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The begotten Son in the Writings of Ellen White

Posted Jul 01, 2010 by Adrian Ebens in The Son of God
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This is essentially an extract from Theos Volume 2 Pages 7-9 by Gary Hullquist. I strongly encourage the reader to read the entire volume 2 which contains several important considerations.

The modern view of Ellen White’s Christology is that she experienced a fundamental reversal in her theology during the final years of her life, from an initial belief in a begotten Son of God, heavily influenced by her domineering husband, to an absolutely co-eternal second person of a triune God.

We will examine the evidence in her own words of a consistent, persistent position, and continued belief in the literal begotten Son of God who proceeded from and came out of the eternal Father before the angels or anything else was created, having the same self-existent life, and sharing the same eternal Spirit, and given the same authority, dignity, power and divine perfection of his Father.

“Says the true Witness, the only Begotten of the Father, ‘Blessed are they that do his [the Father’s][1] commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the City.’ Rev. xxii, 14.” Ellen White, Review and Herald, June 10, 1852

“And the Son of God declares concerning Himself: “The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting... When He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.” Proverbs 8:22-30.” Patriarchs and Prophets p. 34 1890

Like Waggoner and Smith before her, Ellen also applied Proverbs 8 to the pre-existent Christ. Though she initially left out in the ellipsis those references to his being brought forth, in following years she freely quoted the entire passage.

“‘The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old,’ Christ says. ‘When He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment; when He appointed the foundations of the earth; then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.’ ” Signs of the Times, February 22, 1899

“Through Solomon Christ declared: ‘The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth.’” Signs of the Times Aug 29, 1900

“The Lord Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, existed from eternity, a distinct person, yet one with the Father. He was the surpassing glory of heaven. He was the commander of the heavenly intelligences, and the adoring homage of the angels was received by him as his right. This was no robbery of God. ‘The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way,’ he declares, ‘before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hillswas I brought forth; while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth."” E. G. White, Review and Herald, April 5, 1906

Notice that in each case she states that “Christ says,” “Christ declared,” “the Lord Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God…declares” that he was brought forth. As late as 1906 she was still applying the Wisdom of Proverbs chapter 8 to Christ.

Ellen White’s use of “begotten,” however did not cease with her 1888 epiphany in Minneapolis.

“Before the assembled inhabitants of heaven the King declared that none but Christ, the Only Begotten of God, could fully enter into His purposes…” Patriarchs and Prophets p. 36 1890

he wasthe only-begotten Sonof the FatherSigns of the Times, November 23, 1891

“The Majesty of heaven, the only begotten of the Father, responds to Satan's claims.” Review and Herald, June 20, 1893

“He was the only-begotten Son of God, who was one with the Father from the beginning.” Signs of the Times, May 28, 1894

Who is Christ? He is the only begotten Son of the living God.” Youth Instructor, June 28, 1894

During the time that Prescott was in Australia, she wrote of the begotten Son “made” in the Father’s image.

The Eternal Father, the unchangeable one, gave his only begotten Son, tore from his bosom Him who was made in the express image of his person, and sent him down to earth to reveal how greatly he loved mankind.” Review and Herald, July 9, 1895

“Christ should be uplifted as the first great teacher, the only begotten Son of God, who was with the Father from eternal ages.” Special Testimonies On Education, p. 230 1895

“But the Lord's arrangement, made in council with his only begotten Son, was to leave men free moral agents to a certain length of probation.” Review and Herald, December 21, 1897

Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was the delegated messenger…And in this gift the Father gave all heaven to the world.” Review and Herald, February 15, 1898

“The dedication of the first-born had its origin in the earliest times. God had promised to give the First-born of heaven to save the sinner.Desire of Ages, p. 51 1898

“The apostle Paul speaks of our Mediator, the only-begotten Son of God, who in a state of glory was in the form of God, the Commander of all the heavenly hosts, and who, when He clothed His divinity with humanity, took upon Him the form of a servant.” Youth’s Instructor, October 13, 1898

Christ, the only begotten Son of God, left the royal courts and came to this world, and through him God poured forth the healing flood of his grace.” The Youth’s Instructor, March 30, 1899

Before the foundations of the world were laid, Christ, the Only Begotten of God, pledged Himself to become the Redeemer of the human race, should Adam sin.” Signs of the Times, August 2, 1905

“In order fully to carry out his plan, it was decided that Christ, the only begotten Son of God, should give himself an offering for sin.” Review and Herald, May 2, 1912

If Ellen White shifted her position to Christ no longer being begotten of the Father, you think that at some point she would have shared this with her sons and encouraged them to embrace the new understanding, but it appears that her son Edson was not aware of any change in 1909 when he wrote:

“Christ is the only being begotten of the Father.” James Edson White, Past, Present and Future, p. 52. 1909

In agreement with Waggoner and Jones, Smith, Underwood and Prescott, she too describes the Father as the source of all life, even for the Son. “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” John 5:26. She quoted John 8:28; 6:57; 8:50; 7:18 then said,

“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 lifeflows out to all; through the Son it returns, in praise and joyous service, a tide of love, tothe 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.” Desire of Ages p. 21, 1898

This quotation, taken from the first chapter of Desire of Ages, describes what Ellen White called “the circuit of beneficence.” The Father is the source of all life; it flows out from Him through the Son who was begotten from the Father, who proceeded forth (John 8:42) for the very purpose of revealing Him to the creatures of His universe. The Spirit of God likewise flows, or proceeds (John 15:26) from the Father, through the Son, to bring the Father’s life to all His creatures. Our communion is with the Father and the Son (1John 1:3) by means of their Spirit which returns through the Son back to the Father.

Ellen also maintained throughout her life a firm conviction in the separate, individual persons of the Father and the Son.

“I have often seen the lovely Jesus, that He is a person. I asked Him if His Father was a person and had a form like Himself. Said Jesus, "I am in the ex-press image of My Father’s person." Early Writings, p. 77 1851

“From eternity there was a complete unity between the Father and the Son. They were two, yet little short of being identical; two in individuality, yet one in spirit, and heart, and character.Youth’s Instructor Dec. 16, 1897

“In the depths of omnipotent wisdom and mercy the Father took the work of salvation into His own hand. He sent His only begotten Son into the world to live the law of Jehovah.” The Bible Echo, November 20, 1899

The Father and Son are not identical. They are thus not absolutely co-equal in all aspects. But in John 10:15 Jesus said that he “knows the Father” even as the Father knows him. In complete harmony with her husband, she insisted that their unity is not physical but in character, heart and mind because they share the same Spirit. She applied Zechariah 6:12 to the Father and Son, a Godhead of two.

“The relation between the Father and the Son, and the personality of both, are made plain in this scripture also: ‘Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts, saying, Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: And He shall grow up out of His place; And He shall build the temple of Jehovah… And He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule upon His throne; And He shall be a priest upon His throne; And the counsel of peace shall be between Them both.’" Testimonies to the Church Vol. 8, p. 269 1904; Review & Herald March 3, 1904.

This was still her position in 1905.

“Christ is one with the Father, but Christ and God are two distinct personages. Read the prayer of Christ in the seventeenth chapter of John, and you will find this point clearly brought out.” 1905 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Takoma Park Washing-ton D. C., May 19, 1905, Review and Herald, June 1, 1905

There is a plain and consistent continuity of belief in the begotten Son of God throughout the course of Ellen’s ministry. The Son received all things from the Father: His eternal life and spirit, divine character, His own name, creative power, authority, glory and honor. He is not a son by creation or adoption, but a Son begotten. This Satan would seek to hide and obscure.

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 angels would obscure, that Christ was the only begotten Son of God, and they came to consider that they were not to consult Christ.” Letter 42, April 29, 1910, to Elder D. A. Parsons, in This Day with God p. 128

Ellen said it was a fact that Christ is the only begotten Son of God. Long before his human birth in Bethlehem, rebellious angels in heaven conspired to obscure this fact. It is significant that Ellen White uses the term obscure rather than deny that Christ is the begotten Son. Catholics, Protestants and Adventists all will acknowledge Christ as begotten in some capacity, but not in the simple begetting/inheritance process expressed in Scripture. The claim that Jesus is only begotten in the incarnation is an obscuring rather than a denial of Christ’s true position. This is all that Satan requires. Outright denial does not serve his purpose as well as confusion through obscuring the facts.

We invite the reader to prayerfully consider the statements of Ellen White concerning the begotten Son and see that there is abundant evidence that she believed that Christ was indeed a Son by inheritance in accord with all the pioneer leaders around her.