Third Heresy: Pantheism
Even before the “holy flesh” movement began to incubate, an even greater threat to the church was germinating in the minds of two most respected Adventist leaders, which emerged publicly in 1897, a year before Davis’ “cleansing message,” as J. H. Kellogg presented his Panentheistic concepts, identifying God as in everything (distinguished from Pantheism = everything is God). In 1899 E. J. Waggoner joined Kellogg, who in a whole series, again presented the view Ellen White had warned him over a decade and a half before never to teach our people. Alarmingly, even several key leaders accepted this strange teaching as “new light.”
By 1901, when, A. G. Daniells came from Australia (soon to be General Conference President), he was amazed to find this strange teaching widely held and even taught in the college. Kellogg was enamored with Panentheism even before James White died in 1881 and was warned that his mystical ideas were erroneous. But, at the 1897 General Conference, two years after Dr. A. H. Lewis, editor of the Seventh Day Baptist Recorder and avid Panentheist was a guest in his home (his wife was a Seventh Day Baptist) for several days, he publicly presented his mystical view. He began with a lengthy quote from manuscript 4, 1882, even using its title, “God in Nature.” Thus he introduced his heresy with a manuscript that repudiated its so-called “scientific” theory by clearly distinguishing the Creator from His creation (GCB 1897, p. 73).
After explaining that gravitation holds the whole universe together, Kellogg said: “We have here the evidence of a universal presence ... by the aid of which every atom of the universe is kept in touch with every other atom. This force that holds all things together, that is everywhere present, ... can be nothing else than God Himself. What a wonderful thought that the same God is in us and in everything” (ibid, p. 83).
At the 1999 General Conference E, J. Waggoner, a delegate from England, joined Kellogg, beginning his health and temperance discourse as follows:
I thank God, brethren, that the Lord has taught me something in the last few months, and enabled me to teach something of how to live forever.” He then followed, “What is it that gives us life, ...? It is the life of God. How many lives are there in the universe? There is but one life, and that is the life of God” (GCB 1899, p. 53).
When asked from the audience if he ever expected to get sick,” Waggoner answered, “No, I expect to live forever.” Explaining that God was in everything, not only in the seed, but in the bread, he exclaimed, “it is the life of God. It is His body, and we take His body and get life” (ibid).
Kellogg later said, “as Dr. Waggoner was telling you the other day, we never eat anything good, but we are tasting God. It is a sacred thing to eat. This grows out of the fact that God is in everything” (ibid, p 119). And Dr. Daniel Kress echoed, declaring that “God is in every man,” as well as “in everything–the food we eat, the air we breathe” (ibid, p. 120).
Weeks before Ellen White had mailed several messages from Australia for the session. The first, read on Sabbath following the doctors’ statements, was titled: “The True Relation of God and Nature.” In it she declared, “Nature is not God and never was God. The voice of nature testifies of God, declaring His glory; but nature itself is not God. As God’s created work, it but bears testimony to His power” (ibid, p. 157). She continued:
“The ancient philosophers prided themselves upon their superior knowledge, but God said of them: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, ... Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator” (ibid).
She then pointed out the origin of this strange “new light” -- deification of nature:
“Christ came into the world as a personal Savior. He represented a personal God. He ascended as a personal Savior, ... We need carefully to consider this; for in their human wisdom, the wise men of the world, knowing not God, foolishly deify nature and the laws of nature” (ibid).
Sadly, few if any recognized that this message, written long before, was divinely ordained to correct the messages by the three doctors. Instead, response to this “new light” was as enthusiastic as though she had confirmed, instead of denied, it!
Meantime, only months after the 1901 conference, where Ellen White met the “holy flesh” movement head-on, a vision warned of the dangers of Kellogg’s views, which she had personally labored with him over. Having met the one heresy, she now knew she must deal more directly with Kellogg. She intended to visit with him at the union conference session in South Lancaster, early in December, but was too ill “to converse with anyone except it was positively necessary” (The Elmshaven Years, 142, Arthur White).
Months later a crisis erupted over “The Living Temple,” which Kellogg wrote for sale by Adventist members to raise money to rebuild the sanitarium that had just burned (January, 1902). When Elder Spicer found it laced with the same Hindu views he encountered as a missionary in India, a committee of four was asked to examine it. Kellogg, Jones, and Dr. David Paulson, saw in it nothing objectionable and all voted to publish it.
But the fourth, W. W. Prescott, who had imbibed mystical expressions but had come to see their danger, prepared a minority report, declaring, “I am compelled to say that I regard the matter, ... as leading to harm rather than good; and I venture to express the hope that it will never be published” (W.A. Spicer in, “How the Spirit of Prophecy Met a Crisis,” copy A, p. 27).
When the minority report was accepted and the manuscript rejected, Kellogg chose to publish it on his own. A few months later his plates burned in the December, 1902 Review & Herald fire. But, undaunted, Kellogg published his manuscript through a public press. But when he tried to get the unions to support its distribution, General Conference officers were forced to notify them of their vote not to approve it.
Meanwhile, since many sided with Kellogg, especially medical doctors, Ellen White fully intended to meet Kellogg publicly at the 1903 General Conference at Oakland, but was warned by vision not to say anything that would stir strife. She did, however, send two letters to Kellogg during the session, declaring his “mystical views” “spurious.”
Determined to win his case, Kellogg and his colleagues again brought the issue to a head a few months later at Fall Council. His intense pressure and misquoting of Ellen White to prove she held his view so confused many committee members that Daniells adjourned an all day debate without a vote. Walking home with Daniells, Dr. Paulson shook his finger at him, declaring: “You are making the mistake of your life. After all this turmoil, some of these days you will wake up to find yourself rolled in the dust, and another will be leading the forces” (AGD The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, pp 336-337).
To his great relief, on reaching home Daniells found that two letters had just arrived from Ellen White dealing with this issue. The most significant was written three months before. Hearing the letters read the next morning, the council overwhelmingly voted to affirm the General Conference stand against The Living Temple.
But even yet Kellogg and his supporters publicly and in private continued to defend The Living Temple, accusing General Conference officers of exercising Papal control.
Two other heresies, meanwhile, that had to be dealt with at the same time. Ballenger's anti-sanctuary heresy came to a head in 1905, with conflict continuing for several years. And A. T. Jones had earlier introduced a heresy relating to the function of the Holy Spirit that had earlier impacted the holy flesh doctrine and then run in tandem with the conflict with Kellogg, with whom he confederated.