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WWN 1999 Oct - Dec


1999 Oct -- XXXII -- 10(99) -- An Evangelical Statement of Beliefs -- Editor's Preface -- It was our intent when we began considering the contents of this issue of WWN to discuss two related subjects:   one, the Evangelical Statement on the Gospel; and two, the Joint Declaration on Justification to be signed Oct.31 between the Lutheran World Federation and the Papacy. There is a brief comment on page 7, but a full discussion will have to wait till the next issue. There can be no question, the evidence is too clear, the Evangelical Document focuses on the objections taken to certain positions in the accord. "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" initiated by Neuhaus and Colson.

This Evangelical document, as well as the issue now raised by the accord between Lutherans and the Papacy, brings us down to the very heart of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus and how it is to be received - or is it to be attained? The very text (Rom. 3:24) where this statement is found prefaces this redemption with the passive participle, "Being justified" (acted upon) and gives the source of the action - "Freely by His grace," and the basis for it, "through ... Christ Jesus." Where then does this leave a man? Even as the Prodigal of the parable, and the Publican who "would not lift up sn much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13). We have included a statement on page 7 from the 1888 period, October 12, 1896 to be exact, which defines justification and our worthlessness, except in the light of that redemption in Christ Jesus. These definitions we would do well to ponder.

There is another aspect to this redemption. Not only Jesus' earthly life and death are a part of that redemption, but also His mediatorial ministry in the Sanctuary above as "a Surety of a better covenant" is of equal importance and dare not be overlooked. One lesson which the "gospel in type" teaches is that unless the blood of the sacrifice was mediated it accomplished nothing. The law of sacrifice reads: "And the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him" (Lev. 4:31). Not only was there a daily atonement, but there was also the "Day of Atonements" (Lev. 23:27. Heb.).

p 2 -- An Evangelical Statement of Beliefs --
In March 1994, a document was released that became known as ECT - "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium." This was the brainchild of Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship, and Richard John Neuhaus, a Roman Catholic priest and editor of First Things, and produced by a working core of "seven Roman Catholics and eight evangelicals" - theologians, evangelists, missiologists, and directors of Christian missions. The intensity of the discussion and controversy which followed the release of this document was not expected. Finally a book was published in 1995 edited by Colson and Neuhaus which contained essays by key participants in the preparation of the document as well as by two evangelicals who endorsed the document.

Various evangelicals voiced strong opposition to the contents of ECT. They perceived it as a betrayal of the gospel. "Last year, two evangelical theologians had a bright idea. Wouldn't it he wonderful, they said, if evangelicals could achieve a broad consensus on the gospel and join in a common statement?" (Christianity Today [CT], June 14, 1999, p. 49). The report continues:       These theologians felt the pinch of recent tense discussions over how to define the doctrine of justification, a key element of the gospel. They saw the need for a reference document for those engaged in interchurch dialogue, for theological students, for pastors, for parachurch ministries, for itinerant evangelists, and for the rest of us. Those two theologians recruited some top Christian leaders and scholars (along with two representatives of Christianity Today). Now, almost a year later, the fruits of their passion appear. (ibid.)

This document is called - "The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration." The Statement is divided into four sections: a "Preamble," "The Gospel," "Unity in the Gospel," and a series of eighteen "Affirmations and Denials," and closes with a "Commitment."

In a preface to the release of this document, the Executive Editor of CT, David Neff, one of the members of the drafting committee, gives some additional insights as to the background and objectives envisioned for the Document. Alluding to what initiated ECT, Neff writes:      Today, classic theological liberalism is no longer the church's main threat. As we enter a post Christian world, one driven by consumer culture and the entertainment industry, we face more basic challenges, such as the radical devaluation of human life. In this context, we find ourselves standing with Catholic and Orthodox believers on key social issues. Indeed, through collaboration with Catholic and Orthodox activists in the prolife movement, many evangelicals have discovered a genuine appreciation for and developed friendships with them. This deeper friendship has required that Protestants know their Protestantism and that Catholics know their Catholicism and the Orthodox, their Orthodoxy. (ibid.)

Because of these contacts and the need for Evangelicals to know their Protestant background, the men behind this new Statement believe it is time "to revisit, reaffirm and recapture the gospel." They also recognized another factor, that today "evangelicals choose their churches based on music style or specialized ministries rather than doctrine or biblical content." (p. 50) Neff suggested that if some parts of the document "sound like a reprise of themes from the sixteenth century, it is because these themes have grown faint for many." The drafting committee believed that as Evangelicals go into the next millennium, this Statement captures "the synthesis of the Reformation's recovery of biblical truth and "that this truth is the key to [their] Christian identity," as well as their witness.

These Evangelicals are planning a public celebration of the gospel next year - the year 2000 - at the Christian Bookseller's Association meeting in New Orleans. One of the Sunday services on July 9 will he devoted to this gospel focus. Not only is it planned to give maximum exposure to this Document, but also a book length treatment of the Document will he unveiled at the New Orleans meeting. It is obvious in each planned step that the objective is to present a counter emphasis to the ECT statement and the book release on that statement.

At this point, before considering various pronouncements contained in this Evangelical Statement of Beliefs, a comment or two is in order. While the Evangelical theologians in drawing up this Statement emphasized the "biblical truth recovered by the Reformation, this month, October 31, there will be signed in Augsburg, Germany, a joint declaration between Lutherans and Roman Catholics in which the condemnation of each other's teaching on justification will he annulled. This joint declaration states that "a consensus in basic truths of the doctrine of justification exists between Lutherans and Catholics" (ENI, June 16, 1999, p. 3).

This Evangelical Statement of Beliefs is formulated around one theme - the Gospel. With no reflection on the clarity achieved by the ordering of the Statements of Belief as has been done in the various statements from 1872 to 1980 by the Seventli-day Adventist Church, nevertheless is not "the everlasting gospel" at the heart and core of the Three An-

p 3 -- gels' Messages of Revelation 14? One can only wonder what kind of a Statement would have been produced had the Church at some point in the formulations of its various Statements chosen to do what the Evangelicals have done, build a whole Statement on just the one theme - the Everlasting Gospel.

As noted above, the Evangelical theologians "felt the pinch" as "how to define the doctrine of justification, a key element of the gospel." Is this not also an issue in the Community of Adventism? Isn't this what 1888 is all about? As the Evangelical Statement is analyzed, the individual Adventist must determine whether there is a distinction between the 1888 Message and what the Evangelicals stated on this basic point. If there is no distinction, wherein then is the uniqueness of 1888, and the uniqueness of Adventism as well?

The Statement - What Does It Say? -- The "Preamble" begins with three short paragraphs concerning the Gospel:      The Gospel of Jesus Christ is news, good news: the best and most important news that any human being ever hears.

This Gospel declares the only way to know God in peace, love, and joy is through the reconciling death of Jesus Christ the risen Lord.

This Gospel is the central message of the Holy Scriptures, and is the true key to understanding them. (CT, op.cit., p. 51)

The next paragraph also begins with "This Gospel" ' but defines it in the terms of "the Holy Trinity." One does not sense at this point in the Statement the Nicene Creed, but rather a close parallel of thought to the 1931 Statement of the Adventist Church in its wording. In a later section of the Statement, the wording of the Creed surfaces. This first notation of the Trinity reads:      This Gospel identifies Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel, as the Son of God and God the Son, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, whose incarnation, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension fulfilled the Father's saving will. ... He is now giving the Holy Spirit from the Father to all those who are truly his. The three Persons of the Trinity thus combine In the work of saving sinners.

The last sentence reflects the same idea expressed in the Writings, except Ellen White substituted, "the Heavenly Trio" for "three Persons of the Trinity." There is a difference, and this difference we have discussed in previous issues of WWN.

The "Preamble" emphasizes that there is only one Gospel, and is "the true bond of Christian unity." It states that this Gospel "requires of all believers worship, which means constant praise and giving thanks to God, submission to all that he has revealed in his written word, prayerful dependence on him, and vigilance lest his truth he even inadvertently compromised or obscured" (p. 52). One wonders what this will mean when the "chips" are down, and the full social program of the "religious right" is implemented?

The second section is captioned, "The Gospel." The positions taken in this section are detailed in the eighteen "Affirmations and Denials." So as to avoid duplications, we shall note certain key statements in the section on "The Gospel," and discuss some of the most important affirmations and denials.

Quoting Peter's declaration in Acts 4:12, and Jesus' affirmation in John 14:6, the framers of this Evangelical Statement declare - "It is through his one and only Son that God's one and only plan of salvation is implemented." They perceive this salvation as based on two things, "the sinless life and vicarious death of his beloved Son." One paragraph focusing on the extent of the gospel as centered in Jesus Christ reads in part:       This Gospel further proclaims the bodily resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of Jesus as evidence of the efficacy of his once-for-all sacrifice for us, of the reality of his present personal ministry to us, and of the certainty of his future return to glorify us.

The noting of "his present personal ministry to us" is the total of what is said in this Statement regarding the High Priestly work of Jesus as the Surety of a better covenant based on better promises. On this point we shall comment at the close of this analysis.

Justification is defined as "a decisive transition, here and now, from a state of condemnation and wrath" because of sin, "to one of acceptance and favor by virtue of Jesus' flawless obedience culminating in his voluntary sin-bearing death." It is further reiterated:      As our sins were reckoned to Christ, so Christ's righteousness is reckoned to us. This is justification by the imputation of Christ's righteousness. All we bring to the transaction is our need of it. Our faith in the God who bestows it, ... is itself the fruit of God's grace. Faith links us savingly to Jesus, but inasmuch as it involves an acknowledgement that we have no merit of our own, it Is confessedly not a meritorious work. (p. 53)

p 4 -- Interestingly, the Statement includes what we call sanctification. It reads:      
The moment we truly believe In Christ, the Father declares us righteous in him and begins conforming us to his likeness. Genuine faith acknowledges and depends upon Jesus as Lord and shows itself in growing obedience to the divine commands, though this contributes nothing to our justification.

As perceived by the framers of this Statement, "Salvation in its full sense is from the guilt of sin in the past, the power of sin in the present, and the presence of sin in the future." Inasmuch as all have sinned, "so all who do not receive Christ will be judged according to their just deserts as measured by God's holy law, and face eternal retributive punishment."

Before setting forth the Affirmations and Denials, a small section is inserted on "Unity in the Gospel." Two positions are worth noting because they relate to current trends in Adventism:

1) The Statement declares that "as trustees of God's revealed truth," they cannot "embrace any form of doctrinal ... pluralism by which God's truth is sacrificed for a false peace." [This "pluralism" is reflected in the present position of the SDA Church on the major doctrine of the Incarnation. You have a choice of any one of three concepts]

2) "Doctrinal disagreements call for debate. Dialogue for mutual understanding and, if possible, narrowing of the differences is valuable, doubly so when the avowed goal is unity in primary things, with liberty in secondary things, and charity in all things." [This concept is echoed by the break-away liberal SDA churches that have adopted congregationalism as their governance mode].

The Document sets forth eighteen "Affirmations and Denials." In this brief "Thought Paper" it is impossible to comment on each, and so we will note a few of these which in our judgment are key issues.

The first affirmation is that the Gospel is God's Gospel revealed to us "in and by his Word. Its authority and truth rest on him alone." They deny "that the truth or authority of any part of the Gospel rests on the authority of any particular church or human institution."

They affirm that "Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation, the only mediator between God and humanity." The denial enforces this position. It reads - "We deny that anyone is saved in any other way than by Jesus Christ and his Gospel. The Bible offers no hope that sincere worshipers of other religions will be saved without personal faith in Jesus Christ."

Affirmation #6 with its denial involves what is also a current contention in Adventism. It reads:      We affirm that faith in Jesus Christ as the divine Word (or Logos, John 1:1), the second Person of the Trinity, co-eternal and co-essential with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is foundational to faith in the Gospel.

We deny any view of Jesus Christ which reduces or rejects his full deity is Gospel faith or will avail to salvation.

While the affirmation contains certain questionable aspects such as "the Trinity," it also sets forth a vital truth -"the co-eternal" relationship of Jesus Christ with the Father. The denial contains an essential position which strikes at the false contention of the neo-antiTrintarians in the Adventist Community which seeks to "reduce" the full deityship of Jesus Christ.

As in the section on "The Gospel," so in the affirmations is the position taken that "Christ's saving work included both his life and death on our behalf." They emphatically deny that "salvation was achieved merely or exclusively by the death of Christ without reference to his life of perfect righteousness." (#9) This is a bit difficult to understand as to the precise meaning the framers had in mind. Knowing that many evangelicals hold a "once saved, always saved" concept, is this saying that Jesus' life of obedience is appropriated to us even as His death is substituted for the penalty of our sins? However, in the Statement, as has been noted, is the concept that acceptance of Jesus as the only Savior and Lord reveals "itself in growing obedience to the divine commands" by which Jesus lived. Is this, therefore, saying the same thing as is written in the 1980 Dallas Statement (#10) that "we exercise faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ, as Substitute and Example"?

Affirmation #11, though emphasized throughout the document, is concisely stated again: "We affirm that the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone is essential to the Gospel." The emphasis is on the word, "alone." It is over this point that strong objection was made to the ECT statement fathered by Colson and Neuhaus. That statement read: "We affirm that we are justified by grace through faith because of Christ." This new Statement denies that "any person can believe the biblical Gospel and at the same time reject the apostolic teaching of justification by faith alone in Christ alone." The denial continues: "We also deny that there is more than one true Gospel."' In simple language the Evangelical Document is declaring that there is the Biblical Gospel, and there is the papal version.

p 5 --
In the book, Evangelicals & Catholics Together, edited by Neuhaus and Colson, Neuhaus calls attention to the absence of the word, "only" (alone) from ECT Statement as quoted in the above paragraph. He plainly writes - "The solas (Latin for "only," or "alone") are conspicuous by their absence, and it is not by accident that they are absent" (p. 200). With the lines drawn so precisely in the newly released Statement, it will require a large amount of rationalization to be signatories of both ECT and "An Evangelical Celebration." Yet Colson and others who signed the ECT Statement have signed on to the new declaration!

Affirmations and Denials #12-15 are a unit of thought which needs to be read together. While not stated in so many words, they strike at the false papal gospel, and could he equally applied to the modified Tridentine form which one hears proclaimed by some of the dissident "voices" on the periphery of Adventism. These affirmations and denials read:

12. We affirm that the doctrine of the imputation (reckoning or counting) both of our sins to Christ and his righteousness to us, whereby our sins are fully forgiven and we are fully accepted, is essential to the biblical Gospel.

We deny that we are justified by the righteousness of Christ infused into us or by any righteousness that is thought to inhere, within us.

13. We affirm that the righteousness of Christ by which we are justified is properly his own, which he achieved apart from us, in and by his perfect obedience. This righteousness is counted, reckoned, or imputed to us by the forensic (that is, legal) declaration of God, as the sole ground of our justification.

We deny that any works we perform at any stage of our existence add to the merit of Christ or earn for us any merit that contributes in any way to the ground of our justification.

14. We affirm that, while all believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and are in the process of being made holy and conformed to the image of Christ, these consequences of justification are not its ground. God declares us just, remits our sins, and adopts us as his children, by his grace alone, and through faith alone, because of Christ alone, while we are still sinners (Rom. 4:5).

We deny that believers must be inherently righteous by virtue of their co-operation with God's life-transforming grace before God will declare them justified in Christ. We are justified while we are still sinners.

15. We affirm that saving faith results in sanctification, the transformation of life in growing conformity to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Sanctification means ongoing repentance, a life of turning from sin to serve Jesus Christ in grateful reliance on him as one's Lord and Master.

We reject any view of justification which divorces it from our sanctifying union with Christ and our increasing conformity to his image through prayer, repentance, cross-bearing, and life in the Spirit.

There are those in the Community of Adventism who have problems over sanctification, and who will take issue with justification as set forth in this document on "The Gospel of Jesus Christ: an Evangelical Celebration." These "voices" proclaim a modified Tridentine gospel which includes "works." To all such, I would call their attention to two statements of Jesus; one an answer to a question asked of Him, and the second a parable He spoke.

On one occasion Jesus was asked - "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" To this question, Jesus replied: "This is the work (singular) of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." (John 6:28-29)

The parable of Jesus relating to the question is recorded in Luke 17:7-10. He told of a servant coming in from a day of labor in the field who was instructed to prepare first the evening meal for his master before eating himself. Jesus asked the question - "Doth (the master) thank the servant because he did the things that were commanded him?" The answer was - No! Then Jesus commented:      So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all these things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

Sanctification is merely the enabling by the Holy Spirit to do the things we should have done, but because we are sinners, we have not done. No merit accrues, nor can accrue by doing that which is one's duty to do, not even a "Thank you."

An article in The Signs of the Times (May 30, 1895) captioned, "Christ Our Complete Salvation" has some corresponding thoughts which closely parallel the Evangelical document. Here are some excerpts from the article (emphasis supplied):      The character of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be reproduced in those who believe in Him as their personal Saviour. ... Our acceptance with God is not upon the ground of our good works, ...

Human nature could not keep the law, even if it would.

p 6 --
Apart from Christ, without union with Him, we can do nothing. ... The law requires us to present to God a holy character. It demands of men today just what it demanded of Adam in Eden, - perfect obedience ... As the law requires that which no man of himself can render, the human family are found guilty before the great moral standard ... and finding ouselves condemned because of transgression, we may well cry out, What shall we do to be saved?

There is but one way of escape for the sinner. He must accept the propitiation that has been made by the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. ...

It will avail nothing for us to do penance, to afflict the body for the sin of the soul, or to flatter ourselves that by our good works we shall merit or purchase an inheritance among the saints. ... We are not to do something in order to purchase our entrance into heaven, for the Lord gives us heaven through the merit of Jesus Christ, and not through any merit of our own. ...

The glory of God was revealed in the rich mercy that He poured out upon a race of rebels, who through repentance and faith might be pardoned through the merits of Christ, for God will by no means clear the guilty who refuse to acknowledge the merit of the crucified and risen Saviour. It is only through faith in Christ that sinners may have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, and that they may be "made the righteousness of God in Him." Our sins were laid on Christ, punished in Christ, put away by Christ, in order that His righteousness might be imputed to us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Although sin was charged to His account on our behalf, yet He remained perfectly siniess.

Since the Evangelical Statement reflects the Reformation revival of the Gospel of God's grace that through faith alone in the merits of Christ only, can man find hope from the guilt of sin and its power now, and ultimately its presence in the future, which hope is clearly stated in the one and only Gospel given to Paul by Jesus Christ, the Community of Adventism is faced with some basic questions.

1) For what purpose was "the everlasting Gospel," the heart and core of the Three Angels' Messages, committed in sacred trust to the Seventh-day Adventist Church?

2) What was the purpose of what happened in 1888? Wherein is the difference in the message of justification by faith as set forth in the Evangelical document, and that which was given through Jones and Waggoner?

It is also obvious that the message of justification as set forth in "An Evangelical Celebration" is also declared in the article from The Signs of the Times from the pen of Ellen G. White - it rests solely on the merits of Jesus Christ, and received by faith alone, not of works. In both, it is affirmed that our "good works" do not contribute in any way to the "ground" of our salvation or acceptance with God. So how do we answer the above questions?

A cliche' which was used frequently during past years concerning the Three Angels' Messages still has merit. The Message of Revelation 14:6-14 is God's last Gospel message to a dying world. There is none other. Exegelically this is true. The Three Anges Messages end in the return of Jesus Christ. But what is that saying? It is declaring that the Gospel in its final emphasis will meet the need of those who will be translated without seeing death. One may respond - What is the difference in the salvational act of God whether one is resurrected from the grave, or translated? The answer is that the Scriptures clearly makes a distinction between the two groups.

To the Church of the Thessalonians, Paul wrote that the "Dead in Christ shall first arise," and "then we which are alive and remain shall he caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air" (I Thes. 4:16-17). In his great resurrection treatise, Paul defines different results for these two categories of the redeemed. One who experiences corruption "must put on incorruption (afqarsian) and this mortal [one who remains alive] must put on immortality (aqanasian)" (I Cor. 15:53). This latter Greek word is used only by Paul, three times: twice in this Corinthian text, and once in I Tim. 6:16. The former word is likewise used only by Paul eight different places in his Epistles.

Two categories of the redeemed are also suggested by the final decree just before the return of Jesus (Revelation 22:11-12). One is defined as "he that is righteous ('o dikaioV), and the other as "he that is holy" ('o ' agioV). If the sequence as used by Paul holds true in Revelation, then the "righteous" refers to the "dead in Christ" while "holy" denotes the ones translated. This second group have reached the ultimate objective of "sanctification." The text in Revelation 22:11 reads - "he that is holy let him be holy ('agiasqhtw) still." Every other place this word is used in the NT, it is translated, "sanctify," "sanctified," or "hallowed." The word 'o ' agioV (holy) is never translated by these words. It is, however, translated, "saints" - "holy ones." In this, is to be found an analogy with Rev. 14:12 where the objective of the Everlasting Gospel is declared to be "saints" who are keeping "the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." If keeping the commandments of God, then it means simply, they have ceased sinning; and this before the return of Jesus (14:14).

Sanctification, doing those things which we ought to do, does this result in holiness? In other words, can we attain the objective of the "Everlasting Gospel" through a works

p 7 -- oriented program? The Scripture gives a decided answer in the negative. In each instance of the two categories of the redeemed as decreed in Revelation 22:11 the "righteous" and the "holy," the verb is passive in the Textus Receptus. [The Greek Text in the United Bible Societies version destroys the obvious parallelism intended] What does tile fact that the verb is in the passive signify? The subject is acted upon rather than acting. I can no more justify myself, declare myself righteous, than I can make myself holy. It must be through Jesus alone as the "surety of the better covenant" (Heb. 7:22).

This introduces the Heavenly ministry of Jesus as High Priest after the Order of Melchizerflec. This is only alluded to, but not defined in the Evangelical Statement, which reads - "The Gospel further proclaims... the reality of his present personal ministry to us.'s It was for those to whom was committed "the Everlasting Gosil to develop and define the ministry of Jesus Christ in the Heavenly reality of which the Mosaic type prefigured not only the atonement at the Altar, but also the Final Atonement wherein all Israel were ceremonially cleansed from their defflentent. Only as this is kept central in the thinking of those who would proclaim the everlasting gospel, can the uniqueness of Adventism be preserved, and a people readied to receive that final act by which and through which it can he said -"Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." On these will the decree be rendered ulle that is holy, let him be holy still."

Justification and Regeneration -- What is justification by faith? - It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his own power to do for himself. When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. When they begin to praise and exalt God all day long, then by beholding they are becoming changed into the same image. What is regeneration? - It is revealing to man what is his own real nature, that in himself he is worthless. (Special Testimonies to Ministers and Workers, #9, p. 62)

LWF, Vatican Ready to Sign Docurnent -- This was the caption on an article in The Lutheran, (July 1999, p. 52) We made brief comment in the above article (p. 2, col. 2) on this event to take place, October 31. The article in The Lutheran gives the key sentence of this declaration. The two Churches - Lutheran and Roman Catholic - confess together, "By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works." It should be obvious that the issue is coming down to what is called the three "solas." These the Evangelicals addressed in their "Call to Evangelical Unity." The mitigation of these were the basis for the negative reaction among Evangelicals to the accord, "Evangelicals & Catholics Together," drawn up by Colson and Neuhaus. In the next issue of WWN, we hope to discuss this further. --- (1999 Oct) --- End --- TOP

1999 Nov -- XXXII -- 11(99) -- Light Shining in the Darkness -- Editor's Preface -- At the time this issue was being finalized, the Secretary of the Australian Foundation. Christopher Stojanov, and his family had just completed a week in Western Australia visting and studying with various interested and concerned Adventists.He was able to be present when Sister Lucy Turner, a long time reader of WWN, celebrated her 95th birthday. We pray God's continued blessing on Sister Turner as well as God's guidance and direction in the lives of each one visited as they individually study the Word of God to ascertain the certainty of the truths they discussed together with Brother Stojanov.

The lead article in this issue expresses Brother Stojanov's concern that God's people, as Israel of old, are being destroyed for lack of knowledge and that darkness is resting upon them because light from a prophecy which Jesus gave is not being heeded. This same conviction was expressed by Dr. Charles W. Hammond in an article he considered as his "swan song." He wrote, after quoting Luke 21:24, "Personally, I believe that what it actually tells us is that corporate probation for everything earthly ended in 1967. Corporate bodies comprise nations, business empires great and small . ... and many others including organised church bodies. God's Holy
Spirit has ever since been withdrawing from this sin-stained world : 'the Glory of the Lord' is loath to depart from His once beautiful world. Read the appropriate passages in Ezekiel regarding the departure from sinful ancient Israel, our type-model . We have passed that point; reflection will explain the abundant increase in crime and violence of every description in recent years." (Anchor , #84, p. 13)

Some have requested a copy of the Nicene Creed. We reproduce the Protestant version in this issue as taken from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. See page 4.

We hoped to have had ready for publication, the agreement, and the background of the document signed by the Roman Catholics and the Lutherans October 31 in Augsburg, Germany. Getting the data together has required extra time.

p 2 -- Light shining in the Darkness -- Christopher Stojanov -- For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6. -- In this verse, we have a revelation for our deepest meditation, and prolonged contemplation. The truth here suggested is so deep and yet so exalted, that the Apostle Paul reached back to the creation of the world for an illustration to help us understand how the Word of God alone, can and will dispel darkness. That Word "was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9). Jesus, the Word made flesh, proclaimed, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12).

That Light had been penetrating the darkness across the centuries of time. In their sojourn in Egypt the children of Israel had to a large degree lost the truth which had been committed to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The meaning of the sacrificial system and the significance of the Sabbath were all but forgotten during the years of their captivity, surrounded as they were by spiritual darkness. God saw their sufferings and heard their cry. He came down to deliver them out of their bondage and out of darkness. He said to Moses at the burning bush:       I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrow; and I am come down to deliver them. (Ex. 3:7-8)

God sent a man, a prophet for their deliverance. Moses, as that prophet, was a type of the Prophet to come to dispel darkness. Through Moses, God gave in symbolism the most wonderful truth man was to ever know - the light of the Sanctuary. God instructed Moses, "Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them" (Ex. 25:8). God wanted to dwell among His creatures made in His image, and gave to them the best that He could give, "light amid darkness," which we call "the Sanctuary Message." That message and the true understanding of it can dispel all darkness.

The building of the Sanctuary, the material used, the contrast between its inner brilliance and outward covering, represented God's love for humanity as would be seen in "the Word coming in the flesh" - our sinful flesh. Its services prefigured the ministry which He as Victim and Priest would perform for man.

The whole of the Sanctuary services called for the exercise of faith. From the lone entrance into the Court to the Most Holy Place of God's presence the exercise of faith was required. Jesus said of Himself, "I am the door; by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved" (John 10:9). He is represented by the lone entrance. It was a door of faith. Those coming to the Altar were to follow closely the Priestly acts. This was especially necessary when on the Day of Atonement, Israel gathered at the Sanctuary, and the High Priest entered the Tabernacle. They entered with him by faith.

It is safe to say that the Israelites did not fully understand the message of the Sanctuary, or exercise their faith in Him who revealed Himself in the Most Holy Place. The forty years of wilderness wanderings testifies to this fact. They did not find God's way because, as Asaph would sing centuries later - "Thy way, 0 God, is in the sanctuary" (Ps. 77:13).

Through the centuries of their national existence, God sought to guide Israel by sending them prophets to awaken and warn them. Some of these they mocked, others they persecuted and killed. Their continued unbelief and rejection of light brought darkness and subsequently led them into captivity in Babylon. The Temple was destroyed and His Presence was no longer with them. The very symbol of truth which God in mercy provided so He could dwell among them was destroyed, and and His courts forsaken. Yet God didn't forget His promise.

At the time appointed, God sent light. The Scripture reads:       Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? His God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (He is the God), which is in Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:2-3)

The Temple was to be rebuilt. God loved His people - He made it possible for His house to be built again. He

p 3 -- heard their "cry." He wanted to be with them and once again dwell in their midst. He wanted them to have faith in Him, and follow the Priest wherever He goes. Light would dispel the darkness; God was in their midst.

But as the centuries continued, darkness again came upon Israel because the meaning of the sanctuary was perverted and its services became meaningless rites due to the traditions of the religious leaders. The true message of the Sanctuary was lost and darkness enveloped the people. The record reads - "The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light sprung up" (Matt. 4:16).

When the Messiah came, the people were sitting in darkness. God had given a prophecy as to when the Messiah was to appear, yet the people sat in darkness. This darkness was due in a large degree because of the teachings of the leaders of the Jewish Church. Due to the lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6), and the ignorance which darkness brings, the people did not understand the time of their visitation.

The Light of heaven had come down to them; the people were sitting in darkness. God wanted to dwell with them, and when the time was fulfilled, He came in person to His Temple to abide with them, a boy of 12 years of age. The Temple which represented Himself, He now visits. To His mother's questioning, Jesus responded, "How is it that ye sought Me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Fathers business?" (Luke 2:49). The ARV translates this question - "know ye not that I must be in my Father's House;" and Moffatt renders it, "I had to be at my Father's House." Jesus said, "I must," "I had to be," "It is absolutely neecessary for Me to be in my Father's house, and being in my Father's House, I must be doing my Father's business!"

Jesus was twelve years of age in A.D. 8, and the first Passover following would have been in A.D. 9. In A.D. 6, Archelaus was removed from the throne, and Judea became a Roman province. Until that time, there had been always someone of Jewish blood ruling over Judea. But following A.D. 6 there was no longer a ruler of Jewish blood on the throne. This brought the expectation in Israel to a high pitch. Why? Because of a prophecy. It read:      The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be. (Gen. 49:10)

"Shiloh" is another term for the Messiah. The sceptre was not to depart from Judah until He came. In other words, there was to be someone of Jewish blood on the throne of Judah until the Messiah would appear. But now on the vacated throne sat a Roman governor; "Shiloh" must be around! He appeared, just a boy of 12, before the Doctors of the Law, the leaders of the Church, yet the people were sitting in darkness. Light came to penetrate that darkness, but they did not recognize Him. (John 1:5) They knew not the time of their visitation.

This prophecy of Genesis 49:10 is not a "time prophecy," but an "event prophecy." By the event taking place, something was fulfilled. The God of history (His-story) gives a prophecy, and then gives the light of its fulfilment in the way He chooses. The One that gave the prophecy came to His Temple at an appointed time. To the Priests, the Leaders and the General Conference of Judaism, He came. His knowledge of the Scriptures astonished them, but they perceived not the time of their visitation. "'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). They understood not the words of Malachi - "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His Temple, even the messenger of the covenant" (3:1).

Today there are those who, students of the Bible, are aware of the moral decline, and doctrinal deviations which mark the S.D.A. Church, but who believe that God will not hold them as individuals responsible for the condition of the body. One does not have to be a scholar to recognize that the Church has changed. Since the 1960's the Church has been declining to the point that presently you can believe, what prior to 1960 would have been considered abject heresy, just so long as you continue to support the financial structure of the Church. This time, not as Judah of old who was taken into captivity to Babylon, the Church has willingly gone into captivity - darkness has come over her.

The God of history does not change. "1 am the Lord, I change not" (Mal. 3:6). His method of dealing with one situation at one point in time does not change at another point in time. In other words, God is consistent. He has given light to scatter the darkness through a prophecy fulfilled in our own day. That prophecy is found in Luke 21:24. It is an "event" prophecy, not a "'time" prophecy, and unless we understand this prophecy, we will continue in darkness.

p 4 -- One of the landmarks of the Adventist Movement is "the Temple of God, as seen by His truth-loving people in heaven and the ark containing the law of God." (C.W.E., p. 30) This landmark requires faith and an understanding of the typical services performed in the earthly model given to Israel at Mt. Sinai. Through type, we understand the great antitype and the ministry of our High Priest as He enters into the final work of the atonement. By faith we follow Him in the last act of the final atonement.

To us has been given this "Sanctuary" truth as a sacred trust. But more than just a doctrine, God wants to dwell with us and in us. He wants us as His temple. This is only possible through faith and acceptance of Christ and His righteousness. He designs to accomplish His objective in a generation of believers. Those who will "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth" (Rev. 14:4), will follow Him now by carefully heeding His words and prophecy for "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). How can we really "follow the Lamb" if we cannot accept His own prophecy for this time, which He gave when He came to be the Lamb which was to take away the sin of the world?

Jesus said, "I am the door, by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture" (John 10:9). In accepting the prophecy of Jesus in Luke 21:24, the light will dispel the darkness which new engulfs us, and we shall "find pasture" - be fed the word of truth, pure and unadulterated! In other words, Truth will become clearer and the words of life easier to understand.

This prophecy which Jesus gave also shows us what our relationship is to be to the S.D.A. Church. Are we to stay in it and seek to purify it, or do we do something else? "If the foundation be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Ps. 11:3) The foundation, with its basic pillar has been destroyed, what can we do?

Connected with this prophecy, in the sarme setting, Jesus also had given the prophecy concerning the fall of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20), and told those who would believe, when the sign was given, what to do. If they had stayed in Jerusalem what would have happened to them? If we cannot see and heed the message contained in the fulfilment of the final sign, what will happen to us?

"Arise shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: BUT THE LORD SHALL ARISE UPON THEE, AND HIS GLORY SHALL BE SEEN UPON THEE" (Isa. 60:1-2).

For your Information: The Nicene Creed -- This is the Received Text of the Protestant Churches of the Nicene-Conslantinopolitan Creed adopted by the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381. It is copied from The Creeds of Christendom, by Philip Schaff (Vol. 2, pp. 58-59).

I believe in one God the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds [God of God] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance [essence] with the Father; by whom all things were made; who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he arose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And [I believe] in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proccedeth from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets. And [I believe] one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

A Footnote indicates that this Text was taken from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, with which the text in other Protestant liturgies agrees, with slight variations. The Lutheran symbols substitute, in the article on the Church, the term, christliche (Chnstian) for Catholic. Luther did the some in his German version of the Apostles' Creed; unwisely leaving to Romanists to monopolize the name Catholic.

p 5 -- Let's Talk It Over -- It has been some time since we have talked things over. Brief comments, however, have been made from time to time in the "Editor's Preface." This afternoon as I was seeking to complete this issue, my mind ran back through the years of my pastoral ministry, and I recalled a sermon which I preached on several occasions as I would begin a new pastorate. I went to my books of filed sermons and under the heading, "M - Ministry", I found it. It was captioned - "Your Minister and You."

This sermon had developed out of experiences from previous pastorates and was prepared to meet issues that might arise before I would need to be involved with them at this new pastorate. Gossip is one of the cruel weapons which the enemy uses to disrupt churches and create trouble among members. I told the Church that my directives were clearly outlined in the Scriptures. If someone came to me as pastor with a story which reflected on another member, my directive would be to ask first -"Have you personally talked with this person about this story? If not, I have no time to hear it." Sometimes I would ask the person telling me, to detail it on a sheet of paper and sign it, and I would see what I could do about it. I never received a written allegation under such circumstances. It usually ended at that point.

As we are nearing the close of human history, the enemy has come down with "great wrath" and has unleashed every weapon in his arsenal of hell. Who knows who will escape his malignment? When some malicious tale is told you, why not follow the Master's order and ask the person to write it out and sign his or her name; and then you send it directly to the person concerned. Let the person know that this is what you intend to do.

In the counsel where these directives of Christ are reviewed, there is found this comment:       If these steps have not been taken, close the ear to complaints, and thus refuse to take up a reproach against your neighbor. If there were no brethren and sisters to do this, evil tongues would soon cease, for they would not find so favorable a field in which to work in biting and devouring one another." (5T:617)

During my ministry in the Church, having sat on conference committees and having heard various worker's name and lives reviewed - sometimes not too kindly - I was aware that when I chose to begin a ministry independent of the regular organization, I would become subject to this possibility also. I, therefore, asked for an official leave of absence, and that leave be signed by the executive officer of the union where I held credentials. This was done, and the letter reads:

To Whom It May Concern:

This is to establish the fact that Wm. H. Grotheer left the employ of old Madison College and the Southern Union Conference strictly on his own, June 1, 1965. He was in good and regular standing as a denominational worker when he took this voluntary leave of absence.

H. H. Schmidt, President
Southern Union Conference
(Any desiring a copy of the above letter may request a copy by sending to P. 0. Box 69, Ozone, AR 72854) --- (1999 Nov) --- End --- TOP

1999 Dec -- XXXII - 12(99) -- Irreconcilable -- Editor's Preface -- With this issue we close the year 1999, and enter the last year of the Twentieth Century as well as the final year of the
2nd Millennium since Christ. Before us are difficult times. What should our emphasis be? There can be no doubt but that the end of all things is at hand. This means simply that we face the close of all human probation. This, in turn, brings us face to face with the question as to what the final atonement is and how one is to relate to it. To do so we must return to the "roots" of Adventism in a careful restudy of the Sanctuary teaching.

Presently, the question of the Church and what is God's attitude toward it received exposure in two independent Australian publications. The discussion of these articles form the basis of this final issue of WWN for 1999. The discussion involves both the Writings and the Scriptures. The reason for the detailed study from the Writings is because it is the "lingua franca" of these publications and thus we seek to deal with
the question on their own grounds. The Bible, however, sustains the same position when the Word of truth is rightly divided. Biblical illiteracy cannot be justified when there is so much light cast upon the Scriptures by the many helps available for the study of the Word.

One section of the study in the Writings concerns the chapter in Testimonies for the Church, Vol. V, pp. 207-216 - "The Seal of God." This chapter has been facsimile reproduced in a tract with notes which relate its message to the present crisis in the Church and to the question raised in the first article discussed in this issue of WWN. Anyone wishing a copy may [use order form.].

We appreciate the large response we received to our request in WWN - 10(99). Our worst fears were confirmed. We can only express regret for the unprincipled conduct of those involved and our failure to protect the mailing list more securely.

p 2 -- Irreconcilable -- In The Anchor (July, 1999, p. 13), an Australian independent publication, there was published an article by Dr. Charles W. Hammond. While we referred to this article briefly in the previous issue of WWN (See "Editor's Preface"), we found by a careful reading of what Dr. Hammond wrote, which he called his "swan song," spiritual insight far outweighing his failing eyesight which was the reason he gave for his decision to cease writing. Writing "To Whom It May Concern!" he said - "I have found the decision to cease writing much eased by my personal belief that the end of everything earthly is far nearer than most of us think." He indicated that his final article would be brief and would include only one "Scriptural reference," as well as one quotation from the Writings. He continued:      
I have stated above that "it is later than we realize." Here is the Scriptural reference. It is a short prophetic utterance of our Lord himself, of which many, even among Bible students are unaware, and is found in Luke chapter 21, and verse 24:       "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

Personally, I believe that what it actually tells us is that corporate probation for everything earthly ended in 1967. Corporate bodies comprise nations, business empires great and small, such entitles for instance as sporting clubs and many others including organized church bodies." God's Holy Spirit has ever since been withdrawing from this sin-stained world; "the Glory of the Lord" is very loath to depart from His once-beautiful world. Read the appropriate passages in Ezekiel {Chapters 8-11} regarding His departure from sinful ancient Israel, our type model. But, at a certain point He cannot longer refrain from so doing. We have passed that point; reflection will explain the abounding increase in crime and violence of every description in recent years. But thank our loving, long-suffering and plenteous-in-mercy Heavenly Father, He being "unwilling that any should perish" has seen fit to extend individual probationary time. He is actually deferring the day of wrath on the chance that there my be someone, me? perhaps, you? who will turn back to Him. But whatever you do, no longer delay. You dare not take the risk. Reader, it is near - "even at the doors"!

The Spirit of Prophecy quote is found in today's {June 7} reading from Maranatha, and reads as follows (context refers to the end-time organized church):      "The people are fast being lulled to a fatal security, to be awakened only by the outpouring of the wrath of God."

I promised "No comment" think none is necessary. -- (Emphasis his)

A month later in another Australian independent publication, Remnant Herald, the editor reviewed a meeting between leaders of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement (SDARM) and the Standish-Spear-Standish "Triumvirate." The issue of the "church going through" was discussed. On this point the editor reported that the "Triumvirate," and those associated with them, -      pointed to the Scriptural and Spirit of Prophecy evidence that though our beloved church, like the Jewish church, the early Christian Church and Protestantism before it, would apostatize, nevertheless God has chosen to cleanse it, not by mother coming out, but by a shaking process. I pointed to Isaiah 1, where, at the end time the "very small remnant," (verse 9) the only reason why our church still exists, is to be found in a rebellious church (verse 5), a church described as putrefying sores (verse 6). The irony of our insistence upon the SDA church still being God's church on the basis of it being in far greater apostasy that SDARM, was not lost of Pr. Lausevic. Yet that is how the Bible and SOP describes God's last day church. We are devastated by the course of God's church, both laity and ministers, especially as the organization is so frequently used to break down truth and righteousness, but God's Word - we earnestly believe -does not mandate a new organization. Colin used lsaiah 4:3 "it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even everyone that is written among the living in Jerusalem." Colin showed that in Prophets and Kings 592 this passage is applied to the end time. Ezekiel 9 and 5T 210, 211 were liberally used. (pp. 765-766)

It should be obvious even to a casual reader that in these Australian publications there is presented two positions in regard to the Seventh-day Adventist Church that are irreconcilable. It is also beyond debate that Dr. Hammond, though with failing physical vision, perceived with 20/20 spiritual vision the meaning and the fulfilment of the prophecy of Jesus. It is also obvious that the "Triumvirate" we seeking to sustain their position by the Writings, even when quoting

p 3 -- from Isaiah. We need, therefore, to forthrightly examine what the Writings are saying in regard to the admitted (by them) apostasy of the Church.

After the 1888 General Conference session, Ellen White wrote:      I was confirmed in all I had stated in Minneapolis, that a reformation must go through the churches. Reforms must be made, for spiritual weakness and blindness were upon the people who had been blessed with great light and precious opportunities and privileges. As reformers they had come out of the denominational churches, but they now act a part similar to that which the churches acted. We hoped that there would not be the necessity for another coming out. While we will endeavor to keep the "unity of the Spirit" in the bonds of peace, we will not with pen or voice cease to protest against bigotry." (1888 Materials, Vol. 1, pp. 356-357)

There is in this comment a criterion established by which a "second coming out" is to be determined. The Seventh-day Adventist Church of 1888 was composed of men and women who had left the regular denominational churches of their day to become Seventh-day Adventists. The leadership of the Church which had assembled in Minneapolis, in reaction to the messages brought by Jones and Waggoner, manifest the same spirit as was manifested by the denominational churches in the first "coming out." If continued, this would necessitate a second coming out.

While we could itemize the evidences of apostasy within Adventism, the core of the apostasy, which in turn produced its fruitage, is the continued rejection of the message of righteousness by faith. All one needs to check is the date of the last official rejection of Wieland and Short's manuscript which had called the attention of the leadership of the Church to the continued rejection. That date was 1967. (See A Warning and Its Reception Buff Section, Letter to D. K. Short; published by the Adventist Laymen's Foundation)

The criterion set forth by Ellen White which governs a "second coming out" is very simple. When the apostasy within the Seventh-day Adventist Church reflects the apostasy which necessitated the Second Angel's message, the only answer is a second coming out. This is also indicated in the teachings of Jesus concerning the end time.

Jesus, besides telling of the signs which would mark the close of the age, gave a parable which describes His professed people living at that hour. It begins:      Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. (Matt. 25:1)

The word translated, "went forth" is exhlqon, a verb in the aorist (past tense). The Ten Virgins had come out of where they were to meet the Bridegroom. They were united; and in this unity they "all slumbered and slept" (v. 5). At midnight a "voice" from outside the Virgins awakens them with another call - "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him" (v. 6). "Go ye out" is the translation Of exercwsqe another form of the same verb used in the first verse, but in the present tense. It called for a second "coming out." This produced a division in the Ten Virgins. Half returned to the professed vendors of "oil," while the wise virgins went forth to"a meeting" (apathsiV, also the same as in verse 1) of the Bridegroom.

A reading of The Great Controversy (pp. 398-400) relating to this parable would lead one to conclude that it was completely fulfilled in the 1844 Advent experience. However, the 1911 edition was not revised to reflect the light which was given to Ellen White between the 1888 edition and 1911. While writing of the first Tasmanian Campmeeting (R&H, Feb. 11, 1896), she interjected:      My mind was carried into the future, when the signal will be given, "Behold the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him."

The inescapable conclusion is that there is to be another "coming out"as indicated in this parable.

After the 1903 General Conference session, Ellen White wrote a warning which relates to the issue in question.       In the balances of the sanctuary the Seventh-day Adventist church is to be weighed. She will be judged by the privileges and advantages she has had. If her spiritual experience does not correspond to the advantages thal Christ, at infinite cost, has bestowed upon her, if the blessings conferred have not qualified her to do the work entrusted to her, on her will be pronounced the sentence, "Found wanting." By the light bestowed, the opportunities given, will she be judged. (Testimonies Vol. 8, p. 247)

The first self-evident fact from this testimony is the Seventh-day Adventist Church "is to be weighed" in

p 4 --
the balances of the sanctuary. Twice it is indicated, "she will be judged." No exception will be made for the Church. She will face just exactly what the Jewish church, the early Christian church, and Protestantism faced. There is not the promise of a "cleansing," as indicated by the "triumvirate," but a verdict according to the evidence, which if negative will be - "found wanting."

The only condition upon which a negative judgment can be averted is also given in this same testimony. It reads:      "Unless the church, which is now [1903] being leavened with her own backsliding, shall repent and be converted, she will eat the fruit of her own doing until she shall abhor herself." (p. 250)

This repentance has not been forthcoming, but the call to denominational repentance has been rejected. That date as noted above was 1967, and indicated a decision of the sanctuary - the close of corporate probation, confirming the conclusion drawn by Dr. Hammond.

The report in the Remnant Herald, noted above, indicated that "Ezekiel 9, and 5T 210, 211 were liberally used." More than just two pages - 210, 211 - are involved. The whole of the chapter, "The Seal of God," is devoted to comments arising out of Ezekiel 9. In fact the first beginning paragraphs quote Ezekiel 9:1, 3b-6 verbatim. Within the paragraphs following - page 208 -there is a "time" element introduced in connection with the nations. It reads:      With unerring accuracy, the Infinite One still keeps an account with all nations. While His mercy is tendered, with calls to repentance, the account will remain open; but when the figures reach a certain amount which God has fixed, the ministry of His wrath commences. The account is closed. Divine patience ceases. There is no more pleading of mercy in their behalf.

There is only one "event prophecy" which indicates when the account with the "nations" closed and that is the prophecy of Jesus as recorded in Luke 21:24!

(The word in Luke 21:24, translated "Gentiles" (eqnwn) can be translated, "nations" and is so done in Luke 21:24a and in verse 25. Consistent translation would have translated to ta eqnh as "nations" in each usage in the two verses.)

Now back to Testimonies, Vol. 5. The next paragraph following the one quoted above states -        The prophet [Ezekiel], looking down the ages, had this time presented before his vision. The nations of this age have been recipients of unprecedented mercies. The choicest of Heaven's bIessings have been given them, but increased pride, covetousness, idoletry, contempt of God, and base ingratitude, are written against them. They are fast closing up their account with God." (208-209)

Following this paragraph, there is a transition from the "nations" as corporate bodies to the "church" as, also a corporate body. Ellen White wrote -       What causes me to tremble, is the fact that those who have had the greatest light and privileges have become contaminated by the prevailing iniquity. (p. 209)

A caution is then given -       "Those who walk in the light will see signs of the approaching peril; but they are not to sit in quiet unconcerned expectancy of the ruin, comforting themselves with the belief that God will shelter His people in the day of visitation. Far from it. (ibid.)

From this point on a distinction is made between two groups - "the little company, who are standing in the
light" - and - "the church, because its members are doing after the manner of the world." The "little company" are described as "sighing, crying ones" who hold forth "the words of life." They reprove, counsel, and entreat. The response - "Some who had been dishonoring God, repented and humbled their hearts before Him." But what of the "church"? "'The glory of the Lord had departed from Israel; although many still continued the forms of religion, His power and presence were lacking." (p. 210) Then, after quoting Ezekiel 9:5-6 again, this comment follows:      
Here we see the church - the Lord's sanctuary - was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. (p. 211)

In the light of these clear-cut statements of God's intent if there is no repentance, how can the triumvirate maintain that God will "cleanse" the church " by a shaking process." It is true that in the Writings, there is described "a shaking process" but of a different order than is perceived by the triumvirate. Observe carefully the results of the shaking as given in the following references:      I then saw the third angel. Said my accompanying angel, " Fearful is his work. Awful is his mission. He is the angel that is to select the wheat from the tares, and seal,

p 5 --
or bind, the wheat for the heavenly gamer." (Early Writings, p. 118)

The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. ... In this time, the gold will be separated from the dross in the church." (5T:81)

It is the gold and the wheat that are separated from the dross and tares, not visa versa. The"little company," and the "some" who respond to their entreaties, will constitute the "gold" and the "wheat," while the church will be composed of "dross" and "tares." This defines the meaning of "the days of the purification of the church," and "the mighty sifting" which is taking place.

In the report given in the Remmant Herald it indicated that Dr. Colin Standish used Isaiah 4:3 to support the position advocated by the triumvirate. To sustain his interpretation, he cited Prophets & Kings, p. 592 where this verse is quoted. The full context, if he had been careful to note, is speaking of the 144,000. The preceding paragraph speaks of these as "they that stand on Mt. Zion with the Lamb." It is in this setting that Isaiah 4:3 is quoted, not as applied by "Colin." The time setting is defined within the paragraph itself, -"the tears and humiliation of their pilgrimage give place to joy and honor in the presence of God and the Lamb." (Emphasis supplied) Then follows Isaiah 4:3. Not only does it appear impossible for the triumvirate to rightly divide the Word of truth, but also to accurately read the Writings. Thus the position set forth by Dr. Hammond based on the prophecy of Jesus, and the theorizing set forth in the Remmant Herald remains irreconcilable. Why munch on chaff when wheat is available?

In the above discussion of the question as to the "going through" of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we have mainly referred to the Writings because that is the "linguat franca" to which the triumvirate make final appeal even if they can't read it correctly. Turning to the Scriptures we find some very interesting conclusions which can be drawn.

The Seven Churches of Revelation, chapters 2 & 3, speak if we are willing to listen. Using the hermeneutic set forth by Joseph Bates (Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 7-8; November 1850) we place the last four churches as parallel rather than consecutive as was done by Uriah Smith at a later date. This gives an interesting revelation.

To "the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan," Jesus said, "Hold fast till I come" (Rev.2:24-25).

To the Church of Sardis, Jesus warned - "If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee" (3:3).

To the Church of Philadelphia is the counsel given -"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (3;11).

Where is the warning about the return of Jesus in the message to Laodicea? There is none! Why? Because it is spued out, and does not reach the end (3:16). Interestingly the revelation of the Seven Churches is followed by the Seven Seals. In this unveiling one finds the final Church - the 144,000 - in connection with the end time. See Rev. 6:12-7; 7:1-4. It does not exclude the possibility of this final group being made up of some from the previously named churches. This invites study.

Let us, however, return to the Laodicean message in Revelation 3:14-21. Verses 14-18 speak to the Church as a corporate body using the words, "thy," "thou," and "thee." Verse 19 is a call to repentance. Then comes a transition. From the corporate wording, the appeal passes to the individual - "If any man hear my voice and opens the door." Literally it reads - "if any one (tiV) hears my voice." The corporate is rejected -"I will spue thee out of my mouth."

Sad indeed the picture. The spiritual condition of the Church becomes so tepid that "the true Witness" is nauseated to the extent that He vomits (Gr.) the Church out! The Church heeds neither the counsel nor the call to repentance. Biblically, the same picture is drawn as is found in the resume of the Writings which has been noted above. The only safe course is for each one who hears the knocking at the door to let the true Witness come in and "sup with him" individually about the prophecy He gave that night long ago on the Mount of Olives. Then the question about the Church could be answered even as Dr. Hammond answered it out of such an individual experience.

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15.

p 6 -- FALSE CONCEPTIONS -- After having published the article by Dr. Hammond in the July issue of Anchor, the editors reprinted in the next issue, with permission, selections from the first six chapters of the book, Armageddon by the Rosenvolds. It contained some gross misunderstandings of the Scriptures.

While it is true that the terms applied to Israel as a people of God, and to Jerusalem as the city of God altered in application when Israel's probation as a nation closed in 34 AD, the fact remains that events in the history of Jerusalem as a literal city did not cease to be "signs to the "new" Israel of God.

In 66 AD, the Roman armies under Cestius surrounded the city of Jerusalem. Jesus had warned -"And when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh." (Luke 21:20) Did the Christians within the city read the prophecy of Jesus as the Rosenvolds want you to read it now? Absolutely not! An event connected with the once holy city had occurred as Jesus indicated, and they needed to follow His instructions. They did not say that what Jesus said applied to a spiritual city because Jerusalem was no longer the city of God. It is in that same paragraph of verses that Jesus gave to the "new" Israel of God another sign connected with the history of that literal city. It reads - "And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (verse 24). The problem is rightly dividing the Word of truth so lacking in the Rosenvold publication.

With the article is printed a supposed harmony between Matthew 24, Mark13, and Luke 21, so as to give the impression that Luke 21:24 is connected with the 1260 days of papal supremacy so that Luke 21:24 can be interpreted in the following manner: Jerusalem = "God's people;" Gentiles = "the Papacy;" and times = the 1260 days of prophecy! A standard Harmony of the Gospels by Dr. A. T. Robertson indicates that there is no parallel verse in Matthew and Mark to Luke 21:24, much less separating a Biblical paragraph to achieve their ends as the Rosenvolds did. Ellen White recognized this distinction and when calling attention to events "to come upon Jerusalem" which were "connected with the scenes which were to take place in the history of the world just prior to the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven" cited Luke 21 as the chapter to study, not Matthew 24 or Mark 13. (Letter 20, 1901)

Further, an attempt is made to link Luke 21:24 with Revelation 11:1-2. In the May issue of WWN [5(99)], p. 7, we discussed these texts and showed that in Revelation the symbolic language of prophecy is used, while In Luke 21:24, Jesus used literal language. Again, we see manifest a failure to rightly divide the Word of truth.

The section of the "excerpts" marked, "CONFUSION," which closes the article, evidences in a still more pronounced way the "Biblical Illiteracy" of the authors. They seek to establish that events in the history of Jerusalem in 1967 and 1980 do not fulfil Luke 21:24 because of two things:      

1) The Jews have not"effectively evicted the Gentiles from Jerusalem." Where did Jesus say that "eviction of the Gentiles" was to occur? He said only that the city would be "trodden down of the nations" i.e. under the control of other governments than that of Israel. In 1967, the city of old Jerusalem was taken by force of arms from the Jordanians and brought under military control of Israel. In 1980, the Knesset did vote to unite the old city and modern Jerusalem into one, stating as a Basic Law of Israel - "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel."

Again, the Greek word translated, Gentiles (eqnwn) in Luke 21:24 (KJV) is translated "nations" in its first use in verse 24, and in verse 25 - "distress of nations." A consistent translation of the word would help clarify the meaning intended by Jesus in Luke's account.

And 2) The temple mount of ancient Jerusalem is still the site of a Moslem mosque. In giving His prophecy, Jesus did not discuss the temple or even intimate that the temple or its site would be involved in the fulfilment of His prophecy. Previous to answering the question of the disciples as to future events - Jesus had declared to the Jews of their temple - "Your house is left unto you desolate" (Matt. 23:38). The prophecy of Jesus concerned the

p 7 -- control of the city and nothing else.

Let us in our presentation of the Bible rightly divide the Word of truth, and cease robbing the professed people of God of the truth as it is in Jesus, so that the full import of what Jesus said may be understood and not garbled in the misapplication of the Word. The supreme tragedy is that we wish to escape the "now" time force of prophecy. If we can relegate the fulfilment of a prophecy to the past, we do not have to face the meaning of its fulfilment. This is what the Rosenvolds did in their book and the editors of The Anchor have merely re-echoed it. If we can put the fulfilment of a prophecy to be yet future, then we do not have to face its significance. But this "event" prophecy of Jesus is a now time prophecy fulfilled in the lifetime of most now living. It demands some hard decisions. It is that decision which Dr. Hammond was seeking to place before the readers of his "swan" song. It was that decision which the "triumvirate" are seeking to avoid which found expression in their dialogue with the Reform Church leaders.

Let's Talk It Over -- Does an editor have any responsibility to the writers of the articles which he publishes in his paper? If an author submits to me an article for WWN, I have the right to edit it, but with that right there is the obligation to accurately convey the intent of the author even in the changes made. If major changes beyond grammar are made, his approval should be obtained by me before I publish it.

After I publish it, my integrity is still at stake. Unless I note the article as not expressing the views of the editor or the organization behind the publication, simple ethics demand that I stand by the author of the article which I chose to publish. If I want to shoot down the author of the article which as an editor I publish, the time of the "shooting" should be before publication, and if the author does not wish to have his article so altered to reflect my view, then the honest thing to do is not to publish that article. But once published editorial loyalty and obligation to stand behind the author of the article is the only right and honorable thing to do. Sadly, this has not been done in regard to the article by Dr. Hammond which we have discussed in this issue of WWN. Strong denials have been made of any influence by one of the "triumvirate" encouraging the attack on Dr. Hammond's position as was done. Our sources indicated otherwise.

There is another way this could have been handled and proper ethics maintained to a degree. Dr. Hammend could have been notified that the "excerpts" were going to be published, and that he would be given the opportunity to respond to them, and that his response would be placed after the "excerpts."

What has been done is a matter of record. It rests now with each reader of The Anchor and WWN to carefully analyze what has been written and go to the Bible and find which is based in Scripture, and which is based in human reasoning to escape the now time force of what Jesus said. May I suggest in so doing, that you obtain a copy of The Hour and the End [order form] which gives the significance of the major factors involved in this prophecy of Jesus in Luke 21:24.

'Whatever may be a man's intellectual advancement, let him not for a moment think there is no need of thorough and continuous searching of the Scriptures for greater light. As a people, we are called individually to be students of prophecy. We must watch with earnestness that we may discern any ray of light which God shall present to us. We are to catch the first gleamings of truth; and through proyerful study, clearer light may be obtained, which can be brought to others." (C to W & E, p. 41) --- (1999 Dec) --- End --- TOP


Special Issue # 1 -- "Our Wonderful God" -- Editor's Preface -- The students in the adult Sabbath School classes during the last quarter of 1998 were introduced to "the Principal Contributor" of the Lessons they would be studying. They were never informed as to what the late Dr. Edwin R. Thiele actually taught in regard to the Godhead. What Dr. Thiele did believe and taught had been published by the Southern Publishing Association in a small paperback in 1979 which could have been republished as a Study Helps for the Quarter's Lessons. It was not done. Instead of what Dr.Thiele did state, some unrevealed author led the Sabbath School into the study of the doctrine of the Trinity as taught by the Roman Church in the third lesson on "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." In the Foundation Library, we have the book, and have summarized the third chapter in the second article of the present issue.

In the Writings are to be found some unique statements as to God's design in the creation of man. These serve as a factor in the equation of the Godhead when understood of Christ becoming a God-man - Son of God and Son of man. Adam, a son of God, failed; Christ becoming a second Adam and a son of God, as Jesus, succeeded. In Jesus divinity united with humanity has been "highly exalted," and in Him, humanity has been carried into highest heaven to be a part of the Godhead.

Where is this emphasis on the Trinity doctrine leading? In the final article,"Whither Bound?" we have explored this question inasmuch as the Creed, which established the doctrine of the Trinity, has not only been made the basis upon which the teachings of Romanism are reviewed in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, but it is also being used to promote the current program of the Faith and Order Commission to unite all churches in a visible unity. As one brings together all the available pieces in this theological drama and ecumenical thrust, questions surface as to what is really going on in the highest enclaves of the Adventist Church.

Unable to review all of the material currently surfacing on this subject, we must leave the balance for a regular issue.

p - 2 -- "Our Wonderful God" -- With the Sabbath School Lessons for the Fourth Quarter of 1998 focusing on the Doctrine of God under the caption, "Our Wonderful God," the question of the Trinity again becomes a point of controversy and discussion within the community of Adventism. In any such discussion, certain facts need to be clearly stated and remembered in regard to the concept of "Trinity." This word is not used in the Scriptures, nor do we find it in the Writings. Further, this term is not found in any Statement of Beliefs expressing what Seventh-day Adventists believed until 1931. However, this is not saying that neither the Bible nor the Writings fail to express the concept of God in terms of "Three." Paul's benedictory close of his Second Corinthian letter reads - "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen" (13:14). The Writings describe the Godhead as "the heavenly trio." (Special Testimonies, Series B, No 7, p. 62) This was written in 1905. It should be obvious that the introduction of the "Trinity" concept into Adventist thinking is of more recent origin.

What is the Trinity teaching in contrast to what the Bible says about God, and what is the difference between "Trinity" and "Heavenly Trio," a term which we shall borrow from the Writings to express the Godhead as it now is? Why is the "Trinity" concept being promoted now? These questions and others we intend to explore in this first special issue of WWN for 1999.

The Basic Doctrine of Romanism -- In the Handbook for Today's Catholic, it is stated:       The mystery of the Trinity is the central doctrine of the Catholic Faith. Upon it are based all the other teachings of the Church. (p. 11; emphasis supplied)

Consider for a moment what this is saying. If the Roman teaching of the Trinity is Biblically based, then the foundation of Romanism is in truth. Further, if this premise is accepted, "all the other teachings" of Romanism are likewise based in truth. Then why are we outside of Romansim? Should not we then return to the "mother church"? Was the key lesson (Number 3) of the Fourth Quarter's Sabbath School Bible Study Guide a step in that direction?

How is this basic doctrine of Romanism stated? In the Catechism for the Parochial Schools of the United States, one section is captioned "The Blessed Trinity." Note carefully what it says and the confusion resultant from the explanation (p. 7):

Are there more Gods than one?
There is but one God.

How many persons are there in God?
There are three persons in God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Is each of these Persons true God?
Each of the three Persons is true God.

Are these three Persons only one God?
These three Persons are only one God.

What do we call three Persons in one God?
We call one God in three Persons, the Blessed Trinity.

The second question is the transitional question. We would ask rather than, "How many persons are there in God?" - the question - "How many Persons are there in in the Godhead?" One needs to recognize that Romanism does not mean by "Person" what we accept as the meaning of the Word. The Sabbath School Lesson #3 - "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" - was careful to explain this difference. The editors of the lessons commented:      The word persons used in the title of today's lesson must be understood in a theological sense. If we equate human personality with God, we would say that these three persons means three individuals. But then we would have three Gods, or tritheism. But historic Christianity has given to the word person, when used of God, a special meaning: a personal self-distinction, which gives distinctiveness in the Person of the Godhead without destroying the concept of oneness. This idea is not easy to grasp - or to explain! It is a part of the mystery of the Godhead. (p. 24)

How true - "not easy to grasp - or explain!" - It is pure in Romanism. Harmonize this Romish with "the Heavenly Trio" concept. Impossible!

The Biblical Perspective -- Faced with this "historic Christianity" mystery many jettison the concept of a "Heavenly Trio" without carefully noting the Bible perspective of the Godhead. Even our Adventist pioneers were guilty of this, going to the extent that one of the most respected pioneer theologians, Uriah Smith, wrote of Christ as "the first created being" in his 1867 edition of Thoughts on Revelation (p. 59). To emphasize the "pioneer" position as the basis of truth on the doctrine of God presents grave difficulties, for one must ask - "Which pioneers?" Such selectivity, which is deceptive, can be avoided by simply seeking the Biblical revelation.

One of the last books of the Bible, if not the last, to be written was the Gospel of John. The prologue - John 1:1-18 -

p 3 -- contains some of the most profound statements in regard to God of any Biblical revelation. Before considering these, it would be well to consider some other aspects of John's gospel.

The Gospel of John is considered didactic in contrast to the other three which are known as the synoptic gospels. This means that the emphasis in John is on the teachings of Jesus rather than specific experiences in the life of Jesus. In setting forth these teachings, John contains long direct quotes of what Jesus said. Note the discussion in John 6:27-63 as well as the intercessory prayer of John 17 as examples. Then consider the fact that these words were written some sixty years after they were spoken. Critics of the Gospel of John - faced with this fact - assert that John invented these dialogues of Jesus and thus the gospel has very little historical value. The answer from a fundamentalist view is that, since we cannot assert that John had a "computer-like" mind with a sixty plus years retention memory, this Gospel was verbally inspired in contrast to "thought" inspiration for the other gospels and New Testament books. Even John's experience in penning the Revelation approaches verbal inspiration.

This leaves us with the premise that the Gospel of John states the doctrine of God as Self-revealed as God would have us know it. This eliminates in one stroke all of the extant theories being promoted either as "new light", or the authoritative "voice" of Adventist pioneers.

God's Self Revelation in the Gospel of John -- God's introduction of Himself reads:      In the beginning was (hn) the Word, and the Word was (hn) with God, and the Word was (hn) God. The same was (hn) in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was (hn) life and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4)

The first self evident fact is that there are Two distinct Beings - the Word (logoV) and God (qeoV). John did not write that the Word was "in" God, but that the Word was with (proV) God "in beginning." "Though existing eternally with God the Logos was in perfect fellowship with God. Pros with the accusative presents a plane of equality and intimacy, face to face with each other." (Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. V, p. 4) In his first Epistle, John wrote that this Word was "that eternal life, which (htiV) was (hn) with (proV) the Father" and had been manifested unto them (I John 1:2). Again this "Eternal Life" was not "in" the eternal God, but was "with God."

Two things emerge: John here uses correct Greek grammar. A relative pronoun must agree with its antecedent in gender and number. In the Greek language, "life" is considered feminine in gender, thus "which" (h) is a feminine relative pronoun, but combined with tiV, an indefinite pronoun, conveys the added concept of "somebody in particular." (See Robertson's A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, p. 291) This "Somebody in particular" is "the Word (logoV) of life," (v. 1) or "that Eternal Life" which was with the Father."

This is the same concept as set forth in the prologue of John's Gospel. In "Him" (the Logos) was "life" (John 1:4) The same as the Word was God, the same as He was in the beginning with God, so likewise there was in Him - life - eternal life, original, unborrowed, underived. The verb, hn, is the Greek imperfect tense conveying continuous action in past time. The Word was the I AM, not only the ever-existent One, but also the self-existent One.

Into this picture of God and the Word with God, as much God as God is God, came a mysterious change. Simply stated, the revelation reads - "The Word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us" (1:14, Gr). It was the same Word in another form. He had been "Spirit" for "God is spirit" [pneuma o qeoV ] (John 4:24). Now He tabernacles in flesh. Here is the great divide in time and eternity. We have been advised that "when we want a deep problem to study" we need to "fix our minds on the most marvellous thing that ever took place in earth or heaven - the incarnation of the Son of God" (Ms. 76, 1903). Unless we do get this problem solved as far as mortals can, we will never be able to rightly reconcile this foreword in John's gospel with the concept of a "Heavenly Trio" which emerges as the result of the Incarnation.

At this point there are some implications to be drawn from the fact that God is spirit. He is of the order of "Spirit" while we, children of dust, are of the order of "flesh." Thus God Himself, whom we call "our Father" could be designated as an "Holy Spirit." In the vision given to Isaiah, he sees "the Lord sitting upon a throne," and he hears the angelic attendants crying - "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts" (6:1, 3) Even Jesus when tabernacling in the flesh was recognized by the demonic world as "the holy One of God" (Mark 1:24). He had not ceased to be what He was. This designation lends credence to the fact that the supplied word, "thing" in Luke 1:35 should have been rather the word, "spirit." In this, the Writings concur stating that "a divine spirit dwelt in a temple of flesh" (4BC:147)

Further, the declaration of Jesus that "God is Spirit" was not stated in John's hearing, nor is there a record that Jesus ever gave the disciples this concept. It was spoken to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, while the disciples were away buying food. (See John 4:8, 24, 27) The context of this declaration is an added factor to the premise that the gospel of John is a verbally inspired book of divine revelation and that revelation sets forth the eternal divinity of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps at this point of the analysis, we need to consider.

p 4 -- the KJV translation of "only begotten" for the Greek word, monogenhV in both verses 14 and 18 of John 1. This translation, "only begotten" is used to sustain the theory that somewhere in the vast recesses of eternity, the Logos was begotten, that He was not "that Eternal Life" who with God brought all things into existence. Arias, who was to assert that Christ was "begotten of God before all ages," at least used the correct Greek word - gegennemenon - to define such a position. The idea that Christ was "begotten" by the Father at some time in the eternity past is altogether foreign to the Scriptures. The Greek word, monogenhV, means "unique," "only (mono) [one] of a kind (genhV). This Jesus indeed was. Actually some of the early New Testament manuscripts read verse 18 as,monogenhV qeoV - the unique, one of a kind, God. This is exactly what the Logos, in contrast to the Theos, came to be at the Incarnation as a God-man.

The translation of monogenhV as "only begotten" in the gospel of John and in his first Epistle originated with the fathers of the Roman Catholic church. It entered early English translations of the Bible through the influence of the Latin Vulgate, the official Bible of the Roman church. Various Old Latin manuscripts which preceded the Vulgate simply read, "only" rather than "only begotten." The idea that Christ "was born of the Father before all creation" appears first in the writings of Origen, about A. D. 230.

The Holy Spirit Introduced in John's GospeI -- Apart from the parenthetical insertion in John 7 (v. 39), the introduction of the Spirit in its relationship to the Logos is found in the discussions of Jesus with the Eleven in the upper room and enroute to Gethsemane. Here Jesus (14:16) called Him "another Comforter" (alloV parakhtoV). The word, parakhtoV, means "called to the side of'" and is used only by John in his gospel and first Epistle. In John's first letter, the term is applied to Jesus. There he wrote - "if any man sin, we have an advocate (parakhtoV) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (I John 2:1) The resurrected Jesus was "called to the presence of God" as man's Advocate at the "throne of grace" (Heb. 4:16). There the "Lamb as it had been slain" (Rev. 5:6), ministers as "the surety of a better testament" (Heb. 7:22). Because Jesus was to be a ParaklhtoV, He introduced the Holy Spirit as "another (alloV) Comforter." AlloV conveys the concept of one distinct from the other yet as real as the one from whom He is distinct.

Jesus could have used the other Greek word for "another" - 'eteroV. This would have raised the question of "kind" with regard to the Paraklhtoi. Was one different from the other? This distinction and use of these two words is found in Paul's letter to the Galatians. He wrote -"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him which called you into the gospel of Christ under another ('eteroV) gospel, which is not another (alloV); but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ" (1:6-7).

The Judaizers did bring another ('eteroV) gospel to the Galatians believers, but it was a perverted gospel thus it could not be another (alloV) true proclamation of the gospel as Paul had given them. Jesus by using the word, alloV, was telling the Eleven that the coming Comforter, though distinct from Him would be the same as He. In fact, almost in the next breath, He tells them , "will not leave you orphans, I will come to you" (v. 18. Gr.)

The next three contexts where ParaklhtoV is used by Jesus to refer to the work of the Holy Spirit, another Greek word is introduced - ekeinoV - a demonstrative pronoun, translated, "he," not "it " as some impersonal Force, such as an influence. In each of these references (14:26; 15:26; 16:8), the "he" (ekeinoV) refers back to the "Comforter" (paraklhtoV). However, another use of ekeinoV in John 16:13 and translated, "be," when grammatically, it should have been, ekeino, and translated "it," brings to the fore, the issue regarding the Holy Spirit. It has been clearly shown that John in his first Epistle demonstrated his knowledge of proper Greek grammar. (See above on I John 1:2). Further, in each instance of the use of paraklhtoV as noted in this paragraph, ekeinoV agrees in gender with its antecedent as required grammatically. Now in 16:13, the subject is "the Spirit of truth." In the Greek, the word "Spirit" is neuter gender, and the pronoun should be the neuter, ekeino rather than the masculine, ekeinoV. This brings us to an alternative. Either John is making ekeinoV, "he" refer back to the use of the word in verse 8, or to verse 7 where "Comforter" is used. The other alternative is that the verbally inspired directive was to recognize "the Spirit of truth" not as an "it," but as a "he." Commenting on this verse, A. T. Robertson wrote -       "It is more evident therefore in this passage that John is insisting on the personality of the Holy Spirit, when the grammatical gender so easily called for ekeino." (Robertson, op.cit., p. 709)       Or we might say that the Holy Spirit dictating to John the words of Jesus that night insisted on His rightful acknowledgement as One of the "Heavenly Trio." How perilous is it then to "do despite unto the Spirit of grace"? (Heb. 10: 29)

The Gospel of John gives us the Godhead that was prior to Bethlehem; the story of redemption in the glorious revelation of the God-man full of grace and truth, the manifestation of the Logos as the unique Son of God and Son of man; and finally the composition of the "Heavenly Trio" as it now is. To say that this answers all the questions would be presumptuous, but it does give all that we need to know to avoid the errors of so called "new light" on the one hand, and the deceptive teaching of the Roman "trinity" on the other hand.

The same close relationship which makes both Jesus and the Holy Spirit a Paraclete is symbolized in the Revelation given to John on the Isle of Patmos. John sees Jesus "in the midst of the throne" as "a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes." The "horns" and

p 5 -- "eyes" are defined as "the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth" (Rev. 5:6). This symbolism can only be understood when reflected against the facts that Jesus came into this world conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20), and offered Himself without spot "through the eternal Spirit " (Heb. 9:14), as "the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

A word in regard to the expression, "the Heavenly Trio" is in order. When teaching at Madison College, there were two Ladies Trios. When in the Church Bulletin it was indicated that one of these groups would offer the Worship in Music, a soloist did not appear, but as the three sang together there was the harmony of word and sound that lifted our hearts heavenward. The message of the New Testament is that through the mystery of the Incarnation, a God-man is united with the Godhead, and through the working of the Heavenly Trio, "one pulse of harmony and gladness (will again) beat through the vast creation."

The Formulation of the Adult Lessons -- After the listing of the Adult Lessons for the 4th Quarter, 1998, the student of the Bible Study Guide is asked to "Meet the Principal Contributor of this Quarter's Lessons." A brief resume of the late Dr. Edwin R. Thiele is given. Thiele gained recognition as a Biblical chronologist. "His book, Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, remains the foremost authority on Bible chronology in print today." (p. 2; Teacher's Edition, p. 3) However, Dr. Thiele also wrote another book, Knowing God, released in 1979 by the Southern Publishing Association. It conveniently contained 13 chapters which fitted the Sabbath schedule for the 4th quarter. But the book was not reprinted as "Helps" for the study of these lessons. In fact, Thiele's book is not even mentioned as the source of his contribution. A good reason appears as to why not. The controversial third lesson, "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" did not teach what the "principal contributor" taught in his chapter 3, "The Triune God."

This raises questions: Was Theile's book used as a facade to place before the Sabbath Schools of the Church, the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Trinity? Is this telling us that the Statement in the 1980 Dallas Statement of Beliefs - "There is one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons" - is in reality expressing the Roman teaching on God? Or is there another factor in the background of a growing ecurnenism within the Church?

Before seeking to find answers to the questions asked, it will be enlightening to know what Thiele wrote. He first stated that among the worshipers of the God of the Bible there is a "considerable difference of opinion as to what monotheism actually is" (p. 25). He devotes a number of paragraphs to the revelation of God in Isaiah: "The one God of Isaiah was the Creator of heaven and earth." Noting what Isaiah wrote and what John and Paul stated in the New Testament, he concludes the paragraph - "God the Father and Christ the Son were united in Creation" (p. 27).

Then, he continues - "The God of Isaiah was not only the Creator, but He was also man's Saviour and Redeemer." Citing both what Isaiah wrote and the testimony of the New Testament, Theile again concludes -  "God the Father and Christ the Son were associated in saving man" (ibid.). What then is Dr. Thiele's summation:      From the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation the Bible hints that the Godhead consists of more persons than one. In the opening words of the Bible, "in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," the Hebrew word here translated "God" is Elohim, which is a masculine plural. In the last chapter of Revelation John pictures "the throne [singular] of God and of the Lamb." Jesus the Son rules with God the Father.

The picture we have of God in the Bible is not of divine aloneness but of fellowship, of their doing things together, planning together, talking with one another, a co-partnership, a mutual concurrence and co-operation. (ibid.)

Amplifying the concept of "fellowship," Thiele cites Biblical examples of "God conferring with God" and concludes:       "The Biblical picture of God is not a single supreme being alone by Himself, unsocial, lonely, and retiring. God is love, and love craves companionship. Certainly God could talk with men or angels, but even God needed fellowship and association with an equal who could think like Him. And so God communed with God, undertaking and carrying out plans through together. They reached united decisions and put forth united effort to carry them out" (p. 28).

Entering the New Testament revelation of God, the Holy Spirit is discussed, and concluding with texts from Revelation, Thiele wrote - "So the last chapter of the Bible refers to all Three Members of the Heavenly Triad" (p. 31). This expression, or "the Three Personages of the Holy Triad" (p. 34) is Thiele's definitive interpretation of "the Heavenly Trio."

The Sabbath school lesson stated - "If we equate human personality [and Thiele did] with God, we would say that three persons means three individuals. But then we would have three God, or tritheism" (p. 24) In the current controversy in the community of Adventism on this vital point, Thiele's contribution to the Lessons was set aside by some unknown author. Who? We are not informed. Why? The way it has been done is deceptive. By using the name of a well respected theologian, to forward an agenda which seeks to mold the thinking of the members of the Church toward the cardinal doctrine of Romanism

p 6 --
evidences "jesuitical" fingerprints.

An Overlooked Factor -- The controversy over the doctrine of the Trinity is a growing issue in Adventism with advocates of non-Trinitarian views propagating their various theologies on several continents. There is no question that the Roman doctrine of the Trinity is gross error, but then are the various theologies being set forth as truth any less error? To denigrate in any way the Deityship of Jesus Christ; to do despite to the Spirit of truth is merely substituting one error for another. The Gospel of John sets for God: In the Prologue, God prior to Bethlehem and the Incarnation - "the Word became flesh." In the unfolding of that Incarnate life, John is very plain as to his objective - "that ye might believe that Jesus [the Incarnate Word as man] is the Messiah, the Son of God" (20:31). Nowhere in his Gospel does he apply the term, "Son of God" to the pre-existent Word. We may eisagetically read this into what John wrote, but he did not so state.

The overall picture, though not so stated, is implicitly the two Adams motif of Paul's epistles. Luke had declared of Adam - "which was the son of God" (3:38). Now in John, the Word became flesh, a Son of man, but He came to be a second Adam, a Son of God. It is this God-man, who was received into the Godhead that the divine objective in the Creation of man might be realized in a second Adam. The Word became "us" (Matt. 1:23), and "we" today sit in "heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6). Simply stated it was God's purpose to have a "created" being represented in the Godhead. "Man was the crowning act in the creation of God, made in the image of God, and designed to be a counterpart of God" (R&H, June 18, 1895, emphasis supplied). Further, "All heaven took a deep and joyful interest in this world and of man. Human beings were a new and distinct order. (R&H, Feb. 11, 1902; emphasis supplied). More, "God created man a superior being; he alone is formed in the image of God, and is capable of partaking of the divine nature; of co-operating with his Creator and executing His plans" (R&H, Apr. 21, 1885; emphasis supplied).

All of this present controversy obliterates the plan of redemption, and the price paid "to regain possession of the one pearl of great price" (op. cit., 1895) These various anti-Trinitarian theologies of the Godhead fall to take into account the mystery of the Incarnation, though unexplainable, nevertheless the fact of what happened can be accepted by simple faith from the revelation of the Scriptures. It is the Incarnation alone that can bridge the gap between the revelation of God as set forth in John 1:1-2, and "the Heavenly Trio" as defined in the Writings.

WHITHER BOUND? -- At the beginning of this issue, we noted that "the mystery of the Trinity is the central doctrine of the Catholic faith" (See, p.2). The new Catechism of the Catholic Church sets the formulation of its body of teachings in this doctrine. The Catechism distinguishes between, "I believe," and "We believe." The "I believe" is the Apostles Creed, while the corporate, "We believe" is the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. (par. 167) It is this later Creed which is summarized in "one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit," - the Trinity doctrine. Based on this "we believe," the Catechism moves to a summary point -       " 'Believing' is an ecclesial act. The Church's faith ["We believe"] precedes, engenders, supports, and nourishes our faith ["I believe"]. The Church is the mother of all believers. 'No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother ' (St. Cyprian, De unit.)" (Par. 181)      The steps back to Rome are simply:    1) Belief in one God [We must believe in no one but God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" (Par. 178)]; and    2) "The Church our Mother teaches us the language of faith in order to introduce us to the understanding of the life of faith" (par. 171). This "language of faith" is the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.

Now follow carefully some history. The Faith and Order Commission (FOC), the theological arm of the World Council of Churches (WCC) as well as the WCC itself have a common aim - "to call the churches to the goal of visible unity in one faith and one eucharistic fellowship," (Constitution of WCC, III, 1; See So Much in Common, p. 40)    [It should be noted in passing that the Roman Catholic Church has twelve theologians on this Commission, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church has one. The vice-moderator, Jean-Marie Tillard, is a Roman Catholic]

To promote this unity of one faith, a Faith and Order study is seeking "to discover whether Christians today can confess their faith together ecumenically." They "will not write out a new ecumenical confession of faith. Rather, it asks whether churches today can witness to, confess, live out and celebrate in common. ... the same apostolic faith that was expressed in Holy Scriptures and summarized in the creeds of the early church. For this study, the Faith and Order Commission has chosen the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of A.D. 381 - already recognized by many churches - as a summary of the apostolic faith." (One World, #132, p.15)

To aid in an understanding of this Creed, the FOC prepared a study document - Confessing the One Faith. In its preface, Jean-Marie Tillard OP, Moderator of the Apostolic Faith Steering Group, wrote:      The coming together of all Christians in an authentic communion of faith, evangelical life and mission requires the common confession of the apostolic faith. ... The

p 7 -- document Confessing the One Faith is an instrument to draw the churches to a common understanding of this faith, which has to be confessed, especially in the celebration of baptism and eucharist, and proclaimed through missionary work for all Christian communities. (p. viii)

In the "document" itself, the Creed is given in both Greek and English. Then the "Explication" - the act of explaining its meaning - begins. We shall quote one paragraph. Note the same emphasis on the wording as is emphasized in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Nicene Creed as a confession of faith belongs to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. In the Nicene Creed the individual joins all the baptized together in each and every place, now and throughout the ages, in the Church's proclamation of faith: "we believe in." The confession "we believe in" articulates not only the trust of individuals in God's grace, but it also affirms the trust of the whole Church of God. There is a bond of communion among those who join together in making a common confession of their faith. However, as long as the churches which confess the Creed are not united with one another, the visible communion of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church remains impaired. (p.15)

In 1993 a world conference on Faith and Order convened in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. At this conference held in the Roman Cathedral, the delegates heard the Moderator state that the task of this conference was to "re-vision the goal of visible unity" in terms of koinonia [communion] which she termed "the most promising theme of contemporary ecumenical theology." During the session, one Orthodox theologian said that "the church as koinonia is rooted in faith in God as trinitarian." The official report of the conference "depicted this shared life of Christians as rooted in the Triune God, who is 'the ultimate reality of relational life.' Consequently, 'unity and diversity are in-separable."' (One World, No.189, p.15)

On the last day of the conference, Jean-Marie Tillard, the vice-moderator, suggested "that con-sideration be given to 'a gathering of all the major leaders in the churches - perhaps in Jerusalem - simply to sing the creed together."' Without specifying a date, he said that such an act "would be a wonderful expression of the degree of unity already present and of its origin." (ibid.) With the Pope desirous of being in Jerusalem, and the planned Jubilee year for A.D. 2000, the details are not hard to perceive.

Think a bit. A new Roman Catechism seeking to place the Church's teachings in the frame work of the Apostolic Creeds, and using the Nicene Creed to express its basic teaching; the Faith and Order Commission of the WCC choosing as the confession for "visible unity" the same Creed, and choosing as moderator of the Steering Committee to achieve that objective, a Roman Catholic priest, where are we? Are not the words of Ezekiel apropos? "Evil on evil says the Lord Eternal - it is coming, the hour has come, the hour is striking, and striking at you, the hour and the end!" (Eze. 7:5-6, Moffatt)

In this whole picture, there are some facts which every member of the Adventist Community must consider:  The Church in General Session at Dallas, Texas, in 1980 wrote into the Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, the summary of the Nicene Creed. Statement 2. The Trinity reads - "There is one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons." Now in 1998, the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide states:     The doctrine of the Trinity, then, is a safeguard against unbiblical ideas. Historically, every great revival has adhered to complete Trinitarianism. It is not too much to say that the Trinity is the point on which all Christian ideas and interest focus, at once the beginning and the end of all true insight into Christianity. (Teacher's Edition, p.37)

Is not this the declared position of Romansim? Note again - "The mystery of the Trinity is the central doctrine of the Catholic Faith. Upon it are based all the other teachings of the Church." Is there not then just one answer to the question - Where did the Sabbath School Lesson #3 for the 4th Quarter seek to lead the members of the Church? And the answer, "in the track of Romanism!" Dare one stay in that track?-------

Note: There are other aspects of this subject which lack of space prohibited our discussing. These we shall discuss in a future regular issue.

An American architect and engineer, R. Buckminster Fuller wrote -
"God is a verb [I AM], not a noun."
Something to think about.

--- (1999 Special Issue # 1 -- "Our Wonderful God") --- End --- TOP

Special Issue # 2 -- The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification To Be Signed Between the Papacy and the LWF on October 31,1999 -- Editor's Preface -- This special issue of WWN brings to you an analysis and background of an event of major ecumenical importance which is to take place on the last day of this month. As is noted in this paper, the Papacy was and is not only a political power. But also a religious entity. Prophecy indicated that it was to receive "the stroke of death." (Rev. 13:3, Gr.). We have no difficulty with the "political" wounding in 1798, but the Reformation also inflicted a wound on the Papacy. Luther described it as "taking the goose by the neck." In this document to be signed on October 31, 1999, there is a "healing" of that wound involving the central doctrine of the Reformation - Justification by Faith. It is also of interest - a mere coincidence? - that the steps of this "healing" began in 1967, and an important commemoration of an event in the history of the Reformation coincided with 1980.

When the announcement was made on June 11 at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, that this "Joint Declaration on Justification" would be signed in Augsburg, Germany on October 31, Dr. Ismael Noko, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, indicated that the question had been raised as to who had given up most in this Declaration, the Lutherans or the Roman Catholics. His answer was: "These days we appear not to be able to understand that a victory can be won without one of the parties ceding to the other. The process of the joint declaration has not had this competitive character. Rather, it has been a process of reconciliation based on a common heritage we share: the biblical witness of God's righteousness, in other words, his free grace to us in Christ." (Origins, Vol. 29, #6. pp. 90-91)

We will let you decide who gave up what in this joint adventure over the key doctrine of the Reformation, this healing of the Papal wound. Within the write-up we have made our observations. You can concur or disagree as you like, but the pace of unity is accelerating as the news item on page 6 indicates. And interestingly, the Lutherans are in the forefront. What would Martin Luther say if he could know it!

p 1 -- A Joint Declaration on Justification -- On October 31, 1999 in Augsburg, Germany, there will be signed The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), which represents the vast majority of the world's Lutherans, and the Papacy. The announcement was made at a joint press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 11 by Cardinal Edward Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Dr. Ishmael Noko, LWF general secretary.

At the same time, two new documents were released: 1) an Official Common Statement, and 2) An Annex. The latter document affirmed The Joint Declaration and responded to certain concerns expressed by the Churches when The Joint Declaration was first released. The official Papal response said that several points needed further clarification which led some Lutheran leaders to ask if enough agreement actually existed to justify a formal signing. During the year, Catholic and Lutheran representatives went back to the "bargaining table" and drafted the new documents. The Papal concerns involved the place of good works in the life of faith; whether a Christian can at once be righteous and a sinner; and the place of the doctrine of justification in the "overall context of the church's fundamental Trinitarian confession of faith."

"The Common Statement" confirmed that The Joint Declaration's understanding of justification by faith does show that a consensus in the basic truths of the doctrine exists between Lutherans and Roman Catholics so that mutual condemnations of former times do not apply to the understanding of justification expressed in the declaration. Noko of the LWF Council expressed it this way: "Now it can be declared without reservation that the doctrinal condemnations which were set forth mutually by the Lutheran and Catholic sides at the time of the Reformation do not apply to the teaching on justification by faith expressed in the Joint Declaration." (The Lutheran, July 1999, p. 52)

It should be obvious, even to a surface reader, that something had to give. The condemnation by the Council of Trent in regard to the teaching of justification by faith is clear and plain. It reads:      If anyone saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified: let him be anathema. (Canon XII on Justification)

On October 31, 1517, at noon, Martin Luther walked boldly to the Castle church at Wittenberg and posted upon the door his "Ninety-Five Theses" against the indulgences which were being offered by the Church to cover sins. This was the day before the festival of All Saints, and a very important day for Wittenberg. The church had been built by the elector, which he had filled with relics. "On that day the priests used to bring out these relics, ornamented with gold, silver, and precious stones, and exhibit them before the people, who were dazzled by such magnificence. Whoever visited the church on that festival and made confession, obtained a rich indulgence. Accordingly, on this great anniversary, pilgrims came to Wittenberg in crowds." (D'Aubigne: History of the Reformation, Vol. I, pp. 280-281)

"The germs of the Reformation were contained in these propositions of Luther. The abuses of the indulgences were attacked therein, and this was their most striking feature; but beneath these attacks was a principle which, although attracting the attention of the multitude in a less degree, was one day to overthrow the edifice of popery. The evangelical doctrine of a free and gratuitous remission of sins was there for the first time publicly professed. ... A clear knowledge of this truth is what preceding reformers had wanted; and hence the unfruitfulness of their exertions. Luther himself acknowledged afterwards, that in proclaiming justification by faith, he laid the axe at the root of the tree. 'It is doctrine we attack in the adherents of the Papacy,' said he, 'Huss and Wickliffe only attacked their lives; but in attacking their doctrine, we take the goose by the neck. Every thing depends on the Word, which the Pope has taken from us and falsified. I have vanquished the pope, because my doctrine is of God, and his is of the devil."' (ibid, pp. 285-286)

World Protestantism celebrated its 450th anniversary in 1967. Most Protestants consider October 31, 1517, as the symbolic beginning of the Reformation, the day which Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses "criticizing the Roman Catholic Church and pointing toward a fresh understanding of God's grace. In October, 1967, Protestants gathered - quite often with

p 2 -- Roman Catholics - in countries throughout the world, to recall that event." (World Book Encyclopedia, 1968 Yearbook, p. 468) It was in 1967 that a joint Roman Catholic-Lutheran Commission began its dialogue that has led up to the present Joint Declaration .

It needs to be kept in mind that the Papacy is not only a political power but it is also a religious power. It is true that a "deadly wound" was administered to the Papacy in 1798 which brought the political power of Rome to an end for a period of time. However, Luther's 95 Theses gave a "deadly wound" to the spiritual power of the Papacy which divided the Christian Church in the West. In 1967, the healing of that wound began.

It was not the intent of Luther or those associated with him to separate from the Church of Rome, but to reform it. It was not until after 1580 that the followers of Luther's teaching referred to themselves as Lutherans. Up to that point in time they called themselves, ecclesia apostolica catholica, or the Apostolic Catholic Church. The real break occurred in 1530 as a result of the Diet of Augsburg. This Diet had as its objective the restoration of the unity of the Church. Charles V, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, promised a fair hearing to all, inviting the Protestants to present in writing their views.

The Lutherans submitted what is known as the Augsburg Confession which was written by Melanchthon and approved by Luther.       "This document consisted of twenty-eight articles, of which twenty-one clearly defined the tenets of the Lutherans, while seven pointed out the errors and abuses which had been abolished by the Lutherans. It was written in a conciliatory spirit and presented in the hope that it might be accepted as satisfactory by the emperor and the other Romanists, but this hope was not fulfilled. The Catholics presented a refutation known as the Confutation to the Diet. ...

"The Diet voted that the Augsburg Confession had been refuted by the Confutation and that the Protestants were bound to recant. The old ecclesiastical institutions were to be restored, and if the Lutherans had not come into submission to the Catholic Church by April 15, 1531, they were to be suppressed by force. This effected the Protestant-Romish schism." (Qualben, A History of the Christian Church, pp. 235-236)

The Augsburg Confession still remains the fundamental position of Lutherans in all lands. Forthrightly the Confession declares:      We teach, moreover, that we cannot be justified before God by our own strength, our merits, or our works; but that we are justified freely for Christ's sake through faith, when we believe that our sins are forgiven in virtue of Christ, who by His death has made satisfaction for our sins; this faith is the righteousness that God imputeth to the sinner.

But we teach at the same time, that this faith ought to bear good fruits, and that we must do all the good works commanded by God, for the love of God, and not by their means to gain the grace of God. (Quoted from D'Aubigne, op. cit., Vol. IV, p. 195)

The second section of the Confession pointed out the errors and abuses of the Papal system including the compulsory celibacy of the priests. The last article treated with the authority of the bishops, protesting against the confusion of church and state which had characterized the middle ages, and called for a distinction and independence of the two societies. It read:      Many have unskillfully confounded the episcopal and the temporal power; and from this confusion have resulted great wars, revolts, and seditions. It is for this reason, and to reassure men's consciences, that we find ourselves constrained to establish the difference which exists between the power of the church and the power of the sword. ...

[The Confession confines the "power of the Church" to the preaching of the gospel, and the focus on "eternal goods," not troubling itself with "political administration." "The political administration, on the other hand, is busied with everything else but the gospel."]

For this reason we must take particular care not to mingle the power of the church and the power of the state. The power of the church ought never to invade an office that is foreign to it; for Christ himself said, "My kingdom is not of this world." And again, "Who made me a judge over you?" St. Paul said to the Philippians, "Our citizenship is in heaven," Phil. 3:20; and to the Corinthians, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God."

It is thus that we distinguish the two governments and the two powers, and that we honor both as the most excellent gifts that God has given here on earth. (ibid., pp.

p 3 -- 199-200) (While the Reformation did not achieve in practice this ideal, the separation of church and state, it did formulate a concept which became a reality in the establishment of the American nation centuries later.)

Four hundred and fifty years later in 1980, the Joint Roman Catholic-Lutheran Commission of the LWF and the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, which had been in dialogue since 1967, issued a joint statement on the Augsburg Confession. The preface to this statement declared that it was the hope of the Commission "that the unanimity expressed in it may hasten the hoped-for unity of our churches."(Origins, April 10, 1980, p. 685) They indicated that the members of the joint Commission looked back on the times of the Confession which differ considerably from the present. In 1530, this Statement noted that "the unity of the Western church had not yet been shattered," but subsequent events led to a sharpening of the differences between them both in doctrine, religious practices, and church structures. But now since the Second Vatican Council, the many differences are "beginning to loose their divisive edge. ... After centuries of an ever deeper estrangement, there is a new sense among us that we are `all under one Christ."' (ibid.)

This "climate of real fellowship" led the conferees back to the Augsburg Confession for several reasons: 1) It expresses as no other confession does, "the ecumenical purpose and catholic intention of the Reformation." 2) The Confession "is still the doctrinal basis of the Lutheran Churches and still has binding authority for them even today. 3) This factor is important because that which began in 1967 as a private and unofficial dialogue is now conducted on "official instructions" of the two churches. And 4) "The express purpose of the Augsburg Confession is to bear witness to the faith of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Its concern is not with peculiar doctrines nor indeed with the establishment of a new church, but with the preservation and renewal of the Christian faith in its purity - in harmony with the ancient church, and `the church of Rome,' and in agreement with the witness of holy scripture." (ibid., p. 687)

Aspects of these reasons are true. The Reformers endeavoured to be conciliatory. They had not at that time organized themselves into a separate church. They truly desired a reformation within Roman Catholicism, and sought to point out the way. This document did become the basic doctrine for Lutheranism. Rome now uses this document as the basis to "heal" the wound inflicted upon it. The Statement declared that "a broad consensus emerges in the doctrine of justification which was decisively important for the Reformation" (#14). Thus the next move was to develop an accord which removed the condemnations coming out of the Reformation and the Council of Trent centered in the core teaching of Justification by Faith. This is what the signing to take place in Augsburg, Germany, October 31, 1999 is all about.

When this Joint Declaration was first released in January 1995, to the Lutheran Churches associated in the LWF, it was hoped that their approval could be secured for the signing of the document in 1997. This would have been a symbolic date for a joint declaration on justification because it would mark both the 50th anniversary of the LWF and the 450th anniversary of the 1547 decree on justification of the Council of Trent in which the Roman Catholic Church condemned what it believed the Lutheran doctrine on justification to be. However, opposition was voiced by several LWF member churches calling for a revised text before they would assent. More than 140 Lutheran theologians signed a statement early in 1998 calling for the rejection of the document. In June the Vatican issued an official statement which listed a series of clarifications needed to make the Declaration acceptable to it. In July, Cassidy in a letter to Noko reaffirmed that the Vatican was ready to sign and stressed that the "clarifications" were not reservations. However, "he failed to state unambiguously that the Vatican was ready to lift the doctrinal condemnation of Lutheran teaching on the matter." (ENI, #18, 98-0416)

Before discussing the contents of what will be signed, we need to understand that in reality, there are three documents involved: 1) The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification; 2) Official Common Statement; and 3) An Annex. The last two seek to cover the objections and/or clarifications raised by the first document.

The Joint Declaration is prefaced with a "Preamble." which reads in part:
1.The doctrine of justification was of central importance for the Lutheran Reformation of the 16th Century. It was held to be the "first and chief article" and at the same time the "ruler and judge over all other Christian doctrines." The doctrine of justification was particularly asserted and defended in its Reformation shape and spe-

p 4 -- cial valuation over against the Roman Catholic Church and theology of that time, which in turn asserted and defended a doctrine of justification of a different character. From the Reformation perspective, justification was the crux of all disputes. Doctrinal condemnations were put forward both in the Lutheran confessions and by the Roman Catholic Church's Council of Trent. These condemnations are still valid today and thus have a church dividing effect.

2. For the Lutheran tradition, the doctrine of justification has retained its special status. Consequently it has also from the beginning occupied an important role in the official Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue.

Number 3 concerns itself with an itemization of previous papers and reports on the issue addressed by this Joint Declaration; and Number 4 indicates that with the "high degree of agreement" evidenced in these papers and reports "the time has therefore come to take stock and to summarize the results of these dialogues on justification by faith."

5. The present joint declaration has this intention: namely, to show that on the basis of their dialogue the subscribing Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church are now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by God's grace through faith in Christ. It does not cover all that either church teaches about justification; it does encompass a consensus on basic truths of the doctrine of justification and shows that the remaining differences in its explication are no longer the occasion for doctrinal condemnations.

Two other paragraphs close the "Preamble." No. 7 draws an interesting conclusion. "The churches neither take the condemnations lightly nor do they disavow their own past. On the contrary, this declaration is shaped by the conviction that in their respective histories [the churches] have come to new insights."

The body of the Joint Declaration consisted of five divisions:    1) Biblical Message of Justification;   2) The Doctrine of Justification as [an] Ecumenical Problem;   3) The Common Understanding of Justification;   4) Explicating the Common Understanding of Justification; and   5) The Significance and Scope of the Consensus Reached. While it is totally impossible in this single issue of WWN to discuss in detail these five sections, two statements made, one from #3, and another from #5 need to be noted. The declaration in #3 reads:      15. Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.

The paragraph from #5 reads as follows:      41. Thus the doctrinal condemnations of the 16th Century, insofar as they relate to the doctrine of justification, appear in a new light: The teaching of the Lutheran churches presented in this declaration does not fall under the condemnations from the Council of Trent. The condemnations in the Lutheran confessions do not apply to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church presented in this declaration.

This Joint Declaration from the Lutheran viewpoint "establishes a new ecumenical path" for other churches to follow. Dr. Noko in his report to the LWF Council in Bratislava, Slovakia on June 22, stated that he hoped that "the insights gained in the long and sometimes arduous process will help smooth the way for other churches of the Reformation to a closer ecumenical rapprochement with the Roman Catholic Church." (ENI, 99-0256) At the press conference, when the signing of this Joint Declaration along with its Annex was announced on June 11, Noko had noted that the stated aim of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue was "to reach full church communion, a unity in diversity, in which remaining differences would be 'reconciled' and no longer a divisive force. This recognition of our common aim is itself significant in ecumenical terms." (Origins, Vol. 29, #6, p. 90) Any analysis of the Joint Declaration or the Annex must be done against this backdrop.

The Preamble, noted above, requires some critical evaluations. It is admitted that the doctrine of justification as taught by Rome was of "a different character" from that which was set forth by Luther. It must be kept in mind that the doctrine as taught by Luther is the teaching which was condemned in the canons of the Council of Trent. Thus the inescapable conclusion is that the present Lutheran position had to be a modification of the original teaching of Martin Luther for there to be a lifting of its condemnation. The Preamble admits that the Joint Declaration "does not cover all that either church teaches about justification," but is rather a consensus of "basic truths of the doctrine of justification" so that the doctrinal condemnations are no longer applicable. Further in the body of the Joint Declaration it is

p 5 -- declared that the teaching of the Lutheran Churches "presented in this declaration does not fall under the condemnation of the Council of Trent." Was the key doctrine of Luther that was condemned in the Council, then omitted so that this paper could be signed? Hardly so, when #15 (p. 4) is so explicit, unless, the omission of sola fide and sola Christi was sufficient for Rome. Has Rome then changed? The evidence does not so indicate. Or is this what Rome means by "unity in diversity"?

The question arises, can a mere signing of a document erase condemnations of a Roman Catholic Council? Would not another Church Council have to annul or modify a previous action? The Augsburg Confession condemned practices, actions and activities of the Roman Church, while the Council of Trent condemned individuals who held to certain specific beliefs contrary to Rome. The question then for the Lutherans is - Have these previous practices, actions and activities of the Church of Rome changed? This factor is not discussed.

The justification for the position taken appears to be the explanation given in #7 of the Preamble. There it declares that the Joint Statement "is shaped by the conviction that in their respective histories [the churches] have come to new insights." Has Rome come to a new insight? It must be kept in mind that at the same time the joint Roman Catholic-Lutheran Commission was preparing this joint statement, the Vatican was putting the final touches on the new Catechism of the Catholic Church released in 1994. In fact it was the same year that "a group of theologians, appointed respectively by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation, produced a first version of a joint declaration on the doctrine of justification." (Origins, Vol, 28, #8, p. 128)

The section in the Catechism on justification defines its meaning, quoting from the Council of Trent. It reads:   "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but is also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man" (#1989). It is stated that "Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy" (#1992). Justification in relationship to baptism is defined further - "The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it from sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism" (#1999; emphasis theirs). To Rome, there are two kinds of "graces" - one called, "habitual grace" and the other "actual grace." These they relate thus - "The preparation of man for the reception grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, ..." (#2001). It should be clear to all that Rome's concept of justification is indeed of "a different character."

Rome's questions over the original document - "Joint Declaration on Justification" - are clarified in an Annex which will be included with the original at the time of the signing on October 31, 1999. Two points troubled them:   one was Luther's position in regard to the Christian - simul justus et peccator (at the same time both righteous and sinful). In fact, Cassidy in a letter to Noko July 30,1998, noting the reasons for the hesitation of Rome, wrote:      It is difficult to see how in the present presentation the doctrine on simul justus et peccator is not touched by the anathemas of the Tridentine decree on original sin and justification. (Origins, Vol. 28, #17, p 287)

Then he asked a question - "Could this important point not be resolved by a Lutheran presentation that explains the unusual use of sin in this context by which the word looses its normal character of being a willed and voluntary opposition to God?" This goes to the very heart of the question of justification. In accepting the "redemption that is in Christ Jesus" am I made righteous, or am I declared righteous, and then by the power of the Holy Spirit grow in grace?

The second point was perceiving the doctrine of justification as distinct rather than through the sacraments of the Church. The Roman Church wants all things mediated through the priest, while Luther set forth the priesthood of all believers. On this point, Cassidy had written:      The Catholic understanding [is] that justification has to be organically integrated into the fundamental criterion of the regula fidei, that is, confession of the one God in three persons, Christologically centered, and rooted in the living church and its sacramental life. (ibid.)

This point is vitally important. To illustrate its force, the Roman Catholic cannot sing - "Without one plea but that Thy blood was shed for me, O Lamb of God, I come, I come." His approach to God and Christ must be through the mediation of an earthly priest via the sacraments from birth (infant baptism) to death. The Gospel, reborn in the Reformation, calls

p 6 -- men to "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." They look, and they hear that Lamb say, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest." How there can be any consensus between these two approaches to God and Christ without compromise is impossible. Instead of heeding the counsel of the 140 Lutheran theologians who signed a statement calling for the rejection of the document, the signing is scheduled for October 31, 1999 in Augsburg, Germany.

A preface preceding the Annex, captioned, "Official Common Statement" reads:      The two partners in dialogue are committed to continued and deepened study of the biblical foundations of the doctrine of justification. They will also seek further common understanding of the doctrine of justification also beyond what is dealt with in the joint declaration and the annexed substantiating statement. Based on the consensus reached, continued dialogue is required specifically on the issues mentioned in the joint declaration itself (JD, 43)* as requiring further clarification, in order to reach full church communion, a unity in diversity, in which remaining differences would be "reconciled" and no longer have a divisive force. Lutherans and Catholics will continue their efforts ecumenically in their common witness to interpret the message of justification in language relevant for human beings today, and with reference both to individual and social concerns of our times. (Origins, Vol. 29, #6, p. 87)

* #43 - "These include... the relationship between the Word of God and church doctrine, as well as, ecclesiology, authority in the church, ministry, the sacraments and the relationship between justification and social ethics."

US Lutherans Approve Plan for "Full Communion" with Episcopal Church -- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has given its backing to establish "full communion" with the (Anglican) Episcopal Church in the United States. The church-wide assembly of the ELCA, meeting in Denver gave the document, "Called to Common Mission," the necessary two-thirds vote required for passage. This document must be agreed upon next year by the Episcopal Church before becoming effective.

The document does not call for a merger of the two denominations, but they will fully recognize each other's members, ministries and sacraments, and will be able to exchange clergy. At the same assembly in Denver the ELCA also voted for full communion with the Moravian Church, a Protestant church which traces its roots back to the early 15th-century Czech reformer, John Huss. The presiding bishop of the ELCA described the vote for this "full communion" with these two other churches as "a great step forward in our ecumenical understanding."

One of the most controversial aspects of the agreement with the Episcopal church was the issue of bishops and the acceptance by the ELCA of the "historic episcopate," the tradition that only bishops tracing their succession back to Jesus' apostles can ordain new bishops. In 1997, the ELCA agreed to full communion with three Reformed Churches - the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ and the Reformed Church in America. With the acceptance by the Episcopal Church of the document, "Called to Common Mission," the three major divisions of the Protestant churches of the Reformation will be in accord. Noko, the LWF's general secretary described the ecumenical dialogue of the ELCA as being of great value for the world-wide fellowship of the Lutheran churches. (ENI, #15, 99-0299)

--- (1999 Special Issue # 2 -- The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification) --- End ---

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