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"Watchman, What of the Night?" (WWN)... More Info
William H. Grotheer, Editor of Research & Publication for the ALF

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SHORT STUDIES - William H. Grotheer -
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Interpretative History of the Doctrine of the Incarnation as Taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, An
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End Time Line Re-Surveyed Parts 1 & 2 - Adventist Layman's Foundation

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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

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Jerusalem In Bible Prophecy
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Key Doctrinal Comparisons - Statements of Belief 1872-1980
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Pope Paul VI Given Gold Medallion by Adventist Church Leader
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Sacred Trust BETRAYED!, The - William H. Grotheer

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Seventh-day Adventist Evangelical Conferences of 1955-1956
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STEPS to ROME
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Remembering
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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:

Additional Various Studies --
"Saving Faith" - Dr. E. J. Waggoner
"What is Man" The Gospel in Creation - "The Gospel in Creation"
"A Convicting Jewish Witness", study on the Godhead - David L. Cooper D.D.

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

Sanctuary Service, The
- M. L. Andreasen

So Much In Common - WCC/SDA

Spiritual Gifts. The Great Controversy, between Christ and His Angels, and Satan and his Angels - Ellen G. White

Under Which Banner? - Jon A. Vannoy

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WWN 1992 Jan-Mar

 

1992 Jan -- XXV -- 1(92) -- A SYMPOSIUM REPORT -- Editor's Note -- The following report was written by Pastor Richard Sutton of the independent congregation of Seventh-day Adventists meeting in Nora Springs, Iowa. In this report, he explains why the symposium was called, who was invited to come and take part, also noting their reaction to the invitation. This report should cause every sincere and concerned Seventh-day Adventist to pause and consider where he is placing his emphasis in these last final days of human history.

Originally, the plan of sponsoring a symposium began to take shape last September. Some of the members of the Nora Springs, Iowa, congregation had informally expressed a desire to contact a number of prominent independent and/or self supporting ministries with the view of bringing them together at one place to discuss important issues within the Adventist Community.

For some time, we had been receiving literature, audio and video tapes from the following:

Elder Wm. H. Grotheer Pastor John Marcussen     Pastor John Osborne Terry Ross
John Grosboll Hope International Hartland Institute  Bob Trefz
Bill Springfellow   David Mould    

In addition, some of us have listened and spoken in person to quite a few of the brethren associated with these ministries. In fact, we had sponsored, or helped to sponsor some of the meetings we had attended.

lt had become increasingly clear that our congregation was not the only group of Seventh-day Adventists deeply concerned by the deepening apostasy within the corporate denominational Church. We had associated with brethren from other parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin at these meetings who represented themselves to be likewise saddened and perplexed over the crisis among our people.

lt also became apparent to us that not all of these ministries were speaking with the same voice. The trumpet was being given an uncertain sound. All recognized problems; all recognized that something was amiss; but there was confusion as to what should be done about it. Therefore, we at Nora Springs were strongly convinced that the issues of "the status of

p 2 -- God's people at this time" were not being presented in their true light. So trying to be a part of the solution, rather than just an addition to the problem, we invited the ten ministries (or their representatives) to our church in Nora Springs to discuss the following vital topics:
1.  History of Apostasy in the SDA Church - past and present
2.  The Final Atonement
3.  Sunday Laws
4.  Use of the Spirit of Prophecy
5.  Jesus' End-time Prophecy
6.  Conclusion: "Common Message" to proclaim


The date for the Symposium was set for November 9, 1991. The invitations were mailed out on October 4, with an R.S.V.P. for October 21, 1991, and a corresponding general invitation was sent to concerned Seventh-day Adventists in the area. Two of the invited speakers replied in writing before the October 21 deadline - Elder Grotheer representing the Adventist Laymen's Foundation, and David Mould who turned down the invitation with no explanation.

Terry Ross replied by telephone before October 21 representing himself and John Osborne. Terry informed me that he didn't go anywhere unless money was sent to cover his expenses stating that anyone who wanted to hear his message would willingly pay for the privilege.

Meanwhile at a meeting in Le Center, Minnesota, members of our congregation had the opportunity to personally invite Bob Trefz on October 12. He also declined stating he had a "thought paper" to get ready and place in the mails. There was NO REPLY from the others before the deadline.

After October 21, we took it upon ourselves to contact the remaining ministries who had not replied. John Grosboll's secretary, answering the Steps to Life telephone, stated that John had a wedding to perform and would be unable to attend. An individual contacted at Concerned Publications informed us that Bill Stringfellow was in Florida.

Dr. Colin Standish finally responded by letter stating he was booked up until September, 1992, and would be unable to attend. However, at a mini-campmeeting held this past Fall in our area which we were asked to help arrange, Hal Mayer from Hartland was present. He at that time responded to an invitation for a meeting in Wisconsin with only three weeks notice. We did not specifically request Dr. Colin Standish's presence, only that Hartland be represented.

Jan Marcussen's telephone wasn't answered and in his November newsletter, he wrote he would be at a "Campmeeting," November 7-9. (We have not heard from him yet, even though he had been a guest speaker at our church a few weeks prior to our sending out the invitation!)

Vemon Sparks of Hope International left a message on my telephone answering machine indicating that he would not be able to come. Approximately one week later, a letter was received stating - "I left a message on your answering machine that Hope International would not be represented at your upcoming seminar. Our Executive committee felt that your expectation of all getting together to formulate a 'common voice' is unrealistic. We believe that the Holy Spirit will lead isolated voices to speak with one voice without human vote being taken or legislation."

On November 4, we sent a second letter to professedly concerned Seventh-day Adventists in the area informing them that the "Symposium" was still on. It was held as scheduled, and a video was made of the presentations and the discussions.

Considering the absolute importance of the topics on the agenda for discussion and the times in which we are living, as a congregation, we were not only disappointed; and we cannot but question the sincerity of the independent ministries and the professedly concerned area Adventists who failed to attend.

The Holy Spirit was in charge of this meeting and the topics were well covered by Elder Grotheer representing the Adventist Laymen's Foundation, and Elder Tevis speaking for the Nora Springs Church. We appreciate the fact that Elder Grotheer sees the importance of these issues and we thank him for his participation.

Apparently "some have eyes to see, and see not; and ears to hear, but understand not." Richard Sutton

An Ancient Hebrew Prayer

From the conscience that shrinks from new truth,
from the laziness that is content with half truth,
from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
0 God of truth deliver us.

p 3 -- OBSERVATIONS -- Before any comments on the responses of those who were invited to take part in the Symposium that was held in the independent Nora Springs Seventh-day Adventist Church, careful consideration needs to be given to the gravity of the topics selected by the Church for discussion. This dare not be ignored, nor should it have been ignored by those invited to take part. Rather, it should have been the prime factor in the decision of each one invited whether to attend, or not to attend.

APOSTASY -- That there is apostasy in the Seventh-day Adventist Church is not questioned by a single individual or organization which was invited. The videos produced, the mini-campmeetings conducted, the articles written all say the same thing on this point. But the question that needs to be studied in regard to the apostasy in the Church is - Is the Church in apostasy, or is it merely that apostasy has taken place in the Church? One may say that this is a fine line, but it is this very line that Dr. Roger W. Coon drew in his pamphlet on Tithe which was distributed as an insert in the Adventist Review (Nov. 7, 1991). To the question, "Should I pay tithe to a church if I believe it is in apostasy?" Coon wrote:      There is a fine line - but significant distinction - between "a church in apostasy" and "apostasy in the church." (p. 3)

Coon well knows that one does not pay tithe to a "church in apostasy." But if the condition of the Church is only that it has apostasy in it, then one does continue to support the Church, and does so from inside in cooperation with its leadership! Thus every "independent ministry" must decide which is the true situation. If the Church is in apostasy, and one is removed from the Church because of his conduct, or attacks on the Church, then he doesn't make arrangements for, nor accepts invitations to place, his name on a "safe" membership list in some church far removed from his operations. This is duplicity in its most despicable form.

This number one topic on the Symposium agenda struck at the very heart of the existence of each and every one of the "independent" ministries, and is the number one reason why each one invited should have cleared their schedules to be present. "Ducking out" by some excuse is contemptible when the eternity of concerned Adventists is involved. Men whom assume leadership but who are unable to perceive the gravity of the very first topic are "blind guides" who continue to put out the eye-sight of God's professed people.

FINAL ATONEMENT -- This is present truth! lt is based in the sanctuary truth committed to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. If one still believes that the atonement was not completed on the cross as the leading independent ministries profess to believe, and that Christ is now ministering as High Priest in the most holy place of the Heavenly Sanctuary, then in these final days of human history, what should be the center of our focus? Should it not be to understand the meaning of the type where the High Priest came to the Court with the mingled blood of the bullock and the Lord's goat to expiate "the uncleaness of the children of Israel"? (Lev. 16:19) Does not the type dictate that the attitude of God's professed people should be that of "soul affliction" at this present time, and if not, they will be "cut off" as if they themselves were apostates? (Lev. 23:29). Have we forgotten the counsel which states - "the class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God." (5T:211) The continual recitation of apostasy by which to keep a steady flow of tithes and offerings into the coffers to support an "ego" trip is not "mourning" over the sins of others; it is merely using the cry of apostasy to cover their "own spiritual declension."

Can we actually believe, no matter how it may titillate our ears, that a recitation of "New Age" roots, or a tirade on the Celebration type of service, or a review of the hypnotic methods being introduced to control people - and any number of sins of the "brethren" will bring a people to the place where there will be "soul affliction"? This failure to perceive the final atonement as the present truth for this time, and substituting for it a continuous recitation of the apostasy in the Church has produced a pharisaical Laodiceanism unmatched by the Church itself in its Laodicean state. The ones who are looking at the continuous flow of videos and attending "campmeetings" where the apostasy in the Church is the main menu are developing a smug complacency thanking God that they are not like their former brethren who are now attending a celebration type of service and being manipulated by mind controlling techniques. These concerned souls are for the most part unmindful that the same

p 4 -- psychological techniques that are being decried, are the same techniques being used on them by the very "voices" who are decrying their use. Consider the "electronic" letters being sent out, their exaggerations, manipulation of facts, and the fanciful projects proposed. Those practicing these deceptive techniques, for the most part, do not even know the first thing about the final atonement, and the meaning of "soul affliction." For one sure thing, "soul affliction" is not bragging about how many "deep pockets" one gets his hand into, nor the using of the "Celebration" theme to influence God's concerned people to send in tithes so that one can cause his and his wife's payroll checks to reach the $50,000 per annum figure.

There is a place for the revelation of facts concerning the apostasy in the Church which has led to a Church in apostasy. But such a revelation must be dealt with from an historic perspective, instead of using the end results in a "leaf plucking" exhibit for an "ego" trip. Well did Paul write - "When for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God." (Heb. 5:12)

Another factor concerning the final atonement must be considered. Dr.Desmond Ford introduced a theology which completely sets aside the basic sanctuary truths which were committed to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Because of the compromises with the Evangelicals in 1955-56, the Church has succumbed to the inroads of Ford's theology. Why was this devastating heresy permitted to plague God's people? This question has been given little consideration. The Messenger of the Lord warned the Church that        "God will arouse His people; if other means fail, heresies will come in among them, which will sift them, separating the chaff from the wheat." (5T:707)        What brought about a condition that God permitted such a drastic introduction of heresy as is represented in Ford's teachings? This we are also told:          Whenever the people of God are growing in grace, they will be constantly obtaining a clearer understanding of His word ... But as real spiritual life declines, it has ever been the tendency to cease to advance in the knowledge of the truth. Men rest satisfied with the light already received from God's word, and discourage any further investigation of the Scriptures. They become conservative, and seek to avoid discussion (ibid., pp. 706-707)

If there ever was a time to discuss the final atonement, it is now, but it will take some deep searching of the Bible with prayer. Biblical answers will need to be provided to offset Ford's theology. Neither Spear nor Standish can stand up to Ford. They do not have Bible answers, and so respond only with cliches. They represent, a fossilized theology, as a firm foundation instead of heeding the counsel of God's Messenger to advance "the knowledge of truth." We need to keep in mind the counsel:     "Upon every individual who has 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)        But neither Spear nor Standish have done this, and they excuse themselves from attending a Symposium to even discuss what studies should be initiated to advance such a vital subject as the final atonement. God's concerned people have fallen upon hard times with blind guides seeking to lead them.

SPIRIT OF PROPHECY -- Here is another key subject that dare not be ignored. While the questions raised do not impugn upon the fact that the gift of the Spirit of prophecy was manifest in the life and ministry of Ellen G. White as far as the various "independent" ministries are concerned, it does become a question for these "ministries" as to where they place this gift in relationship to the Bible. There is the extreme position taken by Spear and Standish which states - "The acceptance of the prophetic gift in the ministry of Sister White is essential not only to the preparation of God's people for the eternal kingdom, but also to the acceptance of the Scriptures as inspired." (Our Firm Foundation, April, 1989, p. 15) This definitely needs to be discussed in an open symposium for such a position is not only directly contradictory to what Ellen G. White wrote about "the perfecting of the man of God," but also breathes the very essence of Roman Catholic teaching in regard to the inspiration of the Bible, except it is stated in Adventist nomenclature.

In the 1884 Great Controversy (p. 413) is found a prophetic statement of God's intent and purpose for the final hours of human history. She wrote that while the world does not want "Bible truth," -
God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis

p 5 -- of all reforms.

"Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ' Thus saith the Lord' in its support." (ibid.) Just because we acknowledge the presence of the prophetic gift in the ministry of Ellen G. White does not abrogate the primacy of the Scriptures. In fact, at another time when the Church was in crisis - 1901 - and Ellen White was being quoted to sustain this, and to sustain that, she herself spoke very plainly to the ministers on this very point. She said in no uncertain terms:   Lay Sister White right to one side: lay her to one side. Don't you never quote my words again as long as you live, until you can obey the Bible. When you take the Bible and make that your food, and your meat, and your drink, and make that the element of your character, when you can do that you will know better how to receive some counsel from God. But here is the Word, the precious Word, exalted before you today. And don't you give a rap any more that "Sister White said" - "Sister White said this," and "Sister White said that," and "Sister White said the other thing." But say, "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel," and then do just what the Lord God of Israel does, and what He says. (p. 167)

But don't you quote Sister White. I don't want you ever to quote Sister White until you get your vantage ground where you know where you are. Quote the Bible. Talk the Bible. lt is full of meat, full of fatness. Carry it right out in your life, and you will know more Bible than you know now. You will have fresh matter; you won't be going over and over the same ground, and you will see a world saved. (p. 174, Verbatim report of remarks by Mrs. E. G. White, at a meeting held in Battle Creek College Library, April 1, at the General Conference of 1901; Spalding and Magan's Collection)

This is good counsel now, and needs to be practiced by those voices in the "independent" ministries" who are seeking to be leaders of God's concerned people. But this is not what is being done by more than 95% of those "voices." And the reason is simple - most of the "voices" do not know their Bibles, and cannot defend the positions they are advocating from the Bible. The Church at Nora Springs, Iowa, is to be commended for having placed this topic on the agenda for discussion at the Symposium. The tragedy is that those invited did not clear their schedules so as to be present when such a crucial topic was to be considered. This tragedy is compounded when concerned Adventists let such ministries get away with less than a Bible-centered proclamation. If every concerned Adventist would say, give us the Bible, or no support, most of the "voices" would be silenced.

In advocating a return to the Bible, and from it, a plain "Thus saith the Lord," I am not suggesting the digging up of old "evangelistic sermons" which were given back in the "golden years" of Adventist evangelism and presenting them as "present truth." (Some are doing so in what Bible they are preaching; I have a whole notebook full of such out-lines) Those old sermons did contain "timeless truths" and such truth needs to be kept before God's people in review. But where is the deep Bible study which marked the pioneers of this message, and must mark the search for understanding of Christ's final work in the Heavenly Sanctuary? A mere compilation of "quotes" from the Writings with a few personal connecting sentences between does not meet the criterion of the counsel of the Lord's Messenger to get fresh food from the Bible for His people.

JESUS' END TIME PROPHECY -- Not too much needs to be said in regard to this prophecy of Jesus found in Luke 21. The Messenger of the Lord told us that Jesus in Luke 21 connected events which were to occur in the history of Jerusalem with the "scenes that were to take place in the history of this world just prior to the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (CtoW&E, pp. 23-24) The one event in the history of Jerusalem that Christ foretold which is not recorded in the other two synoptic gospels is in regard to "the times of the Gentiles," or nations - corporate bodies. The details of this prophecy with documentation is to be found in the published manuscript - The Hour and the End.

What needs to be realized is that when the Messianic prophecy concerning the coming "Prophet" was given to Moses, God also said that He would put words into the mouth of that Prophet, and that whosoever would "not hearken unto My words which He shall speak in my name, I will require it of him." (Deut 18:18-19) We can no more today disregard this prophecy of Jesus in Luke 21:24, than the early Christians could ignore the prophecy concerning the Roman armies to surround the city as they did in A.D. 66. But everyone of those invited to the symposium, and who did not come, are doing so. This should tell God's concerned people something!

A COMMON VOICE -- This was not an unreasonable expectation to be placed on the agenda of the Symposium for discussion. There was no suggestion of coersion, or legislation in the letter of invitation sent to each of the invited "independent ministries." Is God divided? Does He speak out of both sides of His mouth? Does the Spirit of truth teach one thing to one man, and a different thing to another? Absolutely not! The multitude of "voices" on the periphery of Adventism today, each with his own personal message, indicates not the Spirit of the Lord, but rather the spirits of devils. Christ's High Priestly prayer was for unity of witness, not a divisive and deceptive witness. To seek to contribute to this prayer of Jesus Christ was the objective of the concerned Adventists at Nora Springs, Iowa. Now look at the list of those invited and note carefully who did not respond and their excuses. You have some answers if you have eyes to see and ears to hear.

p 6 -- LET'S TALK lT OVER -- The ground covered in this issue leaves only one topic to talk over, and that is - Excuses. But why were there excuses? No one who really believes in fundamental Adventism can deny that the subjects chosen for dlscussion by the Church in Nora Springs, Iowa, were of the utmost importance and fraught with eternal consequences. In fact, they were so important, that each one invited to take part in the Symposium should have either cleared his schedule, or sent a knowledgeable representative to sit in for hirn. If one's position on anyone of the topics listed on the agenda could not bear the scrutiny of one's peers, then what justification does one have to present himself as a spokesman for truth? Genuine truth can bear investigation, and loses nothing in open discussion. The refusal to come or to be represented at this Symposium speaks in words loud and clear. Those refusing to come either do not have a clear perception of the subjects on the agenda, and thus do not wish to have their ignorance exposed; or they know their position is flawed, and are not willing to have those flaws revealed. In either case, they are playing the role of a hypocrite - professing to be trustworthy guides to concerned Seventh-day Adventists when they are not.

lt is possible that in one or two cases of those invited that they did have commitments which prevented them from accepting the invitation; but they could have acknowledged the gravity of the topics on the agenda and expressed their desire to the leadership of the Nora Springs Church to take part in such a discussion and requested that another time be set up for such a dlscussion. But for the most part, the responses were just plain cop-outs.

There should have been no question about the brethren who arranged the Symposium. They are solidly grounded in the truth, and above all courteous Christians. I was their Sabbath guest speaker one time previous to the calling of the Symposium, as had been some of the others invited. lt is true they ask questions both in open discussion and in private conversation. Some of the questions become very penetrating at times. But if I cannot give a forthright answer from the Word of God, then I should stay away if I do not wish to be exposed - and evidently that is what most of those invited did.

All of us have deadlines to meet. Each month, I have to ready the issues of WWN. I know it is work when there is limited help, although good help. With this issue we begin our 25th year of continuous publication. We set as our deadline for mailing each issue the 15th of the preceding month. November 9, the date for the Symposium came right at the time the schedule intensifies. I had just returned the week before from a series of appointments in the East, and the correspondence had accumulated. But what justifiable explanation could I give the readers of WWN for absenting myself in view of the importance of the agenda topics?

The non-response most difficult to understand is the failure to reply in any way on the part of Jan Marcussen. He had been a guest speaker at Nora Springs a little over a month previous to the November date. He even made a video of some of the leaders of the Church answering his questions. He expressed great interest in their program as an alternative to the apostasy in the regular Church. If one's "hobby horse" leaves one destitute of the most elementary of Christian virtues - common courtesy - what genuine value is there in one's promotion of that "hobby horse"? Such a voice is only "as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal."

The most questionable response came from Vemon Sparks of Hope International speaking for the "Executive committee." Some years back a friend gave me a card which we have placed above our Library door. lt reads - "God so loved the world that He didn't send a committee." It is true that there is "safety" in "the multitude of counsellors." (Prov. 11:14) But God also asks the question - "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?" (Job 38:2) This "Executive committee" concluded that to aim at a "common voice" was "unrealistic." Do not the Scriptures picture the Spirit and the bride speaking with one voice? (Rev. 22:17) Did Jesus pray in vain His prayer in John 17?

The real capsheaf of the committee action read - "We believe that the Holy Spirit will lead isolated voices to speak with one voice." Now Hope International promotes the belief in the primacy of the Writings rather than the primacy of the Scriptures. (See section on Spirit of Prophecy in "Observations," p. 4, col. 2) Accepting their premise momentarily, then we ask why are they taking a position contrary to the revelation given in the Writings? Hope International emphasizes the apostasy in the regular Church, and plays on it to justify their existence and the monetary soliciting. The Writings do confirm that "there will be a removing of the landmarks, and an attempt to pull down the pillars of our faith." (R&H, Dec. 3, 1892) In other words, apostasy was foretold, and it has come to pass. But at the time of this apostasy, the same prophetic testimony reads - "Every conceivable power of evil will be set in operation, and minds will be confused by many voices crying,..."This is the truth, I have a message from God, He has sent me with great light.'" In the hour of apostasy, who will be leading the many "isolated voices" to speak? The Holy Spirit, or the "power of evil"? Dare I attribute by "Executive committee" vote the working of the power of evil to the working of the Holy Spirit? And those who do so, are they safe guides? Then a final question: Is Hope International so insecure in their Biblical teaching, and their understanding of the Writings that they dared not send a representative to the Symposium? Isn't it time for God's concerned people to take note as to how shakey the so-called "firm foundation" really is? One's hope dare not be based on anything other than Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life.

Even though the congregation at Nora Springs was disappointed in the response they received, they have performed a service for God beyond human estimate in opening before the eyes of those concerned people of God who wish to see, the sham of the profession of some of the "voices" on the periphery of Adventism today.

Alistair Cooke in the Financial Times, London --       I do not remember a time when Americans have complained more - in a tone close to despair - about the visible and seemingly unhealable wounds in American society. Crime rates are regularly beyond those of all but the worst previous years. Drugs are a pestilence afflicting all classes and every age. Public education in America has been setting easy and dithering standards. . . .The feeling is epidemic that daily life, in every sort of community, is getting more squalid, expensive, and dangerous.

So what is the likely outcome? There appears to be three possibilities: the second American civil war, triggered by ethnic and regional uprisings; the arrival of a populist dictator (under the banner of liberty); an emergency return to the benevolent form of national socialism created by Franklin Roosevelt in the first New Deal. At the obvious risk of being wrong three times (and I hope I shall be), these seem to me to be the real possibilities if the social dangers, deprivations and frustrations cannot be placated by the present political system and become too much for most Americans to bear. Quoted in World Press Review, Dec. 1991, p. 41. --- (1992 Jan ) --- End --- TOP

1992 Feb -- XXV -- 2(92) -- THE PERTH DECLARATION - AN APPEAL or - A DECLARATION OF WAR? -- "The Perth Declaration, drafted and voted by the General Conference's Annual Council in Perth, Australia, in early October [of last year] has become one of the most significant appeals by church leaders in recent years." So read a report on the North American Division's year-end meeting for 1991. (Adventist Review [AR], Dec. 5, 1991, p. 6) One dare not overlook the force of this declaration coming as it did by action of the Annual Council in session. The actions of the Annual Council between sessions of General Conference carry the same authority as the actions of the General Conference itself. (ibid., July 7, 1985, p. 8 )

While the Declaration was phrased in such language as "We reaffirm," "We believe," and "We appeal," it is understood to be a declaration of war on the right and on the left. Elder Folkenberg told the NAD committee that in face of the steadily strengthening attacks on the church, "we don't have the option of silence anymore. We've lost that one. And both extremes, left and right need our attention." (AR, Dec. 5, 1991, p. 6) However the Perth Declaration focused the primary attack on the right, noting this group as presenting themselves "as defenders of the authentic Adventist faith, the correctors of others, often elevating to importance issues not agreed upon by the body as vital."

lt is the paragraph of reaffirmation which raises the most questions, and becomes a new concise summary of Seventh-day Adventist beliefs. In discussing the "Separationist movements," both on the right and on the left, the Editor-in-chief of the Adventist Review uses the phrase - "our core beliefs" in his response to the Perth Decelaration. (AR, Dec. 5, 1991, p. 4) The Declaration itself states that "we reaffirm confidence ... in the fundamental truths that bind us together as a people. Among these are ..." A careful analysis of these selected "fundamental truths," these "core beliefs," needs to be made.

p 2 -- The reaffirmation reads:
1)   We believe "in Christ, the Lord of Creation, in His mighty acts as recorded in Genesis 1 and 2."       -- Do not even the Evangelicals so believe?
2)   We believe "in His atoning death at Calvary that made possible our salvation and final restoration to eternal life."      -- Do not even the Evangelicals so believe?
3)   "We rejoice in full assurance of our salvation as a gift from God, and in victory over temptation and sin by His overcoming power."       -- Do not even the Evangelicals so believe?
4)   "We accept the Scriptures as our teacher and final auttiority, and respond to His limitless love in grateful obedience."       -- Do not the Evangelicals profess the same?

Wherein do we differ from Evagelicals in these "core beliefs" as stated in the Perth Declaration?

This is in no wise to be construed that these "core beliefs" are not for the most part, statements of truth. BUT where is the "unique message" which in the next paragraph of the Perth Statement declares that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was to bear to the world?

As if as an afterthought, the reaffirmation paragraph declares last - "We affirm as well our confidence in His leading through the Spirit of Prophecy." But does this reaffirmation adopted by the Annual Council show that "confidence"? Hardly! Ellen G. White has carefully defined the historic fundamentals. During the 1888 debate wherein some declared the "precious gems of truth" coming through the Lord's chosen "messengers" to be a removal of "the old landmarks," she declared that those who were making the charges knew not what those landmarks were. She then defined them as:   1)   "The temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God."   2)   "The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment."   3)   "The non-immortality of the wicked." She indicated that the events of 1844 opened to the Advent believer's "astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having a decided relation to God's people on earth," and the all-encompassing Three Angels' Messages. (Manuscript, 13, 1889)

Now where in the paragraph of reaffirmation in the selected "core beliefs" is the sanctuary truth set forth - the cleansing of the sanctuary and the final atonement? Where is the Sabbath reaffirmed, even though this is no longer unique to Seventh-day Adventists. Where is the guard against the inroads of Spiritism - "the non-immortality of the wicked" - reaffirmed? The bottom line is simply that this is not a reaffirmation to the truth committed to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the beginning, but rather a reaffirmation to the compromises made with the Evangelicals in 1955-56. The Annual Council in the Perth Declaration did not affirm what was denied in 1955-56, but affirms only those teachings as examples of Adventist "fundamentals" which harmonize with the Evangelical teachings. So whether the leadership want to admit it or not, the Perth Declaration still locks the Church in apostasy.

GRAHAM IN MOSCOW -- Christianity Today captioned a report in their "News" section - "Graham School Bridges Soviet Church Divisions." lt read:   Nearly 5,000 pastors, lay preachers, and other church workers came from across 11 time zones of the Soviet Union to attend a Billy Graham School of Evangelism conducted last month in Moscow. lt was the largest such school the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has ever sponsored. And for the Soviets, according to local denominational leaders, it was the most representative gathering of Soviet Christians ever held. The five day conference brought together Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, and members of other denominations, "registered" (government sanctioned) and "unregistered" alike. (August 19, 1991, p. 40; emphasis supplied)

" 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.

p 3 -- PRESENT TRUTH -- It was Peter who wrote - "Be established in the present truth." (II Peter 1:12) For the Apostolic Church, the fulness of time had come, and Jesus had been sent forth, made of a woman. (Gal. 4:4) He had been delivered for our offenses and had been raised for our justification. (Rom. 4:25) The proclamation of this glorious provision was "the present truth" of the Early Church. It is still truth. Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us. (Heb. 7:25)

While truth is eternal because its source is the Eternal One, there comes, however, to every period of time a truth particularly apropos for that time. For that generation it is "the present truth." Around that truth clusters the significance of all other truth adapted to the need of God's people. For example, consider the parable of the Ten Virgins. We are not living in the time, when they - as a unit - "went forth to meet the bridegroom," but rather in the hour when the slumbering virgins awakened to the midnight call - "Behold the bridegroom, be ye going out to a meeting of him." (Matt. 25:6, Greek) Five responded; five went to buy oil." There was a separation; it was decision time for the Ten Virgins.

What then is "the present truth" for this hour? Once that can be determined, then the issues which are presently dividing the Adventist Community can be clarified. The roots of the Adventist people are in the 1844 Movement. "The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to [the] astonished eyes [of the believers] the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having a decided relation to God's people opon the earth." (Ms. 13, 1889) From this revelation of truth, there was developed "a doctrine never known in theological history until the second half of the nineteenth century and which is a doctrine held exclusively by the Seventh-day Adventists." (Barnhouse, Eternity, Sept., 1956) This doctrine is known as "the investigative judgment," or is presently referred to as "the pre-Advent judgment." These names obscure the real doctrine. The real truth of pure historic Adventist theology involves the cleansing of the sanctuary and the "decided" relationship of that cleansing to God's people on earth. The final atonement is "the present truth" for this hour.

In the 1955-1956 SDA-Evangelical Conferences, the leadership of the Church denied the final atonement. Ford's brutal attack in 1979 zeroed in on this concept. In the Perth Decelaration, the Church in session did not reaffirm that which was denied in 1955-1956. On the periphery of Adventism are those "voices" who while seeking to affirm the historical teaching of the sanctuary truth, are merely mouthing cliches of a fossilized theology. It is time to reaffirm our faith in that teaching which is so uniquely Seventh-day Adventist, but do so in the framework of a restudy of the Bible as to what the type is really telling us. The earthly priests of the Divinely ordered type "served unto the example and shadow of heavenly things." (Heb. 8:5)

Merely a casual mental review of the typical service on the Day of Atonement tells us that the ministry of that day was not confined wholly and solely to the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary, but involved a special ministry for "the uncleanness of the children of Israel" at the Altar in the court. (Lev. 16:19) To this fact, we have not given due consideration. Further, we have not considered the meaning and significance of the fact that in this cleansing, the blood of the bullock and the blood of the Lord's goat were mingled. (16:18)

We have been so engrossed - those who will even study the sanctuary truth - with the meanings to be derived from a study of the furniture and compartments of the sanctuary that we have failed to perceive the magnitude and significance of the contrast between the earthly and the heavenly. How do you compare a ten cubit cubical with the Heavenly Holy of Holies wherein are assembled, when the judgment is set, the unnumbered hosts of angels? (Daniel 7:10) And why are they there at the commencement of the judgment? To defend their record keeping? Did they not abide in the truth when it was decision time among the angels? (See John 8:44)

Consider another question. When the books are opened, will the Heavenly Court have to call into review the decision of Jesus on the Cross in regard to the thief who confessed Him, Lord? Or will the words of Jesus concerning those who hear and believe, apply? (John 5:24) Do these questions, to which we have given little thought, if considered, nullify the unique sanctuary truth committed in sacred trust to this people? Absolutely not! But it will require study which is more than surface thinking and the cliches of a fossilized theology. The same openness with which our founding fathers approached the teachings of William Miller, confirming some, discarding others, will need to characterize our research.

The Word must be permitted to speak. The

p 4 -- result will be "the present truth" for this hour. We must understand what the final atonement in its last aspects means in regard to the removal of the uncleanness of the children of Israel. This means a careful review of both Leviticus chapters four and sixteen. To stimulate study of the salient points involved, we now list some key factors of the services in which the priests "served unto the example and shadow of heavenly things."

LEVITICUS 4 -- The mediation in the daily services in which the confession of sin was made involved only sins of ignorance - "if a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord." (4:2) Paul used this fact in setting forth Jesus Christ to the assembled synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia. He declared:    Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts. 13:38-39)

Since "it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins," nor could those "sacrifices...make the comers thereunto perfect" (Heb. 10:4, 1), it should be obvious that the thrust of those services was to reveal the nature and objective of the Heavenly. What do we learn therefore?

1)   Even though done in ignorance, there was a record made that needed to be cleared. When convicted of the sin, a formula for confession and atonement was available. Thus from the very start of the study of the sin offerings, it should be obvious that the blood of the sin offering did not transfer sin to the sanctuary, but rather was a confirmation of the sin, and the acceptance of the means provided for forgiveness.

2)   There were four categories of "sinners."   a)   The sin of "the anointed priest" so as to bring, "guilt upon the people" (4:3 NKJV);   b)   A sin committed by "the whole congregation" (4:13);   c)   The sin of a ruler (4:22). This included the priests as individuals. (See Numbers 3:32; the Hebrew word for "chief" is translated "ruler" in Lev. 4:22);   d)   The "common people" (4:27). The first two categories involved corporate guilt, while the last two were individual.

3)   For the corporate guilt, the High Priest mediated the sacrifice. (4:3-4, 16) For the individual confession, the common priest rninistered. (4:25, 30, 34)

4)   Only in the ministration of corporate guilt and confession was the blood taken into the sanctuary. There it was sprinkled seven times "before the vail" separating the holy from the most holy place. lt was "recorded" on the horns of the Altar of Burnt Incense. The balance of the blood was poured at "the bottom of the altar of burnt offering" in the court. (4:16-18)

5)   The blood of the sacrifice for the individual, be he a ruler or an individual of the congregation, was "recorded" on the horns of the Altar in the court, and the balance of the blood poured at the bottom of the Altar. (4:25, 30) At no time was it ever carried into the sanctuary. The law of the sin offering required that the common priest eat of the sin offering in the court. (6:25-26)

6)   The result of the mediation in three of the categories - one corporate, and the two individual - was that "the priest shall make an atonement for them [or hirn], and it shall be forgiven them [or him]." (4:20, 26, 31, 35) Only in the case where the sin of the high Priest brought guilt upon the people is this statement omitted.

~~~~~

These details pertaining to the sin offerings of the daily services do permit some immediate observations:
1)   The Altar in the Court was the center for the daily services. From the sacrifices offered thereon all blood flowed which effected the atonement resulting in forgiveness. It syrnbolized the earth - Calvary - where the great Sacrifice of God was made. (See Rev. 11:2)

2)   The daily service resulted in an atonement. This sets forth the fact that an atonement was made at the Cross. Christ ministered as a common priest while on earth extending forgiveness to all who sought it, and then gave His life for the remission of sins. (Luke 5:24; 23:42-43; Rom. 4:25)

3)   As the common priest ate of the offering, offered "for sin" (Lev. 6:26), so Christ partook of our "flesh and blood" being made to be "sin for us" (Heb. 2:14; II Cor. 5:21). He "offered Himself" for us, "Himself the priest, Himself the victim" (Heb. 9:14) Then He was called to be High Priest forever after the Order of Melchisedec. (Heb. 5:9-10)

We turn now to the details of the work of the high priest as he served unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.

p 5 -- LEVITICUS 16 -- In studying this chapter, there are certain linguistic details that must be kept in mind. What we refer to in our Adventist nomenclature as "the most holy place" is noted in this chapter as simply, "the holy" with the word "place" supplied by the translators (Lev. 16:2). The part of the sanctuary which we term, "the holy place" is noted as "the tabernacle." (16:16,17) The court is referred to as "the altar that is before the Lord." (16:18)

Further, it needs to be kept in mind that the services described in this chapter took place on the 10th day of the 7th month. In Leviticus 23, this day is designated as "the day of atonements" - plural in the Hebrew (23:27, 28). Whether the plural is used because of the various cleansings described as taking place on this day, or whether it is an example of the Hebrew usage of the majestic plural to note the contrast between an atonement involved with the daily services resulting in forgiveness and the atonement of this day which resulted in a cleansing, needs careful study. Our spiritual forefathers evidently perceived the latter understanding, as they designated in the 1914 Yearbook Statement of Beliefs, the services of this day as "the atonement."

Since the high priest on this day, as he with the common priests in the daily services, "served unto the example and shadow of heavenly things," the details given in this chapter require thoughtful analysis:
1)   In performing his duties on this day, the high priest was clothed fully in linen from his head to his ankles. These garments were noted as "holy garments." (16:4)

2)   On this day, Aaron entered three times into the most holy place: once with incense, once with the blood of the bullock, and finally with the blood of the Lord's goat. (16:12-15)

3)   The offering of the bullock is noted as "the sin offering for himself, and for his house." (16:6,11) It needs to be kept in mind that the texts do not say, "for his sons" who served as "common priests" and who ate of the sin offerings of the individuals, thus identifying with their sins. Further, no hands were laid on the bullock in confession. Aaron ministered that day as a type of Christ our High Priest. The "house" concept is made a part of Paul's introduction of Christ as the High Priest of our profession. (See Heb. 3:1-6)

4)   There was a movement on that day in the ministry of the high priest. The cleansing was done in three steps, or stages, first the most holy, then the holy, and finally in the court at the altar there.

5)   The first cleansing was deemed necessary "because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins." (16:16) Yet in the cleansing of the altar in the court, where the registry of their confessions had been made, only the uncleanness is noted as the final act before the scapegoat is brought into the ceremony. (16:19-21) The record of sins is first considered as the books are opened. That which lies at the root of our sins - our uncleanness - is the last to be cleansed.

6)   In this final cleansing, the blood of the bullock and the blood of the Lord's goat are mingled. (16:18)

Since we are not living in the time when "the judgment was set and the books were opened" (Dan. 7:10), but over 100 years past that date, we must be near to, or in the time pictured in the service when the central focus of the Heavenly Ministry of Christ is on that which was typified by the ministration at the altar in the court. Therefore, all of these typical factors must be clearly perceived, and then related to aspects of Christ's High Priestly ministry as revealed in other references of the Bible. The resultant revelation would be "the present truth" for this hour.

OTHER REFERENCES -- EZEKIEL 9 -- "The Visions of God" given to Ezekiel (Chapters 8-11) when cast into a last day setting project a relationship with the last phase of the final atonement. The eschatological significance of certain prophecies of Ezekiel have been recognized by other than Adventist commentators. (Bible Commentary on the Old Testament, "Book of Ezekiel," pp. 305-306) Ellen G. White was specific in relating Chapter 9 to the final ministry of the Heavenly Sanctuary. (5T:207-208)

In the typical services of the Day of Atonement, the last act of cleansing centered in the Court at the Altar of Burnt Offering, or Brazen Altar. The focus of Ezekiel 9 is likewise at the Brazen Altar. (9:2) The One commanded to do the sealing was "clothed with linen" even as the high priest was clothed on the Day of Atonement.

In Ezekiel 10, the work of "the man clothed in linen" is enlarged. He is commanded to take

p 6 -- "coals of fire" from between the cherubim and scatter them over Jerusalem. (10:2, 6-7) Some interpret these "coals of fire" as symbols of judgment. However, "the man clothed with linen" was never commanded to destroy, but only to seal. (9:4-6) The cleansing by coals of fire find a parallel in Isaiah's experience who having received "a live coal...from off the altar" was told, "Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine inquity is taken away, and thy sin purged." (Isa. 6:6-7) John the Baptist defined one of the objectives of Christ's mission to be a baptism "with fire." (Luke 3:16)

DANIEL 7 -- The enlarged scope and significance that is given by the typical service of the Day of Atonement, when the movement of the high priest on that day is considered, helps one better to comprehend the part of the prophecy of Daniel 7 which relates to the time when "the judgment was set, and the books were opened."

In the sequence of Chapter 7, Daniel is brought in vision to the time of the "little horn" which was to reign for "a time, and times, and a dividing of time." (7:8, 25) This brings us to A.D. 1798. Then Daniel beholds "till" the Ancient of days sat in judgment. This judgment - "the cleansing of the sanctuary" - would begin in 1844. (8:14)

We have failed to consider the import of the events to take place after 1844 as revealed to Daniel. He wrote - "I beheld then because of the great words which the horn spake." (7:11) We have placed "the great words" as being fulfilled during the 1260 years of the medieval supremacy of the Papacy. But a careful reading of the text (7:25 KJV) indicates that the word, "great" is supplied, and the "great words" from Heaven's viewpoint follow the date, 1844. lt is after this revelation - and other details which are given concerning the end of the "beast" which nurtures "the little horn" - that Daniel sees the Son of man coming to the Ancient of Days to receive "dominion, and glory, and a kingdom." (7:13-14) All of these factors have not been duly considered in our study of the final atonement. (In an upcoming issue of WWN, we will give consideration to this)

REVELATION 14:6-12 -- The steps, stages, or agenda in the mediation of the cleansing on the Day of Atonement were three-fold: - First in the Most Holy, that which pertained to God and the record of the sins of the people; next, in the tabernacle where was registered corporate confession; and finally, in the Court at the Altar which carried the record of the confession of the individual. It is interesting to note that the Three Angels in their messages follow the same three steps. First, there is the message, "the hour of [God'sJ judgment is come," then, "Babylon," a corporate body, is fallen, and finally, "If any man" - individual. To this parallel, study needs to be given.

IN CONCLUSION -- How tragic, in these final hours of human history, the Church to which was committed the sanctuary truth in sacred trust, did not reaffirm its commitment to that truth at Perth. Equally as tragic, are those "voices" which profess to be committed to the sanctuary truth but are merely uttering their time-worn cliches and shibboleths instead of getting down to the meat of the Word of God and feeding the people as "faithful and wise" servants ought to be doing. (Matt. 24:45) Well did the Lord say through Ezekiel - "Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?" (34:2)

LET'S TALK IT OVER -- In the typical service on the Day of Atonement, there was one condition which we too often overlook. It reads:      There shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy." (Lev. 16:17)

Paul expressed it very concisely when he wrote to Timothy that there is but "one mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus. (I.2:5) The high priest alone in the type effected the cleansing of the sanctuary, and the people of Israel. He offered "the bullock" for himself, but he did so as a type of Christ "who gave himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from the present evil world." (Gal. 1:4) He offered the blood of the Lord's goat - that goat which was taken from the congregation of Israel (Lev. 16:5), symbolizing Him who would be raised "from among their brethren" (Deut. 18:18), and became the Lord's sacrifice." (Gen. 22:8) Not a single individual in the camp of Israel could make a contribution to their cleansing on that day.

There were only two requirements made of the people assembled before the court of the tabernacle on the Day of Atonement: -   1)   No work of any kind, and   2)   Soul affliction. A failure to observe either meant to "be cut off from among his people" by the Lord Himself. (Lev. 23:29-30)

Consider the matter of "no work." All the other annual feast days prohibited only "servile work." (Lev. 23:8, 25, 35-36) This one annual day - the Day of Atonements - carried the same prohibition as was placed on the Sabbath - "in it thou shalt not do any work." (Ex. 20:10) And interestingly, when Paul asks the "holy brethren" to consider the High Priest of their profession (Heb. 3:1), he introduced the Sabbath and gave its true meaning and significance. He wrote:     There remaineth therefore a rest [keeping of a sabbath - margin] to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. (Heb. 4:9-10)

The word, "rest," in verse 10 is the same root word as is used in Matt. 11:28-30. It is the soul rest provided by Jesus. To enter into that rest is to cease from dependence on our own righteousnesses. We cannot provide forgiveness for ourselves, neither can we effect the atonement from our uncleanness. To attempt it, is

p 7 -- to face being cut-off from the spiritual commonwealth of Israel. We cannot seem to realize that instead of a program of faith plus works, it is having a faith that works. We overcome the enemy "by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of [our] testimony," and we are willing to lay our lives on the line. (Rev.12:11) Why can I not accept the single condition which Jesus placed on doing a work acceptable to God - "believe on Him whom He hath sent" (John 6:29); and then believe that that One can truly mediate the atonement for my uncleanness? To even think that I can divest myself of the forces of my fallen nature through rules and regulations is Laodiceanism compounded.

Then there is the matter of "soul affliction." It, too, if not done will be cause for being cut-off. Hand wringing over the Church in apostasy is not soul affliction. Decrying the symptoms does not cure the disease. It may be that I may have the same disease, and in my Laodicean folly not sense it. We need to ask ourselves - all of us - the question:  "Am I so involved in exposing the apostasy in the Church that I am gullible to the deceptions being mixed with truth by the "many voices" sounding in the community of Adventism today? Whether the deceptions come from within the Church, or from the "voices" sounding on the periphery, all deception is basically the foundation of apostasy. To think that I can separate truth from error without the Spirit of discernment which comes from God alone, is to deceive myself. With the winds of doctrine blowing at gale force through the Adventist Community, one needs to be before God in soul affliction as he never was before. "So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true, that It will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony every statement is to be tested." (GC, p. 593)

May God have mercy on our self-confidence, and our misdirected devotion. May we be driven to our knees because we have been warned that the diabolical working of the enemy transforms his agents into "ministers of righteousness." (II Cor. 11:15) May we through soul affliction be "so firmly established upon His word" that we will not yield to the evidence of our perverted senses. May we in the crisis that now engulfs us "cling to the Bible, and the Bible only." (GC, p. 625) --- (1992 Feb) --- End --- TOP

1992 Mar -- XXV -- 3(92) -- THE "TITHE" INSERT BY COON -- In the November 7, 1991, issue of the Adventist Review, there was inserted a pamphlet - Tithe - written by Dr. Roger W. Coon of the Ellen G. White Estate. The sub-title was "Ellen G. White's counsel and practice." In the first issue of WWN for 1992, we noted this pamphlet, and commented briefly on one of the key points of Coon's argument. However, a more thorough analysis of his position on this point needs to be presented.

The pamphlet not only involved the question of tithe, but the doctrine of the incarnation was introduced as an illustration of how some have measured apostasy. Is such a judgment based on this doctrine, justifiable? Then the major premise taken in regard to the Church and apostasy - though a fine line - should provoke careful study.

That a tithe of our increase should be paid to the Lord is beyond question. The Scripture is too plain on this point to be rejected. Only the grasping, selfish heart of man withholds from God that which is His due. But the question arises, where does one place his tithe? Most of the "many voices" on the periphery of Adventism are openly soliciting the tithe. One such voice even brags about the "deep pockets" he gets his hand into. The facts are that these "voices" have been so successful that the Church's income has been materially reduced. They have declared war. The travail within the Church has now degenerated into the pot calling the kettle black.

To keep this warfare in proper balance, it must be kept in mind that inspired counsel given through the Lord's messenger indicated that these "many voices" would come at the time they arose, but that they would be deceptive voices used by the enemy to confuse minds. (R&H, Dec. 13, 1892) The messages coming through these "voices" are a mixture of truth and error garbed for the most part in the cloak of the writings of Ellen G. White.

This whole issue has arisen because it is perceived that the Church is in a Laodicean, backsliding condition. There are "voices" sincerely declaring that this situation is due to the fact that the Church has and is still rejecting the 1888 Message of Righteousness by Faith. From the "many voices," other charges are being leveled at the Church's leadership. However, another question must be first addressed and answered before any final decision can be made in regard to the tithe.

Dr. Coon addresses this question in Part 1 of his pamphlet. He asks, "Should I pay my tithe to a church if I believe it is in apostasy?" (p. 3) The answer to this question is obviously, "No." When Luther and the other Reformers concluded that the Roman Catholic Church was in apostasy, Protestantism was born. When the Apostles of Christ spear-headed by Paul, perceived that the Jewish Church was in apostasy, the Christian Community, as a distinct body, came into existence. lt ceased to be a sect of Judaism. But in answer to his question, Coon draws a fine line, but a very significant line, and so notes it. He wrote:   There is a fine line - but a significant distinction - between "a church in apostasy" and "apostasy in the church."

This distinction must be addressed in the present crisis in Adventism. There can be no "gray" areas over this question. Either the Church is "in apostasy" or there is only "apostasy in" the Church. One must determine on which side of the word, "apostasy," he places the word, "in." This brings every "independent ministry" to its "moment of truth." For example, every issue of the 1888 Message Newsletter carries this commitment -

p 2 -- " We are committed to the support of our beloved Seventh-day Adventist Church. Specifically, all tithe is to be paid to the organized church. We support financially the local church, the Sabbath school, and other denominational programs."

This is stating categorically that this "voice" perceives the continued rejection of the 1888 Message to be merely "apostasy in" the Church. Yet these men arrange for independent meetings, even conducting services at the same time on the same campus as the regular services of the Church. They profess allegiance to the hierarchy. If one has any doubt, all one needs to do is read the letters written by both Wieland and Short to the General Conference as found in A Warning and its Reception. How are they now going to relate to the call set forth in the Perth Declaration, and be consistent with what they wrote previously in regard to the authority of the General Conference?

Other "voices" on the periphery of Adventism - Hope International and Hartland Institute - make as their main bill of fare at their "mini-campmeetings," the apostasy in the Church. These meetings are conducted apart from and without the approval of the leadership of the Church. They have literally set up an organization in opposition to the Church, yet seek to remain under the umbrella of the Church. The fact remains, you are either in it, or you are not. Either the Church is "in" apostasy, or there is only apostasy "in" the church. This is decision time for every Seventh-day Adventist. This is not the time for deception and hypocrisy. The confusion being created by the "many voices" on the periphery of Adventism is totally without justification. Their bottom line, as the Church is charging, is the dollar sign. Here the battle line is being drawn. The pamphlet by Coon is but the first salvo. Articles are appearing in each of the official organs of the Union Conferences which pointedly attack the "independent ministries."

How does Dr. Coon answer the question he raised, and what illustration does he use? Let us follow his argument with comments on what he wrote. He stated:     No person acquainted with the Seventh-day Adventist Church would deny that throughout our history some apostasy has existed in our ranks - and does even today.

This is a true statement. So also was the experience in the history of the Jewish Church/ Nation. But there came a time, when that Church stepped over the unseen line, and the apostasy in the Jewish Church became instead, the Jewish Church in apostasy.

Coon continued:    What is apostasy? Most religious dictionaries define it as a departure from pure doctrine and practice. But who defines that doctrine or practice? (emphasis his)

Again forthright and accurate. Here Coon introduces the crucial question, who defines it? In the case of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, since 1946, doctrine is defined by the General Conference in session. It is thus suppose to represent the highest authority of God on earth. For the individual member of the Church, his doctrine is now defined in the 27 Fundamental Statements of Belief as voted by the 1980 General Conference in session at Dallas, Texas. But again we ask the question, "What (not who) defines doctrine and practice? The answer is that the Bible, the Word of God is the basic norm. We have been counseled that --     " God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrine, and the basis of all reforms." (Great Controversy, p. 595)

The question has now become very simple. Is the Seventh-day Adventist Church still that people? If not, then the church is in apostasy, not merely apostasy in the Church.

Dr. Coon, himself, has chosen the area of doctrine by which the determination is to be made. He declared:    Some critics today contend that "the church is in apostasy" because it does not advocate their particular view of the human nature of Christ, with its resulting brand of theology."

Coon chose with the approval of the White Estate plus the endorsement of the Church's leadership by its insertion in the Adventist Review to make this the key issue to determine whether the church is "in apostasy" or whether there is only "apostasy in the church." This simplification of the issue is to be commended. Now note carefully what he wrote - again a correct analysis of the current concepts in the church:     There are at least three views on the nature of Christ current in Adventist circles:   (1)   that at the incarnation Christ took the nature of Adam before Adam's fall;   (2)   that He took the nature of Adam after the fall; and   (3)   that He took a nature that in

p 3 -- certain respects was like Adam's before the fall, but in other respects was like Adam's after the fall."

Then Coon makes two questionable claims:      (1)   that "both Scripture and Mrs. White's writings" contain "certain ambiguities" on the human nature of Jesus, and   (2)   "the church has never officially endorsed any of these three views, and concludes that "since the church has never defined this particular theological question, how can it be said that anyone in the church (much less the church itself) is in apostasy due to the positions taken on the human nature of Christ?" (pp. 3-4)

The whole question resolves itself around two facts which can be determined:   (1)   Has the Church ever taken an official stand on the question of the Incarnation?  (2)   Are the Scriptures and the Writings ambiguous on this point?

lt is true now as Coon wrote - "Doctrinal positions can be established only by the world church in General Conference session." But this has only been since 1946 when such action giving the General Conference that prerogative was taken. What doctrinal position on the incarnation had the Church taken prior to 1946, and how is its authority to be determined? Also what position did the Church take in 1946?

In 1872, there was published on the "Steam Press of the Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, Battle Creek, Mich.," a tract captioned - "A Declaration of the Fundamental Principles Taught and Practiced by the Seventh-day Adventist." This first statement of beliefs declared that the Church held that the "Lord Jesus Christ...took on Him the nature of the seed of Abraham for the redemption of our fallen race."

The first issue of the Signs of the Times, June 4, 1874, as an editorial reproduced this same statement of beliefs. (See The Living Witness, p. 2) The November 24, 1874, issue of the Review & Herald printed these same statements in a series of articles on "The Seventh-day Adventists." It is true that no official authority was claimed for these statements because the preamble to the statements read - "we wish to have it distinctly understood that we have no articles of faith, creed, or discipline, aside from the Bible." However, it is equally true, the same preamble declared that the statements were "what is, and has been, with great unanimity, held by them." How much more "official" can a position be? There were not three positions in the beginning!

At the twenty-first session of the General Conference in 1882, the first Yearbook was authorized. An announcement of its issuance stated that it contained, "the statistics of our denomination, the proceedings of our General Conference, T. and M. Society, and other associations, our General and State Conference constitutions..." (SDA Encyclopedia, rev. ed., p. 1336) Such data made the Yearbook an authoritative voice of the Church's position in matters that pertained to the whole body. In 1889, the Yearbook contained a section devoted to "Fundamental Principles of Seventh-day Adventists." The statement was prefaced with this paragraph:        Seventh-day Adventists have no creed but the Bible; but they hold certain well-defined points of faith, for which they feel prepared to give a reason "to every man that asketh" them. The following propositions may be taken as a summary of the principle features of their religious faith, upon which there is, so far as is known, entire unanimity throughout the body. (p. 147, emphasis supplied)

The "well-defined point of faith" on the Incarnation read the same as the first statement made in the 1872 Tract. There was no change of position, neither was room left for three different positions. The last time this statement appeared in a Yearbook was in 1914. To that date, one year prior to the death of Ellen G. White, the position of the church on the Incarnation remained constant.

In the 1931 Yearbook, a new statement of beliefs appeared. In 1930, the General Conference Minutes for December 29, record an action that the chair, Elder C. H. Watson, then president, appoint a committee to prepare a new statement of beliefs for the Yearbook. This new statement read in regard to the Incarnation - "While retaining His divine nature, He [Christ] took upon Himself the nature of the human family." This 1931 Statement was endorsed by the 1946 General Conference, and continued to be the official statement of beliefs until 1980.

In 1980, a new statement of beliefs was voted at Dallas, Texas, which so modified the position on the Incarnation that three different views may be taken, and one's orthodoxy not be questioned. But how did Coon define, apostasy? - "As a departure from pure doctrine." There has been a departure in regard to the Church's original teaching on the Incarnation. By the very doctrine which Coon chose to illustrate his

p 4 -- point, the conclusion is inescapable, the Church is in apostasy.

QUESTION #2 -- Are the Scriptures and the Writings ambiguous on the nature Christ assumed in the Incarnation?

Dr. Coon indicated, "a large number of Adventist ministers, Bible teachers, and church members, of equal learning and commitment, today take" the position of the Anglican Melvill. (See SDA Believe..., p. 47, Footnote, p. 57) "Why," Coon asked. Here is his answer - "Because of certain acknowledged ambiguities in both Scripture and Mrs. White's writings on the human nature of Jesus." (p. 3) In both categories, this is simply not true.

Consider first the Scriptures: The Bible presents Jesus Christ in two aspects: as having a pre-existence, and as having received a human body formed in the womb of the virgin Mary.

As to the pre-existence of Jesus, there can be no question. He, the Word who became flesh, "Was in the beginning with God." (John 1:2) He proclaimed Himself to be the "I AM" - the Self-existent One, the Ever-existent One, the Eternal. (John 8:58)

This pre-Existent Identity, "existing in the form of God...emptied Himself" of that form, and took in its place "the slave-form of man." (Phil. 2:6-7, RV, Gr.) As the children of man "are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same." "In all things it behoved Hirm to be made like unto His brethren." (Heb. 2:14, 17) Paul declares emphatically that "the gospel of God" involves the revelation of "His Son Jesus Christ our Lord...made of the seed of David according to the flesh." (Rom. 1:1, 3) The slave-form that the pre-Existent Identity took at Bethlehem possessed all the depravity and potential to sin that every child of Adam receives at birth. In Him, in His pre-Existent Identity, there was no sin, nor propensity to sin, for from eternity He had "loved righteouness and hated iniquity." (Heb. 1:9) That did not change when "He emptied Himself" and took the slave-form of man with all of its inclinations to sin. The question was simply, could He live in the slave-form of man, and maintain the integrity of His divine character? He did! And upon the completion of that demonstration, "a loud voice" was heard saying "in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ." (Rev. 12:10) There is no ambiguity here.

The Writings are just as clear. In 1900, Ellen G. White wrote:      Think of Christ's humiliation. He took upon Himself fallen, suffering humanity, degraded and defiled by sin. He took our sorrows, bearing our grief and shame. He endured all the temptations wherewith man is beset. He united humanity with divinity: a divine spirit dwelt in a temple of flesh. He united Himself with the temple. (YI, Dec. 20, 1900; 4BC:1147)

The next year, 1901, is found this clear statement. It reads:     In Christ were united the divine and the human - the Creator and the creature. The nature of God, whose law had been transgressed, and the nature of Adam, the transgressor, meet in Jesus - the Son of God, and the Son of man. (Ms. 141, 1901; 7BC:926)

In other statements, she wrote that Jesus "knows how strong are the inclinations of the natural heart." (5T:177) Why? Because "by experiencing in Himself the strength of Satan's temptation, and of human sufferings and infirmities, He would know how to succor" those who are tempted. (R&H, March 18, 1873) Clearly she wrote - Christ "took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature." (Medical Ministry, p. 181). Again no ambiguity.

Our problem arises when we do not understand the very basics of the Incarnation. Jesus Christ was pre-existent, and that pre-Existent Spirit took upon Himself, our fallen nature with all of its liabilities after four thousand years of sin. Modern Adventist theology would rather have us believe that He was preserved immaculate from the fallen nature of Adam, taking only what the Anglican Melvill called, "innocent infirmities." Why do we continue to sip the "wine" of fallen Babylon until we are so drunk that we can no longer distinguish between truth and error?

SUMMARY -- lt was Dr. Coon who chose to make his point that the Church was not "in" apostasy on the doctrine of the Incarnation. It was he who chose to use the standard definition for apostasy - "as departure from pure doctrine," - The facts are that the Church has departed from pure doctrine in regards to the doctrine of the Incarnation (as well as other teachings). It follows, therefore, by Coon's own fine line of "significant distinction" that the Church is in apostasy.

p 5 -- A WARNING -   YES!   ITS RECEPTION?   AN OPEN QUESTION! -- DO WE REALLY BELIEVE? -- Editor's Note: The numbers in [ ], correspond to the same numbers, also in [ ] , placed in the facsimile reproduction of the paragraphs from the Review & Herald, December 13, 1892 in column 2. This has been done to facilitate comparison of comment with the paragraphs.

While those who hold to "present truth" recognize and accept the primacy of the Scriptures, they also are aware of the value and place which the gifts of the Spirit hold for the people of God in these final times of earth's history. Especially do they appreciate the counsel which God has sent to His professed people through the Writings of Ellen G. White. While they know that the Writings were not given to establish doctrine, they also know that the Writings contain warnings so that they can be aware of the dangers, deceptions, and snares set to entrap God's people in the final conflict.

In paging through Volume 7a of the Commentary series, checking various underscored references on what Ellen G. White had written concerning the Incarnation to see if they were ambiguous, I chanced upon a quotation from Ms. 43, 1907, which I had underlined in part sometime back when first reading through the volume. lt struck me as very apropos to the present crisis concerning the integrity of the "independent ministries." It reads:        As we near the end of time, falsehood will be so mingled with truth, that only those who have the guidance of the Holy Spirit will be able to distinguish truth from error. . . Those who are guided by the Word of the Lord will discern with certainty between falsehood and truth, between sin and righteousness. (Ms. 43, 1907: 7BC:907)

Here is a warning and a promise. There will be fearful mingling of truth and error, but those guided by the Word of God will "with certainty" discern these deceptions.

There is another warning sounded in the Writings, to which reference has been made repeatedly in past issues of WWN. It is found in the R & H, December 13, 1892. We reproduced its facsimile on page 5 for your study in relationship to the comments we shall make concerning these paragraphs.

R & H, December 13, 1892

As God called the children of Israel out of Egypt, that they might keep his Sabbath, so he calls his people out of Babylon, that they may not worship the beast or his image. The man of sin, who thought to change times and laws, has exalted himself above God, by presenting a spurious Sabbath to the world ; the Christian world has accepted the child of the papacy, and cradled and nourished it, thus defying God by removing his memorial, and setting up a rival Sabbath.

[1]  After the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations, every conceivable power of evil will be set in operation, and minds will be confused by many voices crying,  [4] Lo, here is Christ, Lo, he is there.  [3]  This is the truth, I have the message from God, he has sent me with great light."  [2]  Then there will be a removing of the landmarks, and an attempt to tear down the pillars of our faith. A more decided effort will be made to exalt tbe false Sabbath, and to cast contempt upon God himself by supplanting the day he has blessed and sanctified. This false Sabbath is to be enforced by an oppressive law. Satan and his angels are wide awake, and intensely active, working with energy and perseverance through human instrumentalities to bring about his purpose of obliterating from the minds of men the knowledge of God. But while Satan works with his lying wonders, tbe time will be fulfilled foretold in the Revelation, and the mighty angel that shall lighten the earth with his glory, will proclaim the fall of Babylon, and call upon God's people to forsake her.

At the time of the loud cry of the third angel those who have been in any measure blinded by the enemy,  [5]  who have not fully recovered themselves from the snare of Satan, will be in peril, because it will be difficult for them to discern the light from heaven, and they will be inclined to accept falsehood.  [6]  Their erroneous experience will color their thoughts, their decisions, their propositions, their counsels. The evidences that God has given will be no evidence to those who have blinded their eyes by choosing darkness rather than light. After rejecting light, they will originate theories which they will call "light," by which the Lord calls, "Sparks of their own kindling," by which they will direct their steps.

p 6 -- First let us consider the context. This article, from which these paragraphs are taken, was the concluding part of a message entitled, "Let the Trumpet Give a Certain Sound." The first article closed with an emphasis on the Three Angels' Messages in connection with the Loud Cry of Revelation 18. In fact, the first article closed wlth Rev. 18:4-5 being quoted. (R&H, Dec. 6, 1892) It is in this context - the context of the giving of the Three Angels' Messages - that we must understand the second paragraph of this second article - "After the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations, every conceivable power of evil will be set in operation..."  [1]

We have believed that when the truth of the gospel of the klngdom has been given as a witness to all nations, the end would come. (Matt. 24:14) We have perceived this "end" to be a point in time, rather than a period of time.

This reference puts that "end" as a "period of time" rather than "a point of time." lt further states, that "after" the truth has been proclaimed as a witness,"then" will come apostasy "there will be a removing of the landmarks, and an attempt to tear down the pillars of our faith."  [2]

Here most of the "independent ministries" are caught on the horns of a dilemma. Without exception, they are crying out against what they perceive as apostasy in the Church. Yet according to this prophetic insight in the Writings, it does not come until "after" the truth has been given as a witness to all "nations." But these same "independent ministries" envision a time when the Church has been turned around, cleansed of its apostasy, and they controlling the reins of power give the Three Angel's Messages to the "nations."

They cannot have it both ways. Either there is apostasy as described in this testimony, and thus truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations; or else the truth has not been so proclaimed, and the apostasy is yet future. If the latter is so, there is no reason for their existence, and all that they are proclaiming as apostasy, is in reality, the working of the Holy Spirit within the Church. They are, therefore, fighting against God. If, however, the apostasy is true, then these "ministries" must recognize - if they believe the Writings - that the witness of the truth to the "nations" as corporate bodies is finished. This should tell them something. [Note, it does not say, "individuals, but "nations" - corporate bodies. It needs to be kept in mind that "corporate" cleansing was the second phase of the services on the typical day of Atonement]

One may want to hedge on the terminology of "landmarks" and "pillars of our faith," holding that these specifics have been defined, and all have not been denied. As true as this may be, the whole setting of the enumeration of the "landmarks" and "pillars" finds its basis in "the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God's people upon the earth." (Ms. 13, 1889) This has been denied in the SDA-Evangelical Conferences, and was not reaffirmed in the Perth Declaration.

How then do we get to the bottom line of this prophetic counsel so that we can apply its warning? Jesus plainly stated when the probationary time of the "nations" would end. In Luke 21:24, He declared that when Jerusalem would no longer be under the control of the Gentiles, the times of the "nations" would be "fulfilled." [In the Greek, the same word is used for both, "Gentiles" and "nations."] This prophecy was fulfilled in two events, the taking of the city in 1967, and its annexation in 1980. And it was in 1980 that the Church in General session voted the confirmation of the compromises made at the SDA-Evangelical Conferences.

But more than this is involved in the warning-counsel from the Writings. Ellen White wrote that "after the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations," not only will "every conceivable power of evil be set in motion;" but also "minds will be confused by many voices crying,...'This is the truth, I have the message from God, he has sent me with great light.'"  [3]  Jesus has not only given us a sign by which we can know when the times of the "nations" are fulfilled, but also has given us a warning so that we can distinguish between the true and the false. Check when these "many voices" of the "independent ministries" began, and you will find that 99% began after 1980 [4]  The warning is that though they proclaim to be the very "message from God," they will only confuse minds because there is a mingling of truth with falsehood.

If we cannot read the warnings given by God through His messenger, what good is the Spirit of Prophecy to us? Let us not be deceived by

p 7 -- those who front the Writings as a facade to cover their ministry and false teachings.

This is not all there is to this warning given in 1892. It says that at the time of the "loud cry of the third angel" those who have in any measure been blinded by the enemy, and have not "fully recovered", will be in peril because they will have difficulty in discerning light from heaven.  [5]  Again we need to face some key facts in our history. Prior to this present agitation over the apostasy in the Church, the teachings of Brinsmead made great headway among various groups within the Church. In his first decade of teaching before he flipped into complete apostasy from the truth, he taught a key aspect of the Holy Flesh doctrine. He had many ardent supporters including the late Dr. George Rue, Dr. Lloyd Rosenvold, Vance Ferrell and others. None of these men, to my knowledge, ever rejected the original teachings of Brinsmead. Many still believe it.

This warning clearly states that those who do not "recover" from this or any other snare of Satan will reject genuine light, and will "originate theories which they call 'light,' but which the Lord calls, 'Sparks of their own kindling,' by which they will direct their steps."  [6]   These theories may be well clothed in quotations from the Writings, or manipulation of the Scriptures. However, to the people of God has been given "a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto [we] do well to take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in [our] hearts." (II Peter 1:19) If we are a people of prophecy, let us walk in the light of prophecy, and be children of the day, and not of the night. (1 Thess. 5:5)

" In the twenty-first chapter of Luke,
Christ foretold what was to come upon Jerusalem,
and with it He connected the scenes which were to take place
in the history of this world just prior
to the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven
with power and great glory.
"

Counsels to Writers and Editors, pp. 23-24

--- (1992Mar) --- END ---

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