Section 7

Seventh-day Adventists

In 1904, Ellen White, prophet to the Seventh-day Adventist Church wrote “As a people, we are to stand firm on the platform of eternal truth that has withstood test and trial.  We are to hold to the sure pillars of our faith.  The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation.  They have made us what we are.  The lapse of time has not lessened their value.

It is the constant effort of the enemy to remove these truths from their setting, and to put in their place spurious theories.  He will bring in everything that he possibly can to carry out his deceptive designs….  We have a truth that admits of no compromise.  Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth?”  1 Selected Messages p201.205.

When speaking of this platform of truth, the prophet said, “Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid…. (they) searched for truth as for hidden treasure.”  Ibid p206.  And again, “The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation.”.  Ibid p201.   (This study was done between 1844 and 1848)

While in vision, Ellen White saw men trying to remove the pillars supporting the platform, and she heard a voice say, “The foundation was built by the Master Worker”.   Ibid p204.

What was the teaching of these early pioneers on God’s Son?   Was He a Son prior to the Incarnation?

In 1864, the following was written by Ellen White, “It is no marvel with the angelic host that their loved Commander, after He had carried out the plan of salvation, and ascended up to Heaven, should take His own exalted stature, and be clothed with majesty and glory, which was His before He left Heaven.  But it was a marvel with all heaven, that the Father suffered the Son of His bosom to lay aside His glory, and come down to earth, and submit to humiliation, and the agonizing death of the cross to save fallen man.”   Spiritual Gifts Vol 4A p119.

Thirty one years later the prophet wrote, “A complete offering has been made; for ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son – not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father’s person, and in all the brightness of His majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection.    In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”   Signs of the Times. May 23. 1895.

At the turn of the century, the belief was the same. “Before the foundations of the world were laid, Christ, the Only Begotten of God, pledged Himself to become the Redeemer of the human race should Adam fall, and He who was partaker of the Father’s glory before the world was, laid aside His royal robe and kingly crown, and stepped down from His high authority to become a Babe in Bethlehem…”   Signs of the Times Aug  2 1905.

In 1872, a declaration was printed of the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists. On the section dealing with God, it said, “1.  That there is one God, a personal, spiritual Being, the Creator 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.”    Psalm 139:7.  (They did not believe in a third independent Being, but God’s own personal Presence, or His omnipresent ability to be everywhere. Education p132))

11.  That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, and Son of the Eternal Father, the One by whom God created all things, and by whom they do consist; that He took on Him the nature of the seed of Abraham for the redemption of our fallen race.”    Printed in Battle Creek, Michigan. 1872.

In later years, Seventh-day Adventists changed their belief from this non-Trinitarian understanding.

William G Johnsson, Editor of the Adventist Review said, “Adventist beliefs have 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 our world was generated by the Father.”  Adventist Review, Jan 6, 1994. p10.  (In actual fact ‘all’ were anti-trinitarian, not ‘many’)

George Knight, professor of history at Andrews University made this amazing statement, “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… belief number 2, which deals with the doctrine of the trinity.”  Ministry. Oct 1992 p10.  

In 1957, the book Questions on Doctrine was published, listing the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists.  To the question:  “What doctrines do Seventh-day Adventists hold in common with Christians in general, and in what aspects of Christian thought  do they differ…?”,  the following answer was given:

“1. In common with Conservative Christians and the Historic Protestant Creeds, We believe… 2. That the Godhead, the Trinity, comprises God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit…. 4. That Jesus Christ is very God, and that He has existed with the Father from all eternity.  5. That the Holy Spirit is a personal being, sharing the attributes of deity with the Father and the Son…”  Questions on Doctrine p21.22.

It is obvious that during this time, the Adventist Church stood with mainline Protestantism on the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, however, in the following years, subtle changes took place.  

In 1980, at the quinquennial General Conference Session of the World Church in Dallas, Texas, the doctrine of the Trinity was officially made part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but it is not the Catholic version based on the creeds.

Statement No.2 from the ’27 Fundamentals’ states, “There is one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present.  He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation.  He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation… There is no distance between the persons of the triune God.  All three are divine, yet they share their divine powers and qualities.  In human organization final authority rests in one person – a president, king, or prime minister.  In the Godhead, final authority resides in all three members.

While the Godhead is not one in person, God is one in purpose, mind, and character.  This oneness does not obliterate the distinct personalities of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.   Nor does the separateness of personalities within the Deity destroy the monotheistic thrust of Scripture, that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God.”   27 Fundamental Beliefs No.2.

Today in Adventism,  the term ‘person’ is believed to have the same meaning as ‘being’, and to say there are three co-eternal and co-equal Persons, means three God-Beings. 

Is there any paternal relationship between the First and Second Person of this Tri-theistic Godhead?   

The answer was given in the Week of Prayer readings for October, 1996, by Gordon Jensen.  These readings cover the world field for Adventism.  

“The plan of salvation was encompassed in the covenant made by the Three Persons of the Godhead, who possessed the attributes of Deity equally. In order to eradicate sin and rebellion from the universe and to restore harmony and peace, one of the divine Beings accepted, and entered into, the role of the Father, another the role of the Son.  The remaining divine Being, the Holy Spirit, was also to participate in effecting the plan of salvation.  All of this took place before sin and rebellion transpired in heaven

By accepting the role that the plan entailed, the divine Beings lost none of the powers of Deity.  With regard to their eternal existence and other attributes, they were one and equal.  But with regard to the plan of salvation, there was, in a sense, a submission on the part of the Son to the Father.” Adventist Review. Oct 31. 1996 p12. Week of Prayer readings.

Some years earlier, J.R. Spangler had commented on this same understanding of three God-Beings taking roles.   He said, “To me this signifies the interchangeableness of the members of the Godhead since they are one in action and purpose.”   Review and Herald. Oct 21. 1971.

In 1982, J. Reynolds Hoffmann wrote, “The Father-Son relationship in the New Testament must always be understood in the light of the event of Bethlehem.  The only child born into this world with a divine, rather than a human, father is Jesus.  The title, ‘Son’, refers to His entry into time and does not deny at all His eternal origin.  There are references in the Old Testament to Sonship, but these are always in anticipation of the incarnation.”   Ministry.  June 1982.

Again the question must be asked in all sincerity:

Who says God has no Son?

         Seventh-day Adventists

Who Says God has No Son?

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