1975 Jan-MarVIII 1(75) - VIII 3(75)
1975 Apr-Jun VIII 4(75) - VIII 6(75)
1975 Jul-Sep VIII 7(75) - VIII 9(75)
1975 Oct-Dec VIII 10(75) - VIII 12(75)
1976 Jan-Mar IX 1(76) - IX 3(76)
1976 Apr-Jun IX 4(76) - IX 6(76)
1976 Jul-Sep IX 7(76) - IX 9(76)
1976 Oct-Dec IX 10(76) - IX 12(76)
1977 Jan-MarX 1(77) - X 3(77)
1977 Apr-Jun X 4(77) - X 6(77)
1977 Jul-Sep X 7(77) - X 9(77)
1977 Oct-DecX 10(77) - X 12(77)
1978 Jan-Mar XI 1(78) - XI 3(78)
1978 Apr-Jun XI 4(78) - XI 6(78)
1978 Jul-Sep XI 7(78) - XI 9(78)
1978 Oct-Dec XI 10(78) - XI 12(78)
1979 Jan-Mar XI 1(79) - XI 3(79)
1979 Apr-Jun XI 4(79) - XI 6(79)
1979 Jul-Sep XI 7(79) - XI 9(79)
1979 Oct-DecXI 10(79) - XI 12(79)
Feb Knight Descends On Jones. 1of 4.
Mar Knight Descends On Jones. 2 of 4.
1988 Apr-Jun 3 & 4 of 4.
last of WWN published
ADVENTIST LAYMEN'S FOUNDATION OF CANADA (ALF)
SHORT STUDIES - William H. Grotheer -
End Time Line Re-Surveyed Parts 1 & 2 - Adventist Layman's Foundation
- Legal Documents
Holy Flesh Movement 1899-1901, The - William H. Grotheer
Hour and the End is Striking at You, The - William H. Grotheer
the Form of a Slave
In Bible Prophecy
Doctrinal Comparisons - Statements of Belief 1872-1980
Paul VI Given Gold Medallion by Adventist Church Leader
Sacred Trust BETRAYED!, The - William H. Grotheer
Adventist Evangelical Conferences of 1955-1956
SIGN of the END of TIME, The - William H. Grotheer
of the Gentiles Fulfilled, The - A Study in Depth of Luke 21:24
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
Song of Solomon - Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary
Ten Commandments - as Compared in the New International Version & the King James Version & the Hebrew Interlinear
OTHER BOOKS, MANUSCRIPTS & ARTICLES:
Various Studies --
Bible As History - Werner Keller
Canons of the Bible, The - Raymond A. Cutts
Daniel and the Revelation - Uriah Smith
Facts of Faith - Christian Edwardson
Individuality in Religion - Alonzo T. Jones
"Is the Bible Inspired or Expired?" - J. J. Williamson
Letters to the Churches - M. L. Andreasen
Place of the Bible In Education, The - Alonzo T. Jones
Sabbath, The - M. L. Andreasen
So Much In Common - WCC/SDA
Which Banner? - Jon A. Vannoy
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WWN 2004 Oct - Dec
Oct 2004 -- XXXVII - 2(04) -- The First "1888" Confrontation -- AN INTERPRETIVE HISTORY OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE INCARNATION AS TAUGHT BY THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH -- Part 1 -- Editor's Preface -- With the republication of Questions on Doctrine as the second book in a proposed "Adventist Classic Library" series, the Church has been taken back some forty years in its history. One person in a telephone conversation reacted, "What do I care about what happened in the Church forty years ago?" Well did Ellen White counsel in her Life Sketches - "We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history" (p. 196). While we do not consider the SDA-Evangelical Conferences, which dominated our history forty years ago to be the leading of the Lord, the immediate fallout caused study and research on the Incarnation by many, including this editor, such as had not been done for years. A review of some of that study is in order. Beginning with this issue of WWN, we will "republish" chapter by chapter our first manuscript released in 1972- An Interpretative History of the Doctrine of the Incarnation as Taught by the Seventhday Adventist Church. The recently published "Annotated Edition" admitted that the Adventist conferees lied to the Evangelicals in regard to the Adventist teaching on the Incarnation. The members of the Church today, which means almost all, need to know how greatly the Church leadership did lie.
We hope to correct all typographical errors of the original
edition, as well as to include "annotations" as the historical
data may require. We recognize that there was a similar research released
some fifteen years later in 1986, as well as attempts since then, to find
a compromise under the guise of "an alternate view." This view
but reflected the teaching of the men who were leaders of the aberrant
Holy Flesh Movement within Adventism.
p 2 -- AN INTERPRETIVE HISTORY OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE INCARNATION AS TAUGHT BY THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH - Part 1 -- Preface-- As a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, I had always taught and sincerely believed that Christ took upon Himself the fallen nature of man when He condescended to become the Son of man. However, since 1957, I have given intensive study to the doctrine of the Incarnation, both in the Scriptures and in the Writings, as well as other Church publications such as the Senior Sabbath School Lesson Quarterlies. In 1964, as a result of obtaining a copy of a term paper prepared for the Department of Church History at Andrews University, my interest was stimulated to begin a research in depth on the history of this doctrine in the Church. This manuscript is the result. It is not claimed to be exhaustive, especially in the final chapter that surveys the period of 1952 to the present. (if possible we will seek in this reprint and revision to enlarge the documentation of that period so as to make the historical record more complete.) The documentation presented in the original printing was, however, representative and authoritative for each period of our history as a church.
The chapter on the Holy Flesh Movement is a brief summary of the research which was begun when serving as a pastor-evangelist in the Indiana Conference from 1955-62. Continued investigation was made with the help of a senior student while I was head of the Bible Department at Madison College from 1962-64. All of this investigation was organized into a paper to meet the requirements of the course - Research in Theology - at Andrews University when doing graduate work in 1964-65. Further study has been made since then, which will be incorporated into the chapter on the Holy Flesh Movement of this revised manuscript.
In pursuing this study and writing, I had the constant encouragement and help of my wife, Dorothea, now deceased. We searched together to eliminate errors of typing and spelling. We sought to see that each quotation was correctly documented and accurately transcribed in context. We wanted the publication to be letter perfect. We did not succeed. Letters received from friends called our attention to a number of typographical errors. It is my intent this time to reach the goal.
I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the fulfilment of the precious promise which reads: When you arise in the morning, do you feel your helplessness, and your need of strength from God? And do you humbly, heartily make known your wants to your Heavenly Father? If so, angels mark your prayers, and if these prayers have not gone forth out of feigned lips, when you are in danger of unconsciously doing wrong, and exerting an influence which will lead others to do wrong, your guardian angel will be by your side, prompting you to a better course, choosing your words for you, and influencing your actions ( Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, pp. 363-364).
What applies to deeds and actions, applies equally to our thoughts and words, whether written or spoken. In the early morning hours, when much of the writing of the original manuscript was done, I was many times conscious of the presence of my unseen Guardian.
This research was published and is being republished because - "The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us" - and since it is, we need to understand the historic position of the Church, which emphasized the tremendous victory which Christ achieved in our nature, so that we may by faith overcome as He overcame.
Purpose -- The purpose of this manuscript is
to present an interpretive history of the doctrine of the Incarnation
as taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The time span extends from
the origins of the Church in the Great Second Advent Movement in the early
decades of the 19th Century to the present.
p 3 -- In presenting the teachings of the Church as to the nature Christ assumed in becoming man, no attempt is being made to detract from the dignity of His pre-existence as One with the Father from all eternity, nor in any way to disassociate Him from the oneness with the Father during His earthly sojourn. At Bethlehem, the Word who was in the beginning with God "came to be" (egeneto) flesh (John 1:1, 14). This same God who was manifest in the flesh was received up into glory, where at the throne of the Eternal, He continues to minister as the Son of man (1 Timothy 3:16; 2:5; Heb. 9:24).
The sources which document the teachings of the Church are: 1) the writings of "the messenger of the Lord," Ellen G. White; 2) books and publications produced by the Church's publishing houses; and 3) articles appearing in the journals of the Church. One important source apart from the writings of Ellen G. White are the Senior Sabbath School Lesson Quarterlies dating from 1888-89. Inasmuch as the composition of the Sabbath School lessons represent the combined thinking of many leaders and scholars of the Church, and since these lessons received universal acceptance and use by the Church, the teachings contained in these quarterlies on any given subject would reflect the official position of the Church.
The one exception to the teaching on the Incarnation as found in the above guidelines was the introduction of a contrary teaching which the leaders of the Holy Flesh Movement in Indiana promoted from 1898 to 1901. While this Movement did receive the official endorsement of the local conference committee and administration, its work and teachings did not represent the viewpoint of the Church as a whole at that time. It is being introduced into this research because the teaching of the leaders of the Holy Flesh Movement on the doctrine of the Incarnation has been presented as an acceptable "alternate view" in the current Christological controversy within the community of Adventism.
In the use made of the Writings of Ellen G. White, the same hermeneutical (interpretive) principles are invoked as would be used in the study of the Scriptures on any given subject (See Selected Messages - 1, p. 42). It is assumed that the inspired testimonies on the Incarnation are not contradictory as the Adventist conferees of the SDA-Evangelical Conferences concluded (see Annotated Edition, pp. 522).
The letter which appears to be at variance with the general tenor of the testimonies in the published sources prior to the death of Ellen G. White in 1915 will be discussed in an Appendix. Even as Adventist scholars do not begin with the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus to establish the doctrine of the non-immortality of the wicked, neither is it a valid approach to underwrite the doctrine of the Incarnation as taught in the Writings with a single isolated letter to an individual, counselling moderation not condemnation, of a statement when there is no record of what that individual said or wrote for comparison.
The editor does not claim a conviction-less objectivity in presenting this historical data. For this reason the title reads - An intepretive History of the Doctrine ... [To be continued in the December issue of WWN]
The first "1888" Confrontation -- To understand the significance and import of this confrontation as recorded in the chapters of the apostolic record of church history, one must realize the claims made by Paul for the Gospel he taught and what that Gospel was. These claims preface the polemic Epistle he sent to the churches of Galatia, which itself records incidents that marked the path to the confrontation.
Paul told the believers in Galatia that there were two gospels being preached. But one of these was not the true gospel but rather was a perversion of the true (Gal. 1:6-7). He used the clause, so liberally used centuries later in the
p 4 -- canons and decrees of the Council of Trent, "Let him be anathema (anaqema)." His dictum read: Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed (anaqema). As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel to you than ye have received, let him be accursed (1:8-9).
Why? Paul preached a Gospel which he was willing to certify as to its source. He wrote: But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it [by man], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (1:11-12).
What was the Gospel which Jesus Christ gave to Paul by Divine revelation, which can be classified literally as a part of "the spirit of prophecy"? (Rev. 19:10). This "testimony of Jesus" is stated clearly and emphatically in Paul's general epistle to the "'saints which are at Ephesus, and to all the faithful" in the Roman province of Asia. It reads: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:8-10).
In these three verses, there is stated the basis of salvation: 1) God's gracious gift, 2) our relationship to it, and 3) what is to occur because of it. These we shall consider in reverse order.
God does not change his requirement of perfect obedience to His standard of righteousness. The recipient of God's gracious provision is created in Christ Jesus "unto good works" - the same works "which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." There has been one all-important difference - the revelation. Instead of speaking from the smoking summit of Sinai, He has now spoken to us "in a Son" (Heb. 1:2, Gr.) in our likeness (2:14-17). That Son sits at God's right hand on "the throne of grace" (4:16) "able also to save to the uttermost" all "that come unto God by Him seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (7:25).
Paul expresses the salvation proffered as an accomplished fact, "for by grace have ye been saved" (seswsmenoi). This passive participle is in the perfect tense. "There is no English tense corresponding to the Greek perfect" (Machen). This makes translation difficult. "The Greek perfect tense denotes the present state resultant upon a past action" (ibid). The past action to which Paul is referring is the sacrifice God made on the Cross in Jesus Christ. This verse is better translated by the ARV - "For by grace have ye been saved through faith" - than the KJV in this instance.
In Paul's perception of saving grace even the faith exercised in its reception is the "faith of Jesus." To the Galatians he confessed, "I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (2:20). Saving faith has its origin in Jesus Christ (Heb. 12:2). Its exercise does not accrue merit. It is all "the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." Paul's understanding of salvation was summarized simply and concisely by his answer to the question asked by the Philippian jailor, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" His response was - "Believe (exercise faith) in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:30-31). To the Romans he would write: "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (3:28). With this background for the Gospel which Paul received by revelation from Jesus Christ, we can now approach the first "1888" confrontation.
Paul had completed his third missionary tour and mapped
his plans to return to Jerusalem. Enroute he was repeatedly warned not
to go, as danger confronted him (Acts 20:22-23; 21:4, 11). The day following
his arrival, he reported to James and all the elders "particularly
what God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry" (21:19).
He didn't need to tell them about the synagogues which the gospel he preached
broke up (Acts 18:7-8; 19:9). Reports had already reached Jerusalem (21:21).
He could not testify that large churches were raised up. He left behind
"home churches" (Rom. 16:4, 5; 1 Cor.16:19;
Col. 4:15). In reporting this meeting,
p 5 -- Luke, who was present, writes that the elders "glorified the Lord," but immediately delivered a counter report to Paul. This requires careful consideration. They began with the "numbers" game. "Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe" (Acts 21:20). This contrasted with the numbers attending the "home" churches. Where were these thousands worshiping apart from the temple? In his epistle, we find that James addresses his "beloved brethren" in the synagogues suggesting what their conduct should be under certain circumstances (2:2-5, margin). The word translated "assembly" in verse 2 is the Greek word, sunagwghn (synagogue). Paul never used this word in referring to the "'home" gatherings. They were "churches." The Greek is ekklhsia, "a called out" people.
The "elders" characterized the "thousands" of Jews as believers - they were exercising faith (pepisteukotwn), but - they were also zealous of the law" (v. 20). It was faith plus works. This was also echoed in James' epistle - "Ye see then how that by works a man is justif ied, and not by faith only" (2:24). It was the beginning of '1888," a controversy that has not ended yet!
The next major confrontation which impacts on our day is the Reformation, particularly the counter-reformation formulated in the Council of Trent. In Chapter 10 of the "Decree on Justification," it is declared: Having, therefore, been thus justified, and made friends and domestics of God, advancing from virtue to virtue, they are renewed, as the Apostle says, day by day; that is, by mortifying the members of their own flesh, by presenting them as instruments of justice unto sanctification, they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith co-operating with good works, increase in that justice which they have received through the grace of Christ, and are still further justified, as it is written: He that is just, let him be justified still; and again, Be not afraid to be justified even unto death; and also, Do you not see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only (The Creeds of Christendom, Vol. 2, p. 99).
Observe the last quoted verse is James 2:24.
Subjoining the chapters on Justification were canons which the Synod thought necessary so that "all might know not only what they ought to hold and follow, but also what to avoid and shun." Canon XII declares: If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake; or that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified: let him be anathema (ibid., p. 113).
In the context of the "1888" experience within the Adventist Church, Ellen White alluded to the doctrinal position of Rome. She wrote: If any man can merit salvation by any thing he may do, then he is in the same position as the Catholic to do penance for his sins. Salvation then, is partly of debt that may be earned as wages. If man cannot, by any of his good works, merit salvation, then it must be wholly of grace, received by man as a sinner because he receives and believes in Jesus. It is wholly a free gift. Justification by faith is placed beyond controversy. And all this controversy is ended, as soon as the matter is settled that the merits of fallen man in his good works can never procure eternal life for him (Ms. 36, 1890).
Peter told the ecclesiastical "rulers of Israel" that there is no "salvation in any other" for there is no "other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). It is through Jesus alone, by grace only that salvation is offered to the fallen sons and daughters of Adam. It is theirs to reject, or accept "by faith without the deeds of the law" (Rom. 3:28).
There are those who will not recognize their "righteousnesses" for what they are - "filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6) - who call the provision of God, "cheap grace." It is cheap for us; it is free; but the enormous cost was paid by God (John 3:16). This grace does not permit the receiver to accept and thereafter to live as he pleases. Having been "bought with a price" he is to "glorify God" in all his thoughts and conduct (1 Cor. 6:20). But this changed conduct does not accrue "brownie points" toward salvation, for by God's grace the price has already been paid.
Those who deride God's provision as "cheap grace"
need to consider what kind of salvation
p 6 -- they are advocating. Jesus, in picturing the ultimate realization of salvation, heaven itself, compared it to a banquet where He "shall gird himself, and make (the saved) to sit down to meat, and will come forth to serve them" (Luke 12:37). Those who consider that salvation is faith plus "the deeds of the law" - are thereby suggesting a "pot luck" dinner at the banquet table of the Lord, so as to be able to make a contribution to their salvation by bringing a "tasty" dish of their own "righteousnesses" to the table. Could we, therefore, conclude that those "voices" in historic Adventism who insist in advocating the Tridentine gospel of Rome, rejecting as "cheap grace" the Pauline revelation given to him by Christ Jesus Himself are advocating a "pot luck" salvation?
Rome - Center Stage Again - The July issue of The Catholic World Report (CWR) had on its full color cover page a picture of President George W. Bush and his wife in Rome for a meeting with Pope John Paul II on June 4. This conservative Catholic publication, while disclaiming to be a Jesuit publication, nevertheless has a Jesuit as its publisher, Joseph Fessio, SJ.
The article reporting this visit to Rome was prepared by the CRW staff. It was prefaced by the comment: Before a June meeting between George W. Bush and John Paul II, observers on both sides of the Atlantic predicted the Pope would renew his public criticism of US policy in Iraq. Those predictions were wrong (p. 22).
Expecting such a criticism of US policy from the Pope, which didn't materialize, the Manchester Guardian reported "that Bush had received 'a papal tongue lashing,' " presumably in private. CWR, however, reported that within a week after the Bush visit, a more realistic - and far more intriguing - line of analysis emerged. John Allen, the veteran Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Review, informed his readers: During his June 4 visit, Bush asked the Vatican to push the American Catholic bishops to be more aggressive politically on family and life issues, especially a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. p. 25 (CWR)
Following the visit with the pope, Bush met with the Vatican Secretary of State, and according to Allen told the cardinal that "the US hierarchy have been slow to take a stand" on the Catholic social agenda he was promoting. He even complained that "not all the American bishops are with me." This was tantamount to inviting the Papacy to enter American politics and openly support his re-election campaign. This is a first in American history. It is also an open admission by Bush that his political agenda is the Papal cultural agenda. All that is taking place recalls the outline of the papal objective enunciated in The Liberal Illusion by Louis Veuillot, more than a century ago, translated from the French and released to America in 1939 by the National Catholic Welfare Conference of Washington D.C. In it Veuillot stated: When the time comes and men realize that the social edifice must be rebuilt according to eternal standards, ... the Catholics will arrange things to suit said standards. Undeterred by those who prefer to abide in death, they will re-establish certain laws of life. They will restore Jesus to His place on high, and He shall no longer be insulted. They will raise their children to know God and to honor their parents. They will uphold the indissolubility of marriage, and if this fails to meet with the approval of the dissenters, it will not fail to meet the approval of their children. They will make obligatory the religious observance of Sunday on behalf of the whole of society and for its own good, revoking the permit for free-thinkers and Jews to celebrate incognito, Monday or Saturday on their own account. ... In a word, Catholic society will be Catholic, and the dissenters whom it will tolerate will know its charity, but will not be allowed to disrupt its unity (pp. 63-64).
Now a century later, the "indissolubility of marriage"
issue (divorce) has broadened its base to include the issue of "same
sex" marriages. It needs to be remembered also that the Catholic
social agenda includes "the religious
observance of Sunday." The current pope has placed heavy emphasis
on the"religious" aspect of a Papal Sunday, setting forth the
Eucharist as a key
p 7 -- element in the observance of the day. It may well be that we are but one vote away from a Sunday law and the final crisis.
The article in CWR displayed some pictures in a prominent manner, not only one of Bush listening to the pope making a point with extended finger toward him, but also one from 2003 when Cardinal Laghi, as a personal envoy, was sent by the pope to the White House to seek to avert the war in Iraq. This latter picture shows Bush and Laghi in a handclasp with Bush reaching out to Laghi. Pictures do speak words, and CWR used them.
A Judicial Opinion -- "One of the most closely watched church-state cases in Supreme Court history: a legal challenge to the inclusion of 'under God' in public school recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance," ended in a let down. In a 5-3 decision, the Court sidestepped the constitutional issue and threw out the entire legal challenge on the basis that Dr. Michael Newdow lacked legal right to file the suit in behalf of his daughter.
It was not the usual 5-4 decision because the Vatican representative on the high Court, Antonin Scalia, dismissed himself after public comments he made about the case came to light. However, his side-kick, Justice Clarence Thomas, a Bush Sr. appointee to the High Court, while joining Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor that the pledge "does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation," entered his own opinion that "the high court should have used the case to fashion a new understanding of separation of church and state." At the bottom of Thomas' academic-sounding legal jargon was a truly radical proposal: He recommended obliterating the wall of separation between church and state allowing state governments to favour certain religions over others, even permitting them to name official religions. Under Thomas' view, separation of church and state would prevent the federal government from establishing a national church, but would permit the establishment of religion by individual states. Thus, Alabama could make the Southern Baptist Church the state church, while Massachusetts could recognize Roman Catholic-ism, and Utah, Mormonism. Each state could build churches, and hire and pay clergy of its particular church if the state constitution so allowed. While none of the other justices joined Thomas in his opinion, keeping in mind that Scalia did not take part, does reveal the radical thinking presently on the High Court. (See "One Nation Kept in Suspense," Church & State, Vol. 57, No. 2, pp. 4-6)
What is justification by faith? - It is the work of God in 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.
is regeneration [sanctification]? - It is revealing to man what is his
own real nature, that in himself he is worthless.
Webnote -- AN INTERPRETIVE HISTORY OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE INCARNATION AS TAUGHT BY THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH - Part 2 in Dec. 2004--- (2004 Oct) ---End ----TOP
Nov 2004 -- XXXVII - 2(04) -- Comments on the Passion -- Editor's Preface -- The Media furor that surrounded the premiere of Mel Gibson's "The Passion" is behind us. However, the movie, newly released on DVD, continues to draw thousands and is already the highest grossing film of the year. At the time "The Passion" premiered, we were involved with an analysis of the reprint of Questions on Doctrine as an Adventist "classic" with annotations by Dr. George Knight. There is only so much that one can cover in a brief monthly "Thought Paper." In this issue, we return in point of time to a brief discussion of the movie. No better preface could be written than to share a letter received at the time of the movie's release from a thoughtful and dedicated student of God's word. It read:
As I have viewed on television the brief preview scenes of violence and blood shed from Mel Gibson's movie, and have listened to the rhetoric and various analyses offered, I have found myself wondering, What does God think of this? What does Christ Himself think of this spectacle?
Many have commented on whether the movie is true to the gospel narratives, and many have said Yes. I beg to differ. The Gospel writers did not describe in gory detail the sufferings of Christ. Only twice, as I have found, is there a mention of blood in the story of Christ's sufferings: first in the garden of Gethsemane when "his sweat was at it were great drops of blood falling to the ground" (Luke 22:44); and John reports, that after Jesus was already dead, "one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water " (19:34). It was the character that Christ displayed through His trials and execution that the gospel writers emphasized. The physical agonies are mainly left to our imagination as we contemplate the scenes that are described in the words of Scripture.
I do not minimize in my mind the sufferings of Christ, which were no doubt great due to the cruelty of those participating in the trial and crucifixion, and due to the very nature of that method of capital punishment. Crucifixion was a common practice under Roman rule of that day. Countless criminals (or those convicted as such) were put to death in that manner. Were Christ's physical sufferings in His human nature any greater than that of others? Probably not. But His agony of spirit was no doubt greater than that which any human being ever has or ever will endure. Such cannot be adequately described in words or portrayed by an actor in a film!
It was this agony of spirit that crushed the life out of Him. His life was not taken from Him by the crucifixion; according to the Scripture, He willingly laid it down, gave it up for us. The purpose for which He had come to the world, the weight He bore of the sins of the world, the agony of separation from His Father in heaven, caused by His becoming sin for us, bearing "the iniquity of us all," (Isa. 53:6; also see 11 Corinthians 5:21) - those are the things that took His life. It was "with a loud voice" that Jesus cried, "Father into thy hands I commend my spirit." (Luke 23:46). One who was dying due to the rigors of the cross would hardly have had a "loud voice" with which to cry out.
The last point that I wish to make is that, to my thinking, it must be highly offensive to God and to Christ (as it is to me) for a mere, sinful, mortal to attempt to portray Christ in play-acting the scenes of His life (and death) while on earth. Theatrics and pretence cannot adequately represent the divineuman God-man that Christ was! Scripture has given us the views that we need to take into our minds and hearts. Any movie that plays to mankind's gross appetite for blood and violence cannot be pleasing to God regardless of the man's attempt to justify it.
I wonder what God will think about millions of Christians flocking to the theatres, spending money on that which is not bread, rewarding Hollywood film-makers for making such a travesty. I for one do not plan to be among them. - Grace Cox
p 2 -- "The Passion of the Christ" -- Clifford & Georgene Haak -- At the time of this writing, the film, "The Passion of the Christ," has already grossed more than 300 million dollars and is now available on DVD. Much has already been written about this film. We can now look back on the impact of this movie that is so far reaching into the lives of every person who reads the newspaper, watches TV, or even walks into a department store. It has become one of the most popular and acclaimed movies of this era. Is it because it is an artful masterpiece that this movie has become so vogue? Does it present some great truth that transforms the beholder? Or is it another stepping stone in fulfilment of prophecy? We will not attempt to become movie critics in this discussion. It is not our intent to critique actors, costumes, etc. It is our purpose only to answer the following questions: First, why was this movie produced at this point in time? (We have had other movies produced depicting the life and death of our Savior.) Second, why does this film elicit an incredible following of the masses? And third, how should we relate to this event?
To find the answer to the first question, why was this movie made, we must look at Mel Gibson, an Australian actor/director. This film was his brainchild. He has stated that it was his intent to make this film as authentic as possible, but the question remains, authentic to what? It seems that some years back, Gibson came upon a book written by a German nun, Anne Catherine Emmerich, entitled, The Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. This book planted a seed in his mind and was the motivating factor in his making of this film (The NewYorker, 9/15/03). According to one of "unofficial" websites, Mr. Gibson used four sources for the screenplay: The above noted book; The City of God by Mary of Agreda; the counsel of high-level theologians and church officials at the Vatican, and the Gospels. The movie was done in Latin and Aramaic. This necessitated the services of a Los Angeles-based Jesuit named Bill Fulco, who served as the dialogue coach. Mr. Gibson is a devout Roman Catholic who undoubtedly wanted to bring his strong beliefs to this film and then recreate them in the minds of the viewers.
Let us focus on the first author. We will list short biographical items which we believe you should know about Catherine Emmerich. She was born in 1774 and at a young age experienced stigmata (bleeding in the hands, head and feet) which is the ultimate proof of sainthood for Catholics. It is considered as evidence of the favour of God that the true Catholic is allowed to imitate the suffering of Christ. Anne also had many visions, many of which were visits to Purgatory on a regular basis. It is related in her biography, Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerich, that she saw that Protestants suffered more than Catholics because there was no priest to pray for them. It is alleged that she subsisted only on holy water and communion wafers from the Catholic mass the last twelve years of her life. According to the biography shortly after her death in 1824, it was reported that her body had been stolen. She was exhumed, and when the casket was opened, her body was found without decay and fresh. Emmerich's visions on the life of Christ were published in 1833. The most violent scenes appearing in this movie come from her book, The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You will find no mention of these events in the accounts given to us by witnesses that were present at the Cross. Emmerich also wrote another book, The Life of the Blessed Virgin. There is no evidence available to suggest that any of this book about Mary was used in the making of the film.
Mary of Agreda was born in 1602 and authored the book, The Mystical City of God. In this book, she offers many details about Mary the mother of Jesus that are not found in the Bible. According to the New Catholic Dictionary, Mary of Agreda was born into a wealthy family. She was one of four children. Her family was extremely pious. In 1618, her sisters and her mother became Franciscan nuns and her father and brother became Franciscan monks. Their
p 3 -- castle was then converted into a convent. She was chosen as its Abbess in 1627 and held this position for the next 38 years of her life. She supposedly had the gift of bi-location (having the capability of being in two places at the same time). Mary was a visionary and given to ecstasies and trances. She received an apparition of the mother of Jesus which she used as the basis of her book, The Mystical City of God. She declared that "not only was the Word conceived before all these by eternal generation from the Father, but His temporal generation from the Virgin Mother full of grace, had already been decreed in the divine mind" (Taken from the Ven. Mary of Agreda). In other words, the Christ was "birthed" of the Father before time existed. Mary of Argeda also stated that "before the second coming of Christ, Mary must come more than ever, shine in mercy, might and grace in order to bring unbelievers into the Catholic faith" (ibid).
It is no secret that this movie does not follow the Biblical account of Christ's last twelve hours as given in the Gospels. It introduces many events which are found nowhere in the Bible. For example: Christ being thrown off a bridge; demons posing as children; the temple being split during an earthquake; and Peter confessing his sins to Mary. We, therefore, can classify this movie as mostly fiction rather than true historical drama. One can see that this is just another one of Mr. Gibson's violent movies.
So, if what is portrayed is no more that Roman Catholic fiction, then why did so many churches including Seventh-day Adventist churches rent theatres and encourage their members to view this inaccurate depiction of Christ's last twelve hours? Would they do the same for any other violent film? The answer to that question is a resounding, NO! The question remains, why this particular movie at this specific point in time? The answer is simply damage control. This movie is nothing more than a Roman Catholic evangelistic tool (Daily Catholic, Jan. 17, 2004), designed to divert attention away from what the church has been caught doing. The movie is based on two Catholic mystics It has a Catholic producer, Catholic technical advisers, and portrays all the basics found in the Roman Catholic mass. Sleeping Christians who do not have a working knowledge of the Bible would have a hard time recognizing the obvious deviations from Bible truth and therefore, would believe the lie perpetrated by the film. We could say then that this movie is used to convert the masses into believing Catholic dogma. Mel Gibson is becoming the greatest Catholic evangelist of this era. It has also made him one of the wealthiest actors ever. Beyond the financial gain to Gibson, the Catholic church sorely needed this film. The Roman Church was in desperate need to repair its damaged image due to the multiple sex crimes uncovered. They needed something to boost their image and distract the media in order to get themselves from under the microscope that today's events had placed them.
The one word that can best describe this movie is, "violent." Mel Gibson takes great pains to not only graphically display the brutality toward Christ by the Jews and Roman soldiers, but also to lead the viewer to believe the intense suffering by Christ is the basis of our salvation. It completely ignores the fact that the suffering in the Garden was much more intense than any human actions could produce. Many martyrs have endured tremendous physical pain, but none but Christ could experience that which He experienced when He bore the guilt of the sins of the world. During the Dark Ages, thousands suffered similar tortures inflicted by the Catholic Church. But only Christ would suffer the second death so as to redeem us from our sins as He did on the cross. Salvation came by His death, not His suffering (I Cor. 15:3). Salvation by works is a hallmark of Catholic theology. Christ died once for us (I John 4:10), however in Roman theology, Christ must suffer again and again, at the whim of a priest during Mass. A Catholic Catechism asks and answers: "is the Mass a different sacrifice from that offered on the Cross? No; because the same Christ, who once offered himself a bleeding victim to his Heavenly Father on the cross, continues to offer himself, in an unbloody manner, by the hands of his priests, on our altars (James Butler's Catechism, p. 42 ). The reason that the Catholic crucifix depicts Christ in a state of suffering is because Catholicism teaches that Christ must continue to
p 4 -- do so in order for us to be saved. To them Christ's anguish will never cease.
This film also presents a large dose of anti-Semitism. The movie portrays the whole Jewish nation as being against Christ's mission on earth. It is true that what some of the priests did was cruel in their intent to destroy Him, but that is not the whole truth. The Bible tells us that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, two members of the Sanhedrin, arranged with Pilate to take care of the body of Christ (John 19:38-41). Luke tells us that there were disciples in Jerusalem, many of whom were priests that were obedient to the faith (Acts 6:6). It is misleading of Mel Gibson to typecast the Jewish nation as a people that are totally inhumane. Is there a possible reason for this projection to the audience? This is an open question, and needs careful study.
The most hideous error occurs as Mary is portrayed throughout the movie as not only present, but also the central figure in each critical moment. From the arrest to the trial, and even in the suffering and death of Christ, Mel Gibson has Mary present. The depiction reaches its pinnacle when Peter is depicted as begging Mary for forgiveness, (Something, only God can do). It is at this point that the film leads the audience to believe that Mary is co-mediatrix with Christ. The information the Bible gives us on this matter, however, is that Mary was present only at the cross, just before His death (John 19:26). She never appeared before any Roman or Jew in an intercessory role for anyone. Another error: The Bible plainly states that works alone do not produce the merits for salvation (Eph. 2:8-9). Other errors could be cited but space has its limits. Is this just another step in bridging the gulf between the Protestant position and the Catholic erroneous view of the Holy Scriptures? The Bible speaks clearly for itself. Not one jot or tittle is to be misplaced. There is much joy in salvation. Using the Holy Scriptures as our guide, we can come to only one conclusion: This movie in no way portrays the everlasting Gospel that is to be spread throughout the earth before the glorious coming of our Lord, the second time.
This brings us to the second question: Why are great masses following this movie touting it as a great Christian experience? Catholic theology teaches that we can have salvation in our sins through suffering, not salvation from our sins through the death of Christ. They teach, based in tradition, that we can do as we please, confess to a priest, pay money, say a phrase a few times and be able to come before the throne of Christ without spot or blemish. In other words, Catholicism says we do not have to fall on the Rock and be broken. This movie does not portray the true sufferings that Christ endured when He become sin for us (II Cor. 5:21). It is easy to see the reason the masses who are seeking a cheap ticket to heaven, grasp onto such thoughts. We are told in Rev. 13:3 that all the world would wonder after "the beast." We are warned that the majority "will not endure sound doctrine," but "shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Tim. 4:3-4). That is exactly what the movie is, a gathering together of Roman Catholic "fables."
This brings us to the final question: How should we relate to the film? Or more correctly, How should I relate to this lie? Under certain conditions, it is permissible for a Catholic to lie. One reads: Notwithstanding, indeed, although it is not lawful to lie, or to feign what is not, however it is lawful to dissemble what is, or to cover the truth with words, or other ambiguous and doubtful signs, for a just cause, and when there is not a necessity of confessing - (Ins and Outs of Romanism, p. 172).
Therefore, what Mel Gibson is doing, spreading a lie, is not wrong in his or their lies. He has a purpose, the conversion of the world to Catholicism. The Bible tells us that no lie shall enter heaven (Rev. 21:27). God does not lie (Heb. 6:18). More directly, Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). This film has nothing to do with truth, salvation or any of the precepts it claims to project. Of the final remnant of God's earth children, the Word declares that in their mouths will be found no guile (falsehood). If we profess to be followers of Christ, we will have
p 5 -- nothing to do with this, which is but another of a series of traps set by Satan to draw people away from truth into his webs of deceit. It is quite probable that more movies, plays, books and even expounders will come on the scene portraying more of the Catholic dogma and superstition that is so apparent in this movie. Seventh-day Adventists have been blessed with greater information and insight on this subject than others. We have been told: The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of Spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience. - (Great Controversy, p. 588).
We need to watch and pray lest Satan deceive us into thinking that these errors are sent from heaven. We are told to "prove all things and hold fast to that which is good" (I Thess. 5:21). We dare not be silent and allow these errors to desensitize us. Satan has an agenda. He wants to take anyone and everyone with him that he possible can. He lays traps to snare all who will come close. We need to be on our guard at every moment lest we believe his lies and become a victim. --- (2004 Nov) ---End --- TOP
Dec 2004 -- XXXVII - -- The Doctrine of the Incarnation in Adventism 1844 to 1888 -- Editor's Preface -- The Second chapter of the revised and re-edited manuscript on the history of the doctrine of the Incarnation as taught in Adventism took up the major share of the space in this issue of WWN. This left little room for some thoughts arising from the life and experience of King Manasses of Judah. As noted in the article, he would not have been born had not God reversed the fatal illness which had overtaken Hezekiah. But God did, and He also answered Manasses' prayer from a Babylonian dungeon, even though he had been involved in what we would term Spiritism (II Kings 21:6), and had led Israel into sin equaled only by the inhabitants of the land prior to Israel's deliverance from Egypt (ver. 11).
There are some other thoughts for contemplation. When Manasses returned to Jerusalem, he attempted to turn Judah around even to the extent of issuing a commandment that they should serve "the Lord God of Israel" (II Chron. 33:16). He was followed shortly by Josiah, who also sought to bring about a national reformation (II Kings 23:25). While it is evident that some of the royal family did alter course (Dan. 1:3), yet God declared that even though this were true, His judgment on corporate Judah, because of the sin of Manasses, would not be forgiven (v. 26). Simply stated, there had been no corporate repentance. Not a king who followed Josiah reflected the Divine objectives even with Jeremiah's prophetic ministry in their midst. Corporate repentance seems such an elusive experience for the professed people of God in all ages. Mannasses, a sinner above sinners, found the forgiving grace of God. He urged a turn around and yet with God's judgments hanging over Judah they would not respond to the calls of Jeremiah to seek the same grace Manasses had found.
p 2 -- AN INTERPRETIVE HISTORY OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE INCARNATION AS TAUGHT BY THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH - Part 2 -- From 1844-1888 -- The Seventh-day Adventist Church's roots are to be found in the Seventh-month Movement which followed the first disappointment in the Spring of 1844. It, too, ended in a disappointment that Fall on October 22, 1844. The Seventh-month Movement was itself rooted in the Great Second Advent Awakening led by William Miller. Miller had predicted on the basis of his prophetic studies that "sometime between March 21st, 1843, and March 21st, 1844, according to the Jewish mode of computation of time, Christ will come" (Kai Arasola, The End of Historicism, p. 147).
After the disappointment on March 21, 1844, Miller wanted to tone down the enthusiasm based in time-setting. Many of his followers were not ready to accept his desire to keep the hope of Christ's return as imminent with no date set. He lost control of the movement, and it passed to the leadership of George Storrs and Samuel Snow, who emphasized a limited sanctuary typology in connection with the prophecy of Daniel 8:14. The day for the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary each year was the tenth day of the seventh month. Thus they reasoned that the day for the antitypical cleansing in 1844 would be October 22. It was during the summer of 1844 that the Seventh-month Movement flourished. It was out of the pangs of the disappointment which followed that Seventh-day Adventism was birthed (Arasola, op. cit., p. 90).
Because of his emphasis on prophecy, Miller's doctrinal positions have been given little consideration; however, in 1822 he prepared a "brief statement of faith" composed of twenty articles, one of which was left incomplete. His biographer, Sylvester Bliss, comments that "the last article was thus left incomplete, and the series of articles was not extended, as it was evidently designed to have been, so as to give an expression of his faith on subjects not included in the foregoing" (Memoirs of William Miller, p. 80). Among the subjects not included in the twenty articles of faith was the doctrine of the Incarnation. This is not to say that Miller overlooked major concepts of theology. He did not. He stated his belief in regard to the Godhead, the substitutionary death of Christ for man, the operation of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, the resurrection, and the free will of man (ibid., pp. 77-80).
Articles Seven, Eight, and Nine of Miller's Statement of Faith are most interesting in the light of the Great Disappointment which engulfed the Movement. In these he declared his belief in Jesus Christ as "an offering to God" and the "sacrifice for sin which justice demanded." Then, in Article Nine, he wrote, "I believe the atonement to be made by the intercession of Jesus Christ, and the sprinkling of His blood in the holy of holies, and upon the mercy-seat and people." Yet with this clear perception between the sacrifice and the ministration of that sacrifice, Miller failed to comprehend the cleansing as it related to Christ's ministry in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly tabernacle. He did not see the two apartments and the antitypical services which they prefigured. To him verily "the door" was shut, and only He who had the "key of David" would open it at the proper time (Rev. 3:7).
While here in America the Advent Movement was very pronounced and more definitely organized than in other countries of the world, nevertheless, during the first decades of the 1 9th century, "devout men in different lands were simultaneously quickened to search the Scriptures on the subject of the second advent of Christ" (The Midnight Cry, p. 9). In England, one of the men who proclaimed the Second Advent, Edward Irving, did give thought and expression to the subject of the Incarnation. He taught that "Christ took human nature as it was in Adam, not before the Fall, but after the Fall (Strong's Systematic Theology, p. 744), stating "that Christ took our fallen nature, is most manifest, because there was no other in existence to take" (ibid., p. 745). He believed that the "soul" of Christ "did mourn and grieve and pray to God continually, that it might be
p 3 -- delivered from the mortality, corruption, and temptation which it felt in its fleshly tabernacle" (ibid.).
Edward Irving sought to relate the incarnation of Christ to the experience necessary for man to have victory over sin. He conceived of Christ's victory in the flesh as the atonement - the sacrifice at Calvary being merely the offering to God of that humanity which He had cleansed through a life-long struggle with sin. Thus the salvation of man depended upon his participation through faith in the same victory that Christ achieved. He did not understand the ministry of Christ as High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. To him the "door" was shut as it was to Miller, and thus he could not properly relate the truth of the Incarnation to the final atonement.
Irving made another mistake in his thinking in regard to the human nature of our Lord. He failed to differentiate between the cultivated sins of man and the inherited tendencies which are common to all man. He lumped the whole and described human nature as "corrupt to the core and black as hell, and this," he said, "is the human nature the Son of God took upon Himself and was clothed with" (Strong, op. cit.). Irving never believed that Christ sinned; but because of this position, he was so charged and defrocked from the ministry by the Presbytery of Scotland. Thus the truth was covered with the zeal of over statement. The doctrine of the Incarnation was to remain muted in the preaching and teaching of the Seventh-day Adventist Church until 1888.
After the passing of the time in 1844, certain brethren - James White, Joseph Bates, Hiram Edson, Stephen Pierce, and others - who had been involved in the Millerite Movement met together to study the Word of God, and to find answers to the questions that were perplexing them. These week-end gatherings which began in 1848 covered a period of two years and eight months and were known as "Sabbath Conferences" or "1848 Conferences" (Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Vol. 11, pp. 507-8). Evidently, during this time "all the principal points" of the faith were made clear to the minds of those studying together. Emphasis was given to the understanding of the Scriptures "in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood" ( Special Testimonies, Series B, #2, p. 57). What all was involved in the study of Christ and "His mission" is not spelled out.
Evidence indicates that little study was given to the doctrine of the Incarnation for in articles written, tracts printed, and books published during the period from 1844 to 1888 the emphasis was on the Sabbath question, the state of man in death, and the sanctuary services. However, in a publication by J. H. Waggoner in 1884 on the atonement is to be found this comment regarding the Incarnation of Christ : He left that throne of glory and of power and took upon Him the nature of fallen man. In Him were blended "the brightness of the Father's glory" and the weakness of the "seed of Abraham." In Himself He united the Lawgiver to the law-breaker - the Creator to the creature; for He was made "sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (The Atonement in the Light of Nature and Revelation, p. 161).
Ten years prior to this statement in Waggoner's book, James White, in an editorial appearing in the first issue of the Signs of the Times, wrote "a brief statement of what is, and has been, with great unanimity" believed by the Seventhday Adventist Church. The Second Article of the "concise statement of the more prominent features of our faith" declared: That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, and Son of the Eternal Father, the One by whom God created all things, and by whom they do consist; that He took upon Him the nature of the seed of Abraham for the redemption of our fallen race; ... (July 4, 1874).
In 1901, Ellen White would borrow Waggoner's thought and write: In Christ were united the divine and the human - the Creator and the creature. The nature of God, whose law had been transgressed, and the nature of Adam the transgressor, meet in Jesus - the Son of God, and the Son of man (Ms. 141, 1901: 7BC:926).
Most of the Statements from 1844-1888 in regard to the human nature which
Christ assumed at Bethlehem are to be found in the
p 4 -- early writings of Ellen G. White. These statements are specific and clearly enunciated. The first statement appeared in 1858. In describing the time when Jesus made the announcement of the plan of redemption to the un-fallen angels, she writes that He told them that -- He would leave all His glory in heaven, appear on earth as a man, humble Himself as a man, become acquainted in His own experience with the various temptations with which men would be beset, that He might know how to succour those who should be tempted (Spiritual Gifts, Vol I, p. 24).
This was difficult for the angels to accept, and they offered themselves as substitutes; but Jesus informed them that the life of an angel could not pay the debt for sin. He, however, assured them that they would have a part to play in the plan for man's redemption. Note carefully the words - what Jesus Himself said would take place: Jesus also told them that they should have a part to act, to be with Him, and at different times strengthen Him. That He should take man's fallen nature, and His strength would not be even equal with theirs (ibid, p. 25; emphasis supplied).
In the 1870s as Ellen White began to write more fully on the life and mission of Jesus Christ, comprehensive statements on the Incarnation appeared. Except for two articles on the subject of tithing, all the written material from her pen in the Review for the year 1874 was on the subject of the plan of redemption and the temptations of Christ. In these articles the following specific statements are to be found which define the nature of the humanity Christ took upon Himself in becoming man (all emphases are supplied).
The great work of redemption could be carried out only by the Redeemer taking the place of fallen Adam. ...
What love! What amazing condescension! The King of glory proposed to humble Himself to fallen humanity! He would place His feet in Adam's steps. He would take man's fallen nature and engage to cope with the strong foe who (had) triumphed over Adam (R&H, Feb. 24, 1874).
The Son of God humbled Himself and took man's nature after the race had wandered four thousand years from Eden and from the original state of purity and uprightness. Sin had been making its terrible marks upon the race for ages; and physical, mental, and moral degeneracy prevailed throughout the human family.
When Adam was assailed by the tempter in Eden he was without the taint of sin. He stood in the strength of his perfection before God. All the organs and faculties of his being were equally developed, and harmoniously balanced.
Christ, in the wilderness of temptation, stood in Adam's place to bear the test he failed to endure. Here Christ overcame in the sinner's behalf, four thousand years after Adam turned his back upon the light of his home. Separated from the presence of God, the human family had been departing every successive generation farther from the original purity, wisdom, and knowledge which Adam possessed in Eden. Christ bore the sins and infirmities of the race as they existed when He came to earth to help man. In behalf of the race, with the weaknesses of fallen man upon him, He was to stand the temptations of Satan upon all points wherewith man would be assailed. ...
In what contrast is the second Adam as He entered the gloomy wilderness to cope with Satan singlehanded. Since the fall the race had been decreasing in size and physical strength, and sinking lower in the scale of moral worth, up to the period of Christ's advent to earth. And in order to elevate fallen man, Christ must reach him where he was. He took human nature, and bore the infirmities and degeneracy of the race. He, who knew no sin, became sin for us. He humiliated himself to the lowest depths of human woe, that he might be qualified to reach man, and bring him up from the degradation in which sin had plunged him (ibid., July 28, 1874).
The humanity of Christ reached to the very depths of human wretchedness, and, identified itself with the weaknesses and necessities of fallen man, while His divine nature grasped the Eternal. ... Christ's work was to reconcile man to God through His human nature, and God to man through His divine nature (ibid., August 4, 1874).
Because man fallen could not overcome Satan with his human strength, Christ came from the royal courts of Heaven to help him with His human and divine strength combined. Christ knew that Adam in Eden, with his superior advantages, might have withstood the temptations of Satan, and conquered him. He also knew that it is not possible for man,
p 5 -- out of Eden, separated from the light and love of God since the Fall, to resist the temptations of Satan in his own strength. In order to bring hope to man, and save him from complete ruin, He humbled Himself to take man's nature, that, with His divine power combined with the human, He might reach man where he is. He obtains for the fallen sons and daughters of Adam that strength which it is impossible for them to obtain for themselves, that in His name they may overcome the temptations of Satan (ibid., August 18, 1874).
During the first part of the year 1875, the articles from the pen of Ellen White continued to present the temptations of Christ. She commented - "How few can understand the love of God for the fallen race in that He withheld not His divine Son from taking upon Him the humiliation of humanity" (ibid., March 18, 1875). She pointed to the fact that Satan put forth his strongest efforts to overcome Christ on the point of appetite at a time when He was enduring the keenest pangs of hunger. Then she wrote: The victory gained was designed, not only to set an example to those who have fallen under the power of appetite, but to qualify the Redeemer for His special work of reaching to the very depths of human woe. By experiencing in Himself the strength of Satan's temptation, and of human sufferings and infirmities, He would know better how to succour those who should put forth efforts to help themselves (ibid; emphasis supplied).
In 1878, Ellen White wrote a letter to a young man setting Christ before him as the "great Exemplar." She quoted Hebrews 2:17 that "Christ was made like unto His brethren." Then she commented: He felt both joy and grief as they feel. His body was susceptible to weariness, as yours. His mind, like yours, could be harassed and perplexed. If you have hardships, so did He. Satan could tempt Him. His enemies could annoy Him. ... Jesus was sinless and had no dread of the consequences of sin. With this exception His condition was as yours. You have not a difficulty that did not press with equal weight upon Him, not a sorrow that His heart has not experienced. His feelings could be hurt with neglect, with indifferences of professed friends, as easily as yours. Is your pathway thorny? Christ's was so in a tenfold sense. Are you distressed? So was He. How well fitted was Christ to be an example! (Letter 17, 1878)
About this time, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2, was published. In this volume a specific contrast between man's fallen nature and Christ's humanity is made. Ellen G. White wrote: Our Saviour identifies Himself with our needs and weaknesses, in that He became a suppliant, a mighty petitioner, seeking from His Father fresh supplies of strength, to come forth invigorated and refreshed, braced for duty and trial. He is our example in all things. He is a brother in our infirmities, but not in possessing like passions. As the sinless One, His nature recoiled from evil. His humanity made prayer a necessity and privilege (pp. 201-202; emphasis supplied).
Commenting further on the prayer life of Jesus, she penned the following: He prayed for His disciples and for Himself, thus identifying Himself with our needs, our weaknesses, and our failings, which are so common with humanity. He was a mighty petitioner, not possessing the passions of our human fallen natures, but compassed with like infirmities, tempted in all points even as we are. Jesus endured agony which required help and support from His Father (ibid., pp. 508-509).
As one reads the last two references, it would appear these statements are at variance with what had been written prior to, and contemporary, with these statements. There is neither conflict nor a contradiction when one understands how Ellen White understood and used the word "passion." The following paragraph illustrates her use and understanding of the word as well as the phrase - "the inclinations of the natural heart." It reads: No man can be forced to transgress. His own consent must first be gained; the soul must purpose the sinful act, before passion can dominate over reason, or iniquity triumph over conscience. Temptation, however strong, is never an excuse for sin. ... Cast yourself, helpless, unworthy, upon Jesus, and claim His very promise. The Lord will hear. He knows how strong are the inclinations of the natural heart, and He will help in every time of need (op. cit., Vol. 5, p. 177; emphasis supplied).
In our experience, we have purposed the sinful acts; our passions have dominated over reason; iniquity has triumphed over conscience. We
p 6 -- have become possessed with evil. Not so Christ! He did not choose to sin. Although understanding the strength of human inclination, the desires of our fallen human nature never dominated His reason nor ever triumphed over His conscience. He conquered the tendencies of the humanity He took upon Himself. In Him were no cultivated tendencies to do evil for He never permitted human passions to dominate His thinking, nor control His actions.
Another statement defining the nature of the humanity Christ assumed appeared in 1877. In this statement a clear distinction is made between "form" and "nature" as pertaining to fallen man, and what Christ accepted as a part of the plan devised by the Godhead for man's redemption. Christ accept both the "form" and "nature" of fallen man. It reads: It was in the order of God that Christ should take upon Himself the form and nature of fallen man, that He might be made perfect through suffering, and Himself endure the strength of Satan's fierce temptation, that He might understand how to succour those that should be tempted (Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 2, p. 39; emphasis supplied).
Ten years later - 1887 - Ellen White wrote an article for the Review
regarding pride that was leading to strife for supremacy. She set before
the reader Christ's sacrifice as an example to be emulated. In so doing
she stated certain facts that involved the nature of the humanity Christ
assumed. Three points were clearly enunciated:
Then was pictured the abuse, insult, and reproach which Jesus suffered as a man; and finally His humiliating death as a condemned criminal. In view of this, a question is asked "Shall pride be harboured after you have seen Deity humble Himself, and then debasing Himself, till there was no lower point to which He could descend? (Review, July 5, 1887).
Summary -- During the four decades from 1848 to 1888 - those years which have been termed as the formative years of Adventist doctrine - clear, specific statements were given via the Spirit of Prophecy in regard to the nature of Christ's humanity. Christ, in becoming man, took the place of "fallen Adam" after the race had wandered four thousand years in sin. He accepted "the sins and infirmities" of humanity "as they existed when He came to earth to help man." By "experiencing in Himself " human infirmities, He came to know "how strong are the inclinations of the natural heart." He accepted not only the "form" but also the "nature" of fallen man, "reaching to the very depths of human wretchedness" "that He might be qualified to reach man, and bring him up from the degradation in which sin had plunged him." In His struggle with sin, He did not permit evil passion to possess Him; He was its master, its conqueror. His "nature" - not the human He accepted in union with Himself, but that which was His - His very Self from all eternity - "recoiled from evil." He took "mortality upon Him" so that He could yield His life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. The victory gained qualified Him to be not only an Example, but also a Redeemer from sin. Without controversy, great is the mystery of the sublime condescension.
Webnote: AN INTERPRETIVE HISTORY OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE INCARNATION AS TAUGHT BY THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH - Part 3 in Jan. 2005.
Manasses -- The most wicked king to sit upon the Throne of David was Manasses, son of Hezekiah. "He built altars for all the hosts of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. He caused his children to pass through fire in the valley of the son of Hinnon: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit. ... he did worse than the
p 7 -- heathen, whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel" (II Chron.33:5-6, 9).
He should never have been born. He ascended the throne at the age of twelve (II Chron. 33:1). Fifteen years previously, when Hezekiah was "sick unto death," and the Lord sent a message through Isaiah telling him to set his house in order for he would die. Hezekiah pled with the Lord in prayer that his life be spared, and the Lord added fifteen years to his life (Isa. 38:1-5). During that extension of life Manasses was born.
When the wickedness of Manasses exceeded the wickedness of the heathen, who had previously occupied the land of Judah, God permitted the Assyrians to carry him off in chains to Babylon (II Chron 33:11). There he prayed, and God hearing his prayer, restored him to his throne in Jerusalem (vs. 12-13). While God heard the prayer of Manasses and forgave him, he did not forgive the corporate sin of Israel (II Kings 23:24-26). Herein is left on record a revelation of God's way of dealing in judgment with corporate guilt compared with individual sin and repentance. This needs to be carefully considered.
The prayer of Manasses, though recorded in the Apocrypha, echoes the revelation of God as revealed in the New Testament. He prayed:
Lord Almighty, that art in heaven, thou
God of our fathers, of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and of their righteous
seed; who hast made heaven and earth, with all the array there of; ...
for thou art the Lord Most High, of great compassion, long suffering and
abundant in mercy, and repentance of bringing evils upon men. Thou, 0
Lord, according to thy great goodness hast promised repentance and forgiveness
to them that have sinned against thee: and of thine infinite mercies hast
appointed repentance unto sinners, that they may be saved. Thou therefore,
0 Lord, that art the God of the just, hast not appointed repentance to
the just, ... which have not sinned against thee; but thou hast appointed
repentance unto me a sinner: for I have sinned above the number of the
sands of the sea. 0 Lord, my transgressions are multiplied, and I am not
worthy to behold and see the height of heaven for the multitude of mine
iniquities. I am bowed down with many iron bands, that I cannot lift up
my head by reason of my sins, neither have I any respite: for I have provoked
thy wrath, and done that which was evil before thee: for I did not thy
will, neither kept I thy commandments: I have set up abominations, and
have multiplied detestable things. Now I bow the knee of mine heart, beseeching
thee of grace. I have sinned, and I acknowledge mine iniquities: but I
humbly beseech thee, forgive me, 0 Lord, forgive me, and destroy me not
with mine iniquities. Be not angry with me forever; neither condemn me
into the lower parts of the earth. For thou, 0 Lord, art the God of them
that repent; and in me thou wilt show thy goodness: for thou wilt save
me, that am unworthy, according to thy great mercy. And I will praise
thee for ever all the days of my life: for all the host of heaven doth
sing thy praise, and thine is the glory for ever and ever. Amen