Written by, Michael W. Pursley
Seventh-day Adventism has lost the three-fold war against the World, the Flesh and the Devil, and there is not a theological “evolution” in the world that will save them from their spiritual malaise… Only a complete, unmitigated repentance, a turning away from the sin of Ellen White idolatry and a turning back to the Bible as the only true Word of God can they hope as a church to find a true covenant relationship with God.
“Those who set up a fictitious worship, merely worship and adore their own delirious fancies; indeed, they would never dare so to trifle with God, had they not previously fashioned him after their own childish conceits.” ― John Calvin
Have I not written to you excellent things
Of counsels and knowledge,
To make you know the certainty
of the words of truth
That you may correctly answer him
who sent you?
Divine Authority is the foundation of the Christian religion and the fundamental basis of its theology.
For a Christian denomination to consider itself orthodox the above statement is an essential and rudimentary declaration that must be both fully and emphatically embraced. From there, defining what is, and what has Divine authority, must be taken from something, a source, that has been given directly from the ultimate Divine Source, namely God Himself, and for the Christian Church that is the Bible.
For orthodox Christianity it is no wonder that the authority of Scripture has been an essential ingredient and a basis of its own historical definition. The communication of God to his people have been defining moments throughout the history of man; especially in relationship to those of his own covenanted people. However, it is important to note that simply the appearance of God alone, especially by means of a theophany, though important, was not the singular defining characteristic of the moment. Instead, it was “what God hath said” during his appearance that appears to define such an aspect. In essence, we see that every time God speaks, he actually defines three things: Who he is, who we are, and what is or will be his relationship with man. It may seem axiomatic to say that the value we place upon what God says is predicated upon the value and pre-eminence of who he is, but later on in Christian history, that has not always been recognized.
It is impossible to overestimate the importance of the doctrine of the Divine inspiration of Scripture. This is the strategic center of Christian theology, and it must be defended at all costs. It is the point at which our satanic enemy is constantly hurling his hellish battalions. Here it was he made his first attack. In Eden he asked, “Yea, hath God said?” and today he is pursuing the same tactics.
Throughout the ages the Bible has been the central object of his assaults. Every available weapon in the devil’s arsenal has been employed in his determined and ceaseless efforts to destroy the temple of God’s truth.
If the Bible be the Word of God then it infinitely transcends in value all the writings of men, and in exact ratio to its immeasurable superiority to human productions such is our responsibility and duty to give it the most reverent and serious consideration. –A. W. Pink
From the day of its birth, Orthodox Christianity with its emphasis on the “transcendent God,” historically views Biblical scripture in terms of “Holy,” “Sacred,” and “Divinely inspired.” Further, we must also see that orthodox Christianity places high value to the “Word of God” in relationship of God’s “Word” to his people. See again how Pink links the historical Christian context, “The relation between Divine truth and Christian character is that of cause to effect—”And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
However, it would be naive to make the claim that Christianity was left to its own devices and conjectures in determining what value it places in the pronouncements of God. It can be easily seen that the early Church had and did make good use of the numerous statements and incidents in the Old Testament regarding the veracity of the “Word of God.” Further, from the earliest moments of Christianity, including the earliest statements of John the Baptist about Christ, as well as those statements Jesus’ makes about himself, we find that Christ’s Divinity and his inclusion of himself into the context of the “I AM,” is consistent also with his inclusion of Himself as “The Word” as we see in the Gospel of John. But if the early Christians were confused about Christ’s status, as we have stated, it was quickly dispelled in the first chapter of the Gospel of John with its crystal clear perspective of Christ. In these statements we discover that not only does God value “the Word,” he equates himself as “The Word,” and that the “Word” was there in the beginning and is eternal. John 1:1(Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος). Therefore, it is also certainly appropriate to elaborate and enrich the New Testament declarative about Christ, with the Old Testament passages where God states, that his word is infallible, passages such as in Isaiah 55:11: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
The Problem…Divine authority is under attack.
The sanctity of Scripture has been under attack since the beginning, as we have seen above in Genesis 3:1, and it has not abated in the least. This attack, as I see it, has come under five basic forms: First: To minimize, trivialize or to discredit God and his existence, and thereby discrediting the authority of Scripture. Second: To minimize the accuracy or the veracity of the Bible, as sacred scripture. Third: The limiting the Biblical authority by period, or else by geographic and/or political segregation of Scripture; Dispensationalism actually infringes into this aspect. Fourth: by casting the Bible into a modern existential or sociological framework. Fifth: The adding to, or subtracting from, the writings of the accepted cannons of Scripture.
Also, involved in the various inclusions of extra-biblical writings, is another aspect or form of attack, and that is the ascribing of various degrees, levels and kinds of inspiration (that is, levels of so-called Divine inspiration) to the writings being added thereunto or to be used for the interpretation of scripture. The natural assumption of this specious philosophy, is that only something with the credibility of being divinely inspired can be added or used to “interpret” something that is already Divinely inspired. This argument, while appearing logical, is a slippery slope for those who use it in Biblical interpretation, inasmuch as it is a human, existential construct, that has no viable foundation from Scripture. Biblical scriptures is seen by orthodox Christianity as being both entirely self-sufficient and all-sufficient for the purposes of communicating God’s eternal principles to man.
Also, when it comes to any Divine directive, the Bible does not acknowledge degrees or levels of inspiration in God’s Word. For its purposes, the word of the prophet or such as one who claims to speak for God, is either inspired or not. As a result, for purposes of the Bible, the Word of God is also considered inerrant and infallible, and only from there do we have a starting point from which we can advance. To add now to the sacred cannon of Scripture by adding so-called divinely inspired writings for purposes of interpretation and doctrine is to conclude that the Holy Bible is not inerrant, infallible and sufficient for our present salvation. And it is important to note that we either understand this and accept this proposition to be true or we don’t in its entirety.
Here is the way the argument often evolves in this fifth attack: An individual has a particular thought on a theological or spiritual issue that seems to be out of the ordinary, and it is perceived that this idea or perspective seems to “fit,” with the facts, and on the surface, seems to be a brilliant solution; after which someone then calls it an “inspired” answer; then this “brilliant solution” or “inspired answer” is somehow connected to answered prayer;–now we have God involved with it and eventually, God ends up being responsible for the proposition; whether it be copied or taken from some book in the library,or original to the mindset of the writer. Occasionally, the person who has this “inspired answer” thinks of themselves or is proclaimed to be “a prophet;” as is the case for Seventh-day Adventism and Ellen White.
The problem is that our thoughts are not under the influence of the Spirit, especially as, like those of David, therefore, they should not be considered to be properly the work of inspiration; so much of our weakness mingles with our thinking, that we cannot say of any sentence, This is the perfect work of the Spirit. The Christian must confess that the aid of Divine inspiration is totally distinct from that general aid which the providence of God affords to men in general, even that aid given in order to aid their performance in the various actions of their natural life. -A. W. Pink. To claim any “Divine light” to interpret “all-sufficient Scripture” even if it is claimed to only be “confirming Divine Truths,” challenges Almighty God, and perilously “adds” to that which God has said. In its most basic form, adding to the Word of God is the same lie that Satan said at the beginning, “hath God said?” Genesis 3:1.
For our purposes here, we are dealing with this fifth aspect, or the problem of by adding to or subtracting from the canon of Holy Scripture. I say this because I believe that Seventh-day Adventism is transparently guilty before God of adding to the Scripture; in particular by their use of the writings of Ellen White to “Divinely confirm” interpretations of Scripture, that are not necessarily biblical. However, so as not to be misunderstood, it is not only her interpretations or “mis-interpretations” that are troublesome, but the fact that Adventism is using extra canonical, or extra-biblical writings, to give outside “Divine interpretation” to Holy, Sacred, internally complete, and inerrant Scripture.
Even if the writings of Ellen White were completely correct in all contexts–which it is decidedly not, and in conformity with all of scripture-which it is not, nor theologically shifting in a most problematic manner–which it does, those writings still cannot be considered on par with, nor able to confirm, deny, or Divinely interpret the Holy Word of God.
Why is this so important?
Because, as part of the process, inevitably, and in some way, Ellen White, and the people who have accepted her teachings have changed the focus of the Bible and resultingly, the Gospel. Most certainly, as a further result, when the focus of the Gospel has been changed, then something has been added to the work of Christ, and in the plan of Redemption. Therefore, as per the God who cannot lie, they will judged by the Bible and that Gospel which they have changed. Further, as per scripture, those that do these things are described as “imposters deceiving, and being deceived” 2 Timothy 3:13.
What I am saying is, that any writings which claim to be given as Divine revelation, and are used (intentionally or not) for the purpose of adding to the already sufficient writings of Holy Scripture, have to be rejected on the face of it; they are NOT inspired by God and they are being used as a product of Satan and their force is as a result of his work; they are in effect a direct derivative of his first lie to our parents, the same of which is found in Genesis 3:11. To not reject these spurious writings is to face the gravest peril to the soul.
The Three-Fold War
In Christianity, in our three-fold war against the world, the flesh and the devil (ό κοσμος, ή σαρξ, και ό διαβολος), our mutual destruction is assured if the doctrine of the Divine authority of Scripture is diluted in any manner. The distortions of truth, loss of the Christian love and walk, rejection of God, the rise and emergence of heresies, heterodoxies and cults, all point to the demeaning of scripture; whether it occurs by means of direct attacks against its Author, attacks against its transmission, or by the subtler arguments, such as the adding to “the complete Word of God,” however so accomplished.
In a relativistic world, the only protection that a Christian has is the unchanging word of God; “all other ground is sinking sand.” In Ephesians 6:17, one of the points that Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, directs the Christian to is, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Without the word of God, the Christian can never win the battle that wars against his soul. That is why Seventh-day Adventism and its early followers were in a movement that was outside a covenant relationship with God.
We cannot not judge these souls and say that all, or that certain ones of those early leaders, including Ellen White, are lost; but if they were, by some Divine providence of God, in a salvific relationship with Him, then at a minimum, their work, shall be defined by that Ultimate Divine Authority as being condemned and outside the foundation that has already laid, and it shall be considered as wood, hay and stubble. “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.” 1 Corinthians 3:11-14