How to recognize deception

Posted Sep 19, 2011 by Corey McCain in Christian Life Style Hits: 5,969

“If a brother differ with you on some points of truth, do not stoop to ridicule, do not place him in a false light, or misconstrue his words, making sport of them; do not misinterpret his words and wrest them of their true meaning.” “Do not present him before others as a heretic, when you have not with him investigated his positions, taking the Scriptures text by text in the spirit of Christ to show him what is truth.”Take your Bible, and in a kindly spirit weigh every argument that he presents and show him by the Scriptures if he is in error. When you do this without unkind feelings, you will do only that which is your duty and the duty of every minister of Jesus Christ.” (Ellen White, letter to G. I Butler, written from Minneapolis October 14th, 1888, Volume 12 Manuscript Releases, MR 998)

  I am writing this article in an attempt to help all professed Christians see what their duty is when dealing with someone who disagrees with them. The quote itself is very plain and shouldn’t need explaining but often we miss key points when there is much information like this. As an example I will be using my own testimony concerning the Trinity debate in Adventism. 

“If a brother differ with you on some points of truth, do not stoop to ridicule:” One of the most common tactics I have noticed from Trinitarians when arguing against Jesus being the Son of God is to raise the point or question stating: “does Jesus have a mother?”. This of course they are referring to His origin from eternity. These people generally know the answer before asking the question yet it is their “straw man” argument to counter the wording “literal Son of God”. Notice this comment that is similar and would apply to this point:

“While God the Father didn’t have a baby boy named God the Son, we use those terms to help understand that the parts of the Godhead are separate yet closely linked, the way a father and son bond together. (Steve Case, “why was it Jesus?", Signs of the Times, March 2011)

The issue with all of this is taking birth, begetting, or making the idea of Jesus being brought forth identical to a human birth. It is a way to mock Jesus as being the Son of God. This type of method is used when a person doesn’t have a plain thus saith the Lord for why they call Him the Son of God in a metaphorical sense. Other words inspiration never tells us the term Father and Son is metaphorical when used for God and Christ. Notice this same author expressing this thought:

… I don’t know how the Trinity decided that it would be Jesus who would come to earth, but I do know that all Three Members of the Godhead have been involved in our salvation from the beginning!.” (Steve Case, “why was it Jesus?", Signs of the Times, March 2011)

In this particular case the author doesn’t explain the Godhead taking on roles of Father and Son but simply leaves it as a “Mystery”. If he was to word this without the mockery and being more honest it could say: “Even though Jesus isn’t truly God the Fathers Son we have no idea how and why these terms are used or how Jesus became the member to take on humanity.” To say the terms Father and Son are used to show the closeness of the Godhead rather than who they are is speculation as there is no plain thus saith the Lord for this. Speculation will always follow after a person tears down the truth and in this case the method used to tear down the truth is ridicule.

“do not place him in a false light, or misconstrue his words, making sport of them; do not misinterpret his words and wrest them of their true meaning.”:

To show this example I will first make a simple statement of what I believe and then show how a person twists this. “I believe Jesus was brought forth (begotten) from God in the beginning. By inheritance He has the same nature as God and is equal with God and is rightfully called God.” The key to the following statements I am about to show is you need to understand that these men are not ignorant of what we believe on this matter. They have had countless non-trinitarian papers thrown at them in an attempt to help them see their statements are falsely misrepresenting us yet they fail to repent.

“As noted above, the gist of the anti-Trinitarian interpretation of this text claims that God the Father has literally generated, or “begat,” a divine being (the Son) sometime in the ages of eternity past as some sort of semidivine person. The Arians teach that it was an act of direct creation. The semi-Arians suggest that Jesus sort of split off from the nature of the Father to form a separate divine person. Thus both groups consider Jesus, the Son, to be an inferior “god,” not a true and eternally preexisting being such as the Father”” “The anti-Trinitarians are quick to give these terms a very literal interpretation in the sense that Christ is a ‘truly’ begotten, firstborn Son” generated by the Father. Thus they conclude that Christ is a “god” of lesser deity and dignity than the eternal Father.” (Woodrow Whidden, The Trinity, Biblical objections to the trinity, page 94)

The question then becomes Did Ellen White agree with Jones and Waggoner enough on the issues of 1888 so that it can be said that they were in substantial agreement?” Ellen White's hearty support of Jones and Waggoner is unquestioned. The key issue, however, seems to be whether this strong support meant total support for all their theological positions. For instance, did she support their view that Christ was a created god (Arianism)?(Woodrow Whidden, Ellen White on Salvation, Chapter eleven, page 90, ‘The Significance and Meaning of Minneapolis and 1888’, 1995)

As is typically common by Trinitarian writers the use of “begotten” and “created” is used interchangeably and then used to say this makes Jesus “of lesser deity”. If you do a study on non-trinitarian writers in Adventism you will see that we do not believe Jesus was “created” or “inferior” to God in the sense of His divinity. This particular line of reasoning is almost universal by Trinitarians or at least I have not seen any that would call these men out as deceiving people. Woodrow obviously makes the argument that Ellen White didn’t completely agree with Waggoner and Jones theologically. This is almost always expressed because she believed in the full Deity of Christ while these men did not. Notice below how Waggoner confronts this same issue in his day:

“But when the doctor [Briggs] states that Seventh-day Adventists deny the divinity of Christ, we know that he writes recklessly.” “We are fully persuaded in our own mind that he knows better; but be that as it may, the statement has been made so often by men who professed to know whereof they were speaking, that many have come to believe it; and for their sakes, as well as for the benefit of those who may not have given the subject any thought, we purpose to set forth the truth.” “We have no theory to bolster up, and so, instead of stating prepositions, we shall simply quote the word of God, and accept what it says.” (E. J. Waggoner. Signs of the Times, March 25th 1889, article ‘The Divinity of Christ’)”

Now notice how Waggoner would refute what Woodrow said:

He was begotten, not created. He is of the substance of the Father, so that in his very nature he is God; and since that is so "it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." Col. 1:19. Or, as the apostle states in Col. 2:9, "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." It would be difficult to frame language more expressive of the divine nature. {October 1, 1889 EJW, BEST 298.2}

You may also remember that Woodrow was making the claim that Ellen White didn’t agree with Waggoner theologically. This is based off his interpretation of her writings but when they are examined honestly we see she is saying the same thing as he is.

“It is true that there are many sons of God, but Christ is the "only begotten Son of God," and therefore the Son of God in a sense in which no other being ever was or ever can be. The angels are sons of God, as was Adam, by creation; Christians are the sons of God by adoption, but Christ is the Son of God by birth. The writer to the Hebrews further shows that the position of the Son of God is not one to which Christ has been elevated but that it is one which He has by right.” (Christ and His righteousness, page 12 ‘Is Christ God?’, 1890)

Now notice how she says the same thing as him:

“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.” (Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, 30th May 1895, ‘Christ our complete salvation’)

Now notice how she states that the message given by Waggoner and Jones shows the full Deity of Christ:

Messages bearing the divine credentials have been sent to God's people; the glory, the majesty, the righteousness of Christ, full of goodness and truth, have been presented; the fullness of the Godhead in Jesus Christ has been set forth among us with beauty and loveliness, to charm all whose hearts were not closed with prejudice. We know that God has wrought among us. {RH, May 27, 1890 par. 6}

{EGW 1888 Materials 673.6} 

I could show much more evidence of these tactics being used to misrepresent what we believe. I’m not sure if you can find a Trinitarian that will confess we believe in the full Deity of Christ. This misrepresentation is done in order to make the Triune God speculation more appealing. I say this because you will not find a plain thus saith the Lord for a triune God in the Bible. This is freely admitted by Adventist writers today and admitted that this doctrine is assumed.

“While no single scriptural passage states formally the doctrine of the Trinity, it is assumed as a fact by Bible writers and mentioned several times. Only by faith can we accept the existence of the Trinity.” (Adventist Review Vol. 158 No. 31, 1981, P. 4)

“The concept of the Trinity, namely the idea that the three are one, is not explicitly stated but only assumed.” (Fernando L. Canale, the Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology, Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopaedia Volume 12, page 138, ‘Doctrine of God)

?Some will tend to resist this doctrine (the trinity) because it is not found expressly stated in the scriptures. Adventist Review Aug 20 1993 P-8

“The Scriptures were de­signed by God for practical living and not for speculative theorizing. Hence, they con­tain no systematic exposi­tion on the nature of the Godhead. The Christian statement regarding the Trinity is an attempt to state the biblical paradox (which Scripture never attempts to resolve) that there is one God (see Deuteronomy 6:4: James 2:19), yet existing in three Persons (see Matthew 28:19: 2 Corinthians 13:14).” (Frank Holbrook, Signs of the Times, July 1985, ‘Frank answers’)

“The role of the trinity in a doctrine of God always raises questions. One reason is that the word itself does not appear in the Bible, nor is there any clear statement of the idea. But the Bible does set the stage for its formulation, and the concept represents a development of biblical claims and concepts. So even though the doctrine of the trinity is not part of what the Bible itself says about God, it is part of what the church must say to safeguard the biblical view of God.”….. “We can find hints of this doctrine in the Old Testament and preliminary expressions of it in the new.”….. “As these passages indicate, the idea of the trinity has precedents in the Bible, even though a full-fledged doctrine of the trinity is not to be found there.” The Reign of God, An Introduction to Christian Theology from a Seventh-day Adventist Perspective. by Richard Rice. 1985. Andrews Uni Press

“Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain "Thus saith the Lord" in its support.” {EGW, GC 595.1}

 "In this age of the world there is no safety in departing from a plain "Thus saith the Lord," however wise and correct the human assumption may appear. Tradition in names and books is nothing. God's word is everything. The wisdom of the wisest man that lives is foolishness if it swerves one jot or tittle from the word of the living God. God lives, God reigns, and He declares, "Them that honor me I will honor." Of those who place their sophistry above a plain "Thus saith the Lord," God says, "I will make their wisdom foolishness."  {BTS, May 1, 1913 par. 3

A common tactic and one in which I saw first-hand in March at my church is to lay out the evidence that Jesus is God or fully divine while making it appear we don’t believe this mixing our belief with the Jehovah Witness belief. This sets up the audience to believe we are denying the divinity of Christ. In the case in March after setting this up the Professor used the following quote to put the icing on the cake:

If men reject the testimony of the inspired Scriptures concerning the deity of Christ, it is in vain to argue the point with them; for no argument, however conclusive, could convince them. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14. None who hold this error can have a true conception of the character or the mission of Christ, or of the great plan of God for man's redemption.” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, page 524, ‘Snares of Satan’)

It is easy to see how this deception is setup and you can also see how it is meant to keep people from even looking into matters for themselves. This is the Trinitarian method that violates “do not place him in a false light, or misconstrue his words, making sport of them; do not misinterpret his words and wrest them of their true meaning.”

“Do not present him before others as a heretic, when you have not with him investigated his positions, taking the Scriptures text by text in the spirit of Christ to show him what is truth.”

   In my case and everyone that I know of there has been a failure on the part of church leadership to show us our error. When I was brought before the church at my disfellowship I had never been shown any error in the material of evidence I had put together. I was displayed as a heretic before the congregation when nobody made the effort to show me my error. I believe there was something like 35 or so votes cast in favour of supporting the church creed to disfellowship me when not a single one of these professed Christians had gone through my evidence and shown me my error. They all stood in support to use a creed as a test of fellowship rather than the scriptures. J.N. Loughborough had written about this back in the early days of our pioneers as a sign of apostasy. Notice his words:

The first step of apostasy is to get up a creed, telling us what we shall believe. The second is, to make that creed a test of fellowship. The third is to try members by that creed. The fourth to denounce as heretics those who do not believe that creed. And, fifth, to commence persecution against such. I plead that we are not patterning after the churches in any unwarrantable sense, in the step proposed. {October 8, 1861 J. N. Loughborough ARSH 149.7}

"The creed system is now exerting upon the clergy of the Protestant churches a secret, unsuspected, but tremendous power against the Bible—a power of fear. Yes, while it professes to venerate and defend the Bible, it is virtually undermining it." (By J. N. Loughborough, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 15&22, 1861.)

   Now we should recognize that the people in my church are not to be necessarily condemned for their actions as they were simply deceived themselves. However once they are given the opportunity to know that they have been deceived it becomes their responsibility before God to follow proper counsel or the sin remains their own. “Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.”(John 9:41) Those in the leadership position that have not followed proper counsel carry a much greater sin. In this process that I have described you will always see an appeal for “unity”. The devil is a master at this unity appeal and in fact is one of the most significant tactics he will use to finalize the “Mark of the Beast”. A simple way to understand the “Mark of the Beast” is to watch for churches that attempt to unite the people behind a man-made creed. Watch for the other extreme where the call is to set aside doctrine to bring people to Christ. In both cases the devils attempt is to bring unity outside of the Bible.

  When people consistently misrepresent and then fail to answer questions or respond to your evidence this should be a massive warning sign of a deception being played out. Another thing you will notice is the creed is used to silence the opposition. Those who don’t follow this creed are censored from speaking or displaying their views in the church. The church will bombard the people with their side of the story while keeping the opposition from being herd. A perfect example of this was at my hearing when the church gave her evidence while I was told I was not allowed to speak. After my disfellowship it was made known that I am not allowed to share my views in church or church gatherings. Now I would agree that we shouldn’t go around causing a disturbance in these scenarios in order to stir up debate. I will say there has been many times in Sabbath school where I would like to at least ask a question or ask for a “plain thus saith the Lord” on some of the things being stated. If things are done tactfully without a desire to push for debate questions like this should be allowed. Admittedly unless someone has self-control through the Holy Spirit there is certainly the possibility of things getting out of hand.  For now I haven’t pushed the issue myself.

  In conclusion those who are trapped in deception generally will not Take your Bible, and in a kindly spirit weigh every argument that he presents and show him by the Scriptures if he is in error. When you do this without unkind feelings, you will do only that which is your duty and the duty of every minister of Jesus Christ.” When we fail to do our duty as ministers of Christ we can only consider ourselves professed Christians. Let’s always be willing to go over the evidence the opposition may have as a failure to do so simply means you don’t love your brother enough to help him out of his deception. This is a violation of God’s law and will cost you your salvation in the end.

God Bless!!!