Trinity -- Heresy or Reformation?

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The Introduction of the Trinity Doctrine into the Seventh-day Adventist Church

Section two

by Terry Hill

Heresy or reformation?

For many people, the bringing in of the trinity doctrine into the Seventh-day Adventist Church was a much needed and long overdue reformation. For them, the word ‘trinity’ is the only adequate and sufficient way to describe the God of the Bible. As I write this on the first day of May 2002, I know that this view is supported by much of the leadership of our church today. Their sincerity is not in question.

Others see the bringing in of this doctrine as heresy, a teaching that destroys the very image of God because it does, in their view, destroy the individual personalities of God and Christ. They also see it as being detrimental to the Gospel because they find it to be subversive of what God has done through His Son for the redemption of mankind. Their sincerity also is not in question.

What is to be questioned is who is right and who is wrong? This is not an issue to be avoided. It is an issue to be confronted. We need to ask concerning the advent of this trinity teaching “Is it a valid reformation or is it heresy?

Around 1904 Ellen White spoke extensively about heresies that were making their way into our church. In one such reference she says

“In the book "Living Temple" there is presented the alpha of deadly heresies. The omega will follow, and will be received by those who are not willing to heed the warning God has given” (Special testimonies Series B No. 2 p50)

Two years later in 1906 she spoke openly about the growing apostasy within the church. She said:

“One thing it is certain is soon to be realised,--the great apostasy, which is developing and increasing and waxing stronger, and will continue to do so until the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout. We are to hold fast the first principles of our denominated faith, and go forward from strength to increased faith. Ever we are to keep the faith that has been substantiated by the Holy Spirit of God from the earlier events of our experience until the present time”. (Special Testimonies Series B, - page 57 Sanitarium, Cal., Dec. 4, 1906. SM1: 206-7 also New York Indicator 7-2-1906)

On September 23rd 1903 to the teachers in Emmanuel Missionary College she said:

“Perilous times are before us. Every one who has a knowledge of the truth should awake, and place himself, body, soul, and spirit, under the discipline of God. Wake up, brethren, wake up. The enemy is on our track. We must be wide awake, on our guard against him. We must put on the whole armor of God. We must follow the directions given in the spirit of prophecy. We must love and obey the truth for this time. This will save us from accepting strong delusions. God has spoken to us through his Word. He has spoken to us through the Testimonies to the church, and through the books that have helped to make plain our present duty and the position that we should now occupy. The warnings that have been given, line upon line, precept upon precept, should be heeded. If we disregard them, what excuse shall we offer?

What was it that Ellen White was warning about? She continued:

“The new theories in regard to God and Christ, as brought out in "The Living Temple", are not in harmony with the teaching of Christ. The Lord Jesus came to this world to represent the Father. He did not represent God as an essence pervading nature, but as a personal being. Christians should bear in mind that God has a personality as verily as has Christ.” (SPM 324).

Ellen White warned about ‘new theories’ concerning God and Christ that were making their way into our church. Faithfully and repeatedly, Ellen White sounded the warnings not to make either or both of them non entities by blending their personalities. She said in 1905:

“And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." All through the Scriptures, the Father and the Son are spoken of as two distinct personages. You will hear men endeavoring to make the Son of God a nonentity. He and the Father are one, but they are two personages. Wrong sentiments regarding this are coming in, and we shall all have to meet them”. (“RH. 13-7-1905)

Around the same time, she also penned these words

“In the controversy that arose among our brethren regarding the teachings of this book, those in favour of giving it a wide circulation declared: "It contains the very sentiments that Sister White has been teaching." This assertion struck right to my heart. I felt heartbroken; for I knew that this representation of the matter was not true. “Finally my son said to me, "Mother, you ought to read at least some parts of the book, that you may see whether they are in harmony with the light that God has given you." He sat down beside me, and together we read the preface, and most of the first chapter, and also paragraphs in other chapters.

As we read, I recognised the very sentiments against which I had been bidden to speak in warning during the early days of my public labours. When I first left the State of Maine, it was to go through Vermont and Massachusetts, to bear a testimony against these sentiments. "Living Temple" contains the alpha of these theories. I knew that the omega would follow in a little while; and I trembled for our people. I knew that I must warn our brethren and sisters not to enter into controversy over the presence and personality of God. The statements made in "Living Temple" in regard to this point are incorrect. The scripture used to substantiate the doctrine there set forth, is scripture misapplied.” (SPTB02 Page 53)

There was a problem, a big problem and it was not going to end with the book ‘The Living Temple’. The teachings in Kellogg’s book said Ellen White, was only the ‘ALPHA’ of the danger, the OMEGA was still to come.

She said on page 50 of the same testimony:

“In the book "Living Temple" there is presented the alpha of deadly heresies. The omega will follow, and will be received by those who are not willing to heed the warning God has given” (Special testimonies Series B No. 2 p50)

Did you notice that Ellen White did not refer to the alpha or the omega as being an ‘apostasy’ but a ‘heresy’?

A heresy is a false teaching of an individual nature whilst an apostasy is more of an abandonment or desertion of a position once held.

Let me put it this way. A heresy can be likened to a little bit of poison which after being introduced into the body, it will in time affect the workings of the whole body. If the poison or its affects are not remedied, then it is most likely that the day will eventually dawn that the body will cease to function in the way that it was originally intended.

A heresy therefore, like poison, is only a means to an end and not an end in itself. Heresies can and do bring about apostasies. This demands some serious thought because Ellen White did say that the omega heresy will come into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

When I realised that we, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, had not always held the doctrine of the trinity, it did come as a great blow to me.

First and foremost, I did believe that the doctrines we hold today were exactly the same as the original teachings of the pioneers. Obviously I was wrong. To me this really was the greatest blow.

Secondly, I firmly believed that the trinity doctrine was the central belief of Christianity and that any denomination which did not hold or teach this doctrine, could not really be called ‘Christian’. That is why at first, I could not understand why, as God’s remnant people, that we did not teach it for almost the first 90 years of our existence.

My first thoughts were, “If the trinity teaching is the central doctrine of Christianity and the pioneers were all non-trinitarians, what does that say about us for the first 90 years as God’s remnant church? Where does that leave the pioneers? The whole thing to me at first, just did not make sense.

You can now see why this whole thing in my mind was becoming a very serious issue.

I knew that this whole matter would need some serious thought and study. From that time on, I determined to find out for myself the truth of what this was all about.

I had absolute confidence that the Bible was the inspired Word of God. I also had the same confidence that Ellen White was God’s ‘messenger’ to the remnant. It was the collation of the facts of history that were going to take the time. I knew that ‘potted histories’ would be of no value to me in this exercise. I had to see the entire picture or else I knew that I would only end up with a distorted view. So it was that in 1999, I began my own personal study in an effort to find out for myself the truth of how the whole matter concerning the trinity developed.

I realised right from the start, that it was of little value in taking someone else’s word for what had happened. I did not want a biased view either for the trinity or against it. I needed a view that was only biased towards the truth. I knew that this could only be accomplished by being honest and candid in my studies.

One of my first realisations from the writings of Ellen White that helped me in my studies was penned in 1904. It says:

“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 the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of re­organisation. 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. Our religion would be changed. The funda­mental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error”. (Special Testimonies Series B No. 2 page 54)

Quite a warning isn’t it? You can clearly see that Ellen White was warning about a satanic supposition that a great reformation was needed in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. You can also see that if this particular ‘reformation’ was to take place, then it would eventually lead to giving up the principle of truths that God had given to His remnant church during the ‘last fifty years’. Some ‘reformation’!

As Ellen White said this in 1904, she must be referring to the fundamental principles of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, that reach back to at least 1854.

Now the question is, “Has a ‘great reformation’ taken place within the Seventh-day Adventist Church”?

This can only be answered by asking the following

(1) Have we given up any of the doctrines that have been the pillars of our faith?

(2) Have the principles of truth that God gave to the pioneers been discarded?

(3) Has our religion changed?

(4) Has the fundamental principles that sustained the work for the fifty years before Ellen White wrote this in 1904 been accounted as error?

She continues writing about this ‘reformation’

“A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would he written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. The founders of this system would go into the cities and do a wonderful work. The Sabbath of course would be lightly regarded as also the God who created it. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement. The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice, but God being removed, they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless. Their foundation would be built on the sand, and storm and tempest would sweep away the structure” (Special Testimonies Series B No. 2 page 54).

What Ellen White has described here is not heresy itself, but the results of the church accepting heresy.

You can see that even with the acceptance of heresy, a wonderful work is being done by the church. Cities are being evangelised, membership is increasing, moral standards are uplifted, but, in all this, Ellen White says “The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded” … “our religion would be changed” … “The funda­mental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error.”

What we have just read are just some of the identifying marks of heresy being accepted into the church. When we come to the end of this presentation, we shall be taking a closer and deeper look into this statement to see if this ‘reformation’ has been accepted or not, but first we must study the evidence.

The following statement can be found in an article called ‘Present Truth - Walking in God’s Light’ written by William Johnsson in the Advent review just over 8 years ago on January 6th 1994. He says this:

“Some Adventists today think, that our beliefs have remained unchanged over the years, or they seek to turn back the clock to some point when we had everything just right. But all attempts to recover such “historic Adventism” fail in view of the facts of our heritage.

Adventists beliefs have changed over the years under the impact of present truth. Most startling is the teaching regarding Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord”.

Here is the admittance that the beliefs and the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have changed over the years, all accomplished under the heading of ‘present truth’.

What is being said in this article may surprise many Adventists, especially those who are new to the faith. It is not something that people are usually told when they first join the church. It is also quite possible that many long standing members are not aware that this has happened. This was the case with me. I had been a member of this church for 25 years before I came to this realisation.

The fact is, as William Johnsson says, “Adventists beliefs have changed over the years under the impact of present truth” Although this is something that is not too well publicised, the leadership of our church under the present climate of investigation have been of late compelled to make such statements.

What is significant to note is that William Johnsson uses the exact same words to describe the change as Ellen White uses to describe the omega heresy.

He says that the change was ‘most startling’. Ellen White said of the ‘omega heresy’ that it “will be of a most startling nature”

William Johnsson continues his article by saying:

“Many of the pioneers, including James White, J. N. Andrews, Uriah Smith and J. H. Waggoner held to an Arian or semi-Arian view- that is, the Son at some point in time, before the creation of our world, was generated by the Father. Only gradually did this false doctrine give way to the Biblical truth, and largely under the impact of Ellen Whites writings in statements such as “In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. (Desire of ages p 530)

William Johnsson concludes that the pioneers who preached a semi-Arian view of Christ, which literally takes in all the pioneers from the time of James White, right through to the last of the pioneers to die, J. N. Loughborough (died 1924), were all preaching error about Christ or as he puts it, they were teaching “false doctrine” about Christ and not “Biblical truth”.

What William Johnsson is asking you and me to believe, is that for almost the first 90 years of our existence, all of our pioneers were all preaching error about Christ.

We are taking in here people such as, James White, Joseph Bates, J. N. Andrews, Uriah Smith, John Loughborough, Judson Washburn, Joseph Wagoner, E. J. Waggoner, and many others. As you will see as we progress, I believe that this must also include Ellen White because she was in harmony with what the other pioneers taught and believed about Christ. Obviously, William Johnsson cannot name Ellen White in his list so he says that “many of the pioneers …. held to an Arian or semi-Arian view”

The question is “Is it true as William Johnsson would like to have us believe that our pioneers were all preaching “false doctrine” about Christ and not “Biblical truth”?

Well, if it is true, then it is amazing when you realize that all the time that these pioneers were preaching error about Christ, we had a messenger of God amongst us, namely Ellen White, and she never once said that they were wrong in what they were teaching about God or Christ. It really is amazing, but that is what you and I are being asked to believe.

Before we draw any conclusions, it is important that we give this matter some very serious consideration. We can only do this by studying the facts and asking ourselves some very important questions.

Here is one extremely important question. Please do not underestimate its importance. Give it very serious consideration. The question is:

“Were the beliefs and teachings of our pioneers concerning Christ, part of our fundamental beliefs”?

Now that may first appear to be a very silly question but please consider it carefully.

I am going to put it to you, that whether we answer ‘yes’ or ‘no, our church still has one huge problem.

What if we say that what we believed and taught about Christ was not a part of the fundamental beliefs of the early church? What does that say about us as God’s remnant people? What would that say about our pioneers?

What if we could ask the pioneers themselves? Do you think that they would confess that what they believed and taught about Jesus was not part of our fundamental beliefs in their time? Of course they wouldn’t. That is only common sense.

Therefore, what we must say is that what we as God’s remnant believed about Christ was part of our fundamental beliefs and as I said, this still leaves us with one huge problem.

This is because with William Johnsson, we must now admit that our fundamental beliefs, as they were during the time of the pioneers “have changed”. We must also admit that our fundamental beliefs concerning Christ, as believed by all of our pioneers, have now, to use the words of Ellen White, been “discarded as error”. Yes that it correct! There is no other conclusion to be drawn.

It is as William Johnsson says:

“Adventists beliefs have changed over the years under the impact of present truth. Most startling is the teaching regarding Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord."

Remember, he describes what the pioneers taught about Jesus was “false doctrine” and not “Biblical truth."

This is what you are being asked to believe, not by me but by the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They are saying that the pioneers had it all wrong about Jesus.

Now if you have not seen the significance of what I have just said, then please may I strongly suggest that before going on any further, that you review what you have just read in the last few minutes.

If you have seen the significance of what has just been said, then you should now be realizing that there is a serious situation to consider and that there are some important questions to ask. Just recall what Ellen White would say if this heresy was allowed to come into the church. She said:

“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. Our religion would be changed. The funda­mental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error.”

Do you see how serious this whole matter has become?

William Johnsson also said:

“Likewise, the trinitarian understanding of God, now part of our fundamental beliefs, was not generally held by the early Adventists. Even today, a few do not subscribe to it.”

What William Johnsson is saying here is that these changes concern more than Jesus, they concern the very being of God. William Johnsson is saying that this change was totally revolutionary going from a non-trinitarian view of God and of Christ to a decided trinitarian view.

What brought about such a drastic reversal of beliefs?

According to William Johnsson, as well as our church leadership today, say that this change was due to what Ellen White wrote, particularly in the book, Desire of ages (1898). The same reason is given by most people who advocate that the bringing in of the trinity doctrine was a correct thing to do.

Amazingly, the statement that William Johnsson quoted from Desire of Ages, “In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived”, is normally the one that is often used to justify the trinity teaching. In fact it seems to me that this is very often the only one that is used. Unfortunately, as I have realised so many times since I began these studies, these same people who use this phrase, do not quote Ellen White where it appears to invalidate the trinity teaching. I do find this to be very disturbing seeing that it is happening within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is because of this that a true picture is not presented.

This is only a personal view I know, but I find it strange that if Ellen White approved of the bringing in of the ‘trinity’ teaching, then why did our church wait until after she had been dead for about 16 years before they made the move to introduce it into our beliefs and teachings? Why did they not do it when she was alive?

There is also the question that if Ellen White knew that God was a ‘trinity’, and that this was what God wanted His remnant church to believe and teach, then why did she, as God’s messenger, not advise the church herself to bring in the teaching?

These are all very serious questions that need a great deal of serious thought and consideration.

George Knight in his article ‘Adventists and Change’, published in the ‘Ministry’ magazine of Oct 1993 refers to the bringing in of the trinity doctrine as the ‘new theology’ of Seventh-day Adventism. He also says that Ellen White, in writing ‘Desire of Ages’ was ‘out of step’ with the then current Adventist theology.

So was Ellen White, when she wrote Desire of Ages in 1898 ‘out of step’ with Adventist theology? Let’s allow Ellen White to answer that one for herself.

In 1903, five years after the publication of the book Desire of Ages she wrote about the leading points of faith as they were held by us as a people after 1844. She said:

My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, Elder Edson, a man who was keen, noble, and true, and many others whose names I cannot now recall, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844 [October 22], searched for truth. At our important meetings these men would meet together and search for the truth as for hidden treasure.

I met with them, and we studied and prayed earnestly, for we felt that we must learn God's truth. Often we remained together until late at night, and sometimes through the entire night, praying for light, and studying the Word. As we fasted and prayed, great power came upon us. But I could not understand the reasoning of the brethren. My mind was locked, as it were, and I could not comprehend what we were studying. Then the Spirit of God would come upon me, I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to the position we were to take regarding truth and duty.

A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was plainly marked out before me, and I gave my brethren and sisters the instruction that the Lord had given me. They knew that, when not in vision, I could not understand these matters, and they accepted as light direct from Heaven the revelations given me. The leading points of our faith as we hold them today were firmly established. Point after point was clearly defined, and all the brethren came into harmony.

The whole company of believers were united in the truth. There were those who came in with strange doctrines, but we were never afraid to meet them. Our experience was wonderfully established by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. . . . (Manuscript 135, Nov. 4, 1903, "Establishing the Foundation of Our Faith.")

Did you notice that Ellen White said “The leading points of our faith as we hold them today were firmly established". She is referring here as to how they were in the early years of our church. She was saying that they were still the same in 1903. She also said "The whole company of believers were united in the truth."

There was no ‘new theology’ from Ellen White by 1903, neither was she ‘out of step’ with Adventist theology as is stated by George Knight. That is the testimony of Ellen White herself.

Three years later in 1906 Ellen White also said:

“One thing it is certain is soon to be realised,--the great apostasy, which is developing and increasing and waxing stronger, and will continue to do so until the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout. We are to hold fast the first principles of our denominated faith, and go forward from strength to increased faith. Ever we are to keep the faith that has been substantiated by the Holy Spirit of God from the earlier events of our experience until the present time... “The past fifty years have not dimmed one jot or principle of our faith as we received the great and wonderful evidences that were made certain to us in 1844, after the passing of the time. . . Not a word is changed or denied. That which the Holy Spirit testified to as truth after the passing of the time, in our great disappointment, is the solid foundation of truth. Pillars of truth were revealed, and we accepted the foundation principles that have made us what we are – Seventh-day Adventists, keeping the commandments of God and having the faith of Jesus. (Special Testimonies Series B, - 57 Sanitarium, Cal., Dec. 4, 1906. SM1: 206-7 also New York Indicator 7-2-1906)

This was in 1906. So where is that new theology? Ellen White clearly said “ …the great apostasy, which is developing and increasing and waxing stronger …” “ … The past fifty years have not dimmed one jot or principle of our faith …” “ … Not a word is changed or denied …”

I can only conclude on the testimony of Ellen White herself, that she knew of no ‘new theology.'

There is also another issue that needs very serious consideration. Why should we, as a denomination, change our fundamental beliefs simply on the basis of certain statements from extra canonical writings? Changes to any doctrine should only be made after a prolonged study of scripture and on the testimony of scripture itself.

Admittedly, changes can be supported and verified by extra canonical writings, but to change our denominational stance on a doctrine of such high profile as this on the basis of what Ellen White said in a book written over 30 years BEFORE we changed that doctrine, does seem very strange. What makes it even more strange is, as I said before, that as a denomination, we made no effort to do this whilst Ellen White was alive, neither did she suggest that we should do it.

This was not a subtle change or a development of belief. This was a total reversal of what the church once believed and taught. It went from being non-trinitarian to being trinitarian. As you will see as you continue with this presentation, all this was done without any Bible conferences being held or the approval of the church being sought. The term ‘trinity’ was just included in our year book and it has progressed from there.

As you probably know, the word ‘trinity’ cannot be found in the Bible but what you may not know is that Ellen White in all that she wrote, never used the word. Not once did she mention the word. She never said a word in favour of the trinity, neither did she say a word against it, at least, not by calling it the ‘trinity’. Now that is absolutely remarkable, and the more that I think about it, the more remarkable that actually becomes for a number of reasons.

One reason is, that ever since the 4th century (and that was over 15 hundred years prior to the lifetime of Ellen White), the trinity doctrine has always been regarded by the majority of the established churches as the cardinal doctrine of what is known as ‘orthodox’ Christianity.

It is a fact that ‘orthodox’ Christianity has always considered any denomination that does not teach the trinity as being a non-Christian denomination. This is regardless of whatever else that denomination claims to believe and teach. Any denomination that does not believe or teach the doctrine of the trinity is usually classed by ‘orthodoxy’ as a cult. That is how the Seventh-day Adventist Church was regarded, prior to the adoption of the trinity doctrine.

Now I would think that Ellen White, before she heard the Millerite message, must have professed a belief in the trinity. Admittedly I only say this as something of an assumption, but I base that assumption on the reasoning that Ellen White would never have been able to join the Methodist church without professing some sort of belief in the Trinity. Remember, when Ellen White first heard the Millerite message she and the rest of her family (Ellen Harmon then), did belong to the Methodist Church.

In the light of all this, it is therefore remarkable that all the time that she was a Seventh-day Adventist, which was over 70 years, there is no record of Ellen White ever using the word ‘trinity’, and remember, all this time she was a ‘messenger of the Lord’.

So why didn’t Ellen White even mention the word ‘trinity’, when the majority of Christian churches claim that it is the cardinal doctrine of Christianity?

On that one, we have no direct statement from Ellen White because as I said, she does not mention the word. Nevertheless, there can be no question that there are times when in principle she does refer to the trinity doctrine but never directly by name.

I do have my own personal thoughts on why Ellen White did not mention the word ‘trinity’ but to speculate on the basis of silence is usually a very unwise thing to do and to share that speculation could be worse.

It is a fact though, for two very basic reasons, that the word ‘trinity’ does not really convey anything to anyone. Firstly, the word is not in the Bible. Secondly and more important, there are a number of different concepts of the trinity.

Imagine that you and I have never met but we both happen to believe in the trinity. Now I meet you for the first time and ask if you believe in the trinity. You say ‘yes’, but what does that convey to me? I could now walk away thinking that we both believed the same thing, when in reality, because there are different variations and concepts of the trinity, we may each believe entirely different things.

One concept of the trinity is that there are three separate, stand alone persons making up one unity called God or as some say ‘Godhead’. The other concept is that there are three persons in one person who is God. These two concepts are diametrically opposed to each other. So you see, that to profess a belief in the trinity, does not really mean very much without an explanation of the concept that lies behind the belief.

Whilst it’s a fact that Ellen White did not used the word ‘trinity’, she repeatedly spoke of Jesus and His Father, and she constantly spoke about the Holy Spirit and His work. In her writings we find her expressing many different aspects of their relationship. This is something that she would never have achieved, if she had just used the word ‘trinity.'

Let me just share this one statement that Ellen White made at the time of Kellogg’s views on God as presented in his book the Living Temple. This can be found in Spalding and Magan’s collection of Ellen White writings page 329. She says:

“I say, and have ever said, that I will not engage in controversy with any one in regard to the nature and personality of God. Let those who try to describe God know that on such a subject silence is eloquence. Let the Scriptures be read in simple faith, and let each one form his conceptions of God from his inspired word”. (SPM 329)

Ellen White put each individuals conception of God down to their own personal understanding of what the scriptures revealed. It is to be understanding that will grow with experience. It is not be limited or forged by man made teachings or by the confession of a creed, but conceived in the mind by the reading and the understanding of the scriptures as God reveals Himself to the reader.

She continues:

“There are men bearing large responsibilities who do not know God. They do not understand the reasons of our faith. They have lost their way. Should I keep these things to myself any longer, I should be afraid that I should be brought under condemnation for suffering our people to be deceived. The enemy has sown his seed in the mind of our leading physician, and he is sowing the same seed in other minds. I should not be clear before God did I keep silent any longer regarding these things. The leaders in the medical missionary work ought to understand in regard to them”. (SPM 329)

Ellen White could not keep quiet about what she knew was a deception. She felt that if she did keep quiet, then she would come under the condemnation of God.

Now let’s change the thinking for a moment and let me ask you a question. In your experience as a Christian, do you believe that heresy is easy to identify?

In 1904, whilst still reflecting on Kellogg’s heresy, Ellen White, in a testimony called ‘Past Experiences to be repeated’ says:

“The experience of the past will be repeated. In the future, Satan's superstitions will assume new forms. Errors will be presented in a pleasing and flattering manner. False theories, clothed with garments of light, will be presented to God's people. Thus Satan will try to deceive, if possible, the very elect. Most seducing influences will be exerted; minds will be hypnotized …"

On the same page she also says

“Satanic agencies are clothing false theories in an attractive garb, even as Satan in the garden of Eden concealed his identity from our first parents by speaking through the serpent. These agencies are instilling into human minds that which in reality is deadly error. The hypnotic influence of Satan will rest upon those who turn from the plain Word of God to pleasing fables."

She concludes:

“ I say to all: Be on your guard; for as an angel of light Satan is walking in every assembly of Christian workers, and in every church, trying to win the members to his side. I am bidden to give to the people of God the warning: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked." Galatians 6:7 (8T pages 293-294)

In the same testimony she later said

“Diverting Minds from Present Duty. The enemy is seeking to divert the minds of our brethren and sisters from the work of preparing a people to stand in these last days. His sophistries are designed to lead minds away from the perils and duties of the hour. They estimate as nothing the light that Christ came from heaven to give to John for His people. They teach that the scenes just before us are not of sufficient importance to receive special attention. They make of no effect the truth of heavenly origin and rob the people of God of their past experience, giving them instead a false science."

Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein." Jeremiah 6:16.

"Let none seek to tear away the foundations of our faith--the foundations that were laid at the beginning of our work by prayerful study of the word and by revelation. Upon these foundations we have been building for the last fifty years. Men may suppose that they have found a new way and that they can lay a stronger foundation than that which has been laid. But this is a great deception. Other foundation can no man lay than that which has been laid” (8T 296-7)

Through Ellen White, God has sounded a clear warning. It is a warning that should send shivers down the spine of every truth loving Adventist. If we fail to heed the warning that God has so clearly and so graciously given, then it will be at the peril of our souls. As Ellen White said:

“The warnings that have been given, line upon line, precept upon precept, should be heeded. If we disregard them, what excuse shall we offer?" (SPM 324)

In 1904 we were told that heresies were making their way into the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We were also told that they would replace the principles of truth that God had given to His people for the previous fifty years. We were also warned that these heresies would take on the appearance of a reformation. We were even told that the omega heresy would come in a little while after 1904. We have also been told that Satan’s deceptions would be so great, so subtle, that it would almost deceive the very elect. How much more could God have done to warn us about these coming deceptions? Bearing this warning in mind, let us move on but let us not do so until we listen to one more statement from the pen of Ellen White.

She said, and I can find this in print in the Review and Herald as late as 1905, which was as you know, over 60 years after the great disappointment of 1844:

"We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and his teaching in our past history”.

I can say today that God is good. I can also testify with all my heart that He has led me all the way in this three year study that I have undertaken. At every turn, He has indeed, provided for my understanding.

Although difficult at first, I eventually had to accept that the trinity teaching had not always been a part of the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I also had to accept that over the years our teachings about God and Christ have changed. I know as I talk to people about this matter, that they find it difficult to accept as well, nevertheless, we cannot change what is historically true, even if we would like to. Such is life.

It is now time to take a look at what the pioneers believed about the trinity doctrine. We shall begin the next section of our studies with what James White believed. What we need to discover is whether or not the ‘new theology’ of Seventh-day Adventism is ‘reformation’ or ‘heresy’. We can only do this by studying the facts and let them speak for themselves.

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Terry Hill

Bristol England