It’s been a year now since my friend Michael Delaney gave me a pile of books to read, including the Theos set, compiled by Gary Hullquist, and Adrian Ebens’ book My Beloved, and others.
After reading My Beloved three times, and carefully working my way through Theos parts 1-4 (I still have part 5 to complete), I can see that the books have impacted my thought processes to an incredible degree. I cannot turn anywhere in my religious life now without feeling thrilled at what I have learned on one hand, and deeply saddened and disturbed on the other hand for how truth has been compromised - and overturned - between the time of the foundation of our denomination in the mid 1800s, and now.
The Father/Begotten Son teaching makes me feel as though I have been under water for 37 years and have now burst to the surface, gulping – in great gulps – fresh air for the first time.
The family of God is a unit of people sharing the same beliefs, and the same foundation for those beliefs: scriptural revelation and explanation regardless of whatever age they live in, whether Bible times or contemporary times. Some of the family may be at different stages of maturity and understanding than others, but when they learn, or are exposed to, greater truth, they do as did the “noble Bereans” in comparing “new truth” with already revealed truth. (Acts 17:11)
I personally thank God for the foundation I received via the SDA Church, i.e., the Word of God as the agent for discerning truth, and particularly for discerning truth in contrast to error.
As a Seventh-day Adventist (since 1976) I firmly believe in the Gift of Prophecy bestowed upon our denomination through Ellen G. White, who wrote, in Gospel Workers, p. 302 (emphasis supplied is mine):
We are to be established in the faith, in the light of the truth given us in our early experience. At that time one error after another pressed in upon us; ministers and doctors brought in new doctrines. We would search the Scriptures with much prayer, [Isaiah 8:20, Acts 17:11] and the Holy Spirit would bring the truth to our minds. Sometimes whole nights would be devoted to searching the Scriptures, and earnestly asking God for guidance. Companies of devoted men and women assembled for this purpose. The power of God would come upon me, and I was enabled clearly to define what is truth and what is error.
As the points of our faith were thus established, our feet were placed upon a solid foundation. We accepted the truth point by point, under the demonstration of the Holy Spirit. I would be taken off in vision, and explanations would be given me….we were placed where light was shining on us in clear, distinct rays.
All points of doctrine, even though they have been accepted as truth, must be brought before the law and the testimony. If they cannot pass this test, we are told it is because “there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20) – no light. Thus, I can no longer in good conscience adhere to the doctrine of the Trinity, because my previous shadowy understanding of it has been enlightened by recent exposure to the Isaiah 8:20 test of the Word of God as interpreter of truth vs. error. The Trinity doctrine fails the Isaiah 8:20 test miserably and the grade it gets is: “No light.”
I now think of the Trinity doctrine in conjunction with the theory of evolution mindset, a mindset so desperate to believe a certain way that it goes against all rational, logical evidence in order to cling to the degrading concept of man’s ancestors being monkeys or slime. Talk about putting on blinders.
Blinders: something that impedes vision or discernment.
Impede: to retard in movement or progress by means of obstacles or hindrances; obstruct, hinder. To entangle; literally to snare the feet. Synonym – see Prevent. - Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 1997.
Where, by study, contemplation, and prayer, has the Seventh-day Adventist Church come up with the doctrine of the Trinity? What is the Isaiah 8:20 proof? Why can it be clearly traced that at the foundation of our denomination (following the 1844 Great Disappointment) our pioneers, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (refer back to the Gospel Workers quote provided earlier), established their seminal beliefs upon the word of God and yet not one of those pioneers embraced the concept of a triune God?
Instead, it is well-documented church history that the pioneers were agreed upon points of doctrine (the 7th day Sabbath, state of the dead, heavenly sanctuary, etc.) due to their intense devotion to finding such doctrines within the pages of God’s Holy Word, and yet the teaching of a triune God (which teaching was contemporary at that time) did not “make the grade” when those beliefs upon which the SDA Church was founded were established.
Why is it that SDA history exists (in easily accessible forms) to show that the Triune God concept was introduced as an SDA doctrinal “belief” more than five decades AFTER the denomination began, at a time when the church’s prophet, Ellen White, and almost every single original pioneer had died and left the scene of action (and thus personal influence)? Why, when there were no more living voices to defend the original no-Trinity set of beliefs, did such a theory slither in?
How immensely thankful we can be for the documented testimony of such pioneers, because – as with what Ellen White said about her own writings – theirs (the pioneers’ writings) do also still “speak” and “will constantly speak” and “go forward as long as time shall last.” (EGW, Letter 371, 1907. This statement is printed on the back of the EGW Notes publication that supplements our Sabbath School Lesson quarterlies, and has appeared on the back of them for as far back as the Jan-Feb-Mar 1999 issue.)
What lesson can be drawn from this? Study the Word of God. Study the words of our pioneers. To not study for one’s self but to blindly follow the teachings of men will not excuse anyone for falling under the spell of erroneous teachings, of which - I now firmly believe – the Trinity doctrine can be accurately categorized.
Pioneers whose writings underscore their rejection of a triune God include: James White, Ellen White, Joseph Bates, Uriah Smith, J.N. Loughborough, Steven Haskell, George Butler, J.N. Andrews (Andrews University…), and many others, whose names may be less familiar to 21st century Seventh-day Adventists, but whose contributions at the ground level of our denomination are well established.
More questions: Why did it seem necessary to some church leaders, more than fifty years after the founders had passed off the scene, to make a 180° reversal of belief and come up with the Trinity belief? What was to be gained by such a move? Only confusion for and deception upon millions of unsuspecting SDA Christians who are ignorant of our church history.
My own eye-opening study and research over the past year has enabled me to be ever so grateful to God for removing the blinders from my eyes so that I can put two and two together for myself. Those who want to are perfectly able to compare the conflicting issues for themselves. Abundant evidence exists and is available for anyone with a desire to find truth on the subject of the Trinity (and other related subjects as well) to discover that something went awry between the birth of our denomination and now. No one forces, no one is compelled, but once we are given the opportunity and privilege by God to examine, explore, and to investigate, and then we don’t do it, we become Christians “ever learning [but] never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7).
Praise be to God, who has placed within His unalterable (Psalm 89:34), simple-to-understand (Psalm 119:130), lamp-to-our-wayward-feet (Psalm 119:105) Word, those truths which, prayerfully examined and studied, give us “more understanding than all [our] teachers,” and the ability to “understand more than the ancients” (prophets and kings) who “desired to see those things which [we] see, and [yet did not see them in their day]; and to hear those things which [we] hear [yet they did not hear them].” Luke 10:24.
The way I see it, we can make one of two choices: be willing learners or be willingly ignorant. I choose to apply Isaiah 8:20 to what I have found, and to go forward into the beauty of revealed, freeing truth, for new light will never contradict former light; God never contradicts Himself; and the old landmarks are solid ground upon which we can rest our faith. (Emphases in the following excerpts are mine.)
When the power of God testifies as to what is truth, that truth is to stand forever as the truth. No after suppositions contrary to the light God has given are to be entertained. Men will arise with interpretations of Scripture which are to them truth, but which are not truth. The truth for this time God has given us as a foundation for our faith. He Himself has taught us what is truth. One will arise, and still another, with new light, which contradicts the light that God has given under the demonstration of His Holy Spirit. A few are still alive who passed through the experience gained in the establishment of this truth. God has graciously spared their lives to repeat, and repeat till the close of their lives, the experience through which they passed even as did John the apostle till the very close of his life. And the standard bearers who have fallen in death are to speak through the reprinting of their writings. I am instructed that thus their voices are to be heard. They are to bear their testimony as to what constitutes the truth for this time.
We are not to receive the words of those who come with a message that contradicts the special points of our faith. They gather together a mass of Scripture, and pile it as proof around their asserted theories. This has been done over and over again during the past fifty years. And while the Scriptures are God’s word, and are to be respected, the application of them, if such application moves one pillar from the foundation that God has sustained these fifty years, is a great mistake. He who makes such an application knows not the wonderful demonstration of the Holy Spirit that gave power and force to the past messages that have come to the people of God. 1SM, 161 (Letter 329, 1905).
It is eloquence for every one to keep silent in regard to the features of our faith in which they acted no part. God never contradicts Himself. Scripture proofs are misapplied if forced to testify to that which is not true. Another and still another will arise and bring in supposedly great light, and make their assertions. But we stand by the old landmarks. Ibid., 162.
Errors may be hoary with age; but age does not make error truth, nor truth error. 6T, 142.
In closing, I recall a quotation that struck my fancy many years ago, and I find myself testifying to its accuracy: "A mind, once expanded by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions" (Oliver Wendell Holmes). How true this is for me. When I became a Seventh-day Adventist 37 years ago, I soon found that what I was learning was expanding my mind to new thoughts and I would never be able to (nor did I want to) return to the ignorance in which I had previously lived. Now my mind has been expanded even further and I cannot imagine going backwards from here. If you’ve ever inflated a balloon and then let the air out of it you can clearly see that the deflated balloon is not the size it was before it was inflated; it may be wrinkly, but it’s larger! Neither is my mind the same as it was thirty seven years ago. And, praise God, it is no longer the size it was just twelve months ago.
The following words were penned over 100 years ago, and yet they seem to be a clarion call to us today:
According to the truth we have received above others, we are debtors to impart the same to them. We have no time to lose….We must look our work fairly in the face and advance as fast as possible in aggressive warfare….God help us to keep in the channel of light, to work with our eyes fastened on Jesus our Leader, and patiently, perseveringly press on to gain the victory. Let none be left unwarned. 6T, 22.
At this time there should be representatives of present truth in every city and in the remote parts of the earth. The whole earth is to be illuminated with the glory of God’s truth. The light is to shine to all lands and all peoples. And it is from those who have received the light that it is to shine forth. The daystar has risen upon us, and we are to flash its light upon the pathway of those in darkness. 6T, 24.