Pitting truth against truth

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Protestant History
“The little flock” who refused to surrender their faith after the 1844 disappointment, as portrayed in Revelation 10, responded to the call to “prophecy again” (10:11). Heeding the instruction in Revelation 11:1, to examine the sanctuary, they found that it was in heaven (11:19), not on earth, as they had thought. By earnest study they discovered the basic pillars of the three angel's messages, which they now proclaimed: (a) the soon coming of Jesus; (b) the judgment – cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary; (c) the Law as the standard of judgment; (d) the Sabbath as the seal of God and sign of worship of the Creator; (d) the spirit of prophecy, sign of the remnant church; and (e) man's sleep in death.

But within a few years they were divinely reproved for allowing their focus to shift from Christ, Who provides both meaning and cohesion to all the doctrines, to the doctrines themselves. Because they did not grasp and internalize the principles involved in the reproof, God had to put His plan on hold until they were prepared to proclaim present truth doctrines with a focus upon Christ Himself.

The Reformers
Seventh-day Adventists were commissioned by the Creator to proclaim His message to the entire world. And God was prepared to enable our fathers to fulfill that commission in their day. But for decades they remained at the threshold of the final battle between Christ and Satan, unready for that final round. Thus the Angels of Revelation 7 had to hold “the winds of strife.” Christ can not gain His ultimate victory over Satan, “father of lies,” until His servants permit Him to seal them in their foreheads (minds). For this is essential both to his final unmasking before the universe and to their preparation to withstand the greatest deceptions of all ages concerning which Jesus said, “If possible he would deceive the very elect” (Mk 13:22).

The problem was that as a result of intense opposition to the law and Sabbath our pioneers became increasingly focused upon doctrinal evidence and failed to focus adequately upon the Author of the law and Lord of the Sabbath. Even as they defended themselves against charges of legalism, they thus became increasingly legalistic in experience and were unable to proclaim and represent the self-sacrificing character of Christ, which the law reflects and for which the Sabbath provides. Ellen White called attention to the consequent Laodicean self-righteousness even as she sought to focus attention upon Christ, our only righteousness; but while initially responding to this, few recognized the depth of the problem and continued to focus upon doctrine rather than upon Christ and His principles of righteousness, which He offered by faith.

Council of Trent
The message God gave to E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones in no way discredited the law or obedience, but magnified and made honorable the law by providing a key to true obedience. It was a simple call to focus upon Christ-crucified as the One Who removes our sins and offers His righteousness, both imputed and imparted. It was a shift of focus from the law to the law Giver, Who alone could enable true obedience. But our fathers feared that a shift of focus from the law itself to Christ and His righteousness would lead to antinomian rejection of the law and Sabbath.

Instead, God’s message revealed that human efforts to obey the law are only acceptable as we focus upon Christ Himself, with Whom a love relationship produces the inner obedience the law requires. Just as the Pharisees resented and rejected Christ’s insistence that, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:17-20), even so our fathers resisted the message that “our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa 64:6). Failing to see their Laodicean condition, they did not cry out for a writing of the law in their hearts. Thus Christ’s message was opposed as heresy.

Lutheran Conflict
Testimonies against “kingly power” multiplied through the 1890s and into the next decade. Though not itself a theological issue, authoritarian control may result in heresy. Moreover, it seriously violates Minneapolis principles. In answer to her own question: “What is justification by faith?”Ellen White declares, “It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust" (TM 456; 20 MR p. 117). The Minneapolis principles not only require individual humility in serving the Lord, but deny to anyone, whatever his position, authoritarian control over others.

Authoritarianism, a natural instinct of sinful man, can be overcome only by the aid of the Spirit, Whom our leaders resisted. In thus resisting Christ Himself, Who spoke through His Spirit, pride and self-will increased, intensifying the tendency to control. Nor were theological heresies long in springing forth, after incubating for varying amounts of time. At least two of the five post-Minneapolis heresies relate directly to “kingly power.”

Articles of Concord
Following the 1888 Minneapolis crisis, Ellen White often warned that resisters of light were in darkness and in grave danger; for to resist light is to invite heresies. ”In March, 1890 she wrote re: Waggoner-Jones’ opponents “To Brethren in Responsible Positions”:

There are those who have prided themselves on their great caution in receiving new light, as they term it; but they are blinded by the enemy,

and cannot discern the work and ways of God. Light, precious light comes from heaven, and they array themselves against it. What next? These very ones will accept messages that God has not sent, and thus will become even dangerous to the cause of God ... (1888 Materials, V2, 722).

Plymouth Brethren
We have seen how confusion regarding the Holy Spirit and His function results in heresy. We now need to consider how over-literalism both reflects and encourages false concepts of the Holy Spirit and His role as Connector between sinful man and a holy God that stimulate the mysticism that bred the holy flesh movement and led Kellogg and Waggoner into Panentheism. The same over-literalism caused Jones and Waggoner to develop the individualism that both violates and precludes the exercise of priesthood of believer principles, which if exercised would have checked all three heresies.

Symbolic language, metaphors, and idioms, are present in every language. It is humorous when learners of a new language interpret idioms literally. But taking Bible metaphors and/or idioms literally is no laughing matter. Because metaphors designed to reveal intimacy between us and Christ and/or His Spirit were taken literally, even key leaders became vulnerable to Panentheistic mysticism, a Pagan philosophy then popular in society that was infecting evangelical churches. For example, Paul is not stating spatial relations when he says, “Christ lives in me.” He, rather, testifies to intimate, dependent relations that Christ described symbolically by the essential relation between the vine and branch.

How Plymouth Brethernism Penetrated Adventism
We were still embroiled in conflict with Kellogg, Jones, and Ballenger when in 1908 Daniells and Prescott precipitated conflict with all remaining pioneers, their erstwhile, conservative allies, by discrediting their view of the “daily … taken away” by the little horn of Daniel, as portrayed in 8:11-13. Instead, they promoted what their now conservative opponents dubbed, the “new view.”

The Pioneers, without whose loyal support the movement could not have emerged intact during the preceding two decades, held Miller’s view that “the daily [hatamid] taken away” was Paganism. Without prior consultation with other brethren of experience and without honoring their allies, the old Pioneers, Prescott and Daniells began to proclaim that hatamid was not Paganism, but Christ’s heavenly sanctuary ministry, the place of which was cast down by the Papacy.

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