Religion and the State

 

by

 

James Franks

 

Name Seventh-day Adventist:A company was presented before me under the name of Seventh-day Adventists, who were advising that the banner or sign which makes us a distinctive people should not be held out so strikingly; for they claimed it was not the best policy in securing success to our institutions. This distinctive banner is to be borne through the world to the close of probation. In describing the remnant people of God, John says, "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Rev. 14:12). This is the law and the gospel. The world and the churches are uniting in harmony in transgressing the law of God, in tearing away God's memorial, and in exalting a sabbath that bears the signature of the man of sin. But the Sabbath of the Lord thy God is to be a sign to show the difference between the obedient and the disobedient. I saw some reaching out their hands to remove the banner, and to obscure its significance. . . . {2SM 385.2}

 

 

 

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----- Original Message -----

From: jayj

To: AdventistHotIssues@yahoogroups.com

Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2010 10:02 AM

Subject: [AdventistHotIssues] Re: Name till the end.....


Amen Lynn! -- I believed you summed it up quite well.

 

Over the past few years, I have noticed quite a few well-meaning but misguided folk forwarding the notion that we should no longer refer to ourselves as Seventh-day Adventists, (or SDA, etc..). Of course, these folk usually bring forth an argument/documentation in support of their claim.

 

But one thing I have yet to see ANY of them mention is this:

 

This actual "name" scenario is equivalent to the church of Rome using the secular Government to decree who can and/or cannot refer to themselves as "Christian". For those of you who would scoff at this notion, declaring, such notion to be absurd, or such thing could never occur; it is my privilege to inform you, that this very thing indeed has happened!

 

Notice:

 

In the month of March, A.D. 313, Constantine and Licinius met at Milan, and formed an alliance, and jointly issued an edict, granting 'to the Christians, and to all, the free choice to follow that mode of worship which they may wish;' decreeing 'that no freedom at all shall be refused to Christians to follow or to keep their observances or worship, but that to each one power be granted to devote his mind to that worship which he may think adapted to himself.' This freedom was 'absolutely granted to them.' The privilege was 'also granted to others to pursue that worship and religion they wish,...that each may have the privilege to select and to worship whatsoever divinity he pleases.'

 

Plainly, with reference to the separation of religion and the state, this edict put the Roman empire exactly in the attitude in which the United States government stood at its organization and under its Constitution.

 

But, as we have seen, the rulers of the apostate church were anxious 'to assert the government as a kind of sovereignty for themselves;' and there was another portion of this edict upon which they seized and which they made to work to their advantage, in securing a union of the church with the state, by which they could indeed assert the imperial government as a kind of sovereignty for themselves. That other portion of the edict commanded that all the property of the Christians which had been destroyed, or confiscated, in the late persecution, should be restored 'to the Christians.' And it was definitely stated in the edict that this contemplated 'the right of the whole body of Christians,' and commanded that this property should 'without any hesitancy,' 'be restored to these same Christians; that is, to their body, and to each conventicle respectively.' Now no sooner were the claims presented, and restitution begun, according to the edict, than the Catholic Church raised the issue that only those in communion with her were Christians: and so insisted that only these were entitled to the restored property. She thus forced a governmental interpretation of the term 'Christians,' and a governmental decision as to who could properly bear the title of 'Christians.' And, since that church had given to Constantine her active support, in his campaign against Masentius, which brought to him the whole power of the Western empire, this issue which she raised, was pressed with this added force of the political favor which she has rendered to him and for which she demanded a corresponding return.

 

Accordingly, upon the first appeal, Constantine issued an edict to the proconsul in the province from which the appeal came, in which he said: 'It is our will that when thou shalt receive this epistle, if any of those things belonging to the Catholic Church of the Christians in the several cities of other places, are now possessed either by the decurions or any others, these thou shalt cause immediately to be restored to their churches; since we have previously determined that whatsoever these same churches before possessed, shall be restored to their right.' This was not true in fact: it was not 'the Catholic Church of those Christians,' but 'the Christians,' 'the whole body of Christians,' to whom it was 'previously determined' that the property should be restored.

 

Yet this interpretation being that of the supreme imperial power, was final as to what was implied in this edict. And this interpretation was in effect a decision that those of the Catholic Church were the only Christians, and made the edict of Milan, from the beginning, bear that meaning.

 

It having now been decided that only those of the Catholic Church were Christians, the issue was next raised as to what was in truth the Catholic Church. A division of the church in Africa, that was not just then in communion with the bishop of Rome, claimed, equally with the communion of Rome, to be the Catholic Church. This also called for a decision on the part of the emperor.

 

Accordingly, still in the same month of the issue of the original edict of Milan,-- March, A.D. 313,-- Constantine addressed an edict to the proconsul of the province in which the question was raised, in which he specified that to be 'the Catholic Church, over which Caecilianus presides.' Caecilianus was the principal bishop in that province over that portion of the church which was in communion with the bishop of Rome. This was, therefore, in effect, with the decisions already made, to settle it that only those of the Catholic Church were Christians, and only those who were in communion with the bishop of Rome were the Catholic Church. The effect of this was, of course, to make the Church of Rome the standard in the new imperial religion.

 

However, the opposite party was not satisfied with this decision, but sent a petition to the emperor, requesting that he refer the matter to the bishops of Gaul for a decision. Constantine accepted their petition, and responded, so far as to refer it to a council of bishops. But, instead of having the council composed of the bishops of Gaul, he had it composed of the bishop of Rome and eighteen others, of Italy, before whom the contending parties were required to appear in Rome for the hearing.

 

The bishop of Rome here concerned and definitely named in the edict, was 'Miltiades;' the same as 'Melchiades' who was the very bishop who had invited Constantine to come from Gaul to the rescue of oppressed Israel under the Pharaoh, Maxentius; and who thus early began to reap in imperial and joint authority, the fruit of that episcopal-political endeavor. And, thus, one of the very first steps in that union of church and state, was that 'the bishop of Rome sits, by the imperial authority, at the head of a synod of Italian bishops, to judge the disputes of the African Donatists.'- Milman. The council met Oct. 2, A.D. 313.

 

Of course, the council decided in favor of the Church of Rome. The defeated party appealed again to the emperor, asking for a larger council to consider the matters involved. Again their appeal was heard, and a council composed of 'many bishops' was appointed and held at Aries, in Gaul, August, A.D. 314. This council confirmed the decision of the previous council, in favor of the Church of Rome as the Catholic Church.

 

The defeated party again appealed-- this time for a decision from the emperor himself. Constantine held a consistory, listened to their plea, and, in harmony with the councils already held, pronounced in favor of the church of Rome as the Catholic Church.

 

The course of the positive growth, in favor and distinction, of the Catholic Church, throughout this whole procedure, is distinctly and most suggestively marked in the expressions used by the emperor in the successive documents which he issued in connection with the question.

 

As we have seen, in the edict of Milan, March, A.D. 313, 'the whole body of Christians' were included, without any distinctions or any suggestions as to any distinction.

 

But, when the issue was raised that only those of the Catholic Church were Christians, the next edict ran, in the same month: 'The Catholic Church of the Christians.'

 

Next, in his epistle summoning the first council, in the autumn of A.D. 313, he calls it 'the holy Catholic Church.'

 

Next, in the summer of A.D. 314, in his epistle summoning the second council, he referred to the doctrine of the Catholic Church as embodying 'our most holy religion.'

 

Then, at last, when the controversy had run its course of appeal to where it came to him in person, and he had rendered the final decision, a document issued A.D. 316, granted money, and announced the imperial favor, to the 'ministers of the legitimate and most holy Catholic religion.'

 

This final document also gave to Caecilianus and to the party who, with him, were in communion with the bishop of Rome, authority to call upon the imperial officers of the province, to enforce conformity upon those who 'wished to divert the people from the most holy Catholic Church by a certain pernicious adulteration;' and commanded him: 'If thou seest any of these men persevering in this madness, thou shalt without any hesitancy proceed to the aforesaid judges, and report it to them, that they may animadvert upon them, as I have commanded them when present.'

 

Thus was formed the union of church and state, out of which came the Beast, and all that the papacy has ever been, or ever can be. And it all grew out of the interpretation of a governmental document that was perfectly just and innocent in itself.

 

- A. T. Jones (First published in Review and Herald, May 8th, 1900)

 

Let us make the obvious parallel from history to present-day concerning a portion of this article:

 

"The issue was next raised as to what was in truth the [Adventist] Church. A division of the church in [The U.S.], that was not just then in communion with the [General Conference], claimed, equally with the [General Conference], to be the [Adventist] Church. This also called for a decision on the part of the emperor." -- Thus was formed the union of church and state, out of which came the image of the Beast, and all that apostate Protestantism using civil power ever has been, or ever can be.

 

 

Since it has been revealed (via various agencies) to the entire world that the General Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists has indeed created "an" image to the beast (not necessarily "the" image, nor unlike it - Revelation 13:11-16), and have in fact, begun to move adamantly forward with their expected "legal" persecution of those who would stand in their way, (that is, those who cling to the commandments of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ - Revelation 12:17; 19:10), even to the point of confiscating internet domain names [and all of it's documents therein] on the world scale, simply because such folk refer to themselves as "Seventh-day Adventists".

 

For those of us who are sincerely trying to remain faithful to the word of God, regardless of what the World's secular governments and their courts decree, the question begs:

 

"What are we to do, are we to stop calling ourselves Seventh-day Adventist, or Adventist, or SDA?"

 

Note: There is at least one Independent "Adventist" Ministry that attempts to address this question, and they do present a very good argument proclaiming "I am a Seventh-day Remnant". Here is the web address:

 

http://www.sdaapostasy.org/remnantout.htm

 

and also http://www.sdrvoice.org/

 

Personally, I believe these folk are well-meaning but misguided concerning this particular subject matter. -end note.

 

This is a legitimate question, that one day very soon we each will have to address personally. The reason presented to us, of course, is that our continued using of these names is sub-ject to controversy and ridicule, accusations of theft, and subsequent legal battles. Thus, we are confronted with "Why not, simply give the name up and teach the same gospel under some other name?"

 

As it presently stands, the United States Government has banned Seventh-day Adventism of any form - outside of denominational control and regulation. It is said to us, "You can still believe whatever you want; you simply have to call it something else".

 

Yet this we cannot do.

 

It can (and should) be noted that the name "Christian" is not one that is "required" for the preaching of Christ; one could call themselves a Baptist, or a Messianic, or a Nazarene, or a host of other terms. Yet were our government or anyone else to demand us (us being: any "Christian" group) to deny the name "Christian", how many would consent to "just change their name?" Few; for this would violate liberty.

 

No man, when faced with the options of death or denying he is a Christian, has ever rightly reasoned thus: "I can say I am not a Christian here and now, but still believe I am in my heart". None of the Reformers in the Middle Ages ever reasoned thusly, and they were indeed addresses with that very issue! (Read: The Great Controversy and/or Foxe's Book of Martyrs). For, such declaration would be labeled cowardice, and dishonesty - and rightly so! To deny oneself as a Christian is to deny all that the term Christianity embodies and represents. To deny Christianity is to deny the acceptance and faith of Christ - even if you were to call yourself something else to justify it in your mind. Is this not so?

 

We cannot [and should not] acknowledge the united demand of church and state as a sound reason to abandon our namesake; for we are Seventh Day Adventists. We are as much Seventh Day Adventists as we are Christians, for the terms are equivalent, and to deny the name Seventh Day Adventist is to deny the acceptance and faith of true Seventh-day Adventism. It is NOT "simply a name"; it is what we are; it is what we believe - even though the apostate demonination no longer believes such.

 

For us to deny the name Seventh day Adventist would be for us to deny who and what we are, no matter the reasoning. The "powers that be" have thus made it illegal for us to be what we are - they have demanded that we deny it "in name only", yet the name is the very representation of it. What are we, if not Seventh Day Adventists?

 

Liberty that is extended only to the majority is not liberty at all. Liberty, by it's very nature, extends the same freedom to all, no matter how few or many they may be composed of. And we, as Seventh Day Adventists, as Christians, cannot surrender our liberty. WE ARE Christians, WE ARE Protestants, and WE ARE Seventh Day Adventists. These things can never change.

 

Note: I personally have NO affiliation with "The Creation 7th Day & Adventist Church". I am however, a Seventh-day Adventist, who for obvious reasons, is very interested in the "Adventist Trademark issue".

 

James


--- In AdventistHotIssues@yahoogroups.com, "Lynn MacDonald" lynn2852@... wrote:



Good Morning Brothers Steve and George,

I would kindly like to discuss the name issue with you as I have understood it these past years that I have been a reformer.

When I separated from the church, if people asked what religion I was, I said I didn't belong to a church, that I was a reformer. That I came out of the Seventh Day Adventist church because of apostasy, but that I was still a Seventh Day Adventist in practice, and believed the truths and pillar doctrines of the church. But my name was off the books, so I was legally not responsible for their errors, but also could not legally use the name either. But, you see the name is important because of the message it tells. Yes they have trampled and perverted the name, but it doesn't change the significance of that name.

Yes we are the remnant, but in Revelation, it doesn't say to change your name to Remnant, but that we are the remnant. Sister White makes many references to us being the remnant but never said we were to change our name to that. Also, I believe Isaiah 65:15 is referring to our new name given in heaven.

The problem with the name remnant is in Rev. 19:21, you would not want to be that remnant people, they are slain by the sword of Jesus. The name can be used in other ways that would be confusing. Like when I became a reformer, I didn't call myself "Reformer", as one can be a reformer from many things, like a remnant of many things. But Seventh Day Adventist clearly separates you from any confusion, exactly what you believe.

Finally, Sister White says the name will go through to the end and I will have to find the quote for all, to help shed some further light on this important issue. The name will go through, just not "legally", not in the usual way! But the deep importance and significance to the meaning of the name will go through.

Sorry I don't have the quote at the moment , but will send it along.

Blessings Brothers,

Lynn