TheWmega of Apostasy
The lessons of sacred history are varied and many, but perhaps one of the most important lessons to be learned is the tendency of God's people to fall away from truth following the death of His faithful leaders and servants. Notice carefully the following verses from Deuteronomy:
And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods. (Deuteronomy 31:16-18)
This prophecy was directly given to Moses by the LORD Himself. The history of Israel bears out the truthfulness of His prediction. God gave Israel a strong leader in Joshua following the death of Moses. His influence lasted another generation. "And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel." (Joshua 24:31) The sacred record continues in the book of Judges:
And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. (Judges 2:7-13)
The Apostle Paul predicted a "falling away" from the truth. "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-5) Writing to Timothy, Paul declared: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." (1 Timothy 4:1)
Apostasy Predicted Among Seventh-day Adventists
Ellen G. White also wrote of apostasy among God's people. A particular set of statements describe an "alpha" and an "omega" apostasy. Ellen White declared that the book, The Living Temple, written on health, by John Harvey Kellogg contained the theories that comprised the "alpha" of apostasy. The profits from the sale of the book were to be used for the rebuilding of the Battle Creek Sanitarium that had burned. While all agreed that the portions of the book that dealt strictly with health were good and of a nature to be recommended, Dr. Kellogg had woven false concepts about God into the book. These concepts were a type of pantheism which dealt with the nature of the presence and personality of God.1 Ellen White noted:
Those who have been feeding their minds on the supposedly excellent but spiritualistic theories of Living Temple are in a very dangerous place. For the past fifty years I have been receiving intelligence regarding heavenly things. But the instruction given me has now been used by others to justify and endorse theories in Living Temple that are of a character to mislead. (Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, p. 248)
Ellen White used the term "omega" in reference to a great apostasy that was to follow the "alpha." Notice the following:
Be not deceived; many will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. We have now before us the alpha of this danger. The omega will be of a most startling nature. (Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, p. 16)
I am instructed to speak plainly. "Meet it," is the word spoken to me. "Meet it firmly, and without delay." But it is not to be met by our taking our working forces from the field to investigate doctrines and points of difference. We have no such investigation to make. 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. (Ibid., p. 50)
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. (Ibid., p. 53)
Further Statements on Apostasy
Connected with these statements are complementary statements found in Special Testimonies that do not mention the term "omega," but deal with the same apostasy.
One thing it is certain is soon to be realized,-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. We need now larger breadth, and deeper, more earnest, unwavering faith in the leadings of the Holy Spirit. If we needed the manifest proof of the Holy Spirit's power to confirm truth in the beginning, after the passing of the time, we need to-day all the evidence in the confirmation of the truth, when souls are departing from the faith and giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. There must not be any languishing of soul now. (Ibid., no. 7, p. 57)
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 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. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles 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. 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.
Who has authority to begin such a movement? We have our Bibles. We have our experience, attested to by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. We have a truth that admits of no compromise. Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth? (Ibid., no. 2, pp. 54, 55)
Whole books have been devoted to the understanding of this apostasy, however, many of the authors have been involved in this very apostasy without even knowing it! By now it should be clear that all of Sister White's statements can be referring to only one issue, the nature of God's presence and personality as revealed in the false, pagan-papal Trinity doctrine. Some writers have attempted to connect the omega with the collapse of the medical work as it was first established. While it is true that the alpha began within the ranks of the medical work, the medical teachings of Dr. Kellogg were never brought into question by the brethren.2 Others, who consider themselves "historic Adventists," have sought to connect the omega to the Seventh-day Adventist - Evangelical conferences of 1955, 1956. While these conferences were a fruit of the omega, they were not the beginning of the omega. It was the acceptance of the Trinity doctrine that made these conferences possible.3
The Alpha of Apostasy
To better understand the whole issue, we need to go back to Dr. Kellogg and look at his understanding of the Holy Spirit. As we have noted before, the problem with The Living Temple was not physiology, but rather theology. Writing to George I. Butler, Kellogg noted:
As far as I can fathom, the difficulty which is found in The Living Temple, the whole thing may be simmered down to the question: Is the Holy Ghost a person? You say no. I had supposed the Bible said this for the reason that the personal pronoun "he" is used in speaking of the Holy Ghost. Sister White uses the pronoun "he" and has said in so many words that the Holy Ghost is the third person of the Godhead. How the Holy Ghost can be the third person and not be a person at all is difficult for me to see." (Letter from J. H. Kellogg to G. I. Butler, October 28, 1903)
"I believe this Spirit of God to be a personality you don't. But this is purely a question of definition. I believe the Spirit of God is a personality; you say, No, it is not a personality. Now the only reason why we differ is because we differ in our ideas as to what a personality is. Your idea of personality is perhaps that of semblance to a person or a human being. (Letter from J. H. Kellogg to G. I. Butler, February 21, 1904)
Kellogg was appealing to Sister White's writings to support him in his theory. Ellen White said that Kellogg's thoughts did not have a foundation in her writings.
I am compelled to speak in denial of the claim that the teachings of "Living Temple" can be sustained by statements from my writings. There may be in this book expressions and sentiments that are in harmony with my writings. And there may be in my writings many statements which, taken from their connection, and interpreted according to the mind of the writer of "Living Temple," would seem to be in harmony with the teachings of this book. This may give apparent support to the assertion that the sentiments in "Living Temple" are in harmony with my writings. But God forbid that this sentiment should prevail. (Series B, no. 2, pp. 53, 54)4
Neither did Elder Butler agree that Kellogg properly represented Sister White's thoughts in The Living Temple. Replying to Dr. Kellogg he wrote:
God dwells in us by His Holy Spirit, as a Comforter, as a Reprover, especially the former. When we come to Him we partake of Him in that sense, because the Spirit comes forth from him; it comes forth from the Father and the Son. It is not a person walking around on foot, or flying as a literal being, in any such sense as Christ and the Father are - at least, if it is, it is utterly beyond my comprehension of the meaning of language or words. (Letter from G. I. Butler to J. H. Kellogg, April 5, 1904)
While Dr. Kellogg did not appear to have accepted a full Trinitarian position at the time of the writing of The Living Temple, the concepts in it paved the way for him to later fully accept the doctrine.
The Omega of Apostasy
False concepts about God constituted the "alpha" of apostasy and false concepts about God constitute the "omega" of apostasy. As we carefully examine Sister White's statements concerning the "omega" we will see that the Trinity doctrine and its acceptance within the larger body of Adventism perfectly fits her predictions.
First, she stated that "The Omega will be of a most startling nature." (Series B, no. 2, p. 16) Let us consider this statement in the light of the following candid acknowledgment by Elder William Johnsson, editor of the Adventist Review:
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.
Adventist beliefs have changed over the years under the impact of "present truth." Most startling is the teaching regarding Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. 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.
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. (Adventist Review, January 6, 1994, pp. 10, 11)
Johnsson writes of "present truth," but real "present truth" will never contradict established truth! Johnsson makes the forthright admission that nothing would be more "startling" to the pioneers of this movement than to see the concepts of God and Christ that are in the Church today! Johnsson further candidly admits that our teachings have changed and that the "Trinitarian understanding of God" is "now part of our fundamental beliefs."
The omega would come and it would be of such a nature that Sister White trembled "for our people" indicating that it would attack the entire denomination. "The omega will follow, and will be received by those who are not willing to heed the warning God has given." "I knew that the omega would follow in a little while; and I trembled for our people." (Series B, no. 2, pp. 50, 53) Today, acceptance of the 27 Fundamentals, which includes the Trinity doctrine, is necessary to be part of the corporate S. D. A. Church.
Ellen White also predicted the time frame within which the Omega would exist. She stated in 1904 "that the omega would follow in a little while." She also indicated that it would arise primarily after her death. "Great things shall come to pass after I am gone; Satan will work as never before. All that can be shaken will be shaken out. We must draw near to God, for we cannot lean upon man or the crowd. We must know the Lord deeply as never before." (Asiatic Division News, May 1-15, 1915, p. 43, quoted from The Alpha and the Omega of Apostasy by Julius Gilbert White.) She also stated: "One thing it is certain is soon to be realized,-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." (Series B, no. 7, p. 57) The omega apostasy would breach the church ranks shortly after the death of Ellen White and would continue until Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven.
The 1919 Bible Conference
History reveals that it was shortly after the death of Ellen G. White that the S. D. A. Church quickly moved to embrace the Trinity doctrine. In the 1919 Bible Conference, W. W. Prescott gave a series of studies entitled, "The Person of Christ." These studies, promoting Trinitarianism, were not universally received by the delegates. The discussion following his presentations became quite intense. G. C. President A. G. Daniells, attempted to calm the discussions down by stating: "We are not going to take a vote on trinitarianism or arianism, but we can think." (Transcript from the 1919 Bible Conference)5
The Coming of the Comforter
The movement to adopt Trinitarianism and to become like the rest of the world was on. Ellen White predicted that "books of a new order would be written." In 1928 LeRoy Froom's book, The Coming of the Comforter was published. In this book, Froom teaches the false doctrine of the Trinity and, as Kellogg did before him, he uses Ellen White quotes to substantiate his position. This book was the result of studies that Froom had given during the 1928 North American union ministerial institutes. At the time of the writing, Froom did not mention that he received help from Babylon in producing his book. It was over forty years later before he confessed:
May I here make a frank personal confession? When, back between 1926 and 1928, I was asked by our leaders to give a series of studies on the Holy Spirit, covering the North American union ministerial institutes of 1928, I found that, aside from priceless leads found in the Spirit of Prophecy, there was practically nothing in our literature setting forth a sound Biblical exposition in this tremendous field of study. There were no previous pathfinding books on the question in our literature.
I was compelled to search out a score of valuable books written by men outside our faith-those previously noted-for initial clues and suggestions, and to open up beckoning vistas to intensive personal study. Having these, I went on from there. But they were decided early helps. And scores, if not hundreds, could confirm the same sobering conviction that some of these other men frequently had a deeper insight into the spiritual things of God than many of our own men then had on the Holy Spirit and the triumphant life. It was still a largely obscure theme. (Movement of Destiny, p. 322)6
Please carefully note what one researcher has observed Elder Froom was saying: "1.) There was nothing in our literature - why- because we were not trinitarians. 2.) That whatever was to be presented in 1928 would have its roots in whatever the holiness people taught - especially on this subject. 3.) He is charging our own men with neglect in the searching into the deeper spiritual things of God." (Robert Diener - A History of the Godhead in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, p. 6)
Elder Froom also gives credit to holiness people for a better understanding of the eternal verities. He specifically mentions the "renowned Keswick Conferences of Britain ... founded to 'promote practical holiness.'" (Ibid.)7 This Pentecostal Trinitarianism was not accepted by all of the brethren in 1928. Froom describes the resistance to the Trinity doctrine as taught in The Coming of the Comforter in a letter to Dr. O. H. Christenson:
May I state that my book, The Coming of the Comforter was the result of a series of studies that I gave in 1927-1928 to ministerial institutes throughout North America. You cannot imagine how I was pummeled by some of the old timers because I pressed on the personality of the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Godhead. Some men denied that - still deny it. But the book has come to be generally accepted as standard. (Letter of LeRoy Froom to Dr. Otto H. Christenson, October 27, 1960)
One statement in The Coming of the Comforter of special interest is found on page 40. "If He [the Holy Spirit] is a divine person, and we think of Him as an impersonal influence, we are robbing a divine person of the deference, honor, and love that is His due. Again, if the Holy Spirit is a mere influence or power, we shall try to get hold of and use it. But if we recognize Him as a person, we shall study how to yield to Him, that He may use us." Froom had borrowed this idea almost verbatim from a book by a Protestant evangelist, R. A. Torry, entitled, The Fundamentals. One writer has looked at this statement and presented a probing question: "If the Holy Spirit is not a separate and distinct being other than the Father and His Son, and if we give 'deference, honor and love' to this divine person, and if we also yield ourselves to this other God who is not the Father and/or His Son, then who are we worshipping and yielding our lives to? That's right. Satan Himself." (Holland 95, p. 82) This may seem difficult for many to accept, but Ellen White describes just such a thing in an early Broadside:
In February, 1845, I had a vision of events commencing with the Midnight Cry. I saw a throne and on it sat the Father and the Son. I gazed on Jesus' countenance and admired his lovely person. The Father's person I could not behold, for a cloud of glorious light covered him. I asked Jesus if his Father had a form like himself. He said he had, but I could not behold it, for said he if you should once behold the glory of his person you would cease to exist. Before the throne I saw the Advent people, the church, and the world. I saw a company, bowed down before the throne, deeply interested, while the most of them stood up disinterested and careless. Those who were bowed before the throne would offer up their prayers and look to Jesus; then he would look to his Father, and appeared to be pleading with Him. A light would come from the Father to the Son, and from the Son to the praying company. Then I saw an exceeding bright light come from the Father to the Son, and from the Son it waved over the people before the throne. But few would receive this great light; many came out from under it and immediately resisted it; others were careless and did not cherish the light, and it moved off from them; some cherished it, and went and bowed down with the little praying company. This company all received the light, and rejoiced in it, as their countenances shone with its glory. And I saw the Father rise from the throne, and in a flaming Chariot go into the Holy of Holies, within the veil, and did sit. There I saw thrones that I had never seen before. Then Jesus rose up from the throne, and the most of those who were bowed down arose with Him; and I did not see one ray of light pass from Jesus to the careless multitude after he arose, and they were left in perfect darkness. Those who rose up when Jesus did, kept their eyes fixed on Him as He left the throne and led them out a little way. - Then He raised His right arm and we heard his lovely voice saying, "Wait here-I am going to my Father to receive the Kingdom; keep your garments spotless, and in a little while I will return from the wedding and receive you to myself." And I saw a cloudy chariot, with wheels like flaming fire, and Angels were all around it as it came where Jesus was. He stepped into the chariot and was borne to the Holiest where the Father sat. There I beheld Jesus, as He was standing before the Father, a great High Priest. On the hem of His garment was a bell and pomegranate. Then Jesus shew me the difference between faith and feeling. And I saw those who rose up with Jesus send up their faith to Him in the Holiest, and pray-my Father give us thy Spirit. Then Jesus would breathe upon them the Holy Ghost. In the breath was light, power, and much love, joy and peace. Then I turned to look at the company who were still bowed before the throne; they did not know that Jesus had left it.-Satan appeared to be by the throne, trying to carry on the work of God; I saw them look up to the throne and pray, my Father give us thy Spirit; then Satan would breathe upon them an unholy influence; in it there was light and much power, but no sweet love, joy and peace. Satan's object was to keep them deceived, and to draw back and deceive God's children. I saw one after another leave the company who were praying to Jesus in the Holiest, and go and join those before the throne, and they at once received the unholy influence of Satan. (To the Little Remnant Scattered Abroad , April 6, 1846, p. 7)
In this vision we see two different persons breathing two different spirits upon the people. Jesus would breathe "the Holy Ghost" which is described as having "light, power, and much love." Satan's "unholy influence" (spirit) carried "no sweet love, joy and peace." The tragedy of accepting the Trinity is not only that we deny worship to "The Father and the Son [who] are alone to be exalted," but we become snared by Satan's spiritualism!8
1931 Statement of Beliefs
The apostasy that Sister White warned of would actually change our whole religious structure. "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. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced." (Series B, no. 2, p. 55) When the theology of any religious organization is altered, that system is changed at its very foundation. For nearly a century, the church had professed an anti-Trinitarian position. In 1931 a new Statement of Beliefs was introduced, which for the first time, promoted the Trinity. The second statement read:
2. That the Godhead or Trinity, consists of the Eternal Father, a personal, spiritual Being, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, infinite in wisdom and love; the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, through whom all things were created and through whom the salvation of the redeemed hosts will be accomplished; the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, the great regenerating power in the work of redemption. (Church Manual, 1963 ed. p. 29)
With the urging of the General Conference Statistical Secretary, Edson Rogers, along with certain requests for a clarified statement from the field, a committee of four was appointed to oversee the preparation of a new Statement of Beliefs. The four chosen were Milton E. Kern, Francis M. Wilcox, Edwin R. Palmer, and Charles H. Watson. Wilcox was chosen by the other three to prepare the main draft. With the full knowledge and approval of the others, Wilcox gave his statement to Rogers who placed it in the 1931 Yearbook. It appeared in the Church Manual in 1933. This statement was not voted on by the General Conference.
On January 14, 1942, the General Conference Committee voted that the (Wilcox) statement of "Fundamental Beliefs" be made available in leaflet form. It had appeared in our official Church Manual of 1933-similarly without formal adoption-and has been in each succeeding edition. It was therefore by common consent and not by formal voted acceptance that Wilcox's suggested "Fundamental Beliefs," ... became our accepted Statement of Faith. (Movement of Destiny, p. 419 - emphasis in the original)
1941 Baptismal Vow and New Hymnal
A new baptismal vow was introduced in 1941 which included an affirmative statement of the candidates' belief in the Trinity.9 This was also the year that the Church Hymnal appeared. The hymns in our early song books had been changed to promote the truth about God and Christ. The Church Hymnal was the start toward Trinitarian hymns.10
Our past has been accounted as error and "false doctrine."11 Books of a "new order" have been written.12 "Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement." (Series B, no. 2, p. 55) Elder Froom stated that the "Denomination [was] irrevocably committed to" [the] basic Christian verities." (Movement of Destiny, p. 75)13
By the early 1940's, there were still some holdouts who resisted the new theology. One was a minister by the name of Elder J. S. Washburn, who in 1940 wrote a blistering attack on Elder W. W. Prescott concerning a sermon that Prescott had preached in the Takoma Park Church, (Md.) on October 14, 1939. The title of Prescott's sermon was "The Coming One," and dealt with the Trinity among other subjects. Washburn's paper, while highly personal, was liked so well by one conference president that he asked for thirty-two copies to distribute to all the ministers in his conference. The significance of the matter is not so much the specific content of the sermon, nor the reply of Washburn, but rather, that in 1940 there was still an anti-Trinitarian faction in the church.14
Another long holdout was Elder Charles S. Longacre. Like Washburn, Longacre was an older minister who personally knew and had talked with Ellen White. He was no off-shoot individual. His list of positions of responsibility in the church was long and weighted with important posts.15 Elder Longacre was still alive when Questions on Doctrine was being prepared. The original draft sent out contained the following question and response:
Is it possible for an individual to remain in good and regular standing in the Seventh-day Adventist Church if he consistently refuses to submit to church authority regarding the historic doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ?
The answer to this question is an unequivocal No. (Question #34, Questions on Doctrine file.)
Of the copies sent to the field for consideration, one copy was returned with the following question hand-written in beside the answer mentioned above: "Would we disfellowship Elder Longacre?" Here, just months before his death in 1958, Elder Longacre is still a known anti-Trinitarian. God has always had a "faithful few" who continued to carry the torch of truth while others accepted the "hellish torch of Satan."16
The Revision ofDaniel and Revelation
By 1944, most of the obstacles had been removed so the new theology could fully engulf the movement. One thorn in the flesh was Uriah Smith's book, Daniel and Revelation. This book, originally published in two portions, Thoughts, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Revelation (1867), and Thoughts, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Daniel (1873), carried the endorsement of Ellen G. White.17 It was and has been the longest running Adventist publication in print outside of the Spirit of Prophecy books. However, it taught an anti-Trinitarian view of Christ. The necessity of removing it from circulation for this reason was suggested by W. W. Prescott at the 1919 Bible Conference.18 Rather than dropping what many considered an otherwise fine volume, it was decided that the book would be "revised" to help bring it up to date with historical events that had occurred since it had last been revised by Elder Smith. However, the main thrust in the revision was to remove the anti-Trinitarian statements.19
The Publication ofEvangelism
The book Evangelism was published in 1946 to help continue the progress of Trinitarianism within Adventism by attaching the authoritativeness of inspiration to the "new theology." While the volume contains a wealth of Spirit of Prophecy statements, it gave Froom, who was on the editorial committee, the opportunity to compile Ellen White statements in such a manner as to distort her true position. This was done using the following tactics: 1. Statements were used out of context including the use of numerous ellipses. 2. Subtitles were applied to introduce thoughts into the reader's mind not in the quote. 3. An unbalanced number of statements were used without the complementary statements necessary to give a total picture. In a letter to his ally, R. A. Anderson, Froom stated:
I am sure that we are agreed in evaluating the book, Evangelism as one of the great contributions in which the Ministerial Association had a part back in those days. You know what it did with men in the Columbia Union who came face to face with the clear, unequivocal statements of the Spirit of Prophecy on the Deity of Christ, personality of the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, and the like. They either had to lay down their arms and accept those statements, or else they had to reject the Spirit of Prophecy.
I know that you and Miss Kleuser and I had considerable to do with the selection of these things under the encouragement of men like Elder Branson who felt that the earlier concept of the White Estate brethren on this book Evangelism was not adequate. (Letter of LeRoy Froom to Roy A. Anderson, January 18, 1966)
Froom is stating that in 1946 there was still a hold-out against Trinitarianism within the Columbia Union. Here we see the Spirit of Prophecy used as a club to force the brethren into line, instead of the "Bible and the Bible alone" being the sole rule of faith and practice among the brethren. Further, the leadership of the church did not believe that the brethren at the White Estate had an "adequate" concept for Evangelism.
A Call For Repentance
In 1950, two young missionaries from Africa attended the General Conference Session at Cleveland, Ohio. Elders Robert Wieland and Donald K. Short expressed concern to the brethren that the church had veered off the course given by the Lord in 1888. They were asked to write out their thoughts with the result being the manuscript, 1888 Re-Examined. While not seeing the Trinitarian issue, they did an excellent work, in a short period of time, discussing the situation of the church at that time. They believed that the church was "ripe for disillusionment:"
It is now abundantly evident that "we" have traveled the road of disillusionment since the Minneapolis meeting of 1888. Infatuation with false teachings has taken the place of clear, cogent, heaven-inspired truth, as regards "righteousness by faith." By the hard, humiliating way of actual experience with counterfeits, Israel has brought herself to the time when she is ripe for disillusionment. (1888 Re-Examined, 1950 ed. p. 202)
Wieland and Short were attempting to show how a "false Christ" could appear among us. They believed, accurately, that misrepresentation would preceed impersonation. (See p. 171.) A careful reading of 1888 Re-Examined reveals that while Wieland and Short mostly discussed the importance of the incarnation and the high priestly ministry of Christ, there were touches of Christology that ran against the normal Trinitarian thinking. For example, they stated clearly that Christ had accepted the "likeness of sinful flesh" that it "was not mere appearance, but reality." (Ibid., p. 156 - emphasis in original) This led them to believe that Jesus "emptied Himself of all divine power to work a miracle, except through faith in the Father." (Ibid., pp. 156, 157) Further, they taught that Christ really died at Calvary:
The death of such a false Christ would have no power to draw all men, such as a clear understanding of the death of the true Christ. It would rather be an inexplicable transaction that took place between the Father and the Son, which somehow sufficed to pacify the wrath of the Father against mankind in general. The confusion is pointed by the fact that the false view requires the belief that the Son of God did not die, but only the Son of man, i.e., His body. It throws a cloud of impenetrable mystery around the very phase of Christ's work which was intended to appeal to human hearts and intelligence, and draw them to a sincere, unaffected reconciliation with God. (Ibid., p. 158)
It is the sincere belief of the writer that God was using Wieland and Short to attempt a rescue of His people. While they did not understand all the issues involved at the time, it was more than a modest start. The General Conference, however, officially rejected the message and began at once to counter the work that Wieland and Short began.20
The 1952 Bible Conference
Partly in response to the call of Wieland and Short in 1950, Elder William H. Branson convened the 1952 Bible Conference. It was the church's first Bible Conference since 1919, and only the second since 1888. While the theme was to be the righteousness of Christ, the messages never got to the root of the problem; the Trinitarian view was never challenged. Near the end of the conference, Branson gave the following challenge:
To a large degree the church failed to build on the foundation laid at the 1888 General Conference. ... But the message of righteousness by faith given in the 1888 Conference has been repeated here ...
And this great truth has been given in this 1952 Bible Conference with far greater power than it was given in the 1888 Conference. ... No longer will the question be. "What was the attitude of our workers and people toward the message of righteousness by faith that was given in 1888? What did they do about it?" From now on the question must be. "What did we do with the light on righteousness by faith as proclaimed in the 1952 Bible Conference?" (Our Firm Foundation, vol. II, pp. 616, 617 - quoted from Watchman, What of the Night, November, 1996, p. 3)
Branson made clear reference to 1888 Re-Examined and then attempted to shift the focus from 1888 to 1952. The answer to Branson's question concerning the so called "light on righteousness by faith as proclaimed in the 1952 Bible Conference" did not have to wait long to be answered.
The 1955, 1956 S. D. A. - Evangelical Conferences
If the true message of righteousness by faith had been given and received by the church in 1952, then the Seventh-day Adventist - Evangelical Conferences would never have taken place. As noted earlier, these conferences were held between prominent Evangelicals (Walter Martin, George E. Cannon, Donald Barnhouse) and leaders of the Adventist Church (LeRoy Froom, Roy A. Anderson, Walter E. Read, and T. E. Unruh).21 The main focal point of these conferences was the Trinitarian doctrine. Roy A. Anderson later wrote about his experience of first coming in contact with the Evangelicals:
"What do you folks believe about the Trinity?" was a question put to me some years ago by two gracious Christian gentlemen who came unannounced to the General Conference headquarters in Washington D. C. ...
Both men were Christian college professors who had read much about Adventists, but all from detractors, and one of them was commissioned to write a new book about Adventist beliefs. However, they felt they should contact the headquarters to discover what we actually believe on points of vital interest rather than just quoting from others.
The answers to their earnest questions lengthened into days of prayerful discussions. Our answer concerning the Godhead and the Trinity was crucial, for in some of the books they had read that Adventists were classed as Arians; .... (Adventist Review, September 8, 1983, p. 4 - emphasis in original.)
As Martin had noted to Anderson, some books had classed Adventists as Arians because of their anti-Trinitarian belief. In fact, Martin had failed to classify Seventh-day Adventists as "Christians" in the first printing of his book, The Rise of Cults. The emphasis at the beginning of the conferences was on past anti-Trinitarian statements made by the pioneers of Adventism including Ellen White! In 1989 Martin gave a brief history of how it occurred to a group of ministers
The climate at that time [1955, 1956], Adventism was considered like Jehovah's Witnesses, like Mormonism, like most of the major cultic structures of the day. ...
When I first met with L. E. Froom, he took me to task for about fifteen minutes on how I could ever possibly think that Adventism was a cult. "Adventism rings as true as steel" I said "do you think Arius was a Christian?" And he was an excellent church historian and he said, "Of course he wasn't a Christian, he denied the deity of Jesus Christ." I said, "So did Ellen White." Dr. Froom replied, "What!" I said, "yes" and opened up a suitcase and produced at least twelve feet of Adventist publications stacked up and marked for Dr. Froom's perusal. And for the perusal of the committee to check the sources in there. And they were in mortal shock I might add, to think that it was as pervasive as it was. Mrs. White reversed herself later on very quickly, and affirmed the doctrine of the Trinity very strongly and taught it. But she was influenced by Uriah Smith. She did deny the eternal deity of Christ at one time and relegated Him to the place of a second deity. That's why you were classified with the the Jehovah's Witnesses early on, because of the Arian emphasis in Adventism. And because of the fact that you affirmed Michael the Archangel to be Christ.
Dr. Froom and the committee decided that they would peruse this material immediately. So we adjourned the meeting and they took all the materials with them and I guess others, and went through the materials. They came back and said, "well, a great deal of these things you're calling attention to are there, we agree, and we don't agree with these statements. They do not reflect orthodox Adventist theology, and we reject it." I said, "good, happy to hear that, now can you fault us , because we read this material, and it's not peripheral issues we are talking about." ...
We went through all kinds of materials and then the idea came for a book where we would question and the Adventist denomination would respond. ... Out of that came the book Questions on Doctrine. Contrary to some of the fantasies and myths which I hear today from Adventists who ought to know better, the book had the approval of the General Conference. (Walter Martin - taped conference at Campus Hill Church in Loma Linda, CA, January 1989)
Elder Froom and those who met with Martin "accounted as error" the foundation that had sustained the work since its early times. Dr. Barnhouse, writing in Eternity magazine, noted:
Immediately it was perceived that the Adventists were strenuously denying certain doctrinal positions which had been previously attributed to them.
The Adventists specifically repudiate any teachings by ministers or members of their faith who have believed, proclaimed, and written any matter which would classify them among Arians. (Eternity, September, 1956)
Elder Froom, in Questions on Doctrine and later in Movement of Destiny, blatantly lied concerning our history. He attempted to show that anti-Trinitarianism was "an encapsulated cancer, gross but confined." (The Sanctuary and the Atonement, p. 530) In Questions on Doctrine we read, "The founding fathers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church over a century ago came out of various denominational backgrounds. While all were premillennialists, some were Trinitarian; others were Arian." (p. 29) This is but a half truth. The facts are, that while the pioneers were from "various denominational backgrounds," once becoming Seventh-day Adventists, they all gave up their false Trinitarian beliefs. In Movement of Destiny, Froom labeled the anti-Trinitarians as having the "minority" view. (See p. 149.) Then he went on to explain why certain statements were made in Questions on Doctrine. Froom noted that some of the answers given to the Evangelicals were made as a public disavowal of statements made by the early pioneers, "the early erroneous concepts of a [so-called] minority clearly needed repudiated. So the appointed framers of the answers to their questions prepared a simple statement disavowing these personal, individual, [so-called] minority positions, for inclusion in the forth coming book, to be called Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine." (Movement of Destiny, pp. 483, 484) These statements were necessary to clear up the misconceptions from prior statements. The disavowal read in part:
The belief of Seventh-day Adventists on these great truths is clear and emphatic. And we feel that we should not be identified with or stigmatized for, certain limited and faulty concepts held by some, particularly in our formative years.
This statement should therefore nullify the stock "quotations" that have been circulated against us. We are one with our fellow Christians of denominational groups in the great fundamentals of the faith once delivered to the saints. (Questions on Doctrine, pp. 31, 32)
What a shame to say that we are "one with our fellow Christians of denominational groups." Froom and the rest can call it "Christian" till the plagues fall; God calls it "BABYLON" and what authority do we have to call "Christian" that which God pronounces "Babylon?"
1971 -Movement of Destiny
Although we have already noted Froom's book, Movement of Destiny, and quoted from it, we should note the following points. Movement of Destiny was a clear attempt to rewrite our history and present the growth of the Advent movement as being of an evangelical character from its roots. It fully supported the Trinity and the continued compromises made in the 1950's. Froom also took liberty to attack Wieland and Short for their observance of how the church had gotten off the track of truth as given in 1888. The book carried a preface by Elder Neal Wilson, then General Conference vice president and chairman of the guiding committee for Movement of Destiny. The book's forward was originally written by Elder Robert Pierson, then president of the General Conference. However, due to backlash over references to Elder Robert Wieland, Pierson withdrew his statement. In his place, Elder H. M. S. Richards Sr., of the Voice of Prophecy, wrote the forward for the later edition! Of importance is the impetus for the book and the timing of its appearance. Froom acknowledges that:
Back in the spring of 1930 Arthur G. Daniells, for more than twenty years president of the General Conference, told me he believed that, at a later time, I should undertake a thorough survey of the entire plan of redemption ....
... I was a connecting link between past leaders and the present. But, he said, it is to be later-not yet, not yet.
Elder Daniells recognized the serious problems involved, and sensed almost prophetically certain difficulties that would confront. He knew that time would be required for certain theological wounds to heal, and for attitudes to modify on the part of some. Possibly it would be necessary to wait until certain individuals had dropped out of action [died!], before the needed portrayal could wisely be brought forth. (Movement of Destiny, p. 17)
1980 Statement of Beliefs and Beyond
The General Conference at Dallas in 1980 provided the laity a final opportunity to "meet" the omega of apostasy. The main focus of the session was the development of a new Statement of Beliefs to replace the 1931 statement which had only undergone minor revisions. The final product was an officially voted statement that affirmed the Trinitarian teaching. This statement has since taken on the lion-like jaws of a creed. Those who are found not lining up are disfellowshipped!
In 1984, a new pro-Trinitarian baptismal vow was released. 1985 brought the new Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal with its strong Trinitarian position, as well as its responsive readings in multiple modern translations. In 1988, the replacement book for Questions on Doctrine, Seventh-day Adventists Believe .... was published. It continued the omega apostasy with positions similar to Questions on Doctrine. 1993 saw the publication of the book Issues with its public challenge to independent ministries who claim to be "historic Adventists" to return to an anti-Trinitarian position.22 There were few takers. The following year we find the church's admission that the early pioneers would not be allowed to join the church today because of their anti-Trinitarian position.23
Current Relationship of Independent Ministries
While many independent ministries on the edge and within the Adventist Church today acknowledge the apostasy in Questions on Doctrine and other "books of a new order" concerning the incarnation and the atonement in heaven, most fail to realize the much larger scope of the matter. In fact, some of the most vocal supporters of Trinitarianism are Adventist independent ministries!
Several groups have gone on record rejecting the leading of God in the early days of the Advent movement and have strongly supported the pagan-papal Trinity. J___ O____, the leader of an independent ministry, was quick to label a conference minister as "Trash Can S_____" because he supposedly threw his Spirit of Prophecy books into a trash can. Later Pastor O_____ threw reprints of materials which the pioneers had written about the Godhead into a trash can and then proceeded to collect materials from his church members to throw in the trash can! At the time if this writing, Pastor O_____ is working closely with the conference.
In response to materials sent, which clearly presented the Biblical and historical position of the pioneers, one ministry sent out an amazing letter full of so called facts:
Thanks for writing. D___ is conducting a major evangelistic crusade in Michigan so I am handling much of his mail. I do not wish to offend you but I would like to call your attention to several important things:
1. Many of the pioneers were in error on several Bible teachings. We do not base our doctrines
on what various pioneers believed, but rather, upon what the church decided.
2. The Spirit of Prophecy is clear that:
a. Light is not revealed to a few (CW 45).
b. Light is not given contrary to the established faith of the body (EW 45).
c. New light should be submitted to the brethren and laid aside if they see no light in it (CW 47).
Like Froom and many others, this ministry has accounted the first fifty years as "error." While we agree that we should not accept any doctrine just because the pioneers believed it, we also believe that just because the "church" decides a certain doctrine is truth does not make it truth! The Spirit of Prophecy references are excellent. What a shame the church did not listen to the counsel when the Trinity doctrine was adopted!
a.) The wonderful truth about God and His Son was not revealed to just a few! All the pioneers understood and believed it. The Trinity came into the church through the efforts of a few key men. b.) The Trinity was contrary to the "established faith of the body." c.) New light is to be submitted not just to the brethren, but "the brethren of experience." (Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 47) The "brethren of experience," especially those that Ellen White referred to, were those who went through the 1844 experience. They all rejected the Trinity, seeing no light in it.
To avoid the connection the Trinity has to the papacy, some independent ministries have gone to the other extreme and accepted tritheism, the belief in three gods. Like Kellogg and Froom, they are quick to quote the Testimonies to "prove" their position.
While at the date of this writing few leaders of the larger ministries have rejected the omega, we should not hold our breath waiting to see what others will do before making our own decision. We have been plainly told:
In the last solemn work few great men will be engaged. . . . God will work a work in our day that but few anticipate. He will raise up and exalt among us those who are taught rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the outward training of scientific institutions. These facilities are not to be despised or condemned; they are ordained of God, but they can furnish only the exterior qualifications. God will manifest that He is not dependent on learned, self-important mortals.
To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few-this will be our test. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 80, 82, 137)
God is going to work in such a manner that no glory will go to man! The message of Revelation 14:7 to give glory to God will be accomplished, "not by might, nor by power," but by the Spirit of God and all glory will be His. What should be our relationship to this apostasy? "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." (Series B, no. 7, p. 52)
Shortly before I sent out the testimonies regarding the efforts of the enemy to undermine the foundation of our faith through the dissemination of seductive theories, I had read an incident about a ship in a fog meeting an iceberg. For several nights I slept but little. I seemed to be bowed down as a cart beneath sheaves. One night a scene was clearly presented before me. A vessel was upon the waters, in a heavy fog. Suddenly the lookout cried, "Iceberg just ahead!" There, towering high above the ship, was a gigantic iceberg. An authoritative voice cried out, "Meet it!" There was not a moment's hesitation. It was a time for instant action. The engineer put on full steam, and the man at the wheel steered the ship straight into the iceberg. With a crash she struck the ice. There was a fearful shock, and the iceberg broke into many pieces, falling with a noise like thunder to the deck. The passengers were violently shaken by the force of the collision, but no lives were lost. The vessel was injured, but not beyond repair. She rebounded from the contact, trembling from stem to stern, like a living creature. Then she moved forward on her way.
Well I knew the meaning of this representation. I had my orders. I had heard the words, like a voice from our Captain, "Meet it!" I knew what my duty was, and that there was not a moment to lose. The time for decided action had come. I must without delay obey the command, "Meet it!" (Series B, no. 2, pp. 55, 56)
Beloved, the iceberg appeared shortly after the "alpha" apostasy. To confront the omega will bring a "fearful shock;" we will be "violently shaken by the force of the collision." The true ship is "injured, but not beyond repair." Let us obey the Captain of our faith and "Meet it"!
As we have seen in our study, knowing God is eternally important. The prophet Daniel tells us that "the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits." (Daniel 11:31) Now is the time to know our God and be strong as never before. "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32)