------------- Last updated : November 30, 2001

{Title}Letters to the Churches - 1

 

by M. L. Andreasen

 

 

SERIES A NO. 1

 

 

 

 

The Incarnation

 

 

Was Christ Exempt?

The word incarnation derives from the two Latin words, in carnis, which mean "in flesh" or "in the flesh." As a theological term, it denotes "the taking on of the human form and nature by Jesus, conceived of as the Son of God." In this sense John uses the word when he says, "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God." 1 John 1+:2, 3. This makes belief in the incarnation a test of discipleship, though doubtless more is meant than a mere belief in the historical appearance of Christ.

The coming into the world of a new life -- the birth of a babe -- is in itself a miracle. Infinitely more so must be the incarnation of the very Son of God. It will ever remain a mystery beyond human comprehension. All man can do is accept it as a part of the plan of redemption which has been gradually revealed since the fall of man in the garden.

For reasons which we cannot fully fathom, God permitted sin. In doing so, however, He also provided a remedy. This remedy comprises the plan of redemption and is bound up with the incarnation, the death, and the resurrection of the Son of God. It cannot be conceived that God did not know what creation would cost Him; and the 'council of peace' which decided the matter, must have included provisions for every foreseen contingency. Paul calls this plan "Gods wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory." 1 Corinthians 2:7.

The phrase "before the worlds" means before there was creation of any kind. Thus the plan of salvation was not an afterthought. It was "foreordained." Even when Lucifer sinned the plan was not fully revealed, but was "kept in silence through times eternal." Romans 16:25 A.R.V. For this God gives no reason. Paul informs us "that by revelation He (God) made known unto me the mystery . . . the mystery of Christ which in other ages was not made known unto the SOnS of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. Ephesians 3:3-5.

 

Became

There are two words in the epistle to the Hebrews which are of interest in this connection. They are "became" in verse ten of chapter two, and "behoved" in verse seventeen of the same chapter.

The Greek word for became is Drepo, and is defined as "suitable, proper, fit, right, comely." Paul, whom we believe to be the author of Hebrews, is very bold when he thus presumes to attribute motive to God and declares that it is fit and right for God to make Christ "perfect through suffering," Hebrews 2:10. He considers it "comely" of God to do this;that is, He approves of it. In judging God, he emulates Abraham who was even bolder than Paul. Misunderstanding what God intended to do, Abraham counseled God not to do it. Said he, "Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? . . . That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked. . . That be far from thee. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" Genesis 18:23, 25.

Moses also essayed to admonish God and instruct Him. When Israel danced about the golden calf, God said to Moses, "Let me alone that my wrath may wax hot against them and that I may consume them." Exodus 32:10. Moses attempted to pacify God and said, "Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people?. . . Turn from thy fierce wrath and repent of this evil against thy people." Exodus 32:11, 12. "And the Lord repented of the evil which He thought to do unto His people." Verse 14.

We readily see that in this interesting episode God Was merely testing Abraham, and giving him an opportunity to plead for the people. But we also note that this illustrates Gads willingness to talk over matters with His saints; Yes, and with those who are not saints. His invitation to mankind is, "Come now, and let us reason together." Isaiah 1:18. God is anxious to communicate with His people. Neither Abraham nor Moses was rebuked for his boldness.

 

 

Behoved

The other word to which we would call attention is be--hoved. Speaking of Christ, Paul says, "In all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:17. While became in verse 10 is a mild word, behoved in verse 17 (ophilo in Greek) is a strong word and is defined "under obligation," "ought," "must," "should," "bound," "indebted," "duty," "owe." If Christ is to be a merciful and faithful high priest, Paul says it behoves Him "in all things" to be like His brethren. This is obligatory. It is a duty He owes and must not avoid. He cannot make reconciliation for men unless He takes His place with them and in all things becomes like them. It is not a question of choice. He should, He must, He ought to, He is under obligation to, He owes it. Unless He has to struggle with the same temptations men do, He cannot sympathize with them. One who has never been hungry, who has never been weak and sick, who has never struggled with temptations, is unable fully to sympathize with those who are thus afflicted.

For this reason it is necessary for Christ in all thing to become like His brethren. If He is to be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, He must Himself be "compassed with infirmity." Hebrews 4:15; 5:2. Therefore, if men are afflicted, He also must be afflicted "in all their affliction. Isaiah 63:9. Christ Himself testifies: "I was not rebellious neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting." Isaiah 50:5, 6. He "Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." Matthew" 8:17. In nothing Christ spared Himself. He did not ask to be exempt from any trial or suffering of man; and God did not exempt Him.

These experiences were all necessary if Christ was to be a merciful high priest. Now, He can sympathize with every child of humanity; for He knows hunger by actual experience and sickness and weakness and temptation and sorrow and affliction and pain and feeling forsaken of God and man. He has been "tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15. It is Christs partaking of mens afflictions and weaknesses which enables Him to be the sympathizing Saviour that He is.

 

Was Christ Exempt?

With these reflections in mind, we read with astonishment and perplexity, mingled with sorrow, the false statement in "Questions on Doctrine," p. 383 that Christ was "exempt from the inherited passions and pollutions that corrupt the natural descendants of Adam." To appreciate the import of this assertion, we need to define "exempt" and "passions."

The College Standard Dictionary defines exempt: "to free or excuse from some burdensome obligation; free, clear or excuse from some restriction or burden." Webster's New World Dictionary, College Edition defines exempt: "to take out, deliver, set free as from a rule which others must observe excuse, release. . . freed from a rule, obligation, etc., which binds others excused, released. . . exemption implies a release from some obligation or legal requirement, especially when others are not so released."

Passion is defined: "originally suffering or agony. . . any of the emotions as hate, grief, love, fear, joy; the agony and sufferings of Jesus during the crucifixion or during the period following the Last Supper. Passion usually implies a strong emotion that has an overpowering or compelling effect." Passion is an inclusive word. While originally it has reference to sorrow, suffering, agony, it is not confined to these meanings nor to passions of the flesh only, but includes all mans emotions as mentioned above, as well as anger, sorrow, hunger, pity; it includes, in fact, all temptations that incite men to action. To take these emotions away from a man, to exempt him from all temptation, results in a creature less than a man, a kind of no-man, a shadow man, a non-entity, which Markham calls a "brother to the ox." Temptations are the character-- building ingredients of life for good or ill, as man reacts to them.

If Christ was exempt from the passions of mankind, He was different from other men, none of whom is so exempt. Such teaching is tragic, and completely contrary to what Seventh-day Adventists have always taught and believed. Christ came as a man among men, asking no favors and receiving no special consideration. According to the terms of the covenant He was not to receive any help from God not available to any other man. This was a necessary condition if His demonstration was to be of any value and His work acceptable. The least deviation from this rule would invalidate the experiment, nullify the agreement, void the covenant, and effectively destroy all hope for man.

Satans contention has always been that God is unjust in requiring men to keep the law, and doubly unjust in punishing them for not doing what cannot be done, and what no one has ever done. His claim is that God ought at least to make a demonstration to show that it can be done, and done under the same conditions to which men are subject. Noah, Job, Abraham, David -- all were good men, but all failed to come up to Gods high standard. "All men have sinned," says Paul. Romans 3:23.

God was not moved by Satans challenge; for long before even from eternity, God had decided upon His course of action. Accordingly, when the time came, God sent "his own son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, and condemned sin in the flesh." Romans 8:3. Christ did not condone sin in the flesh; He condemned it, and in so doing upheld the power and authority of the law. By dying on the cross He further enforced the law by paying the penalty required for its transgression, and upheld the infliction of its penalty by paying its demand, He was now in position to forgive without being accused of ignoring the law or setting it aside.

When it became evident that God intended to send His Son and in Him demonstrate that man can keep the law, Satan knew that this would constitute the crisis, and that he must overcome Christ or perish. One thing greatly concerned him; Would Christ come to this earth as a man with the limitations, weaknesses and infirmities which men had brought upon themselves because of excesses? if so, Satan believed he might overcome Him. If God should exempt Him from the passions that corrupt the natural descendants of Adam, he could claim that God played favorites, and the test was invalid. In the following quotations we have Gods answer:

"God permitted His son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet lifes perils in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss." The Desire of Ages, p. 49

"Many claim that it was impossible for Christ to be overcome by temptation. Then He could not have been placed in Adams position. . . our Savior took humanity with all its liabilities. He took the nature of man With the possibility of yielding to temptation." The Desire of Ages, p. 117

"The temptations to which Christ was subject were a terrible reality. As a free agent he was placed on probation with liberty to yield to Satans temptations and work at cross purposes with God. If this were not so, if it had not been possible for Him to fall, He could not have been tempted in all points as the human family is tempted. The Youth's Instructor, Oct. 26,1899.

"When Adam was assailed by the tempter, none of the effects of sin was upon him. He stood in the strength of perfect manhood, possessing the full vigor of mind and body. . . It was not thus with Jesus when He entered the wilderness to cope with Satan. For tour thousand years the race had been decreasing in physical Strength, in mental power, in moral worth; and Christ took upon Him the infirmities of degenerate humanity. Only thus could He rescue man from the lowest depth of his degradation." The Desire of Ages, p. 117

Christ "vanquished Satan in the same nature over which Satan obtained the victory. The enemy was overcome by Christ in His human nature. The power of the Saviors Godhead was hidden. He overcame in human nature relying upon God for power. This is the privilege of all." The Youths Instructor, April 25, 1901.

"Letters have been coming in to me, affirming that Christ could not have had the same nature as man, for if He had, He would have fallen under similar temptations. If He did not have mans nature. He could not be our example. If He was not a partaker of our nature. He could not have been tempted as man has been. If it were not possible for Him to yield to temptations, He could not be our helper. It was a solemn reality that Christ came to fight the battle as man, in mans behalf. His temptation and victory tell us that humanity must copy the Pattern; men must become a partaker of the divine nature." Review, February 18, 1890.

"Christ bore the sins and infirmities of the race as they existed when He came to the earth to help man. . . . lie took human nature, and bore the infirmities of the degenerate race." The Temptations of Christ, pp. 30,31.

If Christ had been exempt from passions, He would have been unable to understand or help mankind. it, therefore, behoved Him " in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest . . . for in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." Hebrews 2:17, 18. A Savior who has never been tempted, never has had to battle with passions, who has never "offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him who was able to save him from death," who "though he were a son" never learned obedience by the things He suffered but was "exempt" from the very things that a true Savior mus experience such a savior is what this new theology offers us. It is not the kind of Savior I need, nor the world. On who has never struggled with passions can have no understanding of their power, nor has he ever had the joy of overcoming them. If God extended special favors and exemptions to Christ in that very act He disqualified Him for His work. There can be no heresy more harmful than that here discussed. It takes away the Savior I have known and substitutes for Him a weak personality, not considered by God capable of resisting and conquering the passions which He asks men to overcome.

It is, of course, patent to all, that no one can claim to believe the Testimonies and also believe in the new theology that Christ was exempt from human passions. It is one thing or the other. The denomination is now called upon to decide. To accept the teaching of Questions on Doctrine necessitates giving up faith in the Gift God has given this people.

 

 

 

 

Some History

It may interest the reader to know how these new doctrines came to be accepted by the leaders, and how they came to be included in Questions on Doctrine, and thus receive official standing.

The question of the nature of Christ while in the flesh is one of the foundation pillars of Christianity. On this doctrine hangs the salvation of man. The apostle John makes it a deciding factor by saying, "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God." 1 John 4-:2, 3.

In what kind of flesh did Jesus come to this earth? We repeat a quotation which we have given above: "Christ took upon Him the infirmities of degenerate humanity. Only thus could He rescue man from the lowest depth of his degradation." The Desire of Ages, p. 117.

Only as Christ placed Himself on the level of the humanity He had come to save, could He demonstrate to men how to overcome their infirmities and passions. If the men with whom He associated had understood that He was exempt from the passions with which they had to battle, His influence would immediately have been destroyed and He would be reckoned a deceiver. His pronouncement, "I have overcome the world," (John 16:33) would be accepted as a dishonest boast; for without passions He had nothing to overcome. His promise that "to him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne," (Revelation 3:21) would be met by the claim that if God would exempt them from passions, they also could do what Christ had done.

That God exempted Christ from the passions that corrupt men, is the acme of all heresy. It is destruction of all true religion and completely nullifies the plan of redemption, and makes God a deceiver and Christ His accomplice. Great responsibility rests upon those who teach such false doctrine to the destruction of souls. The truth, of course, is that God "Spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us" (Romans 8:32); rather, because His nature was sensitive to the least slight or disrespect or contempt, His tests were harder and His temptations stronger than any we have to endure. He resisted "even unto blood." No, God did not spare or exempt Him. In His agony He "offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that he feared." Hebrews 5:7. "Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered." Verse 8.

In view of all this, we repeat the question, how did this God--dishonoring doctrine find its way into this denomination? Was it the result of close and prayerful study by competent men over a series of years, and were the final conclusions submitted to the denomination in public representative meetings, advertized beforehand in the Review giving the details of what changes were contemplated, as the denomination has voted as the proper procedure? None of these things were done. An anonymous book appeared, and men were judged and the brakes tightened on any one who objected.

Here is the story of how these new doctrines found their way into the denomination as reported by Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, editor of the religious journal, Eternity, in the September, 1956, issue of his magazine, later issued as a copyrighted article entitled "Are Seventh-day Adventists Christians?" With permission we quote from this article. We may inject that Dr. Barnhouse advises us that the entire content of the article was submitted to the Adventist brethren for approval before publication. The fact that this report has been in print for nearly three years and no correction or protest has been forthcoming from our leaders would strongly argue that they accept the truthfulness of th account.

Dr. Barnhouse reports that "a little less than two years ago it was decided that Mr. Martin should undertake research in connection with Seventh-day Adventism." Mr. Walter R. Martin was at that time a candidate for degree of Doctor of Philosophy in New York University and also connected with U editorial staff of Eternity. Wishing to get firsthand and reliable information, Mr. Martin went to Washington to the Adventist headquarters where he got in touch with some of the leaders. "The response was immediate and enthusiastic.

Mr. Martin "immediately . . . perceived that the Adventists were strenuously denying certain doctrinal positions which had been previously attributed to them. Chief among these were the question of the mark of the beast, and the nature of Christ while in the flesh. Mr. Martin "pointed out to them that in their bookstore adjoining the building in which these meetings were taking place, a certain volume published by them and written by one of their ministers categorically stated the contrary to what they were now asserting. The leaders sent for the book, discovered that Mr. Martin was correct, and immediately brought this fact to the attention of the General Conference officers, that the situation might be remedied and such publications be corrected."

This concerned particularly the doctrine of the mark of the beast, one of the fundamental doctrines of the Adventist church held from near its beginning. When the leaders discovered that Mr. Martin was correct, they suggested to the officers that the situation be "remedied and such publications be corrected." This was done. We are not informed which publications were so "remedied and corrected," nor if the authors were notified before the changes were made; nor if the duly appointed book committee was consulted; nor if the book editors or the publishing house were agreeable to the changes. We do know, however, that in the Sabbath school lessons for the second quarter of 1958, which dealt with the book of Revelation, chapter by chapter, the thirteenth chapter which discusses the mark of the beast was entirely omitted. Chapter 12 was there, so was chapter 14, but there was no chapter 13. The Sabbath school lessons had evidently been "remedied and corrected.

It is certainly anomalous when a minister of another denomination has enough influence with our leaders to have them correct our theology, effect a change in the teaching of the denomination on a most vital doctrine of the church, and even invade the Sabbath schools of the world and withhold from them the important lessons of Revelation 13. For our leaders to accept this is tantamount to an abdication of their leadership.

 

The Same Procedure

But this is not all. Dr. Barnhouse reports that the same procedure was repeated regarding the nature of Christ while in the flesh, the subject with which we have been here dealing. Our leaders assured Mr. Martin that "the majority of the denomination has always held (the nature of Christ while in the flesh) to be sinless, holy, and perfect, despite the fact that certain of their writers have occasion. ally gotten into print with contrary views completely repugnant to the church at large."

If our leaders told Mr. Martin this, they told the greatest untruth ever. For the denomination has never held any other view than that expressed by Mrs. White in the quotations used in this article. We challenge our leaders, or anybody, to produce proof of their assertion. How grossly untrue is the statement that certain writers got into print with views "completely repugnant to the church at large." Mrs. White was one of those writers who "got into print." Hear also what our standard book, Bible Readings for the Home Circle, sold to the public by the millions, has to say on the subject. I have before me two copies, one printed by the Pacific Press in 1916, the other by the Southern Publishing house in 1944. They both read alike. Here is the accepted teaching by the denomination:

"In His humanity Christ partook of our sinful, fallen nature. If not, then, He was not made 'like unto His brethren, was not 'in all points tempted like as we are, did not overcome as we have to overcome, and is not, therefore, the complete and perfect Savior man needs and must have to be saved. The idea that Christ was born of an immaculate or sinless mother(Protestants do not claim this for the virgin Mary), inherited no tendencies to sin, and for this reason did not sin, removes Him from the realm of a fallen world, and from the very place where help is needed. On His human side, Christ inherited just what every child of Adam inherits - a sinful, fallen nature. On the divine side, from His very conception He was begotten and born of the Spirit And this was done to place mankind on vantage--ground, and to demonstrate that in the same way every one who is 'born of the Spirit may gain like victories over sin in his own sinful flesh. Thus each one is to over come as Christ overcame (Revelation 3:21). Without this birth there can be no victory over temptation, an no salvation from sin (John 3:3-7)." Page 21.

In explanation of how there writers "got into print" with their views, our leaders told Mr. Martin that "they had among their number certain members of their 'lunatic fringe, even as there are similar wild-eyed irresponsibles in every field of fundamental Christianity." I think this is going too far. Mrs. White did not belong to the "lunatic fringe" who got into print, nor did the authors of Bible Readings. Our leaders should make a most humble apology to the denomination for such a slur upon their members. It is almost unbelievable that they should ever have made such statements. But the accusation has been in print nearly three years, and there has been no protest of any kind. I am humiliated that such accusations should have been made, and even more so that our leaders are completely callous in their attitude toward them.

That the reader may see for himself the original report of Dr. Barnhouse, I append a copy of the reprint, "Are Seventh-day Adventists Christians?" This is not the report in full, but only that part which relates to the questions here discussed. Later I shall present other extracts.

"A little less than two years ago it was decided that Mr. Martin should undertake research in connection with Seventh-day Adventism. We got into touch with the Adventists saying that we wished to treat them fairly and would appreciate the opportunity of interviewing some of their leaders. The response was immediate and enthusiastic.

"Mr. Martin went to Takoma Park, Washington, D.C., the headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist movement. At first the two groups looked upon each other with great suspicion. Mr. Martin had read a vast quantity of Adventist literature and presented them with a series of approximately forty questions concerning their theological position. On a second visit he was presented with scores of pages of detailed theological answers to his questions. Immediately it was perceived that the Adventists were strenuously denying certain doctrinal positions which have been previously attributed to them. As Mr. Martin read their answers he came, for example, upon a statement that they repudiated absolutely the thought that seventh-day Sabbath keeping was a basis for salvation and a denial of any teaching that the keeping of the first day of the week is as yet considered to be the receiving of the anti--Christian 'mark of the beast. He pointed out to them that in their book store adjoining the building in which these meetings were taking place a certain volume published by them and written by one of their ministers categorically stated the contrary to what they were now asserting. The leaders sent for the book, discovered that Mr. Martin was correct, and immediately brought this fact to the attention of the General Conference Officer that this situation might be remedied and such publications be corrected. This same procedure was repeated regarding the nature of Christ while in the flesh which the majority of the denomination has always held to be sinless, holy, and perfect despite the fact that certain of their writers have occasionally gotten into print with contrary views completely repugnant to the Church at large. They further explained to Mr. Martin that they had among their number certain members of their 'lunatic fringe even as there are similar wild-eyed irresponsibles in every field of fundamental Christianity. This action of the Seventh-day Adventist was indicative of similar steps that were taken subsequently.

"Mr. Martins book on Seventh-day Adventism will appear in print within a few months. It will carry a foreword by responsible leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist church to the effect that they have not been misquoted in the volume and that the areas of agreement and disagreement as set forth by Mr. Martin are accurate from their point of view as well as from our evangelical point of view. All of Mr. Martins references to a new Adventist volume on their doctrines will be from the page proof of their book, which will appear in print simultaneously with his work. Henceforth any fair criticism of the Adventist movement must refer to these simultaneous publications.

"The position of the Adventists seems to some of us in certain cases to be a new position; to them it may be merely the position of the majority group of sane leadership which is determined to put the brakes on any members who seek to hold views divergent from that of the responsible leadership of the denomination.

"To avoid charges that have been brought against them by evangelicals, Adventists have already worked out arrangements that the Voice of Prophecy radio program and the Signs of the Times, their largest paper, be identified as presentations of the Seventh-day Adventist church."

In closing this paper, I wish to re-emphasize certain salient facts:

Questions on Doctrine, page 383, states that Christ was exempt. The Spirit of Prophecy makes clear that Christ was not exempt from the temptations and passions that afflict men. Whoever accepts the new theology must reject the Testimonies. There is no other choice.

Mr. Martin was instrumental in having our teaching on the mark of the beast and the nature of Christ in the flesh changed. Similar changes were made in other books, but we are not informed what those changes are.

Our leaders have promised not to proselytize. This effectively will stop our work for the world. And we have promised to report to Mr. Martin those who transgress.

We have been threatened to have the brakes applied to such as fail to believe and follow the leaders. Such are characterized as "wild-eyed irresponsibles" and are said to constitute the "lunatic fringe."

We are appalled to learn that in some way these evangelical clergymen have had enough influence with our leaders to cause the Voice of Prophecy and the Signs of the Times to trim their sails to "avoid charges that have been brought against them by evangelicals." This is terrifying news. These organs are instruments of God, and it is unbelievable that the leaders should permit any outside influence to affect them. In this a great sin against the denomination has been committed that can be blotted out only by deep repentance of the guilty parties, or in lieu of this, that the men concerned quietly resign from holy office.

Our members are largely unaware of the conditions existing, and every effort is being made to keep them in ignorance. Orders have been issued to keep everything secret, and it will be noted that even at the late General Conference session no report was given of our leaders trafficking with the evangelicals and making alliances with them. Our officials are playing with fire, and the resulting conflagration will fulfill the prediction that the coming Omega "will be of a most Startling nature."

Seven times I have asked for a hearing, and I have been Promised one, but only on the condition that I meet privately With certain men, and that no record be given me of the proceedings. I have asked for a public hearing, or if it is to be a private one, that a tape recording be made, and that I be given a copy. This has been denied me. As I cannot have such a hearing, I am writing these messages which contain, and will contain, what I would have said at such a hearing. Can the reader surmise the reason why the officers do not want the hearing I ask?

I am a Seventh-day Adventist, and I love this message that I have preached for so long. I grieve deeply as I see the foundation pillars being destroyed, the blessed truths that have made us what we are abandoned.

The next letter will be sent only to those who order it,! so send name and address. Extra copies of this or subsequent letters may be had at ten cents each.

I am thankful to be in good health and wish the blessing of the Lord may be with each reader. We have come to strenuous times, and it behooves each to keep close to God in these perilous times. The Lord be with you.

End of Letter One

Letters to the Churches - 2

by M. L. Andreasen

 

 

SERIES A NO. 2

 

 

 

 

Attempted Tampering

 

 

 

Early in the summer of 1957 I had placed in my hands, providentially I believe, a copy of the minutes of the White Board of Trustees for May of that year, for those who are not familiar with this board; I may state that it is a small committee appointed to have in trust the large volume of letters, manuscripts; and books left by the late Mrs. E. G. White. In counsel with the officers of the denomination, the board decides who is to have access to the material, and to what extent and for what purposes what is to be published and what is not; and what material is not to be made available at all.

Much of the work of the committee consists in examining and editing these writings and recommending for publication such matter as appears to be of permanent value. This work is of great importance to the church, for only that which is released by the board sees the light of day. During her lifetime Mrs. White herself did much of the work of selecting and editing, and in all cases she had the oversight of what was done. All knew that whatever was published was under her supervision and that it had her approval. The board now has taken over this work.

 

Two Men and the Committee

According to the White minutes, it was on the first day of May, 1957, that two men, members of the committee which had been appointed to write the book that came to be known as Questions on Doctrine, were invited by the board to meet with them to discuss a question that had received some consideration at a meeting the previous January. It concerned statements made by Mrs. White in regard to the atonement now in progress in the sanctuary above. This conception did not agree with the conclusions reached by the leaders of the denomination in counsel with the evangelicals. To understand this fully, and its importance, it is necessary to review some history.

The Adventist leaders had for some time been in contact with two ministers of another faith, evangelicals, Dr. Barnhouse and Mr. Martin, respectively editor and an assistant editor of the religious journal Eternity, published in Philadelphia, and had discussed with them various of our doctrines. In these conversations, as in the numerous letters that passed between them, the evangelicals had raised serious objections to some of our beliefs, The question of greatest importance was whether Adventists could be considered Christians while holding such views as the doctrine of the sanctuary; the 2300 days; the date 1844; the investigative judgment; and Christ's atoning work in the sanctuary in heaven since 1844. Our men expressed the desire that the Adventist church be reckoned as one of the regular Protestant churches, a Christian church, not a sect.

The two groups spent "hundreds of hours" studying, and wrote many hundreds of pages. The evangelicals visited our headquarters in Takoma Park, and our men visited Philadelphia and were guests of Dr. Barnhouse in his comfortable home. From time to time other men were called into consultation on such matters as the Voice of Prophecy and our periodicals, all with a view of ascertaining what stood in the way of our being recognized as a Christian denomination.

After long and protracted discussions, the two parties came at last to a working agreement, and though the evangelicals still objected to a number of our doctrines "they were willing to recognize us as Christians. We would need to make some changes in some of our books in regard to the "mark of beast" and, also, "regarding the nature of Christ while in the flesh." Eternity, September, 1956. This was brought to the "attention of the General Conference officers, that the situation might be remedied and such publications might be corrected." The corrections were made, and "this action of the Seventh-day Adventists was indicative of similar steps that are taken subsequently." Ibid. We are not informed what other books were "remedied and corrected." The evangelicals published a report of their conferences with the Adventists in Eternity from which the above quotations are taken. Dr. Barnhouse states that they took the precaution to submit their manuscript to the Adventists so that no misstatement or error might occur. The Adventists published no report. Even at the General Conference session last year, the matter was not discussed. Only a few knew that there had been any conferences with the evangelicals. There were rumors that the Adventist leaders had been in conference with the evangelicals, but that was considered by some only as hearsay. The few who know, kept their counsel. There seemed to be a conspiracy of secrecy.

Till this day we do not know, and are not supposed to know, who carried on the conferences with the evangelicals. We do not know, and are not supposed to know, who wrote Questions on Doctrine. Diligent inquiry produced no result. We do not know, and are not supposed to know, just what changes were made, and in what books, concerning the mark of the beast and the nature of Christ while in the flesh. We do not know who authorized the omission of the thirteenth chapter in our Sabbath school lessons for the second quarter of 1958, which deals with the mark of the beast. Dr. Barnhouse reports that to "avoid charges brought against them by the evangelicals," the Adventists "worked out arrangements" that concerned the Voice of Prophecy and the Signs of the Times. What was "worked out" we do not know and are not told. Should we not have a detailed report? We, of course, also wonder how it came to pass that ministers of another denomination had any voice or any say whatsoever in how we conduct our work. Have our leaders abdicated? How is it that they consult the evangelicals and keep our own people in the dark?

 

What was Done at the Conferences?

For a report of this we are confined almost entirely to the published account in Eternity,

The subject that took up much of the time at the conferences was that of the sanctuary, Dr. Barnhouse was frank in his estimate of this doctrine. In particular did he object to our teaching on the investigative judgment which he characterized as "the most colossal, psychological, face-saving phenomenon in religious history." Later he called it "the unimportant and almost naive doctrine of the 'investigative judgment'" and said that "any effort to establish it is stale, flat, and unprofitable." Eternity, September, 1956.

Dr. Barnhouse, in discussing Hiram Edson's explanation of the disappointment in 1844 says that the assumption that Christ "had a work to perform in the most holy before coming to this earth is a human, face-saving idea (which) some uninformed Adventists, . . carried to fantastic, literalistic extremes. Mr. Martin and I heard the Adventist leaders say, flatly, that they repudiated all such extremes. This they said in no uncertain terms. Further, they do not believe, as some of their earlier teachers taught that Jesus' atoning work was not completed on Calvary, but instead that He was still carrying on a second ministerial work since 1844. This idea is also totally repudiated." Ibid.

Note these statements: The idea that Christ "had a work to perform in the most holy place before coming to this earth. . . is a human, face-saving idea," "Mr. Martin and I heard the Adventist leaders say flatly that they repudiated such extremes. This they said in no uncertain terms."

I think it is due the denomination to have a clear-cut statement from our leaders if Dr. Barnhouse and Mr. Martin told the truth when they heard our leaders say that they repudiated the idea that Christ had a work to do in the second apartment before coming to this earth. This question demands a clear-cut answer.

 

Attempted Tampering

Before reporting further what was done at the conferences let us come back to the two men who on that first day of May, 1957, met with the White Board of Trustees to seek their counsel and, also, to make a suggestion. The men were well acquainted with the statements made by Dr. Barnhouse and Mr. Martin, that the idea of Christ's ministry in the second apartment in the sanctuary had been totally repudiated. This had been in print several months at that time, and had not been protested. The men, however, did not need the printed statements for both of them had had a part in the discussions with the evangelicals. One of them in particular had taken a prominent part in the conferences, had visited Dr. Barnhouse in his home, had spoken in Dr. Barnhouse's churches at his invitation. He was one of the four men who really carried the load, and the one chosen to accompany Mr. Martin on his tour of the west coast to speak in our churches. He was held in high esteem by Dr. Barnhouse. This feeling, was mutual.

About the time when the two men first visited the vault, a series of articles appeared in the Ministry which claimed to be "the Adventist understanding of the atonement, confirmed and illuminated and clarified by the Spirit of Prophecy," In the February issue, 1957, the statement occurs that the "sacrificial act on the cross (is) a complete, perfect, and final atonement for man's sin." This pronouncement is in harmony with the belief of our leaders, as Dr. Barnhouse quoted them. It is also in harmony with a statement signed by a chief officer in a personal letter: "You cannot, Brother Andreasen, take away from us this precious teaching that Jesus made a complete and all-sufficient atoning sacrifice on the cross. . . This we shall ever hold fast, and continue to proclaim it, even as our dear venerated forefathers in the faith.

It would be interesting if the writer would produce proof of his assertion. The truth is, our forefathers believed and proclaimed no such thing, They did not believe that the work on the cross was complete and all-sufficient. They did believe that a ransom was there paid and that this was all-sufficient; but the final atonement awaited Christ's entrance into the most holy in 1844, This the Adventists have always taught and believed, and this is the old and established doctrine which our venerated forefathers believed and proclaimed, They could not teach that the atonement on the cross was final, complete and all sufficient, and yet believe that another atonement, also final, occurred in 1844. Such would be absurd end meaningless. Paying the penalty for our sin was, indeed, a vital and necessary part of God's plan for our salvation, but was by no means all. It was, as it were, placing in the bank of heaven a sum sufficient and in every way adequate for a contingency, and which could be drawn on by and for each individual as needed. This payment was "the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb, without blemish and without spot." 1 Peter 1:19. In His death on the cross Jesus "paid it all;" but the precious treasure becomes efficacious for us only as Christ draws upon it for us, and this must await the coming into the world of each individual; hence, the atonement must continue as long as people are born. Hear this:

"There is an inexhaustible fund of perfect obedience accruing from His obedience. How is it, that such an infinite treasure is not appropriated? In heaven, the merits of Christ, His self-denial and self-sacrifice, are treasured up as incense, to be offered up with the prayers of His people." Vol. 3, pp. 101, 102, Fourth Quarter, 1899.

Note the phrases: "inexhaustible fund," "infinite treasure," "merits of Christ." This fund was deposited at the cross, but not "used up" there. It is "treasured up" and offered up with the prayers of God's people. And especially since 1844 is this fund drawn on heavily as God's people advance to holiness, but it is not exhausted, there is sufficient and to spare. Hear again:

"He who through His own atonement provided for them a infinite fund of moral power will not fail to employ this power in their behalf. He will impute to them His own righteousness. . . There is an inexhaustible fund of perfect obedience accruing from His obedience . . . as sincere, humble prayers ascend to the throne of God, Christ mingles with them the merits of His own life of perfect obedience. Our prayers are made fragrant by this incense. Christ has pledged Himself to intercede in our behalf, and the Father always hears His Son." Ibid.

When we pray, in this very year of 1959, Christ intercedes for us and mingles with our prayers "the merits of His own life of perfect obedience. Our prayers are made fragrant by this incense. . . and the Father always hears His Son."

Contrast this with the statement in Questions on Doctrine, page 381: "(Jesus) appeared in the presence of God for us. . . But it was not with the hope of obtaining something for us at that time or at some future time. No! He had already obtained it for us on the cross." (Emphasis his.) Note the picture: Christ appears in the presence of God for us. He pleads, but He gets nothing. For 1800 years He pleads, and gets nothing. Does He not know that He already has it?

Will no one inform Him that it is useless to plead? He Himself has "no hope" of getting anything now or at any future time, And yet He pleads, and keeps on pleading, what a sight for the angels! And this is represented to be Adventist teaching! This is the book that has the approval of Adventist leaders and is sent out to the world to show what we believe. May God forgive us. How can we stand before the world and convince any one that we believe in a Savior who is mighty to save, when we present Him as pleading in vain before the Father?

But thank God, this is not Adventist doctrine. Hear this from Sister White, as quoted above: "Christ has pledged Himself to intercede in our behalf and the Father always hears His Son." This is Christianity, and the other is not.

Shall we remain silent under such conditions? Says Sister White:

"For the past fifty years every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us. . , especially concerning the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary . . . Do you wonder that when I see the beginning of a work that would remove some of the pillars of our faith, I have something to say? I must obey the command, 'Meet it' Series B, No. 2, page 58,

Again: "The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation. would consist in giving up doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded. The fundamental truths that have sustained the work for the last fifty years, would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established, Books of a new order would be written, A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced . . Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement." Ibid, pp. 54, 55

"Shall we keep silent for fear of hurting their feelings?. . . Shall we keep silent for fear of injuring their influence while souls are being beguiled. . . My message is: No longer consent to listen without protest to the perversion of truth." Ibid. pp, 9,15. (Emphasis ours)

 

The May 1st Meeting

I doubt that the Adventist leaders were fully aware of the many references in Mrs. White's works to the atonement now in progress in the heavenly sanctuary since 1844, If they were, how would they have dared to take the position they did in regard to the sanctuary question? This idea finds support in the apparent surprise of the two men who visited the vault and stated that in their research they had "become acutely aware of the E. G. White statements which indicate that the atoning work of Christ is now in progress in the heavenly sanctuary." Minutes, May 1, 1957, page 1483. Why did they become acutely aware? The discovery seemed to surprise them. In using the plural, statements, they admit of more than one reference. I do not know how many they found. I have found seventeen, and there are doubtless others. And why did they use the word "indicate"? Sister White does more than indicate. She makes definite pronouncements.

Here are some of them:

"At the termination of the 2300 days, in 1844, Christ entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, to perform the closing work of atonement, preparatory to His coming." Great Controversy, p. 422. "Christ had only completed one part of His work as our Intercessor to enter upon another portion of the work; and He still pleaded His blood before the Father in behalf of sinners." Ibid 429. At "the opening of the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, in 1844 (as) Christ entered there to perform the closing work of the atonement. They saw that He was now officiating before the ark of God, pleading His blood in behalf of sinners. Ibid, p. 433.

"Christ is represented as continually standing at the altar, momentarily offering up the sacrifice for the sins of the world. . . A Mediator is essential because of the continual commission of sin. . . Jesus presents the oblation offered for every offence and every shortcoming of the sinner." MS. 50, 1900.

These statements are definite. It was at the end of the 2300 days, in 1844, that Christ entered the most holy "to perform the closing work of the atonement." "He had Only completed one part of His work as our intercessor," in the first apartment. Now He "enters upon another portion of the work." He pleads "His blood before the Father." He is "continually standing at the altar." This is necessary "because of the continual commission of sin." "Jesus presents the oblation, for every offence and every shortcoming of the sinner. This argues a continuing, present atonement. He offers up "momentarily."

"Jesus presents the oblation offered for every offence." "He ever liveth to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:25.

It is presumed that when the two men stated that they had "become acutely aware of the E. G. White statements which indicate that the atoning work of Christ is now in progress in the heavenly sanctuary," that they had read the quotations here given and perhaps others. In view of this knowledge, what did they suggest should be done? Would they change their former erroneous opinions and harmonize with the plain words of the Spirit of Prophecy? No, on the contrary, they "suggested to the trustees that some footnotes or Appendix notes might appear in certain of the E. G. White books clarifying very largely in the words of Ellen White our understanding of the various phases of the atoning work of Christ." Minutes, p. 1483.

Ponder this amazing statement. They admit that Sister White says that "the atoning work of Christ is now in progress in the heavenly sanctuary," and then they propose that insertions be made in some of Sister White's books that will give our understanding of the atonement! They were, however, only acting in harmony with the official statement in Questions on Doctrine that when one reads "in the writings of Ellen G. White that Christ is making atonement now, it should be understood that we simply mean that Christ is now making application" etc., page 354, 355.

If Sister White were now living and should read this, she would most certainly deal with presumptuous writers and in words that could be understood. She would not concede the right of anyone, whoever he might be, to change what she has written or interpret it so as to vitiate its clear meaning. The claim which Questions on Doctrine makes that she means what she does not say, effectively destroys the force of all she has ever written. If we have to consult an inspired interpreter from Washington before knowing what she means, we might better discard the Testimonies altogether. May God save His people.

Early in this century when the fate of the denomination hung in the balance, Sister White wrote: "Satan has laid his plans to undermine our faith in the history of the cause and work of God. I am deeply in earnest as I write this: Satan is working with men in prominent position to sweep away the foundations of our faith, Shall we allow this to be done, brethren?" Review and Herald, Nov, 12, 1903.

Answering her question, "shall we allow this to be done?" she says: "My message is: No longer consent without protest to the perversion of truth. . . I have been instructed to warn our people; for many are in danger of receiving theories and sophistries that undermine the foundation pillars of the faith," Series B, No. 2, page 15. "For the past fifty years every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us, to becloud our minds regarding the teaching of the Word-especially concerning the ministration of Christ in the Heavenly sanctuary. . . But the waymarks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His Word and the testimony of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority." Ibid. p. 59. "Do you wonder that when I see the beginning of a work that would remove some of the pillars of our faith, I have something to say? Ibid, page. 58. (Emphasis supplied.)

 

Come Prominently to the Front

After the two men had suggested the insertion of notes and explanations in some of the E. G. White books that would give the reader the impression that she was not opposed to their new interpretation, they had another suggestion to make. "This is a matter," they said, "which will come prominently to the front in the near future, and (that) we would do well to move forward with the preparation and inclusion of such notes in future printings of the E. G. White books." Minutes, p. 1483.

I leave to the reader to decide why the men were in haste to get the notes and explanations into the Ellen White books. Could it be that doing this would constitute a "fait accompli," an accomplished fact, a thing that had already been done and which would be difficult or impossible to change? This is an important consideration, for there is reason to believe that things are happening to other of our books, and there is a definite movement to change our doctrine in other matters. This should be further explored, before it is too late.

May 2 this is recorded in the Minutes: E. G. White Statements on the Atoning Work of Christ - "The meeting of the Trustees held May 1 closed with no action taken on the question which was discussed at length-suitable footnotes or explanations regarding the E. G. White statements on the atoning work of Christ, which indicate a continuing work at the present time in heaven. Inasmuch as the chairman of our board will be away from Washington for the next four months, and the involvements in this question are such that it must have the most careful consideration and counsel, it was "VOTED, That we defer consideration until a later time of the matters that were brought to our attention by Elders "x" and "y" involving the E. G. White statements concerning the continuing atoning work of Christ. Minutes of the White Board, p. 1488.

It was presumably four months later when Elder Olson had returned that a vote was taken not to grant the request. This was eight months after their first January meeting, by which time the matter had been exposed.

 

Correspondence with Washington

After this situation came to my knowledge, I did a deal of praying. What was my responsibility in this matter, or did I have any? I confided to no one. I decided my first responsibility would be to the officials in Washington, so I wrote to headquarters. I was there informed that I had no right to the information I had. That was supposed to be secret, and I had no right even to read the documents.

After four letters were passed, I was told that they did not care to discuss the matter further. The matter was settled. When I inquired if this meant that the door was closed, I received the reply: "I have considered the matter to which you have referred as closed." As to the scurrilous and untrue article in the Ministry, "I have discussed this with the brethren concerned and would like to leave the matter there." So the door was closed.

Here are some of the official pronouncements: "The minutes are confidential and not intended for public use." If wrong is committed, is it forbidden to expose it merely because some want to keep it confidential?

"You are doing this upon hearsay and upon confidential minutes which you had no right even to read." No one ever talked to me of this or informed me. I read the minutes and acted upon them. The minutes are not hearsay. They are officially documented and signed.

". . . you have no right even to read," When I have evidence that to me seems destructive of the faith, am I to close my eyes to what I consider premeditated attempts to mislead the people by the insertions of notes, explanations, and appendix notes in the books of Mrs. White? Is this officially approved?

"I wish to repeat what I wrote before, that men have a perfect right to go to boards, including the White Estate group, and make their suggestions without fear of being disciplined or dealt with as heretics."

This was re-emphasized: "I reaffirm my former statement that I believe these brethren were entirely in order in going to the properly delegated and responsible individuals with any suggestion they had for study."

This makes it clear that the act of the two brethren is officially approved; that they did not do anything for which they should be reproved, but that they did what they had a perfect right to do. I do not think our people will welcome this new principle.

"To suggest that good and faithful Seventh-day Adventist men sat down to tamper with the pillars of our faith is as far from fact as the poles are apart: . . . tampering with the Testimonies, when no such thing ever took place, nor was there any attempt ever made to do this."

I leave to the reader's decision just why the men went to the committee: did they not come to have insertions, notes Appendix notes, explanations made in "some of the E. G. White books"? While the committee eventually decided not to do this, the guilt of the men is not changed by that fact. To assert that as for "tampering with the Testimonies (when) no such thing ever took place nor was there any attempt ever made to do this," the Minutes speak for themselves.

 

A Serious Situation

This vault episode brings into focus a serious situation. It is not merely a matter of two men attempting to have insertions made in some of Mrs. White's books. A much more serious thing is that this act had the approval of the administration, who stated that the men had a "perfect right" to do what they did. This pronouncement opens the way for others to follow, and as the matter is kept secret, great abuse could readily result. Undoubtedly, if the matter is left to a vote of the people, there will be no permission for any to tamper, or attempt to tamper, with the writings of Ellen G. White.

The men who visited the vault May 1, as related, stated clearly that they had discovered that Mrs. White taught plainly "that the atoning work of Christ is now in progress in the heavenly sanctuary." On the other hand, the Ministry of February, 1957, stated the very opposite. It said that the "sacrificial act on the cross (is) a complete, perfect and final atonement for men's sins." Questions on Doctrine attempts to reconcile these opposing views by stating that whether one "hears an Adventist say or reads in Adventist literature-even in the writings of Ellen G. White-that Christ is making atonement now, it should be understood that we mean simply that Christ is now making application," etc. pp. 354, 355. It is clear that if the atonement on the cross was final, there cannot be a later atonement also final. When we therefore for a hundred years have preached that the day of atonement began in 1844, we were wrong. It ended 1800 years before. The hundreds of books we have published; the more than a million copies of Bible Readings we have sold; the millions of hand bills we have distributed saying that it is "court week in heaven," were all false doctrine; the Bible instruction we have given the children and the young ministry and which they have imbibed as Bible truth, is a fable. Uriah Smith, Loughborough, Andrews, Andross, Watson, Daniells, Branson, Johnson, Lacey, Spicer, Haskell, Gilbert, and a host of others stand convicted of having taught false doctrine; and the whole denomination whose chief contribution to Christianity is the sanctuary doctrine and Christ's ministry, must now confess that we were all wrong, and that we have no message to the world for these last days. In other words, we are a deceived and deceiving people.

The fact that we may have been honest does not alter the fact that we have given a false massage. Take away from us the sanctuary Question, the investigative judgment, the message of the 2300 days, Christ's work in the most holy, and we have no right to exist as a denominated people, as God's messengers to a doomed world. If the Spirit of Prophecy has led us astray these many years, let us throw it away.

But no! Halt! God has not led us astray. We have not told cunningly devised fables. We have a message that will stand the test and confound the undermining theories that are finding their way in among us. In this instance it is not the people that have gone astray except as they have followed the leaders. It is time that there be a turnabout.

It is now more than four years ago that the apostasy began to be plainly evident. Since that time there has been a deliberate attempt to weaken the faith in the Spirit of Prophecy, as it is clear that as long as the people revere the gift given us, they cannot be led far astray. Of this we shall speak shortly. The time for action has come. The time to open up the dark corners has arrived. There must no longer be any secret agreements, no compact with other denominations who hate the law and the Sabbath, who ridicule our most holy faith. We must no longer hobnob with enemies of the truth, no more promise that we will not proselytize. We must not tolerate leadership which condones tampering with the writings entrusted to us, and stigmatizes as belonging to the lunatic fringe those who dare disagree with them. We must no longer remain silent. To thy, tents, O Israel!

Be of good courage, brethren. The Lord still lives. We have a work to do. Let us all work together. And let us not forget that our greatest strength lies in close union with God, in prayer. Let us all dedicate ourselves anew to Him.

 

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