A friend just asked me what I thought about Ellen White's use of the word "spiritualizers."
What were “spiritualizers” teaching? Was that Trinitarianism as we now would understand the term Trinity?
James White wrote:
“Will any one try to spiritualize these things? and say that there is no literal Sanctuary, with its Holy, and Most Holy, the Ark containing the ten commandments, the candlestick, etc., in heaven? Such as do this can as well spiritualize the "Son of man," seen by John, and deny his personality. We have seen the sad fruits of the spiritualizing system, and have also seen that it is safest to take the word of God as it reads.” ARSH January 1851 p. 29.17
“Misled by interpreters, who depart from the literal and plain meaning of the sacred writers, they spiritualize and allegorize their words until a second revelation is made necessary, to enable them to understand and fix the meaning of the first.” ARSH December 27, 1853 p. 196.8
“What reason can be given for thus attempting to explain away and spiritualize those expressions which are plainest and most explicit, and leaving others to be taken literally which are really feebler and less definite?” ARSH March 14, 1854 p. 63.6
James championed the plain, explicit, literal Word of God “as it reads.”
He rejected those who spiritualize, allegorize, explain away the plain statements of Scripture.
Ellen fully agreed with her husband. She didn't use the term "spiritualizers" but did use "spiritualizer" in one original:
" A spiritualizer came in, and talked in such a fanatical and blasphemous manner that it was painful to hear him. He at last declared himself to be Jesus Christ, and that there would be no literal, personal appearing of Jesus....Then I described the lovely person of Jesus, his glorious appearance in the clouds of heaven, as he comes to earth the second time; with what majesty and power he rides forth upon the cloudy chariot, escorted by all the angelic host, and with the glory of the Father" Spiritual Gifts vol. 2 1860 p. 102.2; Life Sketches 1880, 1888 p. 251.2
In the following paragraph she described this "spiritualizer" as having "messages through the mist and fog of spiritualizing and fanaticism."
"spiritualize" has 32 hits but 5 important originals illustrating the same principle as above:
“I knew their only object was to mangle the visions, spiritualize away their literal meaning, throw a Satanic influence upon me, and call it the power of God." Spiritual Gifts vol 2. 1860 p. 73.1; Life Sketches 1880 p. 230.1
"I had often been shown the lovely Jesus, that he is a person. I had asked him if his Father was a person, and had a form like himself. Said Jesus, ‘I am in the express image of my Father's person.’ I had often seen that the spiritual view took away the glory of heaven, and that in many minds the throne of David, and the lovely person of Jesus had been burned up by the fire of spiritual interpretation." Life Sketches 1880 p. 230.3
"The most specious temptations of the enemy are coming in, and they are coming in on the highest, most elevated plane. These spiritualize the doctrines of present truth until there is no distinction between the substance and the shadow." Medical Ministry p. 87.4; GCBulletin April 6, 1903 par 27; RH April 14, 1903 [this was given in the same paragraph in which she warned "Spurious scientific theories (referring to Kellogg) are coming in as a thief in the night, stealing away the landmarks and undermining the pillars of our faith."
"A fear of making the future inheritance seem too material has led many to spiritualize away the very truths which lead us to look upon it as our home." Spirit of Prophecy vol 4 1884 p. 498.3; GC 1888 p. 674.3; Adventist Home p. 541.3; RH Oct 22, 1908
"Thousands who pride themselves upon their wisdom and independence regard it an evidence of weakness to place implicit confidence in the Bible; they think it a proof of superior talent and learning to cavil at the Scriptures, and to spiritualize and explain away their most important truths." Spirit of Prophecy vol. 4 1884 p. 398.3; GC 1888 p. 582.3; ST July 4, 1899; Prophets and Kings 1917 p. 625.2
"spiritualized" is mostly used by her in a positive sense. But occasionally in the 'non-literal' application as above:
"We must be careful lest we misinterpret the Scriptures. The plain teachings of the Word of God are not to be so spiritualized that the reality is lost sight of. Do not overstrain the meaning of sentences in the Bible in an effort to bring forth something odd in order to please the fancy. Take the Scriptures as they read." MS 30, Oct 29 1904 in 1SM p. 170.2
"spiritualistic" is often used for "mediums" and "spiritualism" and contact with the "spirit world". But also for theories turning the literal into the immaterial:
"There is but one power that can break the hold of evil from the hearts of men, and that is the power of God in Jesus Christ. Only through the blood of the Crucified One is there cleansing from sin. His grace alone can enable us to resist and subdue the tendencies of our fallen nature. This power the spiritualistic theories concerning God make of no effect. If God is an essence pervading all nature, then He dwells in all men; and in order to attain holiness, man has only to develop the power that is within him." "These theories regarding God make His Word of no effect, and those who accept them are in great danger of being led finally to look upon the whole Bible as a fiction." 8T p. 291, 292 [Bible is no longer regarded as being the literal Word of God, but a figurative, "spiritual" message without substance]
Compare this with DA p. 671 "the third person of the Godhead" is easily identified. But the "theory" that this "Spirit" is a separate Being and not "literally the Son of God" robs Christ of being the "only" one who can provide victory over sin.
"The Father is like the invisible vapor; the Son is like the leaden cloud; the Spirit is rain fallen and working in refreshing power." "All these spiritualistic representations [not literal] are simply nothingness." Ev p. 614.1,2; Special Testimonies Series B no. 7 p. 62,63 1905.
"The spiritualistic theories regarding the personality of God, followed to their logical conclusion, sweep away the whole Christian economy." 1SM p. 203.4; Special Testimonies Series B no. 2 p. 51-59 1904
The personality of God involves His literal person, His literal form, sitting on a literal throne in a literal heaven. Spiritualistic theories propose Him to be an immaterial spirit pervading the universe but manifested by three "persons". The Christian economy is based on a literal Father who is God bringing forth from Himself His own literal Son and together they created all things, anticipated the rise of sin, the fall of man, and agreed in the counsel of peace to provide a divine Substitute that we might be saved. This is all swept away by spiritualizing away the real Father and his real Son "in truth and love" by a "fanciful theory" that they are really three extensions of the one great omnipresent god-blob who merely play the role of father-son. The son doesn't really die, only appears to, and then raises himself with his own intrinsic power. What "love"!
Does she identify "spiritualizers" as Trinitarians? Not explicitly. She never used the "T" word. But it is clear to me who she understood them to be.