of the Trinity
by Lloyd Martin
The following quotations bring to light the fact that there is a controversy relating to the topic of the Trinity within the ranks of Adventism.
"If the Trinity is true then those who deny it do not worship the God of the scriptures...it is not merely speculation, but lies at the root of every man’s theology and affects his whole creed and practice." Raoul Dederen - Andrews University
"Most of the founders of Seventh Day Adventism would not be able to join the church today if they had to subscribe to the denomination’s fundamental beliefs. More specifically, most would not be able to agree to belief number 2 which deals with the doctrine of the Trinity" George Knight - Ministry, October 1993, p.10.
J. N. Andrews, after whom Andrews University is named writes, "The doctrine of the Trinity was established in the church by the council of Nice, A.D.. 325. This doctrine destroys the personality of God and His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The infamous measures by which it appears upon the pages of ecclesiastical history might well cause every believer in that doctrine to blush (March 6, 1885, Review and Herald, vol. 6, no 24, page 185).
"The way spiritualizers have disposed of or denied the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ, is first using the old unscriptural Trinitarian creed, viz that Jesus Christ is the eternal God though they have not one passage of scripture to support it, while we have plain scripture testimony in abundance that He is the Son of the eternal God" (James White, January 24, 1846 - the Day Star).
"The great mistake of Trinitarians, in arguing this subject, is this: they make no distinction between a denial of a Trinity and a denial of the divinity of Christ. They see only two extremes, between which the truth lies; and take every expression referring to the pre-existence of Christ as evidence of a Trinity. They abundantly teach the pre-existence of Christ and His divinity; but they are entirely silent in regard to a Trinity" J.H. Waggoner - Review and Herald, November 10, 1863.
"Understandingly my non-Adventist friends were confused, ‘How could five people belonging the same church have such different opinions about God?’ they asked. A Jewish friend remarked, ‘that means every time Adventists pray, some are praying to one God, and some to many Gods.’ ‘Your church sounds like confusion,’ a Muslin interjected, ‘I don’t think that I would want to go to your church.’
"This incident troubled me for the entire week. I had always believed in the Trinity as stated in the twenty-seven Fundamental beliefs of Seventh Day Adventists, so it never occurred to me that some Adventists believed otherwise. The following Sabbath I went to church and asked various people about their belief about the Trinity. Amazingly I received radically different opinions. It seems clear that we do not know what we believe.
"If Adventists cannot agree on what is one of our fundamental beliefs, how can we then go into the entire world, and preach the gospel to every creature?" Collegiate Quarterly, March 26, 1999.
In the light of the contradicting viewpoints between the Founding Fathers of our faith and the present day leadership in regards to the doctrine of the Trinity, and the obvious confusion that exists today over an understanding of the subject, it would indeed be a mystery if thoughtful Adventists do not regard it as their God given responsibility to investigate the doctrine thoroughly. This presentation affords that thoughtful individual an opportunity to make an informed and intelligent determination.
Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness;" 1Tim. 3:16
"For the mystery of iniquity doth already work." 2 Tim 2: 7
A mystery is an assumed truth that cannot be comprehended by the human mind but must be accepted by faith. However, it should not be inexplicable as to be incomprehensible to the natural reason so that it appears to be an absurdity.
•The Mystery of Godliness
The mystery of Godliness, is first and foremost the love of God the Father who so loved that in eternity past, He gave to His only Son His inherent life [not as a gift as given to creatures but by natural transmission from a father to a begotten son] Jn. 5:26, His excellent name [Jehovah], His omnipotence Mat 28:18, and all the fullness of His Godhead [deity] Col. 2:9; Jn 3:16. A God who so loved that in time He gave (spared not) His unique Son, the only Son of His very own substance, and delivered him up to save His created sons [those made outside of His substance] who were lost. It will take eternity to comprehend the anguish of love that the Father of infinite love endured in sacrificing His only Son who from the days of everlasting was His daily delight.
Secondly, the mystery of Godliness is revealed in the love and humility of a faithful Son who, though inheriting in equal measure to his Father all His divine attributes, never from the days of everlasting sought independence from His Father nor sought to grasp equality with Him. An ideal Son, who perfectly requited the love that His Father so lavished upon Him, exalting His Father as his own God, The Supreme Being, The Almighty, the One God and Father of all. A mystery of Godliness in the love of a Son for His Father and the children that His Father had given Him, that in time would soar above the heights in submission to His Father’s will. In doing so, He would bear the guilt of the entire human race, endure the wrath of God against sin as He underwent a dreadful separation from His Father’s presence, then the finality of a death which could not see beyond the portals of the tomb.
Thirdly, the mystery of Godliness is revealed in the love of the Father and the Son in going to the utmost limit by enduring the demon-inspired enmity of the cross in order that created sons could become partakers of their divine nature and recipients of the gift of life original, unborrowed and underived [immortality] as they become temples for the indwelling of their Holy Spirit.
This unified operation of the divine personalities wherein the Father willed, the Son voluntarily obeyed, and the Holy Spirit was directed, is described as the Godhead.
•The Mystery of Iniquity
The mystery of iniquity is the outworking of the ingenious plan of Satan to obscure the Mystery of Godliness, (i.e., the unity of infinite love bestowed and infinitely requited) by a subtle denial of the relation of the Father and His Son in order that humanity will never become partakers of the divine nature.
•The Mystery of The Trinity
"The mystery of the Trinity is the central doctrine of Catholic faith." (Handbook for Today’s Catholic, p.16) That this declaration made by the Roman Catholic Church is embraced universally by every Christian community which is not designated a cult, is without question. Acceptance of the Trinity is therefore regarded as the foremost test of Christian orthodoxy. The Roman Catholic Church declares that it is the foundation doctrine for all the other teachings of the church.
Outlined below from an Adventist perspective in particular, are one hundred and more mysteries which inevitably arise out of an acceptance of the mystery of the Trinity, and which if not successfully explained, must render the doctrine none other than the outworking of The Mystery Of Iniquity.
Misconceptions of the
Mystery of the Trinity
(1) Is it not a mystery that the ignorance about this doctrine is so great that by far the great majority of persons who passionately hold to the doctrine, believe that all it simply means is that there is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, when that is just a surface understanding of its true meaning?
(2) Is it not a veritable mystery that the Trinity is considered such a mystery that it should not be investigated, when the fact is that theologians spent many centuries formulating the doctrine, a fact of which the majority is also ignorant?
The Trinity is not Salvific, a Veritable Mystery
There are many who say that the subject of the Trinity is not salvific but merely a theological question and therefore an issue that should not be made doctrinal.
(3) Is it not a mystery that the foremost doctrine of Christianity is not salvific and therefore does not impact on ones’ salvation?
(4) Is it not a mystery that the foremost doctrine of Christianity is purely theological?
(5) Is it not a mystery that those who do not subscribe to a doctrine that is not essential should be regarded as cultists?
(6) Is it not a mystery that a doctrine that is merely theological should be the greatest test of Christian orthodoxy and hence the greatest unifying as well as divisive influence among Christians today?
(7) Is it not a mystery therefore that this doctrine is the foremost doctrine of Christianity, yet is purely theological, and the most incomprehensible and mysterious of all Christian beliefs?
On the other hand, respected Bible scholar Raoul Dederen from Andrews University says: "It cannot be an irrelevant subject. If the Trinity is true then those who deny it do not worship the God of the Scriptures... it is not merely speculation, but lies at the root of every man’s theology and affects his whole creed and practice".
(8) Is it not a mystery that the church does not therefore make a concerted effort to teach the doctrine, and fails to answer the reasonable objections raised against it?
(9) Is it not a mystery that there is so much ignorance on the subject by ministers as well as by the laity?
Mysteries Relating to the Term Trinity
The word Trinity does not appear in Scripture, nor is there any word for which it is a scriptural counterpart. For example, the words millennium and rapture are not in the Bible but they are simply synonyms for the words "thousand years" and "caught up," both of which are found in scripture and it would therefore be unreasonable to reject them. In spite of the fact that there is no parallel for the word Trinity in scripture, yet it is considered un-Christian or even blasphemous to reject the word Trinity. Is it not a mystery that a word that has no scriptural basis is regarded as so sacred by man?
(11) Is it not a mystery that intelligent and honest individuals often make out a similar argument as the basis for the use of the word Trinity, as they do for the words millennium and rapture?
(12) In the light of the fact that there are several varying interpretations of the doctrine in the Adventist church today, as many as five, and no one seems concerned; is it not a mystery that the term by the insistence of its use regardless, should be given precedence over the concept?
Mysteries Relating to the Definition of the Trinity
The question arises as to which or whose definition.
(13) Is it not a mystery that such a question should arise when a definite meaning was painstakingly attached to the term? Therefore, should not a sense of ethics grant to those who developed the term, the sole entitlement of an interpretation of their concept lest one borrowing the term, should misrepresent what it is intended to convey?
(14) Bearing in mind that the word is unscriptural, would it not be the natural and intelligent thing to simply put a different label to one’s own definition of the Godhead? Is it not a mystery therefore that we should choose to have our own understanding of the critical subject of the Godhead misrepresented by the use of a term which is not scriptural, and designed by others specifically to give their own point of view?
The definition of the Trinity given below relates only to the orthodox definition, which is ratified in the Niceno Constantinopoliton and Athanasian creeds formulated by the Roman Catholics, and subscribed to by all Protestant churches who teach the Trinity. All other definitions must therefore be regarded as being held out of the mistaken notion that the particular definition is the one universally subscribed to, or the mistaken idea that the word Trinity is Biblical in the same sense as the word millennium (which we have already seen is not the case), and therefore subject to different interpretations as individuals understand it.
The substance of the correct definition is as follows:
(a) God is One yet at the same time He is three Persons.
(b) The One means one nature, essence, or being, which or who is essentially the Father.
(c) God and His nature are synonymous.
(d) The Oneness is not generic based on likeness, but rather is numeric based on sameness.
(e) Three persons means three expressions, extensions, manifestations, or modes otherwise theologically called hypostases or prosopons.
(f) The Person of the Son is begotten from the Father by an eternal generation, a never ending process. This is compared to the rays of the sun that are never separated from the sun itself.
(g) The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son by a mediate procession.
(h) The Three Persons are truly distinct from each other by virtue of the processes of filiation and spiration, which however, does not make them separate Entities with independent self consciousness.
(i) The Father is neither begotten nor does He proceed from anyone else since He is the Source from which all else flows.
(j) Although the Son and the Spirit are derived from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are co-eternal and co-equal with the Father
(k) The theological word which explains the Trinity is consubstantiality (homoousious).
(15) Is it not a mystery that intelligent Christians who would recoil from such a concept, still feel bound to use an unscriptural terminology which has been long established to describe such a false concept of God?
(16) Is it not a mystery that most persons in these denominations are not even aware of what it is they precisely believe, and are therefore unwittingly subscribing to something false even while they strenuously hold onto the term Trinity?
Mysteries of the Trinity and Its Origins
The term and concept was first introduced by the theologian Tertullian in the third century and attained its fullest development and popularity in the fourth and fifth centuries during the Pergamos period of church history. Is it not a mysterious irony that the doctrine that became the prime belief of the recognized church in the Constantinian period, did so at the very same time that the said church had gone into the great apostasy or falling away that was prophesied in scripture to take place?
(18) The terminology and concept of a Trinity marked a radical departure in four areas from that held previously during the Smyrnian or pre-Nicaen period when the church flourished and received commendation from God. Is it not a mystery that the foremost doctrine of Christianity should mark a radical departure from a church that had heretofore enjoyed its greatest success?
(19) The Apostolic fathers and the Apologists who succeeded the New Testament Bible writers reverently refrained from placing any label on the Godhead, wisely avoiding any unscriptural term which would be likely to misrepresent God and lead to untold confusion. Is it not a mystery that those who succeeded these fathers who were regarded as more enlightened, should do just this, bringing to reality the dreaded concern?
(20) Tertullian departed from the teaching of these wise fathers that Jesus, the Son of God, was an individual Being having His own independent will and self consciousness, when he introduced the concept of the Trinity by stating that the divine Son of God was a mere projection or portion of the Father. Is it not a mystery that the foremost doctrine of Christianity should be founded upon a concept which portrays the very Son of God, the Saviour of the world, as a nonentity, inferior even to creatures, a mere projection, rather than Someone in His own right who could make independent choices?
(21) By this concept Tertullian propounded the doctrine of subordinationism. Is it not a mystery that the foremost doctrine of Christianity was directly responsible for the introduction of the dreaded concept of subordinationism wherein the Son of God was regarded as being inferior to the Father rather than an equal, who was voluntarily and humbly submissive to a Father from whom He had inherited all things?
(22) When the Trinity was developed after Nicaea and the doctrine of eternal generation was added, a revolutionary new teaching regarding the eternal pre-existence of the Son of God was formally incorporated into the Christian faith. The doctrine of eternal generation was but a subtle variation of the Gnostic Platonian philosophy of emanationism which taught that Christ and the Father as well as a pleroma of other beings had a co-eternal existence. On the other hand, eternal generation taught that the Son of God was being eternally generated from the Father by an unceasing process in the same way a ray of the sun’s light is being constantly emitted from the sun–its source–to which it is inseparably and permanently attached. This meant that the Son had an eternal manifestation alongside the Father, however, not as a Being, (another sun Mal.4:2) but as a projection, a ray of light emanating from the Father (sun). Since the Son has always extended from the Father and it is His role to reveal the Father, and if this was, in the first instance, through the act of creation, then it would logically follow that created beings were also co-eternal with the Father and the Son. This is, in effect, what Origen was saying in a somewhat different way. This was contrary to the teaching of the Apostolic Fathers and the Apologists: that the Son of God pre-existed from all eternity immanently within His Father’s bosom as His thought and was begotten or extrapolated as the Word in eternal times to revel the Father through creation. Is it not a mystery that the Trinity, which was reinforced by a concept borrowed from gnosticism, that denied the actual Sonship of Christ by setting Him forth as a creature made by God, and was in diametric opposition to what the Apostolic Fathers taught, should be the foremost doctrine of Christianity?
Mysteries of the Trinity and Theology
Since it is claimed that the Trinity no longer teaches that Christ is inferior and it is an acknowledged fact that the term is unscriptural; is it not then a mystery that a pure teaching would insist on the use of a term which was established on a false concept directly opposed to the said teaching?
(23) Is it not a mystery that a doctrine originally founded on the concept of subordinationism should now come to be regarded as the foremost doctrine which upholds the deity of Christ when in fact no fundamental change has been made and it remains substantially the same?
(25) The foremost word that consolidated the doctrine was the Greek word homoousios (identical substance). The word has no Biblical counterpart and was borrowed from the Gnostics. Is it not a mystery that a word which not only does not have a Biblical origin, should be borrowed from the Gnostics whose particular calling was to pollute the pure teachings of the Scriptures by the most specious and insidious heresies and used to emphasize the most important truth of the Bible?
(26) Is it not a mystery that the word (homoousios) that best expressed the condemned doctrine of Sabellianism or Modalism should be the main word upon which the Trinity was also founded?
(27) Is it not a mystery that such a vital doctrine should be so intimately related to the dubious word homoousius (identical substance) which had the ability to be interpreted as homoiousius (like substance) whenever it suited a particular purpose to do so?
(28) Is it not a mystery that it required five centuries to formulate the foremost doctrine of Christianity?
(29) Is it not inexplicable that God should require the most complex manufactured theological terminologies to be formulated before there could be a proper understanding of who He is? Words such as circumincession, perichoresis, co-inherence, and hypostasis, were unknown to earlier theologians who therefore were unable to properly explain the doctrine?
(30) Is it not a mystery that God has called us to contemplate a mystery wherein we must conclude that prior to Nicaea, before the Trinity was developed, a knowledge of His personality was not present truth and those who enjoyed a rich Christian experience and were commended by God during this period were grossly misrepresenting Him?
(31) Moreover, is it not a mystery that God intended that afterwards the faith of those who could never understand these teminologies should rest upon the wisdom of the few who claimed that they could?
Mysteries of the Trinity and Deceptions
The Trinity was formulated at Nicaea in A.D. 325 at the first ecumenical council of the church and by this act, also marked the official launch of the Papacy when the church and state officially combined to enact a religious creed. Therefore, the birth of the Trinity and the Papacy is one identical event (substance). Is it not a mystery that we are being asked to believe that God had sent forth from one fountain at the very same time the sweet water of the Trinity along with the bitter water of the Papacy?
(33) It was Emperor Constantine who legalized Sunday as a day of worship. It was also Constantine who officially presided over the council of Nicaea and who under the threat of the most severe banishment to all objectors, made the crucial insertion into the Nicaean creed which launched the Trinity. Is it not a mystery that God, in order to effect His purposes, providentially used an unconverted pagan who was quite ignorant of theological questions and was influenced by a bishop, even employing force and deceit in the process?
(34) When Athanasius and Hilary of Poitiers enticed the Homoiousians (i.e. those opposed to both the Trinity and Arianism) into an accord and then foisted off the Trinity on them while more firmly cementing the doctrine, was the mystery of Godliness at work in such deceit and trickery?
(35) The ploy of the Trinitarians was to brand anyone who did not subscribe to the Trinity as Arians or semi-Arians, persons who did not believe that Christ was divine. Although many such individuals upheld the divinity of the Son of God in the highest possible sense, they were often gradually lead to eventually embrace the Trinity because of the leprous-like stigma leveled at them as cults. Is it not a mystery that God found it necessary to resort to such questionable methods in order to gain support for the foremost doctrine of Christianity?
(36) Along with the many deceptions employed to gain support for the Trinity, outright force was resorted to in the form of many battles in addition to persecutions. Is it not a mystery that God found it expedient to rely on warfare and violence in order for the Trinity to be accepted?
(37) At the second Ecumenical church council in 381 the Holy Spirit was finally granted recognition as a member of the Trinity. Like the first council, this council was also greatly influenced by a semi-converted pagan emperor who, for expedient reasons, prepared the Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed without consulting with the church authorities. This creed was edicted by Theodosius I to be binding upon all subjects. Does the Holy Spirit make an exception to God’s approved manner of working in things pertaining to Himself?
(38) Did God somehow use the most controversial theologian to give the final expression to the foremost doctrine of Christianity; the man who developed the doctrine of original sin, which taught that the sinful nature inherited from Adam, the guilt of whose sin his descendants bore, would never be irradicated in this life, a teaching directly opposed to the Three Angel’s Message; a man who demeaned women and condemned the purity of the sex act; a man who taught that God arbitrarily withheld saving grace from certain individuals, denying them salvation; a man who inspired the inquisition by his infamous words "Bring them in," in reference to those who rejected the Trinity and other Catholic doctrines? Did God mysteriously use Augustine to perfect the doctrine of the Trinity by asserting that the will of the Son was the same as the Father because their natures were identical?
(39) Is it not a mystery that God should resort to not one but to several dubious individuals, deceits, misrepresentations, confusion and warfare to establish the Trinity?
Mysteries of the Trinity and the Papacy
It is a fact that the three barbarian kingdoms which were overthrown to make way for the Papacy had been converted to Christianity by the missionary Ulfilas who was not an Arian but an homean who believed in the deity of Christ. Is it not likely, therefore, that these Christians (who incidentally were Sabbath-keepers), who also acknowledged the divinity of Christ and had been made victims of Trinitarian propaganda were Arians? When these three Sabbath keeping tribes, who were opposed to the Trinity, were overthrown, all effective opposition to the doctrine was forcibly brought to an end. By this identical act the Papacy was established as well. In like manner that the Trinity and the Papacy were formally launched together at Nicaea, so they were both fully established together in A.D. 538 when the Ostrogoths were finally overcome. The establishment of the Trinity and the establishment of the Papacy are therefore one and the same event. Is it not a mystery that it has not been recognized that the inescapable conclusion is that the Trinity, and the Papacy, are one indivisible substance?
(41) Is it not a mystery that for the Trinity to be established, Sabbath observing Christians who believed in the deity of Christ had to be first overthrown?
(42) Is it not a mystery of mysteries that the Trinity, the foremost doctrine of Christianity, was the primary instrument by which the Papacy, the foremost system opposed to Christianity, was established?
(43) Is it not a mystery that the doctrine which was formulated by the Anti–Christ Papal Church and which she claims is the foundation on which all her other teachings are found, should at the same time be the foremost doctrine of the protestant bodies which condemn that church for those very same teachings?
(44) Is it not a mystery that the great majority of the staunchest defenders of the Trinity, including scholars, remain largely ignorant of these historical facts?
Mysteries of the Trinity and Arianism
It is an undeniable fact that the foundation of both the Trinity and Arianism are rooted in the doctrines of subordinationism and eternal generation. Is it not a mystery that two concepts supposedly diametrically opposed to each should share one identical substance of origin?
(46) It is a fact that the Trinity did not gain recognition independently on its own merits but was only able to do so through the overthrow of Arianism and by unfairly discrediting others who were innocent of the charge of Arianism? Is not a mystery that for the Trinity to succeed it had to wholly depend on Arianism, virtually making Arianism an ally?
(47) Is it not a mystery that both the Trinity and Arianism are founded on the theory of the indivisibility of the substance of God and although explained in different ways, both arrive at the identical conclusion that Jesus is not truly the Son of the living God?
Mysteries of the Trinity and the SDA Pioneers
Since the founding fathers of Adventism uncompromisingly rejected the Trinity and the doctrine is regarded as the foremost truth of Christianity, then the following mysteries arise:
(48) Would it not be a mystery, an impossible contradiction, if the last message of warning given to humanity to prepare for the second coming of Christ, to vindicate the character of God and to set forth a true knowledge of His nature and personality were at the same time to be accompanied by a rejection of the most fundamental truth about the same God?
(49) Would it not have been a mystery that they could have rejected the Trinity through ignorance of the doctrine, when it was the most established doctrine in the church for over 1500 years and was known and accepted by the great majority of Christian congregations from which many of the pioneers came? Indeed, it would have been odd for them to have rejected it through a lack of understanding of what it meant when ignorance and blind faith [as is also the case today] was the norm by which the Trinity was automatically accepted by practically all Christians?
(50) The conclusion is inescapable therefore that the pioneers who were among the minority who rejected it must have done so out of an investigation of the doctrine. Is it not then a mystery that a studied investigation of the Trinity should have resulted in its rejection?
(51) If this doctrine were so critical, would it not have been a mystery that God did not reveal it to the pioneers when an acceptance of it would, above everything else, have propelled the advance of this most precious truth? What mysterious and consistent purpose did God have in impeding His truth by allowing the most enlightened to be the most deluded?
(52) Is it not a mystery itself that if indeed these pioneers were so deluded, that God has remained so silent and chose not to give some form of a meaningful explanation if that were even possible for God Himself to do?
(53) If the congregations from which the pioneers came were so largely opposed to the Trinity, would this not be a mysterious coincidence? Did God choose the most unsuitable persons for His special work and never ever correct them?
(54) The evidence reveals that men like J.N. Andrews, Joseph Bates, James White and in fact all the pioneers had an in depth understanding of the Trinity. Is it not a mystery, that in spite of, or because of their enlightenment, they rejected it while the majority who accepted it understood it far less?
(55) With an in-depth understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity (if it is truth), then a rejection of the Trinity would most definitely amount to unqualified apostasy. Would it not be a mystery if the birth of our church was accompanied by the greatest advance into light in modern times and the greatest apostasy at the same time?
(56) The beliefs that the pioneers held were arrived at after the most intensive Bible studies and earnest prayers. During these sessions, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and through the prophetess Ellen White, old positions of truth were reconfirmed, traditional errors discarded, and new positions established. It is not a mystery that their position on the Trinity which it is claimed represented the most fundamental of errors, was never revealed as false?
(57) If the Trinity were indeed true, for a combination of reasons such as their high calling, their greater knowledge of the subject and direct spiritual guidance from God, the pioneers should stand as the foremost believers in the Trinity. Is it not rather mysterious that they should then have unanimously rejected it?
(58) Is it not a mystery that instead of stopping to contemplate this, persons today with less known credentials from God than the pioneers, and far less knowledge of the subject, do not hesitate to dismiss them as mistaken or even deluded for that matter?
(59) Is it not a mystery that, knowing the consequence of rejecting the Trinity such as being branded as cultists or as Arians, the pioneers would have failed to thoroughly investigate the subject and make an informed decision under God’s guidance? Could it be that people today are making the mistake of attributing to those whom God had providentially guided to raise up His last church on earth, the characteristics of Laodicea?
(60) The pioneers rejected the basic premise of Arianism–that the Son of God was from a different substance, or that he was created from out of nothing–and upheld the full deity of Christ. If indeed the pioneers were Arians, is it not a mystery that those whom God raised up to especially bring to the world the light of truth buried for 1260 years under the rubbish of Papal Trinitarian heresies, should be charged as retarding that very truth by a belief in a doctrine which itself was responsible for paving the way for the rise of the very doctrine they were called upon to expose?
(61) Is it not a mystery that, although knowledgeable commentators among us today believe that by the 1860’s the church had fully advanced in an understanding of all critical Biblical truths, the Trinity was conspicuously absent from among them, and instead there was a very different understanding of the Godhead?
(62) Is it not therefore incomprehensible to reason that from the 1860’s to the end of the 1920’s Adventists were regarded as having all the vital truths necessary for salvation which did not include the Trinity, yet, after 1930, one could not be considered fit to become a member of the same church unless one subscribed to the Trinity? Would this not be an admission that all the time prior to 1930 we were in gross error and therefore it could not have been possible for the Lord to come earlier, or alternately, we have fallen into grave error since 1930?
(63) It has been said by a leading Adventist today, and it does logically follow, that the Founding Fathers of our faith would not be granted membership into our church today. Nevertheless the existence of our church today is still regarded as being indispensably indebted to the vision, dedication and courage of these men. Is this not a mystery incomprehensible to any rational mind that a church which should be unquestionably grateful would seek to show its appreciation to their Fathers by dis-fellowshipping them?
(64) In his presentation at the Minneapolis General conference in 1888 as recorded in the book Christ Our Righteousness, E J Waggoner set forth Christ as literally and truly the Son Of God Who was begotten in the recesses of eternity past. Ellen White, God’s inspired prophetess to His remnant church, fully endorsed this presentation describing it as a most precious message from God, the Third Angel’s Message in verity. Is it not a mystery how she could have so enthusiastically endorsed a message which was so decidedly counter to the Trinity, and which she believed if it had been accepted, would have resulted in the outpouring of the latter rain and shortly thereafter, the second coming of Christ?
(65) Though she was not inerrant, would it not be a mystery if, at the time when the greatest spiritual enlightenment had come to the world, Ellen White were so terribly deluded on this topic while she had everything else correct?
(66) Is it not a mystery that she never acknowledged the error concerning this as she had done on a previous occasion in relation to the shut door doctrine, when she admitted that she was not inerrant?
(67) For a loyal Adventist becoming enlightened on the points raised thus far, would it not be a mystery if he truly believed in the divine calling of the Pioneers, that he could conceive of the possibility of the pioneers being mistaken on the Trinity when those who had rejected the special message brought by the pioneers were the only ones who were enlightened on the Trinity? When Martin Luther held to Sunday sacredness and other Papal heresies, almost everyone else also did except a very small minority of believers who had a correct understanding of justification by faith and who were hidden in the obscure places of the earth. On the other hand, the pioneers were among the small minority who rejected the Trinity and held to the truth of every other major doctrine.
(68) Without exception, leading men within our church today, in an attempt to explain why the pioneers rejected the Trinity and subsequently accepted it, invariably make a comparison with the practice of pork eating and smoking which they indulged in for a time before the light of the health message came to them. The question as to whether there exists any similarity between the two as is being insisted, is examined as follows:
a) Pork eating and smoking were not regarded as fundamental doctrinal issues and even if they were so recognized, they were not promoted as such. By contrast, the Trinity was regarded as the foremost Christian doctrine and the pioneers took a very decided anti-Trinitarian stance.
b) The majority of Christians (including the pioneers) accepted and indulged in these unhealthful practices. On the other hand, in contrast to the majority who accepted the Trinity, the pioneers while not subscribing to Arianism, from the very outset rejected the doctrine on the premise that it was contrary to Scripture.
Is it not a mystery that the judgment of otherwise rational persons should become so warped that they could so mistakenly use a situation by way of a comparison to explain the occurrence of another situation, when both are quite contrastingly unlike each other? (This would be like saying that the Seventh-Day Adventist Church which was raised by God to pull down the strongholds of the Papacy, is supportive of the doctrine of the Trinity which was raised up to establish the institution of the Papacy.)
(69) Is it not a mystery that with the mission of the SDA Church to repair the breach in the truth which remained open for 1260 years, light on the subject of pork eating and tobacco smoking should precede light on the foremost Christian doctrine by over sixty years?
(70) The majority of Seventh-Day Adventists unhesitatingly pronounce the pioneers as being errant on the Trinity as they were on the subject of pork and tobacco, while they just as readily declare that the Papal anti-Christ Roman Catholic Church which was established on the back of the Trinity is not always wrong. Is it not a mystery that "loyal" Seventh-Day Adventists should go to such an extent to discredit their Founding Fathers in a virtual trade-off for the Papal Trinity?
(71) Is it not a mystery that the Trinity should have such an astonishing stranglehold over our leaders that they fail to see that an acceptance of the Trinity is in effect a rejection of the pioneers, which ultimately is a rejection of the special message they brought, which is inseparable from a rejection of the Trinity?
Mysteries of the SDA Church Since 1930
Is it not a mystery that a church which is founded upon theological purity should base the purest of all subjects, the Godhead, on a word which is not only unscriptural, but carries with it the most unsavory baggage?
(73) Is it not a mystery that rather than emulating the wisdom of the pioneers in not tainting the purity of our faith with this impediment, the church today has compromised the purity of our faith rather than preserved it and in the process demeaned the pioneers as well?
(74) Is it not a mystery that, although borrowing the term from the Roman Catholics, Seventh-Day Adventists today subscribe to a definition of the Trinity which is based on specific or generic unity which was condemned by the Catholics as tritheism or polytheism, and yet seem to be unaware of what the Catholics teach?
(75) Is it not a mystery that although Adventists subscribe to the Apostles or Nicaean creed which sets forth the Trinity, it is in fundamental disagreement with that creed?
(76) Is it not a mystery that Adventists accept the creed which states that the One God is the Father while teaching that the One God is Father, Son and Spirit?
(77) Is it not a mystery that the creed states that the pre-incarnate Son is of the Father while the church teaches that the Son’s existence is independent of the Father?
(78) The church proudly declares that it supports orthodoxy in its belief and teaching on the Godhead in common with all true Christian believers, in that it subscribes to the doctrine of the blessed Holy Trinity. This it does in spite of the fact that it holds the fundamental differences to the established Trinity as cited to which these bodies subscribe. Since this is not intended to be deceit nor should it be ignorance, is it not a mystery that explains this inconsistency?
(79) Since the history of the Adventist’s interpretation cannot be traced to the same origin as the established doctrine, nor presumably to any of the other explanations of the Godhead which were rejected, does it then subscribe to a Trinity of mysterious origin?
(80) Unlike the pioneers who arrived at their doctrinal beliefs through thorough Bible study, the adoption of the Trinity was not by this method, rather it came gradually through the early influence of men like Dr. Kellogg and afterwards, Leroy Froom. The embrace of the Trinity by Dr. Kellogg when it found no acceptance in the church was the final step in his apostasy from our faith, while Froom admitted that the Trinity, which he was largely responsible for introducing to the church, was borrowed from evangelical Christians whom he stated were more knowledgeable about the Holy Spirit than were Adventists. Is it not a mystery that we should have accepted the Trinity when it is a known fact that the teaching was the final accepted position of a prime apostate (Kellogg) and others such as D. M. Canright who embraced the teaching as soon as he departed from the church? A mystery that it would find far less than unanimous acceptance, so that it would require another fifty years (1930-1980) before it could be established, when even the church hymnal had to be altered to have a heading for the subject Trinity.
(81) It is not, however, the Scriptures that are primarily appealed to in support of the Trinity by Adventists today, and rightly so since no new light in any understanding of the Scriptures had been revealed of which the pioneers were unaware. Appeal is made rather to the writings of Ellen White which are claimed to uphold the doctrine. Is it not a mystery that a people whose position is "sola scriptura" should use as the primary support for a most fundamental Bible doctrine, the teachings of a secondary source rather than the Bible itself?
(82) Is it not a mystery that our church should resort to the very methods employed by Rome to discredit anyone who was opposed to the Trinity by placing upon them the stigmatizing label of Arians even when the evidence did not suggest that they were in favor of Arianism?
Mysteries of the Trinity and Ellen White
It is averred that Ellen White introduced the doctrine of the Trinity when she wrote in the book Desire Of Ages, that in Christ was "life original, unborrowed and underived". Is it not a mystery that one should teach the Trinity and never use the term, and in such a manner that it can only be deduced with much controversy especially when one was supposed to be making a decided effort to introduce it?
(84) When M. L. Andreason, thinking that this was a Trinitarian statement, visited Ellen White to ascertain if she had indeed penned these words, Mrs. White, although confirming that she did write it, did not in any way link this to the Trinity. Is it not a mystery that she did not embrace an opportune moment to unequivocally state her dramatic change to a new position?
(85) In Selected Messages book 1 p. 296, the same expression is used under the caption "Christ the Life Giver". Although this expression is commonly used to argue that the life of Christ was not begotten, i.e. ingenerate, yet in the same chapter she states that this "life, original, unborrowed and underived" which she describes as immortal life, may also be received as a gift by all repentant sinners. This notwithstanding the fact that it is the exclusive property of a divine Being since it is only the Father and His Son who possess immortality inherently, i.e. naturally, and therefore are able confer it on others. The quality of eternal life, which is different from the power to bestow it, is, however, identical whether it is ingenerate [unbegotten] as in the case of the Father, inherited [begotten] by His offspring (born] Son, or conferred as a permanent gift to creatures, because it is the life of God which has no origin [original], no source external to Himself [underived], and is permanent or indestructible [unborrowed]. Is it not a mystery, that life original, unborrowed and underived [immortality] which God wants to bestow upon His children, is being inadvertently denied them by a denial that the Father also gave it to His Son as a natural inheritance?
(86) In the light of John 5:26 which states clearly that Christ was given inherent life by His Father, is it not a mystery that understanding Ellen White’s regard for the Scriptures that the statement, "life original, unborrowed and underived" should be used to imply that she is teaching a different idea from the Scripture which clearly teaches that Christ received immortal life from His Father, not as a gift as to sinners, but as His inherent birthright as the begotten Son of God?
(87) Ellen White frequently wrote that the Son of God existed from all eternity. She also wrote that He did not always have a separate existence from His Father, which in turn explains His eternal existence. She was equally categorical that He was truly the Son of God, not by creation, not by adoption, but One begotten from the Father’s bosom and made in the express image of His Father’s person (Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 07-09-95; The Signs of The Times 05-30-95). Is it not a mystery that those who claim that Ellen White taught the Trinity totally ignore the several statements in which she taught the literal pre-incarnate Sonship of Christ?
(88) It is a fact that a person may exist and yet have no conscious awareness or any visible appearance. This is true of all human beings who pre-existed genetically in their immediate parents and even in Adam just as Levi pre-existed in Abraham (Heb. 7:9). Likewise, Christ was still regarded as a Person while a mere embryo in the womb and even as He lay dead in the tomb although in both instances He had neither consciousness nor appearance. This raises the question: couldn’t it be possible that in some mysterious sense beyond the comprehension of finite human beings, Christ pre-existed as a Person immanent within the Father’s bosom and was subsequently begotten as the mono-genes? The Apostolic Fathers, who lived nearest to the New Testament writers, who knew them and heard them speak, saw no tension in the paradox of the eternity of Christ and the fact that He was the literal begotten Son of God the Father. They simply believed that Christ preexisted as the thought of the Father who was made audible (begotten) as the Word, an independent Being without leaving the Father empty of His mind. Did Ellen White believe this? (DA page 19) This was the explanation widely held by those who lived in a period when the church received a glowing commendation from the Savior (Rev. 2:9); a period when the church was not torn by unending theological controversies, divisions, wars and deceptious schemes. The Trinity, arising in the succeeding (Pergamous) period of apostasy marked by pagan philosophies, was a counter to the previous understanding by a subtle assertion that the Son was the same Being as the eternal Father, but as secondary Personality. Especially designed to strengthen this view, the Arian concept, with its strong denial of the eternity of Christ, would be the perfect ally for the setting of the stage wherein Antipas (Christ) the Son of God would be slain (substituted) for 1260 years of Papal domination. Is it not a mystery that an attempt to alter, under the pretext of spiritual growth, an explanation which was accepted as best upholding the mystery of the Biblical truths of the literal Sonship and the eternity of Christ, produced a doctrine that in the first instance, elevates the wisdom of man greater than what the Bible reveals; a doctrine that resulted in more controversies, divisions, deceptions, murders and wars than any other; a doctrine which was singularly responsible for the formation of the Papacy; a doctrine which has brought the greatest discredit to the Adventist pioneers; a doctrine which suggests that God is a liar in declaring that Christ is truly His beloved and only begotten Son; a mystery of mysteries that has even come to be regarded as the foremost teaching of Christianity?
(89) In the light of Ellen White’s characteristic practice to meet error headlong and to explicitly set forth truth, is it not a mystery, coming from such a supposedly erroneous position to a position regarded as the foremost Christian doctrine, that she sought to usher in her new view in such a surreptitious manner?
(90) Between the writing of the Desire of Ages in 1898 and 1915 when she died, although she used many "three"statements, she never used the term Trinity. Is it not a mystery that those who claim that these terms such as " heavenly trio" prove that she taught the Trinity, fail to realize that Ellen White precisely understood that a Trinity meant one Being with three parts or manifestations functioning as three separate persons, whereas a trio meant three persons or personalities functioning harmoniously to effect one common goal? Do we not think the prophetess was aware that to use the word Trinity would have misrepresented what she believed?
(91) Is it not a mystery that although the inspired prophet believed in a oneness of nature and purpose between the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit she did not, like the church today, understand this to mean the same as the One God of Jn. 17:3, 1 Cor. 8:6 and Deut. 4:6? The unity of the divine Personalities of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit which was a unity of operation she expressed as the Godhead. The title One God used in every Scripture exclusively applied to the Father, the One God and Father of all including Christ.
(92) Unlike the church today she did not believe that persons meant exactly the same as beings. The term being referred exclusively to the Father and the Son Who were personal Beings. According to the first chapter in Patriarchs and Prophets, the third highest Being in Heaven before the entrance of sin, was Lucifer. Is it not a mystery that whereas she only recognized a duo of Beings and a trio of persons (personalities) she is said to have taught the Trinity, although the church today speaks of a Trinity of personal Beings and the Roman Catholics on the other hand a Trinity of persons (personalities) but one Being only?
(93) Is it not a mystery that Ellen White’s concept of the Godhead as based on a unity of purpose and love should be construed to be the same as the Trinity that is based on numeric oneness of substance?
(94) Ellen White taught that Christ, the Son of God, was a personal, independent Being with His own will and self consciousness as opposed to the established Trinitarian doctrine, which teaches that Christ was an hypostasis, i.e. a expression, mode or extension of the Father. Is it not a mystery that Ellen White is considered to have taught the Trinity when her concept of the Sonship of Christ was so fundamentally different?
(95) Is it not a mystery that Ellen White is claimed to have taught the doctrine of the Trinity even though her teachings bear no resemblance to the established understanding of the subject?
(96) Is it not a mystery that a person who borrowed rather profusely–terms, expressions and sometimes whole passages from other writers–was so meticulously careful never even once to borrow the term Trinity? Is it not a further mystery that prudent individuals do not find this very instructive?
(97) Is it not a mystery that the church remained resistant to the Trinity for the rest of her lifetime and yet never once do we find her rebuking the rebellious or for that matter, even encouraging the brethren to embrace this "new and precious truth"?
(98) Is it not a mystery that she appeared to encourage ideas which have come to be mistakenly regarded as Arian such as those found in the book Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith, a book which she glowingly recommended many years after she wrote the Desire of Ages?
(99) Ellen White predicted, just a few years before she died, that the church would in a very short while drift off into a delusion of great magnitude which she described as the Omega of deadly heresies, and which she intimated related to the nature and personality of God. In spite of this, is it not a mystery that the church has seemingly ignored this most solemn warning and embraced a highly controversial doctrine that unbelievably relates to the subject of the Godhead, and which the Founding Fathers condemned in no uncertain manner?
The Mystery of the Trinity and the Scriptures
The Roman Catholics, who coined the term and formulated the concept, confess that the doctrine is not explicitly taught in Scripture but is clearly implied in several Scriptures. Is it not a mystery that the foremost doctrine in Scripture is not explicitly taught but is only implied?
(101) The doctrine teaches that there is one God the Father, yet by the doctrines of eternal generation and consubstantiality, it in effect teaches that the Son and the Holy Spirit are not separate from the Father, but are intrinsically a part of the Being called God. The Holy Scriptures explicitly teach that the expression ‘One God’ is exclusively applicable to one single personal Being Who is called the Father (Jn. 17:3, Eph. 4:6, 1 Cor. 8:6, Deut. 4:6). Jesus, the Son of God, is portrayed as a single independent entity with His own will and self-consciousness (Jn. 17:3; 1 Cor. 8:6). Is it not a mystery that the foremost doctrine of Scripture is blatantly contrary to the Bible?
(102) Seventh-Day Adventist Trinitarian definition of the ‘One God,’ which is contrary to that of the orthodox Trinitarian definition, is that the one God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. The difference being that, whereas the Catholic teaches a partition of one thing, Adventists teach a unity of three things. Is it not a mystery that not only is there a disunity between the Catholic and the Adventists Trinitarian definition of the One God, but the Adventist position is also contrary to the Biblical definition that the One God is the Father?
(103) Despite the several oft referred to Scriptures which unquestionably reveal a unity between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is it not a mystery that never in an instance is this unity referred to as the ‘One God,’ either in nature or in operation? Would it not obviously be confusing if the Scriptures called the Father the ‘One God’ while at the same time calling the Godhead trio, the ‘One God’ as well?
(104) The Bible unquestionably gives precedence to the term God as Someone, a tangible Being composed of a personal form, a will, a nature, and a unique paternal personality. It is a fact that the orthodox Trinity of the Catholics places the nature of God above the Being of God, thereby making the nature of God, God Himself. Is it not a mystery that the Trinity, contrarily to the Scriptures (which reveals God as Someone, a Being on whose face we will look upon and with whom we will relate Rev. 22:4) has limited Him merely to His nature, and yet is the foremost doctrine of Christianity?
(105) From an Adventist Trinitarian viewpoint, it is the operational union or function of the three Personalities of deity (Godhead) that is deified in place of the personal Being, God the Father as is brought to view in Scripture, revealing strains of pantheism. Is it not a mystery that the Adventist church today, by its acceptance of this version of a Trinity, is unwittingly worshiping the abstract unity of the Godhead rather than God the Father Who is the absolute Godhead (deity), while perpetuating in a subtle manner the pantheistic sentiments of Dr. Kellogg which led him to accept the Trinity?
(106) Is it not a mysterious irony that a church which has besmirched the credibility of its own Founding Fathers with the Arian label, has itself in the very process of doing so become sullied by that very heresy? Through its denial that the Son of God was from the substance of the Father and consequently its teaching of three unrelated beings, the first instance is, in fact, tacitly lending support to the Arian declaration that Christ was from a different substance, and in the second instance, promoting tritheism or polytheism.
(107) The denial of the explicit scriptural verses Jn. 1:14,18; 3:16; Matt. 16:16, that Christ is truly the only begotten Son of the living God, not only intimates that God is a liar, but that both Himself and Christ are merely acting roles as Father and Son. Is it not a mystery that the Trinity, the foremost doctrine of Christianity that sets forth God’s nature and personality, especially portrays Him as suspiciously untrustworthy? It sets Him forth as One who makes representations to us in language that we can identify with and understand but at the same time He really does not expect us to believe He could possibly mean what He says.
(108) Is it not a mystery, that the Holy Scripture bring to light the love of God (which is made manifest in that He sent His only begotten Son into the world, sparing Him not, so that lost sinners would receive all things, even life original, unborrowed and underived), yet, according to the Trinitarian doctrine, is not relating realities but is only employing anthropomorphic language so that humans can understand that He did not mean that He really, after all, had a Son to give?
(1) The Trinity is accepted primarily on the basis of ignorance, while on the other hand, a rejection of it usually comes with a knowledge of what it really teaches.
(2) If the doctrine is not salvific, then the acceptance of it should not be made a requirement for Christians. If it is a vital doctrine, however, then a most solemn responsibility devolves upon the church to clearly explain it and to remove the confusion that has enveloped the church.
(3) Since the word "Trinity" is unscriptural and has no Biblical counterpart, then the use of the term should not be insisted upon. If the term is to be used, however, it should be used in precisely the same sense as it was coined by the Roman Catholics, i.e., the definition of "One God" should be understood in the numeric sense as one Being, Who is the Father with three modes of expression.
(4) An acceptance of the doctrine should accompany a corresponding acceptance of the historical context in which it was formulated and ratified. This includes the nature of the persons responsible for its formulation, and the means used to implement it (wars, deceits, murders).
(5) An acceptance of the Trinity is, in reality, an acceptance of the Papacy since the formation of one was dependant upon the development of the other.
(6) The Trinity cannot be truly set in opposition to Arianism because they are fundamentally related in many respects and, above all, they arrive at the identical conclusion that Jesus is not truly the Son of the living God.
(7) The pivotal truth of Scripture is that Jesus Christ is truly (literally so) the Son of the living God (Mat. 16:16), the very foundation of the gospel which brings to light the unfathomable love of God in that He loved sinners so much that He could sacrifice His only born (the only of His kind) Son to save us.
(8) The greatest propaganda of the Papacy is that an acceptance of this truth is a denial of the divinity of Christ.
(9) An acceptance of the Trinity demeans the authenticity of the SDA pioneers, and is a virtual rejection of the special message they brought which was totally incompatible with the Trinity. On the other hand, this results in an exaltation of Papal tradition and the "patristic fathers."
(10) The doctrine of the Trinity, as taught by the SDA church, is in reality tritheism and hence polytheistic. The claim to orthodoxy, as based on an acceptance of the Trinity, is therefore misleading since the doctrine of the Trinity, as taught by the SDA church, is inconsistent with the orthodox belief.
(11) It is misleading to assert that Ellen White’s teaching on the Godhead is the same as the Trinity in any form as it is evident that she neither supported a tritheistic concept, nor consubstantiality, which is the obvious reason why she never used the term "Trinity."
(12) The Trinity contradicts the Biblical definition of the term "One God," which in all cases refers to the Father exclusively. This in no way denies the full divinity of Christ, Who as the true Son of God, has inherited all the fullness of His Father. The term "One God," therefore, is not intended to teach that there is divine Being only, but rather emphasizes the presence of a supreme Being Who is the God and Father of all others, including Christ, His only begotten Son.
(13) On the other hand, the Catholic church’s teaching (orthodox Trinity) is that the "One God" is a tri-personal being, while the SDA version of the Trinity teaches a unity of three inoriginate personal Beings.
(14) Ellen White, who did not equate a Being with a person in all situations, set forth a unity which involved the divine personality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit unique to each.
The Father’s person (personality) of begetting love, the first (original) outreaching love to which all other love responds, is unique to Him, His exclusive property, which He shares with others. The Son’s person (personality) of requiting love, the second love, the love which responds to begetting love is unique to Him, His exclusive property which He shares with others. The Holy Spirit’s personality is the bestowing and requiting personalities of the Father and the Son combined, along with Their other divine attributes, extended omnipresently from themselves to created beings by means of which they may become partakers of the Godhead (divine nature). The Holy Spirit is evidently therefore a mysterious personality inseparable from the Father and the Son.
From the various mysteries outlined which would have to be accepted if the Trinity is to be believed, it is evident that it would require a far greater faith that defies sense and reason, and a denial of the pure teaching of Scripture in order to believe the Trinity; a faith based on an absurdity. On the basis of the arguments presented and the obvious confusion that exists in the SDA church over the Trinity, any endeavor on the church’s part to advance its mission without making this issue a matter of first priority must surely result in a continuance in the circuit of wandering in the wilderness of this world.
The greatest legacy that has been committed to humanity in modern times has been bestowed upon the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. One certain way of regaining lost ground is to emulate the wisdom of the pioneers (though they were not inerrant), in preserving the purity of our faith from the contamination of Papal theology. We must, therefore, earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints by a return to the truth concerning the only true God and Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. Only by this means will full confidence be restored in the unique message of the High Priestly ministration of Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary and its attendant truth of the investigative judgment which have been vitiated by the Trinitarian doctrine.