The Introduction of the Trinity Doctrine into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Ellen White and the
(The Alpha of heresies)
What did Ellen White say about Kellogg’s book ‘The Living Temple’? That is the question that we are seeking to answer in section number seven of this presentation.
In the previous section, we came to realise that John Harvey Kellogg had come to believe in the trinity and that on his own admittance, he had included within his book, certain theological statements concerning his beliefs about God. Whilst people today may accuse Kellogg of teaching pantheism, it is well to remember that Kellogg always denied these accusations.
To get an idea of what Kellogg was really teaching about God, we need to look at some of the statements that Ellen White made concerning his publication.
Regardless of what terminology you use, whether it be Trinitarianism or pantheism, she had only condemnation for what his book was teaching. As we review these statements, it will be clearly seen that Ellen White viewed the whole affair as being a major crisis for our church. Take note also that she said this crisis would be ongoing.
Review and Herald 22nd October 1903
“I have some things to say to our teachers in reference to the new book, "The Living Temple." Be careful how you sustain the sentiments of this book regarding the personality of God. As the Lord represents matters to me, these sentiments do not bear the indorsement of God. They are a snare that the enemy has prepared for these last days”.
This was a very strong warning. It was not a warning given as a private testimony but rather, it was given publicly in the Review and Herald for all to read and ponder. Note that the issue in Kellogg’s book to which Ellen White objected, concerned, as she phrased it, “the personality of God”.
Ellen White warns that it is not given to us to “interpret” God. She also repeatedly emphasised that God and Christ are separate persons and not in any way ‘one person’. She said in the Review and Herald of 1st June 1905
“Who was He who came to our world to redeem the fallen race? Isaiah tells us: "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
Let us make it known that provision has been made for our redemption. Christ left the heavenly courts, and came to this world to make an atonement for us. All who come to him in living faith will be enabled to stand on vantage-ground.
As God's servants proclaim these things, Satan steps up to some who have itching minds, and presents his scientific problems. Men will be tempted to place science above God. But who by searching can find out God? Men may put their own interpretation upon God, but no human mind can comprehend him. This problem has not been given us to solve. Let not finite man attempt to interpret Jehovah. Let none indulge in speculation regarding his nature. Here silence is eloquence. The omniscient One is above discussion.
Christ is one with the Father, but Christ and God are two distinct personages. Read the prayer of Christ in the seventeenth chapter of John, and you will find this point clearly brought out. How earnestly the Saviour prayed that his disciples might be one with him as he is one with the Father. But the unity that is to exist between Christ and his followers does not destroy the personality of either. They are to be one with him as he is one with the Father. By this unity they are to make it plain to the world that God sent his Son to save sinners. The oneness of Christ's followers with him is to be the great, unmistakable proof that God did indeed send his Son into the world to save sinners. But a loose, lax religion leaves the world bewildered and confused”.
The following month, also in the Review and Herald (13th July 1905), Ellen White warned about the ‘new theology’ that certain people were attempting to bring into the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She said in an article called ‘Lessons From the First Epistle of John’
“"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us); that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." …
… "And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." All through the Scriptures, the Father and the Son are spoken of as two distinct personages. You will hear men endeavoring to make the Son of God a nonentity. He and the Father are one, but they are two personages. Wrong sentiments regarding this are coming in, and we shall all have to meet them”.
Ellen White had sounded the warning. She had made the issue clear.
‘New theology’ was trying to make its way into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She said that this theology, if allowed, would destroy the distinction between God and Christ.
In 1882 in ‘Early Writings’ page 54, under the sub title ‘End of the 2300 Days’, Ellen White had said
“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”.
Twenty two years of revelation concerning God and Christ never changed Ellen White’s theology. In Testimonies Volume 8 pages 268-269 (1904), she wrote that the scriptures totally deny any oneness in person concerning God and Christ. She says
“Testimony of Scripture The Scriptures clearly indicate the relation between God and Christ, and they bring to view as clearly the personality and individuality of each.
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son?" Hebrews 1:1-5.
God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son.
Jesus said to the Jews: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. . . . The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth." John 5:17-20.
Here again is brought to view the personality of the Father and the Son, showing the unity that exists between them.
This unity is expressed also in the seventeenth chapter of John, in the prayer of Christ for His disciples:
"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me." John 17:20-23.
Wonderful statement! The unity that exists between Christ and His disciples does not destroy the personality of either. They are one in purpose, in mind, in character, but not in person. It is thus that God and Christ are one.
The relation between the Father and the Son, and the personality of both, are made plain in this scripture also:
"Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts, saying,
Behold, the man whose name is the Branch:
And He shall grow up out of His place;
And He shall build the temple of Jehovah; . . .
And He shall bear the glory,
And shall sit and rule upon His throne;
And He shall be a priest upon His throne;
And the counsel of peace shall be between Them both."
Zechariah 6:12, 13, A. R. V. 270”
Four years later in 1908, there was no change in her understanding. She said that the teaching that God and Christ was ‘one person’ was of satanic origin.
Review and Herald August 6th 1908 also Volume 9 of the Testimonies pages 67-68
“Dangers in Speculative Study.
The light of truth which God designs shall come to the people of the world at this time is not that which the world's men of learning are seeking to impart, for these men in their research often arrive at erroneous conclusions and in their study of many authors become enthused with theories that are of satanic origin. Satan, clothed in the garb of an angel of light, presents for the study of the human mind subjects which seem very interesting and which are full of scientific mystery. In the investigation of these subjects, men are led to accept erroneous conclusions and to unite with seducing spirits in the work of propounding new theories which lead away from the truth.
There is danger that the false sentiments expressed in the books that they have been reading will sometimes be interwoven by our ministers, teachers, and editors with their arguments, discourses, and publications, under the belief that they are the same in principle as the teachings of the Spirit of truth. The book Living Temple is an illustration of this work, the writer of which declared in its support that its teachings were the same as those found in the writings of Mrs. White. Again and again we shall be called to meet the influence of men who are studying sciences of satanic origin, through which Satan is working to make a nonentity of God and of Christ.
The Father and the Son each have a personality. Christ declared: "I and My Father are one." Yet it was the Son of God who came to the world in human form. Laying aside His royal robe and kingly crown, He clothed His divinity with humanity, that humanity through His infinite sacrifice might become partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust”.
Ellen White realized that if accepted, what Kellogg was teaching in his book would eventually lead people to believe that the Father and the Son were one person. She said that this was Satanic error. She also said that Kellogg (in his book) by doing this, was making God and Christ a nonentity.
The original trinity teaching says that God is three persons in one. The human mind cannot conceive that three persons are one person or one God. This is unexplainable as well as not being taught in the scriptures. As Ellen White plainly said, these type of theories are of satanic origin and should not be expressed.
Ellen White saw clearly where the teachings of ‘The Living temple’ would lead. She made it very clear that, except in the sense that they are one in purpose for the salvation of mankind, God and Christ are two separate persons and not one,. She said clearly that they were not one person.
Here are some more of Ellen Whites statements directly made in connection with Kellogg’s book ‘The Living Temple’.
Special Testimonies Series B No 2 Page 51 (also Selected Messages Book One page 201)
“As a people, we are to stand firm on the platform of eternal truth that has withstood test and trial. We are to hold to the sure pillars of our faith. The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation. They have made us what we are. The lapse of time has not lessened their value. It is the constant effort of the enemy to remove these truths from their setting, and to put in their place spurious theories. He will bring in everything that he possibly can to carry out his deceptive designs. But the Lord will raise up men of keen perception, who will give these truths their proper place in the plan of God.
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”.
Miscellaneous manuscripts and collections. The Kress collection KC19
Takoma Park, Washington, D.
C. May 24, 1905.
“The book, "Living Temple," contains specious, deceptive sentiments regarding the personality of God and of Christ. The Lord opened before me the true meaning of these sentiments, showing me that unless they were steadfastly repudiated, they would deceive the very elect. Precious truth and beautiful sentiments were woven in with false, misleading theories. Thus truth was used to substantiate the most dangerous errors. The precious representations of God are so misconstrued as to appear to uphold falsehoods originated by the great apostate. Sentiments that belong to the revealings of God are mingled with specious, deceptive theories of Satanic agencies”.
Spalding and Magan’s unpublished manuscript testimonies 1985 (SPM.324)
“A Warning of
Danger. St. Helena, Cal., Sept. 23,
1903. To the teachers in Emmanuel Missionary College:--
. . . Perilous times are before us. Every one who has a knowledge of the truth should awake, and place himself, body, soul, and spirit, under the discipline of God. Wake up, brethren, wake up. The enemy is on our track. We must be wide awake, on our guard against him. We must put on the whole armor of God. We must follow the directions given in the spirit of prophecy. We must love and obey the truth for this time. This will save us from accepting strong delusions. God has spoken to us through his Word. He has spoken to us through the Testimonies to the church, and through the books that have helped to make plain our present duty and the position that we should now occupy. The warnings that have been given, line upon line, precept upon precept, should be heeded. If we disregard them, what excuse shall we offer?
The new theories in regard to God and Christ, as brought out in "The Living Temple", are not in harmony with the teaching of Christ. The Lord Jesus came to this world to represent the Father. He did not represent God as an essence pervading nature, but as a personal being. Christians should bear in mind that God has a personality as verily as has Christ”.
Please read carefully that last paragraph again. It really is very important.
As we have previously noted, shortly after the Review and Herald had accepted Kellogg’s book for publication, the publishing house burnt to the ground. Nevertheless, God still allowed Kellogg to have his book published and be distributed among Seventh-day Adventists. It may be asked as to why God allowed this to happen and why he allowed the apostasy to develop as far as it did without Him intervening. Here is what Ellen White had to say on that matter.
Special Testimonies Series B No 7 page 36-37
“St. Helena, Cal., October, 1903.
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.
Men have given to our leading physician allegiance that is due to God alone: and he has been permitted to show what self-exaltation will lead men to do. Scientific, spiritualistic sentiments, representing the Creator as an essence pervading all nature, have been given to our people, and have been received even by some who have had a long experience as teachers in the word of God. The results of this insidious devising will break out again and again. There are many for whom special efforts will have to be put forth to free them from this specious deception.
I am now authorized to say that the time has come to take decided action. The development seen in the cause of God is similar to the development seen when Balaam caused Israel to sin just before they entered the promised land. How dangerous it is so to exalt any man that he becomes confused, and confuses the minds of others in regard to the truths that for the last fifty years the Lord has been giving his people.
Few can see the meaning of the present apostasy. But the Lord has lifted the curtain, and has shown me its meaning, and the result that it will have if allowed to continue. We must now lift our voices in warning. Will our people acknowledge God as the supreme Ruler, or will they choose the misleading arguments and views that, when fully developed, make Him, in the minds of those who accept them, as nothingness?
These words were spoken to me in the night season. The sentiments in "Living Temple" regarding the personality of God have been received even by men who have had a long experience in the truth. When such men consent to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we are no longer to regard the subject as a matter to be treated with the greatest delicacy. That those whom we thought sound in the faith should have failed to discern the specious, deadly influence of this science of evil, should alarm us as nothing else has alarmed us”.
This statement “God has permitted the present crisis to come to open the eyes of those who desire to know the truth”, I find to be very interesting.
God’s ways are not our ways. By allowing this crisis to develop, God was bringing to the attention of His people, the truth about Himself and His Son. God chose to use this opportunity to speak plainly through Ellen White.
Ellen White also said that this crisis served as a warning from God to show how sophisticated that Satan can get with his deceptions.
Notice also that she said that it was “men who have had a long experience in the truth” that were being confused. She also said that Kellogg’s teachings was confusing what God had been telling His people for the last fifty years (i.e. since our beginnings as a remnant people).
Ellen White said that if accepted, Kellogg’s theories about God and Christ would totally undermine the faith of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. As we also noted in the last section, she repeatedly said that the theories contained in ‘The Living Temple’ were based on the ideas of pantheism.
Special Testimonies Series B No 7 pages 48-49
“There has been growing up a spirit of criticism, and a lack of faith in the gospel ministry, and this has continued until the present time. Now the publication of "Living Temple" has brought about a crisis. If the ideas presented in this book were received, they would lead to the uprooting of the whole construction of the faith that makes Seventh-day Adventists a chosen, denominated people.
The light that has been given I dare not withhold. The Lord has appointed me as His messenger, and I must speak the words He gives me. The testimonies that have been given by the Lord for nearly half a century in regard to the ministerial work, and the management of our sanitariums, must come before the people, that our brethren and sisters in the faith shall understand the light that God has been pleased to give regarding the different branches of the work to be carried on at this time.
Pantheistic ideas regarding God in nature are framed by Lucifer, the fallen angel. The strange part of the matter is that these ideas have been accepted by so many as beautiful truth. But that which they think is light will lead them into dense darkness. It is a distinguishing feature of the experience of Seventh-day Adventists to give glory to God. When we give glory to human agencies, when we have unlimited confidence in man, speaking of the excellence that we suppose him to possess, we worship we know not what. Let God be exalted. Let frail, erring human beings humble themselves before Him”.
How subtle are Satan’s deceptions and how strange said Ellen White, that these ideas have been accepted by so many as what she terms “beautiful truth”.
The Lord’s messenger protested profusely about what Kellogg had written. She continued to say that it was of satanic origin. In 1904 she had this to say
Battle Creek letters 1928 (BCL102) (manuscript October 1904
“Instruction Regarding the Medical Missionary Work
It is not safe to trust in Dr. Kellogg. I dare not do it. I have not written to him much, recently, but I may have to send something soon. I have not the least confidence in his present attitude toward many things. I learn that notwithstanding all I have written regarding "The Living Temple" a book that was written under the inspiration of the arch-deceiver; notwithstanding with many plain messages that I have delivered in the "Review and Herald" and in letters to our brethren in responsibility, Dr. Kellogg now admits only a few of the mistakes he has made, and still supposes that in former years I taught the same errors. This reveals a blindness beyond conception. All that I can now do is to watch developments closely. I can not see that it would do the least particle of good to say more than I have said.
The sentiments advocated in "Living Temple" make this book a dangerous production; for in the book is taught an insinuating, deceptive science of Satanic origin. The articles from my pen that have been published in the "Review" have, I understand, hurt terribly the feelings of some; but I intend to protest decidedly against the many deceptions that are coming in to lead souls astray”.
Ellen White described what Kellogg was teaching as an “insinuating, deceptive science of Satanic origin”, that she intended to “protest decidedly against”.
Can I just pause here for a moment and remind you of something that I said earlier on in this presentation.
What I had previously said was that through the time of Ellen White, all the pioneers, including her own husband, were teaching what is commonly referred to as a non or anti-trintarian view of God.
What I find amazing is that if God did want us to believe and teach that he was a trinity of beings, then why did not Ellen White, not even once, tell her own husband or any other of the pioneers, that they were wrong in what they were teaching?
I say this because when Kellogg spoke in terms of a wrong view of God, especially if he was using theological statements concerning the trinity, Ellen White protested profusely at what he was teaching. So if the pioneers were teaching wrong views of God, then why did she not say anything to them?
Whilst this silence may not be conclusive proof that God approved of the anti-trinitarian stance that the pioneers were taking, He does expect us to reason these things through in an intelligent manner.
Ellen White said that Kellogg’s main problem was that he was trying to “define God”. She repeatedly warned that this should not be done.
Loma Linda messages 1981 (LLM.253)
“(Letter October 1903. Copied November 5, 1903, addressed, "To Medical Students and Nurses:")
The teaching regarding God that is presented in "Living Temple" is not such as our students need. Those who seek to define God are on forbidden ground. We are to enter into no controversy regarding God, -- what He is and what He is not. He, the Omniscient One, is above discussion. Those who express such sentiments regarding Him show that they are departing from the faith”.
This was not the first time that Ellen White encountered views like those presented in Kellogg’s book. She repeatedly warned about defining the nature and personality of God
Spalding and Magan’s unpublished manuscript testimonies 1985 (SPM.328-9)
“Giving Heed to Seducing Spirits. "Elmshaven", Sanitarium, Cal., October 9, 1903. Dear Brethren Magan and Sutherland:-- I am sure that the Lord will work to bring you upon higher ground, where you will not be so severely harassed or perplexed. …
…. However favorably our physicians and others may view the theories regarding God that are presented in "The Living Temple", I must tell you that these theories are faulty, incorrect, false. All through the book passages of scripture are used, but many of these scriptures are used in such a way that they are misinterpreted. These scriptures, read in their connections and understood in their simplicity, do not sustain the theories that the writer is endeavoring to maintain.
Those who present such theories are lost in the woods. They know not the nature of the theories that they are handling. I know how dangerous these theories are. Before I was seventeen years old, I had to bear my testimony against them before large companies, and all through my experience for the last fifty years I have had to meet and oppose these delusive theories.
Soon after Dr. Kellogg first connected with the Sanitarium, I was shown that he was in danger of entertaining false views of God. I labored with him, telling him that his case had been presented to me, and that I had been shown just what the holding of such ideas would lead to. … I have ever done all that I could to save Dr. Kellogg's soul, but of late I have not written to him as frequently as in former years. I am greatly disappointed that so many of our medical missionary workers seem to be spiritually blind. I can not regard them as safe teachers. They are sowing tares among the wheat. Those who venture to speak of God as He is spoken of in "The Living Temple", are on very dangerous ground.
I say, and have ever said, that I will not engage in controversy with any one in regard to the nature and personality of God. Let those who try to describe God know that on such a subject silence is eloquence. Let the Scriptures be read in simple faith, and let each one form his conceptions of God from his inspired word.
No human mind can comprehend God. No man hath seen him at any time. We are as ignorant of God as little children. But as little children we may love and obey Him. Had this been understood, such sentiments as are in this book would never have been expressed”.
Ellen White clearly said that God’s nature and personality could not be defined, yet she said that Kellogg’s book was not all error. This is the deceptiveness of Satan. He often mingles truth with error, like sugar laced with poison. Kellogg used scripture all the way through his publication as well as using Ellen White’s writings. Perhaps it would be better said that he misused scripture and Ellen White.
Special Testimonies Series B No 2 Page 49 (also Selected Messages Book One chapter 24)
“Washington, D.C., August 7, 1904. My dear Brother : -- I am given a message to bear to you and the rest of our physicians who are connected with the Medical Missionary Association. Separate from the influence exerted by the book "Living Temple;" for it contains specious sentiments. There are in it sentiments that are entirely true, but these are mingled with error. Scriptures are taken out of their connection, and are used to uphold erroneous theories.
The thought of the errors contained in this book has given me great distress, and the experience that I have passed through in connection with the matter has nearly cost me my life.
It will be said that "Living Temple" has been revised. But the Lord has shown me that the writer has not changed, and that there can be no unity between him and the ministers of the gospel while he continues to cherish his present sentiments. I am bidden to lift my voice in warning to our people, saying, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked."
Without any further explanation, it can be seen that what Kellogg was teaching was regarded by Ellen White as being extremely dangerous. We should never underestimate what Kellogg was teaching in his book about God. It really was a crisis for our church, although you may not hear it mentioned very much today.
Ellen White referred to Kellogg’s theology concerning God and Christ as the “alpha of deadly heresies”. In describing it as such, she was saying that this was the beginning of the heresies but she warned that it was not the end. She said that the “omega” would follow and would be received by those who were “not willing to heed the warning God has given”.
Special Testimonies Series B No 2 Page 50 (also Selected Messages Book One page 200)
“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”.
You may be asking just what do I believe is the ‘omega’ heresy? That is not something that I am going to attempt to define. I am going to leave that up to you the reader to conclude as your knowledge increases and the future unfolds before your eyes. All that I will say is that Kellogg’s book, according to the messenger of God, contained the ‘alpha’ of heresies which deceived many, even those who were very experienced in the truth. She emphasised that the ‘omega’ heresy, will in like manner be received by those who are not willing to heed God’s warning.
We must not underestimate the ‘omega’ heresy. We must search for ourselves to find out just what is the ‘omega’ or else run the risk of being deceived and lose our own salvation.
How did that which Kellogg wrote in his book relate to the message that God had given to His remnant people? Ellen White had this to say
Special Testimonies Series B No 2 Page 51 (also Selected Messages Book One page 201)
“As a people, we are to stand firm on the platform of eternal truth that has withstood test and trial. We are to hold to the sure pillars of our faith. The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation. They have made us what we are. The lapse of time has not lessened their value. It is the constant effort of the enemy to remove these truths from their setting, and to put in their place spurious theories. He will bring in everything that he possibly can to carry out his deceptive designs. But the Lord will raise up men of keen perception, who will give these truths their proper place in the plan of God”.
Kellogg was teaching that the human body was the temple (dwelling place) of God. In one sense he was perfectly correct but the emphasis was that God, through the Holy Spirit (whom he believed was a person like the Father and Son), was in everybody and that through Him God would cleanse the temple (the inner soul). What Kellogg was teaching was clouding the message that God had given to His people. Whilst the soul temple does need cleansing, so does the temple (sanctuary) in heaven.
Kellogg’s book was not making clear definitions between God, Christ and their work for humanity within the heavenly sanctuary. It only served to cause confusion. Lines had to be clearly drawn between truth and error. Through Ellen White, God made these lines very clear.
As we have seen in the previous section, at the very centre of Kellogg’s confusion was the personality of the Holy Spirit.
Kellogg regarded the Holy Spirit as a person like the Father and Son. He also saw the Holy spirit as being the means of the omnipresence of God. It was because of this that he saw the personage of God as being in everything and in everybody. This is what was causing the confusion.
Ellen White constantly emphasised the need for speaking clearly and plainly about God and Christ. She had this to say about what Kellogg was saying in his book.
Special Testimonies Series B No 2 Page 52 (also Selected Messages Book One page 202)
“One and another come to me, asking me to explain the positions taken in "Living Temple." I reply, "They are unexplainable." The sentiments expressed do not give a true knowledge of God. All through the book are passages of scripture. These scriptures are brought in in such a way that error is made to appear as truth. Erroneous theories are presented in so pleasing a way that unless care is taken, many will be misled.
We need not the mysticism that is in this book. Those who entertain these sophistries will soon find themselves in a position where the enemy can talk with them, and lead them away from God. It is represented to me that the writer of this book is on a false track. He has lost sight of the distinguishing truths for this time. He knows not whither his steps are tending. The track of truth lies close beside the track of error, and both tracks may seem to be one to minds which are not worked by the Holy Spirit, and which, therefore, are not quick to discern the difference between truth and error”.
Mysticism and confusion … two elements of satanic origin. Yet Kellogg, (in his own wisdom), repeatedly said that he sincerely believed that what he put in his book was in harmony with what Ellen White wrote as well as being in harmony with what the other pioneers believed and taught.
The Lord’s servant constantly denied that this was true. She also said that the theories about the presence and the personality of God that Kellogg was teaching in his book was the ‘alpha’ theories and that the ‘omega’ would “follow in a little while”.
Special Testimonies Series B No 2 Page 53 (also Selected Messages page 203)
“In the controversy that arose among our brethren regarding the teachings of this book, those in favor of giving it a wide circulation declared: "It contains the very sentiments that Sister White has been teaching." This assertion struck right to my heart. I felt heart-broken; for I knew that this representation of the matter was not true.
Finally my son said to me, "Mother, you ought to read at least some parts of the book, that you may see whether they are in harmony with the light that God has given you." He sat down beside me, and together we read the preface, and most of the first chapter, and also paragraphs in other chapters. As we read, I recognized the very sentiments against which I had been bidden to speak in warning during the early days of my public labors. When I first left the State of Maine, it was to go through Vermont and Massachusetts, to bear a testimony against these sentiments. "Living Temple" contains the alpha of these theories. I knew that the omega would follow in a little while; and I trembled for our people. I knew that I must warn our brethren and sisters not to enter into controversy over the presence and personality of God. The statements made in "Living Temple" in regard to this point are incorrect. The scripture used to substantiate the doctrine there set forth, is scripture misapplied”.
Well, there we have it. The views of Ellen White concerning God and Christ, as she was called to speak out against the teachings found in Kellogg’s book, ‘The Living Temple’. In relation to the trinity concept that was prevalent at that time, these statements, made in the early years of the twentieth century, are clearly seen as being non trinitarian.
It must also be noted that the Kellogg ‘crisis’ came about a long time after she wrote ‘The Desire of Ages’ (1898), the book in which, according to those who support the trinity doctrine, say that Ellen White made statements that led the church into a full blown trinity concept of God.
In an attempt to harmonise the statements of Ellen White concerning Kellogg’s book, with some sort of a ‘trinitarian’ theology, there are many Seventh-day Adventists today who believe and teach that there are three separate stand alone, co-equal persons in one Godhead all being God in their own right.
Some of these people even go to the lengths of saying that in His pre-existent state, Christ was not really the Son of God, neither was God really the Father of Christ, rather they say, the persons of the Godhead were only ‘role playing’ in their quest to save mankind from the inevitable results of sin. Could this ‘role playing’ teaching be part and parcel of the ‘omega’ heresy?
This ‘modern’ trinity concept is diametrically opposed to the original trintarian view which portrays God as being a unity of three persons in one. The original view portrays the Son as an everlasting generation (belonging to the indivisible substance) of the Father, with the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father or Son or both.
That is why today there is a division of theology within the Seventh-day Adventist Church regarding the trinity. There are those who see God as being three persons in one person (one God) whilst others see three separate stand alone and co-equal persons all being God in one Godhead.
More could be said here about how right through to her death, Ellen White never spoke of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit as one person in unity. Nevertheless, it is claimed by most of those who promote and advocate the trinity doctrine, that it was the writings of Ellen White that led the Seventh-day Adventist Church to the trinitarian position that it takes today concerning God.
This was the very same problem in the ‘alpha’ heresy. Ellen White said
“In the controversy that arose among our brethren regarding the teachings of this book, those in favor of giving it a wide circulation declared: "It contains the very sentiments that Sister White has been teaching." This assertion struck right to my heart. I felt heart-broken; for I knew that this representation of the matter was not true”. (Special Testimonies Series B No 2 Page 53 also Selected Messages Book One page 203)
As we near the end of this section, let’s take a quick look now at the fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as far as the trinity teaching is concerned. The second of the twenty seven fundamental beliefs says
“There is one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons” (Seventh-day Adventists Believe … A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines page 16)”
The question is … “does this statement of belief portray the ‘original’ trinity teaching based on the Nicaean creed or is it the alternative (modern) view, i.e. three co-eternal and co-equal persons in one Godhead?” Either way, God is not portrayed as an individual person as believed and taught by the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as well as by Ellen White.
This is why George Knight in the Ministry magazine of October 1993 in an article called “Adventists and Change” said
“Most of the founders of Seventh-day Adventism would not be able to join the church today if they had to subscribe to the denomination's Fundamental Beliefs. More specifically, most would not be able to agree to belief Number 2, which deals with the doctrine of the Trinity. For Joseph Bates the Trinity was an unscriptural doctrine, for James White it was that "old Trinitarian absurdity," and for M. E. Cornell it was a fruit of the great apostasy, along with such false doctrines as Sunday keeping and the immortality of the soul”
Now whilst I agree that George Knight is undoubtedly correct when he refers to what these pioneers thought about the trinity doctrine, I also believe that his statement falls far short of the truth. He says that the non-trinitarian view of God was the view of “most of the founders of Seventh-day Adventism”. As to yet, I have not found any of the founders who would agree with our present day theology concerning God and His Son, whichever view of the trinity is taken.
As we leave this section, I believe that it would be beneficial for us to remember what Ellen White has said about the ‘new theology’ that was making its way into the Seventh-day Adventist Church in her time. She did say that this would be an ongoing problem.
“Again and again we shall be called to meet the influence of men who are studying sciences of satanic origin, through which Satan is working to make a nonentity of God and of Christ. The Father and the Son each have a personality. Christ declared: "I and My Father are one." Yet it was the Son of God who came to the world in human form” (Review and Herald 6th August 1908).
“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 Page 16 1904 also Selected Messages Book One page 197).
“One thing it is certain is soon to be realised,--the great apostasy, which is developing and increasing and waxing stronger, and will continue to do so until the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout. We are to hold fast the first principles of our denominated faith, and go forward from strength to increased faith. Ever we are to keep the faith that has been substantiated by the Holy Spirit of God from the earlier events of our experience until the present time”. (Special Testimonies Series B, - page 57 Sanitarium, Cal., Dec. 4, 1906. SM1: 206-7 also New York Indicator 7-2-1906)
“And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." All through the Scriptures, the Father and the Son are spoken of as two distinct personages. You will hear men endeavoring to make the Son of God a nonentity. He and the Father are one, but they are two personages. Wrong sentiments regarding this are coming in, and we shall all have to meet them”. (Review and Herald. 13-7-1905)
“Wrong sentiments are coming in” said Ellen White in 1905 “and we shall have to meet them”.
You can see how Ellen White warned about making God a non personal being. We have also seen that she constantly said that that God and Christ are two separate persons. But what about the third person? After all, you cannot have a ‘trinity’ without a third being. This ‘third being’ of course is the Holy Spirit, but how does He (or it) fit into the picture?
In section eight we shall look at the scriptural evidence and what Ellen White had to say about the third person of the Godhead.
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