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This site is for Seventh-day Adventists, whether members of the denomination or separated from the church. It also includes the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement, or any other group that includes the name Seventh-day Adventist. It is for anyone who upholds Ellen G. White as a prophet of God, as well as those who have never been Seventh-day Adventists. If you believe in Ellen White, this site is for you.
In particular we are asking the question --- Is God a Trinity?
The Seventh-day Adventist Church from its inception was not Trinitarian, and this has been clearly stated by our historian George Knight. Others have stated it as well. See Appendix 1 (bottom of page)
The pioneers believed in one God the Father, who bore (begat) a Son at some far distant point in eternity. The Spirit was believed to be the omnipresent Spirit of the Father, who is its great source. It was given to the Son by the inheritance of birth; He in turn gives it to us.
We now ask -- Why did the church change its belief?
Many brethren say Sister White changed her understanding of God some time prior to 1898, and had Marian Davis, her secretary, add the words "original, unborrowed, underived" placed in 'The Desire of Ages' to show that she believed Christ was eternal God with the Father and the Holy Ghost. This is often called a 'maturing' of belief, rather than a change.
But, change it is, and what a change! It would have been an incredible shock to the pioneers still living. Nothing is mentioned by them. No voice of protest. Only silence. Sister White did not write anything about her 'matured' understanding. Surely she would have wanted her brethren to learn of this new concept, either from her own lips or pen ?
More than that, she had warned others against any change from the truths given at the beginning. She said:
Adventist historian, George Knight stated, “Most of the founders of Seventh-day Adventism would not be able to join the church today if they had to subscribe to the denomination’s Fundamental Beliefs. More specifically, most would not be able to agree to belief number 2, which deals with the doctrine of the trinity.” Ministry Oct 1093 p10.
His suggestion that ‘most’ could not join the church because of their belief, should be ‘all’.
William G Johnnson also, “Adventist beliefs changed over the years under the impact of ‘present truth’. Most startling is the teaching regarding Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. Many of the pioneers, including James White, J.N.Andrews, Uriah Smith and J.H. Waggoner, held to an Arian or semi-Arian view… that is, the Son at some point in time before the Creation of the world was generated by the Father… the Trinitarian understanding of God, now part of our fundamental beliefs, was not generally held by the early Adventist. Even today a few do not subscribe to it." Adventist Review. Jan 6. 1994 p10.
Again, it is not correct to say that the belief was ‘not generally held’. It should be that it was ‘not held' by our pioneers.
Russell Holt of Andrews University stated, “A survey of other Adventist writers during these years (1870s) reveals that, to a man they rejected the trinity, yet with equal unanimity they upheld the divinity of Christ.” The Doctrine of the Trinity in the SDA denomination 1969 p311.
This shows clearly that as late as the 1870s, all believed in the Fatherhood of God and Sonship of Christ.
Speaking of the 1872 Fundamental Principles, unchanged until 1930, the comment is made: “Even more significant, however, is the fact that the statement is distinctly non-Trinitarian.” Issues 39. Authorized by the North American Division Officers and Union Presidents.
The introductory remarks of the 1872 Fundamentals states, “We do not put forth this as having any authority with our people, nor is it designed to secure uniformity among them, as a system of faith, but is a brief statement of what is, and has been, with great unanimity, held by them.” Introductory remarks, 1872 Fundamentals.
From Issues, “Are the modern defenders of so-called historic Adventism really prepared to return to a non-Trinitarian position?” Issues p39.
“Remembering our non-Trinitarian past as well as the simplicity of our landmarks should encourage a certain humility in the church…”Issues p50.
Our Prophet said:
But even more that not telling her brethren that she had gone against her own counsel, she had accepted a doctrine belonging to the Sunday-keeping churches!
The question is --- Is it true?
Did Ellen White leave the pioneer doctrine of God and His only-begotten Son to become a Trinitarian? If she did, a large portion of her writings must be disregarded.
There are other brethren who believe the prophet was always a Trinitarian and say this is clear from her writings. We would therefore expect to see the Trinity and not the pioneer teaching in the Spirit of Prophecy. Others believe the newer compilations are unreliable, and for them, the old original writings are the only ones of value.
For you to consider dear Reader, is whether the Spirit of Prophecy writings teach the pioneer view of God, His Son and the Spirit, or whether they teach the Trinity, a doctrine, we repeat, that was not a fundamental belief for at least the first fifty years from when the above quotes were written. (Sister White no doubt used general terms, for her calculations go back to 1854. She most certainly be referring to that which was received between 1844 and 1848, when our doctrines were being studied and formulated from the Word of God)
The Trinity was not the teaching of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for another thirty four years. This brings us to 1888. It is then that problems began to develop.
As to your own personal view of which of the writings are inspired will be left to your own discretion. But for this site, we will quote from all her writings, accepting that some of the compilations give a biased view in certain areas, especially on the doctrine of God. They will be quoted with caution, and only after checking the original article.
Our studies will also be by exegesis where we look at what the text says, and not eisegesis, which adds preconceived ideas to the text. This is very important if we want to find the truth. We want the truth, and certainly hope you do too. If we have the truth, "the truth will make (us) free." John 8:32.
Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life." John 14:6.
He also said when speaking to His Father: "... Thy Word is truth." John 17:17.
We are also told that "...the Spirit of truth... will guide you into all truth..." John 16:13.
With these promises of God, and providing we follow wise study rules, we will find the truth.
"What influence is it that would lead men at this stage of our history (1904) to work in an underhand, powerful way to tear down the foundation of our faith -- the foundation that was laid at the beginning of our work by prayerful study of the Word and by revelation? Upon this foundation we have been building for the past fifty years. Do you wonder thatwhen I see the beginning of a work that would remove some of the pillars of our faith, I have something to say?" 1 Selected Messages p207.208.
Having said this of other church members, and in this instance, Dr Kellogg, would she change such an important doctrine as the God we worship? She also stated:
"Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayerful study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord.
But the waymarks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His Word and the testimony of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority." 1 Selected Messages p208. See further studies on the formation of truth.