BY LOUIS T. TALBOT, CHANCELLOR
BIBLE INSTITUTE OF LOS ANGELES
Reprinted from The Kings Business, April, 1957
The following letter to the editor of The King’s Business, written by an un-named former Seventh- day Adventist, introduced Talbot’s article when it was first published in 1957. Based on the mail we receive (at Life Assurance Ministries, this letter could have been written this year.
Sirs: I was a Seventh-day Adventist for 29 years, but I became dissatisfied with so much unhappiness that my hus-band and I and our four children began going elsewhere in search for something better. Just the two older children and I were members. They got so they wouldn’t go to church any more. Then two years ago we were all con- verted and became members of a Conservative Baptist church.
God has greatly blessed us as we labor for Him together. It is indeed wonderful to know that one is saved now and not have to wait till Jesus comes to know whether you will be or not.
We have met with plenty of opposition both from my family and the SDA church. But God has seen us through every trial and given us the words to speak. It has meant real Bible study on our part in order to cope with the many questions and accusations that have come to us.
The recent articles in Eternity have been disgusting to us. Someone sends a Review & Herald [the official Adventist magazine written for members] to me once in awhile, and they still print the very things Eternity says they now deny. I have known some pretty disgusting things and beliefs that have gone on in the SDA church since I was 16. I only wish I had the nerve to leave it long ago. We children were always afraid to go against our parents’ wishes.
The Adventists are so filled up with Mrs. White’s interpretations that they will only read what she prescribes for them to read and seem afraid to read before and after to find the real meaning of a verse.
I was impressed to speak to my brother and sister-in-law only recently. They seemed so unhappy. They said they have always felt empty…just like something was missing. The sister-in-law is now ready to step out, but my brother is afraid. They, too, were told that all they had to worry about was keeping the law, and we weren’t to have any feeling. If we did, it was spiritualism working in us. Believe me, you know when you are saved and have Christ as your Savior, and you don’t need someone to tell you.
Before two years ago I wouldn’t listen to my husband when he read the Bible until one day he read to me Galatians 5:4. I began to see the light and began to do some studying on my own. It’s all so wonderful I want to shout His praises to all. (The writer’s name was withheld by the editors)
Readers of The King’s Business are well acquainted with the stand of this magazine on false religious systems, also that of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, Inc., of which it is the official publication. Since its first issue in 1910, this periodical has accepted the responsibility not only to declare (to the best of its ability) “the whole counsel of God” in its purity, but also to obey 1 John 4:1 and 2 John 19, 11: “…believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine [the doctrine of Christ], receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”
This position of fidelity to scriptural counsel has involved the exposure of false teaching in the light of God’s Word. In following this course The King’s Business has had “good company” in the persons of some of the most gifted Bible teachers the Lord ever gave His church—such stalwarts of the faith as I. M. Haldeman, C. I. Scofield, A. C. Gaebelein, W. G. Moorehead, W. L. Pettingill, J. M. Gray, A. T. Pierson, W. E. Biederwolf, and a host of others now with the Lord.
But since God never leaves Himself without witness in any respect, present-day expositors of the Word such as Martin R. DeHaan,Charles E. Fuller, Wilbur M. Smith, William Culbertson, John R. Rice, John. F. Walvoord, Charles L. Feinberg, and many others are following in the train of these giants of the past generation in this dual ministry of proclaiming truth and disclosing error under the lens of Holy Writ.
Cult exposé important phase of ministry
My own “cult ministry” (not by any means the major part or the most enjoyable aspect either of the labors the Lord has committed to my hands) came into being in 1932 when I was called as pastor of the historic Church of the Open Door in downtown Los Angeles, which city was then fast becoming known as “the cult center of America.” I shortly discovered that I should have to do something about the unscriptural systems of religion which were encroaching upon the Body of Christ, confusing and leading astray many of the lambs of the flock.
To refute these false doctrines, I did not rely upon books written by others, however good they might be; but I went directly to the headwaters of this flood of heresy, that is, to the books and other writings of the founders and leaders of these systems. I prepared hundreds of slides, using quotations verbatim from these authoritative writings and in “lecturing upon the cults” threw on the screen these statements side by side with the scriptural passages which proved them false. God was pleased to bless this method in a marked way, and to His glory I am glad to say that many were led out of these entanglements into the life of faith in Christ.
The statements from their own books could not be gainsaid by adherents of these systems. Sometimes many were present in my meetings, not only in the Church of the Open Door but also in churches throughout the country and occasionally delegations from these sects would wait upon me after the services to take me to task for my preaching. However, since it was God’s Word I was proclaiming, it was not hard to defend my position; it was not with me they were arguing but with the Bible.
But please note this, my friends: In all the 25 years of this unique and sometimes disagreeable ministry of exposÈs of false teaching, I have never been accused by the adherents of these sects of misrepresenting their teachings. How could I be? I quoted from the writings of their own fully accepted leaders and their own official publications put out by their own well-established publishing houses. Of course, frequently I was told by these followers of false systems that I was wholly wrong in my view; that I did not comprehend their teachings; that the Bible was not the only authority because “later light” had been revealed to certain men—and women. But I was not charged with failure to state truly what they believed and taught.
At the urgent request of friends who had heard these messages, The King’s Business asked me to publish them and the series ran in 1954-1955, after which the articles were printed in booklets. These exposÈs are not literary masterpieces but they do contain the essence of the teachings of these systems, corroborated by quotations from their own writers. They were prepared for distribution to friends, relatives and acquaintances confused by these cults; brief, that “he who runs may read.”
I reluctantly make these personal references for two reasons: 1) to assure the readers that I am not a novice when it comes to studying the “textbooks” and to dealing personally with followers of these false religions; and 2) to explain why I am again writing on this subject with which I thought I had concluded in 1955.
Urged to reply to magazine articles
Since that time evangelical circles have become disturbed over what appears as a phenomenon: The hitherto highly-regarded Eternity magazine devoted much of its space in its September, October, November 1956 and January 1957 issues to a defense of one of these systems, Seventh-day Adventism, declaring it to be an evangelical denomination and insisting therefore that, as a Christian body, it should be received as part of the true Church of Christ.
These articles were no surprise to me, for the editor-in-chief of Eternity magazine (a personal friend of many years) had advised me in advance of his plan to publish them. I tried most energetically to dissuade him from this course but he did not see it that way; and, of course, it is his right to employ the columns of his publication as he wishes. This decision on his part saddened me greatly for I feel that this espousal of a system so full of heresy will hinder greatly those who are attempting to enlighten others as to the truth of God regarding the way of salvation by grace alone. It will also lessen the prestige of Eternity magazine among evangelicals where it has always enjoyed an enviable reputation for faithfulness to the Word.
Since the release of the articles in Eternity, I have been besieged with requests to reply to them. That is why I again take up the subject of Seventh-day Adventism.
Let me state first, without equivocation, that I believe these editors who are thus interpreting present-day Seventh-day Adventism as “evangelical” and advocating that the Christian church should receive its adherents with all of their heresies as “brethren beloved,” are utterly wrong, both in their methods and in their conclusions.
By methods, I mean this: It is claimed by Eternity magazine editors that Seventh-day Adventism has abandoned many of its old beliefs, and that “sometime in 1957” a book is to be published by top Seventh-day Adventist leaders, setting forth the “new Adventism.” Well, even if this is the case, why should an evangelical magazine take upon itself the responsibility of speaking for the sect? Why should not the published statements regarding promised alterations in its creed come first from the official heads of the sect? And while these Seventh-day Adventist officials are the proper spokesmen for a new position (if there is actually to be any) these views must be ratified by the hundreds of individual Adventist churches before they can be considered as representative Seventh-day Adventism. One book—or a dozen books—are not going to change the minds of those who have been indoctrinated with their teachings for more than half a century.
To those who have any acquaintance with this sect, it has been obvious for many years that Seventh-day Adventism is most eager for the approval of evangelicals in order to propagandize its own peculiar “message.”(What this “message” actually is will become evident as we continue these articles.) Take for instance, this statement which appeared in the Signs of the Times, an official Adventist publication, for October 2, 1956 under the heading, “Adventists Vindicated,” in which the Eternity articles are discussed:
“As to the effect of Dr. Barnhouse’s courageous reappraisal of Seventh-day Adventism, we are convinced that it will not only create a sensation in evangelical circles, but will lead thousands of the best people in all denominations to restudy the ‘message’ which Seventh-day Adventists feel called to give to the world in these last days.”
Please note that it is here claimed that “Adventists [are] Vindicated” as they are at present, not as they are to be when they make the changes that the leaders have told the Eternity editors they are going to make and these editors in turn have told the Christian public! There is no mention here of any proposed change in their views.
Sentiment has no place whatsoever in dealing with doctrine. While I have only true Christian compassion in my heart for those unsuspecting persons who, in their ignorance of the Scriptures, are deluded by false systems, I feel no compunction at all in striking out at the heretical systems themselves. We are not living in the Dark Ages but in the era of an open Bible. The Word of God is available to all who would see light in its light. Let false teachers, in a spirit of humility and with a hunger for the real truth, come to the Word and be set straight and then cease their practices of leading others into darkness and confusion. Let them read the book of Galatians and identify themselves with those “false brethren” who sought to bring the believers into “bondage,” of whom Paul wrote: “To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour…” (Gal. 2:4, 5;). No shred of man-made heresies as that of the sanctuary theory, annihilation and the “scapegoat Satan” or any that I have listed will be found in the blessed Book. Whenthey have altered their views, then let them come to Bible-believing churches. Eternity editors have reversed the order. Are evangelicals to seek fellowship with error in order to correct it? God forbid! This is utterly at variance with New Testament principles.
The news magazine, Time, in its December 31, 1956 issue, took up this subject of Seventh-day Adventism under the title, “Peace with the Adventists.” The writer of this piece stated: “As a result of his researches [that is, those of the editor of Eternity], Fundamentalists have stretched out a hand, and Seventh-day Adventists have accepted it gladly.”* Eternity does not speak for Fundamentalists. The information furnished Time by Eternity’s editors simply represented the interpretation of Seventh-day Adventism by Eternity’s editors. I have received letter after letter from Fundamentalists deeply deploring this action.
Here is one Fundamentalist (and, of course, I speak for our entire Bible Institute of Los Angeles’ constituency at home and abroad now numbering in the thousands) who does not extend the hand of fellowship to those whose official textbooks, both new and old, at present teach:
- That the Lord Jesus Christ at His incarnation assumed a sinful, fallen human nature
- That the atonement was not finished on the cross of Calvary
- That immortality is conditional
- That the spirit of the believer does not go immediately into the presence of Christ at death but instead “sleeps” in the grave until the resurrection
- That souls who reject Christ do not really “perish” (that is, endure eternal punishment) but that they will be annihilated eventually
- That Satan as “the scapegoat” has some part in the bearing away of our sins
- That we are not saved by grace alone, apart from works of any kind
- That the seventh day Jewish Sabbath is God’s test and seal.
I believe every one of the above mentioned teachings to be false and unscriptural, as well as other Seventh-day Adventist views about the coming of Christ and the millennium in heaven, and dietary restrictions, Mrs. White’s prophetism, etc., I have mentioned the foregoing eight which seem to me to be the most destructive, and in all consistency I repudiate them.
At the same time I find it impossible to reject the views without rejecting the inventors and purveyors of them. No such logical incompatibility appears to trouble the Eternity editors. Having committed themselves to the unworthy cause of championing this sect, whatever it teaches, they have involved themselves in a strange untenable position.
In all fairness to them, they have stated emphatically that they do not believe these heresies I have listed. At the same time they must not regard them with the seriousness with which the majority of evangelicals do else they surely would have required an abandonment of these views before they took on the advocacy of the denomination. The more I consider it, the more my astonishment grows at the wonder of orthodoxy coming to the defense of a system including such heresies. Of course, in order to justify this the heresies are passed over rather lightly.
For instance, in the September 1956 issue of Eternity magazine one reads that the infamous “scapegoat” teaching “while admittedly strange is not heretical,” and that Sabbath-keeping while a “more serious doctrine” yet “is not sufficient to bar Seventh-day Adventists from the fellowship of true Christians, but which makes such fellowship very difficult because of the overtones of legalism that has a tendency to gnaw at the roots of sovereign grace to unworthy sinners.”
The doctrine of investigative judgment is called “unimportant and naÔve.” Of conditional immortality the editor admits “the most serious difference” and then goes right on to say that Seventh-day Adventists should be acknowledged as “redeemed brethren and members of the Body of Christ” (p. 45). In the January 1957 issue the inconsistency of approving a sect whose teachings are not approved is even more marked. I quote: “It [soul-sleep] does not constitute a bar to our having fellowship with them” (p. 13); “investigative judgment…can offer no real objection between Adventists and their fellow-Christians” (p. 38); “The scape-goat interpretation…cannot be cited as a legitimate reason for refusing to fellowship with Adventists” (p. 38); “There is no reason why this view [regarding Mrs. White’s counsels] should prohibit Christians of other denominations from having fellowship with Adventists, as long as Adventists do not attempt to enforce upon their fellow-Christians the counsels that Mrs. White specifically directs to them” (p. 38); “This issue [that is, dietary restrictions] fails to justify a refusal of fellowship” (p. 40).
And to climax this whitewashing process: “As noted, the serious disagreement that might most naturally arise in three areas—sleep of the dead (and annihilation of the wicked); the Sabbath; and the sanctuary-investigative-judgment theory—can be greatly mollified by understanding the true Adventist position on these doctrines…True Seventh-day Adventism, despite its differences from us, is one with us in the great work of winning men to Jesus Christ and in preaching the wonders of His matchless, redeeming grace” (p. 40).
The conclusion is wrong because the premise is wrong. These terrible heresies when considered in the light of God’s holy Word, each and every one of them, make fellowship impossible. It is not at all difficult to understand Seventh-day Adventism if one can read. The only way to “mollify” (the word means “soften”) these heresies is to close your eyes to them. In their determination to make Adventism “evangelical” that is just what these editors have done. Furthermore, Adventists are not “winning men to Jesus Christ”—alone; they are winning them to Him and their Galatian system, “the Jewish system with a Christian dress”; they do not preach “matchless, redeeming grace” alone, but grace-plus-law; grace-plus-sabbath-keeping!
What does fellowship with other Christian workers involve? It means that you pray for God’s blessing upon their labors; that you contribute offerings to their work. I could not in all conscience do this for Adventists as they are now constituted. I will, however, help any dear soul entangled in Adventism to see the way out of bondage into the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free! In order for Adventists to enjoy fellowship with evangelicals, they must repudiate every single heresy that I have mentioned and a good many more and “come clean” all along the line. The issue is too clear-cut; you have to be on one side or the other.
What think ye of Christ? The test
In this introductory article, space permits us to discuss only the first reason I have given for rejecting Seventh-day Adventism as evangelical, and that is their blasphemous teaching in regard to the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Next month we will take up the unfinished atonement sanctuary theory. I will quote from three Seventh-day Adventist authorities regarding the nature of Christ.
Leaders of this denomination have persuaded the Eternity editors that some of these statements “occasionally got into print”; that they were not official; and that some of the writers may be considered as being on the “lunatic fringe.” I think you will agree with me that the three sources from which I quote are official, impeccable and authoritative; not only that, but it happens that in each case these identical statements have been going into Seventh-day Adventist homes for more than 50 years!
First, we quote from the book by Mrs. E. G. White (“the messenger of the Lord to the Adventist people” as she is described in their official writings) entitled, The Desire of Ages, edition of 1898, published by the Pacific Press [Publishing] Association, an official Seventh-day Adventist house. On page 49 of this volume this statement in regard to the incarnation of Christ occurs:
“Yet into the world where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life’s peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss.
“The heart of the human father yearns over his son. He looks into the face of his little child, and trembles at the thought of life’s peril. He longs to shield his dear one from Satan’s power, to hold him back from temptation and conflict. To meet a bitterer conflict and a more fearful risk God gave His only begotten Son, that the path of life might be made sure for our little ones. ‘Herein is love.’ Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished, O earth!”
On the face of this quotation, it may sound very sweetly sentimental, but when you analyze it, it shocks you. For it was of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself this deluded woman was speaking. There was no “risk” involved in His encounter with Satan. It was as impossible for Christ to sin as for God the Father Himself to sin. For Jesus Christ is God. How true is that stanza by John Newton:
What think ye of Christ? is the test
To try both your state and your scheme;
You cannot be right in the rest
Unless you think rightly of Him.
Mrs. White and her followers are certainly not thinking rightly of the Lord Jesus Christ when they dare to suggest that the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, spotless Son of God, eternal Son of the eternal Father, might have fallen prey to Satan’s temptations, and that the Father was risking our eternal salvation on one who might have failed! When you strike at the sinless human nature of the Savior, you are undermining the rock upon which the truth of His essential deity is founded.
My second quotation is from L. A. Wilcox, for many years an editor of Signs of the Times, which according to the latest figures given by the Adventists has been published by them for 82 years. Certainly a statement by an editor of that publication may be considered official. I am sure anything that Mr. Wilcox wrote did not just “happen to get in.” In March 1927 he wrote: “In His [Christ’s] veins was the incubus of a tainted heredity, like a caged lion, ever seeking to break forth and destroy. Temptation attacked Him where by heredity He was weakest—attacked Him in unexpected times and ways. In spite of bad blood and inherited meanness, He conquered.” And again in the December 1928 issue of the Signs of the Times this editor, Mr. Wilcox, stated: “Jesus took humanity with all its liabilities, with all its dreadful risks of yielding to temptation.”
Listen to what the Scriptures say: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God [and our Lord Jesus Christ is God]: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (James 1:13).
My third quotation is from one of the favorite devotional books of the Adventists, Bible Readings for the Home Circle. The first copyright date in an old volume which I possess is 1888. The book is now issued in a smaller, more compact edition and is now entitled, Bible Readings for the Home. I do not know how long ago the statement I am about to quote appeared in this book but I have the 1944 edition of the older book, Bible Readings for the Home Circle, and on page 174, as in the 1888 edition, the statement appears. Now this is important so please follow me closely. You can get hold of these volumes at libraries and Adventist bookstores and check it yourself. At least from 1888 to 1944, and maybe longer, the book Bible Readings for the Home Circle went into Adventist homes to be read to their children, supposedly bearing the true message of the Lord. That is a long time—56 years! Do you think this statement “just happened to get in”? That is too absurd to consider. This is an official textbook of Adventism. I quoted this passage in my booklet, What’s Wrong with Seventh-day Adventism? And I feel it is necessary to do so again. Here is the quotation on page 174:
“In His humanity Christ partook of our sinful, fallen nature. If not, then He was not made ‘like unto his brethren,’ was not ‘in all points tempted like as we are,’ did not overcome, and is not, therefore, the complete and perfect Savior man needs and must have to be saved. The idea that Christ was born of an immaculate and sinless mother [Protestants do not teach this, as Adventists very well know], inherited no tendencies to sin, and for this reason did not sin, removes Him from the realm of a fallen world, and from the very place where help is needed. On His human side, Christ inherited just what every child of Adam inherits—a sinful, fallen nature. On the divine side, from His very conception He was begotten and born of the Spirit. And this was done to place man on vantage-ground, and to demonstrate that in the same way everyone who is ‘born of the Spirit’ may gain like victories over sin in his own sinful flesh. Thus each one is to overcome as Christ overcame (Rev. 3:21). Without this birth there can be no victory over temptation and no salvation from sin (John 3:3-7).”
This poisonous teaching brings Christ down to our level—one who would need a Savior Himself. In the first place, this reference to His being tempted in all points (which would include murder, adultery, every crime in the catalog, if that is what it meant) does not imply that it would have been possible for Him to yield to Satan.
J. N. Darby’s excellent literal translation from the Greek is a great help in understanding Hebrews 4:15: “For we have not a high priest not able to sympathize with our infirmities, but tempted in all things in like manner, sin apart.” Our salvation was not accomplished on the mount of temptation but on the mount of Calvary where Christ once and for all destroyed the power of the devil. The temptations of Satan made no appeal to Christ. They only proved what He was and who He was. Had it been possible for Him to yield, He would not have been the holy God and Savior that—thank God—He is! Before we go further into this matter, I want you to recall that this statement from Bible Readings from (sic) the Home Circlewas published from 1888 to 1944 or longer so that three generations of Adventists have been indoctrinated in their own “home circles” with this slander against the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now in the new edition on another page (p. 120), this passage has been restated under the heading, “Christ’s Humanity and Temptation.” If you read it carefully you will note that it is saying the exact same thing as formerly only in different terms. Here is the new quotation:
“Jesus Christ is both Son of God and Son of man. As a member of the human family ‘it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren,’—‘in the likeness of sinful flesh.’ Just how far that ‘likeness’ goes is a mystery of the incarnation which men have never been able to solve. The Bible clearly teaches that Christ was tempted just as other men are tempted—‘in all points…like as we are.’ Such temptation must necessarily include the possibility of sinning; but Christ was without sin.”
Now instead of clearing up this great “mystery,” which is no mystery at all to anyone who goes to the Word of God and learns from it that the incarnation made no change in Christ’s essential nature, the writer of the foregoing attempts to divert the reader’s attention to something extraneous: “There is no Bible support for the teaching that the mother of Christ, by an immaculate conception, was cut off from the sinful inheritance of the race, and therefore her Divine Son was incapable of sinning.”
O course, there is no scriptural support for the immaculate conception of Mary. That view is held only by the Roman Catholic Church. Why did not the Adventist writer say so? Then he follows with a quotation from Dean F. W. Farrar who was notoriously unsound on the nature of Christ.
All of this is quite misleading. Christ’s sinless human nature had nothing to do with Mary; His was the very nature of God Himself. Mary herself confessed Christ as her Savior: “And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47). “That holy thing,” placed in the virgin’s womb, was the nature of God Himself, housed in that human body for nine months and then clothed with flesh, emerging into the world where He lived in spotless purity for over 30 years, and then went to Calvary as the Lamb of God to die in the body God had prepared for Him—in our room and stead, to redeem us from sin.
The Adventist heresy in regard to the nature of Christ grows out of their complete misunderstanding of His humanity. His humanity was just as perfect as His deity. His humanity was just as sinless as His deity. His humanity was wholly unique.
This is explained in 1 Corinthians 15:47: “The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.” Cain was the second man on earth but in essence he was just another Adam. With Jesus Christ it was different, He was not a reproduction of Adam at all. He was the Second Adam—the unfallen Head of a new line. He was of a wholly new order. He did not inherit the fallen Adamic nature. In Him the entail of sin, condemnation and death was broken, for He was conceived of the Holy Spirit.
As the Second Man, the Lord from heaven, He was the sinless Man, the perfect Man—perfect in His freedom from human depravity, the Holy One manifest in the flesh. There was no stain of sin in the virgin’s holy Son nor was there any sin in His divine nature, for He was, from eternity to eternity, whether on earth or in heaven, “…holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners…” (Heb. 7:26). Jesus Himself said: “…the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me” (John 14:30). Satan did come to Christ, but there was nothing in our holy Savior to respond to Satan’s solicitation, for He “knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). Dr. C. I. Scofield expressed it very well: “Were the teaching of the Seventh-day Adventist church true, we would have a monstrosity-deity inheriting a sinful nature. If this could have been so, there could have been no sinless sacrifice, no hope for sinners, no Savior.”
Will there be a complete “right-about-face”?
I have called your attention to the manner in which these quotations from the “Bible Readings” books were handled to put you readers on your guard. When the book by the top Adventist leaders is published this year, I anticipate that it will contain many restatements of their errors rather than out-right repudiations. Of course, I am judging by the past. The Adventist way has always been that of evasion and suppression rather than that of outright repudiation. Their action in the matter of “The Great Disappointment” (“The Great Blunder”?), and the “Shut Door” teaching in the early days of the sect gives abundant proof of that. I fear there will be no real change in the doctrines that I have listed, but there certainly will be an all-out effort on the part of the Adventists to convince evangelicals that such a change has taken place.
Will they make such outright declarations as these:
“We repudiate our former man-invented, wholly unscriptural teaching of the sanctuary, conditional immortality, investigative judgment—and unreservedly renounce them all”?
“We have seen the truth in the Word of God in regard to the sinless humanity of Christ and of His finished work on Calvary; of the way of salvation by grace alone apart from works of any kind—even keeping of the Sabbath; of the consciousness of the dead; of the certainty of an everlasting hell; and we now come over on to the side of evangelical Christianity in these views”?
“We publicly repudiate the writings of these persons formerly considered our authorities, but now rejected, because of their heresies”? This would need to be followed by names of authors, titles of books, dates and all essential data.
It does not seem likely to me that such statements will be forthcoming from top men in Seventh-day Adventism, but even if such a thing were to be, one such book would not stop the thousands of volumes pouring from their presses daily. Much has been said of their withdrawing certain books from publication and sale but books like Everson’s Mark of the Beast, Ashton’s The Bible Sabbath, and Lickey’s God Speaks to Modern Man were all purchased within the month in Adventist bookstores.
These books are official publications of Adventist Review and Herald Pub. Co, Washington, D.C., and they all contain the teachings I have mentioned. Will the correspondence courses called “Faith for Today” all be withdrawn? I have a complete up-to-date set filled with the same old heresies. I have said before, and I say again, that no one would be happier than I if this sect turned from its errors—all of them—but I am very, very doubtful of it.
Keep in mind that Seventh-day Adventism is not just a few “big shots,” but is composed of hundreds of churches and individual members. Even if these leaders were to repudiate some of their heresies, how about the local churches and their membership who have been “brain-washed” for three generations with such teachings as that of annihilation of the wicked? Will they accept it from stem to circumference of the denomination because these leaders say it is not so any more? What about the proselytes on the mission field who have been led astray from the truth to take up these heresies?
It is our purpose to present to The King’s Business readers the “visions” of Mrs. E. G. White in this series of articles. Outside of Seventh-day Adventist circles, the counsels of visions of Mrs. White are practically unknown. I find them quite at variance with the Word of God. I think the Christian public should read enough of these writings to know what kind of religious leader Mrs. White really was. I am quite sure that in the course of the last 25 years I have read all of her books. Friends have supplied me with some ancient editions. Eternity editors claim that “No one can fairly challenge her [Mrs. White’s] writings on the basis of their conformity to the basic principles of the gospel” (Oct. pp. 38, 39).
I challenge them on that very basis!
We shall see as we with her are “taken off in vision” and behold what her “accompanying angel” showed her. These are her expressions used again and again in her descriptions of her visions. Her publications have formed the Adventist framework for over 100 years!
We will include in our remaining space what we can of one of Mrs. White’s visions as a sample of what you may expect in articles to come. This vision is recorded in an aged copy of A Word to the Little Flock, the first Adventist publication. This is the unexpurgated version. As it now appears in Early Writings, some passages are omitted, particularly those having to do with the mark of the beast, shutting the door to heaven, etc. It is an astounding thing that the Adventists who believe these visions came from God would dare to edit them! I shall reproduce the greater part of this vision. Here it is—dated April 7, 1847, at Topsham, Maine:
“…I saw an angel swiftly flying to me. He quickly carried me from the earth to the Holy City. In the city I saw a temple, which I entered. I passed through a door before I came to the first vail (sic). This vail was raised and I passed into the Holy Place. Here I saw the altar of incense, the candlestick with the seven lamps, and the table on which was the shewbread, etc. After viewing the glory of the Holy, Jesus raised the vail, and I passed into the Holy of Holies. In the holiest I saw an ark; on the top and sides of it was purest gold. On each end of the ark was a lovely Cherub, with their wings spread out over it. Their faces were turned towards each other, and they looked downwards. Between the angels was a golden censor. Above the ark, where the angels stood, was an exceeding bright glory that appeared like a throne where God dwelt. Jesus stood by the ark. And as the saints’ prayers came up to Jesus, the incense in the censor would smoke, and He offered up the prayers of the saints with the smoke of the incense to his Father. In the ark, was the golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and tables of stone folded together like a book. Jesus opened them, and I saw the ten commandments written on them with the finger of God. On one table was four, and on the other six. The four on the first table shone brighter than the other six. But the fourth [the Sabbath commandment] shone above them all; for the Sabbath was set apart to be kept in honor of God’s holy name. The holy Sabbath looked glorious—a halo of glory was all around it. I saw that the Sabbath was not nailed to the cross. If it was the other nine commandments were; and we are at liberty to go forth and break them all as well as to break the fourth. I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for He never changes. But the Pope had changed it from the seventh to the first day of the week; for he was to change times and laws. And I saw that if God had changed the Sabbath, from the seventh to the first day, He would have changed the writing of the Sabbath commandment, written on the tables of stone, which are now in the ark, in the Most Holy Place of the Temple in heaven; and it would read thus: The first day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. But I saw that it read the same as when written on the tables of stone by the finger of God and delivered to Moses in Sinai: ‘But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.’ I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers; and that the Sabbath is the great question to unite the hearts of God’s dear waiting saints. And if one believed, and kept the Sabbath, and received the blessing attending it, and then gave it up, and broke the holy commandment, they would shut the gates of the Holy City against themselves, as sure as there was a God in heaven above. I saw that God had children who do not see and keep the Sabbath. They had not rejected the light on it. And at the commencement of the time of trouble, we were filled with the Holy Ghost as we went forth and proclaimed the Sabbath more fully. This enraged the church, and nominal Adventists, as they could not refute the Sabbath truth. And at this time God’s chosen all saw clearly that we had the truth, and they came out, and endured persecution with us. And I saw the sword, famine, pestilence, and great confusion in the land. The wicked thought that we had brought the judgments down on them. They rose up and took counsel to rid the earth of us, thinking that evil would be stayed. I saw that all who ‘would not receive the mark of the Beast, and of his Image, in their foreheads or in their hands’ could not buy or sell. I saw that the number (666) of the Image Beast was made up and that it was the beast that changed the Sabbath, and the Image Beast had followed on after, and kept the Pope’s, and not God’s Sabbath. And all we were required to do, was to give up God’s Sabbath, and keep the Pope’s, and then we should have the mark of the Beast, and of his Image.”
Following this, the coming of Christ is described followed by these words:
“And then the never-ending blessing was pronounced on those who had honored God, in keeping His Sabbath holy, there was a mighty shout of victory over the Beast, and over his Image.”
The “the jubilee” is described. We quote again:
“Soon appeared the great white cloud. It looked more lovely than ever before. On it sat the Son of Man. At first we did not see Jesus on the cloud, but as it drew near the earth, we could behold His lovely person…Jesus threw open the gates of the Golden City, and led us in. Here we were made welcome, for we had kept ‘the commandments of God’ and had ‘a right to the tree of life.'”
You see, Elder Bates had settled upon the doctrine of the seventh-day Sabbath and Mrs. White’s foregoing “vision endorsed it. The Review and Supplement of August 14, 1883 plainly declared: “our position on the Testimonies [Mrs. White’s writings] is like the keystone to the arch. Take that out, and there is no logical stopping place till all the special truths of the message are gone. Nothing is surer than this, that the message and the visions belong together, and stand or fall together.”
For once, I fully agree with an official Seventh-day Adventist statement! Now the question is: Will Mrs. White have to go? Will the “keystone of the arch” be removed and thus all the superstructure fall in a heap? This will have to be done if the heresies are abandoned, as Eternity claims. †
This is the end of the first installment in a series of articles on Adventism by Louis Talbot. This article is reprinted with permission from The King’s Business, vol. 48, No. 4, April, 1957, pp. 23–30. *Courtesy Time; copyright Time, Inc. 1956.