The “Unity Meeting” conducted for the two days following the Roan Mountain Camp Meeting in September was a rare privilege to meet and discuss with so many of our friends who share the wonderful truth about God, His Son and His Spirit. We were united in this life-changing message that each has discovered from studying the Bible for themselves and then comparing our experience with the history of our Adventist pioneers. As I like to say, “It is the glue that binds us together.”
There have been a number of published appraisals of what transpired at the meeting, an event that we all anticipated with both hope and anxiety. I know we all prayed that this might be a galvanizing session that would bring consolidation and harmony between the various “Godhead” ministries. But reality being what it is recognized a number of different opinions on important issues.
The first day was a long one with an early recognition that two opposing sides existed differing on, of all things, the covenants. It was a surreal déjà vu moment reminiscent of the 1888 debate over the “Law in Galatians.” The Uriah Smith-George Butler contingency sat on one side of the room seated at a row of tables facing the other side subscribing to the Waggoner-Jones supporters. While the unspoken issue that had precipitated this meeting of the minds remained unaddressed until the end of the day, it fueled much debate over the basics of salvation, Christ’s death and victorious life, and His ministry in heaven. It was almost amusing to watch each side claim righteousness by faith. But when the gorilla in the room was finally recognized, it came as a relief: what are we going to do with “feast keepers”?
Now that the gorilla was out of the bag (pardon my mixed metaphor), the mice could play. Talking Rock was finally given the opportunity to speak for moderation. It was clear that all the posturing over the covenants was to either exonerate or invalidate the Old Testament statutes which would include the appointed “feasts of the Lord.” The invalidators emphasized the glory of the “former dispensation” that had faded away, and the “law of ordinances” that had been “taken away;” that now that Christ has come we are “no longer under bondage to the law” to the point that we were hearing that even the reading of Scripture is unnecessary because now Christ lives in us and leads us into all truth.
The exonerators countered with quotes from Ellen White (oops, that was ruled off-limits and further appeal to her writings was disallowed). OK, then E. J. Waggoner’s book The Everlasting Gospel (No. He, too, was proclaimed in error and untrustworthy). Then look at Abraham, who kept the “commandments, and statutes, and judgments” before Sinai. But the law was added because of sin (Gal 3:19), and Christ’s death brought an end to sin (Dan 9:25). Enoch, Moses and Elijah, the invalidators observed, were only in heaven on probation and the condition of Christ’s sinless life and atoning death at Calvary. Had He failed, they would have been evicted. On and on the debate raged.
Finally we were able to state our (TRSC) position. We admit that the ministration of Christ is much more glorious, but that the Old Testament (the Old Covenant, with all its statutes and types) were instituted by Jesus Himself. Everything in the sanctuary service, all the sacrifices, all the feasts and appointed times, all pointed to Him, all taught something significant about His work of redemption. Our Adventist forefathers discovered one such feast, the Day of Atonement, and actually “kept” it with afflicting of their souls, repentance of the sins, seeking forgiveness, and preparing their hearts for the coming of Jesus—to the Most Holy place as they later realized.
All our debate and apologetics that day was simply to justify or refute the perceived obligation to "keep the feasts." What about vegetarianism, veganism, longdressism, praying on our knees, avoiding jewelry and many more cultural, traditional issues, albeit with suitable scriptural support? Why don't we take the same attitude with all such practices? Any and all can become objects of misdirected devotion. Anything that eclipses the Saviour, the True Channel of blessing, is a needless distraction. Why can we not rejoice in what Jesus has done at the time he chose to accomplish it? No, we don’t sacrifice lambs or goats any more but we do continue to eat unleavened bread at the Lord’s Supper. How can choosing to observe this commemoration of “His death till He comes” at least once during the year at the time He specified “as an everlasting ordinance” (Exodus 12:17) be “an insult to Jehovah”? Our focus is on Jesus, not what we do, but what He did!
The same applies to all the other feasts. Pentecost happened and was fulfilled “not only to the event but as to time” GC p. 399, 400. This certainly was important in 1844. And we recognize that even this type has not fully met its antitype yet. Only one feast remains yet to be fulfilled. Why not pay attention to at least this one! The final Feast of Harvest, the great Ingathering. We are Adventists, after all.
We are still governed by law...the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. But it will never be at odds with the written law, for He wrote it, He lived it, and He will write it again in our minds. So we can delight to do His will, we can meditate on His law--but never apart from Him. For He will give us His Spirit and cause us to walk in His statutes and “do them” Ezekiel 36:28. What we need, brethren, is balance.
We want to welcome all among the Father-Son community to rejoice with us. We chose to open our doors to those who have found significance in the expanded Sabbath principal. Jesus said, "I will give you rest" and "learn of me." Many have found themselves alienated as we have in the trinitarian camp. We wish to offer them a much more meaningful experience by learning of Jesus, the true Son of God, and see in every one of the feasts the working of the Father and Son. Why not offer the vital truth to them and expand our borders? Our message of the begotten Son and Christ our Comforter is now featured on Bible Explorations' Global Satellite Channel. We are excited to join with them in taking the worship of the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent to the world!