Introduction of the Trinity Doctrine Into the Seventh-day Adventist Church

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

Section Eleven

Towards a trinity (part two)

We begin this section by continuing to look at Warren Prescott’s daily presentations on ‘The Person of Christ’ given at the 1919 Bible Conference. The discussions that took place are of vital interest to our study. They show a definite link between various concepts of the trinity and certain concepts of God as Kellogg portrayed in his book ‘The Living Temple’. Ellen White objected strongly to some of Kellogg’s sentiments saying

"They are a snare that the enemy has prepared for these last days." (R&H Oct 22nd 1903)

The concepts to which she objected, all concerned the presence and personality of God. This of course is the main burden of the trinity doctrine.

In the previous section (section ten), we noted that it was Prescott’s presentation of the 6th July that had caused the protest about the trinity. The next four days passed without too much disagreement, but his presentations of July 13th and 14th brought about a new controversy.

It may seem surprising, but this noted educator and Bible scholar appears to have been thought of by some as teaching pantheism. The outcome was that Prescott almost came to the decision to discontinue his presentations.

How all this came about is very interesting but before we look at what actually happened, I believe that it is important for us to understand what is actually meant by the term ‘pantheism’.


In Arthur L. White’s ‘The Early Elmshaven years’, Volume 5 1900 – 1905, Chapter 21 - ‘The Threat of Pantheism’ (page 281) it says

"Pantheism is the term used to designate the strange new teachings that were being introduced. Pantheism pictures God not as a great personal Being, but a mysterious essence--an impersonal influence pervading all nature. God is seen in all nature--in trees, flowers, sunshine, air, and human beings. The power of God in nature is confused with the personality of God."

To a certain extent, this statement does lend itself to an appreciation of the Kellogg ‘problem’, but it certainly does not give a true understanding of pantheism. The idea that ‘pantheism’ means simply ‘God in nature’ or that ‘God is a mysterious essence’ is very misleading to say the least.

The term ‘pantheism’ means ‘all is God’.

It is the belief that the whole physical universe is God and that besides this there is no God.

In pantheism, there is no personal creator God. This must be clearly understood.

According to pantheism, the combined forces and laws of the universe are its own governing precepts and that outside of its own inhabitants, the divine (physical universe) has no mind of it own.

The reason why pantheists say that the total universe (all physical matter) is God, is because they say that it is our own personal feelings that determine whether something is worthy of worship. In pantheism, it is the physical universe that demands reverence, therefore the focus is on the respect and admiration of nature itself.

Whilst in pantheism there is no personal God, there is a sense of belonging to the divine. This is said to be because humanity is a part of the physical universe. Pantheists believe that there is only one substance and that this is physical matter. They do not believe in the spiritual as well as the physical.

Pantheism must never be confused with the term ‘panentheism’.

The term ‘panentheism’ means that the physical universe is contained within God but unlike pantheism, it does not exhaust His being. The simple comparison is that in panentheism, God is bigger than the physical universe whereas in pantheism, God is the physical universe. It must also be said that neither pantheism or panentheism should be confused with ‘animism’ which teaches that everything animate and inanimate has within itself its own living presence (soul or spirit).

Bearing this in mind, we can now move on to see why Prescott was thought of by some as teaching pantheism and why, quite rightly, he denied it.

This section is quite lengthy, but it is also very important. Erroneous views as to what constitutes pantheism has led to a great deal of misunderstanding. Accusations have been made which have not been true. A wrong understanding of pantheism will also cause confusion as to why Kellogg and Prescott (and others) denied teaching it.

Although both were thought by some to be teaching pantheism, Prescott always denied teaching the same as Kellogg.

The reader may believe that these concepts put forward by such as Kellogg, Waggoner, Prescott and others, actually belong to the past but in a very real sense they are still prevalent in Adventism today. The whole issue is over the presence and personality of God.

Prescott’s July 14th presentation

During the two days of July 13th/14th, Prescott had been speaking of Christ’s role as mediator in both creation and re-creation. He maintained that because the mediator was the same in both events, then the power in creation must be the same as in re-creation.

It must be said, that to fully appreciate what Prescott was teaching, it is necessary to read the whole of the day’s discussions. The same would apply of course in appreciating the objections made by certain delegates. Obvious to relate, the entire days proceedings cannot be covered here, but if you would like to read them for yourself, they are available from the 1919 Bible Conference notes (July 14th) at

My purpose here is to simply show some of Prescott’s thoughts pertaining to God and Christ, which in turn resulted in some of the delegates believing that he was teaching pantheism (or at least had ‘pantheistic ideas’). How far Prescott was leaning towards pantheism, I will leave for you to consider, but do not underestimate the importance of Prescott’s teaching in relation to the developing theology within the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

First of all, I would like to show the outcome of his July 14th presentation. I have included the page numbers so that each quote (or dialogue) can easily be found in the report for that day.

The afternoon session of July 14th

There had been the usual morning presentations. It was now afternoon and the beginning of a second afternoon session for Prescott. There had already been a great deal of dialogue between Prescott and the other delegates.

At the beginning of this session, R. D. Quinn was the first to speak. During the morning session of Prescott’s presentation, he had read to the delegates from 8T p291 where Ellen White warned about ‘pantheistic theories’. This of course, made it look as though he had thought that Prescott was teaching pantheism. Now, at the opening of this afternoon session Quinn said

"I had a personal talk with Brother Prescott. In reading a statement from Volume 8 regarding God being an essence and pervading all nature, and then the suggestion there of pantheism, in that, it rather seemed to be a reflection on what Brother Prescott was saying. Now I wish to remove that entirely, because it was more with the idea -- a statement was read about the mysterious influence of Christ -- "

Prescott interrupted Quinn saying "No"

Quinn replied, "Well words to that effect -- the mysterious influence of Christ in all nature, and I read this as a balance against that. I meant that we couldn’t take one isolated statement from the Spirit of Prophecy and build a doctrine on it, but in talking with Brother Prescott I find he had no thought of that in mind. We must compare scripture with scripture, and the same in the Spirit of Prophecy, that is, in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. That was the thought I had in mind, without casting any reflection at all, and I sincerely beg the pardon of the council for introducing that as I did." p68

This is where Prescott suggested that he withdrew from the conference. He replied

"I didn’t ask Brother Quinn to say that. I am very sorry that this matter has come up. I think the best thing to do is to stop the whole matter, and I will withdraw from any further teaching on the subject, because I see that it creates trouble and disturbance, and feeling, and I am willing to resign from any further teaching and restore harmony." p68

Obviously, there was division, but there were those who responded by saying that the subject matter of the person of Christ was very important and that despite the objections, it should still continue. One of these was E. R. Palmer. He said that several years previous, he had encountered the very same thing that Prescott was teaching and had found it then a great blessing. He said

"Since this matter was first presented in a meeting several years ago, I believe it has been a great blessing to everyone who was present, as a matter of personal experience. I think it is an illustration of how closely truth runs alongside beside error, and I think Satan has endeavoured to deprive us of the truth by placing error so close to it so that it looks so much like it that we will dodge the truth when it comes to us." p69

Palmer explained that Kellogg, in support of his own beliefs, had quoted freely from Ellen White’s writings saying that she taught the same thing that he (Kellogg) did about God. Palmer also explained that Prescott had supported Ellen White when she denied teaching the same. Palmer said that to counteract Kellogg’s claims, Ellen White had included a chapter in the book ‘Ministry of Healing’ which was then being prepared at the time of the Kellogg crisis. He said that Ellen White did this to "emphasise certain truths to correct the impression that had been received by some that she had been teaching the same thing that Doctor Kellogg taught." p69

(The chapter that Palmer referred to is called ‘A true Knowledge of God’. The sentiments quoted in ‘Ministry of Healing’ are the same as Quinn quoted in 8T p291 under the sub-section ‘pantheistic theories’)

Palmer made it clear that he did not believe that Prescott was teaching the same as Kellogg but said that both Prescott and Ellen White " .. are teaching the greatest themes that can come to us for our salvation, but the Devil has something, and has been deceiving this world by something that lies close to it in resemblance, and I think we will be able to defend the truth and fight the error, if we go right along that line without fear, along the course we have studied."

He then said

"I think it would be a calamity to this conference if we were to throw up the study at this point, or if we were to interpret the teaching on this mighty question as a presentation of the doctrines of pantheism. It is just a lack of having worked it out yet, that leads to that impression in the minds of some." p70

So Palmer claimed that the objections to Prescott’s teachings were unfounded. He said that they were based on a misunderstanding of what Prescott was actually saying inasmuch as it was just a case of "a lack of having worked it out yet". He appealed for Prescott to continue with his presentations.

From what Prescott said in reply, it is obvious that he believed many were saying that he was teaching the same as Kellogg. He replied

"There is a general feeling to this effect, and I don’t wish to teach in the face of that feeling. I would rather withdraw."

The stenographer reports that there were voices from the delegates that said that this was not true but Prescott replied

"I was told that that was the feeling, that there was a good lot of them that felt that way. Now I haven’t anything to crowd upon this body. I would rather get out among the heathen and teach them. Very much rather.

I enjoy them very much. I was not charged with teaching pantheism, and I brought people out of heathenism. I know I would rather teach them than this body, because there is a deep feeling that has existed in the minds of many that I am just the same as doctor Kellogg and Wagner (meaning Waggoner) and that I brought it over from England and was really in the mess myself." p70

It is obvious that Prescott had become agitated. He freely admitted that he believed that there was a "good lot of them" who thought that he had got himself mixed up in the ‘pantheistic views’ advocated by Kellogg and Waggoner.

There was of course a vast difference in teaching certain ideas to the ‘heathen’ (as Prescott called them) and that of trying to convince such an elite group of Seventh-day Adventists. These delegates were such as Bible scholars and teachers as well as leaders in all types of departments including editors of our publishing departments. These were men of vast experience in matters of a spiritual nature who well understood many of the problems that the church by this time had encountered (particularly with Kellogg). Their knowledge of the scriptures was also vastly different than that of the ‘heathen’ who would know very little of the scriptures and theology. Prescott was obviously beginning to realise that it was easier to convince ‘the heathen’ than men of spiritual maturity.

In his own defence, Prescott went on to say that in the crisis of 16 years previous (which was to a certain extent, still going on) he had stood up against Kellogg and had spoken out against what the doctor had taught. He said that he could prove that he had stood up against Kellogg. He appealed to the delegates with this reasoning

"How did it happen that it fell to my lot to do a very unpleasant task then, and that was to point out the error in his book and its departure from Bible teaching, when I am to this day held under that suspicion. Now I would rather drop the whole thing and let you have any views you please." p71

Prescott is appealing to the reasoning that it was not logical to accuse him of teaching the very same thing of which he had stood up against Kellogg. It appears that Prescott was trying to convince the delegates that what he himself was teaching must be different than that of Kellogg.

C. C. Lewis responded to Prescott by saying

"It seems to me now, that to drop the thing is to give confirmation to that feeling which brother Prescott thinks is present, but I don’t believe it exists in any great extent here. I think it would be a great mistake." p71

J. N. Anderson agreed with Lewis. Anderson also apologised for anything that he himself should not have said and that he thought the presentation should continue. He also said that he had spoken to some of the younger delegates who had told him that Prescott’s presentations were the best thing of the convention. Anderson appealed for Prescott to continue, saying that he would be personally disappointed if his presentations were not continued.

F. M. Wilcox, a firm advocate of the trinity doctrine (and the man who when he was its editor, introduced the term into the 1931 year book) then said "I move that it is the consensus of this body that Professor Prescott go on with these studies."

The stenographer reports that there was general acclamation from the floor and that chairman Knox said "The motion is carried." p72

There followed remarks from Underwood and Knox to the effect that they did not believe that Prescott spoke in terms of pantheism. They expressed the view that they hoped that he would continue the studies.

As the discussions drew to a close, a delegate by the name of Bird said

"I just want to ask a question. I have always understood that in Pantheism, God did not exist apart from nature. We certainly have not had any of that kind of teaching that God does not exist apart from what is revealed in nature." p74

Bird obviously had an understanding of what pantheism really teaches. His views were not confused with simply ‘God in nature’ but were in harmony with the explanation of pantheism given previously in this section.

From this point, there is nothing else for that day recorded of these discussions but Prescott did continue the next day.

From what transpired on the 14th July, we can see that some of the delegates were not very happy with Prescott’s teaching. Some had thought that he was teaching something which resembled pantheism.

Was Prescott teaching the same pantheistic ideas as Kellogg or was there a difference? Some of the delegates of the 1919 Bible Conference had obviously perceived that in the outcome, there was no difference.

It must be borne in mind that this conference was taking place 16 years on from that original Kellogg crisis and that somewhere along the way, Prescott had certainly changed his beliefs concerning God and Christ.

In the Review and Herald of April 14th 1896 Prescott had said

‘‘As Christ was twice born, - once in eternity, the only begotten of the Father, and again here in the flesh, thus uniting the divine with the human in that second birth, - so we, who have been born once already in the flesh, are to have the second birth, being born again of the Spirit, in order that our experience may be the same, - the human and the divine being joined in a life union."

At this time (1896), that which Prescott had said in this article was, without doubt, the denominational stand of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is obvious that by the time of the 1919 conference (23 years later), Prescott had changed his views and was trying to change the views of the delegates. This is why there were objections at the July 6th meeting.

In a complete turn-around from his former beliefs, Prescott was now saying (in harmony with the trinity doctrine) that Christ was co-eternal with the Father and was of the same age (coeval).

Consider the facts. It was in his presentation of the 6th July that he had said the things that had caused an upset at the conference. Some of the delegates believed that Prescott was trying to introduce the doctrine of the trinity. Only one week later, he was at the centre of another dispute because certain delegates likened his teaching to pantheism. This must be regarded as being very significant. This appears to be a similarity here as to that which was happening at the time of the Kellogg crisis.

Was Prescott’s ideas tending towards pantheism? What was it that he had said that day that would lend itself to that reasoning?

Here are some of the statements that Prescott made that day as well as some of the dialogue and questions that followed. In his introductory remarks, he said

"Yesterday we called attention to the relation of the Son of God to the original creation. Now this morning I turn to the New Creation." p1

He then quoted 2 Corinthians 5:17 as saying

""Wherefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away;, behold, they are become new." If any man be in Christ he is a new creature."

He then quoted Galatians 6:15 and then followed with these words "The performance of any ceremony does not make us Christians; the omission of the ceremony does not make us Christians. There must be a new creation. That is the vital thing." p1

Following this he quoted Ephesians 2:10 and remarked "We are his workmanship. The word here translated for "workmanship" is the same word that is translated in Romans 1:2 (in the plural) "things that are made" -- "for the invisible things of him since the beginning of the world, are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made." And how? Created in Christ Jesus unto good works. That is the way we are made new by that creative process." p2

After quoting from Colossians chapter 3 and concluding "Christ is all and in all", Prescott says

"Now we carry that thought not simply to persons but to things. Therefore, Revelation 21:1 "I saw a new heaven and a new earth" -- in fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah in the 65th chapter and the 17th verse: "for behold I create new heavens and a new earth." "That he might created in himself one new man" New heavens, new earth, new man. Now exactly the same process that brings the new heavens and a new earth brings the new man. The same process, same Creator, same person through whom the work is wrought." p3

Notice that Prescott, after saying that Christ is "in all" then said "Now we carry that thought not simply to persons but to things." If you recall at the time of the Kellogg crisis (1903), Kellogg was teaching that through the Holy Spirit, God was in all and in everything (see section six).

The principle of ‘God’s life in everything’ permeated the whole of Prescott’s presentation for that day. He maintained that the process that produced nature was the same process by which a person is re-created into the image of God. He also went on to say that the life within nature was the same life that was in re-creation, although for different purposes. Prescott knew that he was presenting a view that was new to Adventism. This can be seen by the remarks that he made after his encounter with Anderson who had at first questioned his teaching. Prescott said following that encounter

"Let us go on with the study or we will lose the connection. Remember, I am not forcing this thought upon you, but it is merely for your consideration." p10

To allay any fears that he was teaching pantheism (before anyone had said that he was teaching it), Prescott said

"Now to my mind there is an absolute difference between identifying God with nature and saying all is God, which is pantheism, a very great difference between that and the scriptural teaching concerning the revelation of God in nature and in grace". A very great difference. I will simply present the reading of the scripture. Now shall we go on." p13

As you can see, Prescott well understood the true meaning of pantheism (we shall see later that Kellogg also understood the meaning correctly). Prescott certainly did not understand pantheism to mean simply ‘God in nature’. He knew that pantheism taught that "all is God" and that outside (other than) the physical universe there was no God. This is why he denied teaching pantheism and was correct in his denial. He then read Romans 1:20 which says

"For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity." p13

He then said "I will not add anything to that, or explain it, I will just read the scripture. "Are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made." Now I don’t think that’s pantheism, and yet his everlasting power and divinity are clearly seen by and perceived through the things that are made." p13

Prescott then asked the delegates to look at Isaiah 40 and said "Why is it that there is this constant appeal to the physical universe?"

He then quickly followed with another question

"Why is it that pantheism has arisen to scare us off from the truth, to lead us over the line into error?" p14

Prescott was trying to teach ‘God in nature’ rather than ‘nature is God’. The difference must be regarded as significant. He claimed that the fear of pantheism (God is all) was something that was deterring people from seeing the truth about God’s life being within nature. To prove the point of what he was teaching, Prescott used (as he called it), the scriptures own "constant appeal to the physical universe". He concluded

"I don’t see, as far as I observe in reading the scripture, any distinction made between one kind of power in the physical universe, and another kind of power in the spiritual universe. I don’t find any evidence of distinction between the two. I think they are the same kind of power revealed for a different purpose. The same power, the same God, the same mediator, but for a different purpose. Why is this constant appeal to the things that are made? Because in the things that are made, the visible things that are made, the invisible things become visible.

I don’t interpret it to mean that his power and Godhead in the invisible universe are different from his power and godhead in something else. The appeal is to these visible things in order that we may see the very things that make for our salvation, his eternal power and divinity." p14

After quoting Isaiah 65:17 Prescott said

"Now I understand right through, that the creator of the original heavens and earth is the creator of man. The creator of the new heavens and the new earth is the creator of the new man. The same invisible power and divinity that is revealed in the things that are seen since the creation of the world, since that power went forth and was clothed with visible forms, that same power, the power of the gospel, but revealed for a different purpose." p14a

Palmer said that during Prescott’s presentation, he had felt that " … there was something lacking in the expression of recreation or redemption, not as to the person of God, but the mediator or the power through which it was accomplished, as to the provisions and manifestations for its accomplishments." p47

Prescott responded by pointing to some flowers on the desk and saying

"Some kind of life is manifested here; we cannot explain it. It builds these things up before our very eyes, but I cannot get the power from these for my salvation. I cannot get any life through that means for my salvation. There is no provision made there for it." p47

In his reply, Palmer said "If the manifestations and provisions were the same, I don’t know that I could discover any reason why Christ should have come here and died for the sins of man. He might have continued his mediatorial work and power for our recreation without that provision for sin and that sacrifice, that manifestation of God which he manifested here." p47

Palmer then spoke of God as being personally within His own material creation. He said

"Is it a question of whether we would exclude God from the material universe, or a question of whether we would put a false God into the material universe? It seems that in that struggle, -- I went through all those meetings in Battle Creek, (Palmer is here referring to the Kellogg crisis) -- through that struggle it seemed to me the false God was put into nature and God Jehovah did not exist anywhere else in any way in which he did not exist in those plants; and precisely the same power and workings were manifested in those and in man, so it seemed we had a pantheistic God in that power. And the opposite extreme would be to exclude God from the material creation." p48

Prescott apparently agreed with palmer by replying

"The Bible is just as clear in this statement that God is present everywhere, -- Whither shall I go from thy spirit, and whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I descend into hell, lo Thou art there, if I fly to the uttermost parts of the earth, thou art there, etc. But there is a distinction. It also points out that there is a place where God is as he is not any place else. The Bible teaches both, but I cannot reason them out." p48

Prescott challenged

Now whilst I am limited as to what I can put in this section, let me share with you now, some of the dialogue that took place between certain of the delegates and Prescott. This I believe portrays some of the reservations that some had concerning Prescott’s ideas. It may generate some questions in your own mind.

Prescott had referred to Genesis 8:22 where God had promised that after the flood "seedtime and harvest … shall not cease" p9. Prescott then said

"Those are the operations of God in nature. While the earth remaineth, there will be those successions of the operations of God, seedtime and harvest. Just that one thought, when you develop it, gives the idea, -- "seedtime and harvest." "Behold, the kingdom of God is like a sower. Behold, a sower went forth to sow" -- seedtime. The seed is the word of God. That whole question of the seedtime has in it the whole question of the gospel of the kingdom." p9

This brought about a response from Anderson. The dialogue is recorded as this

Anderson "Are you using this material seed sowing as an analogy with the spiritual seed sowing?"

Prescott "Yes, I do not identify them any more than Christ identifies them, but the same principle is in both."

Anderson "But in the physical there is no moral quality."

Prescott "O, no!"

Anderson "They differ essentially that way."

Prescott "In one case that life, that power, is manifested in visible forms where, as you say, there is no moral quality; and in the other case the same power is manifested in us, and moral qualities appear."

Anderson "But if we say the same power operates in both cases, would it not indicate that there was a moral quality in connection with the physical?"

Prescott then asked what he obviously thought was a deciding question He asked "How many powers work?" The answer that he expected was probably that there was only ‘one power’ but Anderson replied.

"I would distinguish something like this: Here is a man that makes furniture for his house. That is a product of his skill. That has a vital relation to the family. So Christ’s relation to us is a vital one. His relation to the physical world is a very different one."

This is when (as I said before) that Prescott realised he was being challenged and said "Let us go on with the study or we shall lose the connection. Remember, I am not forcing this thought upon you, but it is merely for your consideration." p9

During that days proceedings, there were those who agreed with Prescott as well as those who disagreed. There were also those who were not quite sure as well as at least one delegate who said that this kind of discussion should be left alone.

Just as the afternoon session was getting underway, a delegate by the name of Shaw asked Prescott a question

"A question that was not very clear to me is about creation and re-creation. You spoke about one power both for creation and re-creation. Am I right? The power of re-creation, it is in the hearts of men. Now in nature, what would you call it?"

Prescott replied

"I used the expression that I did from "Education" purposely so as to avoid any misunderstanding, - "the mysterious life pervades all nature."

Shaw then asked "How far is that from pantheism?"

Prescott replied "Suppose you take that up with the author rather than with me. That is pretty fair authority I believe to phrase it that way." p 44

He meant of course, Ellen White (who had been dead at this time for four years). Obviously he was referring to the inspiration of her writings and the high esteem in which she was held by many of the delegates. He actually quoted from ‘Education’ page 99 which I invite you to read. You will well understand why Prescott said that he was teaching the same as Ellen White but remember, that is exactly what Kellogg had claimed.

This was the point where Quinn read from the testimonies. He said

"I think the Spirit of Prophecy explains itself. We cannot take an isolated statement and get anything out of it. It says:-

"We are living in an age of great light; but much that is called light is opening the way for the wisdom and arts of Satan. Many things will be presented that appear to be true. And yet they need to be carefully considered with much prayer; for they may be specious devices of the enemy. The path of error often appears to lie close to the path of truth. It is hardly distinguishable from the path that leads to holiness and heaven. But the mind enlightened by the Holy Spirit may discern that it is diverging from the right way. After a while the two are seen to be widely separated.

Already there are coming in among our people spiritualistic teachings that will undermine the faith of those who give heed to them. The theory that God is an essence pervading all nature is one of Satan's most subtle devices. It misrepresents God, and is a dishonor to His greatness and majesty.

Pantheistic theories are not sustained by the word of God." p45

Quinn had quoted here from 8T pages 290-291 which was written by Ellen White in direct context of the ‘pantheistic views’ of Kellogg as well as others whom we shall later mention (this is also the reading to which Quinn made reference at the opening of that afternoon session spoken of earlier in this section).

This dialogue then followed

Prescott: "Did you read that because it applied to teaching here?"

Quinn: "Personally, I am not able to distinguish the difference between God in creation and in re-creation."

Prescott: "What is the application of the instruction?"

Quinn: "The instruction here seems to be that the idea of God in all nature is pantheistic."

Prescott: "Would you think Romans 1:20 was pantheistic? "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse"." p46

Prescott was applying some subtle reasoning but Anderson was not satisfied. He said

"Is it not true that through these works of God we can know of his manifestations of eternal Godhead and power. We cannot say it predicates his nature, but that these things are his handiwork and reveal to us and speak to us of his wisdom and power that stands back of all this. That is what that passage means to me. I am troubled on this point. It says in one passage we all know so well in John’s letter, "He that hath the son hath life, and he that hath not the son of God hath not life." It must be that all those who have mere natural life have not the life of God in the spiritual and moral sense. It seems to me that the gospel draws a very marked line between God’s moral supremacy and the power seen in creation. I am of the opinion that we are better off to make that distinction very clear." p46

That which Anderson was saying here was exactly the same thing that Prescott had said when objecting to Kellogg’s teachings 16 years previous. He replied to Anderson by saying that at that time, he was accused of having the same views as Kellogg and yet it was he (Prescott) who had been called to " … fight him (Kellogg) face to face in our committee and through the Review, of which I was editor."

Prescott then said, "I held exactly the same views as I hold now, and one thing that struck me rather strongly, I have been teaching for a year and a half among the simple people of the Far East this very thing, and they have got a great blessing out of this thought, but I find here it does not go. Among those people out there it brought great help and blessing. We took up the very same thing in Korea, and here it is not accepted, and I am sorry anything has been said about it here." p46-a

A delegate by the name of Shaw was not satisfied either. He later challenged Prescott on a very basic issue. He said to Prescott

"I want to be clear on this matter. I do not know whether I am or not. Now we teach these Hindu people that nature is simply a result of the power of God, that he brought these things into existence, but we teach them that the new birth is the life of Christ within us, and that nature is not the life of Christ nor the life of God. This illustration that Brother Anderson used is the one we make use of. We speak about the furniture in the room, and we speak about the child as related to the household. He made the furniture with his own hands, but the child is a product of his life. And so we speak of the new birth and that is the way we carry it on in speaking to these people. That right?"

Prescott replied "That would be good if nature had no more life in it than the chair. But it has."

Shaw then asked the crucial question. He asked "Then the question comes, whose life is it? Is that the life of God? Then if it is, we will worship God in the trees because that is God." p49

Whilst we can only agree with Prescott that he was certainly not teaching pantheism, was he teaching that which Ellen White would have called ‘pantheistic ideas’? As I have previously said, I will leave that for your own reflections but consider this for a moment.

When we say as Prescott did that ‘God is present everywhere’, do we mean

.… that God is here in England as well as in America, South Africa and Australia? .… that He is also here in Bristol, England as well as 100 miles away in London? .… that He is in my house as well as in my friends house just around the corner? .… that He is in the room where I am now, as well as in my kitchen and bathroom? .… that he is stood next to me as I type this section and at the same time is sitting on the chair across the room? …. that He is actually within me as I am typing?

Can we now take one more step and ask if God is even within the plants within my house because within them there is life?

What do we really mean when we say that God is ‘present everywhere’?

Prescott’s views on the Holy Spirit

Calling for the delegates to go one step further in their thinking, Prescott spoke of the Holy Spirit.

After referring John 15:26 Prescott said of the comforter

"This is the spirit of truth. He is, and announces himself as, the spirit of truth. The spirit of truth is the spirit of Christ. The spirit in Jesus." p15

Prescott then read Acts 16:6-7 and said

"The whole book of Acts is a revelation "of the things which Jesus continued both to do and to teach". The Gospels are the record of the things he did and taught personally, individually in the body; and the book of Acts is the record of the things he continued to do in the persons of his disciples who were endowed with his spirit." p15

He then said

"Now let us turn to John 14:16 - "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may be with you forever (17vs) even the spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive". There is that same idea again: Give you another comforter that he may abide with you forever. Jesus was about to take away from them his bodily presence. He says "He (that other comforter) will abide with you forever"." p15

After quoting other texts concerning the Holy Spirit Prescott said

"The world deals with visible things. We have to learn to deal with invisible things. These invisible things are clearly perceived in the things that are made. "Ye know him, for he abideth with you and shall be in you. I will not leave you desolate, I come unto you."

The advent of the spirit is the advent of the spirit of Jesus Christ, -- his personal presence. The impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ." p16

After quoting John 14:19-20 Prescott said

"Now the promise of the Spirit -- the Comforter -- in the 17th vs was that "he shall be in you." which was to be fulfilled "in that day when ye shall know that I am in you." That is the advent of the Comforter, the advent of this person of Christ in the Spirit divested now of his humanity to dwell with our humanity. To get this clear we must take all the scriptures: That Christ may dwell in your heart, "Crucified with Christ", "Christ living in me." All these scriptures that speak of the indwelling Christ are fulfilled by the indwelling of the Comforter, and we have just that measure of the indwelling Christ that we have of the indwelling of the Comforter." p16

There is no record of anyone objecting to what Prescott had said about the Holy Spirit. This is because what he had said would have been no great surprise to the delegates. He was saying that the Holy spirit is the personal presence of Christ Himself, not cumbered with humanity. This is in harmony with the Spirit of Prophecy which says

"Cumbered with humanity Christ could not be in every place personally, therefore it was altogether for their advantage that He should leave them to go to His Father and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth. The Holy Spirit is Himself, divested of the personality of humanity and independent thereof. He would represent Himself as present in all places by His Holy Spirit." (Manuscript Releases Volume 14 (No’s 1081-1135) MR No.1084

In Desire of Ages Ellen White wrote

"The Holy Spirit is Christ's representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof. Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it was for their interest that He should go to the Father, and send the Spirit to be His successor on earth. No one could then have any advantage because of his location or his personal contact with Christ. By the Spirit the Saviour would be accessible to all. In this sense He would be nearer to them than if He had not ascended on high." (DA page 669)

The outcome

As we have seen, the outcome was that during the presentation of the 14th July, there were those who thought that Prescott was teaching similar pantheistic ideas as was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. Prescott denied this by saying that all along, he had been opposed to what Kellogg taught about God also that he had stood up against the doctor.

At the time of the Kellogg crisis in Oct 1903, Ellen White wrote in a letter addressed to physicians and ministers at Battle Creek

"God has permitted the presentation of the combination of good and evil in "Living Temple" to be made to reveal the danger threatening us. The working that has been so ingeniously carried on He has permitted in order that certain developments might be made, and that it might be seen what a man can do with human minds when he has obtained their confidence as a physician. God has permitted the present crisis to come to open the eyes of those who desire to know the truth. He would have His people understand to what lengths the sophistry and devising of the enemy would lead."

Notice well that Ellen White said that in Kellogg’s book there was a "combination of good and evil" also that God had permitted this "in order that certain developments might be made". A little further on in the same letter she said

"Your leader has been removing the foundation-timbers one by one, and his reasoning would soon leave us with no certain foundation for our faith. He has not heeded the testimonies that God through His Spirit has given. The books of the Bible containing most important instruction are disregarded because they say so much about a personal God. He has not known whether his feet were tending. But in his recent writings, his tendencies toward Pantheism have been revealed."(SPTB07 p36)

Notice that she had said Kellogg’s "tendencies toward Pantheism have been revealed." Two years later in 1905, Ellen White described Kellogg’s teachings as "pantheistic theories" (SPTB06 page 41) whilst in 1906 she called them "pantheistic ideas" (SPTB07 page 47). We also noted in section six (‘The Kellogg Crisis’), that Ellen White described Kellogg’s teaching as "akin to pantheism" (SPTB06 page 41). Note the reluctance here of Ellen White to describe Kellogg’s ideas as being pantheism itself. I would say that as did Prescott, Ellen White understood the true meaning of pantheism.

In a personal letter to Kellogg in 1903, Ellen White wrote

"The specious, scheming representations of God in nature carry their charming, soothing influence as a peace and safety pill to give to the people, in the spiritualistic views that Satan has instituted in your theories."--Letter 301, April 5, 1903.

Ellen White referred to "God in nature" as being "spiritualistic views".

In ‘The Early Elmshaven Years’, Volume 5 page 303, Arthur White wrote concerning a letter that Ellen White penned to Dr. Paulson

"In another September 18 letter Ellen White wrote: Dr. Paulson's mind is becoming confused.... Extreme views of "God in nature" undermine the foundation truths of the personality of God and the ministration of angels. A confused mass of spiritualistic ideas takes the place of faith in a personal God.... Let Dr. Paulson take heed that he be not deceived. He may say, "Sister White's own words are repeated in Dr. Kellogg's teachings." True; but misinterpreted and misconstrued." (Letter 271b, 1903.""

(Along with A. T. Jones and Kellogg himself, Dr Paulson was one of the special review committee of four who had recommended that Kellogg’s book ‘The Living Temple’ should have been published. Prescott, who was the fourth member of the committee, presented a minority report and succeeded in stopping its publication).

On the same page of ‘The Early Elmshaven Years’, Arthur White said

"In a letter addressed to Dr. Kellogg, but held, as she did at times in critical situations, until certain attitudes or situations developed, she wrote: I have been given words to speak to you that I cannot withhold. A portion of the matter that is printed in the book Living Temple is incorrect and misleading, and ought not to be placed before the people. . . . In regard to the book Living Temple, I have been instructed by the heavenly messenger that some of the reasoning in this book is untrue, and that this reasoning would lead astray the minds of those who are not thoroughly established on the foundation principles of present truth." (Letter 232, 1903)."

Notice that Ellen White did not condemn everything that Kellogg had written in his book. She said that "A portion of the matter … is incorrect and misleading …", also that "some of the reasoning in this book is untrue… ."

In section six we also noted that in 1907, Kellogg, (with regards to his book the ‘Living Temple’), was interviewed by G. W. Amadon and A. C. Bourdeau. The record of that interview reports Kellogg as saying

"Now, I thought I had cut out entirely the theological side of questions of the trinity and all that sort of things. I didn't mean to put it in at all, and I took pains to state in the preface that I did not. I never dreamed of such a thing as any theological question being brought into it."

We can clearly see that Kellogg’s teachings (which Ellen White described as ‘pantheistic views’) were bound up in his mind with concepts of the trinity.

In a letter to G. I. Butler on February 21st February 1904, Kellogg had said this

"I am willing to confess that I am not a pantheist nor a spiritualist, and that I believe none of the doctrines taught by these people or by pantheistic or spiritualistic writings. I never read a pantheistic book in my life. I never read a book on "New Thought," or anything of that kind. Anybody who will read care­fully the "Living Temple" from the first page right straight through to the last, and will give the matter fair and consistent consideration, ought to see very clearly that I have no accord whatever with these pantheistic and spiritualistic theories."

A few paragraphs later he said

"I abhor pantheism as much as you do. I have endeav­ored in my book to simply teach the fact that man is dependent upon God for everything, and that without the divine power working in him the Spirit of God operating upon the elements which compose his body, he would be dust. God, the fountain of all like, is man's life; that is, the Spirit of God is man's life. You will find clear statement of this in the preface of the "Living Temple" on the third page. I have also stated clearly in the preface of "The Living Temple" that my whole discussion relates only to the operation of the Spirit of God in the body in a physiological sense."

He said a little further on in his letter

"Sister White has clearly taken the same position with reference to this matter which I have taken. You will find it, in her little work on Education in the chapters "God in Nature" and "Science and the Bible." You will find it all through "Desire of Ages," and "Patriarchs and Prophets." Mrs. Henry's book presents the same views which I present in "Living Temple," only much more emphatically. To say these things are not true; to call them pantheistic and spiritualistic and heap other opprobrious titles on these views does not change the facts. I am not a pantheist; I am no spiritualist. I hold nothing in common with the teachings of these isms. I believe the Bible, I believe in God; I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the only hope of salvation; I believe all the fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion. I believe in the third angel's message; I believe the health movement is a part of it; and I have spent all my life working for it, and I expect to spend the rest of my life working for it. If the men who have been working with it, and who have sometimes preached and practiced the whole of the message, and sometimes only part of it, have come to the point where they want to spew me out, all right; they can push me out of their machine, but they cannot separate me from the Lord which I know and which I love."

Kellogg denied believing in pantheism. He said that he abhorred it because pantheism denies that there is a personal God. He said that this was something that he had never denied. It is obvious that just like Prescott, Kellogg understood the true meaning of pantheism and thus denied teaching it.

Some of the delegates at the 1919 Bible conference apparently noted a ‘pantheistic’ similarity between Prescott’s and Kellogg’s teachings. They must have noted too that both believed in certain concepts of the trinity.

I believe it would be beneficial to remember that in a letter Daniells had written to A. C. White concerning Kellogg in 1903 (16 years before the 1919 Bible Conference), Daniells had said

"He (Kellogg) said that all the way along he had been troubled to know how to state the character of God and His relation to his created works. He felt sure that he had believed just what the Testimonies teach, and what Dr. Waggoner and Elder Jones have taught for years but he had come to believe that none of them had expressed the matter in correct form.

He then stated that his former views regarding the trinity had stood in his way of making a clear and absolutely correct statement but that within a short time he had come to believe in the trinity and could now see pretty clearly where all the difficulty was and believed that he could clear up the matter satisfactorily."

According to Daniells, Kellogg was trying to express God in "relation to His created works." He also said that Kellogg had told him that he (Kellogg) had resolved the ‘difficulties’ of what he had written in ‘Living Temple’ by coming to believe in the trinity.

Returning our thoughts to the 1919 Bible Conference, Prescott had attempted to promote trinitarian concepts of God especially in regards to the co-eternity of the Son with the Father. Now, (during his presentations of the 13th and 14th of July) he too, like Kellogg, was trying to express God in relation to his created works. He was saying that Christ had always been the eternal mediator for God, first in the creation of all of God’s works inasmuch that God through His Son had created all things and secondly, that Christ was the mediator for God in the salvation of mankind. Prescott was saying that because the mediator was the same, then the power of mediation is the same in both creation and recreation.

On the grounds that these were two different types of mediation and that the one should not be confused with the other, certain objections were made. Prescott’s thoughts in this direction generated a great deal of discussion.

As far as the accusations of pantheism were concerned, Prescott naturally objected to them as did Kellogg. As the dialogue continued, and as we have previously noted, Prescott said that he would rather withdraw from the conference than have controversy.

Ellen White’s counsel concerning Prescott

In 1903 Ellen White wrote to Prescott and Daniells concerning Kellogg’s views on the nature of God. Arthur White records in ‘The Early Elmshaven years Volume 5 page 304

"Writing to Elders Prescott and Daniells on October 11, she (Ellen White) compared The Living Temple to forbidden fruit, and stated: "Like Adam and Eve, who took the apple from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and ate it, our own sheep and lambs are swallowing the deceptive morsels or error offered them in the pages of this book. I am instructed to warn our brethren and sisters not to discuss the nature of our God." (Letter 224, 1903)

In 1908, Ellen White wrote to Prescott regarding his association with Ellet Waggoner who had by this time been greatly influenced by Kellogg. She said

"I have been shown your peril during the time of your connecting with Dr. E. J. Waggoner. You both came to the conference of 1891, enthused with what you supposed to be precious spiritual light. You were desirous of presenting this light to me, but I was shown that much of that which you supposed to be precious light was dangerous, misleading fables, and that I must have no conversation with you regarding these ideas that were filling your minds.

The theories held by Ellet Waggoner were similar in character to those we had met and rebuked in several places where we met fanatical movements after the passing of the time in 1844. Dr. Waggoner was then departing from the faith in the doctrine he held regarding spiritual affinities." (Letter 224, June 24th 1908)

This was a stern warning from the pen of Ellen White. Note well the last sentence. Waggoner had come to believe similar pantheistic teachings as had Kellogg. Now, (in 1908) Prescott was being warned by Ellen White of following in Waggoner’s footsteps.

She then wrote

"Brother Prescott, their has been a serious weakness in your work of ministry. It is a tendency to away from clearly defined truth and give undue attention to some items which seem to require hours of argument to prove, when in reality they do not need to be handled at all. It will be wise for you to say, when tempted to do this work, We cannot afford to arouse arguments upon points that are not essential for the salvation of the soul.

You are now in danger of occupying time and energy with certain points upon which you seem to have clear light. But I am charged to say to you that it will be better for you to keep silent regarding this subject."

During the early 1900’s Prescott had been counselled on a number of occasions by Ellen White. Whilst she regarded him as a man of great ability and education, she also said that he was in danger of making shipwreck of his faith. She also had a very tender regard for Prescott. Note that which she had to say about him in a letter to S. N. Haskell in 1896

"Dear Brother:-- I write you a few lines to you this morning by lamplight. Before receiving this, you will have met Prof. Prescott. We would gladly have retained him in this country, but we dared not do this, for it would have savoured of selfishness. We hope he will do the brethren much good in South Africa, and that he will be received cordially, in brotherly love. He has the truth in the heart, as well as on the lips. God is with him, and will work by him if our brethren will receive him as one who bears to them a message from God." ("Sunnyside", Cooranbong, N.S.W. May 30, 1896)

In 1903 she had written to him (as well as Daniells) to be gentle with Kellogg. She said

"I entreat Brother Daniells and Brother Prescott to say nothing that will drive Dr. Kellogg to desperation. He may be saved to do the work of repentance if he is not driven into a corner. But if he is driven to desperation, we shall all have a very hard time.

My brethren, I beseech you to walk humbly with God. Do not use the words that I have spoken under great perplexity and distress, to hasten a crisis. Be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves." (Letter 49, April 1903, pp. 1,2 April 12th 1903).

Later that same year in a letter to A. G. Daniells she had written

"There is another matter upon my mind about which I must speak to you. I have often been warned against overstrained ideas of sanctification. They lead to an objectionable feature of experience that will swamp us unless we are wide awake.

Extreme views of sanctification which lead men to suppose they are appointed to criticize and condemn their brethren are to be feared and shunned.

During the General Conference of 1901, the Lord warned me against sentiments that were being gathered and then held by Brethren Prescott and [E. J.] Waggoner. Instruction was given me that these sentiments received have been as leaven put into meal. Many minds have received them. The ideas of some regarding a great experience called and supposed to be sanctification, have been the alpha of a train of deception which will deceive and ruin the souls of those who receive them." (Letter to A. G. Daniells, December 14th 1903 No, 269)

There were also many words of commendation for Prescott

"Elder Daniells and Elder Prescott have made some mistakes in their religious experience, as other men have, but they never defied the Spirit of God and refused to be corrected. Brethren Daniells and Prescott placed themselves in line to do the very work the Lord assigned them in moving the publishing work from Battle Creek to Washington, D. C. The Lord has greatly blessed them in every step they have taken in accordance with the light He has given them. His signature has been upon their work, and He will be with them still if they will continue to look steadfastly to Him as their teacher and their example. If they turn aside, as did Solomon, to work contrary to God's designs, then the Lord cannot cooperate with them. . . . Elder Daniells and Elder Prescott are men to whom the Lord has given a message; and He will be with them if they will walk with Him." (Ms. 58, 1904, pp. 2, 3. "A Change of Feeling Needed," May 24, 1904).

As we noted in section six, it was Prescott’s objections in November 1902 at a General Conference committee meeting held at Battle Creek that had persuaded the church not to publish Kellogg’s book ‘The Living Temple’.

Nevertheless, six years after this in 1908, Ellen White had to counsel Prescott that he was in danger of making shipwreck his own faith. He was then still editor of the Review and Herald. She said

"At times, Elder Prescott, you have come very near making shipwreck of your faith. Only the grace of God and the confidence you have had in the messages He has sent through the Spirit of Prophecy have held you back. I was shown that although you have had many years of experience in the cause of God, you are still in danger of making grave mistakes." (Letter 166, May 22nd 1908)

In 1909 Ellen White wrote

"During this Conference I had a message for Brother Prescott. He is a minister. He should not remain here in Washington to do a work that another man can do. He can stand before the people and give the reasons of our faith in an acceptable way. I know this because I have been associated with him in labor. He has a precious gift, and here he is employed in work that other men can do, while there is a dearth of laborers who can warn these large cities. His gift is not to be used longer as it is now, for if he continues to labor here his health and strength will be used up. But if he will go out into the public ministry, strength will come to him." (Ms. 53, 1909, p. 5. "Proclaiming the Third Angel's Message in Cities at Home and Abroad," a talk before the General Conference Committee, June 11, 1909.)

Later that year Ellen White wrote to the officers of the General Conference

"The Lord has spoken to Elder Prescott and wife, instructing them to go out into new fields and labor in connection with other workers to present the truth. Let these workers be learners of the great Teacher, following His methods of labor as they present the Word of God in its simplicity to the people. Elder Prescott's ability as a speaker is needed in presenting the truth in the highways." (Letter 168, 1909, p. 2 (Dec. 1, 1909). {10MR 362.1})

There was commendation, reproof and warnings for Prescott. Just like a lot of other people, Prescott had leanings that would, if left to carry out their specious way, would eventually corrupt a genuine faith. Through Ellen White, God sought to keep Prescott safe from these errors.

The one thing that Prescott urgently wanted to do was to revise certain Spirit of Prophecy books, especially Great Controversy. He said that there was much that was wrong especially from an historical standpoint. Ellen White had to council him in this regard. She said in a letter to A. G. Daniells who was then General Conference President

"I have seen that Satan would have been greatly pleased to see Elders Prescott and Daniells undertake the work of a general overhauling of our books that have done a good work in the field for years. But neither of you is called of God to that workIn some respects you and Brother Prescott have done a strange work. It is not for the best interests of either one of you that you be associated together so closely as heretofore ... If we should now sow broadcast seeds of doubt as to the correctness of our printed books and tracts, and encourage the thought that there must needs be a general revision of our published books, a work will have begun that the Lord has not appointed us to do …. If you and Brother Prescott were to sow broadcast seeds of uncertainty and distrust in the minds of others, God would call you to a stern account for this evil.

In the night season I have seen men looking over our printed books in search of something to criticize, and the adversary was standing by their side, making suggestions to their minds. The natural result of unwise criticism would be to bring infidelity into our ranks." (Letter 70, 1910, pp. 1, 3 (Aug. 11, 1910.)

Ellen White also said concerning Prescott’s and Daniells enthusiasm to edit the books

"Christ is not dead. He will never suffer His work to be carried on in this strange way. Let the books alone. If any change is essential, God will have the harmony in that change consistent, but when a message has been entrusted to men with the large responsibilities involved, [God] demands faithfulness that will work by love and purify the soul. Elders Daniells and Prescott both need reconversion. A strange work has come in, and it is not in harmony with the work Christ came to our world to do; and all who are truly converted will work the works of Christ." (Manuscript Release Vol. 20 Mr No.1425 Ms 67 1910)

After a spending a short time in city evangelism (which Ellen White had advised), Daniells was, according to Ellen White, now fit once again for administration duties.

As far as Prescott was concerned (it appears that he was the one to whom the counsels were mostly directed) , he was one of the ‘progressives’ that eventually took on the ‘new view’ of the ‘daily’ (continual) of Daniel chapter 8. This opposed the ‘old view’ which was held by Ellen White and the pioneers, but we shall look at this in a later section. Eventually Daniells was also caught up in this ‘new theology’ with such as Conradi, Waggoner and Prescott.


In Seventh-day Adventism, pantheism, in the true sense of the teaching was not the problem, either with Kellogg or any of the others that followed in his steps. As Ellen White said, there were ‘pantheistic views’ and ‘pantheistic tendencies’ etc., that would, if continued to be taught, would eventually destroy the gospel.

The entire issue was over the omnipresence of God. This is still an issue in Adventism today. As we have seen, Ellen White continually warned that we should not speculate on this question. She said that extreme views of this would only cause confusion over the personality of God and the foundation truths of Adventism.

Concerning Kellogg’s pantheistic views, if we were to take it literally that the Holy Spirit is the life of God and that the life of God is in everything then we must come to the same or a similar conclusion as Kellogg that the Holy Spirit is in everything.

This was the very objection that Prescott had to Kellogg’s teachings in the ‘The Living Temple’. On November 14th 1902 at a General Conference committee meeting held at Battle Creek, it says in the minutes concerning Kellogg’s book,

" Professor Prescott stated that his criticism of the book was based upon his belief that man in his natural sinful state is not the temple of God in the sense of Scripture teaching. In turning from righteousness, man ceased to be the temple of God, and is restored only by a new creation in Christ Jesus. This distinction seemed to him essential, in view of our specific work at this time in warning against the great perversion of the gospel, which has come through the attempt to establish God's presence in the place where, in reality, the man of sin is manifested."

In a testimony written for the specific purpose of refuting Kellogg’s teachings, Ellen White had said

"If God is an essence pervading all nature, then He dwells in all men; and in order to attain holiness, man has only to develop the power that is within him." (8T p291)

This was the frank warning that came from the pen of Ellen White. She had also said concerning Kellogg’s theories

"I have been instructed by the heavenly messenger that some of the reasoning in the book, "Living Temple," is unsound and that this reasoning would lead astray the minds of those who are not thoroughly established on the foundation principles of present truth. It introduces that which is naught but speculation in regard to the personality of God and where His presence is. No one on this earth has a right to speculate on this question. The more fanciful theories are discussed, the less men will know of God and of the truth that sanctifies the soul." (SPTB02 page 51)

Changing views

Concerning God and Christ, the passing of the years had brought a change in the thinking of W. W. Prescott. He had changed his views from a ‘begotten Christ’ to a Christ that had always been co-equal, co-eternal and coeval (of the same age).

Just as the views of Prescott did change, so it could be said also for the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a whole. Men of influence were urging the church to accept new views. These were views that contained the various concepts of the trinity.

From the last two sections, it can be clearly seen that the transition from anti-trinitarian to trinitarian did not take place without resistance. Even by 1919, the trinity doctrine was nowhere near being accepted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Many years of urging this doctrine into our denomination would need to pass by before it was finally accepted. There were decided steps to be taken in the thinking of men before the changeover would be complete. It was a slow but sure process. It was also very complex and could be well described as multifaceted.

Whilst those were still alive who in such authoritative positions had objected to Prescott’s 1919 Bible Conference presentations (or would change their thinking), there was little hope of bringing in the trinity teaching. There was still far too much resistance. Nevertheless, with the passing of time, all this was going to change.

It appears that as the years progressed, Prescott continued to teach the same views concerning God and Christ that he had espoused and had presented at the 1919 Bible Conference.

These views were becoming more and more common place within Seventh-day Adventism. Even so, not everyone found them acceptable. There were still those who held out against the infiltration of the teachings and concepts of the trinity.

In 1931, regardless of this resistance, the word ‘trinity’ was introduced into our year book, thus for the first time in our history it became included as part of our statement of beliefs. We shall see in later sections how this actually came about.

You will also see how these ‘pantheistic views’ that we have discussed, played (and is still playing) an important part in the belief that God is a trinity.

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Terry Hill

Bristol England