Spiritualism

Posted Sep 20, 2010 by Corey McCain in Exposing Spiritualising the Word Hits: 5,070

As Seventh-Day Adventists what do we think about when we talk about spiritualism? We naturally think about spirits and demons which are associated with the immortal soul doctrine. This is very true that this is a form of spiritualism but are we aware that there are other forms of spiritualism that we may be deceived on? In this article we are going to go over two subtle forms of spiritualism that many in our church are not even aware of.

 

Satan has long been preparing for his final effort to deceive the world. The foundation of his work was laid by the assurance given to Eve in Eden: "Ye shall not surely die." "In the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:4, 5. Little by little he has prepared the way for his masterpiece of deception in the development of spiritualism. He has not yet reached the full accomplishment of his designs; but it will be reached in the last remnant of time. Says the prophet: "I saw three unclean spirits like frogs; . . . they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." Revelation 16:13, 14. Except those who are kept by the power of God, through faith in His word, the whole world will be swept into the ranks of this delusion. The people are fast being lulled to a fatal security, to be awakened only by the outpouring of the wrath of God. {GC 561.2}

 

In this particular quote EGW is mainly talking about the common spiritualism we are all aware of in Adventism but she says Satan has not yet reached the full accomplishment of his designs. She also says the foundation of Satan’s work was laid by the assurance given to Eve in Eden "Ye shall not surely die." What does "Ye shall not surely die" have to do with spiritualism? Satan is saying that man has life in himself and that he cannot die. You don't have to take God's word literally as you have life in yourself and you can't die. This is where the immortal soul doctrine comes in and when a person dies they actually haven't died at all because they go on living as a spirit. As Adventists we would think we are immune to this since we don't believe in immortality of the soul but we are all infected with the serpent’s lie that we have life in ourselves. See, if we truly understood that we do not have life in ourselves, our lives would display this by total reliance on God to sustain us in every aspect of our lives. We would have zero trust in ourselves and would constantly be drawing closer to God for He is the fountain of life.

But turning from all lesser representations, we behold God in Jesus. Looking unto Jesus we see that it is the glory of our God to give. "I do nothing of Myself," said Christ; "the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father." "I seek not Mine own glory," but the glory of Him that sent Me. John 8:28; 6:57; 8:50; 7:18. In these words is set forth the great principle which is the law of life for the universe. All things Christ received from God, but He took to give. So in the heavenly courts, in His ministry for all created beings: through the beloved Son, the Father's life flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in praise and joyous service, a tide of love, to the great Source of all. And thus through Christ the circuit of beneficence is complete, representing the character of the great Giver, the law of life. {DA 21.2}

 

Now lets take a look at the evidence that we as God's people are truly infected with the serpent’s lie. Rev 3:14-22 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.  22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

There we have it: the testimony from the faithful and true witness saying that we have need of nothing. The reason we have need of nothing is because we are infected with the serpent’s lie of having life in ourselves. We do not need to study, pray, take care of ourselves physically and mentally as we are fine just as we are. When it comes to the Godhead issue in Adventism many people just don't understand the importance of it and the serpent lies to them saying "what’s the big deal?". The lie that we are all infected with manifests itself with setting the issue aside as non-salvational. Hopefully this part of spiritualism is clear to us and we can see that even though we don't believe in immortality of the soul we are still tainted with the serpent’s lie. Now let’s take a look at the second subtle form of spiritualism.

The second form of spiritualism is also found in the garden of Eden. Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” My focus is on Satan’s words “Has God indeed said". What is Satan establishing here with these words? Satan is establishing his principle of doubting God's simple literal word. Here is a couple of quotes that show clearly how this is another form of spiritualism.

The truths most plainly revealed in the Bible have been involved in doubt and darkness by learned men, who, with a pretense of great wisdom, teach that the Scriptures have a mystical, a secret, spiritual meaning not apparent in the language employed.” These men are false teachers. It was to such a class that Jesus declared: "Ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God." Mark 12:24 .” “The language of the Bible should be explained according to its obvious meaning, unless a symbol or figure is employed. Christ has given the promise: "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine." John 7:17 . If men would but take the Bible as it reads, if there were no false teachers to mislead and confuse their minds, a work would be accomplished that would make angels glad and that would bring into the fold of Christ thousands upon thousands who are now wandering in error.” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, page 598, ‘The Scriptures a safeguard’)

The follower of Christ will meet with the "enticing words" against which the apostle warned the Colossian believers. He will meet with spiritualistic interpretations of the Scriptures, but he is not to accept them. His voice is to be heard in clear affirmation of the eternal truths of the Scriptures. Keeping his eyes fixed on Christ, he is to move steadily forward in the path marked out, discarding all ideas that are not in harmony with His teaching. The truth of God is to be the subject for his contemplation and meditation. He is to regard the Bible as the voice of God speaking directly to him. Thus he will find the wisdom which is divine. {AA 474.2}

 

Let’s take a look at some simple Bible verses that traditional Christianity would spiritualize so we can get a clear understanding of what is happening. John3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. If I believe in immortality of the soul there is no way a person can literally perish like the verse says. In comes Satan saying “Has God indeed said, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life?” God's word clearly says that non-believers will perish but when a person spiritualizes the verse they would say something like this: well they won't literally perish because man has an immortal soul but they will not be in the presence of God so it’s as good as perishing. Here is another: Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. God's word clearly says there is a second death for those not in the first resurrection. When a person spiritualizes the verse, Satan comes in and says “Has God indeed said, Over such the second death has no power?" Well, this second death isn't literal because man has an immortal soul so this is talking about a spiritual death because you will spend eternity away from God. This is what EGW is talking about when she says "Scriptures have a mystical, a secret, spiritual meaning not apparent in the language employed.”  These men are false teachers. Traditional Christianity does this with the verses related to the second coming, the dead sleep, and even the Godhead.

 

How has Satan spiritualized the Godhead in traditional Christianity? 1 John 2:22-23 “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” We as Adventist's know the Papacy along with Protestantism are the antichrist system of bible prophecy. So the question is how do they deny the Father and Son? First, let’s look at Satan’s direct words so we can see the doubt he is trying to cause. Matthew 4:3  Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”  Matthew 4:6  and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. Matthew 27:39-40 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” We notice in these texts that Satan has an issue with the Son of God and wants to place doubt that Jesus is the Son of God. Let’s look at it from his famous line “Has God indeed said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased?” What would the response be from someone in traditional Christianity? This is how they would spiritualize this verse: Jesus isn't literally the Son of God because that would mean He would have to be created by the Father. (Satan will use the term “created” to place Christ as an inferior so as to scare people from looking any further. The truth is, Christ is begotten not created and is equal in nature to the Father.) Because God is a trinity and Jesus is co-eternal with the Father the first and second person of the trinity took on roles. The first took on the role of the Father and the second took on the role of a Son and the third the Holy Spirit. The Father and Son should not be taken literally but symbolically or metaphorically. So in this case God did not indeed say "This is My beloved Son" and mean it in a literal manner. This is how traditional Christianity denies the Father and Son. They deny that their relationship is literally a Father-Son relationship. The "Scriptures have a mystical, a secret, spiritual meaning not apparent in the language employed.” If I am wrong about the antichrist system on this matter I would ask if someone could show me how that system denies the Father and Son like the verse says?

 

Unfortunately, this has also been picked up by Adventism:

 

“A 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 roles 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." (Gordon Jenson, Adventist Review, October 31, 1996, p.12 Week of Prayer readings, ‘article ‘Jesus the Heavenly Intercessor’)

“Another important point involves how we interpret the Bible. Here the issue pertains to whether we should interpret some passages literally or whether we may treat them more figuratively. Maybe we could illustrate this way. While we often refer to Jesus as the Son and frequently call the first person of the Godhead the Father, do we really want to take such expressions in a totally literal way? Or would it be more appropriate to interpret them in a more metaphorical way that draws on selective aspects of sonship and fatherhood” “The Trinity” by Whidden, Moon and Reeve, Page 94

?The Father–Son relationship in the Godhead should be understood in a metaphorical sense, not in a literal sense. (Max Hatton, Understanding the Trinity, p. 97)

Your position that Jesus is a literal Son of God is untenable today; the evidence that you are in gross error is abundant and quite clear.(Open letter from Max Hatton to Adrian Ebens... type "ebens hatton" in google to read the entire letter)

Reading the above quotes can we see the serpent saying “Has God indeed said" and If You are the Son of God"?

 

We have seen how the serpent speaks, but let’s take a look at how God speaks... Matthew 27:54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Dan 3:25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Now reading these men’s words is there any hint that they are speaking metaphorically? I personally can't see any hint of that and it reads pretty simple as it is.

 

And Peter, describing the dangers to which the church was to be exposed in the last days, says that as there were false prophets who led Israel into sin, so there will be false teachers, "who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them. . . . And many shall follow their pernicious ways." 2 Peter 2:1, 2. Here the apostle has pointed out one of the marked characteristics of spiritualist teachers. They refuse to acknowledge Christ as the Son of God. Concerning such teachers the beloved John declares: "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father." 1 John 2:22, 23. Spiritualism, by denying Christ, denies both the Father and the Son, and the Bible pronounces it the manifestation of antichrist. {PP 686.1}

 

Their principles and faith are "after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Jesus has not taught them this philosophy. Nothing of the kind can be found in his teachings. He did not direct the minds of poor mortals to themselves to a power which they possessed. He was ever directing their minds to God, the Creator of the universe, as the source of their strength and wisdom. Especial warning is given in verse 18. "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind." The teachers of Spiritualism will come in a pleasing, bewitching manner to deceive you, and if you listen to their fables you are beguiled by the enemy of righteousness, and will surely lose your reward. When once the fascinating influence of the arch deceiver overcomes you, you are poisoned, and its deadly influence adulterates and destroys your faith in Christ's being the Son of God, and you cease to rely on the merits of His blood. Those deceived by this philosophy are beguiled of their reward through the deceptions of Satan.4bSG 88

 

Here is a few quotes that speak to the literal relationship of the Father and Son..

“The seventeenth chapter of John speaks plainly of the personality of God and Christ, and of their relation to each other.” Ms 124, 1903 in 5BC p.1145

The Scriptures clearly indicate the relation between God and Christ, and they bring to view as clearly the personality and individuality of each. "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son; . . . who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time.  "Thou art My Son, This day have I begotten Thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son?"  Hebrews 1:1-5. God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son.{8T 268.3}

“The whole nation called God their Father, and if Jesus had done this in the same sense in which they did, the Pharisees would not have been so enraged. But they accused Jesus of blasphemy, showing that they understood that Christ claimed God as His Father in the very highest sense.” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, 5th March 1901, ‘Lessons from the Christ-life’)

One last quote showing Satan’s strategy..

Angels were expelled from heaven because they would not work in harmony with God. They fell from their high estate because they wanted to be exalted. They had come to exalt themselves, and they forgot that their beauty of person and of character came from the Lord Jesus. This fact the [fallen] angels would obscure, that Christ was the only begotten Son of God, and they came to consider that they were not to consult Christ. {TDG 128.1}

SDA's for nearly the first 100 years of its existence were the only major group of people in the world teaching that Jesus was literally the Son of God. Today there is none except a small group that are finding out the wonderful truth of the Father and Son. I would say this is clear evidence the fallen angels have succeeded in obscuring that Christ is the only begotten Son of God. If what I say is not true then they have done a poor job of deception.

Rules for bible interpretation:

Those who are engaged in proclaiming the third angel's message are searching the Scriptures upon the same plan that Father Miller adopted. In the little book entitled "Views of the Prophecies and Prophetic Chronology," Father Miller gives the following simple but intelligent and important rules for Bible study and interpretation:-- {RH, November 25, 1884 par. 23}

"1. Every word must have its proper bearing on the subject presented in the Bible; 2. All Scripture is necessary, and may be understood by diligent application and study; 3. Nothing revealed in Scripture can or will be hid from those who ask in faith, not wavering; 4. To understand doctrine, bring all the scriptures together on the subject you wish to know, then let every word have its proper influence; and if you can form your theory without a contradiction, you cannot be in error; 5. Scripture must be its own expositor, since it is a rule of itself. If I depend on a teacher to expound to me, and he should guess at its meaning, or desire to have it so on account of his sectarian creed, or to be thought wise, then his guessing, desire, creed, or wisdom is my rule, and not the Bible." {RH, November 25, 1884 par. 24}

The above is a portion of these rules; and in our study of the Bible we shall all do well to heed the principles set forth. {RH, November 25, 1884 par. 25}

If the Father and Son are only roles then we should have inspiration that tells us of them taking on these roles. If not then claiming the Father and Son are role playing is spiritualizing the scriptures. I think most of us saw President Ted Wilson's sermon on accepting a literal reading of the Bible at GC. I pray he is able to see the light in his own words as they were beautiful. Today because of spiritualizing the Father and Son we are encountering more and more spiritualism in our churches and our schools. In California we have the 6 day literal creation being spiritualized as not being 6 literal days and in Australia we have the literal sanctuary in heaven spiritualized away. Australia has a Christ that came in Adam's sinless nature which is leading to teaching that we cannot overcome sin in our life time. This isn't just a problem in Australia but invading the entire world church. These teachings are all connected to the spiritualizing of the scriptures and particularly the Father and Son.

The follower of Christ will meet with the "enticing words" against which the apostle warned the Colossian believers. He will meet with spiritualistic interpretations of the Scriptures, but he is not to accept them. His voice is to be heard in clear affirmation of the eternal truths of the Scriptures. Keeping his eyes fixed on Christ, he is to move steadily forward in the path marked out, discarding all ideas that are not in harmony with His teaching. The truth of God is to be the subject for his contemplation and meditation. He is to regard the Bible as the voice of God speaking directly to him. Thus he will find the wisdom which is divine. {AA 474.2}

Some are taking their stand on these truths, and so will be shielded from the delusions of these last days, for which the way, by ages of superstition and error has been so artfully prepared. Every one must stand upon them who is governed by the literal rule of interpretation; for they are read in so many words of the sacred volume itself. But the churches generally reject them, often with bitterness, scorn, and contempt, and some even with persecution. And this is why Babylon has fallen Uriah Smith. Modern Spiritualism, Page 141,142

Appeal

"When the world is at last brought up for trial before the great white throne, to account for its rejection of Jesus Christ, God's own messenger to our world, what a solemn scene it will be! What a reckoning will have to be made for nailing to the cross One who came to our world as a living epistle of the law. God will ask each one the question, What have you done with my only begotten Son? What will those answer who have refused to accept the truth?" They will be obliged to say, We hated Jesus, and cast him out. We cried, Crucify him, crucify him. We chose Barabbas in his stead. If those to whom the light of heaven is presented reject it, they reject Christ. They reject the only provision whereby they may be cleansed from pollution. They crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. To them it will be said, "I never knew you: depart from me." God will assuredly avenge the death of his Son.  RH, January 30, 1900 par. 11