EXCUSE ME BUT I HAVE A VERY WORRYING PROBLEM!

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Oct 31, 2013 (4 years and 10 days ago)

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EXCUSE ME BUT I HAVE A VERY
WORRYING PROBLEM!


Max Hatton

Please note that Scriptures quoted in what follows are from the
New International
Version
unless otherwise stated.


INTRODUCTION:

I am sad
to say that my problem is with the Church that we love, but I think more
particularly with the White Estate. I am so concerned about this problem that I have
decided that I must not, I can not, go quiet on it. I believe that it is so important that it
must

be dealt with. Fair go now, please give me a hearing and make your decision at
the end. Don’t worry I am not intending to do the Church harm. Quite to the contrary
I am wanting to gain some important clarifications for its good. I need to offer a
rather
long explanation to clarify. Please stay with me and if you think I am wrong
please help me by clarifying where. If I am wrong I need help please.


I was baptised and accepted into the fellowship of the Seventh
-
day Adventist Church
on the twenty fourth day

of September 1966. The Baptism Certificate contained
twenty
-
seven Fundamental Beliefs. Item 20 states:


“The Church is to come behind in no spiritual gift. The presence of the gift of the
Spirit of prophecy is one of the identifying marks of the remnant c
hurch, and Seventh
-
day Adventists recognize its manifestation in the work of Ellen G. White.”


Item 8 of the Baptismal Vow as shown on the Certificate of Baptism is as follows:


“Do you accept the doctrine of spiritual gifts, and do you believe that the Sp
irit of
prophecy is one of the identifying marks of the remnant church?”


I think I can say quite safely that no one at the time they are ready for baptism or even
since has read all of the purported 100,000 pages that Ellen White wrote. I had a very
large

amount of her books but since retirement and living near Avondale College, I
have unloaded many of them. Yes, I admit I had never read them all. I have the Ellen
White computer disc and often use it.


During the 10
th

century, the Grand Vizier of Persia ca
rried a 177,000
-
volume library
with him whenever he went on official business. The extensive library was hauled in
alphabetical order by a caravan of 400 camels. How many camels would we need in
order to cart around all of Ellen White’s writings? How many
church members do you
think might have read them all? A church member once told me that he had been on a
study with some Christadelphians and didn’t take his Bible with him, he just took
volume 7a of the
Seventh
-
day Adventist Bible Commentary
. This contain
s all of the
statements by Ellen White found in the Commentary. There is available a
King James
Version

containing Ellen White statements throughout. Some Adventists become
quite fanatical in their devotion to and use of Ellen White. I will have more to sa
y on
this further on.


So how do we come to the point of baptism and are able to say, “Yes I believe that
she had the spiritual gift of prophecy?” I doubt that I am much different to most,

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having read
The Desire of Ages

and part of
The Great Controversy

an
d being
influenced by what I read in Church publications, I felt satisfied to make this vow. In
good faith we make the vow and are pleased to do so but we don’t know very much
about her or her writings really. I still believe that our dear sister had the s
piritual gift
of prophecy, however, I do not believe that she was used by God to be the arbiter on
what is true or false in the interpretation of Scripture. She stated very clearly herself
that this was not her role and that she was a lesser light to lead
to the greater light (the
Bible). I do believe that God used her to give direction to the Church on many matters
and that the Church would not be what it is today but for her guidance. I think I
understand her much better today and this is what I wish to d
iscuss with my readers.


AM I JUST A LONELY FOOLISH OLD MAN?

In recent times I have felt like a very lonely man. Many have accepted my
explanations of the Trinity doctrine but no one seems willing to acknowledge their
agreement with the evidence I reveal
on what Ellen White believed about the
Members of the Godhead in her early years as a Seventh
-
day Adventist. Maybe this is
because others have somehow come to opposite conclusion to me and many folk are
inclined to just believe them? The men concerned have

a reputation as Scholars. I was
surprised to read a few years ago the following from Woodrow W. Whidden 11:


“Ellen White decisively believed in the full deity of Christ. She can be characterized
as Trinitarian in her convictions, even from her earliest y
ears…What is truly
remarkable about her Trinitarian views is that she held them at a time when many of
the leading nineteenth
-
century Adventist ministers had strong Arian influence.”

Ellen
White on Salvation
, Review and Herald, 1995, page 59.


Since then a
fter re
-
reading the following by Erwin Gane, I notice that he offers a
similar view.
Please note that I have changed the font colour to red where I want to
draw special attention to what is said:


The Arian or Anti
-
Trinitarian Views Presented in Seventh
-
da
y Adventist Literature
and the Ellen G. White Answer


by Erwin Roy Gane






C H A P T E R


XIII

ELLEN G. WHITE A TRINITARIAN MONOTHEIST

The final chapters of this thesis are devoted to a relatively brief discussion of
the position of Ellen G. White in
regard to the nature of God.
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.

On the contrary all the evidence which will be
presented here is of a distinctly Trinitarian nat
ure.

As will become apparent, by
far the greatest number of the E. G. White statements on the subject were
made in the latter decades of the nineteenth century and the early years of this
century. It has been demonstrated that there was an evolution of tho
ught

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among Adventists generally on the nature of God. This took the form of gradual
repudiation of Arianism and acceptance of Trinitarianism.
But Ellen G. White’s
writings do not reveal this type of thought evolution. The profound statements of
her later p
eriod do not contradict anything she wrote in the earlier period.
Instead they reveal a growing awareness of the deeper mysteries of the
Godhead.

Certain of Ellen G. White’s statement, which clearly contradicted the positions
of her Adventist contemporarie
s, were written prior to 1898. Evidently the
significance of these statements was not immediately appreciated, as is
evidenced by the continued presentation of contrary views in denominational
periodicals and books. Ellen G. White’s statements on the natur
e of God
became more abundant, more insistent and increasingly unequivocal as the
nineteenth century drew to a close.




Jerry Moon wrote chapter 14
“Ellen White’s Role in the Trinity Debate”

in the book
The Trinity

published by Review and Herald in 2002
. Subsequently he wrote
The
Adventist Trinity Debate, Part 2: The Role of Ellen G. White

in Andrews Seminary
Studies, No. 2 Autumn 2003. In this article he states:


“Her writings about the Godhead show a clear progression not primarily from anti
-

to pro
-
tr
initarianism, but from relative ambiguity to greater specificity. Some of her
early statements are capable of various interpretations, but her later statements,
1898
-
1906, are explicit to the point of being dogmatic. Her change of view appears
clearly to h
ave been a matter of growth and progression, rather than reversal,
because unlike her husband and others of her associates she never directly attacked
the view of the Trinity that she would later explicitly support.”


I will interact with Jerry Moon furt
her on when I examine what the early Ellen White
had to say on matters related to God.


For now I have to say that I find myself out of harmony with these three brethren and
this displeases me quite a bit. If I am any judge at all it seems to me that most
Adventists assume that what these three men have to say is unquestionably true. I
believe that they are quite wrong. I have included what they say in fairness to my
readers so that they will closely examine the evidence, which I believe, contradicts
these
three men.


THE POSITION ADOPTED BY MOST ADVENTISTS:

In practice, I have found from experience that most Adventists immediately respond
with a quote from the later Ellen White when the Trinity Doctrine is being discussed.
The Anti
-
Trinitarians in the Churc
h on the other hand seem to major on early Ellen
White quotes in their presentations. The anti
-
Trinitarians load up their papers with
Ellen White quotes. I have known some who seemed enamoured with Ellen White
leave the Church when Walter Rea and others ha
ve shown that she was not what they
thought she was. This is a great pity for she never claimed to be what they thought she

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was. Our Fundamental Beliefs say quite clearly that our beliefs must come from the
Bible. However, in practice many seem to major on

Ellen White quotes. I have sat in
Sabbath School classes where some seem to play a game of “She Says.” All you hear
is she says this and she says that. What Ellen White says, or what anyone else says,
must meet the standard of the Bible


that is the yar
dstick.


There are an abundance of statements by Mrs White which instruct that her writings
should not be used to formulate our doctrines. I have challenged all the Anti
-
Trinitarians that I know to justify their dishonouring her by their ignoring of her
c
ounsel. I received not a single response. Our Sabbath School pamphlets used to be
loaded with Ellen White quotes. Fortunately, this has been rectified. It has been well
said, “to overdo is to undo” and I believe that the misuse of Ellen White has caused
mu
ch harm to her image and to the Church. Here is just one statement by Ellen White
which could be supported many times from her other writings. Others will be
provided further on.



The testimonies of Sister White should not be carried to the front. Go
d’s Word is


the unerring Standard. The Testimonies are not to take the place of the Word….


Let all prove their positions from the Scriptures and substantiate every


point they claim as truth from the revealed Word of God.
Evangelism,
page
256.


Despite my apparent foolishness I will continue confident that the evidence I will
offer will show the three men quoted above to be in error. But that is not the really
important thing


that is that we are not being open with our constituents and ot
hers
about the real Ellen White.


MY CONCERNS:

For many years I have not been at all comfortable with the statement of Ellen White
found on page 45 of
Patriarchs and Prophets:



Man was to bear God’s image, both in outward resemblance and in character


It puzzled me how Ellen White could say that the physical image of God is resembled
in man. It is clear enough that she is saying that God is something like us to look at?



When I became an SDA I was not an absolute rookie on things of the Bible. I had
b
een a Jehovah’s Witness for about five years. Although they are quite wrong in
many of their teachings I was not altogether ignorant of the Bible. The idea that we
look much like God, or in other words, He looks much like us does not sit well with
Isaiah 4
0:18:



To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to?


Surely Isaiah is advising that God is unique


that there is nothing in all of our
experience that we can liken Him to
. John 4:24

advises that God is Spirit. I could not
reconcile what Ellen White says with the Bible. However, I let the matter go for then
just making a mental note that there is a problem here that I must solve one day..


In recent times I have come back to what Ellen White says on other matters
concerning
God and have had to come to conclusions such as those, which follow.


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Our God is not just the God of some mountain, city, country, or even just of planet
Earth


He is the Great God of the Universe. Later, Ellen White clearly stated:


“Nothing can happen i
n any part of the universe without the knowledge of Him who is
omnipresent. Not a single event of human life is unknown to our Maker.”
The Faith I
Live By
, page

61.


Never forget that God is Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Eternal.
Psalm
139

beaut
ifully describes God’s Omnipresence. It requires that God is everywhere
present at the same time. This attribute should not be confused with Pantheism which
teaches that God not only exists everywhere but is everything. Here are just three
references from
Scripture teaching the Omnipresence of God:



Psalm 139

v
erse 7

asks,
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from
your presence?”

Verse 8

comments,
“If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I
make my bed in the depths you are there.”


Prove
rbs 15:3
reminds us of the omnipresence of God,
“The eyes of the Lord are
everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”


“Am I only a God nearby, declares the LORD, and not a God far away?

“Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him
? Declares the LORD.

“Do not I fill heaven and earth? Declares the LORD.”

Jeremiah 23:23, 24.


Think for a moment about the Sabbath day, God is present with His people in
thousands of places all over the earth. He listens to millions of prayers at the same

time and they come to Him in many different languages. God cannot be restricted to a
single spot or even to a single planet. He is constantly with the creatures He has
created on other planets in the universe.



There are references in which God is said t
o have eyes, hands, wings, and suchlike but
these must be understood to be Anthropomorphisms. They help in our understanding
of God but were never intended to be taken literally. He does sometimes take on a
form similar to ours but these must be understood

to be Theophanies


God is not
literally a pillar of fire or a cloud. Remember
John 4:24
where we are informed that
He is Spirit


invisible.


A loud voice against the Trinity doctrine of Seventh
-
day Adventists is that of a group
in Australia calling them
selves
Restitution Ministries
. They promote the Semi
-
Arian
view that Jesus was born from the Father at sometime in the ancient past. It is
interesting to note their Articles of Faith revealed on their Web site, I have in mind
their obvious denial of the Om
nipresence of God. They claim that He is “everywhere
present by His representative, the Holy Spirit.” Of course their contention is that in
themselves the Father or Jesus are not Omnipresent:

“1.That there is one God, a personal, spiritual being, the creat
or 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.”


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These people love to quote from Mrs White but

obviously ignore what she says when
it suits them. Remember
The Faith I Live By
quote revealed above where she speaks
of “Him who is Omnipotent.”

I used to wonder why Ellen White seemed to contradict
John 4:24

and
Isaiah 40:18,

now I believe that I unders
tand why. Most of the leaders of our early movement were
former members of the Christian Connection. James White had been a Minister of that
group. They were strongly Anti
-
Trinitarian although they didn’t seem to understand
that what they were opposing rea
lly was Modalism. These Pioneers brought this
concept into our movement. These people believed that God had a physical body and
that He literally gave birth to a Son


the Lord Jesus.

Ellen White had been a member of the Methodist Church but was expelled
from it
because of her support of the 1844 movement. She and James linked together in
marriage. Surely it is not too much to suggest that they discussed the Trinity doctrine
and the problems they had with it. James and D. M. Canright had gone on record
quo
ting a Methodist creed which included the phrase “without body or parts.”
Canright also cited an Episcopal creed which claimed that God is “without body,
parts, or passions.” Ellen White was still a relatively immature young woman and
probably didn’t find
it hard to go along with James.


Our early believers were insistent that God has a physical body and Ellen White
maintained that we are made to be similar to Him. I contacted Rev Lindsay Cameron,
B.Th. MTh, the National Superintendent of the Wesley Methodi
st Church of Australia
in an endeavour to clarify why the stipulation about body parts was included in a
Methodist creed. He was unable to help me, in fact was quite unaware that such a
creed existed. It apparently may have to do with some Methodist group
or groups in
America but it has no authority in Australia.


IT IS MY CONTENTION THAT ELLEN WHITE WAS A SEMI
-
ARIAN IN HER EARLY
YEARS IN OUR CHURCH:

Of course she was more than a little interested in who and what God is. It is my
intention now to offer quot
es from her that show to me quite clearly that she was a
Semi
-
Arian in her early years. Others already mentioned do not support that
conclusion so in this section I will also interact with what Jerry Moon says in
The
Trinity
book and in
Andrews University
Seminary Studies
. I will just use the letter
T
to refer to the book, and for his comments in
Andrews University Seminary Studies

I
will just use the letters
AU
. I cannot give page numbers for the
Seminary Studies

for
my copy is from the Internet which giv
es no page numbers.



“I have often seen the lovely Jesus, that He is a person. I asked Him if His Father
was a person and had a form like Himself. Said Jesus, ‘I am the express image of My
Father’s person.’”

Early Writings
, page 77.


In this statement we

see Ellen White’s real interest in the form of God because of her
interest in the Methodist Creed..




“I asked Jesus if His Father had a form like Himself. He said He had but I could not
behold it, for said He, ‘If you should once behold the glory of His

person you would
cease to exist.’”

Ibid
,

page 54.



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Additionally, on pages 47, 48 of
Supplement to the Christian Experience and Views
of Ellen G. White

(1854) we read that Jesus was able to approach the Father in His
Glory but did not share this Himself.
Here are her relevant comments:


“I saw the lovely Jesus and beheld an expression of sympathy and sorrow upon his
countenance. Soon I saw him approach the exceeding bright light which enshrouded
the Father. Said my accompanying angel, ‘He is in close conve
rsation with his
Father.’ The anxiety of the angels seemed to be intense while Jesus was communing
with his Father. Three times he was shut in by the glorious light about the Father, and
the third time he came from the Father we could see his person, and h
is countenance
was calm, free from all perplexity and trouble, and shone with loveliness, such as
words cannot express. He then made known to the angelic choir that a way of escape
had been made for lost man; that he had been pleading with his Father, and
had
obtained his consent to give his life a ransom, to bear their sins, and take the sentence
of death upon himself.”
Supplement to the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen
G. White,

page 47f., 1854.


1 Peter 1:19, 20

and
Revelation 13:8

assert that thi
s decision was made at about the
time of creation. Here we are being told that the decision that Jesus would die in our
place came from Jesus pleading with the Father and then gaining his consent. All the
power and authority is in the hands of the Father h
ere, He is the only one shrouded in
Glory. He is the Great God and Jesus is someone of lesser importance. I can’t help but
wonder whether the men who say that Ellen White was always a Trinitarian have read
some of these statements. They are clearly non
-
Tri
nitarian. Moon
T

page 206 says:


“I would like to make it very clear that I have not found her later statements to
contradict what she wrote earlier. Rather, her later statements are increasingly
precise and explicit, whereas her earlier statements were mo
re ambiguous. Some of
the earlier statements are capable of being read from either a Trinitarian or non
-
Trinitarian perspective. But I have not found any statement from her pen that
criticizes a biblical view of the Trinity.”


Is what Ellen White advised a
mbiguous? Isn’t Jesus being shown as a much lesser
being than the Father. She may not have criticized the Trinity in an outright way, but
in making statements that contradict the Trinity doctrine, is that not an indirect
criticism of the Trinity doctrine?
Other statements that she makes are also out of
harmony with

the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity. We shall recognize these as we
move along.



Next I must comment on the fact Ellen White does not allow that Jesus shared the
glory of the Father. In His hig
h priestly prayer found at
John 17:5

Jesus suggests that
He would.
Luke 9:26
contains the words of Jesus


“he comes in his glory and in the
glory of the Father.”
How is it that Ellen White reveals Jesus without glory? I have
found that up around 1890 Elle
n White was swinging away from Semi
-
Arianism and
making statements that show she was moving toward being a Trinitarian. This was
increasingly so as the years went by. Moon
AU
points out that it was in 1890 in the
book
Patriarchs and Prophets

page 36 that s
he said:


“The Son of God shared the Father’s throne, and the glory of the eternal, self
-
existent
One encircled both.”


8



The fact that Mrs White says she saw in vision that

Jesus and the Father are
quite separate individuals bothers me no end.

I cannot acc
ept that they are just as
she said she saw them.
There is nothing Trinitarian about the whole scene she
describes. In fact it is quite contrary to it. On the other hand it is quite in line with the
teaching of the Semi
-
Arians
. I have wondered whether what
she saw was in a dream
which she mistook for a vision? Her mind was no doubt quite exercised by what we
have been considering and it seems more than likely that what I suspect was actually
so.


Tritheists would not be bothered by Jesus and the Father being

quite separate. In fact
that is what they would expect. It would not bother Semi
-
Arians either for they
believe that Jesus was literally born from the Father at some time in Eternity. The
Tritheists are saddled with having three gods while the Semi
-
Arians

have two


a big
God (the Father) and a little god (Jesus). Trinitarians, on the other hand, take the Bible
teaching seriously that there is only one true God by nature. They also teach that the
Bible says that the Father is God, Jesus, the Son, is God, a
nd the Holy Spirit is God.
Seeing that there is only One true God we are driven to the conclusion that the Three
exist in One Substance which is God. Ellen White had not yet understood this matter.


Here are more statements which are obviously in line with

Semi
-
Arianism:



The Lord has shown me that Satan was once an honoured angel in heaven, next to
Jesus Christ
.”


Spiritual Gifts
, Volume 1, page 17, 1858.


Jesus is being revealed as next in line to the Father but not equal with Him. Next
in line to Him i
s Satan. The Holy Spirit has apparently

no place at all in her
thinking then.

God would reveal His secret purposes to Jesus only


not

to the Holy
Spirit. How could anyone possibly think that this is Trinitarian type talk? Rather it is
offered from a Semi
-
Arian perspective. Semi
-
Arians do not accept that the Holy Spirit
is a Person. He is just a spiritual influence that comes from the Father or Jesus. As a
Trinitarian I believe that all Three are conscious of the purposes of the others
automatically for The
y are all One. Of course this was limited in the experience of the
Son while He was a man.





God informed Satan that to his Son alone he would reveal his secret purposes, and
he required all the family in Heaven, even Satan, to yield him implicit, unques
tioned
obedience, but that he (Satan) had proved himself unworthy a place in Heaven
.”
The
Spirit of Prophecy
, Volume one, page 22, 1870.


Here again we are being shown that the Father is the Supreme God and that Jesus is
far less in status.


“The great Cre
ator assembled the heavenly host, that he might in the presence of all
the angels confer special honor upon his Son.... 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 his own presence.... His Son would carry
out His will and His purposes, but would do nothing of himself alone.”

Spirit of
Prophecy
, Volume one, pages17, 18, 1870.



9

Notice that Jesus is not equal with the Father by nature, but on
ly because the Father
ordained it to be so.


Moon
T

page 208 draws attention to
Testimonies

Volume 2 (1869) page 200. He
says:


“By 1869 her growing understanding based on her visions, had clearly forged ahead
of her colleagues as she asserted that Chri
st is equal with God.”

Ellen White states in
the reference given:


“He {Christ} was equal with God.”


The second of the two statements just offered from
Spirit of Prophecy

volume one,
from the year 1870, a year after the
Testimonies

statement, clarifies th
at Ellen White
was shown that Christ was equal with God, not in nature, but by the decree of the
Father. So we cannot say that the
Testimonies
statement offered a break through of
any kind. It should not be read apart from the
Spirit of Prophecy

statement.



T

page 298 Moon states that
Ellen White asserted that Christ was not created

(
Review and Herald
, Dec. 17, 1872). This is not surprising to me for Semi
-
Arians
believe that Jesus was born from God, not created by Him. Arians on the other hand
believe He
was created. Uriah Smith began as an Arian and later switched to Semi
-
Arianism. He died a non
-
Trinitarian.


On pages 208 and 209
T

Moon provides references where Ellen White referred to
Jesus as the
“Eternal Son.”

What did she mean by this? Eternal would
indicate no
beginning. Son indicates a beginning. Ellen White stated that Christ had become the
Son of God in a new sense at the Incarnation. Does she mean by “Eternal Son” that
He was also Son in Eternity, that is prior to the Incarnation? There is anothe
r
contradiction because even in the

Desire of Ages

page 25 and in
Testimonies

volume
8 page 208 Ellen White still quotes
John 3:16

of
the King James Version

which
describes Jesus as the
“only begotten Son.”
It is not possible for someone to be
Eternal and
begotten at the same time. The two possibilities contradict each other. The
Bible speaks of eternal fire. This, of course, is fire that has eternal consequences. It
has not always existed. The Son is eternal but has not always existed as the Son. In
Evange
lism

page 615 Ellen White says,
“Christ is the pre
-
existent self
-
existent Son of
God.”
We know what she means. Christ is a name for the human Jesus. The human
Jesus was not
pre
-
existent

or
self
-
existent
. The Son of God was eternal but He was not
eternally
the Son.




Here are a couple of statements from modern day Semi
-
Arians:


Restitution Ministries

in their
Question and Answer

section of their website say:


“His source (the Father) is an eternal source with no beginning. That is why Jesus is
called the et
ernal Son of God.”


The former Minister of the Church Adrian Ebens

says in his
My Confession
Concerning the Godhead:


10

“2. I believe that Christ came forth from the Father in eternity beyond the realms of
human comprehension and has existed from eternity in
fellowship with the Father.
Christ is begotten and eternal.”



When Ellen White described the baptism of Christ in 1873 the Holy Spirit is still
not yet recognised as a Person:


The heavens were opened, and beams of glory rested upon the Son of God and
as
sumed the form of a dove, in appearance like burnished gold. The dove
-
like form
was emblematical of the meekness and gentleness of Christ
.”
Review and Herald
,
January 21, 1873.


What a strange commentary this was on the baptism scene of Jesus. It seems to
be a
deliberate avoidance of the Holy Spirit for it was He that rested upon Jesus in the
form of a Dove not “a beam of glory.” The dove
-
like form was not
“emblematical of
the meekness and gentleness of Christ.”
No, no, no! According to the plain statement
of Scripture it was the Holy Spirit and no thing, or no one, else.




It was not until 1897that Ellen White wrote, like a bolt out of the blue, that the
Holy Spirit is

“the third person of the Godhead
.”

Special Testimonies for Ministers
and Workers
, serie
s A, No. 10 (1897). At long last, she recognised that the Holy
Spirit is a Person and is in fact a Member of the Godhead. Here are a couple of her
later
statements on the Holy Spirit:



"The Holy Spirit is a person, for he beareth witness with our spirits
that we are the
children of God…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 be a divine
person, else he could not search out the

secrets which lie hidden in
the mind of God."
Evangelism,

pages 616, 617.



"We have been brought together as a school, and we need to realize that the Holy
Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these
grounds…"

Manuscript Releases,

Volume 7, page 299.



Ellen White was convinced that Jesus was the only Person in the Universe who
could atone for our sins.

Here is one of her statements on this:




The Son of God was next in authority to the great Lawgiver. He knew that his life
alone could be sufficient
to ransom fallen man



Review and Herald
,

December 17,
1872, Para. 1.
Here again we have Jesus next in authority to the Father
-

not
equal in authority.



Roy Adams asks us to
“imagine a situation in which the Being we have come to know
as God the Father
came to die for us, and the One we have come to know as Jesus
stayed back in heaven … Nothing would have changed except that we would have
been calling Each by the name we now use for the Other.”
Sabbath School Bible
Study Guide,

Lesson for April 10, 2008.

Obviously, any of the Three could have
come as the sacrifice but in the wisdom and Counsels of the Trinity Jesus
accepted that responsibility.
Remember
1 Peter 1:20
,
“He was chosen before the
creation of the world.”

The Three Members of the Trinity are c
o
-
equal, and co
-
eternal. Of course any one of them could have paid the penalty for our sin.



11



Ellen White believed for a time that Jesus could be obliterated, annihilated.
Note the dates of the next three statements


1895, 1899, and 1900.


“Remember tha
t Christ risked all; "
tempted like as we are," he staked even his own
eternal

existence upon the issue of the conflict.

Heaven itself was imperiled

for our
redemption
."

The General Conference Bulletin, Dec. 1, 1895.


“Though Christ humbled Himself to becom
e man,

the Godhead
was still

His own. His
Deity could not be lost while He stood faithful and true to His loyalty."
Signs of the
Times, May 10, 1899; S.D.A. Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, page 1129



“He became subject to temptation,

endangering as it were, His

divine attributes
.
Satan sought, by the constant and curious devices of his cunning, to make

Christ yield
to temptation.”
Letter 5, 1900,
as

quoted in the

Seventh
-
day Adventists Bible
Commentary
Volume 7 page 926..



It seems that she became quite clear o
n this matter by 1904 when she reversed
her belief:



"In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. When Christ was crucified
, it
was His human nature that died.
Deity did not sink

and die; that would have been
impossible
."
Letter 280 of 1904

found

in the
SDA Bible Commentary,

Vol. 5, page
1113
.



Thankfully, she had come to understand that Deity cannot die.
“Deity did not sink and
die;
that would have been impossible.”

As we study these things we can see that at
about this time Ellen White was beco
ming or had become a Trinitarian. What a
reversal! What a victory! Praise God.



As I have already stated, I conclude that Ellen White was a Semi
-
Arian in her
early years in the Seventh
-
day Adventist Church. Her statements, that I
have

offered cannot be r
econciled with the Trinity doctrine.

Thankfully she did
grow in understanding and consequently changed her stand as she gained a clearer
picture of what God is. She unquestionably became a Trinitarian and made many
positive statements declaring this fact t
o be so. Nobody can know whether prior to her
death her understanding of God had reached the maximum possible for a human to
have. I am of the opinion that she still had things to learn.


Ellen White did not know everything. I have reported that she quotes

John 3:16

from
the
King James Version

approvingly. In that version it says that Jesus was the
“only
-
begotten son.”

It is now almost universally accepted that modern scholarship has
shown that
monogenes
does not mean
“only
-

begotten”

but it does mean
“only


or
“unique”

(or similar). Modern translations should be consulted and the difference
noted. I repeat that what Ellen White says can be seen on
Desire of Ages

page 25 and
8 Testimonies
, page 208 and in other places. I find it interesting that she always u
ses
the name
Jehovah

as the name of God. This was never God’s name. It was first used
about a thousand years ago and was completely unknown prior thereto. Today we
know that the true pronunciation is
Yahweh.





12

In her later years Ellen White accepted the e
quality of Jesus with the Father and
His

eternity and self
-
existence:

"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 ti
me when he was not in close fellowship with the eternal God."
Evangelism,
page 615.



"He is the eternal self
-
existent Son."
Evangelism,
page 615.




"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."
The Desire of Ages,

page 530.


It has never been the position of our Church that we must just follow along believing
unreservedly

whatever Ellen White says on doctrine. However, many do that very
thing.

After reading the above statement M. L. Andreasen, one of our leading
Scholars, in 1902 spent three months at Elmshaven to check the matter for himself.
He wanted to see these words in Ellen White’s own handwriting. He came away fully
satisfied and became

a believer in the Trinity doctrine


he was not a Trinitarian prior
to this. There is no doubt that Ellen White encouraged the Church into an acceptance
of Trinitarianism. Unfortunately, some follow Ellen White slavishly. I have known
some to leave the C
hurch when they discovered that she was not what they thought
she was. Others are glad to listen to what she says but choose to follow the Word of
God even if this puts them on a slightly different path. She herself said that she was
only a lesser light to

lead us to the greater light. She insisted that we should not obtain
our doctrines from her writings but rather we must go to the Bible. There is much on
this a little further on.



"Christ was God essentially, and in the highest sense. He was with God fr
om all
eternity, God over all, blessed forevermore."
SDA Bible Commentary,

Vol. 5, page
1126.



"When the voice of the angel was heard saying, “Thy Father calls thee,” He who had
said, “I lay down my life, that I might take it again,” “Destroy this Temple
and in
three days I will raise it up,” came forth from the grave to life that was in Himself.
Deity did not die. Humanity died, but Christ now proclaims over the rent sepulcher of
Joseph, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” In His divinity Christ possess
ed the
power to break the bonds of death."
SDA Bible Commentary,

Vol. 5, page 1113.



"He was equal with God, infinite and omnipotent. He could pay the ransom for man’s
freedom. He is the eternal self
-
existing Son."
SDA Bible Commentary,

Vol. 5, page
1136.

Remember that



"These are wonderfully solemn and significant statements. It was the Source of all
mercy and pardon, peace and grace, the self
-
existent, eternal, unchangeable One,
who visited His exiled servant on the isle that is called Patmos."
SDA Bib
le
Commentary,

Vol. 7, page 955.



There can be no doubt that there is a vast difference between the early and the
later Ellen White.


She

left her earlier immature concepts far behind.
What a

13

wonderful blessing it must have been for her. I remember with
great pleasure my own
breakthrough from being an anti
-
Trinitarian to becoming a Trinitarian, I praise God
that she allowed Scripture to open her eyes to a greater understanding.



HERE ARE JUST A COUPLE OF HER STATEMENTS WHICH REQUIRE
US TO ACCEPT THAT IN
HER LATER YEARS ELLEN WHITE WAS A
CONVINCED TRINITARIAN:


The Godhead was stirred with pity for the race, and the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit gave themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption
.”
Australasian Union Conference Record

April

1, 1901.




The Three Highest Powers in the Universe are pledged to labor with those who will
seek to save the lost
.”
Review and Herald

August 12, 1909.

.



God Himself was crucified with Christ, for Christ was one with the Father
.”
The
Faith I Live By
pa
ge 50.



"Th
ere are many who have thought that the Father had no part in the suffering of

the
Son, but this is a mistake. The Father suffered with the Son
.”
The Signs of the Times
,
November 25, 1889, page 706.



I cannot see that the first of the two stat
ements just offered could be made by
other than a

Trinitarian. I cannot see that it could be made by one who accepts
the Tritheistic or

non
-
Trinitarian

concepts of the Godhead either. I believe most
definitely that those who are responsible for the followi
ng statements are true
Trinitarians.



“the term Trinity has been found a most fitting way of referring to the one God who
has revealed Himself in the Scriptures as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The concept
suggests that within the one essence of the Godhe
ad we are to distinguish three
persons who are neither three parts nor three modes of God but coequally and
coeternally God.”

Dr. Raoul Dederen,

The Mystery of the Trinity,

page 8,
Adventist
Review
, August 26, 1993



Dederen made a somewhat similar stateme
nt in

Reflections on the Doctrine of the
Trinity
,

page 16,
Andrews University Seminar Studies
, Vol. VIII, No. 1 January,
1970:

“we must confess that the trinity is one indivisible God and that the distinctions of the
persons do not destroy the divine unity
. This unity

of God is expressed by saying that
he is one substance. Nevertheless, in the divine unity

there are three co
-
eternal and
co
-
equal persons, who, though distinct, are the One undivided and adorable God.
This is the doctrine of Scripture.”




Mor
e recently we have the following statement from Dr. Ekkehardt Mueller of the
General Conference Biblical Research Institute:


“We do not believe in three Gods but one God in three persons. These three
personalities participate in one substance. In the divi
ne unity there are three
coeternal and coequal persons, who, though distinct, are the one undivided God.”

Reflections
page 9, the Biblical Research Institute Newsletter for July 2008.




14

Here is something else that convinces me that the mature Ellen White
was a
Trinitarian.

She

refers to each of the Heavenly Trio as Omnipotent. No one will
dispute that the Father is Omnipotent so here are statements from her on the
Omnipotence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit:




He was equal with God, infinite and omnipotent




SDA Bible Commentary,

Vol. 5,
page 1136




With Christ is Omnipotence



Manuscript Releases,
Volume 15, page 101.





The omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit is the defense of every contrite soul
.”
The
Desire of Ages,
page 490.




He knew that truth, a
rmed with the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, would conquer in
the contest with evil



Ibid,
page 679.



Unless my reasoning is faulty, you cannot have three who are at the same time
Omnipotent unless the Three are members of the Trinity God. That is the
single
significant exception.


ELLEN WHITE AND THE BIBLE:

I surely do not have to state how concerned I am about what I have stated above.
People buy Ellen White publications and in their innocence assume that what she says
is correct in every detail. I h
ear people saying that we look like God. The anti
-
Trinitarians delight in Ellen White’s early statements and try to push her early semi
-
Arianism through her later statements as well. I am quite bothered by the fact that we
do not come out clearly enough ad
vising that Seventh
-
day Adventists do
not

believe
that we should go to the writings of Ellen White in order to decide doctrine. Please
note the following from
Proverbs 30:5, 6
:


“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him
. Do not
add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”

Proverbs 30:5, 6.



Then please notice the preamble to the Statement of
28 Fundamental Beliefs

of the
Church:


Seventh
-
day Adventists accept the Bible as their only creed and hold
certain
fundamental beliefs to


be the teaching of the Holy Scriptures.


Now a review of what Ellen White said concerning the Bible:


We then took the position that the Bible, and the Bible only, was to be our guide;
and we are never


to depar
t from this position.
Manuscript Releases
,
Volume 17, page 345.



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…Before accepting any doctrine or
prece
pt, we should


demand a plain “Thus saith the Lord
.” The Great Controversy
, page 595.



15


Let all prove their positions from the Scriptures and substantiate every point they
claim as truth


from the revealed Word of God
. Evangelism
,
page 256.



The Bible, and the Bible alone, is to be our creed, the sole bond of union; all who
bow to this Holy


Word will be in harmony. Our own views and ideas must not control our efforts.
Man is fallible, but


God’s Word is infallible. Instead of w
rangling with one another, let men exalt the
Lord. Let us meet


all opposition as did our Master, saying, “It is written.” Let us lift up the banner
on which is


inscribed, The Bible our rule of faith and discipline.
1 Selected Messages,

page
416.


Ellen White is just as clear on the relationship between her
writings and the Bible:


Lay Sister White to one side. Do not quote my words again as long as you live
until you can obey


the Bible. When you make the Bible your food, your meat, and

your drink, when
you make its


principles the elements of your character, you will know better how to receive
counsel from God. I


exalt the precious Word before you today. Do not repeat what I have said, saying,
“Sister White


said this,
” and
“Sister White said that.” Find out what the Lord God of Israel says,
and then do



what He commands.
3 Selected Messages,
page 33.



The testimonies of Sister White should not be carried to the front. God’s Word is
the unerring


Standard
. The Testimonies are not to take the place of the Word….Let all prove
their positions from


the Scriptures and substantiate every point they claim as truth from the revealed
Word of God.
Evangelism,
page 256.



Little heed is given to the Bible,
and the Lord has given a lesser light to lead men
and women to the


greater light.
3 Selected Messages,
page 30.



The Spirit was not given

nor can it ever be bestowed

to supersede the Bible; for
the Scriptures


explicitly state that the wor
d of God is the standard by which all teaching and
experience must be


tested.
The Great Controversy
,
page vii.



Our position and faith is in the Bible. And never do we want any soul to bring in
the Testimonies


ahead of the Bible
. Evangelism
,
page 256.



16


[Christ] pointed to the Scriptures as of unquestionable authority, and we should
do the same. The


Bible is to be presented as the Word of the infinite God, as the end of all
controversy and


foundation of all faith.
Christ’
s Object Lessons,

page 39
.


In view of all that I have drawn attention to above I wrote to the Secretary of the
White Estate in America. The following is the appeal that I made after setting out my
concerns and detailing my reasons for them.



MY APPEAL:

I KNOW QUITE WELL THAT IN MY COUNTRY (AUSTRALIA)

AND IN YOURS, IN
JAMAICA, ENGLAND, NEW ZEALAND, AND THE PHILIPPINES THERE IS MUCH
AGITATION TAKING PLACE OVER THE TRINITY QUESTION. OF COURSE THIS IS NO
DOUBT TRUE OF OTHER COUNTRIES AS WELL

MY EXPERIENCE A
S A CHURCH
PASTOR SUGGESTS THAT

MOST OF OUR PEOPLE TAKE WHAT ELLEN WHITE HAS
SAID WITHOUT QUESTION. THE ANTI
-
TRINITARIANS CONSTANTLY USE THE
EARLY ELLEN WHITE IN SUPPORT OF THEIR FALSE TEACHING AND THEN EITHER
IGNORE OR DISTORT WHAT SHE SAID ON THE MATTER
IN HER LATER YEARS. THE
ORDINARY PERSON IN THE PEW DOES NOT NORMALLY WAKE UP TO THIS. THIS
CAUSES GREAT CONFUSION TO MANY OF OUR INNOCENT PEOPLE. SOME ARE LED
TO JOIN THE RANKS OF THE ANTI
-
TRINITARIANS NOT KNOWING THAT THERE IS A
REAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TH
E EARLY AND THE LATER ELLEN WHITE. OTHERS
JUST REMAIN CONFUSED AND THEIR CONFIDENCE IN THE CHURCH AND IT'S
TEACHINGS IS GREATLY WEAKENED.



IT IS NO WONDER TO ME THAT WE ARE LABELLED A CULT IN SOME QUARTERS.
THE WAY SOME OF OUR PEOPLE MISUSE ELLEN WHITE GI
VES CONSIDERABLE
SUPPORT TO THIS LABEL FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO CRITICISE US.



I FEEL THAT THE CHURCH DEFINITELY

OWES IT TO OUR PEOPLE, TO THE IMAGE
OF THE CHURCH

AND TO

THE CAUSE OF TRUTH, TO COME OUT QUITE CLEARLY
AND OPENLY STATE THAT:

1.

ELLEN WHITE MUST

NOT BE USED AS A SOURCE FOR DOCTRINE.

2.

SHE WAS NOT A TRINITARIAN IN HER EARLY YEARS BUT DEFINITELY MATURED
INTO BEING

ONE IN LATER LIFE.



I KNOW THAT THERE HAVE BEEN SOME STATEMENTS THAT INDICATE
SOMETHING LIKE

WHAT I AM ASKING FOR IN HISTORICAL SKETCH
ES AND
SUCHLIKE, BUT THESE ARE SELDOM SEEN OR READ BY OUR PEOPLE IN GENERAL.
ADDITIONALLY, THEY ARE NOT EXPLICIT ENOUGH. WE NEED TO COME OUT
BOLDLY ON THE MATTER. THIS MAY CAUSE SOME UPSETS HERE AND THERE

BUT
FOR THE SAKE OF SOULS AND TRUTH I AM CONVINCED
THAT IT MUST BE D0NE.
WHERE MUST SUCH A COURSE BEGIN?
-

WHERE ELSE BUT IN THE WHITE ESTATE.
I AM SORRY MY BROTHER

BUT I AM CONVINCED THAT THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR
ALL OF THIS MUST REST UPON YOUR SHOULDERS IN THE WHITE ESTATE MORE
THAN UPON ANY OTHERS. IF THI
S DOES NOT OCCUR WE WILL CONTINUE TO
HAVE CONFUSION, UNCERTAINTY, AND DESERTION

FROM OUR RANKS. WE CAN
DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS, IF WE DON'T I BELIEVE THAT

WE WILL CARRY
HEAVY RESPONSIBILITY FOR NOT DOING SO.



PLEASE BE ASSURED OF MY VERY BEST WISHES AND P
RAYERS ON YOUR BEHALF.
I AM NOT ATTEMPTING TO CONDEMN YOU OR ANYONE ELSE ON THIS MATTER. I
AM SPEAKING FROM MY HEART AND WANT TO SEE THE PROBLEM RESOLVED.
MAY OUR GRACIOUS GOD RICHLY BLESS YOU.


THE WHITE ESTATE RESPONSE:



17

Dear Brother Hatton,



Thank you

for contacting the Ellen G. White Estate.


I am glad to see your affirmation
of Ellen White’s Trinitarian position in her later life.


I believe, as you do, that this is
clear.


As for her earlier beliefs, though, I see matters in a bit of a different lig
ht from
what you have expressed here.


While in the early years Mrs. White did not challenge
the anti
-
Trinitarian views of her colleagues, I have been impressed by the fact that
she did not echo them, either.


I had read her writings, even the early ones,
for a
number of years before I became more acutely aware of the anti
-
Trinitarian streak in
other Adventist writers.


I had found it quite possible to read what she wrote through
my “Trinitarian glasses” without sensing a conflict.


I suppose that the pione
ers
similarly read those statements through their own Arian or semi
-
Arian glasses, and
they did not feel challenged by them.


But this did not necessarily constitute
endorsement from her of their views.



You list several statements that convinced you that

Mrs. White was a semi
-
Arian in
her early years.


I may not be sensitive to all the implications, but I confess that the
first one you cited does not demonstrate the point to me.


The part of it that quotes
Jesus as saying He is the “express image of My Fa
ther’s person” is merely a
restatement of what Hebrews 1:3 says, at least in the KJV.


And Arthur White pointed
out what may have prompted Ellen White’s question

namely, a part of a Methodist
creed.


I’ll give you some context (which I’ll refer to again la
ter) for his creed
reference.


Elder White wrote,



The

Factors

of Creeds

and

Traditions



James White, coming from the Christian Connection, was dedicated to
God's Word without creedal explanation of positions. His contribution to
the early Millerite jour
nal, the
Day

Star
, reveals his distaste for creeds. On
January 24, 1846, he writes of



"a certain class who deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus
Christ.


This class can be no other than those who spiritualize away
the existence of the Father and the
Son, as two distinct, literal,
tangible persons, also a literal Holy city and throne of David. . . . The
way spiritualizers this way have disposed of or denied the only Lord
God and our Lord Jesus Christ is first using the old
unscriptural

trinitarian

cree
d
."



He would stand by the Bible. There was no place for tradition or
creeds in his doctrinal holdings. And Ellen White, too, was personally
concerned with certain teachings of the Methodist creed taught to her in
her teenage years: "There is but one livi
ng and true God, everlasting,
without body or parts."

(
Doctrine

and

Discipline

of

the

Methodist

Church
,
1896, pp. 19, 20)



This and conversation with James are likely what led her, when in an
early vision in seeking to know the truth, to make inquiry on n
o less than
two occasions. We find the references in
Early

Writings
, one on page 54:
"I asked Jesus if His Father had a form like Himself. He said He had."
Again in
Early

Writings
, page 77, she reports: "I have
often

seen the
lovely Jesus, that
He

is

a

per
son
. I asked Him if His Father was a person

18

and had a
form

like

Himself
. Said Jesus; I am in the
express

image

of

my

Father's

person
."



(source:


Notes and Papers Concerning Ellen G. White and the Spirit of Prophecy,
Ellen G. White Estate, 1974, p. 24; re
printing a paper called “The Position of ‘The
Bible, and the Bible Alone” and the Relationship of This to the Writings of Ellen G.
White,” by Arthur L. White.)


The second of your statements, which Elder White also
mentions, seems to me to fall into the sa
me category as the first.


I fail to see how
these statements brand Ellen White as semi
-
Arian, though of course I may simply be
revealing my own ignorance here.



The third statement, which you cited but did not quote, appears on pp. 126 and 127
of
Early W
ritings.


The issue for you here seems to be that in Ellen White’s
description of what she saw, the Father, but not the Son, was enclosed in glory that
human sight cannot penetrate, and so you concluded that for her, the Son did not
share the glory of the
Father.


But as Trinitarians do we require the same
characteristics from all three persons of the Godhead?


I do not recall ever reading a
statement in the Bible or in Mrs. White’s writings that ascribes this same blazing glory
to the Holy Spirit.


Does th
is mean that the Holy Spirit is somehow a lesser being
than the Father?


I do not think that the situation requires this conclusion.


Nor do I
think Mrs. White’s description requires such a conclusion regarding Jesus, even in
heaven before His incarnation.


While a semi
-
Arian could indeed express himself in
such terms, I do not think it follows that everyone who uses these terms is therefore a
semi
-
Arian.



And even earlier than the death of James White, Mrs. White was beginning to write in
terms that would

have been difficult for semi
-
Arians to adopt, and impossible for
Arians.


In the
Review
of August 8, 1878 (p. 49), she wrote of Jesus as “the eternal
Son of God.”


Such references are more frequent later, to be sure, but they begin in
this time period.



You said that it “bothers me no end” for her to say that “Jesus and the Father are
quite separate individuals.”


But this affirmation, or something like it, has been
orthodox Christianity since the church rejected Modalism in the third century.


You
are pr
obably already familiar with the helpful article that appears in the
Seventh
-
day
Adventist Bible Commentary
as an “Additional Note on Chapter 1” in the comments
on the Gospel of John.


The article traces many of the twists and turns that Christian
theology

has taken while grappling with questions relating to the Trinity.


Here is the
statement about Modalism, under the broader heading of Monarchianism, as found in
vol. 5, pp. 913, 914:



Monarchianism.

As the name indicates, Monarchianism stressed the unity

of the
Godhead. (A “monarch” is literally a “sole ruler.”) It was, in effect, a reaction against
the many gods of the Gnostics and the two gods of Marcion

the God of the OT,
whom he considered an evil God, and Christ, a God of love. As reactionary
movemen
ts so often do, it went to the opposite extreme, and as a result became a
heresy the church later found it necessary to condemn. The trend of which
Monarchianism was characteristic may largely be credited with purging the church of
Gnostic teachings, but t
he cure caused almost as much havoc as the malady it was
supposed to remedy. The struggle with Monarchianism began toward the close of the
2d century and continued well into the 3d. There were two types of Monarchians, the





19

Dynamists (from a Greek work mean
ing “power”), who taught that a divine power
animated the human body of Jesus, who supposedly had no proper deity of His own
and lacked a true human soul, and the Modalists, who conceived of one God who had
revealed Himself in different ways.

In order to m
aintain the unity of the Godhead the Dynamists utterly denied the
deity of Christ, whom they considered a mere man chosen of God to be the Messiah
and raised to a level of deity. According to Adoptionism, one variation of this theory,
the man Jesus attaine
d to perfection and was adopted as the Son of God, at His
baptism.

The Modalists taught that
one

God had revealed Himself in
different

ways.
Denying any distinction in personality, they abandoned belief in the triune nature of
the Godhead altogether. They
accepted the true divinity of both Father and Son, but
hastened to explain that the two were only different designations for the same divine
being. This view is sometimes called Patripassianism, because, presumably, the
Father became the Son at the incarna
tion, and subsequently suffered and died as the
Christ. Similarly, at the resurrection, the Son became the Holy Spirit. From the most
famous exponent of the theory, Sabellius, this view is also called Sabellianism. The
Sabellians held that the names of the

Trinity were merely designations by which the
same divine person performed various cosmic functions. Thus prior to the incarnation
this divine being was the Father; at the incarnation the Father became the Son; and at
the resurrection the Son became the H
oly Spirit.

Early in the 3d century Tertullian refuted Modalistic Monarchianism, stressing
both the personality of the Son of God and the unity of the Godhead. However, he
proposed that Christ was a subordinate order of God

a theory known as
Subordinationi
sm.



In the statement I quoted from Arthur White above, James White objected to the
Trinity because, as he put it, it “spiritualize[d] away the existence of the Father and
the Son, as two distinct, literal, tangible persons.”


Similarly, Joseph Bates wrot
e,
“Respecting the trinity, I concluded that it was an impossibility for me to believe that
the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, was also the Almighty God”
(
Autobiography
[1868], p. 206).


It appears to me that James White, Joseph Bates,
and other
s of our pioneers were actually arguing against Modalism when they
rejected what they understood to be the doctrine of the Trinity.



The statements of Ellen White that you cited demonstrate that she was not a
Modalist.


If she did not cross every theologi
cal “t” and dot every theological “i” to
show in what way Jesus and the Father could still be one while existing as separate
beings, to me this only proves that she was not a theologian; it does not prove that
she was a semi
-
Arian.


Yet I must also say tha
t I would not be greatly troubled if in
her personal understanding she
were

in fact a semi
-
Arian in those early days.


I
would view this as comparable to other areas that I consider to be theologically
significant on which she did not have the full light f
or a time.


The two examples we
most often use are the fact that she did not see the significance of the Sabbath until
August of 1846, nearly two years after accepting her prophetic call, and she did not
understand until November of 1855 that the Sabbath b
egan at sunset rather than at 6
p.m.


She had already had a vision that pointed her to Leviticus 23:32, indicating that
the Sabbath began in the evening, not the morning (as some few were holding,
based on Matt. 28:1).


But the full meaning of what she had

been shown did not take
hold with her until November, 1855.


I am not troubled over these areas in which she
had to change her view.


I
would

be troubled if her visions had clearly endorsed the

20

wrong view, but they did not.


Neither, in my understanding,
did her visions endorse
an incorrect view on these aspects of the Trinity.



Having said that, I must also say that there are facets of the Trinity that I do not
expect to fully understand.


You have mentioned one of them in highlighting Mrs.
White’s state
ments about the deity of the human Jesus, and what happened to it
when He died or what would have happened to it if He had sinned.


The question
puts us on the horns of a dilemma.


Did Jesus offer only a human sacrifice?


If so, of
what avail is it for us?


But if not, how could divinity die?


By definition, this seems
impossible.


Do you have a good solution for this dilemma?


At the moment, I do not.


But I accept by faith that something significant happened to Jesus that also involved
His divinity, and H
is sacrifice was efficacious for us.


I cannot explain it, but I believe
it to be so.


No, more than that

I stake my hope of eternal life on it.



Forty years ago, when I was a student in the seminary at Andrews University, one of
my teachers was your coun
tryman, Dr. James J. C. Cox.


I recall a piece of whimsical
yet serious advice he had received from a teacher and passed along to us:


“Wrestle
with the great themes, though they throw you.”


The Trinity is certainly one of the
“great themes,” and it is un
defeated in the wrestling matches that we humans have
had with it.


Because God is greater than we and transcends our categories, I do not
think that we will ever fully understand it or “master” it.


When it throws us, as I
believe it inevitably will do so
oner or later, we need to accept our “defeat” with
humility, knowing that we are in the presence of the Almighty, whose ways are “past
finding out.”


Like Jacob, then, who wrestled with the Angel, we must hold onto Him
to receive His blessing.



I hope thi
s may be helpful to you.


May God bless and guide you as you seek to
serve Him.



William Fagal

Associate Director

Ellen G. White Estate

12501 Old Columbia Pike

Silver Spring, MD 20904
-
6600 U.S.A.



Phone: 301 680
-
6550

FAX:


301 680
-
6559

http://www.WhiteE
state.org



As might have been anticipated, brother Fagal has adopted a defensive but kind
response. It is probably as good a defensive response as could be made to the situation
I had called attention to. However, it does not answer all the questions I ha
d raised. I
too believe that our early believers were battling Modalism rather than the Trinity
doctrine. Ellen White it seems to me was offering an opposition to the Methodist
creed which said that God had no body parts. She clearly saw the Father as far
above
Jesus in authority and gave no place for the Holy Spirit in her early years. Some ask
why she never corrected her husband or her brethren on their semi
-
Arian views. The
answer is quite simple in my book, she agreed with them and said nothing in her e
arly
years that was contrary to what they believed. In fact what she said fitted very well
the theology of the semi
-
Arians. This is so obvious unless we take a defensive view
and try to defend her from being other than a Trinitarian. On the other hand what

she
said was quite out of harmony with the Trinity doctrine.



21

I try to be open and honest and have found myself in trouble at times because of it.
While being honest I have at the same time worked hard for God and the Church and
tried to defend it where p
ossible.
I cannot defend the claim that Ellen White was
always a Trinitarian
. Additionally, I believe that too many Adventists have a wrong
view on Ellen White which has been fostered by the White Estate. Ellen White
publications are churned out without an
y explanation that they are not suitable for
doctrinal purposes and her early statements on things to do with God are accepted so
that people believe such things as God is an individual looking much like us. Plus
much more. Too many are Ellen White Adventi
sts rather than Bible Adventists. They
study and quote Ellen White rather than the Bible. I am concerned that this whole
situation must be rectified. We must get back to being “the people of the Book” again.


It seems to me that Seventh
-
day Adventism has b
een too much influenced by the
North American brethren. For long centuries before Ellen White came upon the scene
people had only the Bible. Was that not sufficient? Is it not sufficient for today? Since
Ellen White came along most countries where we have
evangelised have had little if
any of her writings. They have been influenced by the North American brethren with
information about her though. If I understand the situation correctly it is not that many
years since people in Europe have had much of her wr
itings. I am of the opinion that
too much has been made of the writings of Ellen White. I feel sure she would not be
happy about this. I know that I can be easily be misunderstood because of what I am
saying here. Ellen White has been a great blessing, her

writings have been a great
blessing. However, her writings are not the Bible and Ellen White was not infallible
either. The stark difference between the writings of the early Ellen White and the later
Ellen White on things to do with God is so obvious tha
t I confess that I find it difficult
to understand how others don’t seem to recognise it. Maybe they don’t want to
recognise it? Some seem to hesitate to acknowledge that Mrs White could be so
wrong early and then make such a great change. Let me share a f
ew other instances
where she changed considerably:


The growth and change experienced by Ellen G. White:

The fact that Ellen White grew and changed her mind on the Trinity will not be a
strange concept to those who know that she did this on other matters
as well. I offer
now some brief documentation certifying that she did grow and change:



The Law in Galatians:

First, I will refer to the document
Ellen White and the SDA Church
written by Bert
Haloviak. It is part of the Sligo Series presented in the Slig
o Church October 23, and
29, 1980. I am quoting from page 10 of part 1. It concerns the Law in Galatians:

Mrs White wrote to Uriah Smith on March 8, 1890 and said,
“As to the law in
Galatians, I have no burden and never have had.”


Haloviak says, “
Consider

the implication of that Ellen White position: Ellen White
had written mentioning the Galatians issue in 1857, in 1872, and in 1883 in the Life
of Paul and in several other places and in all those places it appeared that she had
taken positions contrary to

that presented by E. J. Waggoner in 1888. How then could
she say, ‘As to the law in Galatians, I have no burden and never have had’
.”



22

The situation was this. In the 1850’s J. H. Waggoner wrote that the Law in Galatians
was the Moral Law. Ellen White oppo
sed this position and supported the ceremonial
law as the Law in Galatians. She maintained this view supporting it in her book
Sketches from the Life of Paul.
She was apparently persuaded by E. J. Waggoner in
1888 concluding that the Law concerned is the M
oral Law and she wrote in the
Acts
of the Apostles

that the Moral Law is the schoolmaster. It is quite clear that Ellen
White was content to change her belief if the evidence demanded it.


From Sinai to Golgotha:

I have no doubt that there was progression
in the understanding of Scripture that Ellen
White enjoyed. I can well remember the joy I experienced as I read the series of five
articles that Alden Thompson wrote in the
Adventist Review

back in 1981. The series
was designed to illustrate the journey El
len White experienced in travelling
From
Sinai to Golgotha
and that is what the series was titled. I will quote from the fourth
article:



In her early years, Ellen White stood very much in the shadow of Sinai. She had
come to picture God as a ‘stern tyran
t compelling men to a blind obedience.’
(Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 31). But as she matured in her experience with the Lord, the
shadows of Sinai receded. More and more she experienced God as a ‘kind and tender
parent’ (Ibid.). Instead of uncomfortable comman
ds, she heard ever more clearly
God’s gracious invitation. Her later writings reveal that, step by step, love had

vanquished fear as a primary motivating force in her relationship with God
.”
Adventist Review
, December 24, 1981, page 7.



Do you remember th
e pictures
The Way of Life?

The first was offered when James
White was alive and the prominent feature was the Law. James was later advocating a
greater preaching of Christ, however he died in 1881

so the second was prepared by
Ellen White and her sons af
ter James death. It offered a changed version in 1883 with
Christ on the cross dominating the scene. The change in emphasis is obvious.





The Daily:

The early Adventists contended that “the Daily” mentioned in
Daniel 8

referred to
Pagan Rome. Ellen Whi
te supported this view


see
Early Writings
, pages 74, 75.
Later a new view was proposed claiming that the Daily referred to the Papacy and its
Mass counterfeiting the work of Jesus. Many contended that the new view could not
be correct because of what Ell
en White had said in
Early Writings
. Ellen White soon
disassociated herself from the matter insisting that it must be sorted out by a study of
Scripture


see
1 Selected Messages
, pages 164, 165. She quite clearly demonstrated
once more that she was open t
o change if further study of the Scriptures demanded it.


23


The Time to Open and Close Sabbath:

Well there are other things such as when to open and close the Sabbath. Early
Adventists accepted 6pm as the time for the Sabbath hours to begin and end. Ellen
su
pported this and opposed the idea of sunset to sunset as the correct time for Sabbath
observance. She later changed and accepted sunset to sunset as the Biblical
requirement.


What we have noticed is surely sufficient to convince us that Mrs. White could h
ave
had a wrong view about the Godhead and that she later came to an accurate Biblical
assessment causing her to change her conclusions.


Health Reform:

I wont go into details here. Many will be aware of the changes that took place in early
Adventism on t
his subject.


My readers probably are able to add further references from their own research in
addition to the above.


FINAL APPEAL:

I think I have explored rather thoroughly matters related to Ellen G. White and the
Trinity Doctrine. I have left no doub
t that I am concerned that the Church should
come out very openly and publicly stating that the writings of Ellen White should not
be used to determine correct doctrine. This was not their purpose. It should also
acknowledge that there is a difference betw
een the early Ellen White and the later
Ellen White on the Trinity question. The early Ellen White, along with her husband
James and other associates, was a semi
-
Arian but she developed into a very obvious
Trinitarian. Her early statements should not be us
ed in order to confuse her later
statements.


If you have sincerely studied through the material I have provided above you are now
in a position to make a decision. Am I right or am I wrong? I would be glad to hear
from anyone who has studied through this

material. If you agree with me please tell
me so that I might be relieved to know that at least someone does not think that I am
just a silly old man. If you disagree, please explain why. I need to know if I am
wrong. May I thank all readers in anticipati
on of your kind response after study. My
prayer is that God will bless you as you faithfully and prayerfully do your study. Let
us praise Him with our honesty and our desire to see His Name glorified and His
Church prosper and grow.


My email address is
mhatton@bigpond.net.au