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Comment on `Letter to Elder Standish'

Posted May 13, 2012 by kym Jones in Adventist History
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I first became an Adventist in 1982/1983. At the time that Sister Janet wrote this letter to Elder Standish (was it Colin or Russel?)I would often listen to Russel  lecturing on the nature of sin & the error of `original sin' entering the Church when he was doing the rounds of the independent ministries here in Australia.  Little did I realize that the `example theory' of the atonement which he and other purveyors of so-called `Historic Adventism' were pushing was theology imbibed by this Church which pre-dates the `1888' message of Jones & Waggoner, and has its origin in semi-Arianism; thus leading to legalism. Colin never understood that Augustine's neo-Platonism led to his conception of `original sin' resulting from a rather narrow interpretation of Romans 5:12 - then subsequently completely ignoring verses 18 - 23; with the sure result that the `good news' of the gospel became the `bad news' of the atonement - with the inference that we are sinners by genetic defect, with absolutely no hope of overcoming sin! This resulted because Platonism teaches that the material plane of existence in which we live is at least neutral, or basically evil, so therefore Christ could not be tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin, as this would constitute Christ being a sinner by default, as His human nature (which was believed to be material) would result in corrupting His divine nature (which was believed to be immaterial). Russel never understood this and instead tried to fight the doctrine of `original sin' by instead jumping to the opposite end of the spectrum - which largely ended up with leaving Christ out of the picture; just as our pre-1888 theology had, and led to Ellen White complaining of sermons that were so focussed upon the law, that they were `dry as the hills of Gilboa'. As a result, this left Russel with a confused mix of theology which constituted the legalism of semi-Arianism, and the subtle spiritualism of Trinitarianism. After all, as Ellen White stressed in D.A and five other places that the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Godhead - then as far as Russel was concerned, the Trinity has to be a valid expression of the ontological relationship of the Godhead! This is the position which `Historic Adventism' takes today. (By `Historic Adventism' I mean Trinitarian `Concerned Brethren' who see themselves as the `keepers of the flame.)    

 I don't know which position is worse - the legalism enjoined by these people, or the neo-Pentacostalism which is enjoined by the Conference at large. At any rate, the rejection of `1888' has led to this confusion of the relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the doctrinal errors (particurlarly on the character of God) which most surely have resulted from the imbibing of the Nicene Creed by `Historic Adventism', and the Nicene & Chalcedonian (Athanasian) Creeds by the Church.

The Chalcedonian (Athanasian) Creed teaches the `New Theology' on the human nature of Christ which the Standish brothers fought against for so many years. It's such a pity that they never realised that the Chalcedonian (Athanasian) Creed incorporates a completed doctrinal statement which not only refers to the Nicene Creed; in the classic sense that it states that the Father, Son & Holy Spirit are co-substantial, co-existent & co-eternal; but also states the precise manner in which Christ manifested Himself to humanity; which is to say that it infers that Christ assumed the pre-fall nature of Adam. Illogically, on the one hand purveyors of `Historic Adventism' accept the Nicene Creed (the Trinity) as orthodox theology, while on the other, exponents  of this position seem to be unaware that the  Chalcedonian (Athanasian) Creed is in fact that `New Theology' which they rail against, and is in fact an amplified doctrinal expression of the Nicene Creed, as the Nicene Creed does not state the manner of the flesh which Christ manifested Himself in. In other words, one cannot partake of the Nicene Creed,  without partaking of the Chalcedonian (Athanasian) Creed. It is the Trinity which is the `New Theology' - not the pre-fall nature of Adam (Chalcedonian/Athanasian Creed). This teaching on the pre-fall human nature of Christ, which first came to the forefront with the publication of LeRoy Frooms `Questions on Doctrine' in the 1950's, resulted from our previous acceptance of Trinitarianism in 1931! However, Trinitarian purveyors of so-called `Historic Adventism' seem to be completely ignorant of this and don't realize that they are doomed to failure, for in imbibing of Trinitarianism, they have also imbibed of the spiritualism that is enjoined in the Trinitarian perception of the Holy Spirit. After all, as the 381 A.D  Council of Constantinople version of the Nicene Creed states that :

`[We believe] in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and Son together is worshipped and glorified . . . '

then it is logical to assume that Trinitarianism enjoins worship and prayer to the Third Person of the Godhead - i.e , the Holy Spirit. Any Church or organization which partakes of this Creed is logically enjoined to not only view the pre-fall nature of Christ as orthodox theology, but  to also not only allow but actually encourage Pentacostal styles of worship - which, by the way is a form of worship which `Historic Adventism' also rails against. Either these people accept the Father, Son and Their Spirit as doctrinal truth, with the `1888' view of the human nature of Christ (which states that Christ is the divine Son of God who was tempted in all points yet without sin), or they continue following the path which they have chosen, which can only lead to irrelevancy, marginalization and doctrinal oblivion.