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Transitional Use of the Word Trinity in Adventism

Posted Mar 09, 2010 by Adrian Ebens in Adventist History
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The claim is often made that Adventists openly referred to the Triune Trinity before the Death of Ellen White and since she said nothing against it that this provides further proof of her shift towards the doctrine. While there were some self confessed Athanasians like H.C Lacey and Leroy Froom, others simply used the term to refer to the original teaching. It was essentially a rebranding of the doctrine. The following article by Robert Hare in 1909 provides a clear example of this transition period. He clearly defines what he means by the Trinity and rejects the one in three and three in one formula as a satanic mystification - strong words! But his article provides evidence of this rebranding before the full transition well after the death of Ellen White. The 1931 Fundamental Statement is another exampe of a rebranding process.

The Trinity – Robert Hare July 19 1909 Australasian Union Record

IN the fourth and fifth centuries many absurd views were set forth respecting the Trinity—views that stood at variance with reason, logic, and Scripture. As these views were formulated into creeds, humanity had to shut its eyes and receive them as the dictates of God, though they were verily human and some of them even satanic. Mystery was heaped upon mystery, and the mind of man at last gave up the effort to reason out the dogmas of what claimed to be religion.

Satan was behind this work of mystification, just as he has been behind every other false idea of God. Where Satan cannot lead into absolute unbelief, he will endeavour to mystify so that the belief remaining may prove ineffectual. From the confusing idea of "one God in three Gods," and "three Gods in one God "—the unexplainable dictum of theology—the enemy gladly leads to what appears to be a more rational, though no less erroneous idea —that there is no trinity, and that Christ is merely a created being.

But God's great plan is clear and logical. There is a trinity, and in it there are three personalities. We have the Father described in Dan. 7:9,10, a personality surely—the "Ancient of Days" enthroned. In Rev. 1:13-18, we have the Son described. He is also a personality. The appearance and form of the Holy Spirit is not described. He is the agency whereby God revealed His Word to man, and of Him Christ declares, "He shall not speak of Himself." John 16:13. Hence the man who speaks much of himself has not a very close acquaintance with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is spoken of through the Scriptures as a personality.

These divine persons are closely associated in the work of God. Christ speaks of Himself and the Father as "one." But this union is not one in which individuality is lost. Christ would have His people one even as He and the Father are one. But we know that the union of God's people is to be one of mind not of personality (John 17:21-23). This is set forth in the admonition to "be of one mind." 1 Peter 3:8.

With these scriptures agree the words of the Spirit in these latter days :—

"There are three living persons in the heavenly trio. In the name of these three powers— the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost—those who receive Christ by living faith are to be baptized, and these powers will cooperate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ."—Mrs. E. G. White, in Bible Training School, February, 1906.

This is indeed a divine trio, but the Christ of that Trinity was not a created being such as His angels—He was the "only begotten" of the Father, and He came to earth as the one with the Father from the "days of eternity." Micah 5 :2 (margin). His goings forth were of old, and He came full of "grace and truth" to reveal God to man. John 1:14, 17.

While on earth He ceased not to be divine, for we read of the "divine human suppliant." — Desire of Ages, page 693. "From the days of eternity the Lord Jesus Christ was one with the Father." — Desire of Ages, page 17.
"In the eyes of the world He possessed no beauty that they should desire Him; yet He was the incarnate God, the light of heaven and earth." — Desire of Ages, page 21 . "Christ had not ceased to be God when He became man. Though He had humbled Himself to humanity, the Godhead was still His own." — Desire of Ages, page 663.