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WWN 1993 Jul - Sep

 

1993Jul -- XXVI -- 7(93) -- THE AGENDA OF DECEPTION -- "Holy Flesh" Teaching Being Revived --
The entrance of sin into this world was by deception and by continued deception it has been maintained. The Laodicean state is the final exhibit. Its self-perception seeks to cover the reality. Those in that state believing themselves to be in need of nothing, fail to hear the voice of the True Witness declaring them to be in need of everything. It is this revealed danger of deception which should cause us to tremble exceedingly.

We have been warned that      "the power of Satan now to tempt and deceive is ten-fold greater than it was in the days of the apostles." (SG, 11, p. 277)      The intensity of the deception is in inverse proportion to the time remaining. We are now being buffeted      "with every wind of doctrine" for the very objective "to deceive." (Eph. 4:14)     Yet we seem oblivious to the fact that the "many voices" sounding today in the community of Adventism are discordant even though they share the same platform. Let us face the fact that "church bashing" is not a safe criterion by which to judge the truthfulness of those "voices" sounding in the community of Adventism, each declaring that he or she has a message from God for Laodicea. Such "bashing," manifest in headlining the latest sensational episode or questionable position voiced by the Church, may in reality cover spiritual deception on the part of the "voice" with resultant eternal consequences.

There has been in our Church history a short-lived movement which never reached full fruition, but
concerning which we have been warned will repeat itself. This was the Holy Flesh Movement in Indiana which began in 1899 and ended in 1901. In replying to a letter from S. N. Haskell, Ellen White wrote:      "The things you have described as taking place in Indiana, the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation." (SM, bk. ii, p. 36)      The things taking place were two-fold, involving forms of worship adopted from Pentecostalism, and aberrant doctrinal positions in such sensitive areas as the incarnation and Christian perfection. Ironically, the first manifestation - Pentecostal musical extravaganza, using various loud-sounding instruments - has invaded the regular Church

p 2 -- by the introduction of the "celebration" type of worship.

The doctrinal positions as taught by the "Holy Flesh" men of Indiana are being reintroduced and widely accepted among many of the major "independent ministries."

The keystone doctrine of the Gospel is the incarnation. Without Bethlehem, there would have been no Calvary. Only by "dying in humanity" could Jesus destroy him that had the power of death.      "He could not have done this as God, but coming as man Christ could die." (Letter 97, 1898)      That life lived in human flesh was sinless, or else there would have been no resurrection. He was      "declared to be the Son of God with power [over all flesh - John 17:2], according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead." (Rom. 1:4)      Without the resurrection, there would be no High Priestly intercession to bring an end to sin. (Heb. 9:28)

We have become familiar with the stated positions current in the official Church through the Tithe "Supplement" in the Adventist Review in 1991, written by Dr. Roger W. Coon of the Ellen G. White Estate. One in the Church can either believe that Christ in assuming humanity took the pre-Fall nature of Adam, or that He took the post-Fall. If you do not prefer either of these, you can accept the position advocated in Seventh-day Adventists Believe...., the thinking of the Anglican divine, Henry Melvill. (See pp. 47, 57) But few are aware that the Church's ministry were given a resume of two of the above positions, with a third alternative being the Holy Flesh teaching on the doctrine.

In the Ministry (June, 1985) two parallel articles were published. One - "What Human Nature Did Jesus Take? Unfallen" - was written under the pseudonym of "Benjamin Rand;"the other - "What Human Nature Did Jesus Take? Fallen" - with the pseudonym of "Kenneth Gage." One year later -
June, 1986 - the Ministry published an article by Thomas A. Davis Christ's Human Nature: An Alternative View. (pp. 14-17)

Davis is forthright in stating that he believes that the view he is propounding      "could bring together the two viewpoints discussed in Ministry" (June, 1985).      Davis holds      "that Jesus was not incarnated with a nature common to all men. He did not come to this world to be in all respects like all men. His human nature was common only with those who have experienced a spiritual rebirth. Let us express this another way: Of Mary, Jesus was born, 'born-again."' (Was Jesus REALLY Like Us? p. 30; emphasis his)      He holds in common with the editor of the Adventist Review that Jesus had "a fully human nature (while also being fully God)." (Ministry, June 1986, p. 15) All of this is impossible to reconcile. If Jesus had a "fully human nature," that nature would be "a nature common to all men" which Davis denies. Further a "fully human" nature, the only nature known since the Fall, is a nature that has been defiled by sin. Jesus took a      "fallen, suffering human nature, degraded and defiled by sin." (YI, Dec. 20, 1900)      But He did not yield to the forces of the flesh; He did no sin. Whether a man is born again, or not born again, there is still resident in all human flesh, the potential to sin. That human nature "defiled by sin," Jesus took.

Davis' teaching in regard to the incarnation is identical to the teaching of the "holy flesh" men of Indiana. Let it be clearly understood from the beginning that the men of Indiana did not believe that their flesh was holy. One minister in the conference who opposed the leadership described the teaching as "the sinless flesh doctrine." (See, The Holy Flesh Movement, p. 27) It was finally dubbed the "Holy Flesh" Movement. While Ellen White used the term "Holy Flesh," she described the doctrine as teaching "perfection in the flesh." (SM, bk. ii, p. 32)

Now what did the "holy flesh" men of Indiana teach in regard to the incarnation? R. S. Donnell, titular head of the Movement, wrote while president of the Indiana Conference, a series of articles in the Indiana Reporter on the subject. The internal evidence of these articles suggests they were a response to another series published in the Review & Herald by A. T. Jones on the same subject. Later, after being removed from the presidency of the conference, he published these articles in a booklet - What I Taught in Indiana. Included with these articles were his answers to a series of questions which the newly elected president of the Conference propounded to him. These articles and the answers to the questions give the evidence of the teaching of the men of Indiana by which comparison can be made with the teaching of Thomas and Margret Davis today.

Question 4 of the interrogatives reads - "Please state in a few words your views on the nature of Christ?" To this Donnell replied:       "Christ's nature was a divine human nature. [It was] a nature which, prior to the new birth, has not been possessed by a single son or daughter of Adam since the fall." (p. 20)

p 3 -- Not only did Donnell teach, as Davis does, that Christ came born, "born again," but to support this teaching, he used the same identical arguments which the Davises employ today. Donnell quoted Hebrews 2:11 -      "For both he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified [not those He is going to sanctify, but they who are sanctified] are all of one; for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren."      Then he commented -      "Notice that it is the sanctified ones who He is not ashamed to call brethren. Further, it is the sanctified ones of whose flesh He partakes." (Donnell, op. cit., pp. 4-5)

In the Ministry article noted above, Davis likewise quoted Hebrews 2:11. Then he enlarges on the Scriptural use of the word, "sanctified."

The logic appears to be without flaw. Then he concludes:       "We read in Hebrew 2:17 that Jesus was made like his brethren [the born-again, sanctified ones] in every respect." (Emphasis his)      Defending a hermeneutic which he uses, he summarized -      "In the light of the foregoing we may conclude that there was something important about the incarnate nature of Christ that was like born-again people but unlike unregenerated people." (p. 14)      This is "holy flesh" teaching even using their arguments to the dotting of the "i" and the crossing of the "t."

After the 1901 General Conference session which ended the Holy Flesh Movement, Ellen G. White went to Indianapolis to be present for the reorganization of the Conference. During this called session, she bore a decided testimony to the delegates concerning the experience through which they had just passed. At the close of her discourse she said:       "When I am gone from here, none [and this includes the Davises] are to pick up any points of this doctrine and call it truth. There is not a thread of truth in the whole fabric." (E. G. White Estate Document File 0190; emphasis supplied)

Today, we see a revival, as prophesied, of this doctrine among the major "independent ministries," led by Tom and Margaret Davis. This deception is disturbing many sincere concerned Adventists with baleful results. I have seen devoted seekers for truth become so discouraged in the application of this doctrine to "perfection" so as to doubt whether they were Christians. I have also seen fine young people after assimilating this deception, reach the conclusion they are no longer sinning. This later experience is exactly the results which Ellen G. White declared would have occurred back in 1901 had the "holy flesh" teaching been carried to its ultimate conclusion. (SM, bk. ii, p. 32)

At the 1901 General Conference session, the night before Ellen G. White bore her decided testimony against the "Holy Flesh" Movement, Dr. E. J. Waggoner spoke to a question which had been given him to answer. The question read:       "Was that holy thing which was born of the virgin Mary born in sinful flesh, and did that flesh have the same evil tendencies to contend with that ours does?" (1901 GC Bulletin, p. 403)      Dr. Waggoner told the delegates that in the very question itself was the idea of the Catholic dogma of the immaculate Conception. Then he stated -      "We need to settle, everyone of us, whether we are out of the church of Rome or not. There are a great many that have got the marks yet." (ibid., p. 404)

What are these marks? The whole of the problem revolves around the meaning of a dream given to a man fleeing the wrath of his brother. The first night away from home, and with stones for a pillow, the Lord appeared to Jacob in a dream. He saw a ladder which connected earth with heaven bridging the gulf which sin had created. The text reads:       "Behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it." (Gen. 28:12)       This ladder was a symbolism of Jesus Christ, and so recognized by Him. (John 1:51) The ladder not only reached to heaven but it was set up on the earth. It was not short on either end. Any theory, or concept which cuts short the ladder bears the marks of Rome.

Rome rests this "ladder" in Mary declaring that      "unlike the rest of the children of Adam, the soul of Mary, was never subject to sin, even in the first moment of its infusion into the body. She alone was exempt from the original taint." (The Faith of Our Fathers, 88th rev. ed., p. 171)      The Evangelicals rest that ladder in the sanctified womb of Mary:      "As the dust of the ground was enlivened by a miraculous act, and the result was the individual body of Adam, so the substance of Mary was quickened and sanctified by a miraculous act, and the result was the human soul and body of Jesus Christ." (Quoted in Ministry, Dec. 1957, p. 39)      The "Holy Flesh" teaching rests the "ladder" on a "born again" nature. However,      "the base of this ladder rests firmly on the earth, brought to the very level of humanity." (ST, Jan. 6, 1898)       "If that ladder had failed by a single step of reaching the earth, we should have been lost. But Christ reaches us where we are. He took our nature and overcame." (DA, pp. 311-312)      "Made 'in the likeness of sinful [not born again] flesh,' He lived a sinless life." (ibid.)

p 4 -- It must be re-emphasized that the potential to sin is not eradicated at the "new birth." We still remain in the flesh until this vile body is fashioned "like unto (Christ's) glorious body." (Phil. 3:21; Rom. 8:23) Recognizing ourselves as sinners, we repent - change our mind - and we are to ever remain in that state of repentance I am to die daily. (I Cor. 15:31) I must remain at the foot of the cross - set up on earth - and there find "my hope and stay." It is the highest place that I can attain. (AA, p. 210) All that follows in life is but the outworking of my heartfelt appreciation of what the crucified One provided for me. I, a slave to the enemy of God, willingly become a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ, but His matchless love lifts me up, and I become a son of God. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." (I John 3:1) But the theories of man wish to remove that Christ from us, and supplant an "antichrist" who did not come all the way down and set up on earth that ladder back to God.

These false theories of the incarnation produce with varying emphases a salvation by works program which negates the very message which God brought to this people in 1888. Justification by faith      "is the work of laying the glory of man in the dust and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself. When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ." (Spec. Test. to Ministers & Workers, p. 62)

We need to review just what took place at the Incarnation, when the Lord of glory stooped low to set up the ladder on the earth. Basic is the fact that He who was born at Bethlehem had pre-existed as God.      "There is light and glory in the truth that Christ was one with the Father before the foundations of the world were laid. This is the light shining in a dark place, making it resplendent with divine, original glory. This truth, infinitely mysterious in itself, explains other mysterious and otherwise unexplainable truths, while it is enshrined in light, unapproachable and incomprehensible." (R&H, April 5, 1906)      This pre-existent Self-Identity took upon Himself a body formed in the womb of Mary.

It is at this point that the question of Mary enters the picture. Was Mary immaculate? Was a section of her womb sanctified? Did she produce a born-again body in which Christ was to dwell? Each individual in formulating an answer to these questions must decide as Waggoner suggested that night long ago at the 1901 General Conference session - am I out of the Church of Rome or not? Tragically as he also stated - "There are a great many that have got the marks yet." These words were directed to the "holy flesh" men at the session.

You and I have an earthly father. From that father and that mother, we receive not only our body, but also our unique identity. We are fully human. Having by and from birth a fallen nature, we are unable to resist the forces inherent in the flesh.      "The result of eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is manifest in every man's experience. There is in his nature a bent to evil, a force which, unaided, he cannot resist." (Education, p. 29)       While the flesh of itself cannot sin, our weakened wills cannot resist the flesh's demands. We sin. Christ on the other hand recognized the power of the fleshly cravings, and admitted:      "I can of mine own self do nothing." (John 5:30)      Giving us this example, He let God work in Him of His good pleasure. (John 14:10; Phil. 2:13)

The problem with our theology is that we have in one form or another adopted the "holy flesh" concept of a "divine human nature." There is no such thing on earth. Even in Christ the two natures - His pre-existent Identity, and the humanity He received from Mary - were distinct.      "The two expressions 'human' and 'divine' were in Christ, closely and inseparably one, and yet they had a distinct individuality." (ST, May 10, 1899)      We, too, can become partakers of the "divine nature" through the acceptance of the precious promises of God. (II Peter 1:4) The promise is His word to fulfill to us the provisions of "the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 3:24) Accepting His word by faith, this becomes my "treasure" held in an earthen vessel "that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of [me]" (II Cor. 4:7) The "treasure" and "the earthen vessel" are as distinct in us, as the "divine" and "human" were in Jesus. Never does the "earthen vessel become divine, so that we can say we have a "divine human nature." Neither can it be said of Jesus in the incarnation.

Jesus carried that body with its nature to the very end, to the cross itself, and there let it be crucified. When He arose, His was a glorified humanity which He has carried into the highest heaven. It is a body like unto that "glorious body" which we will receive in exchange for our "vile body." (Phil. 3:21) We, too, carry, our fallen human nature to the very end. Daily it must be crucified.

But now the supreme question:    Do we continue to sin to the very end? The answer is - No! It is at this point that the uniqueness of the gospel committed in sacred trust to Adventism enters the picture. There is a final atonement. By the outpouring of the Holy Spirit without measure there is to be realized in a victorious group the same experience as was demonstrated in Jesus. (John 3:34) Basic to that experience is a correct understanding of the doctrine of the incarnation. Mariology in any form is a deception.

Note: Those who wish to study more thoroughly into the "Holy Flesh" history may obtain the manuscript - The Holy Flesh Movement - 1899 - 1901 from the Adventist Laymen's Foundation. .

p 5 -- "THE GREAT MEDICAL MISSIONARY" -- Because of sin, sickness, disease, and death have been the lot of humanity. Throughout time men have sought to alleviate the effects of sickness, cure disease, and prolong life. Various methods have been used in seeking to combat these results of sin. In the Hebrew economy, the priest was given diagnostic authority in the recognition and determination of certain diseases. See Leviticus 13. There are illustrations in the Old Testament where the power of God working through natural means brought recovery. (11 Kings 5:10-14; 20:7)

In the New Testament Jesus recognized the work of the doctor. He declared they that were sick were in need of a physician. (Matt. 9:12) He himself combined natural means with divine power for restoration. (John 9:6-7) The limitations of medical practitioners are also noted. (Mark 5:25-26) Yet Luke, companion of Paul, is described as "the beloved physician." (Co1.4:14)

When God raised up a people to proclaim His last warning to the inhabitants of earth, He connected with the giving of the Three Angels' Messages, a health reform program, and assigned to them a medical missionary, work. It is stated thus:     "The medical missionary work is to be the work of the church as the right arm to the body. The third angel goes forth proclaiming the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. The medical missionary work is the gospel in practice." (8T:77)

This presents two important factors:    1)    The medical missionary work is as the right arm. This does not mean that it becomes the whole body. Herein many have erred.    2)    The medical missionary work is the gospel in practice. Dare we preach a false gospel? Then dare we practice a false gospel? What corrupts a true gospel? Is it not the mingling of error with truth? Was not the gospel as proclaimed by the Apostles corrupted when mingled with paganism?

We have been clearly warned that in these final hours      "Satan will come in to deceive if possible the very elect. 'tie claims to be Christ, and he is coming in, pretending to be the great medical missionary." (Series B, #6, p. 33)       The same means he has used to corrupt the gospel, he will also use to corrupt the medical missionary work -pagan philosophy and the occult. This very combination is noted as the basis for God's rejection of those professing to be His people in the last days. Describing these last days, Isaiah wrote:     "Therefore, thou has forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines." (2:6)     Received from the east is the diagnostic tool of iridology. Kurt E. Koch, Th.D. in his book, Occult ABC, wrote that      "historically, iris diagnosis...goes back to ancient Chinese methods of healing,"      and is       "associated with astrology." (p. 100)      He stated further:     "In the case of iris diagnosis, the eye was originally (in ancient China some three thousand years ago) divided into five concentric zones, alterations in which were evaluated in making the diagnosis. The later division into twelve fields corresponds to the astrological signs of the zodiac: (list given)...In the last century, new shoots began to sprout from the primitive, superstitious roots of iris diagnosis." (ibid.)

Dr. Koch referred to a detailed work on Iridology by Professor P. A. Jaensch - Irisdiagnostick. He noted that he was surprised to find in this work a chapter on "Eye Diagnosis and occultism," and commented:      "I would hardly have expected to find such a subject dealt with by a university lecturer."      Professor Jaensch called iris diagnosis,      "Afterwissenschaft, meaning a pseudo-science, or fantasy under scientific guise." (ibid., p. 102)      Seeking to give a balanced discussion, he noted that there are psychic, occult methods of diagnosis, but that many iris diagnosticians have nothing to do with spiritism, however,      "the medical value of their diagnosis is extraordinarily thin. In many cases it is meaningless." (p. 103)

Dr. Koch summarizes his experience in two observations:     "1.    Eye diagnosticians who are not occult cause no harmful effects on their patients. The medical value of their treatment, however, is very small.
"2.     Eye diagnosticians who work by occult means bring their patients under bondage. Their diagnoses are often accurate." (p. 104)

This should tell us something. Only those, wittingly, or unwittingly, who are working under

p 6 -- the psuedo-"great medical missionary" can give the most accurate iris diagnosis.

In America, the leading proponent of the use of iridology in the diagnosis of disease is Dr.
Bernard Jensen, who holds doctorates in Chiropractic, Naturopathy, and Clinical Nutrition. His iridology chart which is widely used by those practicing this form of diagnosis is patterned according to the twelve signs of the zodiac. Though semi-retired, he is still lecturing and writing books on the subject of health and nutrition. He also has developed an advanced system for photographing and recording the iris by television in color permitting both the doctor and patient to view the diagnosis at the same time. For his work and research, he has received many citations and awards.

In 1974, Dr. Bernard Jensen published a book -The Science and Practice of Iridology. The second chapter, "The Philosophical Phase," gives some insight into the thinking of Dr. Jensen. He quotes with fond recollection a statement of one of his "old teachers" that      "the white areas in the iris are likened to the angels of heaven, while the dark or black areas are compared to the devil of hell." (p. 5)       Further, he asserts that doctors employing natural methods of healing are aware of the forces and sources which affect the individual health. Besides the food we eat, the air we breathe,      "there are vibrations that are around (us), which are food for (our) 'feeling' body." (p. 6)      In another chapter, noting that       "our seasons and our lives are considerably under the influence of our sun,"        and that      "in the past some races of peoples were sun worshippers,"      Jensen suggests,       "We should all be sun worshippers because all life comes from the sun and we could not live without it." (p. 336)

Seventh-day Adventists who are enlightened in regard to the origin of sun worship, and who
have been warned that the enemy in his final deception would come as a "great medical
missionary," should be extremely careful to avoid all methods originating with, and philosophically
based in the occult. We need to keep in mind that in this final conflict between truth and error -     
"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." (Series B, #2, p. 52)

LETS TALK IT OVER -- In the articles of this issue, there are two important factors involved, one having to do with faith, and the other doctrinal, which is directly related to one's Christian experience.

Let us consider the matter of faith. First, faith is the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1) Secondly, faith is based on the word of God. (Rom. 10:17) There are things in life which may appear good, and blessed by God. We may even attend a campmeeting, or some revival, and experience a good feeling. The evidence as seen may indicate that God's presence was there. Do we then judge by the feeling received, or do we judge by the Word of God? As the Holy Spirit is being withdrawn from the earth, it is being replaced by another spirit. The final walk on earth will be by faith and not by sight!

The enemy was successful in the very first temptation to challenge the Word of God, and substitute sight and feeling as the basis for the acceptance of that which was projected by him as truth. This he has successfully repeated over and over again. His final attack will be no different. Why should he substitute something different when he has used this approach so successfully for milleniums? So when we "see" and sense a "feeling" of exhilaration, we take the fruit, and partake, and tell others what a blessed experience we had, not stopping to ask, is it all according to the Word of God.

We may boast of successes in medical missionary work. We may even point to documented results - the evidence seen! Yet if what we do is not according to the Word of God, but is based in methodology invented by the enemy, it is not of faith. It was not without reason that two questions are asked in The Great Controversy. Speaking of those only who       "will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive,"       it is asked:       "Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible, and the Bible only." (P. 625)      Let us not put this off as speaking solely of some future day, that time is upon us now.

Turning to the second point - the doctrinal, which involves the incarnation, determines what I believe about sanctification and perfection. If, as in Catholicism, I believe that "the Ladder" reached down only to Mary, who in turn was

p 7 -- preserved free from all sin, then I must find some means to reach the bottom rung. To find this means whether the Roman Catholic teaching is believed, or one of the others - Evangelical or "Holy Flesh" - results in some perversion of the Everlasting Gospel. Either we fall into the abyss of "cheap grace," or we plunge into the chasm of human works to accrue merit. The question in simplest terms is - "Do I come to Jesus 'just as I am without one plea,' or do I come to Him after I have demonstrated my worthiness to be accepted?"

Ellen G. White addressed this very point in her beautiful summary of the 1888 Message. She wrote:     "Some feel that they must be on probation and must prove to the Lord that they are reformed, before they can claim His blessing. But they may claim the blessing of God even now. They must have His grace, the Spirit of Christ, to help in their infirmities, or they cannot resist evil. Jesus loves to have us come to Him just as we are, sinful, helpless, dependent. We may come to Him with all our weakness, our folly, our sinfulness, and fall at His feet in penitence. It His glory to encircle us in His arms of love, and to bind up our wounds, to cleanse us from all impurity." (Steps to Christ, pp. 56-57, 1940 editon)

This coming to Jesus must be a daily matter, for we carry with us our fallen nature to the very end. It is never eradicated, as was taught by the "Holy Flesh" men of Indiana, until these vile bodies are exchanged for a body like unto Christ's glorious body. (Phil. 3:21) It is by God's power that we are kept day by day from falling into acts of sin. (Jude 24) As a glorious climax to the plan of redemption, God proposes to have a people who will stand "without fault" as a final demonstration of HIS power to save to the uttermost. This He will accomplish through the final atonement. But this is another subject - a much neglected subject by those inventing theories of the incarnation other than the Biblical, for they must devise a way to reach the first rung of the Ladder which they have removed from the earth.

Note: For those interested in a further study of the Final Atonement, send for the tape - "The Last Act of the Final Atonement."

" The worst sort of hypocrite and liar
is the man who lies to himself in order to feel at ease.
"
Hilaire Belloc

--- (1993 Jul) --- End --- TOP

1993 Aug -- XXVI -- 8(93) -- STEPS TO LIFE RESPONDS TO ISSUES -- TWO ERRORS DO NOT MAKE ONE TRUTH -- Following the publication by the North American Division of Issues: The Seventh-day Adventist Church and Certain Private Ministries, most of the "Certain Private Ministries" responded with a rebuttal. The first received by this Foundation was published by Steps to Life. It was bound by the same color of cover stock and the title printed in gold ink letters as was the North American Division publication. It was authored by Dr. Ralph Larson. The title was also similar, Issues The Real Issue, the Side Issues and the Pseudo Issues. It is as seriously flawed as was the Division publication, and more detrimental to the spiritual well-being of sincerely concerned Seventh-day Adventists, because by most of the supporters of the "Private Ministries," it will be accepted without question. The devotion to men rather than devotion to truth still dominates the thinking of the vast majority of Adventists whether they be in the regular church, or have become a part of the dissident movement.

Two major premises are set forth by Dr. Larson in the Steps to Life publication. In Chapter IX under the caption of "The Pseudo-Search for Historic Adventism," he writes:       "We understand and use the term ' historic' to refer to the truths that were held by viturally all Adventists before the book Questions on Doctrine appeared in 1957." (p. 39)      Further, on the same page, he wrote:       "It is to the common faith of the pre-1957 era that we have reference when we describe ourselves as ' historic Adventists."'

In examining what Larson designates as "The Straw-Man Technique," he writes that instead of defending personal opinions as charged,      "we are actually defending our historic faith as set forth in SDAs Believe ..., etc." (p. 54)       This statement presupposes that the book SDAs Believe... rectified the deviations from the "historic faith in the book, Questions on Doctrine, and thus restored the pre-1957 faith. These two premises, we shall examine.

In discussing why the axis of dissident leadership - Larson-Grosboll-Osborne-Trefz -      "have preferred to call themselves ' historic Adventists',"      Larson writes:     "We are not ignorant of our church's history. We are well aware that the formation of our doctrines was a gradual process, with major principles being established in the early years and further refinements coming later. We are also aware of the difference between ' landmarks' and 'pillars' of our faith and the less important items." (p. 39)

Let us examine our church history in the light of the Divine Guidance afforded this church through the ministry of Ellen G. White. She clearly defined the landmarks. (Ms. 13, 1889; Counsels to Writers & Editors, pp. 30-31) She also warned:      "We must not think, ' Well we have all the truth, we understand the main pillars of our faith, and must rest on this knowledge.' The truth is an advancing truth, and we must walk in the increasing light." (R&H, March 25, 1890)      Concerning the "pillars of our faith," she wrote:      "If the pillars of our faith will not stand the test of investigation, it is time that we knew it." (TM, p. 107)      What Larson refers to as "further refinements coming later," Ellen White wrote:      "We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed." (TM, p. 30)

The problem that has accentuated the crisis in

p 2 -- Adventism is two-fold:    1)    We did not in our history do as advised - learn and unlearn - but rested satisfied in a false sense of doctrinal security. We did not experience God's design for His people, that of "constantly obtaining a clearer understanding of His word," and discerning "new light and beauty of its sacred truths." But rather, as spiritual life declined, we rested "satisfied with the light already received from God's word, and discouraged any further investigation of the Scriptures."    2)     God had a remedy. He       "will arouse His people; if other means fail, heresies will come in among them, which will sift them, separating the chaff from the wheat." (ST:706-707)

This has occurred. What has been the response? We have compromised our faith instead of cleaning up our act - unlearning - so as to have pure basic truth unencumbered with traditional error. Now what is the cry? Stay with "historic" Adventism instead of doing what the Lord counseled through His messenger - learn and unlearn. So we place ourselves back where our immediate past leadership was when God permitted "heresies" to come in among us. Instead, we should be growing in grace -advancing in truth, and walking in increasing light.

The directions given were clear and specific. They read:     "The Lord has made His people the repository of sacred truth. Upon every individual who has had the light of present truth devolves the duty of developing that truth on a higher scale than it has hitherto been done." (Ms. 27, 1897; emphasis supplied)

If we had been following counsel, and had developed the truth committed to our trust, learning what "increasing light" God had for us through a deeper study of the Holy Scriptures, and unlearning the errors that had become tradition, we would have been able to stand up to the attacks that the Evangelicals made upon our unique perception of the types of the sanctuary services and related prophecies.

The answer to ISSUES, is not the slogan, "Stay with 'historic' Adventism," and pin-pointing that Adventism to be perceptions of doctrine held at a particular point of time. To do so is to place concerned Adventists back into the same positon the Church was prior to 1957, when they could not defend their positions on the incarnation and the Sanctuary truth against the questioning of Barnhouse and Martin. Since that time, the Church has had to face the attacks of Dr. Desmond Ford in regard to the Sanctuary truth in particular. His attacks are also a part of the onslaught which concerned Adventists have to likewise face because of their identity with the corporate body of truth committed to Adventism. A few years back, I listened to a series of tapes of an exchange between Dr. Ford and Dr. Colin Standish. Ford actually made Standish look as "sick" as Walter Martin made Johnsson look on the Ankerberg Show. Yet Standish is still not willing to study the Scriptures to be adequately prepared to meet Ford's positions. The only answer to the present crisis is to follow the counsel we have been given. Is it being done? The answer is clearly - No! That is the real issue!

A Lesson from History -- in 1620, a group of Pilgrims were embarking from Leyden, Holland, to sail for the New World. Their Pastor, John Robinson, in a Farewell Message plainly told them, "The Lord has more truth yet to break forth from His Holy Word. I cannot sufficiently bewail the condition of the reformed churches, who have come to a period in religion, and will go at present no farther then the instruments of their reformation. Luther and Calvin were great and shining lights in their times, yet they penetrated not into the whole counsel of God. I beseech you, remember it - ' tis an article of your church covenant - that you be ready to receive whatever truth shall be made known to you from the written Word of God." (Source Book for Bible Students, 1922 edition, p. 528)

This evaluation of the condition of the reformed churches in 1620, that they had "come to a
period in religion," is exactly what Larson would have the concerned Adventists do. Put a period
- 1957. Call the beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church prior to that date - "historic"
Adventism, and there abide. We need to ask ourselves some searching questions. Does God
have no more truth to break forth from His Holy Word? Does the message of Peter actually read     
· "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until 1957." (II Peter 1:19)       Is the path of the just no longer      "a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.?" (Proverbs 4:18)      Did the light stop in 1957?

I recall in the golden-age of Adventist evangelism, when in visiting interested attendees at the meetings who were contemplating whether

p 3 -- to make a change from the church of their forefathers into the Adventist Church, we told them that they were merely walking in the advancing light of truth. We assured them that indeed Luther, Wesley and others were great and shining lights in their day, but God was now giving them additional light and truth. Has this ceased? Are we now going to tell God's concerned people there is no more advancing truth for today, that that advance stopped in 1957?

Ellen G. White's comment on this incident from history is noteworthy, After commenting on the Covenant the Pilgrims had taken to which John Robinson referred, she wrote:      "Here was the true spirit of reform, the vital principle of Protestantism." (Great Controversy, p. 291)       If this were truly believed, there would be the removal of Catholic orientated concepts from the teachings of many of the "independent ministers." There is a great enthusiasm to distribute The Great Controversy, when in reality some of those so promoting would do well to do some reading in it themselves.

Seventh-day Adventist Believe... (SDAB) -- Dr. Larson, in Steps to Life's reply to ISSUES, makes the claim that "our historic faith" is "set forth in SDAs Believe." (p. 54) Let us check some of the teachings as found in this book, and see if they accord with the Scriptures, or the Writings. We shall select three examples of the book's teaching.

1.     The Atonement, when completed? -- In the chapter discussing Belief #23 of the 27 Fundamentals of the Church, we read the following:     "The atonement, or reconciliation, was completed on the cross as foreshadowed by the sacrifices, and the penitent believer can trust in this finished work of our Lord." (SDAB, p. 315)

Then in discussing Belief #26, we find this added comment:       "Christ, in the heavenly sanctuary, has been ministering the benefits of His completed atonement to His people." (ibid., p. 365)      Is this what was believed - a completed atonement at the Cross - prior to the publication of the book, Questions on Doctrine?

2)    Did Moses write the Ten Commandments? -- In the discussion of Belief #18, we find this incredible assertion:      "Moses wrote the Ten Commandments, with other explanatory laws, in a book called the book of the covenant. (Exodus 20:1-24:8)" (ibid., p. 237)

Noting the Scripture reference given, one finds the record of the giving of the Law from mount Sinai, besides various "judgments" and ordiances which God instructed Moses to present to the people. These "judgments" were written in a book which formed the basis of the Old Covenant which God made with Israel. The clear statement in SDAB is that Moses wrote in this book, the Ten Commandments, as well as the judgments. Now carefully consider the following from the Writings:     "Moses had written - not the ten commandments, but the judgments which God would have them observe, and the promises, on conditions that they would obey Him." (Spiritual Gifts, Vol. III, p. 270)

You can now draw your own conclusions in regard to the book, Seventh-day Adventists Believe ... . But one must keep in mind that Dr. Larson has unequivocally written over his signature:       "My theology is precisely and specifically the theology set forth in the book Seventh-day Adventists Believe." (The Tithe Problem, p. 3)

3)    The Incarnation - What nature did Christ assume? -- The insert placed in the Nov. 7, 1991 issue of The Adventist Review, not only discussed tithe, but also stated there were three beliefs regarding the nature that Christ assumed in humanity current in Adventism today. These three are:    1)    Christ took the nature of Adam before the Fall;    2)    Christ took the nature of Adam after the Fall; and    3)     "He took a nature that in certain respects was like Adam's before the fall, but in other respects was like Adam's after the fall." (Tithe Insert, p. 3) The fact is that this third concept was first published in Seventh-day Adventist Believe...under the affirmation that this book "represents an authentic exposition of Adventists beliefs." (SDAB, p. viii) This third belief was adopted from the Anglican divine, Henry Melvill, who considered his position, "the orthodox doctrine" on the Incarnation. (SDAB, p. 57)

The book also teaches the second belief that Christ took the post-Fall nature of Adam (ibid.
p. 46 cot. 2) While the pre-Fall position is not specifically stated, the book teaches that Christ's
"human nature was created" (ibid., p. 46, col. 1 ) adopting the teaching from the late L. E. Froom
who can be listed among the advocates of the pre-Fall nature of Christ at the time of the
controversy which resulted from the publication
controversy which resulted from the publication of Questions on Doctrine. But in presenting Christ's human nature as being "created," the book also adopts the teaching of the "holy flesh" men of Indiana.

Confused? Yet this is the book which Steps to Life would have you accept as setting forth "historic" Adventism.

Why put a period to your study of God's Word and state that you will not go beyond the teachings prior to 1957? Why make the basis of your concepts of what constitutes "historic" Adventism, the flawed book, Seventh-day Adventists Believe...? Isn't it time to walk in the ever flowing light from the throne of God rather than being deceived by taking Steps to Life which do not lead to life, but rather to spiritual stagnation and ultimate death?

p 4 -- AN INSIGHTFUL LETTER -- Editor's Note: We receive frequent letters from our readers; some of which take issue with what we have written. For the most part, however, the response is favorable. Of the recent issues of WWN, none has produced the large and appreciative response that the May issue - "What is Basic Adventism?" - did. One letter, though rather lengthy, detailed the problem, and we are happy to share it with our readers.

6 June 1993
Dear Elder Grotheer:

This is to both commend and thank you for your May WWN message on "Basic Adventism." I think you have hit the center of the doctrinal and theological crisis both in the official church and in the independent ministries. Within the official church, you find confusing doctrinal and theological pluralism being presented from its pulpits and from its books and magazines. Among the various independent ministires promoting "historic Adventism," you also find a confusion which makes it dangerous for your spiritual welfare to look to them. For example, in one five day period around the middle of May, I received brochures or letters from five independent ministries (among them: Hope International, and Steps to Life). Upon reading their information, it was obvious that no two of the ministries were in close harmony with one another. Most of these groups profess to be standing for "historic Adventism" yet it was painfully obvious there was a lack of unity among them. This lack of unity was clearly assessed in WWN, January, 1992, by Pastor Richard Sutton of the Remnant SDA Church of Nora Springs, Iowa.

Perhaps the various independent ministries and their leaders (Spear, Ferrell, Gibson and Rafferty, J. Grosboll, Marcussen, etc.) each of which promotes their own "brand" of "historic Adventism," would do well to consider the following verses:
1. "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace..." (1 Cor. 14:33)
2. "is Christ divided?" (I Cor. 1:13)
3. "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Eph. 4:4-6)
4. "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ...that ye stand fast in one -spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." (Phil. 1:27)

It is greatly alarming that many independent ministries and their leaders claim to be led by the Holy Spirit, and yet these ministries have conflicting, contradictory, and confusing positions on righteousness by faith, prophecy, the ordination of "ministers," and the use of and the interpretation of Mrs. White's writings (to name only a few) with one another. This problem merits the most serious consideration by the independent ministries and their supporters.
Furthermore, with the passage of almost a century and a half since 1844, it is painfully obvious that "historic Adventism" is simply not sufficient to prepare the church to bring about the close of human history and usher in the return of Jesus to this earth.

For example, from about 1855 to 1888, the SDA church believed and taught "historic- Adventism." However, "historic Adventism" was not sufficient to prevent the rejection of the 1888 righteousness-by-faith message and messengers Jones and Waggoner - by Butler, Smith, and their followers. "Historic Adventists" fought both the message and messengers for over a decade and a half and finally turned the church against the message and also Jones and Waggoner.

Around 1905, after the 1888 righteousness-by--faith message had largely been rejected and the messengers had left the church, the denomination and its leaders reverted back to "historic Adventism," which reversion lasted up to about 1955 - in other words, around 50 years. But "historic Adventism" was not sufficient to prevent Anderson, Froom, and other church leaders from making compromises and concessions to Barnhouse and Martin during the 1955-56 SDA-Evangelical Conferences. Nor was it sufficient to prevent the publication of Questions on Doctrine in 1957. "Historic Adventism" also did not prevent the development and expansion of the SDA--Ecumencial connections during the mid and latter 1960s.

Around 1970, under the Pierson administration, church leaders once again embraced "historic Adventism ". However, once again, "historic Adventism" was not sufficient to prevent the development and growth of very serious problems within the church. For example, during the time from 1970 to 1978, the Davenport financial scandal was developing. Church leaders in the

p 5 -- EEOC v. PPPA case proclaimed the G.C. President was a "first minister," the church structure was "hierarchical," and the church's teaching on the papacy and Roman Catholicism had been "consigned to the historical trash heap." In May 1977, Bert Beach gave the late Pope Paul VI a church medallion." Historic Adventism" also did not stop the spread of Fordite heresies in the pulpit and on Adventist college campuses.

With the retirement of Pierson, many church leaders began drifting toward evangelical - and even liberal - theological positions on the atonement, prophecy, and righteousness by faith, to note only a few areas.

"Historic Adventism" has been taught in the church for 90-plus years. It has not been sufficient to prepare the church to bring about the return of Jesus; neither has it been adequate to prevent apostasy and corruption from entering and overtaking the church. Therefore, the time is here for those independent ministries and their leaders who are shouting "stay with historic Adventism" to confront this most serious situation and do some very, serious soul searching. Based on past church history, there is no real reason to believe that 25 or 50 more years (if time lasts that long) of preaching what is called "historic Adventism" will produce any different results than it has in the past.

Equally as important as "what is Basic Adventism" is "What is the True Church?" or maybe "What is a True Adventist Protestant and His Church?" There are far too many conservative Adventists or "historic Adventists" who have essentially a Roman Catholic mentality. "Historic Roman Catholics" look to the priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and pope for spiritual direction and guidance. They look to their church leaders to define for them their beliefs, theology, and conduct. They tend not to question the actions, conduct, and policies of their church leaders. "Historic Catholics" look to ceremonies, forms, or rituals, like attending the mass or performance of some or all of the so-called Seven Sacraments, for salvation.

Unfortunately, many "historic Adventists" are not much different than "historic Roman Catholics." Some "historic Adventists" look to their pastor, local conference president, union president, Division president, or General Conference president for spiritual direction and guidance, while other "historic Adventists" look to the leaders of independent ministries for their spiritual direction and guidance. Many "historic Adventists" look to their leaders - whether within the denomination or in an independent ministry - to define for them their beliefs, doctrines, and theology. "Historic Adventists" seldom question the actions, conduct, or policies of their chosen leaders - whether denominational or independent. Many look to their adherence to certain standards of diet, dress, or entertainment as a means - full or partial - toward their salvation.

The problem here is not that the "historic Adventists" are right and the "historic Catholics" are wrong. The problem is they are BOTH WRONG! In both cases, the "historic Adventist" and the "historic Catholic" end up looking to and depending upon something, someone, or some group in place of Jesus and the Scriptures.

These strange parallels between "historic Roman Catholics" and "historic Adventists" should serve as a warning that many SDAs - including "historic Adventists" - are in danger of receiving the mark of the beast - UNLESS they learn to be PROTESTANTS. True PROTESTANTISM does not blindly, and unquestioningly follow a hierarchy - whether denominational or independent - nor does it ignore apostasy and corruption within the denomination or an indepdendent ministry. Unfortunately, many 'historic Adventists" have been indoctrinated by their parents, pastors, school teachers, and church leaders not to think for themselves, but instead to follow their leaders, don't ask quesitons and don't rock the boat. This Roman Catholic mentality must end if Adventists - including "historic Adventists" - do not want to receive the mark of the beast.

Finally, I would like to bring to your attention this flyer that I received from Marcussen. Note the return address name - "M.V. Society of Seventh-day Adventists." I feel this is a gross deception since he has no official connection with the church. The "straight testimony (?)" does not require this kind of deception and prevarication. Note the mailing permit location - Troy, MT.

Continue to fight the good fight.
Name Wthheld
Eastern USA

"If controversy engenders many evils, as I see to my great sorrow, it is the fault of those who first propa--gated error, and of those who, filled with diabolical hatred, are now seeking to uphold it."    
Philip Melancthon

p 6 -- LETS TALK IT OVER -- There can be no question that the follower of the Way, guided by the Spirit of truth, will "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (II Peter 3:18) Such an experience will be progressive. He will understand that "the truth is an advancing truth, and we must walk in the increasing light." (R&H, March 25, 1890) At no point in such an experience can one say, "Here is where I pitch my tent; here is where I shall abide." This is the problem involved in crying, " Stay with ' historic ' Adventism. "

On the other hand, there are some serious problems also. To walk in "the increasing light" means that there will be what could be called, "new light." How do we relate to "new light"? Some quickly dismiss that question by saying that all "new light" will conform to, and not contradict previously known truth. This is a true conclusion. But what about our "cherished views" and the "many, many [lessons] to unlearn"? Our cherished views could be in contradiction to "increasing light." Which would we accept, and which would we give up? Human nature being what it is, we would probably hold to our "cherished views" and reject the light. This is our present danger, with eternal consequences involved.

This is why we must go back to the basics, and build upon that firmly establshed platform of "Present truth". Upon those who have received "present truth devolves the duty of developing that truth on a higher scale that it has hitherto been done." (Ms. 27, 1897) Note the words we have emphasized - "duty" and "that truth." Not only is it a duty to be progressive in one's study of truth, but it is "that truth" not some fanciful interpretation that is to be developed. Let us illustrate in one area of Biblical studies which seems to have become the playground of those suggesting they have "new light" - prophecy.

When our spiritual forefathers set forth the first basic principle of Adventism - "the cleasning of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having a decided relation to God's people upon the earth" - they based the prophetic part of that conclusion, "the passing of time in 1844," upon the historistic method of interpretation clearly revealed in the book of Daniel. That tool of interpretation is a part of basic Adventism. Yet today there are those who would continue to teach the book of Daniel by that tool, but when they begin to explain the book of Revelation, they adopt the jesuitical method of interpretation known as "futurism." We need to settle it on and for all time that "advancing light" does not come via jesuitical methodology.

Then there are those who would question basic understandings of prophetic truth in the book of Daniel itself. The fundamental prophecy of Daniel 7 with its beast symbols coming up before Daniel in succession, one following the other, is made to teach that all these powers arose simultaneously. Then a fanciful modern interpretation is placed upon them. This is inferred as "advancing truth." Any so-called "light" which destroys previously defined truth is a deception.

But a study of this chapter also reveals wherein "historic Adventism" fails those who hold to "cherished views." Too many are prone to put a "period" after verse 10, and skip to verses 13-14. But the vision speaks clearly of events which were to occur after the judgment began in 1844. The text reads:      "I beheld then because of the great words which the horn spake." (7:11)      We have placed all the "great words" as being spoken during the 1260 prophetic days, but if one looks carefully at the explanation found in verse 25 the word, "great" is supplied. We have not given consideration to the weight which heaven put upon the words after 1844 in contrast with the words spoken during the "time and times and the dividing of time." It is true that if we did so, we would have to give up a "cherished view" or two, and unlearn some lessons. But in so doing, we would not destroy the basic truth of Daniel 7, but rather develop it to "a higher scale."

What is interesting about this whole question is the fact that most of this counsel regarding "advancing truth," and "increasing light" was given in connection with the Righteousness-by-Faith message of 1888. To put a period in the on-going advancement of Adventism, and state categorically that we are going to stop and stake out our theology as perceived and understood prior to the events of 1955-56 - the SDAEvangelical Conferences - is reactionary. Actually the major setting forth of Seventh-day Adventist theology at that point of time was done in the 1952 Bible Conference - and it conformed to "historic" concepts. But behind the scenes of this conference was an attempt to put forth the message of 1888 so as to blunt the force of the original presentation of Wieland and Short to the leadership of the Church in 1950. In others words, it was still a church in rebellion against "advancing truth" and "increasing lignt."

p 7 -- To stake out one's position in that setting, and say, "Stay with 'historic' Adventism," is tragedy compounded. But this is exactly the message of the booklet written by Larson and published by Grosboll which we reveiwed in the first article. Further, within the very emphases of many of the proponents of "historic" Adventism is to be found the theology of Butler, Smith and Morrison, rather than "the precious message" brought by Waggoner and Jones.

In the next issue of WWN we plan to do a detailed presentation on the 1952 Bible Conference.

An Observation -- In discussing certain teachings as found in the book, Seventh-day Adventists Believe..., we noted the emphasis on the "completed" atonement at the cross. (p. 315, col. 2; 365, col. 2). In the presentation of Belief #9, it is stated - "in the sanctuary services, however, atonement not only involved the killing of the sacrifical lamb but also included the priestly ministering of its shed blood in the sanctuary itself." Although this statement is misleading, the conclusion is drawn "According to this Biblical usage, then atonement can refer to both Christ's death and His intercessory ministry in the heavenly sanctuary." (p. 110, col. 2) But you cannot have a "completed" atonement followed by a continuing atonement.

There is a point we need to consider, and that is the emphasis which the types gave to the two atonements - the daily and the yearly. There is no question but that there was an atonement resulting from the daily ministry in the earthly sanctuary service. See Lev. 4:20, 26, 31, 35. This prefigured the death of Christ on the cross. But the word is a verb describing an action and not a noun. It was a confessional sacrifice that was offered, and through the priest an atonement was obtained bringing to the confessor, forgiveness. In describing the yearly service a plural noun is used, atonements, with the definite article. (Ex. 30:10; Lev. 23:27-28, Heb) The result was "to cleanse." (Lev. 16:30) The emphasis in the types as far as "atonement" was concerned was on the final atonement. This our spiritual forefathers understood, and so placed their emphasis. This was and is the unique message of true Adventism.

" Repentance must be something more that mere remorse for sins:
it comprehends a change of nature befitting heaven.
"
Lew Wallace

---(1993 Aug) ---End---- TOP

1993 Sep -- XXVI -- 9(93) -- THE 1952 BIBLE CONFERENCE -- THE SWAN SONG OF "HISTORIC " ADVENTISM -- At mid-century, W. H. Branson assumed the presidency of the General Conference. Immediately, he was faced with one of the most difficult questions that had ever faced the chief administrator of the Church for decades. He was confronted with a challenge to the standard interpretation given to an event in the history of the Church. Elders R. J. Wieland and D. K. Short presented to the General Conference Committee their original manuscript - 1888 Re-Examined. It was assigned to the Defense Literature Committee for evaluation and reply. But the evidence indicates that Branson could not forget it. This is a part of what the 1952 Bible Conference was all about along with a re-evaluation of another historical event and applications of certain prophecies.

Midway in his four-year term as chief administrator of the Church, Branson called for a Bible Conference to convene. The Autumn (Annual) Council voted that it be held in the Sligo Park Seventh-day Adventist Church from September 1 - 13, 1952. It was to be world-wide in its representation of the Church including delegates from the overseas divisions. Editors of the leading publications as well as the book editors of the major publishing houses, plus Bible teachers, evangelists, administrators, and representatives from the Theological Seminary, which at that time was located in Takoma Park, were invited to be present.

Through the pages of The Ministry, July, 1952, Branson announced to the workers of the denomination the forthcoming Bible Conference, and gave the reasons for calling the conference. He set these reasons forth in what he perceived to be their order of importance. He had announced as a goal of his administration the doubling of the Church's membership in four years. He cautioned that       "we must never forget that in seeking to increase membership we are not searching for additions to a social club. We are searching for men and women who will give a responsive ear and heart to great and saving truths that God has commissioned us to preach"      Then he added:      "Our success in this heavenly

p 2 -- undertaking will be in ratio to our understanding of those truths and our flaming conviction that they are indeed the truth of God."

Rececognizing that      "a very great power resides in the truths of God distinctive for these last days,"      Branson set as      "one of the prime purposes of [the] conference"      the objective to      "reaffirm those truths that have most certainly been believed among us through our history." (Our Firm Foundation, Vol. I, p. 15) [FF-l, and FF-2 will be used designating the two-volume report of the Conference in this article]

Based on this "prime objective," Branson's second reason for calling the conference followed closely. He wrote that      "the Advent Movement was not built on question marks...We have great verities to preach. The purpose of this Bible Conference is to help us all to see how we can present those timeless truths most effectively in these changing times." (ibid., p. 16)     
The third and final reason for calling the Conference was concerning the need to recognize
advancing light. He wrote:      "We can at one and the same time affirm that we walk in the light - and thus have a heavenly message for men - while admitting that there are truths of God that as yet can be but dimly discerned."      Then, Branson cautioned:      "Genuine new light will never cast a shadow on the light we already have. The purpose of our Bible Conference is not to cast shadows over present great areas of truth, nor to explore curiously dim areas to the distant right or left. But, keeping in step as a company bound for heaven, we shall seek to go forward. If, for example, some unfulfilled prophecy heretofore but dimly discerned on the horizon, and thus differently described in its details, can be seen more clearly, then we shall rejoice, thank God for the enlarged light, and go forth from the Conference with one more point to add to our preaching." (ibid., p. 17)

In two editorials in the Review & Herald, the editor, Francis D. Nichol, explained to the laity of the Church the plans and need for a Bible Conference. He, too, emphasized the study of prophecy by this conference. He wrote:       "Prophecy colors virtually all our doctrines. And it is of the nature of prophecy that it can be more clearly understood and more effectively presented as it merges into history." (ibid., p. 21)

When the conference opened, these two recurring themes were again emphasized by Elder Branson:         1)    that of      "reaffirming those great and fundamental truths that have most certainly being believed among us throughout our history" (ibid., p. 45);      and    2)     to understand      "that we are prophetic preachers - not prophets." As "prophetic preachers" we are "to deal with prophecy already fulfilled." (p. 56; emphasis his)      On this point, he quoted counsel from James White. It is apropos for us now! White had written back in 1877:      "Fulfilled prophecy may be understood by Bible students. Prophecy is history in advance. He can compare history with prophecy and find a complete fit as the glove to the hand, it having been made for it. But in exposition of unfulfilled prophecy, where history is not written, the student should put forth his propositions with not too much positiveness, lest he find himself straying in the field of fancy. There are those who think more of future truth than of present truth." (R&H, Nov. 29, 1877, p. 172)

The introductions placed in both volumes of the Bible Conference reports were written by D. E. Rebok who served as secretary of the conference, and who, at the time, was President of the Theological seminary. Certain points which he makes in these introductions also shed light upon the purpose and objectives of the Bible Conference. We shall note one or two points now, and comment later on another. Rebok called the conference      "the high-water mark of the Advent movement,"      and      "one of the greatest convocations of God's people this side of Pentecost." (FF-l, p. 12)      He noted:      "The conference was not called to settle any theological problems." (ibid.)       The studies presented      "are not an official pronouncement of the church. They do, however, represent the best thinking on the part of sincere, honest, earnest, devoted, loyal men - Seventh-day Adventists, first, last, and always - who tried to give expression to our conception of the great truths believed, held, and taught by Seventh-day Adventists generally in all parts of the earth."      The presentations were      "to galvanize our convictions on present truth." (ibid., p. 13)

The question now comes - What was taught at this Bible Conference on theological topics which now divide the Church?

First, it must be recognized that no topic was presented on the doctrine of the Incarnation.
The closest any speaker came to the subject of the Incarnation was by H. L. Rudy in his study

p 3 -- of the mediatorial ministry of Christ. See FF-2, pp. 43-45. There is a reason why this subject was avoided. In 1949, D. E. Rebok had been asked to revise, Bible Readings for the Home Circle. This he did, altering the chapter, "A Sinless Life," eliminating the statement:       "On His human side, Christ inherited just what every other child of Adam inherits, - a sinful nature." (p. 115, 1914 edition)      See comments in Movement of Destiny, p. 427-428.

While we are prone to lay all the doctrinal deviation and compromise in the church to the SDA-Evangelical Conferences of 1955-56, there were changes in doctrinal perceptions taking place at the highest levels of the Church prior to those fatal conferences. Actually, the main thrust of the compromise in 1955-56 was in the critical area of our sanctuary teachings regarding the atonement.

What was said on this subject at the 1952 Bible Conference?

W. G. C. Murdoch, presented a paper on "The Gospel in Type and Antitype." He stated:      "In the work of atonement there was of necessity a sacrifice, but there must also be a priest." (FF-1, p. 333)

"The atoning sacrifice was made certain upon the cross, when Christ uttered the words, ' It is finished.' This sacrifice becomes effectual for individual sinners by the priestly ministry of Christ in heaven....Necessary and helpful though the ministry of Christ is in the holy place in heaven, yet His service there does not entirely do away with sin." (ibid., p. 334)

"As in the type, sin was dealt with in three stages: first, the sacrifice by the sinner in the court; second, the blood being ministered in the holy place by the priest or high priest; and third, the entire cleansing of the sanctuary. This last work was accomplished in the most holy place by the high priest alone. Christ meets all three. He is the sacrifice; He is the priest in the holy place; He is the high priest in the most holy." (ibid., p. 336)

Here is expressed a basic premise of Adventist theology. This premise needs to be maintained and
it also needs to be conformed to the teachings of the Word. Christ became the High Priest upon His inauguration into the order of Melchizedec on the Day of Pentecost, and as that High Priest ministered in the holy place of the Heavenly Sanctuary. Other faulty per
ceptions should have been rectified without denying the basic premise.

Taylor G. Bunch spoke on "The Atonement and the Cross." He stated:      "The death of Christ on the cross paid the redemption price, but His blood must be applied to the repentant sinner through His own mediation, in order that the atonement or reconciliation may be complete." (FF-1, p. 373)

This presentation was followed with the subject of "The Mediatorial Ministry of Jesus Christ" by H. L. Rudy, a vice president of the General Conference. He declared plainly that      "the message concerning the mediatorial ministry of Christ is God's answer to the apostasy of the last days. It is the heart of Christianity."       He added:       "The enemy of souls is determined to profane the blood of Christ and to nullify His mediatorial ministry." (FF-2, pp. 11-12)      In summarizing the first section of his study, Rudy noted:       "The cross cannot be separated from the life and teaching that preceded it and of which it was the crown. Neither can the cross be separated from His subsequent ministry at the right hand of God in the temple in heaven." (ibid., p. 23)

In discussing this heavenly ministry, Rudy observed that a part of that ministry was to put away sin.      "The putting away of sin includes the work of judgment. Christ's sacrifice provides not only for the forgiveness of sin but also for its complete eradication, putting it out of sight so that it will never rise again."       This final eradication will come      "after atonement has been made"      through Christ's ministry      "in the heavenly sanctuary." (ibid., p. 60)

Rudy discussed some key questions which arise as a result of certain statements found in the book of Hebrews. He quoted Hebrews 9:11-12, and then commented:      "Christ made the atoning sacrifice once for all, and when He entered the 'holy places' in heaven He 'entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.' ' Eternal redemption' indicates that the full price was paid, and by His sacrifice the work of redemption is to be fully and eternally completed." (p. 63)

There is a question as to whether the phrase, "having obtained eternal redemption" (KJ V) would be better translated if it read, "thus securing an eternal redemption" (RSV). As can be recognized, the translation in the KJV indicates a completed work at the cross, while

p 4 -- the RSV points to a continuing work as the result of Christ's entering into His heavenly ministry. The RSV translation is in harmony with the Greek usage known as "identical action." Rudy arrived at the same conclusion by limiting the words, "eternal redemption" to the sacrifice on Calvary.

Noting      "the beginning of the investigative judgment in 1844,"       Rudy observed that Christ began       "a new phase of His mediatorial ministry."       He stated:      "Christ entered the most holy to perform the work of atonement. He ceased His ministration in the first apartment." (p. 65)

It should be clearly observable that the speakers at the 1952 Bible Conference - men of repute in the Church - held to a two apartment heavenly sanctuary, and that Christ as High Priest began performing a work of atonement in the most holy commencing in 1844. These men, while recognizing that a sacrificial atonement was made once for all on Calvary, also recongized that the work of redemption was not completed at the cross, but there was to be a final atonement through the work of Christ as High Priest in the most holy apartment of the Heavenly Sanctuary.

Yet in three years, conferences would begin between representatives of the Seventh-day
Adventist Church, and the Evangelicals, Barnhouse and Martin. At these conferences, this very
basic doctrine of the sanctuary truth would be repudiated. Further, in the resulting publication -
· Questions on Doctrine - some of these very men who spoke at the 1952 Bible Conference would become a part of the committee approving the book, which contradicted the very things they proclaimed at the Conference.

To recognize an atonement at Calvary - albeit calling it a "sacrificial atonement" - and to teach
an atonement in the most holy place of the heavenly Sanctuary is to teach a dual atonement. Yet the book, Questions on Doctrine, emphasized:       "Adventists do not hold any theory of a dual atonement. 'Christ hath redeemed us' (Gal. 3:13) 'once for all.' (Heb. 10:10)" (p. 390; emphasis theirs)        Recalling Rudy's comments on "eternal redemption," it is most interesting to observe how the book QOnD handled the words. A caption for section VIII in the chapter on "The High-Priestly Ministry of Christ" reads - "Redemption Absolute by the Victory of Christ." (p. 381) Rudy had pointed out that while the redemption price had been paid, there was to be a continuing work of redemption as "Christ entered the most holy to perform the work of atonement." But what did QonD set forth under "Redemption Absolute..."? Note carefully:      "How glorious is the thought that the King, who occupies the throne, is also our representative at the court of heaven! This becomes all the more meaningful when we realize that Jesus our surety entered the ' holy places,' and appeared in the presence of God for us. But it was not with the hope of obtaining something for us at that time, or at some future time. No! He had already obtained it for us on the cross." (p. 381; emphasis theirs) 

A footnote indicates the writer(s) of the book was basing this concept on Hebrews 9:11-12 as translated in the KJV. However, they do note the meaning of one word - secured - as found in the RSV. So they were not unaware of the other possible translation of these verses.

The haunting question still remains. How could men pictured as "sincere, honest, earnest, devoted, loyal men - Seventh-day Adventists, first, last, and always" deny the faith they proclaimed at the Bible Conference in so short a time after such a public confession? Unless we can find the answer, we are again face to face with a theological crisis. Either our faith, based in sanctuary theology, is sound; and can be supported by a plain "thus saith the Lord," or else it is faulty and needs to be jettisoned. There have been those over the years who have done just that. And, if Desmond Ford's boasting is to be believed, a vast majority of the present day scholars in Adventism do not really believe the sanctuary teaching either, "except for some few dedicated to upholding the traditional positions for reasons other than scholarship."

It must be recognized that the Evangelicals dangled before the brethren the proverbial "carrot." Martin was writing a book on the "cults," and if, justifiable reasons could be found, he would no longer present Seventh-day Adventism as a cult, but as one with the body of Christ. Adventism would be considered a part of the ecumenical mainstream of Evangelical Christianity. But if such acceptance was the real reason, this is a tragic justification for the surrender of the truth committed in sacred trust to the Advent Movement.

We must look beyond this to find the real answer. The basic cause appears to be failure to understand the counsel given to the Church in 1901. Speaking of a unity needed that will bear "the test of trial," Ellen White wrote that      "we have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn." (TM, p. 30)      The fact is that

p 5 -- those who spoke on the subject of the sanctuary at the 1952 Bible Conference did not carefully scrutinize their topic, to see what needed to be unlearned, as well as what needed to be learned, but rather merely repeated previously held positions, some of which cannot be sustained by the Scriptures. The full blame cannot be placed on the individual speakers because they were bound by rules placed upon them by the planners of the Bible Conference. It was plainly stated - The conference was not called to settle any theological problems." (op. cit) But those involved in planning the Conference had to know that there were problems in this area that needed to be addressed. To address these problems does not mean that we discard this basic tenet of Adventism which gives to the Movement its uniqueness. It does mean, however, that we clean up our theology in this area and bring it in line with the Scriptures.

Those who are attacking the Sanctuary theology of Adventism today want to quote this scholar
and that scholar. But the position of all the scholars in the world on a given subject does not
necessarily mean one will have the truth. To merely substitute the thinking of scholars for the quoting of the Writings is not the goal to pure unadulterated truth. Rather a coming together in
prayerful study of the Word of God as did our pioneers with the objective of unlearning as well
as learning would accomplish much.

There is another facet of the 1952 Bible Conference which needs to be considered. We noted at the beginning of this analysis of the Conference that at the very start of his presidency of the General Conference, Branson was presented with the challenge of Elders Wieland and Short in their original work - 1888 Re-Examined. The gist was that the Church had rejected the message of righteouesness by faith as given at the 1888 General Conference session, and to that day in 1950 had not recovered the original message as given by the two messengers God sent - Jones and Waggoner. In the "General Introduction" to the two-volume report, Rebok begins his explanation with the emphasis of "Seventh-day Adventists and their message of righteousness by faith." He declared that this theme ran "through every study presented, and that without any foreknowledge or planning." (FF-l, p. 11) This generalization is hard to believe when one surveys certain of the presentations.

The subject on "The Lord Our Rightcousness" presented at the Bible Conference was given by Branson himself. In his presentation, he declared that     "the message of righteousness by faith given in the 1888 Conference had been repeated here."      Following the same line as Rebok, Branson stated:     "Practically every speaker from the first day onward has laid stress upon this all-important doctrine, and there was no prearranged plan that he should do so. It was spontaneous on the part of the speakers. No doubt they were impelled by the Spirit of God to do so. Truly this one subject has, in this conference, 'swallowed up every other.'

"And this great truth has been given here in this 1952 Bible Conference with far greater power than it was given in the 1888 Conference because those who have spoken here have had the advantage of much added light shining forth from hundreds of pronouncements on this subject in the writings of the Spirit of prophecy which those who spoke back there did not have. The light of justification and righteousness by faith shines upon us today more clearly than it ever shone before upon any people.

"No longer will the question be, ' What was the attitude of our workers and people toward the message of righteousness by faith that was given in 1888? What did they do about it?' From now on the great question must be, ' What did we do with the light on righteousness by faith as proclaimed in the 1952 Bible Conference?"' (FF-2, pp. 616-617)

Though unspoken it would be difficult to avoid the conclusion that the 1952 Bible Conference was a staged response to the challenge that Elders Wieland and Short had presented to the Branson administration as it assumed the leadership of the Church two years earlier. However, it must also be recognized that Branson linked a revival of the message of righteousness by faith with his objective of doubling the church's membership in four years. In connection with his presentation, he declared:      "The reception of the righteousness of Christ by the Church today will bring the second Pentecost. [Is this an admission it had not been received previously?] Revelation 18:1-3 will be fulfilled. Thousands will be converted in a day as the message of salvation through Christ swells to a loud and mighty cry. With such power in the message, who shall say that a four-year period is too short a time in which to double the number of those who are brought into the church of God?" (ibid.)

To Branson, righteousness by faith was a

p 6 -- doctrine, the acceptance of which would produce aquantity harvest. He challenged the leaders present from all the church's world divisions:       "It is within your power to carry this message of justification and righteousness by faith back to the very ends of the earth. You can instruct every worker in this doctrine. You can encourage the brethren, in turn to set it before the churches. You can sound throughout your divisions an appeal for our people everywhere to lay hold of this mighty experience." (ibid., p. 618)

The issue of repentance was left unresolved, and the focus was centered on quantity rather than quality. With this conference, the "numbers game" began in earnest. In 1950, the membership of the Church stood at 716,538 members world-wide. In 1990, that figure exceeded 6 million. But what is the spiritual condition of the Church today? No one can say that the church today reflects in experience that righteousness which is by faith, yet we profess to believe it doctrinally.

Beyond the aspects of theology, some of the Conference speakers discussed prophecy. W. E. Read presented a series of studies on "The Great Controversy" which included a study on "The War of Armageddon." He presented this as a spiritual battle rather than a literal conflict to be fought in a specific geographical location. (FF-2, pp. 285-311) This opened the door to advanced thinking on the subject. I recalled that but a few years prior when I had entered the ministry, I was severely chastized by the conference president for suggesting such a thought at a midweek study which I gave in the church where I was located. What I had said that night was quickIy relayed by letter or telephone to the conference office.

Arthur S. Maxwell discussed at this conference "The Imminence of Christ's Second Coming." In this presentation, he listed three areas of unfulfilled prophecy:    1)    Developments in the United States;    2)     Developments in Palestine; and    3)     The Seven Last Plagues. He used point #2 to correct some of the Church's teaching in the previous decade. The publications of the Church in the 1940s had emphatically stated that Israel would never become a nation again. Yet in 1948, it did become a nation. As a result, Maxwell stated:      "There is one prophecy concerning Palestine that we should all be watching with special care. Said Jesus, 'Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.' Luke 21:24." (FF-2, p. 230) 

We living today have seen this prophecy literally fulfilled, yet we are not willing to come to terms with what was meant by that fulfillment The Church has since 1952 sponsored another Bible Conference in which it was declared:       "Adventists do not see theological importance in the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 or the annexation of Old Jerusalem in 1967." (North American Bible Conference, 1974, "Adventist Eschatology," p. 6)       Evidently in 1952, the brethren thought the words of Jesus did have significance and counseled that its coming fulfillment be watched "with special care."

LETS TALK IT OVER -- Having been a delegate to the 1952 Bible Conference from the Southern Union, I retain memories of certain experiences which occurred. Prior to the conference, and in preparation for his topic, Arthur S. Maxwell sent out a survey card to the ministry of the church on how they related to the belief in the soon return of Jesus. Some very pointed questions were asked. I was eager to hear the results of this survey, and I listened with rapt attention to his presentation. The survey revealed that the concept of the return of Jesus was only lightly regarded by the ministry of the Church. The majority placed the return well into the next century.

We had been told that there would be a report of the conference, and that each speaker was being taped for transcription. This led to very little note taking on my part because I believed I would get it all in the two volume publication. However, when the books were published, Maxwell's report of his survey was deleted. I wrote to him, and asked him for a copy, but he declined as he had been instructed by the highest levels of church not to release any details of his survey.

However, in listening to his presentation, the section on developments in Palestine and the counsel to watch "with special care" for the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus in Luke 21:24, passed by me as if I never even heard it. Even in checking the book after its release for the report of the survey, I missed the point. Years later, after having made a study of the prophecy, I was visiting with Elder D. K. Short in his home, and he called my attention to Maxwell's comments on Jerusalem.

p 7 -- While at the conference, I recall the reaction to W.E. Read's presentation on Armageddon. W. R. French, a respected Bible teacher of many years, became very incensed over the spiritual view as it had been presented by W. E. Read. Friends and former students obtained a room in Washington Missionary College (now Columbia Union College) for him to present his views on the subject. I attended his vigorous defense of the "old view" but left unconvinced.

There was also a strong discordant note to the presentation by Dr. Edward Heppenstall on "The Covenants and the Law." The reaction became so pronounced that following his topic a statement was made that there would be editing of the presentations before publication. How much was done in reference to Heppenstall's could be determined only by comparing the taped transcription, if still available, and the published record in Our Firm Foundation, Vol. I, pp. 435-492.

At the time of the presentation, I was sitting behind veteran evangelist, Allan Walker. He had had many "battles" with the Church of Christ ministers in the South. He perceived of Hepppenstall's message as demolishing the very arguments he had used in defending the truth in public debates with the ministers of that Church. As Heppenstall progressed in his topic, Walker would stomp his feet, and one could see that he was restraining himself from getting up and challenging him directly from the floor. He knew that if he did, he would be called out of order as it had been plainly stated, "there was to be no open-forum type of discussion." (FF-1, p. 29) Finally he got up and walked out as he could take no more.

There is an interesting conparison that can be made between the men involved in the preparation for the 1952 Bible Conference, the speakers at the Conference, and the men who became members of the committee which approved the book, Questions on Doctrine, following the SDA-Evangelical Conferences, three years later. The 1952 Bible Conference Planning Committee consisted of twenty-two members chaired by Branson himself. These men selected the topics and the speakers for the
presentations. Twelve of these men took speaking responsibilities. Ten of the men on the Bible Conference Planning Committee also became members of the committee which approved the book, Questions on Doctrine. Of these ten, eight had been speakers at the Bible Conference.

One fact of the above comparison needs to be noted. Of the four General Conference vice presidents during the Branson tenure, three took speaking appintraents at the Bible Conference. The one who did not, R. R. Figuhr, became the next General Conference president and chairman of the Questions on Doctrine Committee.

AN OBSERVATION -- The book of Exodus, Chapters three through forty cover but two years in the history of the Children of Israel. Of the thirty eight chapters, twelve are devoted to the design, building and erection of the sanctuary, the services of which are a type and shadow of the Heavenly. (Heb. 8:5) One contains the Law of God, and seven describe the Old Covenant and the "type" covenant God made with Israel through Moses. Contrast this emphasis on a two year period with the fact that the Bible devotes only eight chapters to the first 1600 years of human history.

It was a man, and not an ostrich, who invented the dictum that
" what you don't know won't hurt you. "
The truth is the precise opposite.
Ralph Barton Perry



" Any frontal attack on ignorance is bound to fail hecause the masses are always ready to defend their most cherished possession - their ignorance. "
Hendrik Van Loon

---(1993 Sep) --- End ---

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