“Evangelism 613-617” article review

After reading an article this morning entitled Evangelism 613-617 I had a couple thoughts as well as a eureka moment. I will address the thoughts in this article, and the eureka in a subsequent article.

History shows that throughout the Middle Ages, the Catholic church presented “the Catholic Mass” to the majority of its followers1 in the ancient tongue of Latin. Latin was only understood by the educated, particularly by the clergy; because it was unintelligible to the layperson, it resulted in Christ being a great mystery to those following Catholic Christianity. As early as the ninth century, a fractured Christian hierarchy discussed keeping the words of God obscured from the average person on the street by dictating its readings be carried out only in Latin. The world starved for God’s word while the Bible was literally chained to the lecterns of the churches, thus preventing it from falling into the hands of the “people who were unskilled in the languages.” The Catholic Church deemed to protect the layperson from interpreting the Bible for themselves, or have it be read in their common languages. The church then engaged in centuries of persecution to stop “the heresy” of people reading their Bibles. Before the sixteenth-century Reformation among English-speaking people, the work of Tyndale and Wycliffe was brought under the censure of the church because these men dared to translate the Bible into a language other than Latin.

In 1521, the Imperial Diet of Worms ended when Luther, in the presence of the Roman Emperor, refused to recant his writings. He boldly proclaimed, “Unless I’m convinced by sacred Scripture or by evident reason, I will not recant. For my conscience is held captive by the Word of God. Here I stand, I can do no other. God help me.” With those dramatic words, the Diet exploded in shouts of protest. Secreted behind the Wartburg Castle walls of Eisenach , Luther, for one full year, worked on translating the New Testament into the German language from the original Greek text.

First Thought

Before we look at the thoughts, I need to show some of the accusations hurled (or implied) at the Adventist Church, particularly in this article:

  • “…Here are some comments regarding these selective quotations.” (emphasis mine, in other words, the author infers selective quotations are used to defend the Trinity of early as well as modern Adventism as in the book Education)
  • “Like today, there was no attempt by the perpetrators of misinformation to investigate just what these Adventists believed.”

I find it interesting that the book Evangelism, though it is a compilation and most likely would not have been approved by Mrs. White, is attacked by many for how it brings pieces of her writing — a summary if you will — together which are then arranged by themes. The very thing the anti-trinitarian and anti-Adventist Church groups accuse the Adventist editors of doing is the same thing they’re doing themselves to support their arguments.

For example, in the article the author says (please note, emphasis is that of the blog writer):

Let People Know Our Position—Our policy is, Do not make prominent the objectionable features of our faith, which strike most decidedly against the practices and customs of the people, until the Lord shall give the people a fair chance to know that we are believers in Christ, that we do believe in the divinity of Christ, and in His pre-existence.—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 253. (1895) – {Ev 613.2}

Ellen White wrote these words in 1895 speaking from her experience in New Zealand two years previous. The Seventh-day Adventists were opposed there by spreading false statements about what they believed.

“For instance, an effort was made to obtain the use of the hall at a village four miles from Hastings, where some of our workers proposed to present the gospel to the people; but they did not succeed in obtaining the hall, because a school-teacher there opposed the truth, and declared to the people that Seventh-day Adventists did not believe in the divinity of Christ. This man may not have known what our faith is on this point, but he was not left in ignorance. He was informed that there is not a people on earth who hold more firmly to the truth of Christ’s pre-existence than do Seventh-day Adventists.”  Review & Herald, Dec 5, 1893

More than any other people on earth?  How can that be?  Do not all the other Christian denominations believe in Christ’s pre-existence?  Well, no, Unitarians teach that Christ was only born human and was then made divine. What made the Seventh-day Adventists in 1893 so unique?  If they had accepted the triune god along with everyone else, how could they hold to Christ’s pre-existence “more firmly” than anyone else?  The evidence is that our historical beliefs were founded on Fundamental Principles that took the Bible “as it reads” and taught that “the divine Son of God” (1SM p. 247) “the only begotten of God” (Signs of the Times, Aug 2, 1905)  was “God’s thought made audible” (Desire of Ages p. 19), “the first-born of heaven” (Desire of Ages p. 51), “from all eternity” (Review & Herald, April 5, 1906).

Not only in this article, but in others, the author expresses his distaste for “selective quoting.” Perhaps it’s my sinful nature, but I can’t help but think of the verse, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” (John 8:7). Like many, the very thing he accuses the church of doing, he rampantly does throughout not just this article, but most of his other articles. Perhaps there is also a plank that needs to be addressed (see Matthew 7:3-5 and Luke 6:41-42).

Second Thought

In his article, the author presents the passage from the book Evangelism and then his disjointed counter. One particular section reminds me of then U.S President William “Bill” Clinton during his Monica Lewinsky scandal.2

In the now infamous line, Clinton said, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the—if he—if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement.3

In his article the author makes the following Clintonesque comment:

All these spiritualistic representations are simply nothingness. They are imperfect, untrue. They weaken and diminish the Majesty which no earthly likeness can be compared to. God cannot be compared with the things His hands have made. These are mere earthly things, suffering under the curse of God because of the sins of man. The Father cannot be described by the things of earth. The Father is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and is invisible to mortal sight. – {Ev 614.2}

The Son is all the fullness of the Godhead manifested. The Word of God declares Him to be “the express image of His person.” “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Here is shown the personality of the Father. – {Ev 614.3}

The Comforter that Christ promised to send after He ascended to heaven, is the Spirit in all the fullness of the Godhead, making manifest the power of divine grace to all who receive and believe in Christ as a personal Saviour. There are three living persons of the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powers—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ.—Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, pp. 62, 63. (1905) – {Ev 615.1}

She describes these representations of the Father, Son, and Spirit as “spiritualistic” because they “spiritualize away their literal meaning” (make figurative, metaphoric, unreal, symbolic—see Life Sketches p. 230; Spiritual Gifts vol. 2 p. 73) the personality of the Father and the Son as “two distinct personages” (5BC p. 1148.2)

EGW makes a noticeable distinction between the Father and Son who each “is all the fullness”, and the Spirit who is “in all the fullness”. This is consistent with her understanding and the witness of Scripture that the Spirit of God is the Presence of God; the Spirit of our Father (Matt 10:20) and the Spirit of His Son (Gal 4:6; 1Pet 1:10,11) together by the one Spirit (Eph 4:4; 1Cor 12:13; Eph 2:18; John 14:6) they abide in us (John 14:23; Rom 8:9).

The writings of the Bible are called a “revelation” (Ephesians 3:3). In my article “Man’s Earthly Conception” I said, “When the Word of God speaks clearly on a subject we should take it as it reads.”

Also, when Moses wrote, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up,” (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7). Notice that Moses not only expected the adults to understand what he wrote, but he also expected their children to understand them as well. A clear indication that truths can easily be understood by all.

The Bible is clear, that the simple become wise through reading and applying God’s Word.”The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). And later on the psalmist writes,”The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

In order for something to be called a “revelation,” it therefore must be something that can be known and understood, once it’s been revealed. If people can’t understand the Bible, then it cannot be called a revelation! If one has to sit and try to decipher what the definition of “in” is or “is” is, then the simplistic clarity of the Bible is lost. And we are thrown back into the dark ages where clergy must decipher an archaic language that no one can read or understand. There are great mysteries that we will not be able to understand on earth, and the Bible is intentionally silent on them. But unfortunately, as my aforementioned article points out, “people strive to bring God down to their level making it easy to characterize and explain Him.”4

The Lord commanded Nehemiah to read his word to the people. “So they read the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Neh. 8:7-12). Later on, the book adds, “And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.” These Jews understood the revelation of God.

Fanciful interpretations cannot change this. Let us be solid in the following statement and take it for what it truly and plainly says, “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.—Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, p. 51. (1905) – {Ev 617.3}.”


  1. A search through history books will clearly reveal that a remnant of Christians more closely following Christianity taught by Christ and the Apostles did not engage in the Catholic Mass. []
  2. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewinsky_scandal (accessed 2012-09-02) []
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_of_Bill_Clinton#Independent_counsel_investigation (accessed 2012-09-02) []
  4. “Man’s Narrow, Earthly Conceptions” Man’s Earthly Conception []

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