The Deviant Theology of Robert J. Weiland
Dec. 04, 2007
Dear Elder Wieland,
You send your teaching out by these Dial Daily Bread email postings and you write magazine articles and stand before people in the pulpit. I respond in kind, writing articles in our little church paper and sending out my responses to a mailing list. Fair enough?
I must say up front that I do appreciate much of what you have done, in bringing the 1888 message to the attention of Adventists.
I was at one time a believer in this "born saved" theology which you teach. It is also taught in my church. I raised my objections when it first came in about ten years ago, but then rolled over upon the reading of a non-Adventist book handed to me by my pastor. Frankly, I believe I was deceived by this teaching. I cannot see it any other way. This incessant emphasis on objective salvation didn't do me any good in my subjective experience. I believe now that it is imbalanced and in error. I awakened a few years ago as I responded to the Spirit's call to renew my walk with God and find the power of the gospel unto salvation from sin. This comes by faith, which comes by hearing, which comes by the Word of God. As I have renewed also my reading in the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy, I find that there is indeed a "balance" to be struck when we define the gospel and its action in the lives of people.
This teaching of "Biblical" Universalism is confusing people. It confused me for many years. I am reasonably intelligent, so why did I take it up? I ponder this question still; 'tis a wonder to me to this day.
Our salvation was and is initiated by Christ, and is ALL of Christ, from start to finish. It is objectively effected for every man. Always and forever this is a verity. Given all of that, we do still have a choice to make. You say it yourself, under point 7 of your mini-message of today: "YOU LET HIM [Christ] DO IT" It always comes back to this, brother. Nothing is effected subjectively until we "LET." It is there, done, given, yes. Yet, there is a "but." Some object to using "but" because they say it wipes out everything that preceded it. It doesn't. What preceded still stands. It is just incomplete. It needs qualification. A strident objection to using "but" is just an artificial inflation of the weight of one's own argument and a browbeating of the opposition into shutting their mouths. So, I'll say it and hold my head high: BUT, The gift has to be appropriated through belief, faith, etc. I wholeheartedly agree that these things also come by Him, as the Scriptures say and as you emphasize. However, to state it again, we LET Him work in us that faith and all of its ensuing response in repentance, praise, thanksgiving, etc., through "COMING" unto Him by our own volition. That coming is in response to His drawing.
The gift is given and it is universal, yes. The drawing is universal. The probationary period granted to men is universal. But all of this is to no avail without the "right action of the will," upon which EVERYTHING DEPENDS. This also He has given us, if we will choose to respond in harmony with His will, which is to do HIS good pleasure. With regard to the subject at hand, His pleasure would be that none should perish but that all should COME to repentance. Let Steps to Christ back up my point:
"What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him.
"Desires for goodness and holiness are right as far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing. Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians. They do not come to the point of yielding the will to God. They do not now choose to be Christians.
"Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast, and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith." SC 47,48
What is my argument all about, at its core? This way of putting forth the gospel confuses people into a cheap grace mindset. The unsaved are made to think they are saved, period, because you tell them so. You don't emphasize the theological distinction between "objective" and "subjective" salvation. More comment on that in a moment. The carnal mind hears what it wants to hear; it picks out the part that appeals to the desire to be saved in sin. A primary example of this is 1 John 2:1: "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not." We gloss over this part, continuing: "And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Ah, but don't we emphasize part A over part B? Honestly, we do. Yes, I have heard these sermons hundreds of times, literally. Always, there are the tagged-on admonishments, "shall we then sin? God forbid," almost as if an afterthought.
We aren't seriously tackling the sin problem in this unbalanced presentation of the gospel.
In rubber-meets-road reality, we can't present the objective salvation in such a way as people are left with any idea that will tend toward a lassaiz-faire experience, if they even have that. I've seen way too much of this and I have experienced it. There are varying degrees to which people will go with this. I've seen those who just carry on with their drinking and cussing lifestyles, yet will tell you that they "got saved" back in '78 when they walked the sawdust trail. Others maintain a semblance of Christian life, attending church, making some modifications in behaviour, but really do compromise on a very many things, still living a worldly life and thinking according to the lusts of worldly ways. We tend to go soft on sin in this mode, at best.
This legal gospel preaching de-emphasizes the importance of entering into the subjective experience, which is the only mode that reflects any true change of heart and motive, any real relationship with the Saviour or any real appropriation of His merits to our own life. I have to contradict the Biblical Universalists and say that we aren't saved "actually" in the legal transaction that was executed on behalf of all men. (I believe that most of us understand "actually" in the subjective sense.) I am not hearing an emphasis on the fact that we don't go to heaven on that (legal, objective transaction at the cross) if we choose to leave it untouched. We have to pick it up, unpack it, appropriate it. We have to let Him apply it to our lives and enter into the subjective experience for us personally, individually, one-on-one. This is what true Adventism is about. We don't stop at the cross. We follow on into the heavenly sanctuary and by faith we receive the applied merits of His blood. This has an "actual" implication to our "actual" lives as we live them out "actually" on earth, in preparation for an "actual" dwelling in a sinless heaven and universe. I will go even a step further and state that we don't go to heaven on that (objective salvation given to all men) alone even if we do appropriate it. You see, this is a whole package deal. When we do make the choice to appropriate the merits of Christ, it begins the subjective work in us. We are not going to dwell in heaven with angels, in the presence of God, unless we have been fitted to give into and partake of its glory in an everlasting circuit of beneficence, that way of all-for-the-other-self-sacrificing-love, which is the law of life and happiness. We have to be "reconditioned units" to be able to function there and not pollute the environment and to not self destruct, as we would do and are doing here on earth in this "experiment in rebellion."
So, when we get into "born saved" theology, we need to make a very clear distinction to the hearer that this only applies to corporate man in the legal, objective sense. We cannot afford to be sloppy in any way and let them think they are born going to heaven, or born saved subjectively. The Scriptures do not support this.
"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:18
"For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him
for righteousness. . . Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was
imputed to him;
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. . ." Romans 1:16
It was purchased at high cost for every man, laid at his doorstep, with the entreaty, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." Says Christ, "If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in. . ." It is still an "if/then" proposition. To have Christ standing on the step and knocking, gift in hand (which is actually Himself), does us no tangible good. To be saved in a way that makes a difference in the life of the individual is such that we have opened the door to his knocking, picked up the gift that is offered. Yes, I'll use that word. I am in good company on this if you read the following quote.
"The great gift of salvation is freely offered to us,
through Jesus Christ, on condition
that we obey the law of God; and individually
we are to accept the terms of life with the deepest
humiliation and gratitude. None will ever enter the city of
From the same context, we find a mention of those who are on the church books but have no place in the kingdom. Could it be that these are ones who have been lulled by this incessant emphasis on forensic salvation teaching; that "every man is saved" theology, without it having been properly unpacked for the listener?
"The heart must be cleansed from its impurity; self-will must be exchanged for God's will; God's ways must be chosen before our own ways. Many names are registered on the church books that have no place in the Lamb's book of life. Let the question be asked with deepest concern, 'Is my name written there?' " ST, December 15, 1887 par. 9
Again, I must bring to bear another EGW statement for added emphasis:
"Through the grace that He constantly imparts to humanity, He is preparing a people to live with Him throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. And every one who chooses to follow Him may receive this preparation. Let us glorify His name by accepting the salvation so freely offered to us. [Revelation 3:7, 8, quoted.]
"Christ has wrought for us and obtained an everlasting victory, in order that He might open the door of heaven and close the door of Satan's devices. He does not restrict His blessings to a few. In the first chapter of the gospel of John we read, "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." 2SAT 223.3
Upon the basis of inspired writing in both the Bible and SOP, I find it to be a grievious thing that somehow, it seems to be implied by the Biblical Universalists that by presenting the full gospel, giving at least the same airtime to the gospel fact that our individual salvation includes the subjective experience -- which is that entering in through faith and having Christ work out the will of God in us -- we are giving play to the notion that we are tainting the gospel with the poison of legalism. This is a hot word. It sizzles with "don't touch." Now we better sit up and listen if we don't want to fall into the works trap. Invoke the "L" word in an argument and be sure to win some points with some of the listeners on the sidelines. "I don't wanna be a Phar-i-see. They're not fair, you see. I just wanna be a sheep, 'baa-baa-baa-baa,' " goes the childrens' ditty.
Let's make sure the sheep are following Christ, finding their experience based upon both what He did for us, objectively, at the Cross, and what He does in us, subjectively, as we choose to open the door and let Him renew our hearts and minds unto salvation.
From: Dial Daily Bread
Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread":
The Lord does not “balance” the Good News of His pure gospel with even a drop of legalism to poison it.
If you open to Ephesians, the pure unadulterated “truth of the gospel” (cf. Gal. 2:5, 14) will soon stare you in the face:
“By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (2:8, 9). Note:
(1) What Christ accomplished is not a mere “offer” as is so often said: it is a “GIFT.”
(2) “Grace” is kindness not “offered” but GIVEN to the sinful, fallen human race “in Christ.” “God so loved the world, that He gave ... “ (John 3:16).
(3) You may ungracefully resist and refuse the “gift” (let us pray that you don’t!) but in the final judgment you will see the stark evidence that the Lord did GIVE it to you and you scornfully refused it. (Again, a thousand times, may the Lord save us from doing that!)
(4) Even the “faith” that we need in order to appropriate and receive the “gift” is not of ourselves, but again is a “free gift.” God specializes in giving goodies, not just “offering” them.
(5) If that were not true, then the gospel would end up telling us how to save ourselves. If our salvation depends on us accepting an “offer,” then inevitably we would have a significant part in saving ourselves.
(6) Two steps are clearly demarcated: (a) We “have been saved,” past tense; Christ saved us. The “we” is not a little group of Calvinist “elect,” but is clearly everybody. If it is “by grace,” that must include all the undeserving people in the world. Otherwise it is not “by grace” but is clearly “by works.” (b) The receiving of the “gift” is also “through faith,” again, a “free gift.”
(7) And then, you end up in God’s kingdom forever singing His praise, for He saved you from A to Z, not yourself doing it. You let Him do it.
If you open your Bible to Romans, there again you will hear angels singing the same melody of grace:
“As through one man’s offence [Adam’s] judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (5:18).
Does that mean that people will be “saved by grace” while knowingly transgressing the holy law of God? As Paul says it, “God forbid!” The heart that says “Thank You!” for “the free gift” of justification is constrained forever by the love of Christ to live a life of glad obedience (2 Cor. 5:10-21).
On this, the world’s grand antitypical Day of Atonement, the world’s High Priest is ministering that salvation to all who will open the heart to receive the blessing.
-- Robert J. Wieland's inspirational "Dial Daily Bread", Dec. 04, 2007