faith" is "set forth in SDAs Believe." (p. 54) Let us check some of the teachings as found in this book, and see if they accord with the Scriptures, or the Writings. We shall select three examples of the book's teaching.
Atonement, when completed? -- In the chapter discussing Belief
#23 of the 27 Fundamentals of the Church, we read the following: "The
atonement, or reconciliation, was completed on the cross as foreshadowed
by the sacrifices, and the penitent believer can trust in this finished
work of our Lord." (SDAB, p. 315)
in discussing Belief #26, we find this added comment:
"Christ, in the heavenly sanctuary, has been ministering the benefits
of His completed atonement to His people." (ibid.,
p. 365) Is this what was believed
- a completed atonement at the Cross - prior to the publication of the
book, Questions on Doctrine?
Did Moses write the Ten Commandments?
-- In the discussion of Belief #18, we find this incredible assertion: "Moses
wrote the Ten Commandments, with other explanatory laws, in a book called
the book of the covenant. (Exodus 20:1-24:8)" (ibid., p.
the Scripture reference given, one finds the record of the giving of the
Law from mount Sinai, besides various "judgments" and ordiances
which God instructed Moses to present to the people. These "judgments"
were written in a book which formed the basis of the Old Covenant which
God made with Israel. The clear statement in SDAB is that Moses
wrote in this book, the Ten Commandments, as well as the judgments. Now
carefully consider the following from the Writings: "Moses
had written - not the ten commandments, but the judgments which God would
have them observe, and the promises, on conditions that they would obey
Him." (Spiritual Gifts, Vol. III, p. 270)
can now draw your own conclusions in regard to the book, Seventh-day
Adventists Believe ... . But one must keep in mind that Dr.
Larson has unequivocally written over his signature:
"My theology is precisely and specifically the theology set forth
in the book Seventh-day Adventists Believe." (The Tithe
Problem, p. 3)
3) The Incarnation - What nature did Christ assume? -- The insert placed in the Nov. 7, 1991 issue of The Adventist Review, not only discussed tithe, but also stated there were three beliefs regarding the nature that Christ assumed in humanity current in Adventism today. These three are: 1) Christ took the nature of Adam before the Fall; 2) Christ took the nature of Adam after the Fall; and 3) "He took a nature that in certain respects was like Adam's before the fall, but in other respects was like Adam's after the fall." (Tithe Insert, p. 3) The fact is that this third concept was first published in Seventh-day Adventist Believe...under the affirmation that this book "represents an authentic exposition of Adventists beliefs." (SDAB, p. viii) This third belief was adopted from the Anglican divine, Henry Melvill, who considered his position, "the orthodox doctrine" on the Incarnation. (SDAB, p. 57)
book also teaches the second belief that Christ took the post-Fall nature
of Adam (ibid.
Confused? Yet this is the book which Steps to Life would have you accept as setting forth "historic" Adventism.
Why put a period to your study of God's Word and state that you will not go beyond the teachings prior to 1957? Why make the basis of your concepts of what constitutes "historic" Adventism, the flawed book, Seventh-day Adventists Believe...? Isn't it time to walk in the ever flowing light from the throne of God rather than being deceived by taking Steps to Life which do not lead to life, but rather to spiritual stagnation and ultimate death?
p 4 -- AN INSIGHTFUL LETTER -- Editor's Note: We receive frequent letters from our readers; some of which take issue with what we have written. For the most part, however, the response is favorable. Of the recent issues of WWN, none has produced the large and appreciative response that the May issue - "What is Basic Adventism?" - did. One letter, though rather lengthy, detailed the problem, and we are happy to share it with our readers.
6 June 1993
This is to both commend and thank
you for your May WWN message on "Basic Adventism." I
think you have hit the center of the doctrinal and theological crisis
both in the official church and in the independent ministries. Within
the official church, you find confusing doctrinal and theological pluralism
being presented from its pulpits and from its books and magazines. Among
the various independent ministires promoting "historic Adventism,"
you also find a confusion which makes it dangerous for your spiritual
welfare to look to them. For example, in one five day period around the
middle of May, I received brochures or letters from five independent ministries
(among them: Hope International, and Steps to Life). Upon reading their
information, it was obvious that no two of the ministries were in close
harmony with one another. Most of these groups profess to be standing
for "historic Adventism" yet it was painfully obvious there
was a lack of unity among them. This lack of unity was clearly assessed
in WWN, January, 1992, by Pastor Richard Sutton of the Remnant
SDA Church of Nora Springs, Iowa.
Perhaps the various independent
ministries and their leaders (Spear, Ferrell, Gibson and Rafferty, J.
Grosboll, Marcussen, etc.) each of which promotes their own "brand"
of "historic Adventism," would do well to consider the following
It is greatly alarming that many
independent ministries and their leaders claim to be led by the Holy Spirit,
and yet these ministries have conflicting, contradictory, and confusing
positions on righteousness by faith, prophecy, the ordination of "ministers,"
and the use of and the interpretation of Mrs. White's writings (to name
only a few) with one another. This problem merits the most serious consideration
by the independent ministries and their supporters.
For example, from about 1855 to
1888, the SDA church believed and taught "historic- Adventism."
However, "historic Adventism" was not sufficient to prevent
the rejection of the 1888 righteousness-by-faith message and messengers
Jones and Waggoner - by Butler, Smith, and their followers. "Historic
Adventists" fought both the message and messengers for over a decade
and a half and finally turned the church against the message and also
Jones and Waggoner.
Around 1905, after the 1888 righteousness-by--faith
message had largely been rejected and the messengers had left the church,
the denomination and its leaders reverted back to "historic Adventism,"
which reversion lasted up to about 1955 - in other words, around 50 years.
But "historic Adventism" was not sufficient to prevent Anderson,
Froom, and other church leaders from making compromises and concessions
to Barnhouse and Martin during the 1955-56 SDA-Evangelical Conferences.
Nor was it sufficient to prevent the publication of Questions on Doctrine
in 1957. "Historic Adventism" also did not prevent the development
and expansion of the SDA--Ecumencial connections during the mid and latter
Around 1970, under the Pierson administration, church leaders once again embraced "historic Adventism ". However, once again, "historic Adventism" was not sufficient to prevent the development and growth of very serious problems within the church. For example, during the time from 1970 to 1978, the Davenport financial scandal was developing. Church leaders in the
5 -- EEOC v. PPPA case proclaimed the G.C. President was a
"first minister," the church structure was "hierarchical,"
and the church's teaching on the papacy and Roman Catholicism had been
"consigned to the historical trash heap." In May 1977, Bert
Beach gave the late Pope Paul VI a church medallion." Historic Adventism"
also did not stop the spread of Fordite heresies in the pulpit and on
Adventist college campuses.
With the retirement of Pierson,
many church leaders began drifting toward evangelical - and even liberal
- theological positions on the atonement, prophecy, and righteousness
by faith, to note only a few areas.
has been taught in the church for 90-plus years. It has not been sufficient
to prepare the church to bring about the return of Jesus; neither has
it been adequate to prevent apostasy and corruption from entering and
overtaking the church. Therefore, the time is here for those independent
ministries and their leaders who are shouting "stay with historic
Adventism" to confront this most serious situation and do some very,
serious soul searching. Based on past church history, there is no real
reason to believe that 25 or 50 more years (if time lasts that long) of
preaching what is called "historic Adventism" will produce any
different results than it has in the past.
Equally as important as "what
is Basic Adventism" is "What is the True Church?" or maybe
"What is a True Adventist Protestant and His Church?" There
are far too many conservative Adventists or "historic Adventists"
who have essentially a Roman Catholic mentality. "Historic Roman
Catholics" look to the priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals,
and pope for spiritual direction and guidance. They look to their church
leaders to define for them their beliefs, theology, and conduct. They
tend not to question the actions, conduct, and policies of their church
leaders. "Historic Catholics" look to ceremonies, forms, or
rituals, like attending the mass or performance of some or all of the
so-called Seven Sacraments, for salvation.
Unfortunately, many "historic
Adventists" are not much different than "historic Roman Catholics."
Some "historic Adventists" look to their pastor, local conference
president, union president, Division president, or General Conference
president for spiritual direction and guidance, while other "historic
Adventists" look to the leaders of independent ministries for their
spiritual direction and guidance. Many "historic Adventists"
look to their leaders - whether within the denomination or in an independent
ministry - to define for them their beliefs, doctrines, and theology.
"Historic Adventists" seldom question the actions, conduct,
or policies of their chosen leaders - whether denominational or independent.
Many look to their adherence to certain standards of diet, dress, or entertainment
as a means - full or partial - toward their salvation.
The problem here is not that the
"historic Adventists" are right and the "historic Catholics"
are wrong. The problem is they are BOTH WRONG! In both cases, the "historic
Adventist" and the "historic Catholic" end up looking to
and depending upon something, someone, or some group in place of Jesus
and the Scriptures.
These strange parallels between
"historic Roman Catholics" and "historic Adventists"
should serve as a warning that many SDAs - including "historic Adventists"
- are in danger of receiving the mark of the beast - UNLESS they learn
to be PROTESTANTS. True PROTESTANTISM does not blindly, and unquestioningly
follow a hierarchy - whether denominational or independent - nor does
it ignore apostasy and corruption within the denomination or an indepdendent
ministry. Unfortunately, many 'historic Adventists" have been indoctrinated
by their parents, pastors, school teachers, and church leaders
not to think for themselves, but instead to follow their leaders, don't
ask quesitons and don't rock the boat. This Roman Catholic mentality must
end if Adventists - including "historic Adventists" - do not
want to receive the mark of the beast.
Finally, I would like to bring
to your attention this flyer that I received from Marcussen. Note the
return address name - "M.V. Society of Seventh-day Adventists."
I feel this is a gross deception since he has no official connection with
the church. The "straight testimony (?)" does not require this
kind of deception and prevarication. Note the mailing permit location
- Troy, MT.
Continue to fight the good fight.
p 6 -- LETS TALK IT OVER -- There can be no question that the follower of the Way, guided by the Spirit of truth, will "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (II Peter 3:18) Such an experience will be progressive. He will understand that "the truth is an advancing truth, and we must walk in the increasing light." (R&H, March 25, 1890) At no point in such an experience can one say, "Here is where I pitch my tent; here is where I shall abide." This is the problem involved in crying, " Stay with ' historic ' Adventism. "
On the other hand, there are some serious problems also. To walk in "the increasing light" means that there will be what could be called, "new light." How do we relate to "new light"? Some quickly dismiss that question by saying that all "new light" will conform to, and not contradict previously known truth. This is a true conclusion. But what about our "cherished views" and the "many, many [lessons] to unlearn"? Our cherished views could be in contradiction to "increasing light." Which would we accept, and which would we give up? Human nature being what it is, we would probably hold to our "cherished views" and reject the light. This is our present danger, with eternal consequences involved.
This is why we must go back to the basics, and build upon that firmly establshed platform of "Present truth". Upon those who have received "present truth devolves the duty of developing that truth on a higher scale that it has hitherto been done." (Ms. 27, 1897) Note the words we have emphasized - "duty" and "that truth." Not only is it a duty to be progressive in one's study of truth, but it is "that truth" not some fanciful interpretation that is to be developed. Let us illustrate in one area of Biblical studies which seems to have become the playground of those suggesting they have "new light" - prophecy.
When our spiritual forefathers set forth the first basic principle of Adventism - "the cleasning of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having a decided relation to God's people upon the earth" - they based the prophetic part of that conclusion, "the passing of time in 1844," upon the historistic method of interpretation clearly revealed in the book of Daniel. That tool of interpretation is a part of basic Adventism. Yet today there are those who would continue to teach the book of Daniel by that tool, but when they begin to explain the book of Revelation, they adopt the jesuitical method of interpretation known as "futurism." We need to settle it on and for all time that "advancing light" does not come via jesuitical methodology.
Then there are those who would question basic understandings of prophetic truth in the book of Daniel itself. The fundamental prophecy of Daniel 7 with its beast symbols coming up before Daniel in succession, one following the other, is made to teach that all these powers arose simultaneously. Then a fanciful modern interpretation is placed upon them. This is inferred as "advancing truth." Any so-called "light" which destroys previously defined truth is a deception.
But a study of this chapter also reveals wherein "historic Adventism" fails those who hold to "cherished views." Too many are prone to put a "period" after verse 10, and skip to verses 13-14. But the vision speaks clearly of events which were to occur after the judgment began in 1844. The text reads: "I beheld then because of the great words which the horn spake." (7:11) We have placed all the "great words" as being spoken during the 1260 prophetic days, but if one looks carefully at the explanation found in verse 25 the word, "great" is supplied. We have not given consideration to the weight which heaven put upon the words after 1844 in contrast with the words spoken during the "time and times and the dividing of time." It is true that if we did so, we would have to give up a "cherished view" or two, and unlearn some lessons. But in so doing, we would not destroy the basic truth of Daniel 7, but rather develop it to "a higher scale."
What is interesting about this whole question is the fact that most of this counsel regarding "advancing truth," and "increasing light" was given in connection with the Righteousness-by-Faith message of 1888. To put a period in the on-going advancement of Adventism, and state categorically that we are going to stop and stake out our theology as perceived and understood prior to the events of 1955-56 - the SDAEvangelical Conferences - is reactionary. Actually the major setting forth of Seventh-day Adventist theology at that point of time was done in the 1952 Bible Conference - and it conformed to "historic" concepts. But behind the scenes of this conference was an attempt to put forth the message of 1888 so as to blunt the force of the original presentation of Wieland and Short to the leadership of the Church in 1950. In others words, it was still a church in rebellion against "advancing truth" and "increasing lignt."
p 7 -- To stake out one's position in that setting, and say, "Stay with 'historic' Adventism," is tragedy compounded. But this is exactly the message of the booklet written by Larson and published by Grosboll which we reveiwed in the first article. Further, within the very emphases of many of the proponents of "historic" Adventism is to be found the theology of Butler, Smith and Morrison, rather than "the precious message" brought by Waggoner and Jones.
In the next issue of WWN we plan to do a detailed presentation on the 1952 Bible Conference.
An Observation -- In discussing certain teachings as found in the book, Seventh-day Adventists Believe..., we noted the emphasis on the "completed" atonement at the cross. (p. 315, col. 2; 365, col. 2). In the presentation of Belief #9, it is stated - "in the sanctuary services, however, atonement not only involved the killing of the sacrifical lamb but also included the priestly ministering of its shed blood in the sanctuary itself." Although this statement is misleading, the conclusion is drawn "According to this Biblical usage, then atonement can refer to both Christ's death and His intercessory ministry in the heavenly sanctuary." (p. 110, col. 2) But you cannot have a "completed" atonement followed by a continuing atonement.
There is a point we need to consider, and that is the emphasis which the types gave to the two atonements - the daily and the yearly. There is no question but that there was an atonement resulting from the daily ministry in the earthly sanctuary service. See Lev. 4:20, 26, 31, 35. This prefigured the death of Christ on the cross. But the word is a verb describing an action and not a noun. It was a confessional sacrifice that was offered, and through the priest an atonement was obtained bringing to the confessor, forgiveness. In describing the yearly service a plural noun is used, atonements, with the definite article. (Ex. 30:10; Lev. 23:27-28, Heb) The result was "to cleanse." (Lev. 16:30) The emphasis in the types as far as "atonement" was concerned was on the final atonement. This our spiritual forefathers understood, and so placed their emphasis. This was and is the unique message of true Adventism.
---(1993 Aug) ---End---- TOP
Sep -- XXVI -- 9(93) -- THE
1952 BIBLE CONFERENCE -- THE SWAN SONG OF "HISTORIC
mid-century, W. H. Branson assumed the presidency of the General Conference.
Immediately, he was faced with one of the most difficult questions that
had ever faced the chief administrator of the Church for decades. He was
confronted with a challenge to the standard interpretation given to an
event in the history of the Church. Elders R. J. Wieland and D. K. Short
presented to the General Conference Committee their original manuscript
- 1888 Re-Examined. It was assigned to the Defense Literature Committee
for evaluation and reply. But the evidence indicates that Branson could
not forget it. This is a part of what the 1952 Bible Conference was all
about along with a re-evaluation of another historical event and applications
of certain prophecies.
Midway in his four-year term as chief administrator of the Church, Branson called for a Bible Conference to convene. The Autumn (Annual) Council voted that it be held in the Sligo Park Seventh-day Adventist Church from September 1 - 13, 1952. It was to be world-wide in its representation of the Church including delegates from the overseas divisions. Editors of the leading publications as well as the book editors of the major publishing houses, plus Bible teachers, evangelists, administrators, and representatives from the Theological Seminary, which at that time was located in Takoma Park, were invited to be present.
Through the pages of The Ministry, July, 1952, Branson announced to the workers of the denomination the forthcoming Bible Conference, and gave the reasons for calling the conference. He set these reasons forth in what he perceived to be their order of importance. He had announced as a goal of his administration the doubling of the Church's membership in four years. He cautioned that "we must never forget that in seeking to increase membership we are not searching for additions to a social club. We are searching for men and women who will give a responsive ear and heart to great and saving truths that God has commissioned us to preach" Then he added: "Our success in this heavenly
2 -- undertaking
will be in ratio to our understanding of those truths and our flaming
conviction that they are indeed the truth of God."
"a very great power resides in the truths of God distinctive for
these last days," Branson
"one of the prime purposes of [the] conference"
the objective to
"reaffirm those truths that have most certainly been believed among
us through our history." (Our Firm Foundation, Vol. I,
p. 15) [FF-l, and FF-2 will be used designating the two-volume
report of the Conference in this article]
on this "prime objective," Branson's second reason for calling
the conference followed closely. He wrote that
"the Advent Movement was not built on question marks...We have great
verities to preach. The purpose of this Bible Conference is to help us
all to see how we can present those timeless truths most effectively in
these changing times." (ibid., p. 16)
two editorials in the Review & Herald, the editor, Francis
D. Nichol, explained to the laity of the Church the plans and
need for a Bible Conference. He, too, emphasized the study of prophecy
by this conference. He wrote:
"Prophecy colors virtually all our doctrines. And it is of the nature
of prophecy that it can be more clearly understood and more effectively
presented as it merges into history." (ibid., p. 21)
When the conference opened, these two recurring themes were again emphasized by Elder Branson: 1) that of "reaffirming those great and fundamental truths that have most certainly being believed among us throughout our history" (ibid., p. 45); and 2) to understand "that we are prophetic preachers - not prophets." As "prophetic preachers" we are "to deal with prophecy already fulfilled." (p. 56; emphasis his) On this point, he quoted counsel from James White. It is apropos for us now! White had written back in 1877: "Fulfilled prophecy may be understood by Bible students. Prophecy is history in advance. He can compare history with prophecy and find a complete fit as the glove to the hand, it having been made for it. But in exposition of unfulfilled prophecy, where history is not written, the student should put forth his propositions with not too much positiveness, lest he find himself straying in the field of fancy. There are those who think more of future truth than of present truth." (R&H, Nov. 29, 1877, p. 172)
introductions placed in both volumes of the Bible Conference reports were
written by D. E. Rebok who
served as secretary of the conference, and who, at the time, was President
of the Theological seminary. Certain points which he makes
in these introductions also shed light upon the purpose and objectives
of the Bible Conference. We shall note one or two points now, and comment
later on another. Rebok called the conference
"the high-water mark of the Advent movement," and
"one of the greatest convocations of God's people this side of Pentecost."
(FF-l, p. 12) He noted:
conference was not called to settle any theological problems."
"are not an official pronouncement of the church. They do, however,
represent the best thinking on the part of sincere, honest, earnest, devoted,
loyal men - Seventh-day Adventists, first, last, and always - who tried
to give expression to our conception of the great truths believed, held,
and taught by Seventh-day Adventists generally in all parts of the earth."
The presentations were
"to galvanize our convictions
on present truth." (ibid., p. 13)
question now comes - What was taught at this Bible Conference on theological
topics which now divide the Church?
it must be recognized that no topic was presented on the doctrine of the
p 3 -- of the mediatorial ministry of Christ. See FF-2, pp. 43-45. There is a reason why this subject was avoided. In 1949, D. E. Rebok had been asked to revise, Bible Readings for the Home Circle. This he did, altering the chapter, "A Sinless Life," eliminating the statement: "On His human side, Christ inherited just what every other child of Adam inherits, - a sinful nature." (p. 115, 1914 edition) See comments in Movement of Destiny, p. 427-428.
While we are prone to lay all the doctrinal deviation and compromise in the church to the SDA-Evangelical Conferences of 1955-56, there were changes in doctrinal perceptions taking place at the highest levels of the Church prior to those fatal conferences. Actually, the main thrust of the compromise in 1955-56 was in the critical area of our sanctuary teachings regarding the atonement.
What was said on this subject at the 1952 Bible Conference?
W. G. C. Murdoch, presented a paper on "The Gospel in Type and Antitype." He stated: "In the work of atonement there was of necessity a sacrifice, but there must also be a priest." (FF-1, p. 333)
"The atoning sacrifice was made certain upon the cross, when Christ uttered the words, ' It is finished.' This sacrifice becomes effectual for individual sinners by the priestly ministry of Christ in heaven....Necessary and helpful though the ministry of Christ is in the holy place in heaven, yet His service there does not entirely do away with sin." (ibid., p. 334)
"As in the type, sin was dealt with in three stages: first, the sacrifice by the sinner in the court; second, the blood being ministered in the holy place by the priest or high priest; and third, the entire cleansing of the sanctuary. This last work was accomplished in the most holy place by the high priest alone. Christ meets all three. He is the sacrifice; He is the priest in the holy place; He is the high priest in the most holy." (ibid., p. 336)
Here is expressed a basic premise of Adventist theology.
This premise needs to be maintained and
Taylor G. Bunch spoke on "The Atonement and the Cross." He stated: "The death of Christ on the cross paid the redemption price, but His blood must be applied to the repentant sinner through His own mediation, in order that the atonement or reconciliation may be complete." (FF-1, p. 373)
This presentation was followed with the subject of "The Mediatorial Ministry of Jesus Christ" by H. L. Rudy, a vice president of the General Conference. He declared plainly that "the message concerning the mediatorial ministry of Christ is God's answer to the apostasy of the last days. It is the heart of Christianity." He added: "The enemy of souls is determined to profane the blood of Christ and to nullify His mediatorial ministry." (FF-2, pp. 11-12) In summarizing the first section of his study, Rudy noted: "The cross cannot be separated from the life and teaching that preceded it and of which it was the crown. Neither can the cross be separated from His subsequent ministry at the right hand of God in the temple in heaven." (ibid., p. 23)
In discussing this heavenly ministry, Rudy observed that a part of that ministry was to put away sin. "The putting away of sin includes the work of judgment. Christ's sacrifice provides not only for the forgiveness of sin but also for its complete eradication, putting it out of sight so that it will never rise again." This final eradication will come "after atonement has been made" through Christ's ministry "in the heavenly sanctuary." (ibid., p. 60)
Rudy discussed some key questions which arise as a result of certain statements found in the book of Hebrews. He quoted Hebrews 9:11-12, and then commented: "Christ made the atoning sacrifice once for all, and when He entered the 'holy places' in heaven He 'entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.' ' Eternal redemption' indicates that the full price was paid, and by His sacrifice the work of redemption is to be fully and eternally completed." (p. 63)
There is a question as to whether the phrase, "having obtained eternal redemption" (KJ V) would be better translated if it read, "thus securing an eternal redemption" (RSV). As can be recognized, the translation in the KJV indicates a completed work at the cross, while
4 -- the RSV points to a continuing work as the result of Christ's
entering into His heavenly ministry. The RSV translation is in harmony
with the Greek usage known as "identical action." Rudy arrived
at the same conclusion by limiting the words, "eternal redemption"
to the sacrifice on Calvary.
Noting "the beginning of the investigative judgment in 1844," Rudy observed that Christ began "a new phase of His mediatorial ministry." He stated: "Christ entered the most holy to perform the work of atonement. He ceased His ministration in the first apartment." (p. 65)
It should be clearly observable that the speakers at the 1952 Bible Conference - men of repute in the Church - held to a two apartment heavenly sanctuary, and that Christ as High Priest began performing a work of atonement in the most holy commencing in 1844. These men, while recognizing that a sacrificial atonement was made once for all on Calvary, also recongized that the work of redemption was not completed at the cross, but there was to be a final atonement through the work of Christ as High Priest in the most holy apartment of the Heavenly Sanctuary.
in three years, conferences would begin between representatives of the
indicates the writer(s) of the book was basing this concept on Hebrews
9:11-12 as translated in the KJV. However, they do note the meaning of
one word - secured - as found in the RSV. So they were not unaware of
the other possible translation of these verses.
haunting question still remains. How could men pictured as "sincere,
honest, earnest, devoted, loyal men - Seventh-day Adventists, first, last,
and always" deny the faith they proclaimed at the Bible Conference
in so short a time after such a public confession? Unless we can find
the answer, we are again face to face with a theological crisis. Either
our faith, based in sanctuary theology, is sound; and can be supported
by a plain "thus saith the Lord," or else it is faulty and needs
to be jettisoned. There have been those over the years who have done just
that. And, if Desmond Ford's boasting is to be believed, a vast majority
of the present day scholars in Adventism do not really believe the sanctuary
teaching either, "except for some few dedicated to upholding the
traditional positions for reasons other than scholarship."
must be recognized that the Evangelicals dangled before the brethren the
proverbial "carrot." Martin was writing a book on the "cults,"
and if, justifiable reasons could be found, he would no longer present
Seventh-day Adventism as a cult, but as one with the body of Christ. Adventism
would be considered a part of the ecumenical mainstream of Evangelical
Christianity. But if such acceptance was the real reason, this is a tragic
justification for the surrender of the truth committed in sacred trust
to the Advent Movement.
We must look beyond this to find the real answer. The basic cause appears to be failure to understand the counsel given to the Church in 1901. Speaking of a unity needed that will bear "the test of trial," Ellen White wrote that "we have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn." (TM, p. 30) The fact is that
5 -- those who spoke on the subject of the sanctuary at the 1952 Bible
Conference did not carefully scrutinize their topic, to see what needed
to be unlearned, as well as what needed to be learned, but rather merely
repeated previously held positions, some of which cannot be sustained
by the Scriptures. The full blame cannot be placed on the individual speakers
because they were bound by rules placed upon them by the planners of the
Bible Conference. It was plainly stated - The conference was not called
to settle any theological problems." (op. cit) But those involved
in planning the Conference had to know that there were problems in this
area that needed to be addressed. To address these problems does not mean
that we discard this basic tenet of Adventism which gives to the Movement
its uniqueness. It does mean, however, that we clean up our theology in
this area and bring it in line with the Scriptures.
who are attacking the Sanctuary theology of Adventism today want to quote
subject on "The Lord Our Rightcousness" presented at the Bible
Conference was given by Branson himself. In his presentation, he declared
message of righteousness by faith given in the 1888 Conference had been
repeated here." Following
the same line as Rebok, Branson stated: "Practically
every speaker from the first day onward has laid stress upon this all-important
doctrine, and there was no prearranged plan that he should do so. It was
spontaneous on the part of the speakers. No doubt they were impelled by
the Spirit of God to do so. Truly this one subject has, in this conference,
'swallowed up every other.'
this great truth has been given here in this 1952 Bible Conference with
far greater power than it was given in the 1888 Conference because those
who have spoken here have had the advantage of much added light shining
forth from hundreds of pronouncements on this subject in the writings
of the Spirit of prophecy which those who spoke back there did not have.
The light of justification and righteousness by faith shines upon us today
more clearly than it ever shone before upon any people.
longer will the question be, ' What was the attitude of our workers and
people toward the message of righteousness by faith that was given in
1888? What did they do about it?' From now on the great question must
be, ' What did we do with the light on righteousness by faith as proclaimed
in the 1952 Bible Conference?"' (FF-2, pp. 616-617)
Though unspoken it would be difficult to avoid the conclusion that the 1952 Bible Conference was a staged response to the challenge that Elders Wieland and Short had presented to the Branson administration as it assumed the leadership of the Church two years earlier. However, it must also be recognized that Branson linked a revival of the message of righteousness by faith with his objective of doubling the church's membership in four years. In connection with his presentation, he declared: "The reception of the righteousness of Christ by the Church today will bring the second Pentecost. [Is this an admission it had not been received previously?] Revelation 18:1-3 will be fulfilled. Thousands will be converted in a day as the message of salvation through Christ swells to a loud and mighty cry. With such power in the message, who shall say that a four-year period is too short a time in which to double the number of those who are brought into the church of God?" (ibid.)
To Branson, righteousness by faith was a
6 -- doctrine, the acceptance of which would produce aquantity harvest.
He challenged the leaders present from all the church's world divisions:
"It is within your power to carry this message of justification and
righteousness by faith back to the very ends of the earth. You can instruct
every worker in this doctrine. You can encourage the brethren, in turn
to set it before the churches. You can sound throughout your divisions
an appeal for our people everywhere to lay hold of this mighty experience."
(ibid., p. 618)
the aspects of theology, some of the Conference speakers discussed prophecy.
W. E. Read presented a series of studies on "The Great Controversy"
which included a study on "The War of Armageddon." He presented
this as a spiritual battle rather than a literal conflict to be fought
in a specific geographical location. (FF-2, pp. 285-311) This opened
the door to advanced thinking on the subject. I recalled that but a few
years prior when I had entered the ministry, I was severely chastized
by the conference president for suggesting such a thought at a midweek
study which I gave in the church where I was located. What I had said
that night was quickIy relayed by letter or telephone to the conference
Arthur S. Maxwell discussed at this conference "The Imminence of Christ's Second Coming." In this presentation, he listed three areas of unfulfilled prophecy: 1) Developments in the United States; 2) Developments in Palestine; and 3) The Seven Last Plagues. He used point #2 to correct some of the Church's teaching in the previous decade. The publications of the Church in the 1940s had emphatically stated that Israel would never become a nation again. Yet in 1948, it did become a nation. As a result, Maxwell stated: "There is one prophecy concerning Palestine that we should all be watching with special care. Said Jesus, 'Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.' Luke 21:24." (FF-2, p. 230)
We living today have seen this prophecy literally fulfilled, yet we are not willing to come to terms with what was meant by that fulfillment The Church has since 1952 sponsored another Bible Conference in which it was declared: "Adventists do not see theological importance in the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 or the annexation of Old Jerusalem in 1967." (North American Bible Conference, 1974, "Adventist Eschatology," p. 6) Evidently in 1952, the brethren thought the words of Jesus did have significance and counseled that its coming fulfillment be watched "with special care."
TALK IT OVER -- Having been a delegate to the 1952 Bible
Conference from the Southern Union, I retain memories of certain experiences
which occurred. Prior to the conference, and in preparation for his topic,
Arthur S. Maxwell sent out a survey card to the ministry of the church
on how they related to the belief in the soon return of Jesus. Some very
pointed questions were asked. I was eager to hear the results of this
survey, and I listened with rapt attention to his presentation. The survey
revealed that the concept of the return of Jesus was only lightly regarded
by the ministry of the Church. The majority placed the return well into
the next century.
had been told that there would be a report of the conference, and that
each speaker was being taped for transcription. This led to very little
note taking on my part because I believed I would get it all in
the two volume publication. However, when the books were published, Maxwell's
report of his survey was deleted. I wrote to him, and asked him for a
copy, but he declined as he had been instructed by the highest levels
of church not to release any details of his survey.
However, in listening to his presentation, the section on developments in Palestine and the counsel to watch "with special care" for the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus in Luke 21:24, passed by me as if I never even heard it. Even in checking the book after its release for the report of the survey, I missed the point. Years later, after having made a study of the prophecy, I was visiting with Elder D. K. Short in his home, and he called my attention to Maxwell's comments on Jerusalem.
7 -- While at the conference, I recall the reaction to W.E. Read's
presentation on Armageddon. W. R. French, a respected Bible teacher of
many years, became very incensed over the spiritual view as it had been
presented by W. E. Read. Friends and former students obtained a room in
Washington Missionary College (now Columbia Union College) for him to
present his views on the subject. I attended his vigorous defense of the
"old view" but left unconvinced.
was also a strong discordant note to the presentation by Dr. Edward Heppenstall
on "The Covenants and the Law." The reaction became so pronounced
that following his topic a statement was made that there would be editing
of the presentations before publication. How much was done in reference
to Heppenstall's could be determined only by comparing the taped transcription,
if still available, and the published record in Our Firm Foundation,
Vol. I, pp. 435-492.
the time of the presentation, I was sitting behind veteran evangelist,
Allan Walker. He had had many "battles" with the Church of Christ
ministers in the South. He perceived of Hepppenstall's message as demolishing
the very arguments he had used in defending the truth in public debates
with the ministers of that Church. As Heppenstall progressed in his topic,
Walker would stomp his feet, and one could see that he was restraining
himself from getting up and challenging him directly from the floor. He
knew that if he did, he would be called out of order as it had been plainly
stated, "there was to be no open-forum type of discussion."
(FF-1, p. 29) Finally he got up and walked out as he could take
is an interesting conparison that can be made between the men involved
in the preparation for the 1952 Bible Conference, the speakers at the
Conference, and the men who became members of the committee which approved
the book, Questions on Doctrine, following the SDA-Evangelical
Conferences, three years later. The 1952 Bible Conference Planning Committee
consisted of twenty-two members chaired by Branson himself. These men
selected the topics and the speakers for the
fact of the above comparison needs to be noted. Of the four General Conference
vice presidents during the Branson tenure, three took speaking appintraents
at the Bible Conference. The one who did not, R. R. Figuhr, became the
next General Conference president and chairman of the Questions on
AN OBSERVATION -- The book of Exodus, Chapters three through forty cover but two years in the history of the Children of Israel. Of the thirty eight chapters, twelve are devoted to the design, building and erection of the sanctuary, the services of which are a type and shadow of the Heavenly. (Heb. 8:5) One contains the Law of God, and seven describe the Old Covenant and the "type" covenant God made with Israel through Moses. Contrast this emphasis on a two year period with the fact that the Bible devotes only eight chapters to the first 1600 years of human history.