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2001 Jan -- XXXIV -- 1(01) -- The Search for Identity -- Editor's Preface -- The Second Millennium and the Twentieth Century are now past history, and with this year we begin the Third Millennium and the Twenty-first Century. For us at the Adventist Laymen's Foundation, we begin our 34th year of continuous publication of "Watchman,. What of the Night?" If someone were to make a check of what we wrote in the first issues beginning with January 1968, through the first decade and compare it with what we have written in some of the issues of the past decade, there is no question but that different perspectives and some altering of concepts could be documented. We hope that this but reflects the fact that "the truth is an advancing truth, and we must walk in the increasing light." It is not that the truth is new, for truth is as eternal as its Author; but our perception of that truth becomes clearer as we let the Spirit of truth guide us. Our problem will ever be, that we misjudge truth, and thinking that we are walking in its increasing light. We are walking instead in the darkness of error.

This very factor is what we see involved in the book, A Search for Identity. The author, Dr. George R. Knight, believes that the doctrinal changes in Adventism over the past fifty years are the result of a progressive understanding of truth. This may be so in some areas of doctrinal understandings; but in other perceptions, it represents apostasy from the truth. How is the issue to be settled? There is only one standard. Jesus prayed, "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). Interrelated with this
search for Identity, is the 1888 Message and its aftermath. A final report of the Primacy of the Gospel Committee once more puts the meaning of 1888 on "the front burner" as well as the issue of apostasy so long avoided by those advocating a restudy of the 1888 Message.

p 2 -- The Search for Identity -- Part 1 -- Last year the Review & Herald Publishing Association released the second book in the Adventist Heritage Series by Dr. George R. Knight, Professor of Church History at the Theological Seminary on the campus of Andrews University. The objective of this book, A Search for Identity, is to trace "The Development of Seventh-day Adventists Beliefs."

Those who designed the cover with its pictorial selections are to be highly commended. Dominating the front, is a picture of A. T. Jones which reflects the sincerity of his character. This is interesting in the light of the book which Dr. Knight wrote on Jones and which for some reason is not listed in the Heritage series, nor among his other publications. The missing book is, From 1888 to Apostasy, in which Knight sought to denigrate Jones. At the time of its release to coincide with the 100th Anniversary of the 1888 General Conference Session, we critiqued the book in a series of articles captioned, "Knight Descends on Jones." At that time he had an agenda, and twisted
historical data to fit the agenda. It appears that in this current publication, there is also an agenda, with "concepts" the basis for manipulation. This we intend to pursue in this series of articles as we critique, A Search for Identity.

The first paragraph of Chapter 1 reads:      Most of the founders of Seventh-day Adventism would not be able to join the church today if they had to agree to the denominations "27 Fundamental Beliefs." (p.17)

Is this statement, true? Yes. It would be completely accurate if it had read - "None of the founders of Seventh-day Adventism ..." The "27 Fundamentals" refer to the Statement of Beliefs voted at the General Conference Session in Dallas, Texas, in 1980. This mind catching assumption is saying several possible things:
1)   If the 27 Fundamentals constitute truth, the "founders" did not have the truth.
2)   On the other hand if the founders did have the truth, then the 27 Fundamentals contain error.
3)   The 27 Fundamentals express advanced concepts of truths which the pioneers in their time did not perceive.

It is this third possibility that Dr. Knight wishes to establish. His first chapter's caption is "The Dynamic Nature of 'Present Truth."' With this concept he is on solid ground. "The path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18). "The truth is an advancing truth, and we must walk in the increasing light." (Review & Herald, March 25, 1890) But there is another possibility in an assumed advancement of the perception of truth. It may not be an advancement in truth, but rather a deviation into error, and thus apostasy from the truth. This possibility needs to be kept in mind as one reads this book. Thus the data presented by Dr. Knight could be, in certain areas, not the development of Seventh-day Adventist Beliefs, but rather the record of the apostasy from the truth. This has been the hallmark of the last four decades. Thus the "search for identity" can be a double-edged sword cutting both ways.

After writing his startling assumption, Knight gives three specific illustrations contrasting where early Adventist ministers stood in contrast to the concepts stated in the "27 Fundamentals." All three statements from the "Fundamentals," - 2, 4, and 5 - concern the Trinity or Members of the Godhead. Let us first note the contrast between the stated position ol the Church from 1872 through 1914, and the Belief as adopted in 1980.

The first and second statements of belief in 1872 read:      There is one God, a personal, spiritual being, the creator of all things, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal, infinite in wisdom,
holiness, justice, goodness, truth, and mercy; unchangeable, and everywhere present by his representative, the Holy Spirit.

There is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the one by whom he created all things, and by whom they do consist.

The 1980 statement reads:      There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation.

There can be no question but the first statement reflected a "Heavenly Trio" concept, but did not express the Nicene Creed as does the 1980 statement. It is this Nicene Creed formulation that the pioneers, cited by Knight, perceived as unscriptual," "an absurdity,"

p 3 -- and "a fruit of the great apostasy." (p.17) This distinction, involving the two concepts, needs to be kept in mind.

Two facts of significance are involved:
1)   What some of the early ministers of the Church believed about God was not made a part of the Statement of Beliefs.
2)   The adoption of the Nicene Creed at Dallas cannot be sustained as a progression in the understanding of truth.

Let us consider the first fact. Uriah Smith, long time editor of the Review & Herald, official organ of the Church, believed that Jesus was a created being. In his first edition of Thoughts on Revelation (1867), he called the pre-existent Christ, "the first created being." Yet in the 1872 Statement of Beliefs, which Knight says Smith wrote (p.23), he did not interject his belief. Other sources indicate that more than Smith were involved in the 1872 Statement (The Living Witness, p. 1). The fact remains that this first statement was "a brief statement of what is, and has been, with great unanimity, held by them" (Preface to Statement). This data speaks clear and plain that there was no denial of the "Heavenly Trio" concept, but neither was there an acceptance of the Nicene Trinity doctrine, which was perceived as "a fruit of the great apostasy."

The second, an assumption, suggesting that the Dallas Statement represents a progression in the revelation of truth cannot be sustained in fact. The Nicene Trinitarian doctrine was adopted as a necessary presupposition for other changes in the beliefs of the Church. In the recently released Volume 12 of the Commentary Reference Series - Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology - is to be found this assertion:      The doctrine of the trinitarian being of God is the necessary presupposition for the proper understanding of the Incarnation and of the cross. (p.127)

What this is saying is quite simple. Change the doctrinal concept of God, and you then can change the doctrine of the Incarnation and the meaning of the cross. This is what was done at Dallas in 1980.

The author of the article on the "Doctrine of God" admits:      In the OT the triniarian nature of God is not expressly revealed in the specificity and depth that are present in the NT record.
From the vantage point gained from the NT revelation of God in Christ, it is possible to interpret the overlapping concepts of oneness and plurality as OT hints of the trinitarian doctrine of God. (p.123)

Prior to drawing this conclusion, the author devotes two sections of his article on the "Doctrine of God," to the Biblical data which sets forth the duality of God in the Old Testament. (See pp.122-123) None of the Scriptures cited hints at a trinitarian concept. He imposes this as a presupposition necessary for the understanding of the Incarnation and the cross.

If indeed as Knight would have us believe that the present Trinitarian stance in Adventism is the result of following "the dynamic nature of present truth," the assumptions admitted in the Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology do not sustain his conclusion. The question then is, how does an individual, or a organized body, keep pace with the dynamic nature of truth? The answer should be plain. What does the Biblical revelation teach? This means a review of all
the basic data, giving priority to the most determinative evidence. Since this is discussing God, there must also be the recognition of the fact that at some point, the curtain will be drawn, and our search for understanding will need to await the day of final revelation when we will be privileged to sit at the feet of the Word who was made flesh (John 1:14); but who in His exaltation is "the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9).

Inasmuch as this concept of "The Dynamic Nature of 'Present Truth"' will form the basis of other doctrinal citations made by Knight, we shall pause to discuss the priority of the determinative evidence on the Doctrine of God. We have referenced it in previous issues of WWN, but will detail it in the article that follows.

The Gospel of John -- The Gospel of John is unique. It is the last of the gospels penned, and one of the last books of the New Testament canon written. Written near the close of the first century, it contains verbatim data from at least six decades prior to its writing. Consider just one section, chapters 14 through 17. None of the Synopic Gospels even refer to these words of Jesus, not even His prayer. Yet they are recorded as the exact words of Jesus. The means of recording and preserving the

p 4 -- spoken word today were not known in the first century. No human mind, while remembering the occasion of the words spoken, could recall decades later a verbatim recollection of the words said.

This brings us to a consideration of "inspiration." Two concepts dominate theological thinking, verbal inspiration and "thought" inspiration. Adventists have advocated the later. However, there are examples in the Scriptures, where the writer wrote down exactly what was said to him. For example, Daniel records the exact words of Gabriel sent to help him understand the vision he had seen of the ram and he-goat. (See Dan. 8:16-26; 9:24-27) The experience of John on the isle
of Patmos was similar as he penned the book of Revelation. (See Rev. 14:6-13; 16:1; 18:1-8) It is
obvious that the books of prophecy cannot be neatly packaged as being the result of "thought" inspiration.

Neither can the gospel of John be so packaged. While John inserts thought inspired observations following the recording of certain events, the recording of the events themselves transcends the scope of "thought" inspiration. See the two incidents recorded in John 3, followed by John's comments. We suggest that the "angel" sent to John to signify the revelation given to
Jesus Christ by God (Rev. 1:1), could also come to John to give him in verbatim detail the revelation
which God spoke "in a Son" (Heb. 1:2, Gr.) when the Word was made flesh. In other words, the inspiration of the gospel of John, is far closer to divine dictation than it is to "thought inspiration." This conclusion, therefore, places the Gospel of John as the primary source for the formulation of the doctrine of God.

The prologue of the Gospel of John (1:1-18) is basically a statement about God as revealed in the Word for the redemption of man. The first two verses reveal the relationship between the Two involved in the Counsel of Peace (Zech. 6:13). It sets the place of the incarnate as He was, in the pre-incarnate state with God. He was God - kai qeoV hn 'o logoV. He had ever been with God - outoV hn en arch proV ton qeoV . But He changed; He came to be flesh - kai 'o logoV sarx egeneto. This change and its affect on the Godhead is revealed in the prayer of Jesus in John 17. Very interestingly, this understanding is connected with "life eternal." Jesus prayed:      This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. (17:3)

One of the characteristics of God is His immutability. (James 1:17). The Logos had changed; He came to be flesh. This left the Theos as the only true God, but it did not alter the place of the Logos in the Godhead. Knowing Him is as essential to "life eternal" as to know the Theos. The "counsel of peace" had not changed. One phase was about to be completed. Jesus could pray:      I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with the glory which I had with thee before the world (kosmoV) was. (17:4-5)

God did answer that prayer. The resurrected Lord was "highly exalted" (Phil. 2:9), and "in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9, NKJV), the glory He had with Him as the pre-incarnate Logos.

It is in this setting that the Holy Spirit is placed in the gospel of John. On the last day of the feast of tabernacles at which Jesus was in attendance, He declared - "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38). John makes comment on this declaration of Jesus. He interjects:       (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet [given]; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) [ver. 39]

This interjection of John demands careful consideration. Although the word, "given" (dedomenon) was added by copyists into the text and followed by some of the church fathers in their quotes of the verse, it must be kept in mind that this addition was governed by the Nicene Creed, and is not found in the earliest manuscripts. The Greek text is simply - oupw gar hn pneuma, 'oti IhsouV oudepw edoxasqh - "for not yet was [the] Spirit, because Jesus not yet was glorified."

The close relationship of the Spirit to Jesus' glorification as well as to Jesus Himself, is further amplified in the verbatim upper room comments of Jesus. He promised:     

I will pray the Father and He shall give unto you another Comforter (allon paraklhton), that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth ... I will not leave you orphans: I
will come unto you. (14:16-18, margin)

The force of the Greek, alloV , indicates clearly a distinct Being, yet Jesus states - "I will come unto you." It is at this point that the Divine curtain is drawn, and the only other Scriptural revelation which amplifies this mysterious relationship is in the sybolism of the book of Revelation. There (5:6), Jesus is revealed in

p 5 -- His resurrected state as "a Lamb as it had been slain" possessing "seven horns and seven eyes" which are declared to symbolize the fullness of the Spirit of God "sent forth into all the earth." There are other texts that could be cited which raise perplexing questions; but here we must rest the matter.

In the New Testament, there are three verses which indicate a "trinity" of Beings: a command, a salutation, and a benediction:
Matthew 28:19 - "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name (to onoma - singular) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."       Here then a singular designation - God - could be given to Three distinct Beings. A singular designation is applied to the Duality of God in the Old Testament - Yahweh. (See Isa. 44:6; Commentary Reference Series Vol. 12, p. 122-123, "The Dual Revelation of Yahweh."
I Peter 1:2 - "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: ...
II Corinthians 13:14 - "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

These three verses adequately sustain the designation of "Heavenly Trio" for the Godhead; and while one may suggest the Trinity of the Nicene Creed, no other Biblical support can be found to sustain such a conclusion.

One thing is certain, we cannot jump from the 1872 Statement of Beliefs which harmonizes in its first two Statements with the Scriptures just noted, to the 1980 Statement which embraces the Nicene Creed, caIling it as Knight has done, an example of the dynamic nature of "Present Truth." Rather it is the insidious working of apostasy come to fruition.

"One thing it is certain is soon the be realized, - the great postasy, which is developing and increasing and waxing stronger, and will continue to do so until the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout."
(Special Testimonies, Series B, #7, p.56-57)

Confession of a Nomad -- Part 3 -- Since writing #2 of "Confessions of a Nomad" in the December issue of WWN, two things have happened:

1)   The Ministerial Association has released in full the letter written to Eugene Lincoln, editor emeritus, of The Sabbath Sentinel, dated August 31, 2000, as well as a second letter dated September 18, 2000, copies of which the Association will send to anyone upon request. [The Association dating of the first letter is August 30 rather than 31 as on the original letter]

2)   In response to a call, Mrs. Carolyn Self, a co-author of the book, left a message on a telephone answering service. The questions to which she responded asked "Why did you have your books, Confessions of A Nomad, etc., published by the Pacific Press Publishing Association, a Seventh-day Adventist company? What is your relationship to them?" In her response, she stated:      We have no connections with the Seventh-day Adventists except that [my husband] has done some speaking for their national and state groups, and they asked us to re-publish the books, ... since they were out of publication, and we own the copyrights to them. And they're the only ones that wanted to copy them, wanted to print them, so that's the reason.

Several things surface:   a) The request to publish the book, Confessions of a Nomad, as well as the Self's other publications, came from the Ministerial Association.   b) They were "the only ones that wanted to copy them, wanted to print them."   c) The Selfs apparently still believe they own the copyrights, while the books printed by the Pacific Press indicate that the Ministerial Association owns the copyrights. If there is a dual copyright, then it follows that there is a contractual relationship between the two parties. This has not been detailed, only hinted, in the letter from
Cress to Lincoln dated August 31, 2000.

Now to the two letters written to Brother Eugene LincoIn by Elder James A. Cress, being released as "two statements" by the General Conference Ministerial Association:   a) Elder Cress asked that Brother Lincoln request that the one supplying him with photocopies of selected pages from the book, Confessions of a Nomad, make direct contact with him.   b) This we did. I wrote two letters to Elder Cress, dated September 10, and October 29, 2000, with a brief note between on October 3. The brief note was returned in November with a hand-written comment from Cress which

p 6 -- read, "Attached are two statements that we are sharing with those who made inquiry re: this book."   c) There has been no response to the two letters even though Cress asked that the one supplying Lincoln with the photocopied pages from the book write direct to him. Cress is dodging the real issue and this leaves us with but one alternative, that is, to give a brief review of the salient points in our two letters to Cress.

With the first letter to Elder Cress, we enclosed a copy of the article which appeared in the November issue of WWN giving him opportunity to "comment on the same," if he wished to do so. We directed him to the propositions set forth by Brother Lincoln and asked, "Why avoid a direct answer to these?" (The four possibilities are given in the December WWN, p. 6, col.1) It would have been so simple to have checked #4, but he didn't! One can "mouth" words, and the heart be planning something else. We reminded Cress of the command of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount - "Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil" (Matt. 5:37). He "wrote much, much more than the simple answer required." We then proceeded to review "the much more" that he did write:
1)  You wrote, "While we did reprint the book ..." My copy states you hold "copyright" to the book. Why this, if only to reprint it?

2)  Then you add - "the Ministerial Association did not edit this book in any way." Again my copy on the copyright page reads - "Several short portions have been edited to conserve space." But the offensive portions were not touched. Why not? A transfer of copyright usually involves some contract commitments, even an agreement to reprint entails obligations. I know because we now print on an exclusive basis what the WCC formerly published, So Much In Common. Why not come clean with the involvements of your copyright purchase?

3)  You indicate that you - the Ministerial Association - "provided a service" for Dr Self's seminar participants because "he has provided great service for pastors of all denominations, including Adventists, in his various seminars." Further on, in your letter
you indicate that you provide "a service by reprinting his books that he was no longer able to obtain.

4)  I am aware of Ellen White's comment on Pilgrim''s Progress, and I believe also a book on Church History. Do you believe that her endorsement of these books really gives you justification to endorse this book by Dr. Self?

5)  One final question: Do you believe that the 2nd Angel's Message is valid today?

In the second letter, I again reminded Elder Cress that he was the one who requested the communication from me, but has not replied. Then I wrote:      Further, Brother Lincoln placed before you certain specific propositions for you to check. This request you have not responded to although you suggested your letter of August31, 2000 provided the answer. The number who have read your letter cannot concur. In my letter, I asked you a final all inclusive question - "Do you believe the 2nd Angel's Message is valid today?" - and you have not answered.

Further in Mrs Self's statement, she said, "They (Ministerial Association) asked to republish the books." In other words you solicited the right to publish this material which seeks to negate the Sabbath. Your explanation is that you are doing this because of your PREACH project to "reach clergy of other faiths." Please tell me how a negation of the Sabbath can reach a non-Adventist clergyman with the truth about the Sabbath? Do you demonstrate how to prepare meat dishes at a vegetarian cooking class?

While it is true that verbally you affirm the perpetuity of the Biblical seventh day Sabbath, your actions in not editing the two chapters of Confessions of Nomad, which plainly promote Sunday as the day of worship speak louder than words.

The revelation of this book - Confessions of a Nomad - as copyrighted by the Ministerial Association of the General Conference and printed by the Pacific Press for the PREACH project of the Association raises serious questions as to whether the project has an evangelistic outreach as its objective, or whether at the bottom of the project is the "public relations" (PR) motive. And when the General Conference Secretary of the Association cannot affirm his belief in the 2nd Angel's Message, something is seriously wrong.

The bottom line is simply, what should be the Adventist minister's relationship with the clergy of other faiths? Adventists believe that they are giving the "Elijah Message" for the final hour of human history, or do they no longer so believe? It is difficult to perceive Elijah as ever joining the ministerial alliance of Baal. This present trauma did not happen over night, but has been a growing tumor during the last five decades of the previous century. It can now be diagnosed as malignant.

"What communion hath light with darkness? ... Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord ... and I will receive you."
(II Corinthians 6:14, 17)

p 7 -- The Primacy of the Gospel Committee Report -- In 1994, the Administrative Committee of the General Conference appointed a committee to give in depth study to "the biblical doctrine of righteousness by faith. The particular focus of the committee was to give attention to the special understanding of this doctrine that has been advanced over the past 50 years by Robert J. Wieland and Donald K. Short, joined now by additional persons of the 1888 Message Study Committee." Beginning with an initial meeting on May 24, 1995, the committee met 8 times, and concluded their assessment with a final meeting, February 8, 2000. A summary report has now been issued.

The final report was divided into four parts:   1) Areas of Ageement;   2) Areas of Disagreement;   3) Observations; and   4) An Appeal.

While there were 12 areas of Agreement and 12 areas of Disagreement, the latter was more pronounced. While certain areas of the Disagreements need careful consideration and review, the Observation made brings both Wieland and Short to their moment of truth. It reads:      The charges raised by the 1888 Study Committee against the leadership of the Church are very serious. If the Church is proclaiming a false gospel, it has no right to exist. A partial understanding of the gospel, as they claim the Church to have, is not a true understanding of the gospel. If they are the only ones who have a clear and complete understanding of the gospel, then everyone else is proclaiming a false gospel. They are implicitly accusing the Church, or at least, the leaders of the Church, of apostasy. We have found such accusations to be groundless as evidenced in the official statements of belief.

Therefore, we firmly believe that the 1888 Study Committee should discontinue its claims that the true message of righteousness by faith was rejected by the leaders of the Church, that they never genuinely accepted it, and that they have intentionally kept it away from the Church and the world.

This was followed by an appeal which carried a directive: It states:      We do not question the sincerity of the leaders of the 1888 Study Committee, but we do question the wisdom of the current course of action. If the committee chooses to continue its work outside the organized Church, we appeal to it to adopt the pattern of what is described as a supportive ministry. Such groups seek places to work where, in harmony with and under guidance of
Church leadership in that field, they carry out activities that are part of the planned program of that field. Almost always their efforts are designed to reach out to unbelievers, calling them to Christ and His righteousness, and enlisting them among His remnant people. Supportive ministries promote harmony in both doctrine and relationship with the Church. We desire this as the outcome of our prayer and study together.

A summary of this Observation and Appeal to the 1888 Message Study Committee can be briefly, but pointedly, stated - "Shape up or ship out." One member of the Primacy of the Gospel Committee was Dr. George R. Knight, and we sense in the Areas of Disagreement, echoes of his thinking. Inasmuch as we are devoting several issues of WWN to his latest book, A Search for Identity, we will also note certain positions taken in the Disagreements which reflect his thinking.

Note: The following tracts will be available for 10 cents each, plus postage, You place your order and include the cost of the tracts ordered, and we will invoice you for the actual postage.
"The Seal of God" - ST: 207-216 with notes "Jerusalem in Bible Prophecy" The Anti-Christ - Who Is He?"
The booklet - "The SIGN of the End of Time" will be available for 15 cents/copy plus postage. --- (2001 Jan) --- End --- TOP

2001 Feb -- XXXIV -- 2(01) -- A Search for Identity -- Part 2 -- Editor's Preface -- This issue begins with a second article critiquing the book by Dr. George Knight, A Search for Identity. This concludes our observations on the first chapter, "The Dynamic Nature of 'Present Truth.'"--- Inasmuch as Knight's second illustration seeking to support this dynamic, also centered in the doctrine of God as formulated in the Statement of Beliefs voted at Dallas in 1980, we, too, have focused on this doctrine from the perspective of his illustration. We are aware of the controversy involving certain dissident voices on the doctrine of God, but we also know that the Nicene Creed which is the center of the controversy, is the foundation upon which, by their own admission, the Roman Church has built its doctrinal structure. This fact dare not be overlooked in any analysis of the doctrine of God. However, an anti -Trinitarian posture does not spell truth either. One can believe in a "Heavenly Trio" and not believe in Trinitarianism as formulated in the Nicene Creed.

In the January issue of WWN, we passed by certain concepts outside the Gospel of John. In this issue we have sought to clarify at what point the curtain on the mystery of God is drawn, and stop there. A clarification arising from Special Issue #2 last year in regard to the Perez case is also amplified.

The concluding article on the publication of the book, Confessions of a Nomad, forms a part of this issue. While it is evident that all the facts have not surfaced as to why the Ministerial Association copyrighted this book by the Selfs, it is also certain that no amount of prodding will cause the Secretary of the Association to give a full disclosure of its publication. So we leave it as it now is - a partial revelation.

p 2 -- A Search for Identity --Part 2 --The second point which Dr. George R. Knight cited as a doctrine over which the founders of Adventism could not join the Church today is an aspect of the Trinitarian belief stated in the 27 Fundamentals which places Jesus as both eternal and truly God" (p. 17).

Before discussing this point, a question needs to be answered. Why is the doctrine of God of such vital important reasons, and importance? there are two important reasons, and these dare not be overlooked:      1) The doctrine of the Trinity as expressed in the Nicene Creed is the basis upon which the whole structure of Papal theology is based. We have noted this fact in previous issues of WWN, but will reiterate it again. Observe:      The mystery of the Trinity is the central doctrine of the Catholic Faith. Upon it are based all the other teachings of the Church. Handbook for Today's Catholic, p. 11

The significance of this factor cannot be overemphasized. You cannot set a square building on a circular foundation. To accommodate, the superstructure must be altered so as to fit the foundation. To accept the Nicene Creed meant the alteration of the superstructure of Adventism as was done in the 27 Fundamental Statement of Beliefs at Dallas, Texas in 1980.

If the Nicene Creed is the correct formulation about God, then Papal theology is planted squarely upon a platform of truth. As truth cannot beget error, it would follow that the "other teachings" of Romanism are likewise positions of truth. Further, the converse of the dictum that two cannot walk together unless they be agreed (Amos 3:3) would follow. Be in agreement with the Nicene Creed, and you walk together. This is exactly the approach being pursued by the Faith and Order Commission of WCC in its drive toward visible church unity. The Moderator of the Apostolic Faith Steering Group is none other than a Roman priest, Jean-Marie Tillard. [See Confessing the One Faith, An Ecumenical Explication of the Apostolic Faith as it is confessed in the Nicene-Constantinopilitan Creed (381)].

2) As we noted in the previous issue of WWN, the Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology stated plainly:     The  doctrine of the trinitarian being of God is the necessary pre- suposition for the proper understanding of the Incarnation and the cross. (p. 127; emphasis supplied)

It would follow, therefore, that the founders of Adventism, not having the correct understanding of the doctrine of God, did not have a correct position on the Incarnation nor the Cross. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that it be determined whether the change in the doctrinal position of the Church on the doctrine of God as expressed in the 27 Fundamentals is truly an illustration of the "dynamlic nature of 'present truth'" as Knight seeks to affirm,or retrogression into apostasy. Further, it must also be determined whether the current revival of anti Trinitarianism, as expressed by early Adventist preachers, writers, and editors is indeed truth, or does the concept of the "dynamic nature of 'present truth'" need to be accepted and applied correctly at this point. This second citation by Knight from the 27 Fundamentals - that Jesus in His pre-existence was "both eternal and truly God " - is a good point from which to discuss this question.

The Pre-Existent Word -- The actual Statement on "God the Son" (#4) reads "that God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ." Nowhere in the Bible do I find the expression, "the eternal Son." I do find, however, that the expression, "Word of life," is applied to Him who "was from the beginning" (I John 1:1). In explaining this significance, John declares that this "life" was the "the Eternal Life, who was (hn - ever was) with the Father" (v. 2). This accords with the preface to the Gospel. The Word was not only God, but He "was (hn) in the beginning with God" (John 1:2). These verses exclude the "eternal Son" concept; but they do sustain the concept of a self-existent and an ever-existent One - the I AM (John 8:58) - with God from the beginning.

The ministers and editors of early Adventism revealed in their thinking the "dynamic nature of truth" when discussing the doctrine of God. For example, Uriah Smith, long time editor of the Review & Herald wrote in his first edition of Thoughts on Revelation, that the pre-existent Christ was "the first created being" (1867, p.59). By 1898, he wrote in his book, Looking Unto Jesus that such a position was "degrading" to Christ (p.12); and while "God alone is without beginning," that "at the earliest epoch when a beginning could be, - a period so remote that to finite minds it is

p 3 -- essentially eternity, appeared the Word" (p. 10). In this instance it is interesting to observe, that Smith's choice of designation, was not "the eternal Son," as was done in the 27 Statements of Belief, but rather the designation in the Gospel of John - "the Word." Currently, those today in the Community of Adventism advocating a new anti-Trinitarianism wish to emphasize the "Son" aspect and by its use negate the eternity of the Word. This is a fatal error.

Actually, the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed in the full text reads:      I believe ... 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. (Creeds of Christendom, Vol.II, p.58)

Specifically denying that Christ was a created being - "begotten, not made" - the Creed nevertheless suggests a beginning for Christ - "begotten" - while maintaining that He was "very God of very God."

In the WCC Faith and Order Commission study document noted on page 2 above, the phrase "begotten of the Father before all worlds" is altered to read, "eternally begotten of the Father" (p.44, par. 92). In the "explication" (detailed explanation) of this concept, the document reads that "since the Father is eternal, the beginning of the Son did not. occur at some particular time, but is itself eternal" (p.50, par. 115). Thus to arrive at the same concept in 1980 and use the non-Biblical expression, "the eternal Son," in the Fundamental Statement of Beliefs is not evidence of "the dynamic nature" of truth.

It could be claimed, however, that since the Statement of Beliefs was formulated in 1980, a decade prior to the Faith and Order Commission's release of a document to achieve visible church unity by the adoption of the Nicene Creed, the Adventist Church, by the adoption of that Creed in its formulation of the doctrine of God, was merely walking in the light of advancing truth. But it must be remembered that the Church has had a sitting theologian on the Faith and Order Commission since 1967. Further, the objective of achieving visible church unity was mandated in the revised Constitution of the WCC in 1972 (So Much in Common, pp.40, 41). To achieve this objective, the Council "charged" the Faith and Order Commission to keep ever before them "their accepted obligation." This was stated in their By-Laws which reads - "To proclaim the oneness of the Church of Christ and to call the churches to the goal of visible unity in one faith and one eucharistic fellowship, expressed in worship and common life in Christ, in order that the world might believe" (Faith and Order Paper #111, p. viii, 1982).

It is not without significance that the Faith and Order Commission could state in 1988 that the Creed is "already officially recognized by many churches" when it launched its study, "Towards the Common Expression of the Apostolic Faith Today," and chose the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of A.D. 381 as a summary of that apostolic faith. (One World, 1988, p. 15) The Adventist Church was one of those "many churches" having come into line in 1980, after an Adventist theologian was placed on the Commission in 1967.

A critical challenge does, however, face us. The pioneer ministers and writers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church were definitely anti-Trinitarian. Of this there is no question. However, from 1867 to 1898, Uriah Smith was able to progress in his understanding of the doctrine of God without adopting the Nicene Creed. Why cannot there be a continual progression of truth on this subject without adopting the basis of Roman Catholic theology? Our understanding of the truth about the pre-existent Word does not need to stop with the advancement made by the close of the nineteenth century on the part of either E. J. Wagonner or Uriah Smith. Neither do we need to promote a position once held that does not conform to the Word of God as is being done by the neo-anti-Trinitarians in the Community of Adventism. The Holy Spirit is still the Spirit of truth to guide into all truth, and the path of the just is still a "shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. 4:18).

While there will be aspects of God that we will not know until we "shall see His face" (Rev. 22:4), we can move forward to the "curtain" drawn over the mystery of His Being, and the "how" of the mysterious revelation made in Christ Jesus as we await that coming day. We need not retrogress into the dim light of past comprehensions by those who at that time realized that the Nicene Creed was not the answer. We need to accept that insight and seek to comprehend as far as mortals can, the truth as it is in Jesus, thus building our doctrinal understanding upon Him who is the way, the truth and the life. This then would be a living experience in the dynamic nature of "Present Truth."

p 4 -- The Fall Back Defence -- While writing this issue, I received a letter from an ardent devotee of the neo-anti-Trinitarianism espoused today in the Community of Adventism. He cited an historical recall on the part of Ellen G. White "'that ALL the principle points of our faith were made clear to their minds, in harmony with the Word of God during the early Bible Conferences 1844-1848." (The emphasis is his, and he circled the word, "ALL".) The assumption drawn was that this one sentence negated the principle of the dynamic nature of present truth. To make such an assumption requires taking this sentence out of context, and results in making Ellen G. White contradict what she wrote a decade or more earlier. Let us note some of the facts of history connected with this sentence:

1) These conferences did not begin until 1848, and were sometimes called "1848 Conferences," but were primarily known as "Sabbath Conferences," continuing into 1850. While "principle points" of faith were discussed and studied, those points did not include the doctrine of God. (See, SDA Encyclopedia, Vol. 11, pp. 507-508) One has only to check the "Lectures on Principle Doctrines" given at Biblical Institutes in 1877, to verify what was so considered. The "principle points" of faith were summarized in the "landmarks" statement written as a result of the contention during the 1888 General Conference Session. (Ms. 13, 1889; CtoW&E, pp.30-31)
2) The sentence quoted from SM, bk. i, p. 207 was originally found in Series B, #2, p.57, written about 1905 at the time of the Kellogg controversy. If a valid statement negating the dynamic nature of truth, then what Ellen Wtiite wrote more than a decade earlier is error. In 1890 she had written - "The truth is an advancing truth, and we must walk in the increasing light" (R&H, March 25, 1890).
3) There is no question that the controversy involving Kellogg did include the doctrine of God, as he was teaching in his book, The Living Temple, "spiritualistic theories regarding the personality of God" which if "followed to their logical conclusion [would] sweep away the whole Christian economy" (Series B, #2, pp. 53-54). In the exchange of correspondence between Kellogg and the leadership in the General Conference there is evidence that the doctrine of the Trinity was involved. By this, it could be inferred that the sentence, quoted by the brother in his letter to me, supported the revival of anti-Trinitarianism, as the bonified original position in Adventism. However, during this Kellogg controversy, a clear statement came from Ellen G. White declaring that "there are three living persons of the heavenly trio" (Series B, #7, p.62). This excludes anti-Trinitarianism, but does not give credence to the Nicene Creed.

Indeed as it was stated at that time, it is still true today: "The track of truth lies close beside the track of error, and both tracks may seem to be one to minds which are not worked by the Holy Spirit, and which, therefore, are not quick to discern the difference between truth and error" (Series B. #2, p.52).

In What Way is the Eternal Word the Son? -- John chose the Greek word, monogenes (monogenhV ) to describe the eternal Word made flesh when he wrote "the only begotten of the Father" (John 1:14). Arius, in affirming that Christ was "begotten of God before all ages," used the Greek word, gegennemenon (from gennaw), the correct word for "begotten." (See SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, p. 902) The Old Latin version before the Vulgate translated monogenes correctly as "only" in the sense of unique. The Word was the only One from (para not ek) the Father "full of grace and truth." Paul could write at the beginning of the Hebrew treatise, "God ... hath in these last days spoken unto us by a Son" (no article in the Greek text) and defined that Sonship by quoting from Psalms 2:7 - "I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee" (emphasis supplied).

The Book of Hebrews enlarges further on the fact of a Son, and makes it clear that this decree was concerning an existent Being. First, the divine objective of the Sonship motif is stated. There are to be many "sons" brought "unto glory." A "Son" as "the captain of their salvation" accomplished it (2:10). Those that would "receive Him" - the Word made flesh - would likewise be privileged to be "sons of God" (John 1:12). Secondly, in accomplishing that salvation, the Captain would become High Priest after the Order of Melchizedec. In Hebrews, the decree of Psalms 2:7, and the oath of Psalms 110:4 are placed side by side - both said to an existent Being, as He was, the Word; and as He became, Jesus (Heb. 5:5-6; 7:21-22).

To restrict Psalms 2:7, denying the force of the expression, "the decree;" or to seek to explain it away ignores the fact that "the begotten" aspect is applied

p 5 -- by Paul to the resurrected Lord as well as to the incarnation (Acts 13:33). The designation of "Son of God" is equally a Messianic title as is "The Son of man." The "Captain" of our salvation is the God-man, "who was manifest in the flesh" (I Tim. 3:16, NKJV, margin) - the Eternal Logos.

In Summary -- To cite two questionable concepts of the Doctrine of God - the Trinity, and "the Eternal Sonship" - as illustrations of the dynamic nature of "present truth," and to conclude that the present position of the Church, by writing these concepts into the 27 Fundamentals of Belief, is reflecting that dynamic at work, is deceptive, and cannot be sustained Biblically. It stands rather as evidence of the apostasy which has engulfed the church and the failure to give proper study to the concepts. However apostate as these concepts may be, it does not justify a rejection of the dynamic, or a continuation in an anti-Trinitarian position equally as questionable. Proverbs 4:18 must prevail.

Confessions of a Nomad - Part 4 -- In a letter dated August 31, 2000, Cress, the Secretary of the Ministerial Department of the General Conference wrote to Eugene Lincoln, Editor Emeritus, of The Sabbath Sentinel, "I am also requesting that you request the individual who quoted selectively from the book (Confessions of a Nomad) to contact the Ministerial Association rather that spread erroneous suppositons." This I did immediately upon receipt of a copy of the letter Cress wrote to Lincoln. That was September 10, and not until November 22, did Cress reply. He claimed that an extended overseas itinerary prevented him from responding sooner.

However, in the letter he placed the same restriction as in previous letters to Brother Lincoln: no quotes unless the whole letter is printed. We are left with but one choice. We will print our answer dated November 28, 2000, and let the reader deduct what Cress wrote in his letter. To his claim to be very plain spoken, we responded:      There is no trouble vhen one is plain spoken; it is when one is not plain acting that the trouble begins. One can claim to be preaching the Three Angels' Messages, including the Second, and his actions indicate that he does not know what they are all about. Christ endeavored to reach members of the Sanhedrin with truth, but He did not invite them to conduct seminars for His disciples, nor recommend their writings.

The facts are that one does not have to obtain a copyright to merely do a book reprint. We have exclusive rights from the WCC to reprint So Much in Common, and have not felt any need to copyright the book. We merely stated that it was reprinted by the permission of the WWC. You have indicated that you provide a service to Dr. Self in reprinting his books. A one time reprint is hardly a continuing service, unless printed in volume, or his need is minimal. ...

It is indeed a sad hour when, for whatever reason human logic dictates, a publication copyrighted by an arm of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists advocates Sunday as the day of worship, be it a devotional book or otherwise. You are to be commended for withdrawing it from circulation by your association. I hope it so remains. The fact, however, also remains that you did publish it, and have expressed no regrets for doing so, but have tried to justify the reprinting.

Apart from a summary in WWN, I will leave the matter for a Higher Court to render the final verdict.

In a further note from Brother Lincoln since the above letter was written, he indicated that Cress had called him by telephone concerning their exchange of letters and had admitted "that he probably would have handled it differently had he thought about the controversy it would cause." This is very revealing - no regrets expressed about the teachings in the book - but simply the consequences because it was discovered and revealed. If a judgment had been made based on truth, there would have been no publishing of the book, and thus no adverse consequences to fear. It was purely a policy decision. See 5T, p.96, par. 3. (concluded)

The Perez Issue Revisited -- The Special Issue #2 of WWN for 2000, evoked comment from the field. The overall comment indicated that I did not set forth the factors involved in the Perez case with the clarity that such a discussion demanded. To a friend on the West Coast who wrote I detailed a reply. The reply I sent to this brother is herewith produced, so that there should be no misunderstandings on the part of any.

It is true as suggested, by your reservation on methods of witness that we must work in our own armor. God respects individuality. However, in this instance, there are three factors covered by counsel.

p 6 --
   In regard to the name used for church identification.
2)   The use of the Writings in support of the truths of God's Word.
3)   The caution against "jump starting" a time of trouble.

To take #1 of these three and ignore the other two is not consistent. I personally talked to Perez about #2, and he shrugged his shoulders, declined an answer, and handed me a copy of the advertizement in English and Spanish. (Now our current file copy)

Problem #1 - If I refuse to take the name, Seventh-day Adventist, off my church sign when the Church officially makes request, and they take me to court, but when the Court so demands, I yield and do so, what is this saying? Is this the example found in the book of Daniel?

Is the name that important today? It does stand for two cardinal teachings. But what does it represent today? A church in apostasy. Go to the book of Acts. Was not the name "Israel" chosen by God? It stood for something. Did the early Church adopt this name and fight with the [Jewish] hierarchy over it? No, they called themselves, "Followers of the Way." They let God designate them as the new Israel of God.

Today God knows who are genuine Seventh-day Adventists. Let Him write them down in His clerk's record book (Heb. 12:23) - the Book of the Lamb. Let us be simply followers of that Lamb - the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6).

If further questions need answering, please write, and I will seek to clarify my position on the other two issues covered by counsel.

A Further Clarification of Another Point -- In the January issue of WWN, we commented as we closed the discussion of the Godhead in the Gospel of John - "There are other texts that could be cited which raise perplexing questions: but here we must rest the matter" (p. 5, col. 1). In contemplating the deductions drawn on John 7:39, I doubt that the thoughtful readers will be satisfied with leaving the concept of the Holy Spirit as indicated, rest at that point. In the gospel of Matthew (1:20), and in the Gospel of Luke (1:35), the Holy Spirit is stated as being involved in the birth of Jesus. John himself records the coming of the Spirit "like a dove" at the time of Jesus' baptism (1:33). How do we relate these verses in the light of John's comment in 7:39?

Paul adds this factor in his explanation of the condescension of Christ. He writes that He who was in "the form of God" emptied Himself (eauton ekenwsen - emphatic, "himself He emptied") and took the "slave form of man." If this is placed together with the revelations in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, the conclusion is inescapable that the pre-existent Word was the Holy Spirit. A careful comparison between concepts in the Old Testament with parallel concepts in the New substantiates this conclusion. Observe two such parallels:
1) Gen. 1:2 - "The Spirit of God moved (Heb. "brooded") upon the face of the waters."
Eph. 3:9 - "God who created all things by Jesus Christ."
John 1:3 - "All things were made by Him."
2) II Peter 1:21 - "In old time ... holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."
I Peter 1:10-11 - "The prophets ... searched ... what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify."
Daniel 10:21 - "The scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince."

This Biblical comparison still leaves intact, the prologue of the Gospel of John that "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God." But it does leave mysterious - "The Word came to be flesh" (1:14, Gr.). Here the curtain is drawn, and here we must let it remain closed. One thing is revealed. The same ever-existent, pre-existent divine identity tabernacled in flesh, yet He was the embodiment of grace and truth, our hope and our salvation; the God-man, yet the great I AM.

"The Gay Priest Problem" -- This was the title of an essay appearing in The Catholic World Report (Nov. 2000, pp. 52-58), written by Fr. Paul Shaughnessy, Marine and Navy chaplain serving at the time of writing at Pearl Harbor. He wrote:      When more of your priests die by sodomy than by martyrdom, you know you've got a problem; when the man

p 7 -- you bring in for the fix comes down with AIDS, you know that you've got a crisis; and when the Pope first gets the facts thanks to 60 Minutes, you know you're corrupt. (p. 57).

He cites a book, The Changing Face of the Priesthood, by Fr. Donald B. Cozzens, who asked "if the priesthood is on its way to becoming a 'gay profession"'? Shaughnessy also noted a report in the Kansas City Star which stated that "the death rate of priests from AIDS is at least four times that of the general population."

"From almost all sides in the Catholic Church is now heard the complaint 'Why doesn't somebody do something '?" Then the author gives an illustration as to why nothing has or is being done. A rumor was circulated in Africa that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was "about to issue a letter prohibiting the acceptance of gay seminarians." To this, South Africa's Bishop Reginald Cawcutt sent a message to his fellow gay clergy that if such a letter is issued, "MY intention would be simply to ask the question what he intends doing with those priests, bishops (possibly 'like me') and cardinals ... who are gay." Then Cawcutt concluded - "Be assured dear reverend gentlemen, I shall let you know the day any such outrageous letter reaches the desks of the ordinaries of the world" (p. 53).

Turning to why the action necessary to solve the gay problem in America will not be taken, the author stated, It "is that the episcopacy in the United States is corrupt, and the same is true of the majority of religious orders." But then he gives a very interesting twist to what "being corrupt" means. "It is important to stress," he wrote, "that this is a sociological claim, not a moral one." He defined "as corrupt, in a sociological sense, any institution that has lost the capacity to mend itself on its own initiative and by its own resources, an institution that is unable to uncover and expel its own miscreants" (pp. 56-57). He is trying to separate the Roman Church from what is going on in the Church. He seeks to exclude the Pope from what is taking place in the Episcopate under the Pope. In the Bible, God doesn't so judge. He places as one, the "mystery of inquity" that "they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thess. 2:7-12).

How does the chaplain perceive the Church? "The Catholic Church, being Christ's bride without spot or wrinkle, is indefectible. She is holy because Christ is holy; she is perfect because Christ is perfect. She cannot teach error" (p. 57). But the question was raised, how can Catholics show respect and obedience to their bishops if they believe the episcopacy is corrupt? To this the chaplain replied - "The answer is that a Catholic does not respect his bishop or attend to his teaching on the ground that the bishop is holy, but because the bishop, to the extent that he teaches in union with St. Peter, is supernaturally protected against teaching error - and this holds true whether or not the bishop is a villain and whether or not his compatriots are institutionally corrupt" (ibid).

While the extreme positions as voiced by this Roman chaplain are not taken by various dissidents in the Adventist church, basically what difference is there in general perception between the concept that "the Church is going through" and the Catholic position that the Roman Church is "indefectible"? The same distinction is made in Adventist thinking between the Church, and the apostasy in the Church.

Then shall that Wicked ( 'o anomoV ) be revealed"
(II Thes. 2:8). Thayer defines ho anomos - as "he in whom all iniquity has fixed its abode"
(p. 48).
--- (2001 Feb) ---End---- TOP

2001 Mar -- XXXIV - 3(01) -- A Search for Identity -- Part 3 -- Editor's Preface -- This issue of WWN continues the critical analysis of Dr. Knight's book, A Search for Identity. However, not only will we note some questionable conclusions drawn by Dr. Knight, but a1so some salient points that should be of vital concern to every segment of Adventism today, especially to those proclaiming themselves "historic" Adventists. Our pioneer ministers were men of the "Book!"

Knight holds, and rightly so, that Adventism was not born in a vacuum. We were inheritors from the Millerite Movement, as well as other religious traditions. There was one factor in the transition from the pre-October 22, 1844 theological perceptions to the post-October 22, 1844 perceptions that have not been given due consideration. The Millerites, believing that Jesus would return to earth on October 22, 1844, logically concluded that all last-day prophecies would be fulfilled before that date. They applied to their time some major prophecies which today are being applied, in current Adventist thinking, to events since that date. However, no correction has been made due to the error resulting from the faultiness of their logical conclusion. Here is where Knight could have demonstrated his original premise of the "dynamic nature of present truth," but he didn't! We might ask, Would such an adjustment be too painful? Possibly so, as it would raise questions and present problems w'hich certain sections of the Adventist community are not yet ready to encounter. But if not now, when?

The final article and editorial, "Let's Talk It Over" cover personal items involving our Sabbath worship on campus, and experiences of the editor in his own confrontation with the dynamic nature of present truth and the resultant pilgrimage.

p 2 -- A Search for Identity -- Part 3 -- Concluding his first chapter thesis on the dynamic nature of "present truth," Knight quotes a colleague on the Andrews University Seminary staff, Robert M. Johnston, who wrote in the Adventist Review, that Adventists "are still pilgrims on a doctrinal journey who do not repudiate the waymarks, but neither do they remain stopped by any of them" (Sept. 15, 1983, p.8). This declaration is subtle. On a journey, yes. But are "waymarks" roadblocks, or are they guideposts? Are they walls to be breached, or do they guide us in the narrow way of the doctrinal journey to be taken? Then Knight writes:      It is to that progressive journey that we now turn. But before coming to the story proper we need to look at the context in which Adventism emerged. After all, nothing originates in a vacuum" (p.28).

Seventh-day Adventism had a beginning. From what religious background did the men and women who founded the Movement come? Knight observes that James White and Joseph Bates, two of its founders, had been members of the Christian Connection, as well as Joshua V. Himes, the second most influential leader of the Millerite Movement. This Connection was decidedly anti-Trinitarian. Then Knight states that "Ellen White brought the Wesleyan/Methodist emphasis on sanctification and perfection into Adventism" (p.33). To justify this conclusion, he cites a reference from the book, Christ's Object Lessons, first published in 1900, some fifty years after its beginnings. While it is true that Ellen White and her family had been members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, they were disfellowshiped from that church when Ellen was only 16 because of their adherence to the teachings of William Miller. It is highly doubtful that at 16, Ellen White was learned in the theological tenets of Methodism so as to infectuate those teachings on the early Adventist pioneers. She herself stated that during the time that "the principal points" of the faith were being studied by the early pioneers, her "mind was locked, as it were," so that she "could not comprehend the meaning of the scriptures" being studied (Series B, #2, p. 57). This was not bringing a "Wesleyan/Methodist emphasis ... into Adventism"! However, this does turn on the caution lights that one must ever be alert to what Knight is writing and the agenda he is seeking to substantiate.

Inasmuch as the Seventh-day Adventist Church arose out of the Disappointment experienced by the Millerite Movement, it is reasonable and logical to note these roots in any search for identity. This Knight does in chapter three - "The Millerite Theological Foundation." A point often overlooked in such a relationship is the viewpoint from which those involved in the Millerite Movement looked at prophecies relating to the Second Advent. Believing that Christ was going to return to earth "about the year 1843," and then finally settling for the date, October 22, 1844, the Millerites perceived that all prophecies of the end times would be fulfilled prior to that date. This was a logical assumption. Thus the prophecy of Revelation 14, for example, was connected with the messages they were themselves giving, as well as the fulfilment of the prophetic parable Jesus gave of the Ten Virgins. This, Knight sets forth in his book (pp.45-49). It is over this perception and the application of it that the dynamic nature of present truth could have been applied, but was not, and has not been.

We need to take a careful look into the problem of prophetic application created by the original logical assumption. It is a part of a search for identity and involves the development of Seventh-day Adventist Beliefs. Let us consider the first angel's message of Revelation 14. Documenting how Miller and his followers understood this message, Knight rightly concludes:      Thus the Millerites saw the "hour of his judgment" as an advent rather than a pre-Advent judgment. As a result, they began to equate the "loud voice" of the first angel with the midnight cry and the message of the cleansing of the sanctuary. All three pointed to the same event - the second advent of Jesus Christ in the clouds of heaven (p.47).

But Jesus did not come on October 22, 1844. How then were these Biblical prophetic events, grouped together as one by the Millerites, to be understood now? Knight does not attempt an answer, except for one aspect from the parable of Matthew 25, but leaves them merely a part of the "Millerite theological foundation," with the conclusion:      "Disorientation" and "disarray" are two words that help us capture the mood and structure of Millerite Adventism after October 22, 1844. Whereas once the movement knew exactly where it was going and had fair ideas of how to reach its goal, now it was in a state of uncertainty. The scattering time had arrived. Millerism in the period after October 22, 1844 found Adventists in a search for identity, a task they had never thought they would have to undertake, and one for which in many ways, they were ill-equipped (p.54).

p 3 -- All aspects of the prophetic parable of the Ten Virgins, as well as an analysis of the Three Angels' Messages of Revelation 14 need to be carefully reviewed. There is a relevancy for today when accurately applied and textually defined..

The Parable of the Ten Virgins -- The parable, as Jesus told it within the setting of His eschatological discourse recorded in Matthew 24 and 25, begins with a movement on the part of ten virgins. They "went forth to meet the bridegroom" (25:1). This is stated in the aorist (past) tense in the Greek text - exhlqon - indicating an act which was to precede the main action of the parable Jesus was about to relate. They were together in a common objective. But the bridegroom tarried, and while he tarried, "they all slumbered and slept" (v. 5). Then the tense of the text changes. Suddenly at midnight a voice from outside of the sleeping virgins is heard declaring, "Behold the bridegroom, be going out (exercesqe - present imperative) unto a meeting of him" (v. 6, lit.). All ten arose and "trimmed" their lamps, but five virgins discovered that their lamps were "going out" (v. 8 margin). The events of the parable follow in quick succession closing with the admonition, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (v. 13).

It should be obvious to the most casual reader, that there are two "coming outs," one when the Ten Virgins were first gathered together, a past event prior to the time when the main action of the parable is to transpire. The second coming out results from a cry at midnight by a voice outside of the ten virgins. Further, this second "coming out" produces a division and separation among the previously united ten. It might even be suggested that the parable indicates that the foolish return to the vendors from whom all had received their oil originally. But it is clear beyond question that those who do not respond to the cry at midnight on them the door is shut, and to them it is said, "I know you not" (v. 12).

How is this parable to be understood now? This should be a part of our search for identity. Interestingly, an application of this parable, as well as the Second Angel's Message as understood prior to October 22, 1844, was made at the time of the 1888 crisis. Of that meeting, Ellen White wrote in retrospect in 1889:       I was confirmed in all that 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 now they act a part similar to that which the churches acted. We hoped that there would not be the necessity for another coming out. (Ms. Release #1216, pp.5-6)

Observe carefully the context in which the expression, "another coming out" - is used. She noted that the very attitude which was being manifested by those opposed to the 1888 Message, as it was being given by Jones and Waggoner, had been manifest in the pre-1844 Millerite Movement to the message given then. It produced a coming out from the denominational churches, and Ellen White hoped there would not be a necessity for a second coming out, this time from the Adventist Church.

Not only does the prophetic parable of the Ten Virgins indicate a second coming out, but the Millerites, believing that Revelation 14:8 and 18:1-5 needed to be proclaimed before the Advent of Christ, called for a coming out. Charles Fitch preached in July, 1843 what became one of the most famous Millerite sermons, "Come Out of Her, My People." Knight reports this historical data and Fitch's position:      Fitch [proclaimed] that "to come out of Babylon is to be converted to the true scriptural doctrine of the personal coming and kingdom of Christ." He saw no way one could avoid the Advent truth and be a Christian. Thus he appealed, "if you are a Christian, come out of Babylon! If you intend to be found a Christian when Christ appears, come out of Babylon, and come out NOW! ... Dare to believe the Bible." (p.49).

Specifically relating to the parable of the Ten Virgins is a comment found in a report of the first campmeeting held in Tasmania. Ellen White noted, when she spoke at the first Sabbath afternoon meeting from Luke 21, that her "mind was carried into the future, when the signal will be given, 'Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him"' (R&H, Feb.11, 1896) This clearly indicates that she perceived the fulfilment of the parable of Jesus relative to the "is" time of that prophecy to be yet future in 1896. The tragedy is that this application of the parable of the Ten Virgins was not incorporated into the revision of The Great Controversy in 1911. Rather, the understanding of
the Millerites was allowed to stand as the valid interpretation, thus ignoring the dynamic nature of present truth. This could chalk up another illustration as to why W. W. Prescott could write to W. C. White in 1915 voicing his concern as to the way Willie was handling his mother's writings, and that a crisis was

p 4 -- impending over the matter. (See Letter dated, April 6, 1915)

The Three Angel's Messages -- The textual analysis of Revelation 14:6-12 reveals the same tense differences between the first two and the third Angel's message as was noted in the parable of the Ten Virgins.
The first angel proclaimed - "The hour of His judgment is come (hlqen- aorist [past] tense). This clearly indicates that when this angel would begin to sound with "a loud voice," the judgment would have commenced. Thus the giving of this message would follow the fulfilment of Daniel 7:9-10; 8:14, not precede it. Another indication that the first angel began sounding after 1844 is found in his call to "worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water" (v. 7) This call is to worship according to the fourth commandment (Ex. 20:8-11). Such a call was never a part of the Millerite Movement, but became a part of the message of those who perceived that the "sanctuary" to be cleansed was not this earth at the Second Advent, but involved indeed a pre-Advent judgment.

Often it is necessary to translate the Greek aorist (past) tense by the English perfect - "is come - as is done in verse 7. The same is true also of the Second Angel's message (ver. 8) - "Babylon is fallen, is fallen" (epesen, epesen -aorist [past] tense). This angel was to follow the first, thus pressing its fulfilment further down in time, and revealing that the "fall" involved two things - 1)   the rejection of the true meaning of the "sanctuary," in contrast to the Millerite perception; and 2)   the seventh day Sabbath. If this is understood in its full significance, it casts light on the terrible betrayal of the sanctuary truth at the SDA-Evangelical conferences of 1955-56, and has broad implications.
The tense changes in the Third Angel's message to the present. "If any man worship (proskunei - present indicative active) the beast and his image, and receive ( lambanei - present active indicative) a mark in his forehead or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, ..." (9-10, lit.). Verse 9 could read, emphasizing the force of the Greek present tense, "If any man is worshipping the beast and his image and is receiving a mark in his forehead or in his hand ..." It is a continuing process, the worship and the reception of a mark. It will be revealed not only in act - the "hand," but also in thought - the "forehead."

Further, the timing of the message is revealed in th worship of "the image." The image is made of the beast "which had a wound by a sword, and did live" (13:14). In other words, not the slain beast (13:3 margin), but a resurrected beast. While we look to the event in 1929 in the signing of the concordant between Mussolini and the Papacy as a "healing of th wound," it was in reality only the beginning, and ha reached an astonishing climax in the present pontificate. The fact remains that much study needs to be done in this area of prophecy. The principle enunciated by Knight in his book, "the dynamic nature of 'present truth"' needs to be applied to such a study.

Adventist in Adventism -- As Knight continues his historical review of the utter confusion in the wake of the October 22 disappointment," he asks the question, "What is Adventist in Adventism?" Certain facts and factors which he sets forth need to be carefully studied by every Adventist whether he professes to be a regular, an "historic," or a "progressive" Adventist. In others words, the whole community of Adventism needs to take note. Knight makes three important observations and/or findings:

1)   Divisions resulted from the disappointment based on the single question - Did anything happen on October 22? Those who held that nothing occurred, were termed "open door" Adventists, while those still convinced that the prophecy of Daniel 8:14 had meaning were called "closed door" Adventists. These designations were borrowed from the parable of the Ten Virgins, that when the Bridegroom came, those ready went in and the "the door was shut." These concepts governed each's sense of mission. Was there still a warning message for a doomed world, or had probation closed?

The "open door" Adventists were able to unify at a meeting in Albany, New York, in April 1845, chaired by William Miller and J. V. Himes as secretary. This meeting and its aftermath provoked a response from Joseph Bates five years later. In the first issue of The Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, published at Paris, Maine, in 1850, he designated that group, the Laodicean Church and called - "In the name of Jesus, I exhort you again to flee from the Laodiceans, as from Sodom and Gomorrah. Their teachings are false and delusive; and lead to utter destruction. Death! Death!! eternal DEATH!!! is on their track. Remember Lot's wife" (p.8).

p 5 -- The "closed door" group soon became two groups - one known as the "spiritualizers" believed that Christ did come on October 22, but not visibly, but only to the hearts of the believers. According to Knight, "fanaticism and charismatic excesses plagued the ranks of the spiritulaizers" (p.57).

2)   From the smallest of the three divisions resulting from the confusion following the disappointment emerged the founders of Sabbatarian Adventism. United by the Sabbath truth, they believed that the prophetic interpretation of the historical data was correct in determining October 22, 1844 as the date of the fulfilment of Daniel 8:14. But what actually took place on that date was the question. Knight writes:      Only after they had arrived at a new insight on the cleansing of the sanctuary could they rid themselves of their faulty concept of the shut door. But ... that recognition came only gradually. It would be nearly a decade before they worked through the issue. (ibid.)

It is interesting that while apparently still united on the Sabbath, the various groups within the Adventist Community are still divided on the question of "the cleansing of the sanctuary" to the extent that it has become once more disruptive. Here enters the validity of Knight's premise, in the search for identity, as noted in his first chapter - "the dynamic nature of 'present truth."' It is not that one jettisons the original position, but that one clarifies and purges it from false assumptions. His #3 observation on "What is Adventist in Adventism" is vital to this search and discovery.

3)   Knight writes:    "The most basic issue for any religious group is its source of authority" (p.58). To substantiate what t'iis authority is in Adventism, Knight has written and documented some data that needs to be carefully considered in the light of the question which still divides the community of Adventism - "the cleansing of the sanctuary." He writes:      James White put it early in 1847, "the Bible is a perfect and complete revelation. It is our only rule of faith and practice" (A Word to the Little Flock, p.13; italics supplied).

As we will see ..., the Sabbatarians developed their distinctive beliefs on the basis of Bible study. That fact was not always obvious to their distracters. Miles Grant, for example argued in 1874 ill the World's Crisis (a leading first day Adventist periodical) that "' it is claimed by the Seventh-day Adventists that the sanctuary to be cleansed at the end of the 2300 days, mentioned in Daniel 8:13, 14, is in heaven, and that the cleansing began in the autumn of A.D. 1844. If any one should ask why they thus believe, the answer would be, the information came through one of Mrs. E.G. White's visions"' (World's Crisis quoted in Review & Herald, Dec.22, 1874, p.204).

Uriah Smith vigorously responded to their accusation. "Hundreds of articles," he stated, "have been written upon the subject [of the sanctuary]. But in not one of these are the visions once referred to as any authority on this subject, or the source from which any view we hold has been derived. Nor does any preacher refer to them on this question. The appeal is invariably to the Bible, where there is abundant evidence for the views we hold on this subject" (R&H, Dec. 22,1874, p.204; italics supplied).

Smith, it should be pointed out, made a statement that any person willing to, go back into early Seventh-day Adventist literature' can verify or disprove. On the subject of the sanctuary Paul Gordon has done this in his The Sanctuary, 1844, and the Pioneers (1983). His findings verify Smith's claims. Whereas many later Adventists have tended to lean on Ellen White's authority to substantiate or at least help support their positions on various of their doctrines, the early Adventists were a people of the "Book." Current Seventh-day Adventists of all persuasions need to note that fact as they seek to discover the genuine Adventism of history. (pp.58-59)

The one sentence in the paragraph above, which needs to be read and reread gives the answer to the basis of the doctrinal authority in early Adventism - "the early Adventists were a people of the 'Book.'" How far those who now profess to be "historic" Adventists have wandered from "early Adventism" can be documented by publications coming from Virginia, Washington state, and Kansas. The tragedy is the resulting deception which is being practised on sincerely concerned Adventists. This is compounded because many who are sincere in their concern over what is taking place in Adventism, are as those who in Christ's day, "having eyes to see, saw not; and ears to hear, heard not."

Knight continues:      James White touched the unique role of the Bible in doctrinal formation in 1847 after claiming that Scripture is "our only rule of faith and practice." In the context of his wife's prophetic ministry he wrote that "true visions are given to lead us to God, and His written word; but those that are given for a new rule of faith and practice, separate from the Bible, cannot be from God, and should be rejected" (A Word to the Little Flock, p.13).

Four years later he again made that point explicit. "Every Christian," he wrote, " is therefore in duty bound to take the Bible as a perfect rule of faith and duty. He should pray fervently to be aided by the Holy Spirit in searching the Scriptures for the whole truth, and for his whole duty. He is not at liberty to turn from them to learn his duty through any of the gifts. We say the very moment he does, he places the gifts in a wrong place, and takes an extremely dangerous position. The Word should be in front, and the eye of the church should be placed upon it, as the

p 5 -- rule to walk by, and the foundation of wisdom, from which to learn duty in 'all good works"' (R&H, April 21, 1851, p. 70; italics supplied).

This position taken by James White cannot be emphasized too strongly as one searches for the identity of the truth as it is in Jesus, the Living Word made flesh.

A "Decree" Illustrated --
(This is being written January 28, 2001) -- Yesterday, we had a very interesting Sabbath School program, made so by the personal experience of the one conducting the program. Perhaps I should explain that each Sabbath we meet in the morning for two hours in the Chapel. The first hour begins with a Song Service followed by a program consisting of Thoughts from the Word, a lesson from nature, and sometimes a Bible Quiz. The second hour is devoted to the study of the Bible, chapter by chapter. This Sabbath, we completed the Book of Hebrews. The program is rotated among the staff, and those attending regularly.

Yesterday, the young man in charge of the program, in beginning his "Thoughts from the Word," asked that we read II Samuel 7:12-14. There Nathan delivered God's message to David:      And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son.

He pointed out that Solomon was by actual generation the son of David, but by a special act of God, he became His son, and He became to him his Father. This verse was followed by the application made of it in Hebrews 1:5 to Christ. Since Paul combined two verses in his application to Christ, we turned to Psalm 2:7, and noted that it was by decree, Christ became God's Son, even as Solomon became a son of God by a Divine decision.

I had noticed that on the desk, Travis Rohrich, the young man in charge, had placed some papers which I had not seen before. After reading some more verses, the content of the papers was revealed. Travis was born, Travis Shane Pledge, but now he was Travis Shane Rohrich. How was this done? One of the papers was an Order from the 4th Judicial District Court, County of Mora, State of New Mexico, which read:        IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED That Travis Shane Pledge be, and he hereby is, known as Travis Shane Rohrich from this date on.

As I sat there contemplating this young man's experience, and the prophetic revelation of the Scriptures, I thought how apropos the comparison. He who was the Eternal Word, both by decree and through the flesh became a Son of God (Heb. 1:2) By Him God has spoken unto us. The command is, "Hear ye Him" (Matt. 17:5). I, too, by hearing Him may become a son of God (John 1:12). And in the final decree of the judgment, I will be given a new name (Rev. 2:17). It will be so "ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED."

Let's Talk It Over -- Those who have read the preface to the Manuscript, The Hour and the End, know of my mother's first contact with Adventism. But between the time of the presentation at the Women's Missionary Auxiliary meeting by Bertha Jorgensen, a retired credentialed Bible Worker of the Adventist Church, and the decision to study the Bible with her in our home, some things happened in the local Baptist Church of which my mother and I were members.

I had been baptized on an Easter Sunday night into the Baptist fellowship when but nine years of age. The pastor was a deeply spiritual man, and my mother was close friends with the pastor's wife. Then the pastor took a call to a church in Ft. Scott, Kansas. His anccessor was a recent graduate from a Northern Baptist Seminary. Things began to change, in the teaching from the pulpit to the conduct of the midweek prayer meeting.

The mid-week prayer meeting became a social occasion with a "box-supper" arrangement. The women would prepare a special lunch that could fit into an average sized box. The box itself would be covered by a decorative wrapping paper. These boxes would be auctioned off to the men. They would then eat with the woman whose box it was. As I recall at some point in the evening social fellowship the new pastor would give a short homily. With the continuing decline in spiritual emphasis, my mother decided that she could better meet the spiritual needs of my younger sister and me by teaching us at home. We withdrew from the Baptist Church.

p 7 -- It was at this point that a series of circumstances led to Bible studies with Bertha Jorgensen. She gave us twenty-two studies using the Bible and the Bible only. At each study I would join with mother in reading the verses which sustained the doctrinal subject being studied. During this time, we also read, The Marked Bible, a story still worth reading today. We made a decision; we began attending the Seventh-day Adventist home church in Boone, Iowa, meeting each Sabbath at the Jorgensen residence. Elder Jorgensen, a retired minister, along with his wife, Bertha Jorgensen, conducted the worship services. These services were in the form of Bible studies with those in attendance taking part by reading the Bible texts. The pulpit was the dining room table, and it was from that table that I preached my first sermon before I was fourteen.

Then after high school, four years at Union College, and twenty-three years of active ministry for the Church we chose to unite with, because of the spiritual declension in the Baptist Church, we found it necessary to make another decision. When conditions today in Adventism are now worse than in the Baptist Church of 1932, some decisions must be made. We made ours - my wife and I - when the first evidences of apostasy from the truth were confirmed. The principle upon which a possible second "coming out" was to be based is clearly defined in Ms. Release #1216. (See page 3, col. 2) When the conditions become the same in the Adventist Church as were existent in the churches from which they came out of to become Seventh-day Adventists, then it becomes decision time for those who wish to stand "stiffly for the truth." The state of current conditions in the Church are too evident for anyone to miss today, unless one has become completely blinded by Laodiceanism.

God has a church. It is not a great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). Where Christ is, even among the humble few, this is Christ's church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church. Letter 108, 1886

The Laodicean's Lament      by Bob White

My hope is built on nothing less, Than MY dear church, and its success!
No matter what MY church may do, It cannot fall -- its going through!

My hope is built on nothing more, For me its heaven's open door.
So I rejoice - let others wail; It's going through - it cannot fail!

I do not need to watch and wait; To me it stands as heaven's gate;
So I'll support her, come what may - She'll see me through on that glad day!

0, could it be - and to my shame -GOD's church and mine are not the same?
GOD'S church fulfils His sacred plan; My church reveals the stamp of man!

My church slept on - that day at last
Did come, and so the harvest passed.
I stuck with her at any cost - God's CHURCH WENT THROUGH, but left ME lost!

---(2001 Mar) ---End----

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