Kingly Power by A.T. Jones (The Same Kingly Power Jones and Ellen White Protested is Still Alive in the SDA Church)
By A.T. Jones:
As to the presidency of the General Conference without the constitution:
On page 19 of my leaflet I stated that "without any kind of authority, but directly against the plain words of the constitution" "two men or three men, or four men or a few men I should say," "took it absolutely upon themselves to elect you President, and Brother Prescott Vice-President of the General Conference."
Now, what is the refutation of this? Here it is:
"How does Elder Jones know that this was done? What proof does he give that it was done? The only document that contains evidence on this point is the record of the proceedings of the General Conference Committee meetings. . . . There is not a single line of evidence in the minutes to show that he [Elder Daniells] was ever elected President of the General Conference until the Oakland Conference."
I freely admit that there is not a single line of evidence in the minutes or in the record of the proceedings of the General Conference Committee meetings to show this. Upon the words of this "Statement" I will even go so far as to admit that he was not actually "elected" by two or three or four men. For the word "elect" does, of course, imply some sort of a motion and vote. And as this word "elected" and what it implies is in such strong words "refuted" I will accept the refutation as to that particular word, and in the place of it will say:
Without any kind of authority, but directly against he plain words of the constitution, and without even the form of election, the Presidency of the General Conference was assumed by Elder A. G. Daniells some time before the General Conference of 1903.
And to the question in the "Statement," "How does Elder Jones know that this was done? What proof does he give that it was done?" I reply: I know it by the words of Brother Daniells himself. If he has forgotten it, I will so remind him of the occasion that he can remember it:
Between the Pacific Press main building and the meeting house in Oakland, California, there was in 1903 a dwelling house. The rear part of the first floor of this dwelling house at that time composed the Pacific Press chapel. One day, before the opening of the General Conference of 1903, Brother Daniells called, in this chapel, a meeting of the members of the General Conference Committee who were that day in Oakland.
And in that meeting of the General Conference Committee, as we were gathered at the right hand of the pulpit, or southwest corner, in that chapel, he surely can remember that he told us of his having become president of the General Conference. Surely, Brother Daniells, you cannot have so far forgotten that, as that this will not enable you to recall it. And now, you can also surely recall that just then, in the presence of the brethren assembled, I said to you: "You had no kind of right to do it."
That is "how" I originally knew it. But now I know it by additional evidence, thus: In the Review & Herald of December 30, 1902, beginning on page 6, and ending on page 7, there is a statement written and signed by Brother Daniells. The heading of this statement is, "The Next Session of the General Conference." In the statement it is said, "It is now definitely settled that the next session of the General Conference will be held in California, March 27 to April 13, 1903."
It closes with the quotation of the parts of the then General Conference Constitution regarding "membership, voters, and delegates." And at the end of that statement wholly concerning the General Conference, there stands the following name and title, in exactly the following form and words: --
"A. G. Daniells,"President of the General Conference."
Again: in the Review & Herald of February 17, 1903, in the middle column of the last page, there is a twelve-line "formal notice to all our people that the session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists will convene in the city of Oakland, Cal., March 27, 1903." This "formal notice" is headed "The General Conference." And it is signed as follows: --
"A. G. Daniells,"President."
THE PRESIDENCY ASSUMED
Now, however, the General Conference Committee solemnly assert that he was not "elected" by even "two men" being together. By their own "Statement," therefore, this shuts up the matter to the one only conclusion that he became president by the action of just one man. And when that is so, that one man could have been only himself.
Now I, knowing by his own words, voluntarily spoken, that he had become president of the General Conference -- yet, even I had not the heart to think that he could have done it all of himself, without at least some kind of a vote, of at least some of the brethren. But since he told us before the assembling of the Oakland Conference in 1903 that some time before that he had become president of the General Conference; and since in the Review & Herald before the Oakland Conference, he twice published himself "President of the General Conference"; and now he and the General Conference Committee, in this statement, insist that he was not "elected" even by "two" or three or four men being together, then this compels everybody to see that without any kind of authority, and directly against the plain words of the Constitution, he took it upon himself to assume the title and office of "President of the General Conference."
But that is worse than to have been elected without authority. And that he should have been "elected" even by the fewest number of men, was as bad as even I had dared to think. In view of his own words, told us in the Pacific Press chapel that day, and especially in view of his own published words twice in the Review & Herald, this refutation is a confession of a more questionable thing than I could ever have thought of saying of him.
When he told it to us that day in Pacific Press chapel, though I told him at the time that he had no right to do it, I could not think but that some men, or at least some man, must have been with him in it, and had some part in persuading or advising him to it; and that therefore, in some say, by a few men, he must have been elected to it.
But behold, this my charitable consideration is "refuted" with strongest words of disclaimer "that he was never elected president of the General Conference until the Oakland Conference, and then he was elected by the Conference itself in session." And thus all who heard his statement that day in Pacific Press chapel, before the assembling of the General Conference in Oakland, and all who knew of the facts before that, and all who ever read his own published words in the Review & Herald, are now compelled to recognize that entirely of himself, of his own will, without any kind of authority, and directly against the plain words of the constitution, he assumed the title and office of President of the General Conference.
Therefore, their refutation of what I said amounts to just this: "He never was elected President of the General Conference" -- he assumed it. "There is not a single line of evidence in the minutes to show that before the Oakland Conference he was ever elected President" -- he assumed it himself. That bad thing that Elder Jones says was done, was never done -- a worse thing was done!
And that is their refutation! And if the "General Conference Committee," or anybody else, can get any comfort out of such a refutation as that, they are welcome to it.
A SERIOUS DILEMMA
There is another thing in this: The General Conference Committee's "Statement" of strong and positive refutation is evidently intended to make upon the mind of the reader the distinct impression that what I had said in reference to that, was absolutely "groundless assertion."
Now is it possible that Brother Daniells and the General Conference Committee really knew nothing of the fact of his having assumed the Presidency of the General Conference at least three months before the General Conference at Oakland?
Of the present General Conference Committee there are some men who were at that time directly associated with him on the Committee. Were these brethren, and was Brother Daniells, in May, 1906, indeed wholly ignorant in that matter? or remembering it, were they on the mere technical term of the word "elected," willing to make their strong and positive statement of "refutation," and so leave upon the minds of the people an impression that they knew was not true?
It is difficult to believe what is plainly involved in either horn of this dilemma. But one or the other simply has to be believed. If Brother Daniells and all his associates had absolutely forgotten that whole matter, then that fact does not at all commend them as men of clear minds and steady thinking. And if they had not so absolutely forgotten it all, that to their minds the whole matter was a dead blank, then the thing stands as far worse.
THE READY-MADE CONSTITUTION
Their refutation of my statement as to that ready-made constitution is of the same sort as this concerning the presidency of the General Conference without the constitution. That is to say, the refutation is made to turn on mere technicalities.
I said that that constitution was framed and carried to the General Conference in Oakland in 1903. I did not say that it was carried clear across the continent to the General Conference, nor words to that effect. I merely said that it was carried to the General Conference at Oakland.
I said that none of the people nor the delegation, nor even the Committee on Constitution, had asked for it. I said that it was brought before the Committee on Constitution and was advocated there: that is, they did not bring it in any regular or constitutional way to that committee.
And that is the truth. That constitution, ready framed, and in carbon copies, was carried to that committee, and thus to that Conference, ready made. It was not first framed, nor first made, by the committee itself, in session, even from the former one as a basis. It was carried to the committee in carbon copies, and so distributed to the committee: and the committee made the new constitution that was afterward presented to the Conference, by considering item by item that ready-made thing that was carried to them.
If the General Conference Committee or any others want proof in addition to this, let them ask the individuals who composed that Committee on Constitution; and they will learn that the first that the committee knew of the constitution was when, ready-made, in carbon copies, it was distributed to them in committee for their consideration. And if the brethren whom they should happen to ask, shall have forgotten it, there are those who were members of that committee who so distinctly remember it that they will testify to it in any presence.
I said that none of the people or any of the delegation had asked for it. What some people or some members of the delegation may have said or asked for before the Conference convened, or outside of Conference, or outside of regular order, in a private way -- as to that I cannot say.
But what I was writing about, was plainly the "constitutional" way of doing things. And I repeat that not in any constitutional way did any people ever ask for it. No petition nor any request was brought before the conference by any delegate in behalf of any people, asking for a new constitution. No delegate ever made any motion in Conference, nor gave any notice in Conference, with reference to any new constitution.
All of which is the truth. And excluding all technicalities, in its plain reference to the simple statements of the facts, my original statement still stands unrefuted; and by the plain facts, it is only the sober truth to say, and it ought to be said, that the original and only basis of the present General Conference organization is usurpation.
ONE MAN PRESIDENT
It is the same again as to the Testimony to which I refer, that declares, "It is not wise to choose one man as President of the General Conference." I said in my leaflet that ever since that word was originally published in 1897, whenever it has been quoted it has been explained, instead of obeyed, and doubtless will be so to the end. It is so in this "Statement." But I was not calling attention to the explanations. I called attention to what the Testimony says.
They acknowledge that that is what it says, and then go on to explain what it means, and this, of course, is different from what it says.
I know that in the General Conference of 1897, when it was first read, it was understood as meaning what it said: and through much deliberation and prayer there was an endeavor to conform to it by electing three presidents, instead of one. Success in this was not very marked, it is true; but it shows that that Conference to which it first came, understood that it meant what it said, and took it for what it said, instead of explaining it all away as has been done ever since.
But why must we be required to accept all these explanations of what the Testimonies mean, instead of being left free to believe them for just what they say? Can not we be allowed to believe what is said in plain words? Shall we not be allowed to know what we know? Must we accept the General Conference explanations of everything? If that be so, then what need have we of the Testimonies, the Bible, our own faculties and senses, or any else than just the "General Conference" explanation?
IT IS NOT WISE
And just what that statement says is the certain truth. "It is not wise to choose one man as president of the General Conference," when the General Conference embraces the whole world. So far as this cause is concerned, that makes one man president of the whole world; and no such thing ever can be wise. Whether any Testimony ever said it or not, it is truth.
Jesus did not leave one man president, or at the head, of His cause when he left his disciples and twelve apostles in the world to carry His gospel to all the world in that generation. In so doing did Jesus do a wise thing, or did he do an unwise thing? In that, did he do a thing sufficiently wise to be followed? Or was it so lacking in wisdom that it is not wise to follow it?
Of course, the papacy argues that such a thing was so unwise that Jesus did not do it; but that He made Peter the "prince of the apostles," and left him the one man at the head of His church and of its affairs. And this because, as argued by the papacy, without such recognized authority, all would be disorganization, confusion and anarchy!
This is exactly the argument that was made also by Israel of old, when they insisted that they must have one man at their head (see Patriarchs and Prophets, Chapter 59). But Israel had to reject God in order to have one man at the head of the cause; and the papacy had to reject God in order to make her claim hold as to the one man Peter's having been set at the head of the church.
And on papal principles, it is true that without one man at the head of the church, anarchy will be the result. This for the reason that papal principles reject God; and when God is left out, then only anarchy remains. And even though the anarchy be not openly manifested the first day, it is inevitably manifested in the end.
This is true also of Israel in the days of Samuel, when they demanded that one man be at their head. They had gotten so far away from God that He had so little power in their lives that they could see nothing but anarchy coming. And this was correct; for anarchy was all that there was to it, in the course which they were pursuing.
But if all the people of Israel had sought God in earnestness and devotion, and each one individually had found God to be his Head, and his one Ruler, they would have found God to be the Head of the whole people, and the organizer of the whole cause and people. And there would have been such organization as is the only true organization; and there would have been no ground for any possible suggestion of disorganization, confusion or anarchy.
And if those who made the papacy and who required the invention of Peter's supremacy amongst the apostles and in the Church of Christ, and had each kept himself, and had taught all the people to be, devoted to God alone, in Christ alone, as his own personal Master and Head of the Church, no such invention could ever have had any place. Had each officer of the Church found for himself and had taught faithfully each one of the people to find God in Christ to be his personal and individual Head, and thus to give to Christ the place in their lives and in the Church that belongs to Him -- the One sole person who has the right to be at the Head of the Church; then there never would have been such a thing as the papacy, nor any such thing as one man at the Head and center of the Church in the whole world.
AN ASTOUNDING PROPOSITION
And what is the reason given by "the General Conference Committee," that at the head of this denomination there must be this fixture of a president of the whole world, instead of a chairman of the committee? Here it is, on page 17 and 18 of the Statement: It is because --
"The chairman could be changed at the will and caprice of the committee." And this was "the sensible thing to do in order to save the cause from sudden changes and erratic movements."
"The will and caprice"! "At the will and caprice" and "erratic movements" "of the committee"! Just look at that! Just consider that, will you? The twenty-four substantial men, chosen by the deliberation of the General Conference in session, could not be trusted for two years because of the enormity of the danger that they would act by "will and caprice"! But lo! one man must be fixed for four years at the head of affairs for the whole world -- of course because there is no danger at all that he will ever act by will or caprice! Twenty-four of the most trustworthy men in the whole field could not be trusted for only two years, because of the certainty of their acting "by will and caprice" and making "erratic movements."
But one man must be trusted for twice as long -- inevitably because of the absolute certainty that he will never act by will or caprice.
No more monarchical argument was ever written in human language than lies in these two lines of that "Statement." Nor does that argument stop with only monarchy: it openly approaches a far more serious thing. See:
Why is it that the twenty-four most trustworthy men of the denomination could not be trusted for two years with the charge of affairs? -- because of the certainty that they would act "by will and caprice." Then why is it that at the head of affairs in the whole world, one man can be trusted for four years?--Manifestly because there is no danger that he will ever act by "will" or "caprice."
Twenty-four trustworthy men are so certain to act "by will and caprice" that they cannot be rusted for even two years. But one man is so certain never to act by will or caprice that he must be trusted more than the twenty-four, and for twice as long.
But when twenty-four sober and trustworthy men are so certain to act "by will and caprice," what is the surety that one man will not act by will and caprice? Just where does that surety lie? It could not be in the man himself, for he was one of the twenty-four, and was the chairman. Then does it come to him through the title? Or from the position? Or from the chair? And does this surety of exemption from his acting by will or caprice attach to him everywhere, and in every capacity? Or does it attach to him only when he speaks officially under the title, and ex-cathedra -- from the chair?
Wherever may lie this surety of exemption from will or caprice, of one man over twenty-four men, or in whatever capacity it may attach to him, there is one thing certain: and that is that the claim of it is nothing else than identical with the claim of the infallibility of the pope. In argument and in essence, it is just that.
And that is why I said above that their argument for a one-man power does not stop with only monarchy; but openly approaches a far more serious thing. And that far more serious thing than monarchy, is the infallibility of the monarch. And that awful statement, containing that astounding argument, is issued by "the General Conference Committee" of the Seventh-day Adventists! and bears the imprint of "the General Conference Committee"! All this too in the face of the patent fact that the one man already there did act by sheer will, if not also caprice, in assuming in 1902, that very title and office.
FOLLOWING IN THE TRACK OF ROME!
Before the General Conference of 1897, the Spirit of prophecy said that this denomination was "following in the track of Romanism." To the General Conference of 1897, the Spirit of prophecy said, "It is not wise to choose one man as President of the General Conference." This started the denomination away from "the track of Romanism." But the start was not followed.
Therefore, before the General Conference of 1901 the Spirit of prophecy declared that in the General Conference circle "a king" was enthroned;" that the thing was "confused in itself"; and that finally it would "come to nought."
In the General Conference of 1901 the denomination was again started away from "the track of Romanism." But in 1902, by one man or two men or a few men, it was swung back to that "track," and in the General Conference of 1903, it was fastened there. And now, in 1906, it is so entrenched, and so confident of its position, that "the General Conference Committee" issues a "Statement" in which in behalf of one man at the head of this denomination, a reason is given that reasons nothing less than a claim that is identical with that of the infallibility of the pope!
The question now is, Do the people of this denomination endorse the position that one man is so much less liable than are twenty-four most trustworthy men to act "by will and caprice," that he must be trusted more and twice as long as could the twenty-four?
REPEATING THE FOLLIES OF ISRAEL
And here is a situation worth thinking of: Years ago the Testimony said that "The follies of Israel in the days of Samuel" would be "repeated" among this people, if there was not a truer devotion to God.
The chief folly of Israel in the days of Samuel, was not only that they asked for a king -- that one man should be at their head; but that this was the second time that Israel had come to that point. Read Judges 8::22,23; 9:1-57; 1 Sam. 8:1-22.
And of the General Conference of this Seventh-day Adventist denomination, in the Battle Creek College Library, April 1, 1901, the Spirit of prophecy said that "a king" was enthroned. At that time and in the General Conference following that day, God definitely called the General Conference and the denomination away from that kingship.
But in 1902-03, the General Conference and the denomination were swung back to that "kinglike, kingly ruling power," the second time: exactly repeating the chief folly "of Israel in the days of Samuel." And if this course and the present situation do not mark the fulfillment of that prediction, then if ever the prediction shall be fulfilled, it will be hard to fulfill it more exactly than has been done.
And to argue now that this centralized power must be continued as a barrier against disorganization and anarchy, is sheer vanity. It did not save Israel from disorganization and anarchy. For Israel, disorganization and anarchy was in the thing at the very start: and though this did not show itself immediately, yet it did show itself in all its terrible results in the end. Read again pages 13-19 of my leaflet of March 4-19 of my leaflet of March 4, and see what was said in the College Library that day.
It is too late, brethren, forever too late -- the end is too near; to indulge any experiments either with "the follies of Israel" or "in the track of Romanism."
Yet for all this, please bear in mind that I do not say that the brethren know what they are doing, and are of
fell purpose doing it. I only say that they and everybody else can know what they are doing, if they will simply sober down and take time to think and consider Scripture and principles and history as they are. I shall have no war to make on the brethren, nor upon the system that has been formed, nor upon the denomination that accepts it. My work is and shall be only to preach the Third Angel's Message of the everlasting gospel of warning against the worship of the beast and his image; and of salvation from that worship.
I do not believe that in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination there will be disorganization, confusion and anarchy, if the denomination should not have the fixture of one man at its head. I do not believe it, because I do not believe that the Seventh-day Adventists know so little of Christ that He has no control of them and cannot Himself lead and guide and organize them.
And I know by the eternal truth, that the Lord Jesus Christ alone, in His place at and as the Head of His Church, is able to organize His people, His Church, and His cause, far better than can be done without Him in that place, and with a man in that place at he head of His cause.
I will not believe that it is high treason to Christ nor to His people, nor to His cause, nor to His organized Church and work in the world, to teach all people everywhere to find the personal Christ, and be joined to Him, and to live in Him alone as their only Head, and the only Head of His Church, His cause and His work in the world. I never will believe that it is disorganization, or confusion, or anarchy to teach all people everywhere that Christ alone is the Head of every man, and that thus He alone is the Head and organizer of His Church and people, and of His cause and work in the world.
Therefore, my work is, and shall be, only to persuade all people so to seek God, in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, through His word, that each individual shall know God in Christ as his Head: so that I may do all that my ministry can possibly accomplish to restore to Christ, and to God in Christ, the place that belongs to Him alone as the sole Head of the Church; and the place which He occupied alone, when He was on earth and when He ascended to Heaven.
And it is worth remembering that that little company of believers in Him whom He left as His Church on earth when He ascended to Heaven, each one of them through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost finding and holding God in Christ as his personal Head, and knowing Him alone as the only person at he Head of the Church -- let it not be forgotten that that little company actually carried the gospel to all the world in that generation.
Let Christ have again in His own Church, the place that belongs to him alone as the only person at and as the Head of His Church, and again it will be, that the gospel will be actually carried to all the world in this generation. And until Christ shall have this His place as sole Head of His Church and cause, that thing never can be done.