Old Paths Masthead

Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant. Psalm 25:14


Vol. 27, No.1 Straight and Narrow January 2018


Snow Leopard.jpg

They were filled, and their heart was exalted;
Therefore have they forgotten me.
Therefore I will be unto them as a lion:
As a leopard by the way will I observe them. (Hosea 13:7)

In this issue:

Setting the Record Straight

Fact Checking

Youth's Corner

Asia Mission Trip

 

Setting the Record Straight

Solomon wrote: “That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered” (Ecclesiastes 1:15). Solomon is saying that error can never be made to be truth and that which is lacking cannot be counted. This verse reminds me of something E. J. Waggoner stated during the 1903 General Conference Session, when discussing the newly proposed constitution.

And truth is truth, though it be spoken by one who has no standing or official position. And error can not be made to be truth, or mistakes can not be made to be right, because promulgated by some one in official position, or even by the whole body; and we should recognize, and we must educate ourselves and the people to recognize, the truth of the Bible, and to be recognized by the Bible and the Spirit of God, so that whenever any case comes up for decision we have that one thing to guide us. (E. J. Waggoner, The General Conference Bulletin, April 10, 1903, p. 148)

What is “that one thing to guide us”? It is the Bible. Ellen White noted:

But God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain “Thus saith the Lord” in its support. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 595)

While there is no doubt in this writer’s mind that the testimonies of Ellen White are inspired, it should be clear to anyone who has carefully read her writings that she does not claim her writings to be a part of the Bible. While her writings are useful in the study of the Bible, it is the Bible, with its plain Thus saith the Lord,” that should determine what the Christian believes and teaches.

There are many people, including, I dare say, the majority of Christians, who believe false doctrines yet who claim to believe and to teach the Bible. Simply saying one believes the Bible, and even the testimonies, does not assure correct doctrine. Only as we test doctrine by the Bible can we be sure of its veracity.

It was with great sadness, therefore, that I recently viewed and carefully studied a video presentation by Jeff Pippenger, entitled “The Godhead Controversy.” The presentation explained, from Brother Pippenger’s point of view, many things that were supposed to be wrong with what he calls the Godhead Movement.[1] More specifically, he explains that this is the movement that agrees with what the pioneers taught about God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Pippenger is quite clear that he believes this movement is wrong and that our pioneers were wrong on their position on God.

Since Jeff Pippenger claims to strongly believe the Spirit of Prophecy, we find it interesting that he does not try to explain the following statement:

It is as certain that we have the truth as that God lives; and Satan, with all his arts and hellish power, cannot change the truth of God into a lie. While the great adversary will try his utmost to make of none effect the word of God, truth must go forth as a lamp that burneth. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 595; written in 1881)

Please notice that Ellen White did not say that she alone had the truth but that “we,” she and the pioneers, had the truth, as sure as God lives! Now if the believers were wrong on such a major point as who God is, could she have really made this statement? Furthermore, she wrote this in 1881, when the pioneer understanding of God had been codified and unified for eighteen years and which remain unchanged until sixteen years after the death of Ellen White.

Jeff Pippenger makes many claims throughout the video about what he calls the Godhead people, but, interestingly, he never once documents a single charge he makes. Perhaps this is because he is trying to be kind and does not wish to name anyone specifically. However, to make the claims he makes, many of which would be considered derogatory, requires documentation to keep it from being considered hearsay.

A misunderstanding of the doctrine of the trinity

When one speaks on a subject, fundamental definitions must be clear. Jeff Pippenger claims that the so-called Godhead people have intentionally misrepresented what both he and Seventh-day Adventists believe. Jeff Pippenger claims that the Godhead people have made:

A conscious choice to misrepresent because they know full well that what the understanding of the Adventist Church, being that there are three persons of the heavenly trio, that this is not the definition of the trinity in Catholicism and to call that understanding trinitarianism is dishonest, especially when they are the ones that are the experts on this subject. This is where they focus their subject.

The definition of the trinity is one God. The Catholic definition of the trinity is one God that manifests itself three different ways, depending on time and circumstances. When he was here as Jesus, he was manifesting himself as the Son. When the Holy Spirit is mentioned, he is manifesting himself as the Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church really believes there’s one God that manifests itself three different ways. That is not the understanding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, even if the Seventh-day Adventist Church is incorrect. (Jeff Pippenger, “The Godhead Controversy” video, August 26, 2017, at approximately 5:56; all quotations by Pippenger in this article are from this video and further references will be limited to his name and to the approximate time on the video)

Jeff Pippenger is not describing the trinity of the Catholic Church and is not describing any church claiming to believe the doctrine of the trinity. The so-called persons of the trinity are in no way dependent upon time or circumstances concerning their manifestations. Pippenger is actually describing what is known as Sabellianism, sometimes called modalism. In this view of God, the one God acts like the Father in the Old Testament, like Jesus in the Gospels, and like the Holy Spirit when “he is manifesting himself as the Holy Spirit.” This is very different from trinitarianism. Sabellianism teaches that there are three modes, or manifestations, of God, while trinitarianism teaches that there are three persons in one God, who all function simultaneously. The fact is that even the Catholic Church declares the teaching of Sabellianism to be heresy.[2]

Let us let the Catholic Church declare what they believe about the trinity:

“Now this is the Catholic faith: We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son’s is another, the Holy Spirit’s another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal” (Athanasian Creed; DS 75; ND 16). (Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., p. 70)

The Seventh-day Adventist Church does not believe in Sabellianism, but does the Adventist Church believe in trinitariaism? Jeff Pippenger says that:

. . . to call them [the Seventh-day Adventists] trinitarians is derogatory because the word trinity is a Catholic word and is derogatory to hang it on someone that doesn’t believe it. (Pippinger; 7:00)

But may the Seventh-day Adventist Church speak for itself? In its current fundamental beliefs, we find the title, “The Trinity,” over statement two. The statement says:

There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. God, who is love, is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation. (Gen. 1:26; Deut. 6:4; Isa. 6:8; Matt. 28:19; John 3:16; 2 Cor. 1:21, 22; 13:14; Eph. 4:4–6; 1 Peter 1:2.) (https://www.adventist.org/en/beliefs/god/trinity/)

Some people think the doctrine of the trinity is the belief that there are three beings in the Godhead, each fully God, but this is tritheism (tri is three and theism refers to God—three gods). Trinitarianism, however, is the belief that there are three persons, who operate apart from each other, in one being. Trinitarianism considers tritheism to be a heresy, a type of polytheism. The most authoritative doctrinal voice of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is found in the book, Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology. This volume was authorized by the General Conference (see pages ix, x) and speaks theologically for the church. In this book, we read:

In other words, since the God of the Bible is one and not many, all the various revelations about Him presented throughout the Bible refer to the same, one divine reality and not to a plurality of divine beings. (Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology, p. 121)

Notice that God is not a plurality of divine beings. God is said to be a “divine Being” (Ibid., p. 122), singular, and “the one single reality” (Ibid., p. 150), with “three centers of intelligence and action” (Ibid.). The Handbook further states:

The danger of Tritheism involved in this position becomes real when the oneness of God is reduced to a mere unity conceived in analogy to a human society or a fellowship of action. (Ibid.)

This contrasts with what our pioneers believed. In their declaration of fundamental principles in 1872, they stated:

I. That there is one God, a personal, spiritual being, the creator of all things, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal, infinite in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, truth, and mercy; unchangeable, and everywhere present by his representative, the Holy Spirit. Ps. 139:7.

II. That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the one by whom God created all things, and by whom they do consist; that he took on him the nature of the seed of Abraham for the redemption of our fallen race; that he dwelt among men full of grace and truth, lived our example, died our sacrifice, was raised for our justification, ascended on high to be our only mediator in the sanctuary in Heaven, where, with his own blood he makes atonement for our sins; which atonement so far from being made on the cross, which was but the offering of the sacrifice, is the very last portion of his work as priest according to the example of the Levitical priesthood, which foreshadowed and prefigured the ministry of our Lord in Heaven. See Lev. 16; Heb. 8:4, 5; 9:6, 7; &c. (1872 Fundamental Principles Taught and Practiced by The Seventh-Day Adventists, Steam Press, Battle Creek, MI)

Tampering

Jeff Pippenger declares, in the introduction of his sermon, that he and his group have a confidence and an understanding of Scripture far above any group on earth, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Jeff Pippenger goes on to claim that the Godhead people base their movement on the claim that the Bible has been tampered with, as has also the Spirit of Prophecy.

So right off the bat I want you to see that what we’re talking about on this subject is a claim that’s based upon the Bible being tampered with and the Spirit of Prophecy being tampered with. (Pippenger; 11:37)

Jeff Pippenger explains his belief on how he views any tampering, by stating:

If I think part of it’s been tampered with, it destroys my confidence in the integrity of it all. (Pippenger; 29:11)

Jeff Pippenger says that the idea that the Spirt of Prophecy has been tampered with is something that the Godhead people must lean upon:

. . . the Godhead people lean on it. At some level you got to be settled into the idea that the Spirit of Prophecy has been tampered with. (Pippenger; 36:30)

Jeff Pippenger also states that if you think the Spirit of Prophecy has been tampered with, then maybe the Bible has been tampered with also, and Pippenger’s premise is that if one believes that anything in the Bible or in the Spirit of Prophecy has been tampered with, then the “integrity of it all” is destroyed. To him this is making of none effect the testimony of Jesus:

Satan is . . . constantly pressing in the spurious—to lead away from the truth. The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. (Ellen White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 48)

Only truth will be triumphant in the judgment, so what are the facts? Let us begin by noting what Ellen White wrote, concerning changes in the Bible. She stated:

I saw that God had especially guarded the Bible; yet when copies of it were few, learned men had in some instances changed the words, thinking that they were making it more plain, when in reality they were mystifying that which was plain, by causing it to lean to their established views, which were governed by tradition. But I saw that the Word of God, as a whole, is a perfect chain, one portion linking into and explaining another. True seekers for truth need not err; for not only is the Word of God plain and simple in declaring the way of life, but the Holy Spirit is given as a guide in understanding the way to life therein revealed. (Ellen White, Early Writings, pp. 220, 221; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)

Jeff Pippenger claims to believe the Testimonies. Does he believe the above statement in Early Writings?

The one biblical text that is often discussed in the context of possible altered statements is 1 John 5:7. Jeff Pippenger uses 1 John 5:6–8 as the scripture reading for his sermon and promotes it as a true teaching.

It is of interest that most reputable authorities agree that a part of 1 John 5:7, 8 was added to the Bible, during the period known as the Dark Ages. Specifically, the part added reads in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth.” If the questionable portion were taken out, the verse would read: For there are three that bear record, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary states, concerning these verses:

The disputed words found their way into the KJV by way of the Greek text of Erasmus. It is said that Erasmus offered to include the disputed words in his Greek Testament if he were shown even one Greek MS that contained them. A library in Dublin produced such a MS (known as 34), and Erasmus included the passage in his text. It is now believed that the later editions of the Vulgate acquired the passage by the mistake of a scribe who included an exegetical marginal comment in the Bible text that he was copying. The disputed words have been widely used in support of the doctrine of the Trinity, but, in view of such overwhelming evidence against their authenticity, their support is valueless and should not be used. (The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 675)

Could this text be one of the “instances [where learned men] changed the words, thinking that they were making it more plain, when in reality they were mystifying that which was plain” (White, Early Writings, p. 220)? It is interesting to note that in the thousands of pages of her materials, Ellen White never quotes 1 John 5:7. If 1 John 5:7 is not such a text that Ellen White is talking about in Early Writings, what text or texts could she mean? For the sake of this study, I am fine with leaving the discussion of the text being a gloss and of accepting the text as being a part of the Canon. Furthermore, I certainly do not lean upon 1 John 5:7 being a gloss because more than a surface reading of the text reveals that it does not promote either trinitarianism or tritheism.[3]

Now, if Jeff Pippenger is ever confronted with the statement in Early Writings, he will have to determine if he can accept Ellen White’s statement or discard his Bible. I certain pray he will do the former and not the latter. I do not believe that many of Ellen White’s writings have been tampered with, but let us look at the following two statements. The first is from an article Ellen White wrote in the Signs of the Times, and the second is its reprint in the devotional book, Ye Shall Receive Power.

The Lord would have every one of His children rich in faith, and this faith is the fruit of the working of the Holy Spirit upon the mind. It dwells with each soul who will receive it, speaking to the impenitent in words of warning, and pointing them to Jesus, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. It causes light to shine into the minds of those who are seeking to co-operate with God, giving them efficiency and wisdom to do His work. (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, September 27, 1899)

The Lord would have every one of His children rich in faith, and this faith is the fruit of the working of the Holy Spirit upon the mind. He dwells with each soul who will receive Him, speaking to the impenitent in words of warning, and pointing them to Jesus, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. He causes light to shine into the minds of those who are seeking to co-operate with God, giving them efficiency and wisdom to do His work. (Ellen White, Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 59; original printed version. This editing has since been removed in the electronic database version of the book.)

You can see that three times the word it was changed to He or Him. I certainly do not need to use this to make a case for a position on the truth about God, but if we wish for the facts to be presented, then we have to be honest with the data.[4] Now, I would hope that Brother Pippenger would not throw out the baby with the bath water in this case, for here we have an example of tampering with Ellen White’s writings, but it does not destroy either my confidence in the gift of the testimony of Jesus or in its integrity. Ellen White is not at fault for what men have done with her works after her death.

Just as God has “especially guarded the Bible” (White, Early Writings, p. 220), he has especially guarded the Spirit of Prophecy as a whole, and “true seekers for truth need not err” (Ibid.). As testimony is compared with testimony, the truth is clearly revealed.[5]

It should be admitted that some jealous people have spoken strongly against the use of 1 John 5:7 and have also cast a shadow of doubt on the Spirit of Prophecy, by dwelling extensively upon changes. This has neither helped their position nor helped others to be strong in the Bible and in the Spirit of Prophecy. Another biblical text that Jeff Pippenger mentions is Matthew 28:19. He is accurate when he states that some people have cast doubt upon this text by declaring it a gloss. While some evidence has been presented that Matthew 28:19 is a gloss, I have not found the evidence strong and certainly not strong enough to be used as good evidence. Furthermore, Ellen White quotes Matthew 28:19, as an authentic text of scripture, over one hundred times.

The bottom line on the charge of tampering is that while some have unwisely made this claim, it is certain that the truth about God, about Christ, and about the Holy Spirit is not dependent upon any criticism of Ellen White’s writings or upon any criticism of the Bible, despite the claims of Jeff Pippenger,

The truth about God, about Christ, and about the Holy Spirit is based upon the Bible, first and foremost. I have no issue with accepting 1 John 5:7 and Matthew 28:19 in the Scriptures. The correct interpretation of these texts, however, is another matter.

But let us go back to the issue of making the Spirit of Prophecy of none effect. This statement of Ellen White does not say that people will outright reject her writings. No, not at all. But what it certainly implies is that her writings will be misused to support false teachings. Doctor John H. Kellogg is an excellent example of this work. Kellogg quoted the testimonies of Ellen White in an attempt to prove his points and to claim that he was in perfect agreement with Ellen White, but she wrote:

Letters have come to me with statements made by men who claimed to have asked Dr. Kellogg if he believes the testimonies that Sister White bears. He declares that he does, but he does not. He sent a sensible letter to me while I was at Melrose, Mass., saying, “I have surrendered,” But he has not spoken or acted as a man who has surrendered. He has felt bitterness of soul against the Lord’s appointed agencies who have occupied the position of president of the General Conference. He has hated them. Has he surrendered that gall of bitterness? The Lord will not accept anything that he affirms which is false. (Ellen White, Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, pp. 60, 61)

Many proponents of the new theology claim to believe in Ellen White and in her writings, but they twist them or misuse them to teach doctrines that are not in harmony with the body of her teachings. These people have certainly made the writings of none effect.[6]

Jeff Pippenger states that to deal with the Godhead people you have to deal with the pioneers. This is because of the beliefs they share, but may we, again, please ask Jeff Pippenger to read:

It is as certain that we have the truth as that God lives; and Satan, with all his arts and hellish power, cannot change the truth of God into a lie. While the great adversary will try his utmost to make of none effect the word of God, truth must go forth as a lamp that burneth. (White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 595; written in 1881)

If we really believe the testimonies, how can we say the pioneers were in error on their fundamental points? Notice again that Ellen White did not say that she alone had the truth but that “we,” she and the pioneers, had the truth, as sure as God lives!

In connection with this, Jeff Pippenger states:

. . . the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been going further and further in apostasy since 1863. (Pippenger; 16:03)

In the year 1863, the movement organized into a denomination, and the testimony of the brethren at that time, as recorded in the Review, was one of the Spirit working in a remarkable manner.

Apostasy is defined as a falling away from the truth, yet, eighteen years after 1863, Ellen White did not write about the church leaving the truth but, rather, that we had the truth! In 1872 the church published its first fundamental principles. In the preamble of that statement, we read:

We do not put forth this as having any authority with our people, nor is it designed to secure uniformity among them, as a system of faith, but is a brief statement of what is, and has been, with great unanimity, held by them. (1872 Fundamental Principles)

In 1872 the Seventh-day Adventist Church had a position on God that was held with great unanimity. That was the position that the church had in 1863 and continued to have in 1881 and that was never changed during the lifetime of Ellen White.[7]

Interestingly, concerning the pioneers, Pippenger makes the following statement:

. . . both [A. T.] Jones and [E. J.] Waggoner, they went off in the darkness, but that didn’t mean that what they were teaching in the 1888 time period wasn’t worthy of study. Okay. Because its got an endorsement on it, so I know that. (Pippenger; 22:17)

The endorsement that Jeff Pippenger makes reference to is one by Ellen White. Now, if we wished to examine what Jones and Waggoner taught about God in 1888, we would see from their writings that they were in perfect harmony with the rest of the brethren at that time.[8] Furthermore, is it reasonable to believe that one could properly teach righteousness by faith if one had a seriously faulty view about God and Christ? If Jones and Waggoner had insufficient and faulty views of Christ, could they have understood Christ’s righteousness?

Issues in the book Evangelism

The main thrust of Jeff Pippenger’s counter to the message of the Godhead people, as he calls them, is to use the materials gathered in the book Evangelism on pages 614–617, he declaring that the matter is black and white and that this should settle the matter. Of course, that is exactly what LeRoy Froom thought, too, and that is why Froom produced those references in the way he did. Now the real question is, do some statements (statements which we believe are true) complied without the other statements on the subject, tell all the truth on a matter? For example, please consider the following texts from Scripture:

And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. (Isaiah 66:24)

And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:43, 44)

Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:46)

Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:48)

And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:11)

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.(Matthew 18:8)

If you had never read the Bible through before and were confronted with these texts, what might you honestly think? Hopefully, we have read the Bible through and realize that there are more texts that must be added to these texts to make a complete and harmonious whole. No texts are to be cast aside or are to be ignored. We need all the verses on a subject to see the complete picture they present. We see not only the properness of this but the necessity of this to come to an accurate position. The same is true concerning the references from Evangelism on the truth about God. If we only read the references that seem to support a certain position, we may not arrive at the truth of the matter.

When you look at a printed picture, such as the one on our cover, you see what appears to be a continuous tone of colors blending smoothly across the page, but when you look closely, with a magnifying device, you see that printed pictures are not made up of a continuous color system but of small dots printed in the four basic colors of black, cyan, magenta, and yellow.[9] These dots are arranged in a specific pattern to appear as a continuous color to the viewer. You need all of the different color dots to make the total picture.

With this in mind, let us look at some of the most important portions from Ellen White’s writings that were gathered in Evangelism and see what a more-than-surface reading of them reveals. The first statement we will look at is originally from The Signs of the Times, August 29, 1900:

Christ is the pre-existent, self-existent Son of God.... In speaking of his pre-existence, Christ carries the mind back through dateless ages. He assures us that there never was a time when He was not in close fellowship with the eternal God. (Ellen White, Evangelism, p. 615)

This reference is used to prove that Christ has always been coeternal with the Father, and it certainly seems to say so. But is this the correct view and the complete picture? It was admitted by Jeff Pippenger that laziness is often a cause to quote from Ellen White and not from the Bible, so we will not be lazy here. Furthermore, we need to remember that when called to stand for our faith in courts of law and in the synagogues (churches), we will not be able to say, Sister White says so. Only a plain thus saith the Lord will provide the testimony necessary at that time.

The question here comes down to if Jesus is really the Son of God. Was he begotten at some time, even before time, or is he fully coeternal with the Father in every respect? Let us notice, first, what the Bible says.

Jesus claimed to be the only begotten Son of God:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

The Greek word translated begotten means to be born or procreated. While Jeff Pippenger states that this word, μονογενής (monogenēs) means “one of a kind, something special” (43:11), he totally ignores the Greek definition that he, himself, has included in the PDF study guide, which he includes with the DVD. In this, he seems to make reference to Strong’s, though not noted or exactly quoted: “From G3441 and G1096; only born, that is, sole: - only (begotten, child).”

Jeff Pippenger states that:

. . . the word of God, it was written that the most simple among us can find salvation. (Pippenger; 33:18)

I certainly can say amen to that, and we do not need to redefine a word outside of its original definition to find salvation. Jeff Pippenger also notes:

So, when we have to define a doctrine based upon some very sophisticated maneuvering, I’m saying the simple among us, then, that don’t have the ability to follow the grammatical maneuvering that’s used in the Godhead issue, that you’re lost. (Pippenger; 33:30)

Beloved, you decide what is sophisticated maneuvering. Is it accepting the simple definition of a term, or is it redefining that term? There is no grammatical maneuvering about understanding the Greek definition of monogenēs, for example, and none need be lost over its definition. I would certainly say that our pioneers were giants in the Bible, but very few had any formal training. Their teachings were plain and straightforward. They had biblical reasons to believe that Jesus was the only begotten Son of God.

Writing about Christ in Proverbs 8, Solomon notes:

The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: (Proverbs 8:22–25)

The Hebrew word that is translated brought forth in verses 24 and 25 is חוֹלָ֑לְתִּי (hô lāl tî) and means only to be born or to give birth. Other than in verses 24 and 25, it is used in only one other place of Scripture, and that is Psalm 51:5, where it is clearly talking about conception and birth. Christ is the wisdom spoken of in Proverbs 8.

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (1 Corinthians 1:30)

It should be noted that Ellen White declares that Proverbs 8 is speaking of Christ and also quotes Proverbs 8 in connection to Christ’s eternal nature:

The Lord Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, existed from eternity, a distinct person, yet one with the Father. He was the surpassing glory of heaven. He was the commander of the heavenly intelligences, and the adoring homage of the angels was received by him as his right. This was no robbery of God. “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way,” he declares, “before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth; while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth.” (Ellen White, The Review and Herald, April 5, 1906)

Ellen White is speaking of Christ existing from eternity, and yet she quotes from Proverbs 8, stating that Christ was brought forth before anything existed. Let us look at two more biblical texts and then at another Ellen White statement. First, Micah 5:2:

But thou, Beth-lehem Eph-ra-tah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

The Hebrew word translated goings forth in this verse means origin and is so translated in many versions.[10]

This verse says that Christ had an origin, but it was from eternity. This may sound like a paradox but if we couple this with Colossians 1:16, things begin to come together.

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (Colossians 1:16)

Before anything else was ever in existence, God, through Christ, brought all things into existence, visible and invisible.” This includes the concepts of time and space. Since eternity is a concept based upon time, Christ has been before all time and, therefore, is the author of time. In this manner we can see that Christ has truly existed throughout all time and eternity with God. Yet, before what we conceive of as time, Christ was begotten of the Father. This is not redefining the concept of eternity. It is expanding the concept of eternity.

Now, back to Ellen White. Did she believe Christ was the begotten Son of God? Let her answer:

A complete offering has been made; for “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,”—not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father’s person, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, May 30, 1895)

Ellen White denies that Jesus is created and declares that he is not a son by adoption but rather is “a Son begotten in the express image of the Father’s person.” The express image of the Father, period. Pippenger, in responding to the claim that Jesus is the Son of the Father, stated, “. . . I want to see the mother” (Pippenger; 41:41). Inspiration never speaks of a mother goddess, and to even suggest that such would be needed if Jesus were truly a begotten son is to fail to understand that, while man was made in the image of God, God has no restrictions of humanity upon himself.

It might be helpful to also note that the Bible declares the Father is the only being that has an absolute immortality:

Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:16)[11]

The testimony of the Bible is that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, and Ellen White agrees. The third witness is that of our pioneers. E. J. Waggoner wrote a position that summed up well the position of the pioneers, when he stated:

The Word was “in the beginning.” The mind of man cannot grasp the ages that are spanned in this phrase. It is not given to men to know when or how the Son was begotten; but we know that he was the Divine Word, not simply before He came to this earth to die, but even before the world was created. Just before His crucifixion He prayed, “And now, O Father, glorify thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” John 17:5. And more than seven hundred years before His first advent, His coming was thus foretold by the word of inspiration: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2, margin. We know that Christ “proceeded forth and came from God” (John 8:42), but it was so far back in the ages of eternity as to be far beyond the grasp of the mind of man. (E. J. Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness, p. 9; 1890)

We have an enigma, when we read that Ellen White endorsed Waggoner’s material of that era and yet say that she did not believe what he wrote. We are inconsistent when we declare that we need to leave the pioneer position on the Godhead, when Ellen White confidently declared:

It is as certain that we have the truth as that God lives; and Satan, with all his arts and hellish power, cannot change the truth of God into a lie. While the great adversary will try his utmost to make of none effect the word of God, truth must go forth as a lamp that burneth. (White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 595; written in 1881)

Jeff Pippenger states:

. . . there was a new revelation of the Godhead at the end of Adventism the same way there was a new revelation of the Godhead at the end of ancient Israel. (Pippenger; 40:15)

Does this idea really stand up to examination? It is declared that when Jesus became incarnate there was a new revelation about a second divine being and that the Jews wanted to stone Jesus for claiming to be divine. It is certainly true that the Jews wanted to stone Jesus for claiming to be the Son of God and even the “I Am” (John 8:58, 59), but was this a revelation that had not been revealed before to God’s people? Certainly not. God had, even in the Old Testament, revealed much about himself and his Son and just because the leaders of Jesus’ time did not understand it does not mean that a new revelation was needed. It should be freely admitted that the degree of understanding was new, but it was not a fundamental change from what the Old Testament taught. While Deuteronomy 6:4 declared God to be one, multiple passages spoke of someone working with that one God.

And God said, Let us make man in our image . . . (Genesis 1:26)

Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. (Exodus 23:20, 21)

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell? (Proverbs 30:4)

He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. (Daniel 3:25)

Connected to the concept of Christ’s eternal nature is the statement found on page 616 of Evangelism, quoting from The Desire of Ages, where we read:

Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. “He that hath the Son hath life.” The divinity of Christ is the believer’s assurance of eternal life. (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 530)

Despite her trinitarian background in the Methodist Church, Ellen White never called God a trinity or used the expression triune God in her writings. During the first fifty years of Sister White’s ministry, her brethren found nothing in her writings to cause them to alter their view on God.

While having clearly spoken of the divinity of Christ, what did Ellen White mean by Christ’s life being original, unborrowed, underived”? Was she now advocating a new position on God? Following the rule that the testimonies themselves will be the key that will explain the messages given” (White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 42; Letter 73, 1903), we look to an article published one year before the publication of The Desire of Ages. This article appeared in The Signs of the Times and was entitled Christ the Life-giver.” We find in this article a clarification of Sister White’s understanding of the concept.

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). It is not physical life that is here specified, but immortality, the life which is exclusively the property of God. The Word, who was with God, and who was God, had this life. Physical life is something which each individual receives. It is not eternal or immortal; for God, the Life-giver, takes it again. Man has no control over his life. But the life of Christ was unborrowed. No one can take this life from Him. “I lay it down of myself” (John 10:18), He said. In Him was life, original, unborrowed, underived. This life is not inherent in man. He can possess it only through Christ. He cannot earn it; it is given him as a free gift if he will believe in Christ as his personal Saviour. (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, April 8, 1897; see also Selected Messages, bk. 1, pp. 296, 297)

The significance of this statement is tremendous! While stating that Christ’s life was original, unborrowed, underived,” she also stated that this life is not inherent in man.” So far, there is nothing to send up a red flag. The next two sentences open up a whole new perspective, when we carefully note the pronouns: He [man] can possess it [life, original, unborrowed, underived] only through Christ. He [man] cannot earn it [life, original, unborrowed, underived]; it [life, original, unborrowed, underived] is given him as a free gift if he [man] will believe in Christ as his personal Saviour.”

According to what Sister White wrote the year before The Desire of Ages was published, man is offered the same quality of life that Christ had. If Christ could bestow this life as a free gift upon man, then he could have received that same life from his Father. It was the original, unborrowed, underived life of the Father that Christ possessed and is able to bestow upon man. This is what Jesus meant when he said; For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself (John 5:26).”[12]

The weight of evidence” (White, The Desire of Ages, p. 458) clearly reveals that Sister White believed Jesus to be the literal Son of God, but now we come to another charge made in connection with this:

The Godhead people will tell you that at minimum the Son of God was a lesser god because he was brought into existence by God the Father. (Pippenger; 30:04)

This is an interesting charge and one that should be considered. Let us begin with the Bible. Jesus made some provocative statements, when he declared:

My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:29)

Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)

While Jesus said the Father is greater than he is, the Scriptures also declare that Jesus is God.

And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Hebrews 1:6–9)

God the Father calls Christ God, and, if the Father can call him God in the highest sense, we must also. But how do we reconcile these statements?

In the previous quotation from The Signs of the Times article of May 30, 1895, Sister White stated that Christ was one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection.” Several places in her writings she, along with the pioneers, acknowledge Christ to be equal with the Father. However, she states that this equality was one given or conferred upon Christ by the Father and was not an equality that Christ naturally had. Note the following quotations:

The Scriptures clearly indicate the relation between God and Christ, and they bring to view as clearly the personality and individuality of each.

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” (Hebrews 1:1–5)

God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 268, 269)

The great Creator assembled the heavenly host, that he might in the presence of all the angels confer special honor upon his Son. The Son was seated on the throne with the Father, and the heavenly throng of holy angels was gathered around them. The Father then made known that it was ordained by himself that Christ, his Son, should be equal with himself; so that wherever was the presence of his Son, it was as his own presence. The word of the Son was to be obeyed as readily as the word of the Father. His Son he had invested with authority to command the heavenly host. Especially was his Son to work in union with himself in the anticipated creation of the earth and every living thing that should exist upon the earth. His Son would carry out his will and his purposes, but would do nothing of himself alone. The Father’s will would be fulfilled in him. (Ellen White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp. 17, 18)

Leaving his place in the immediate presence of the Father, Lucifer went forth to diffuse the spirit of discontent among the angels. . . . The exaltation of the Son of God as equal with the Father was represented as an injustice to Lucifer, who, it was claimed, was also entitled to reverence and honor. (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 37)

In order for Christ to be exalted as equal with the Father, there must have been a time when he was not in every respect equal with him. This exaltation would not have been possible if Christ had been a coequal, coeternal being with the Father. However, if Christ was the literal Son of God, then the Father would have been able to exalt him. Ellen White never called Christ a created son or an adopted son. Despite many theologians insisting that the Sonship of Christ is one of role-playing, Ellen G. White never even hints at such a possibility. The writings of Ellen G. White speak in a very literal way of Christ being the begotten Son of God.

Another view on this was given by E. J. Waggoner, when he wrote:

Some have difficulty in reconciling Christ’s statement in John 14:28, “My Father is greater than I,” with the idea that he is God, and is entitled to worship. Some, indeed, dwell upon that text alone as sufficient to overthrow the idea of Christ’s divinity; but if that were allowed, it would only prove a contradiction in the Bible, and even in Christ’s own speech, for it is most positively declared, as we have seen, that he is divine. There are two facts which are amply sufficient to account for Christ’s statement recorded in John 14:28. One is that Christ is the Son of God. While both are of the same nature, the Father is first in point of time. He is also greater in that he had no beginning, while Christ’s personality had a beginning. Then, too, the statement is emphatically true in view of the position which Christ had assumed. He “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.” Phil. 2:7, Revised Version. He was “made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death.” Heb. 2:9. In order to redeem men, he had to come where they were. He did not lay aside his divinity, but he laid aside his glory, and veiled his divinity with humanity. So his statement, “My Father is greater than I,” is perfectly consistent with the claim, made by himself as well as by all who wrote of him, that he was and is God. (E. J. Waggoner, The Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, October 1, 1889)

Waggoner’s father also noted:

But of his Father, Jesus says, “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than I,” and, “My Father is greater than all.” John 10:29; 14:28. He is over all, the universal Father; he is even “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor. 11:31, etc. (J. H. Waggoner, From Eden to Eden, p. 250)

Elder James White emphatically wrote:

PAUL affirms of the Son of God that he was in the form of God, and that he was equal with God. “Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Phil. 2:6. The reason why it is not robbery for the Son to be equal with the Father is the fact that he is equal. If the Son is not equal with the Father, then it is robbery for him to rank himself with the Father.

The inexplicable trinity that makes the godhead three in one and one in three, is bad enough; but that ultra Unitarianism that makes Christ inferior to the Father is worse. Did God say to an inferior, “Let us make man in our image?” (James White, The Review and Herald, November 29, 1877)

Thus we have the records of Scripture, of Ellen White, and of the pioneers agreeing that, while Jesus was the only begotten Son of God, he was not a lesser god.

While we cannot deal with every statement that is in the book Evangelism on pages 614–617, due to space limitations, we should consider the Holy Spirit. Many believe, based upon some of Ellen White’s statements, that the Holy Spirit is a third God, coequal and coeternal with the Father and the Son and that the Holy Spirit plays the role of the omnipresence of the Godhead.

The understanding of the concept of spirit is imperative in this study.[13] As we have before, we will begin with the Bible and then follow this with the witness of the Spirit of Prophecy. We will explore more fully the biblical position than we have on other points up to now because of the depths of confusion on the matter.

The word spirit appears to many as a rather vague term. The problem is compounded by the translators of the King James Version using ghost ninety-eight times for the same word translated spirit. Let us first look at the term spirit in the Old Testament. The word spirit almost always comes from the Hebrew ruwach. Ruwach is defined in Strong’s Concordance as: wind; by resemblance breath, i.e. a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively, life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extension, a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions).” Besides spirit, some other translations of ruwach are air, anger, blast, breath, cool, courage, mind, quarter, side, tempest, wind, whirlwind. The lexiconist, Gesenius, devotes nearly a page and a half of his lexicon defining ruwach and giving the various nuances. (See Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, pp. 760, 761.)

The majority of cases involving ruwach relate it to breath or life. A word closely related to ruwach that is translated breath is neshamah. Neshamah is used in Genesis 2:7, where we read: And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath (neshamah) of life; and man became a living soul.” Neshamah is also translated spirit twice and souls once. Neshamah is used interchangeably with ruwach. Notice the parallelism:

By the blast (neshamah) of God they perish, and by the breath (ruwach) of his nostrils are they consumed. (Job 4:9)

All the while my breath (neshamah) is in me, and the spirit (ruwach) of God is in my nostrils. (Job 27:3)

The Spirit (ruwach) of God hath made me, and the breath (neshamah) of the Almighty hath given me life. (Job 33:4)

Other parallel usages shows these terms to be synonymous: the breath (neshamah) of life, Genesis 2:7; the breath (ruwach) of life, Genesis 6:17. These verses show spirit to be living, active, and full of life.

The Greek word translated spirit in the New Testament is pneuma. It is defined in Strong’s Concordance as: a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy Spirit.” This is very similar in concept to the Hebrew ruwach.

Both ruwach and pneuma carry the concept of mind or intellect. Isaiah 40:13 states: Who hath directed the Spirit (ruwach) of the LORD, or being his counselor hath taught him?” The Septuagint (LXX) reads: Who has known the mind (Greek: nous) of the Lord? and who has been his counselor, to instruct him?” Paul quotes this verse in Romans 11:34: For who hath known the mind (nous) of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor?” Here we see that both the translators of the LXX and Paul understood the concept of spirit and mind to be closely related.

However, spirit goes much further than just the concept of mind; it is the very essence of a being or the inner person. Suppose a person has become paralyzed and is lying in a bed unable to move or even to speak, though his mind and thoughts are clear. Is his paralyzed body the real essence of his person? Of course not! Twice Luke records that Jesus waxed strong in spirit” (Luke 1:80; 2:40). This is not speaking of a physical process but of the development of that aspect of a person that cannot be explained in physical terms. To illustrate this further, notice these words Paul wrote to the believers:

For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. (Colossians 2:5)

For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed. (1 Corinthians 5:3)

Words express the concepts of the mind and are defined by Jesus to be spirit. It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). This truth is taught by parallelism in Proverbs 1:23: Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.” The parallel is between spirit and words. Also, in Ezekiel we read: And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me” (Ezekiel 2:1, 2). Here we are told that the words God speaks and his Spirit that enters are synonymous.

The pouring out of God’s Spirit is often referred to as rain. Deuteronomy 32:2 states: My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.” Here God’s doctrine (his word) comes as the rain (Spirit). When God pours out his Spirit, he does it through words and concepts. This is why Ellen White describes the latter rain as greater light” in Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers on page 507.

This complements the scriptural teaching that calls Jesus the Word of God. Jesus stated that he came to deliver the word of God to men:

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:10)

Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. (John 8:28)

Man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), not only in character, but in form and feature” (White, The Great Controversy, p. 645). Does God have a physical form akin to man? Both Daniel and Ezekiel testify that he does:

I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. . . . I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. (Daniel 7:9, 13)

And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. (Ezekiel 1:26)

While we read that God has a physical form, there is another aspect to God. Jesus said: God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). God’s Spirit is his inner being, mind, thoughts, and personality which is not restricted to physical form. If God is a two-dimensional being, bodily form and spirit, then man, who is made in his image, is a two-dimensional being. Upon death, man’s spirit (breath) returns to God and is never consciously separate from his physical form. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul compares the divine Spirit with the human spirit:

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:10–16)

Even though God has a bodily presence, it is by his Spirit that God can be omnipresent. David wrote:

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. (Psalm 139:7, 8)

Here we see Hebrew parallelism in verse 7, with the terms spirit” and presence” used interchangeably. The Spirit of God is not an extra god, but the essence of his inner person, that aspect of God that is not in any manner physical. The term God the Holy Spirit is nowhere to be found in inspiration. Neither the Bible nor Sister White ever uses that term. It is a man-made term to promote the idea of a third person that is coequal and coeternal with God and Christ.

While the Bible does not speak of God the Holy Spirit, it does speak of the Spirit of God and of the Spirit of Christ:

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)

And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly. (1 Samuel 11:6)

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. (Job 33:4)

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (1 Peter 1:11)

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:9–11)

These usages are in the possessive form, with the last reference (Romans 8:9–11) using Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ interchangeably. God and his Son share the same Holy Spirit. Jesus said, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). Jesus said that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him because he had been anointed to preach the gospel. Jesus was set up [anointed] from everlasting” (Proverbs 8:23). The very term Christ means the Anointed One. God anointed Christ with his Spirit. This is why we are told in Philippians 2:5, Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” The mind or spirit that was in Christ was the mind (spirit) of the Father. In fact, Paul states that the Lord is that Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:17).

You might be thinking at this point, Wait, that is not what Ellen White said. I assure you that we will get to a lot more of what Ellen White said, but we have been following her counsel to go to the Bible first. Additionally, we have to have the proper hermeneutics in our study. One great principle of interpretation that Paul gives must be considered:

And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. (1 Corinthians 14:32)

What does this mean? Simply that the spirit or mind, the teachings and writings, of new prophets must be in agreement with the older established prophets. For example, the New Testament must be in agreement with the Old Testament, and it certainly is in agreement. Our application is that what Ellen White wrote is to be tested by the Bible and not the Bible tested by the writings of Ellen White. While we agree that they are in harmony, it is the Bible that is the foundation and the standard for interpretation. Ellen White was in perfect agreement with this:

The Spirit was not given—nor can it ever be bestowed—to supersede the Bible; for the Scriptures explicitly state that the word of God is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. Says the apostle John, “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1. And Isaiah declares, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20. (White, The Great Controversy, p. vii)

Interestingly the last quotation from Ellen White in Jeff Pippenger’s “The Godhead Controversy” study guide is:

Let the Bible decide every question that is essential to man’s salvation. (Ellen White, Medical Ministry, p. 97)

We have tried to begin in this exact place, but we will not stop there. No, we will also see more about what Ellen White said on these matters that will help to present a balanced view of the Holy Spirit. For example:

The Holy Spirit is Christ’s representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof. Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it was for their interest that He should go to the Father, and send the Spirit to be His successor on earth. (White, The Desire of Ages, p. 669)

Some believe that Ellen White taught that the Holy Spirit is a separate being other than and apart from the Father and his Son. However, the above statement makes no sense, if we believe the Holy Spirit to be someone apart from the Father or Son. This is because the statement says that the Holy Spirit was divested of the personality of humanity.” According to The American Heritage Dictionary, the word divest means to strip, to dispossess, to free of; to rid.” If the Holy Spirit is a being as the Father and Son are, it is certain that he never was a human, and it would, therefore, be impossible for him to strip or rid himself of humanity.

In addition to these statements, Sister White referred to the Holy Spirit as it, something she never did in reference to God or Christ.

The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, in Christ’s name. He personifies Christ, yet is a distinct personality. We may have the Holy Spirit if we ask for it and make it [a] habit to turn to and trust in God rather than in any finite human agent who may make mistakes. (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, p. 324)

Another statement that Jeff Pippenger considers from Evangelism is:

The Holy Spirit has a personality, else He could not bear witness to our spirits and with our spirits that we are the children of God. He must also be a divine person, else He could not search out the secrets which lie hidden in the mind of God. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (White, Evangelism, p. 617)

The key to understanding this statement is found in Sister White’s quotation of 1 Corinthians 2:11. This text, in essence, says that only man knows his spirit and only God knows his Spirit. In other words, man is to man’s spirit as God is to God’s Spirit. Nobody who properly understands the spirit of man would say that his spirit is a separate part or entity apart from himself. We also use the term spirit of Satan but never to say that there is another demon besides Lucifer that is separate and apart from him, doing an evil work. Ellen White, writing to Brother and Sister Haskell concerning the Holy Flesh movement in Indiana at the beginning of the twentieth century, noted:

I bore my Testimony, declaring that these fanatical movements, this din and noise, were inspired by the spirit of Satan, who was working miracles to deceive if possible the very elect. (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, p. 130; October 10, 1900)

In Early Writings, on page 56, Ellen White spoke of Satan breathing out his spirit as an unholy influence” upon those who failed to arise with Jesus as he went to the most holy place. In these usages of spirit for man or Satan, we would never think of the spirit being an entity apart from the individual. Due to false teachings about God, however, most are trained to automatically assume that when they read of God’s Spirit, it is referring to someone apart from the Father. If we simply understand the identity of God’s Spirit in a similar context to the way we understand the identity of man and the identity of man’s spirit, most of the problems quickly are solved. My spirit is my inner self, who I am, but it is not another individual in addition to me.

Another statement from Evangelism concerns the use of the term the three highest powers in heaven.”

We are to co-operate with the three highest powers in heaven,—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, —and these powers will work through us, making us workers together with God. (White, Evangelism. p. 617)

The background to this statement is important. Ellen White is writing concerning the Kellogg crisis and is encouraging her readers to remain faithful to the truths that had been held for fifty years. What was that faith? It certainly was not one that taught the Holy Spirit was a being or a person apart from the Father or Son. In connection with this statement of Ellen White, it is highly interesting to note a statement that Uriah Smith made fourteen years earlier at the 1891 General Conference Session. After sharing several Bible verses about the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ, he noted:

You will notice in these few verses the apostle brings to view the three great agencies which are concerned in this work: God, the Father; Christ, his Son; and the Holy Spirit. (Uriah Smith, General Conference Daily Bulletin, March 14, 1891, Volume 4, p. 147)

This statement is remarkable because Elder Smith explains that the pioneers understood the use of the term three great agencies” in a way that is in harmony with the teaching that the Holy Spirit is not a third, separate being but rather the Spirit of the Father and of his Son.

Furthermore, if the Holy Spirit were a person apart from the Father and the Son, how could Ellen White have written the following?

The Father and the Son alone are to be exalted. (White, The Youth’s Instructor, July 7, 1898)

[Christ was] . . . the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God. (White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34)

In this article we have no need or desire to cast any doubt of authenticity upon the statements of Ellen White in Evangelism. I accept them, but I also accept her other explicit statements that are often ignored. I believe in all of these statements and also believe that they are in harmony, if we understand them properly.

One statement that was not mentioned by Jeff Pippenger but that should be considered and is often used to quiet unwanted discussion on the Holy Spirit is found in Ellen White’s book, The Acts of the Apostles:

The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery. Men cannot explain it, because the Lord has not revealed it to them. Men having fanciful views may bring together passages of Scripture and put a human construction on them, but the acceptance of these views will not strengthen the church. Regarding such mysteries, which are too deep for human understanding, silence is golden. (Ellen White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 52)

It is important to know what this statement is saying, as well as what it is not saying. Ellen White plainly states that the nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery. This is true. No man can adequately even define the nature of his own spirit, let alone the nature of the Spirit of God. However, this statement does not say we cannot know the identity of the Holy Spirit. The basis for this statement in The Acts of the Apostles is a letter written to a Brother Chapman in 1891. Ellen White wrote to Brother Chapman in regard to his belief that the Holy Spirit was the angel Gabriel. She wrote, in part:

Your ideas of the two subjects you mention do not harmonize with the light which God has given me. The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery not clearly revealed, and you will never be able to explain it to others because the Lord has not revealed it to you. You may gather together scriptures and put your construction upon them, but the application is not correct. . . .

It is not essential for you to know and be able to define just what the Holy Spirit is. Christ tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, and the Comforter is the Holy Ghost, “the Spirit of truth, which the Father shall send in My name.” “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” [John 14:16, 17]. This refers to the omnipresence of the Spirit of Christ, called the Comforter. . . .

There are many mysteries which I do not seek to understand or to explain; they are too high for me, and too high for you. On some of these points, silence is golden. . . .

I hope that you will seek to be in harmony with the body. . . .

You need to come into harmony with your brethren. (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, pp. 179, 180; 1891)

Ellen White was encouraging Brother Chapman to come into line with what the brethren were teaching in 1891, which was the same truth that they believed in 1881, when Ellen White wrote:

It is as certain that we have the truth as that God lives; and Satan, with all his arts and hellish power, cannot change the truth of God into a lie. While the great adversary will try his utmost to make of none effect the word of God, truth must go forth as a lamp that burneth. (White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 595; written in 1881)

A study of Ellen White’s writings, allowing the weight of evidence” (White, The Desire of Ages, p. 458) to play its proper role, will allow the honest student to arrive at truth, just as the study of the Scriptures as a whole, is a perfect chain” (White, Early Writings. p. 221) of truth, providing the truth on any subject.

The alpha and omega

Although the author of “The Godhead Controversy” sermon does not explain what he believes the omega of deadly heresies to be, he brings up the issue because he says that the Godhead people believe it is the doctrine of the trinity. This is partly true but not the total picture. The alpha of deadly heresies was over the person and personality of God. There are numerous testimonies from Sister White to support this, and Jeff Pippenger even lists some in his PDF study guide. The omega, in its broad terms, is any false view on the person or personality of God. While we have dealt with this subject in detail in the book The Foundation of Our Faith, chapter 22, it should be noted that Dr. Kellogg attempted to use the testimonies to prove he was correct. Ellen White said he did not believe the testimonies. Dr. Kellogg stated that it was his acceptance of the trinitarian doctrine that helped him to see more clearly his position, which was one of pantheism.[14]

The platform of truth?

The bottom of page 307 and all of page 308 of Gospel Workers is quoted in the PDF study guide that Jeff Pippenger provides.[15] Some of the statements in this section are dwelt upon in the presentation made by Jeff Pippenger. The last paragraph should especially be noted:

I beseech those who are laboring for God not to accept the spurious for the genuine. Let not human reasoning be placed where sanctifying truth should be. Christ is waiting to kindle faith and love in the hearts of His people. Let not erroneous theories receive countenance from the people who ought to be standing firm on the platform of eternal truth. God calls upon us to hold firmly to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority. (Ellen White, Gospel Workers, p. 308 originally published in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 298; 1904; emphasis as given in “The Godhead Controversy” study guide)

We can certainly agree with this statement and especially with the parts emphasized. Human reasoning must go and a plain thus saith the Lord should direct all of our teachings. Furthermore, we are never to leave the platform of eternal truth. God has given his people a solid, immovable platform of truth. Ellen White noted, during the Kellogg crisis, that we had been on this platform for fifty years!

We are not to receive the words of those who come with a message that contradicts the special points of our faith. They gather together a mass of Scripture, and pile it as proof around their asserted theories. This has been done over and over again during the past fifty years. And while the Scriptures are God’s word, and are to be respected, the application of them, if such application moves one pillar from the foundation that God has sustained these fifty years, is a great mistake. He who makes such an application knows not the wonderful demonstration of the Holy Spirit that gave power and force to the past messages that have come to the people of God. (White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 161; 1905)

Here Ellen White strongly declares that the message they had been standing on for fifty years was truth. One of those pillars was the correct understanding of the Father and the Son:

Those who seek to remove the old landmarks are not holding fast; they are not remembering how they have received and heard. Those who try to bring in theories that would remove the pillars of our faith concerning the sanctuary or concerning the personality of God or of Christ are working as blind men. They are seeking to bring in uncertainties and to set the people of God adrift without an anchor. (White, Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 235; written in 1905)

Ellen White, in the same year in which she stated we had been holding the truth for fifty years (1905), said that the truth concerning the personality of God and of Christ was a pillar of our faith!

The last Ellen White quotations in Jeff Pippenger’s study guide come from Medical Ministry, pages 96–98.[16] It is too bad Jeff Pippenger did not dwell upon this statement in the quote:

Not one pillar of our faith is to be moved. Not one line of revealed truth is to be replaced by new and fanciful theories. (Ellen White, Medical Ministry, p. 96; 1903)

Did the pioneers ever have the truth about God?

If we can believe the plain statements of Scripture, if we can believe the prophecies that God would raise up a people to give the three angels’ messages in the last days, and if we can believe the testimonies of the Spirit of God, then we can believe that God, indeed, did give our pioneers truth, and that includes the truth about himself. We have noted Ellen White’s statement from volume eight of the Testimonies more than once, but let us notice some other testimonies that help us in this matter.

In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. 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. (Ellen White, Life Sketches, p. 196)

This statement was first written in a letter in 1892 and read at the General Conference Session of 1893. During the early 1890s, Ellen White believed in the teachings that God had given to his people.

Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayerful study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord. But the way-marks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His word and the testimony of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority. (White, Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 2, p. 59; 1904)

The fundamental principles about the Godhead, which the Advent people believed in 1904, were the same principles about the Godhead that had been published in 1872 and that continued in every statement of beliefs released during the lifetime of Ellen White.[17] The prophetess says that these principles were based upon unquestionable authority. If Jeff Pippenger believes in the Spirit of Prophecy, why does he question the authority of the fundamental principle on the Godhead? Some people might say that this is making of none effect the Spirit of Prophecy!

Also in Series B, No. 2, Ellen White noted:

As a people, we are to stand firm on the platform of eternal truth that has withstood test and trial. We are to hold to the sure pillars of our faith. The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation. They have made us what we are. The lapse of time has not lessened their value. (Ibid., p. 51)

As we noted earlier, Ellen White declared that the truth about God and about Christ were part of the pillars of our faith. In 1901, Ellen White wrote:

No line of truth that has made the Seventh-day Adventist people what they are is to be weakened. We have the old landmarks of truth, experience, and duty, and we are to stand firmly in defense of our principles, in full view of the world. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 17)

Notice Ellen White said, “We have the old landmarks of truth . . .” She did not say, I have the truth, and the others are in error. She claimed to be at one with the brethren in the old landmarks of truth.

I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, giving no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body. God looked upon them with approbation. I was shown three steps—the first, second, and third angels’ messages. Said my accompanying angel, “Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages. The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance. The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received.” I was again brought down through these messages, and saw how dearly the people of God had purchased their experience. It had been obtained through much suffering and severe conflict. God had led them along step by step, until He had placed them upon a solid, immovable platform. (White, Early Writings, pp. 258, 259; 1858)

Beloved, an angel straight from heaven pronounces a woe directly upon anyone who would move a pin of the truths God has given his people. This is serious! To change the truths that God has given his people would mean apostasy.

The Lord has declared that the history of the past shall be rehearsed as we enter upon the closing work. Every truth that He has given for these last days is to be proclaimed to the world. Every pillar that He has established is to be strengthened. We cannot now step off the foundation that God has established. We cannot now enter into any new organization; for this would mean apostasy from the truth.—Manuscript 129, 1905. (Ellen White, Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 390)

Here Ellen White speaks of apostasy, but she is not saying the church went into apostasy in 1863 or even in 1905. She is saying, rather, that to change the teachings of that time and the work of the prior half century would be apostasy!

Some might be tempted to say that God did not give the Advent people the truth about himself, and that it was not a part of what Sister White meant. That, however, is a very naïve statement. We have seen many clear statements in which Ellen White declared to believe and to teach the same truths as the pioneers and that she had believed and had taught them for at least fifty years! She said that it was as sure as God lives that we (she and the brethren) had the truth and that we (she and the brethren) had the old platform of truth.

How could Ellen White make such statements, if she and the pioneers did not already have the truth? She does not make space in her mind for the need for a great reformation in our teachings; rather, she asks a penetrating question:

We have a truth that admits of no compromise. Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth? (White, Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 2, p. 55; 1904)

Summation

It would be beyond the scope of this paper to write a detailed response to every point made in Jeff Pippenger’s hour-plus presentation, but within this article we have followed Ellen White’s counsel to go first to the Bible and its teachings on a subject. After doing this, we have considered many statements of Ellen White and have even reviewed the third witness of our pioneers, where space has allowed.

We have seen that God has given our people truth, solid and immovable. Ellen White, in different times and in divers manners, stated that God had given the truth to his people and that they were not to move a pin or a pillar of that truth.

Just as the New Testament conforms to the Old Testament and is tested by it, Ellen White’s later writings should and can be confirmed and tested by her earlier writings. Where Spirit of Prophecy statements appear to disagree, we are to study carefully and bring the later writings into harmony with what has been previously given and clearly understood by the body. Just because the writings appear to speak differently to some people, we are not to claim new revelations have come, but, rather, we are to try to harmonize all the writings.

Ellen White, testifying of her condition from 1847 to 1850, said her mind was locked[18]until all the principal points of our faith were made clear” (White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 207). She testifies that her mind was unlocked after her visit with Brother Andrews in December 1850;[19] therefore, the main points of our faith were established by December 1850. Thus, we received as a people a line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God” (White, Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 2, p. 57).

Beloved, while “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18), new light will never contradict established truth. God has given us “a line of truth extending . . . to the time when we shall enter the city of God.” Shall we not cherish that truth and live by that truth? The truth matters, for it is by the truth that we are sanctified (John 17:17).

Allen Stump

[1]. Sometimes this movement is called the non-trinitarian movement, but this does not properly do justice to the movement, for stating what one is against does not properly represent what one stands for.

[2]. See http://catholicbridge.com/catholic/list_of_heresies.php

[3]. For a detailed explanation of accepting 1 John 5:7, 8 as a part of the Bible, please see The Foundation of Our Faith, pages 171–173.

[4]. That means being honest with all the data. See accompany article entitled “Fact Checking.”

[5]. “The testimonies themselves will be the key that will explain the messages given, as scripture is explained by scripture” (Ellen White, Selected messages, bk. 1, p. 42).

[6]. The book Questions on Doctrine is the best example of making the writings of Ellen White of none effect, while voluminously quoting her writings and claiming to strongly believe them.

[7]. For further information on the charge of apostasy, please see “Fact Checking” in this issue.

[8]. For example, see Christ our Righteousness, pp. 10–27 by Waggoner and The Two Republics, pp. 590, 801 by Jones.

[9]. There is also a hexachrome process, where a green and an orange are added to expand the color gamut for better color reproduction.

[10]. For example, The Lexham Bible, HCSB, NIV, etc.

[11]. Some day we shall be immortal and have eternal life, yet our lives have had a beginning and our immortality will be given to us of God. The same could be said about the loyal angels.

[12]. For a detailed history of the origin of the “original, unborrowed, underived” statement, please see chapter 9 in The Foundation of Our Faith.

[13]. There is factual evidence that one of the major statements of Ellen White used to teach a false view on the Holy Spirit has been tampered with; however, we will NOT use this evidence in this study. See The Foundation of Our Faith, pages 193–196, 252 for details.

[14]. See The Foundation of Our Faith, chapter 22, for further documentation.

[15]. Incorrectly referenced in the guide as pages 308 and 309

[16]. Incorrectly referenced in the guide as pages 96 and 97

[17]. The same statement was released in the original 1872 tract, in an editorial in the first issue (1874) of The Signs of the Times, in the 1894 statement by the Battle Creek Church, and in every Yearbook that had a published statement during Ellen White’s lifetime (1889, 1905, 1907–1914).

[18]. See Manuscript Releases, Volume 3, pages 413, 414; MS 135 in 1903.

[19]. See Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 2, pages 57, 58; 1904.


Fact Checking

Fact checking is defined as “the act of checking factual assertions in non-fictional text in order to determine the veracity and correctness of the factual statements in the text” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact_checking). Today there is a great host of misinformation being spread, especially on the Internet, and fact-checking organizations have arisen to try to separate fact from fiction. United States President Donald Trump has been the focus of several investigations. President Trump has become well known for misstating what he calls facts.[1] For example:

Black home ownership just hit the highest level it has ever been in the history of our country. (Pensacola, Florida – Friday, December 8, 2017, https://www.factcheck.org/2017/12/trumps-false-black-home-ownership-claim/)

While President Trump claims home ownership among African-Americans to be at a high, according to C-Span, “it’s fallen to lowest level since 1970s” (https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4697295/trump-lies-black-homeownership). Several other sources give the same appraisal of his statement.[2]

In our connected world today, when more information is available more than ever before, there is also misinformation available more than ever before. Statements and claims, sometimes very fantastic ones, are made in videos or on the Internet, and then they are accepted as fact as they are spread through Facebook, emails, and Twitter. But lies are not truth, and telling a falsehood does not make it truth, even if done with honest intentions. Instead of facts and documentation, hearsay and rumors are presented and many times believed, without checking to see if they are true.

Basic documentation is defined as “the act or an instance of furnishing or authenticating with documents” (Merriam–Webster Dictionary). Simply put, to document a statement is to have documents or incontrovertible facts, which prove the statement. Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” When extraordinary claims are made, it is reasonable to expect evidence or facts to back them up. While listening to “The Godhead Controversy” sermon, in preparation for the article, “Setting the Record Straight,” I heard some things that I consider extraordinary claims. One should have provided some evidence for such claims, even if not extraordinary evidence. In “Setting the Record Straight,” we noted the misinformation of the trinitarian doctrine the presenter gave, but that was not the end of such extraordinary claims.[3]

The speaker of “The Godhead Contrversy” video stated:

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been going further and further into apostasy since 1863. (Jeff Pippenger, “The Godhead Controversy” video, at approximately 16:03)

Apostasy is a falling away from truth. The author of the study implies that in 1863 the pioneers were beginning a process of falling away from the truth. What was the most notable historical event among our people in 1863? On May 21, 1863, the brethren met in Battle Creek to begin forming the General Conference. It is of interest to note that Uriah Smith wrote a short report about the unity and the atmosphere of the conference. We quote a portion of his report:

We can say to the readers of the Review, Think of everything good that has been written of every previous meeting, and apply it to this. All this would be true, and more than this. Perhaps no previous meeting that we have ever enjoyed, was characterized by such unity of feeling and harmony of sentiment. In all the important steps taken at this Conference, in the organization of a General Conference, and the further perfecting of State Conference, defining the authority of each, and the important duties belonging to their various officers, there was not a dissenting voice, and we may reasonably doubt if there was even a dissenting thought. Such union, on such points, affords the strongest grounds of hope for the immediate advancement of the cause, and its future glorious prosperity and triumph.

The influence of this meeting cannot fail to be good. We are certain that those who were present, as they look back upon the occasion, will not be able to discover an unpleasant feature. And as they separated to go to their homes, courage and good cheer seemed to be the unanimous feelings. (Uriah Smith, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, May 26, 1863)

Ellen White never condemned the brethren at this time nor implied that they were in apostasy in any way. If Jeff Pippenger believes that the church was in apostasy then, he should give inspired evidence to document that charge.

Later in his presentation, Jeff Pippenger continues his damnation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church by stating:

It [the Seventh-day Adventist Church] joined the World Council of Church [sic] and for decades insisted that all it was, was a— there’s a word that they had for it, uh, someone that just is there watching what’s going on, and there’s a word— observer! Observer! And like twenty-five years after they held to that claim, then they got into the bylaws of the World Council of Churches, and an observer status means you’re a full voting member. So they’ve been a full voting member of the ecumenical movement for decades. (Pippenger, “The Godhead Controversy” video at approximately 18:08)

Let us check the facts of this statement. The World Council of Churches makes its Constitution and Rules available as a downloadable PDF from its website.[4] These rules explain how the organization is run. There is, indeed, provision made for observers. The Constitution states:

Delegated observers: The central committee may invite persons officially designated as delegated observers by non-member churches. (Article IV, Part 1, Section b, Subsection vi)

Immediately following this, in Section c, we read:

c. Persons without the right to speak or to participate in decision-making

The central committee may invite to attend the meetings of the assembly without the right to speak or to participate in decision-making:

i. Observers: Persons identified with organizations with which the World Council of Churches maintains relationship which are not represented by delegated representatives or with non-member churches which are not represented by delegated observers.

While the Adventist Church has admitted to having observers at the World Council of Churches, they are NOT members nor voters on the council.

Furthermore, a list of the member churches fails[5] to include the Seventh-day Adventist Church or any group of Adventists. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” or at least some evidence, but here none is given. We, as Adventists, deny the papal doctrine of ex cathedra, where the pope speaks officially on spiritual matters and is supposed to be infallible. Certainly we should not hold our ministers to less accountability! Just because someone says something is so does not make it so!

Another claim made is that “ADRA is governed through the United Nations” (Pippenger; 18:49). This is an extraordinary claim. Jeff Pippenger goes on to state that the United Nations is the dragon power at the end of the world and is the evil confederacy of Isaiah 8 with which we are not to associate.

I called ADRA to confirm if this were so or not, but nobody I could speak with knew anything of this claim. On the ADRA website, I did find this statement:

For decades, ADRA has maintained a strong partnership with agencies of the United Nations. By supporting UN initiatives and implementing programs on the ground, ADRA and the UN work jointly to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. Through our membership in the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), we participate in discussions on innovative thinking and sustainable development.

Throughout the years, ADRA has forged partnerships with the WFP,  UNHCR, WHO, UNICEF, and other UN Agencies. Together we reached 2,441,270 people around the world in 2016 alone. (https://adra.org/about-adra/corporate-information)

While one may not like ADRA working in partnership with agencies of the United Nations or supporting UN initiatives or being a member on councils, this is not the same as being governed through the United Nations.

I am reminded of the old story of the boy who cried “wolf.”

The tale concerns a shepherd boy who repeatedly tricks nearby villagers into thinking wolves are attacking his flock. When a wolf actually does appear and the boy again calls for help, the villagers believe that it is another false alarm and the sheep are eaten by the wolf. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boy_Who_Cried_Wolf)

When one repeatedly gives false information, it becomes hard to believe anything the person proclaims. The known errors make all that is said suspect. When ministers repeatedly state misinformation as truth, the laity finally hear them crying wolf, when there is none.

As Christians who claim to follow “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), we should be a people of truth. Colossians 3:9 tells us to “lie not to one another,” and James 3:14 tells us to “lie not against the truth.”

The Bible has little to say about the 144,000, but one point is very clear:

And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. (Revelation 14:5)

There is no guile or deceit found in their mouths or speech. “Let us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand” (Ellen White, The Review and Herald, March 9, 1905).

Allen Stump

[1]. This is not to be considered an anti-Trump article, but we simply use Mr. Trump because he is arguably the best known example for spreading misinformation.

[2]. http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/statements/byruling/false/, https://www.factcheck.org/2017/12/trumps-false-black-home-ownership-claim/

[3]. We also noted some Spirit of Prophecy references that were incorrectly referenced. This was not done in any way to cast a shadow upon the author but only so that the reader can properly find the statements. Even with the best proofreading, these kinds of errors can happen.

[4]. https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/assembly/2013-busan/adopted-documents-statements/wcc-constitution-and-rules

[5]. https://www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches


Youth’s Corner —The Building of the “Messenger”

(Chapter 5 of Cannibals of Head-Hunters of the South Seas, by Charles H. Watson, published in 1926 by the Review and Herald Publishing Association)

The story of our mission work in the South Seas is full of adventure and daring. And as it unfolds in the pages of this volume, it will take us to wild shores, among savage, cannibal people, but it begins at Pitcairn, the Lone Isle of the Sea. And even there it will tell of unusual daring on the part of our missionaries.

From the time that John I. Tay, our first missionary to the South Seas, after an adventurous voyage, landed on its rugged shores and sent word back to his homeland that the entire community had begun to keep the Sabbath of the Lord, our church in the homeland has been intensely interested in the great island mission field of the South Pacific.

In the course of time the “Pitcairn,” our first mission ship, was built by the Sabbath schools of North America, and started on a long cruise to Pitcairn and other far-off lands. The missionaries aboard were A. J. Read, E. H. Gates, and J. I. Tay, with their wives. The voyage was, on the whole, a pleasant one, and when at last the ship arrived off the island, she was greeted with great joy by all the people. Happy days were spent in the study of God’s word, and then sixty-four of the natives were baptized by the missionaries.

This baptism was a wonderfully impressive scene. The great ocean waves were breaking too heavily to allow the service to take place in the sea, but the tide had prepared a clear pool at the foot of the cliffs, which echoed the songs of the entire population as these sons and daughters of Pitcairn were buried in the water with their Lord.

Joyous were the hours of service given every day by the missionaries, and bountiful indeed was the harvest gathered to the glory of God. Everywhere the praises of a redeemed people rang out in gladness. And the old crags and cliffs which once witnessed the dark deeds done in the land, echoed the music of hearts that hoped in God for a part in the life eternal.

At last the time arrived for the departure of the missionaries. Pitcairn in its charm and loneliness had definitely linked their thoughts with the Paradise that awaits the overcomer when this life is over. And they would fain have lingered. But their purpose was to sail on to other lands. As the ship once more spread her sails to the breeze, they gave thanks with faces turned toward Pitcairn, for the wonderful results which had attended their efforts for this remarkable people.

As the years rolled on, it became more and more evident that more frequent communication with the rest of the world was desirable for the population of the place. Since the “Bounty” had been burned by the mutineers, they had never owned a boat large enough to sail over the hundreds of miles of blue ocean between them and the nearest land.

A few years ago their missionary, Mr. Adams, conceived the idea that a schooner could be built upon the island, with which they could sail the sea. Almost insurmountable difficulties must be encountered in the undertaking, and having neither iron nor rope nor cloth, and very few tools, it is no wonder that many of the people thought the task to be quite impossible. Led by Mr. Adams, they decided to begin the work, trusting God to supply them with all they needed. The men gathered in companies, one for hewing, another for hauling, another for sawing, and still another for making sails. The first piece of timber needed was for the keel, but the Lord had made provision for this twenty-five years before, when one of the men visited Australia, the home of the tall eucalyptus tree. Returning to Pitcairn, he carried with him two seeds of the loftiest variety of the eucalyptus. These he planted in Pitcairn, and one of these seeds had grown to be a great tree, the only one of its kind on Pitcairn, and the pride of the island.

The islanders gladly sacrificed it to provide a keel for their vessel, and the day before it was felled they came to take a last look at their beloved tree. Its vast length furnished a splendid keel, but as there were neither horses nor cattle on the island, it was hauled to the place of building only with very great effort.

The only materials that Pitcairn was able to contribute toward the building of the vessel were timber and labor.

Nails, iron, paint, ropes, canvas, and many other things were needed, but for all these the islanders were trusting God. He must send ships whose officers would be willing to contribute the things which they lacked.

For thirteen months the work of building was carried on, still during that time their faith was often very sorely tried, but in every emergency and for every demand they found God ready to supply every need. The work was barely started when the builders discovered that they could not proceed till they had obtained some of these needed things. So just one week after the work began, Mr. Adams called for a season of prayer throughout the whole island. The people united as one person in beseeching God to send a ship that would bring them needed help. Another week had not passed before the smoke of a steamship was seen on the horizon, and soon she was observed coming directly to the land.

On her arrival, Mr. Adams despatched a letter to the captain, describing the work and soliciting his interest. To the great delight of all those who had taken part in the prayer season, a large quantity of material was received, and in addition to this a fine compass and a $5 gold piece as a special gift to the people of Pitcairn. The kindness of this good captain wonderfully cheered the hearts of the poor islanders, and from that time on there was no lack of material for the work in hand. Indeed, during the remainder of the time of building, the work never ceased for want of material.

A large steamer from London on its way to New Zealand through the Panama Canal, called at the island. The captain spent a few hours on shore, and became interested in their efforts to construct such a boat. On returning to his ship, he was accompanied by Mr. Adams. As they visited in the chart-room, Mr. Adams saw on the bridge near the chart- room door a small anchor-—just the size needed for the vessel he was building. As he was leaving the ship, the captain said, “I’ve been thinking of that anchor and your need of it. Permit me to present it to you as a gift from my company.”

Again, when the builders had almost completed the vessel, and were beginning to question the advisability of attempting to navigate without a sextant, a steamboat visited the island. Mr. Adams spoke to its captain of their great need of this instrument, requesting him to assist them by a gift. At first the captain said that the ship did not possess a spare sextant, and he could do nothing for them. But later he remarked. “I have been thinking of your proposed voyage to Tahiti, and the tremendous risk you will incur without a sextant. I have decided to give you one that I have which belonged to my father, who is now dead. I would never think of parting with it for any consideration, but knowing your position and desiring to assist in your noble efforts to help this people, I shall he happy if you will allow me to give it to you, and thus make your attempt to navigate the seas a little more safe.”

So by the great goodness of God the schooner was built, and the people began to make ready for launching the vessel. This proved to be a difficult and dangerous undertaking for these bold builders and navigators. They were almost without facilities for the task, and the rock-strewn shore provided no sheltered nook where the vessel might be safely launched, but still trusting in God who had so wonderfully helped them in the work of building, they placed some long cocoanut tiers on the shore, and with them made a rough slip along which the little ship could glide into the water.

An anchor was made fast in the rocks at the bottom of the bay, and a strong rope, with blocks and tackle, was attached to it. This was to be used to draw the schooner over the logs into the water. To the other end of the vessel an equally strong line was fastened. This was passed round several trees on the shore, and was used to prevent the boat from speeding too rapidly down to the sea.

Every man, woman, and child was at the landing, each eager to have a part in the launching. Anxious eyes were fixed on the waves as they came rolling shoreward, and earnest questions were asked and doubts arose as to the advisability of the undertaking at that particular time. But at last all was ready, and the men began to haul on the ropes that moved the schooner seaward. At first everything went well, but when half the distance to the water had been passed, the shore line parted, and the vessel plunged headlong down the slip, gathering force as she went.

Powerless to prevent what followed, the poor islanders were compelled to stand helplessly by as the object of their labor through many months raced madly to what seemed to be sure destruction. Leaping into the water and striking with great force upon a ledge of rock, the boat was caught by a mighty, sweeping wave, and rolled upon the rocks. In a moment all the glad hopes that had supported them through months of ceaseless effort were dashed to the ground, and the people stood helplessly wringing their hands or aimlessly running to and fro. Not so with Mr. Adams, however. Hurriedly gathering the men to assist, they called upon God who had helped them so wonderfully till then, and went to the perilous task of rescuing the ship. By tremendous effort she was at last “righted” and towed into the deep water, where she was anchored for examination.

It did not take long to discover that she was leaking badly. Her rudder was broken, and about fifteen feet of her false keel were gone. Undaunted by the extent of the damage, Mr. Adams encouraged his people to believe in God and bravely set himself to the task of stopping the leaks.

One week later the anchor was lifted, and the ship, though still leaking badly, sailed away for Mangareva, an island 300 miles distant. Fair winds carried her over beautiful seas toward her desired haven, and it seemed that she would soon be at Mangareva. There the leaks would be stopped and the damage repaired.

But they were not to see their island home again till many weeks had passed. In storm and tempest, in a frail, leaking bark, they were yet to learn that God is able to deliver.

To be continued


Asia Mission Trip

by David and Marrah Sims

The instigation of the mission trip

My wife, Marrah, has a friend whom she met at the Adventist college in Mindanao, Philippines, who majored in theology. He graduated one and a half years ago and has been pastoring in Cambodia, but communications Marrah had received from him recently hinted that he had been so busy in his work for Christ that he was failing to take time for Christ, failing to spend time in meditating on his life and in reading his word. Marrah had a burden for him and began praying more for him. One day while Marrah was at home with the children in the Philippines and I was on a mission trip to Europe, she received an advertising promotion from an airline company about a sale on flights for Malaysia, which is not far from Cambodia. This reminded her of her friend. She was impressed that we needed to visit him to encourage him. She instant messaged her thoughts to me. Though surprised, I was impressed, after a silent prayer, that this was of the Lord, but always tending to the cautious side, I said, “Let’s pray about it.” After praying, Marrah spoke with her sister, who told her about a new believer she had met recently in Malaysia who had been feeling all alone, like the prophet Elijah. This inspired the thought that perhaps we should not only visit Cambodia but, while passing through Malaysia, spend some time there as well. Shortly after, when sending an encouraging instant message to her friend in Cambodia, he surprisingly was online and responded. This led to a conversation, and Marrah became convinced that we were needed there. We decided that now was the time to schedule a trip to see him.

Just after I returned from my trip to Europe, we had time to go to a camp meeting on another island in the Philippines and then to pack and get ready for our trip to Cambodia, which by this time had grown into a mission trip to three countries in Asia. We had decided to take the opportunity to try to share the truth in other nearby countries, while we were in the vicinity, and the Lord opened the way for us to get some contacts. I was impressed to send an announcement to some of the elders in this movement concerning our scheduled trip, hoping that if anyone had any contacts in those countries, they would share them with us. I do not usually do this, and, as an experience related below reveals, this turned out to be directed by the Lord.

Malaysia

Arriving in Malaysia on October 15, we found a room in a hostel, with a shared bathroom and with pretty basic accommodations, which turned out to be just where God wanted us to be, as we ended up meeting people, giving us opportunity to share. There was a French student who lived for three years in Mauritius and is familiar with the neighboring island Reunion, where I would be going next. He gave us some information about the travel between the two islands and volunteered to answer any questions if any were to arise. We exchanged contact information. A Chinese student we became acquainted with was able to help open the door for us, when we accidentally left our keys in our room.

We contacted an Seventh-day Adventist brother in a distant city (referred to us by Marrah’s sister), with whom we hoped to meet and share more of the knowledge of God. We will call him Ian. He invited us to come over to stay in their resort, though he was to leave in a couple of days to start a new job as a hospital physician on another island. We found in him one who has the hospitality of Abraham and Lot, revealing that attribute that should characterize all of Christ’s believers. “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). That same night we took the night bus and arrived early in the morning at their place. It was a very delightful and surprising stay, as we were able not only to share with him but also to meet his parents and to meet and become acquainted with some guest tourists he had also invited to stay at their place.

This also came to us as an answer to a prayer we had previously lifted up to the Lord that we would be able to have a couple of days of rest. We had a couple of days to relax, to view the ocean, to kayak on the ocean, and to hike in nature and see wild monkeys, sea tortoises, six foot water monitor lizards, etc. Due to our busy schedule, we had been unable to prepare enough for an upcoming week of prayer, and, though we were really able to get much needed rest, we also were able to prepare messages that we would be sharing on the rest of the trip. It is an important duty for God’s servants at times to come apart and rest awhile and take time for their own souls.

Malaysia - vegetarian tourists edited.jpgWe had a lovely time at the breakfast table, sharing experiences with the tourists. Four of them were vegetarians, and one of them was a vegan yoga teacher. They were all very friendly. We shared with them my book (Bible Studies To Do at Home), praying that it will become a means of their seeking the Saviour. They were really appreciative and interested to receive the book. Ian, on several occasions, would come into the dining hall and play hymns on the piano and at times sing. The unbelieving guests were charmed, as they listened to the beautiful music.

We were praying for an opportunity to share with Ian, realizing that he was busily preparing to leave. When God answered our prayer, we learned that he had initially had a prejudice against these teachings concerning God, but the Holy Spirit touched his heart, while we were sharing with him. He acknowledged that he had learned some new things about this subject, some things that he needs to think about. We left some material with him. Please pray for this godly brother.

While hiking one day, we met a company of four young people looking very worried, for one of their members was sprawled out on the trail, almost unconscious. We tried to be a help to them by giving first aid. On our way back an interesting event happened that gave us an opportunity to share my book with a group of hikers.

Marrah writes: Along the hiking trail are sheds, where people can sit down and rest when tired. We were walking at a slow pace, so we were not making use of them. About halfway along the trail, however, seeing a shed, I suggested to David that we stop at it. I was not tired but something just impressed me to want to stop. As I was about to sit down on the bench, I saw something black and shiny on the ground. It was a smart phone! We picked it up and left immediately, intending to give it to the guard in the entrance. About ten minutes later, however, we saw a group of three people going opposite to our direction. One of them looked familiar, so I asked where they were going. “We need to go back to get something” They were hesitant to be specific with me, but I had a feeling they were looking for something we had already found. So, I pressed for some information until I was sure that one of them was the owner of the smart phone. They were very grateful to get the phone back, and we had a pleasant chat while walking back to the highway.

We also met with the only fellow believer that we know of in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The meeting was to him an encouragement, as he said that sometimes he felt like Elijah, the only one zealously advocating this truth. We reminded him that there may be seven thousand people in this place whose knees have not bowed down to Baal. He wanted to know if there is a school managed by people in this movement, where he can send his daughter. Sadly, we could not give him an affirmative answer.

Cambodia and more next month


Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, 750 Smyrna Road, Welch, WV 24801–9606 U. S. A. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our website. The url is: http://www.smyrna.org. Phone: (304) 732–9204. Fax: (304) 732–7322.

Editor Allen Stump—editor@smyrna.org
Associate Editor Onycha Holt—onycha@smyrna.org