Her most Solemn Warning! Then a Prediction,
Now History! A response to the Elders Digest
Justification of the Trinity
“The enemy of souls has sought to bring in
the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this
reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a
process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that
God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The
fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new
organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy
would be introduced The founders of this system would go into the cities, and do a wonderful work. The
Sabbath of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it. Nothing would be allowed to stand
in the way of the new movement. The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice, but God being removed,
they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless. Their foundation would be
built on the sand, and storm and tempest would sweep away the structure.” Selected Messages Book 1-Page 204,
It is at this
point that I would like to address several statements and especially the above statement in detail. The
trinity doctrine is one such system of philosophy where it is stated that Jesus isn’t really the Son of God but
an eternal co-equal being with God. It is stated that God isn’t really the Father either. They are
acting out roles and their relationship as father and son should only be viewed
metaphorically. Thus when the Bible states “And this
is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John
17:3), it really doesn’t mean that the Father is the only God. There is a separate Holy Spirit God, as
well. Thus Jesus didn’t really mean the only TRUE God. The trinity doctrine has the Father speaking only
metaphorically when He told us that “This is my beloved son, Hear Him”. He is not really the Father, and Jesus
was really not His Son. Thus this new philosophy undermines our traditional and root understanding as the Bible
simply reveals it and actually is calling God a liar. We see the following philosophical views of God in
the church today.
Jensen: "A plan of salvation was encompassed in the covenant made by the Three Persons of the Godhead, who
possessed the attributes of Deity equally. In order to eradicate sin and rebellion from the universe and to
restore harmony and peace, one of the divine Beings accepted, and entered into, the role of the Father, another
the role of the Son. The remaining divine Being, the Holy Spirit, was also to participate in effecting the plan
of salvation. All of this took place before sin and rebellion transpired in heaven. By accepting the roles that
the plan entailed, the divine Beings lost none of the powers of Deity. With regard to their eternal existence
and other attributes, they were one and equal. But with regard to the plan of salvation, there was, in a sense,
a submission on the part of the Son to the Father." Adventist Review, October 31, 1996, p.12 (Week of Prayer
Father–Son relationship in the Godhead should be understood in a metaphorical sense, not in a literal sense”.
(Max Hatton, Understanding the Trinity, p. 97)
Spirit takes the place of Jesus - (Max Hatton, Understanding the Trinity, p. 104)
Spangler: To me this signifies the interchangeableness of the members of the Godhead since they are one in
action and purpose." - Review & Herald, Oct. 21, 1971
final view of God and Jesus actually look nothing like the Father and Son relationship referred to over 70 times
in the New Testament alone. This is done in spite of the fact that the term “trinity”, “triune” or any other
type word is ever used in the scriptures. No reference to roles or metaphors used by God can be found either.
Their Father & Son role is used way too much to be viewed in the prophetic sense only. The only place we see
this type of philosophy is in fallen apostate Christianity and Rome.
One could put it
this way. Christ was begotten before creation from the Father. He is truly the Son. The Spirit flows
like a river from the Father, who is the source, through the Son, and to the people.
contrary the SDA Church teaches that before creation, there existed three divine beings. Unrelated, who because
of the fall of man, entered into three roles - Father, Son and Holy Ghost. They plainly deny the Filial and
Ontological Sonship of Christ. Here is a quote from the Bible Research Institute:
sonship of Jesus, however, is not ontological, but functional. In the plan of salvation each member of the
trinity has accepted a particular role”. - The Trinity In Scripture by Gerhard
Pfandl, Biblical Research Institute, Silver Spring, MD. June 1999.
Look at the
three articles written in the fall and winter of
the 2010 and spring 2011 quarterly issues of Elder’s Digest that is sent to all the Elders in the Church (at
least in the North American Division). The article is called Trinity in the Bible. This is a portion of the 3rd
part that deals with what we have been talking about here.
“Not one of
the foundational pillars - No specific view of the Trinity and the Godhead was regarded by our pioneers as one
of the foundational pillars of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. That we have gained more insight from Scripture
and so now hold a different view evidences that we belong to a movement but not that we have left the
foundation. This conclusion is confirmed by a number of observations.
topic of the Trinity was never a major point of discussion in the early Adventist movement. Today, it is
possible via computer to gather what seems, when viewed in totality, an impressive amount of anti-Trinitarian
quotes from the period of 1844 to 1888, and in the following decade but when read in their historical context,
along with all the other issues debated by the pioneers, Trinitarian issues quickly disappear from our radar.
During this period, they did not occupy a major place in the minds of our pioneers.
some of the most open critics of Trinitarian beliefs changed their own position over the years. This holds true
for influential leaders like Uriah Smith and James White. Uriah Smith first believed Jesus to be created but
changed his view to think that the Son was “born but not made.” James White, who in 1846 spoke harshly about
“the old unscriptural trinitarian creed,”4 in 1876-77, in a comparison of our beliefs with the Seventh-day
Baptists, stated that “Adventists hold the divinity of Christ so nearly with the trinitarian, that we apprehend
no trial [controversy] here.”5 The pioneers themselves moved.
members of the Seventh-day Adventist movement in these years came from many different denominations, most of
them Trinitarian. These new members were not usually asked to make any changes in their Trinitarian beliefs, and
most became members without being challenged in this area. When baptized, they were asked to confess their
belief in the Second Coming and the prophecies, the sanctuary, the Sabbath and the nature of man but not to
confess any specific position for or against the Trinity. Accordingly, when Ellen White at a later stage
responds to the fear new ideas might overthrow the pillars or landmarks ofour beliefs, she speaks in favor of
both progressive openness and healthy conservatism but she clearly does not include a specific view of the
Godhead among the distinctive pillars of our faith: “The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great
events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided
relation to God’s people upon the earth, [also] the first and second angels’ messages and the third, unfurling
the banner on which was inscribed, ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ One of the landmarks under
this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of
God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the
transgressors of God’s law. The non-immortality of the wicked is an old landmark. I can call to mind nothing
more that can come under the head of the old landmarks.” Our move toward a Trinitarian understanding is thus
based on the principle of biblical authority and an openness to new light arising from the study of Scripture.
Furthermore, as Trinitarian we are walking in the footsteps of our pioneers because we continue in the direction
they followed in the early period of our church’s journey. This becomes evident when we look at the development
of our understanding.”
As I read this
document, I evaluated whether it was scriptural and whether it gave accurate details especially in light of the
above Ellen White quotes. This is important because every church elder in America got this
issue. The first
reason to accept the trinity in spite of our pioneers beliefs was as follows. It suggests that the trinity
doctrine did not occupy a major place in the minds of our founding fathers. Yet how does one account for all of
them speaking on the subjects so profusely? The article argues with itself by saying it wasn’t an issue yet
states that there is “an impressive amount of anti-Trinitarian quotes from the period of 1844 to 1888, and in
the following decade” (so I guess it should have said 1898). The two can’t both be correct. He also states that
the issue fell off the radar near the turn of the century. There are three reasons for this that we should
We were, by
then, a well-established non-trinitarian church (see appendix one).
by Faith in Jesus became the Doctrine that was being debated and rejected by many.
of pantheism (attack on the nature of God and His Son) was trying to infiltrate the
The second reason given by
Elder’s Digest for ignoring our pioneer’s stance was that the men who made these statements changed their
position later in life. Yet I find that the 1905 statement of beliefs had not changed but still recognized Jesus
as the Son of God with no statement of the holy spirit being a third entity. The following website shows that
these men did not change their position. www.hullquist.com/Bible/bib-onegod-2.htm#Early
There are no statements
concerning a change of position offered by any of these men or by Sister White.
reason actually concerns me the most. They quote Ellen White to prove that the personality of Jesus and His
Father was not one of the ‘Old Landmarks’. It is given to the elders as absolute proof yet where was this
“Those who seek to remove the old landmarks are
not holding fast; they are not remembering how they have received and heard. Those
who try to bring in theories that would remove the pillars of our faith concerning the sanctuary or concerning
the personality of God or of Christ, are working as blind men.They are seeking to bring in uncertainties and
to set the people of God adrift without an anchor. Those who claim to be identified with the message that God
has given us should have keen, clear spiritual perceptions, that they may distinguish truth from error. The word
spoken by the messenger of God is "Wake up the watchmen." If men will discern the spirit of the messages given
and strive to find out from what source they come, the Lord God of Israel will guard them from being led
astray.“ MR 760 pg. 9-10
(written between 1905-1907)
clearly states that the Personality of God and Christ as established by our pioneers is one of the pillars of
Faith and that those who try to remove this pillar are working as blind men. Further, the watchmen of Zion are
to wake up and give warning. Our elders are being told that this doctrine is based on “biblical authority and
openness to new light arising from the study of Scripture” when in fact they are being led by blind men who
desperately need spiritual eye salve. It may not make us popular but as watchmen we must sound the alarm.
Spiritual watchmen have always been rejected by most and often persecuted. Why should it be any different now?
Yet the alarm must be sounded. “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain:
let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
…” (Joel 2:1-2)