ADVENTISM AND THE SABBATH: When the Truth Started as a Lie. Part 4

10672357_10152732564848384_3058835189221292784_n_1410285517467_7895470_ver1.0_640_480M.L. Andreasen stated that he had been asked certain questions in his classes as far back as 1924…

…and after a little test learned that not half of the students believed in the cleansing of the sanctuary. He thought they had not quite understood and could not believe because of the limit of their understanding. If that represents a cross section of our ministry we do not have a ministry that is profoundly convinced of the truths for which we stand. He feared that our detractors have made more inroads into our ranks than we think and that more research needs to be done to establish our doctrine. When men know they can talk it out they are more easily convinced, but he has been surprised by some saying they did not dare talk out what is in their minds.

. . . Unless we give proofs to our workers we shall have a weak ministry giving the trumpet an uncertain sound. He [C. H. Watson] would like to see this committee prepare matter to answer [L. R.] Conradi and [A. F.] Ballenger on October 22, 1844. Is it not time to meet the situation? Some of our ministers are troubled because we do not make any answer and think that we are not able to answer them. –Wierts, letter to L. E. Froom, June 29, 1945, emphasis supplied.

This was the very reason J. H. Wierts first approached the General Conference with his concerns. It was not to destroy the Church that these problems in chronology were presented but, rather, because truth does not contradict itself. Either the Church had made a mistake in a very fundamental area, or else there was more light Heaven wanted to bestow.

As the Research Committee shifted from October 22, 1844, to focus on the crucifixion date, they quickly and clearly saw the full ramifications of what they were dealing with. It is here that the research, led by Grace Amadon, quickly began to deteriorate. It was of the utmost importance for them to be able to establish a crucifixion date in AD 31. However, in order to do this and still keep a Saturday Sabbath, certain principles of luni-solar calendation had to be skewed. Various papers in the Grace Amadon Collection reveal the different ways the committee, led by Amadon, attempted to resolve the problem, from trying to put the crucifixion on the 15th of Abib, to, finally, creating a translation period (when no moon can be seen) that was far too long to be astronomically feasible.

From the papers preserved in the Amadon Collection, it appears that the Research Committee discussed the implications of presenting the church with the truth of the Biblical calendar. In an undated letter to Grace Amadon, M. L. Andreasen outlined the difficulties that must be expected if they should report the truth: the Biblical week does not have a continuous weekly cycle and certainly does not align with the modern weekly cycle.

It would not be easy to explain to the people that the God who advocated and instituted such an arrangement would be very concerned about the exact seventh day.

If an explanation were possible, and the people were at last adjusted to the shift in the feast day and the stability of the seventh day, it might be supposed that in time they would get used to the arrangement. But they would no sooner have become accustomed to this, till another shift is made. Now they shift back to where they were before.

But neither is this settled or stationary. Another shift comes, and another and another. Now Denver observes the day before Omaha does, then it observes the same day. Now Omaha and Chicago observe the same day, but at another time a different day. There is no uniformity, and just as the people get used to a certain arrangement the day is changed again. Such is more than the common people can understand, and if we go to the people now with such a proposition, we must expect that confusion will result. And our enemies will not be slow to point out the difficulties and ring the changes on them.  —M. L. Andreasen, undated letter to Grace Amadon, Grace Amadon Collection, Box 2, Folder 4, Center

Because the Biblical weekly cycle restarts with every New Moon, the Biblical Sabbath appears to “float” through the modern Gregorian week. Sometimes being on Monday; the next month on Tuesday; the month after on Thursday, etc. This is the constant “shift” to which Andreasen is referring in his statements.

In the end, the difficulties of presenting a new calendar by which to calculate the seventh-day Sabbath seemed overwhelming. Andreasen urged that the resulting confusion would be only detrimental to the church and for that reason, it should not be pursued.

If in the new calendar scheme we are considering adopting it should be admitted that local communities have the right of making their own observations that would determine the New Year, it would yet remain a question if the proper men competent for such observation would be available. . . . Let not the people observing God’s holy day sponsor a calendar that means confusion, and make our work unnecessarily hard. For while the proposed scheme does not in any way affect the succession of the days of the week, and hence does not affect the Sabbath, nevertheless if the people observing the Sabbath also advocates the new scheme of calendation, the resulting confusion will not be of any help to us.

. . . While the whole matter would ultimately become adjusted, it would certainly make for confusion. Seventh-day Adventists will soon have enough matters on their hands so that it will not be necessary to make trouble for ourselves before the time. The blank day may yet confront us. We cannot afford to start trouble of our own. To the world it will look that the present proposed calendar is advanced for a specific purpose – not for the purpose of adoption, for we will find that it is impossible of universal application – not for the purpose of supporting the 1844 date. I do not believe that we are under that necessity. It must be possible to establish October 22, 1844, without resorting to such devices.  M. L. Andreasen, undated letter to Grace Amadon, Grace Amadon Collection, Box 2, Folder 4, Center for Adventist Research, Andrews University, emphasis supplied.

It is not speculation to state that Andreasen rejected the Biblical calendar through fear of the consequences. He stated as much himself:

The committee has done a most excellent piece of work. The endorsing, unreservedly, of the plan now before us seems to me, appears in its implications so loaded with dynamite, with TNT, that we might well beware. I would most earnestly warn the committee in this matter. I am afraid that the repercussions of such endorsement at this time will be felt in wide circles. –Ibid.

Andreasen’s proposed solution to the situation is a heart-breaking example of political expediency taking precedence over truth:

A possible solution: I suggest that we make a report to [GC President] Brother McElhaney of what the Millerites believed and how they arrived at their conclusions, without, at this time, committing ourselves upon the correctness of their method. Let Brother McElhaney publish this report in any way it may be thought best, and let us await the reaction. This, of course, would be only a preliminary report, and would be so designated. We will soon [see] what fire it will draw. In the mean time let us study further on the final report. The reaction to the preliminary report may determine the form of the final report.M. L. Andreasen, undated letter to Grace Amadon, Grace Amadon Collection, Box 2, Folder 4, Center for Adventist Research, Andrews University, emphasis supplied.

In other words, Andreasen was urging, let us focus on how the Millerites established October 22, rather than September 23, as the Day of Atonement for 1844, but let us not come right out and admit that we agree with how they established it. Let us test the waters and, depending upon the reaction to our test, we can know whether or not we wish to say more.

This is not intellectual honesty! It is intellectual cowardice. Truth remains the same, regardless of the reaction against it. Andreasen was most eloquent in his arguments in favor of staying silent about the effect the Biblical calendar has on the weekly seventh-day Sabbath. He wrote a number of letters in which he urged the Research Committee to remain silent on the subject.

These letters are not available to the general public. Apparently, the church still considers the content too revealing, too explosive to want it released. Copies of these letters were given to the members of the Research Committee of 1995, but the committee members were not allowed to leave the room with them. “We would have made copies of them, but they picked them up before they let us leave the room,” recalled a committee member.

Ultimately, cover it up is exactly what the original Research Committee did. The GC Committee Minutes of May 31, 1939 state:

A committee that was appointed to do certain research work presented a statement concerning their extensive report which is now ready. It was felt that this report should be presented to as representative a group as possible, and it was therefore VOTED, To set July 9 and 10, beginning at 9 A.M., July 9, as the time for hearing the report in order that the union conference presidents, who will be in attendance at the General Conference Committee meeting in New York City just preceding this date, may be present; and further, that the officers be asked to invite any others they may think advisable, to be present when the report is given. J. H. Wierts, letter to L. E. Froom, June 29, 1945, Grace Amadon Collection, Box 5, Folder 9.

Strangely enough, although the meeting did take place, there appears to be no record of it. Perhaps, as with the Andreasen letters given to the 1995 Committee to read, it was considered too damaging and has simply not been made available to the general public. It is certainly unusual for a meeting of this type to leave no record, save for references to it in personal correspondence by people who attended.

The full scope of this meeting can be grasped from a description provided by J. H. Wierts who was also in attendance:

At this meeting were present all the General Conference members available, all the Union Presidents in the U.S., many Bible teachers, many Ministers and many others. The reading of the R.C.’s [Research Committee’s] Report started at 9:30 A.M. and the meeting ended about 10:00 P.M.J. H. Wierts, letter to L. E. Froom, June 29, 1945, Grace Amadon Collection, Box 5, Folder 9.

ADVENTISM AND THE SABBATH: When the Truth Started as a Lie. Part 3

full moonOverWater[As we have observed in our first post, the problem is when the Sabbath is calculated by the original Biblical calendar does not fall on Saturday because the weekly cycle of the luni-solar calendar does not align with the weekly cycle of the Gregorian calendar, which is a solar calendar. Furthermore, this can be proven by the fact that if the 2300 day/year time period started in 457 BC as taught by both the Millerites and the SDA Church, the year AD 31 is pinpointed as the year of the crucifixion. When the luni-solar calendar for AD 31 is overlaid the Julian calendar for the same year, Passover, the sixth day of the week, also does not fall on Friday. This was the problem facing the Study Committee of 1995. To acknowledge that the Church’s sole, unique contribution to Protestant theology was based upon a different method of time-keeping, was to open the floodgates to a problem they did not wish to deal with: i.e., the problem that the Biblical Sabbath is not Saturday!

As also mentioned in our first post, much of the source materials used herein came from a friend who obtained them from “BibleTruthers.org,” who, for whatever reason, now appears to be inactive. Having said that, the thrust of this post is to further examine the basis of Adventist Sabbatarianism.

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself as you read this THIRD post on the subject:.

  1. If the Seventh-day Adventist Church is knowingly teaching a “Sabbath” other than the true Sabbath, are they, by their own Biblical definition, a “False Prophet?
  2. By their own Biblical definition, are they a part of Babylon? Are they an “Apostate Church”?
  3. What is the reasonable thing for you to do?
  4. What would you do if you were in the Adventist leadership position?  Why?  What would Jesus say?]

Despite the clear understanding the Millerites had of the luni-solar foundation for an October 22 Day of Atonement, the young Seventh-day Adventist Church quickly forgot the foundation on which this hallmark doctrine had been built.

Barely 50 years later, (evidence suggests sometime in the 1890s), a young minister by the name of J. H. Wierts was shocked to learn through his Hebrew teachers, rabbis, that October 22 had not been Yom Kippur in 1844, but, according to them, September 23 had been.

Wierts immediately saw the ramifications of what he had discovered. If October 22 truly had not been the Day of Atonement for 1844, it opened up the church for attack by its detractors on a number of points. Years later, in a letter to L. E. Froom, dated June 29, 1945, Wierts recalled:

In contact with Jewish Rabbis my Hebrew Teachers, I discovered many years ago from their Hebrew records, that the Rabbinical Jewish day of Atonement in 1844 fell on Monday, September 23. I then determined to make a careful investigation on this important point.

Because of my aquaintance [sic.] with Dr. Eichelberger at the U. S. Naval Observatory, Washington, D.C. I had access to any astronomical record at the Observatory. By those astronomical records I discovered and worked out the Biblical, Chronological, Calendrical, astronomical facts relative to 457 B.C., 27 A.D., 31 A.D. and October 22, 1844, A.D. and found that all that important data in “Great Controversy” was correct even to the day.

His meticulous research finally culminated in a manuscript of 283 pages in length. “Knowing also that sooner or later our adversaries would challenge us on all that important data,” Wierts began in 1932 to appeal to various General Conference officials for the church to conduct an official investigation into the subject. His efforts appear to have met with little success for most of six years.

Finally, on November 1, 1938, the GC officials voted:

To authorize E. D. Dick to confer with M. E. Kern and bring to the officers the suggestion of a committee for a conference with J. H. Wierts regarding the position of the denomination in respect to the date October 22, 1844 and the day of the crucifixion. (Council of GC Officers with J. H. Wierts, OM, Nov. 1, 1938, emphasis supplied.)

It is important to note that, from the first, the focus covered, not only the true date for Day of Atonement in 1844, but also the correct day for the crucifixion. The two are inseparably entwined because when the principles of luni-solar calendation (used to determine Day of Atonement for 1844) are applied to the year of the crucifixion, it is undeniable that there is a problem. Specifically, the crucifixion, which occurred on the sixth day of the Biblical week, did not fall on Friday of the Julian week. This was the dilemma for which, in the end, they could not find a resolution without admitting that Saturday is not the Biblical seventh-day Sabbath.

On November 7, 1938, a committee was formed to study the subject. Initially called the Advent Research Committee, it consisted of Adventist luminaries, well-respected for their theological knowledge. Dr. Leroy Froom was elected to chair the committee. Dr. Lynn Harper Wood served as secretary. The other members were Dr. M. L. Andreasen, Professor M. E. Kern, Professor W. Homer Teesdale, Professor Albert W. Werline and Elder F. C. Gilbert.

In reporting on their initial research to the GC officers, Dr. Froom

Stated that as chairman of the committee he wanted to present certain problems they had met on which they desired counsel. The contention has been raised by some of our detractors that the Jews celebrated the Passover on September 23, of the year 1844, and that the denomination therefore had the date wrong. It has been proven, however, that September 23 was celebrated only by the Rabbinical Jews, but that the Orthodox Karaite Jews held to the correct date and had to this day. We must ascertain the reasons back of the choosing of October 22, 1844, which we have followed all these years. Some of our men also seem not to be sure of the date on which the crucifixion occurred . . . . (Minutes, Officers Meeting, December 18, 1939, emphasis supplied.)

The result of this initial report had far-reaching consequences – a new member was added to the committee:

Brother Froom stated further that we needed astronomical and chronological data to establish these dates beyond question . . . They also are united in the judgment that Miss Grace Amadon who has studied the astronomical aspects of these dates for a number of years, contacted astronomers and astronomical authorities to considerable extent, could offer the committee some real assistance if she could be present here in person and study the matter through with them under their guidance . . .

L. E. Froom stated that Grace Amadon has done enough work on the astronomical aspects of October 22, 1844, to be of value to the committee, that if she comes she would work under supervision to assist the special group of the committee dealing with that particular phase of the study. We might need her for four or five weeks and she might do some things that the members of the committee are not qualified to do. (Ibid.)

It seemed a logical choice to invite Miss Amadon to join the committee. She was the granddaughter of Adventist pioneer John Byington. She had received her education at Battle Creek and was fluent in a number of languages, including Greek and Latin. She excelled in mathematics and after doing a stint in the mission field from 1893-1899, she worked for a college in Chicago where she worked as a bacteriologist, teaching a number of science classes. She was also a skilled writer with several articles she had written on chronology being published in scholarly journals.

imagesE5J16NW2The work done by Amadon and the Research Committee was extensive. Their work has, for the most part, been preserved in the Grace Amadon Collection, housed at the Center for Adventist Research at Andrews University. The research they did, explaining precisely how the Millerites arrived at October 22 for Day of Atonement, as well as the broad outlines of luni-solar calendation, is very good and provides a solid foundation for understanding these issues. However, when they attempted to fit the Passover crucifixion on Abib 14 of the Biblical calendar to Friday on the Julian calendar, they ran into irreconcilable facts.

The first is the simple fact, easily established by history, that the Julian calendar in the time of Jesus had an eight-day week, designated by the days A through H. This fragment of an early Julian calendar, called the Fasti Prænestini, was constructed AD 4 – 10. To the left is a list of days spanning parts of two weeks: G, H, A, B, C, D, E, and F. The words to the right indicate what sort of business could be conducted on those particular days of the week.

In 1944, the Review & Herald Publishing Association published a book for the Ministerial Association of Seventh-day Adventists. The book, Sunday in Roman Paganism, was subtitled: “A history of the planetary week and its “day of the Sun” in the heathenism of the Roman world during the early centuries of the Christian Era.” It openly admitted that the seven-day planetary week in use today was not standardized into general use until the Council of Nicæa in the fourth century AD.

But that was not the only problem. If one assumes that the modern week has come down uninterrupted from Creation, then, by counting in continuous weeks backward, one should be able to align Abib 14 with Friday in the year of the crucifixion (AD 31, as understood by SDAs from the prophecies of Daniel). However, when this is done, you arrive at Wednesday, (at the very latest, Thursday), for the Abib 14 Passover crucifixion. You cannot place Abib 14 on Friday.

The fact that this problem was clearly understood by the committee is seen in their discussions, as preserved in committee minutes and various correspondences between Research Committee members and others, as well as the questions they asked in the voluminous letters preserved in the Grace Amadon Collection. For example:

Though William Miller fixed the date as 1844 he still put the cross at the end instead of the middle of the prophetic week. We have never gone to the bottom of the matter. Our task now is a major one of showing why we insist on the 70 years and the 2300 years beginning at the same time. Some of the old writers confirm the beginning of 457 BC but do not define the “midst of the week. . . . L. E. Froom stated that we could easily supply facts on what was done in 1844 but we must get the facts back of what led to the choice of the date October 22, 1844. It is the same with the date of the crucifixion.” (Minutes, Officers Meeting, December 18, 1939, emphasis supplied.)

The doctrine of the cleansing of the sanctuary as taught by Seventh-day Adventists, is inseparably bound with October 22, 1844, and an AD 31 crucifixion date. They stand together as a united whole, or they fall by the same measure because the calendar used to establish those dates reveals that the weekly cycle of the modern Gregorian week does not align with the weekly cycle of the Biblical week in use at the time of Jesus.

These are legitimate issues and for too long the church has not had a resolution for them. But refusing to address the subject does not make it go away.

Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

–John 9:41

ADVENTISM AND THE SABBATH: When the Truth Started as a Lie. Part 2

harvest_moon_lake-e1348770140423[As mentioned in our first post, much of the source materials used herein came from a friend who obtained them from “BibleTruthers.org,” who, for whatever reason, now appears to be inactive. Having said that, the thrust of this post is to further examine the basis of Adventist Sabbatarianism. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself as you read the second post on this subject:.

  1. When confronted with their erroneous position, how has the church reacted?
  2. What is the reasoning for their reaction?
  3. Are they protecting a true scriptural approach to the Bible?
  4. What is the reasonable thing to do?
  5. What would you do in their position?  Why?

As we have observed in our previous post, the problem is when the Sabbath is calculated by the original Biblical calendar does not fall on Saturday because the weekly cycle of the luni-solar calendar does not align with the weekly cycle of the Gregorian calendar, which is a solar calendar. Furthermore, this can be proven by the fact that if the 2300 day/year time period started in 457 BC as taught by both the Millerites and the SDA Church, the year AD 31 is pinpointed as the year of the crucifixion. When the luni-solar calendar for AD 31 is overlaid the Julian calendar for the same year, Passover, the sixth day of the week, also does not fall on Friday. This was the problem facing the Study Committee of 1995. To acknowledge that the Church’s sole, unique contribution to Protestant theology was based upon a different method of time-keeping, was to open the floodgates to a problem they did not wish to deal with: i.e., the problem that the Biblical Sabbath is not Saturday!]

When interviewed, one of the committee members stated, “The main thing the NAD men wanted to cover up was the fact that October 22 is based on Jewish lunar calculation.

He said that they were wanting to get people thinking that it was based on solar calendation.” This led to extremely heated discussions among the committee members.

While the author does not know precisely which position, each specific man from the NAD and the GC took, it is to be noted that according to his interviews, three of the five members from Andrews University were vocal in their support for a truthful and consistent stance on the establishment of the date of October 22, 1844.

A committee member recalled some of the discussion that took place over the issue, stating emphatically: Anytime you have October 22 and it is your hallmark doctrine, it is the hallmark doctrine that sets your denomination apart as distinct and separate from all other denominations, and it is based on Jewish lunar calculation, and then you give people the idea that you got it from the solar calendar, you’re lying! Several of us were very, very hard on them.

When asked if the church officials who appointed the committee, in their ignorance of the topic, if they actually thought that the Study Committee could refute the lunar Sabbath, he replied: In their ignorance, they actually thought they had a committee that would rubber stamp whatever they were told to agree to. But after a few meetings they saw that they couldn’t get a consensus from us, they couldn’t bully us, and they shut it down. They saw that they were about to open Pandora’s box and so they shut it down.

The committee members who did not feel comfortable speaking up in support of an open admission of the calendar used to establish October 22 as the Day of Atonement in 1844, nevertheless saw the truth of what the others were saying. One of them admitted to another, “I see what you are saying and I agree with you.” When asked why, then, he had not spoken up in the committee, he replied: “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” If I am viewed as a liberal, I will lose everything. The fastest way to destroy your career in the SDA Church is to be branded a liberal scholar. If I come out and agree with you, my career will be over. I’ll lose my job. I’ll lose everything. Once you’re labeled a liberal in the Adventist Church, you’re dead.

Even Chairman Johnston went so far as to admit: “I agree with what you are saying, and that is why I do not teach Bible Chronology. Men and women are saved by grace and so that is what I teach. I do not teach Bible Chronology.”

In order to spare the corporate church the embarrassment of having to admit that Saturday was not actually the Biblical Sabbath, the Study Committee was shut down and the subject was suppressed. Or, as one committee member recalled, it was feared the truth “would blow up the Church.”

The concept of the need to regulate the weekly Sabbath by the lunar cycles was known very early on within Adventism. An allusion to the idea can be found as early as 1850, a full 13 years before the Seventh-day Adventist Church was formally established in 1863. In that year, Sylvester Bliss, an Adventist pioneer and one of the leaders of the earlier Millerite Movement, published a book entitled Analysis of Sacred Chronology. In his opening remarks, Sylvester Bliss, Millerite editor of The Signs of the Times and later editor of the Advent Herald.

Bliss stated:

Time is measured by motion. The swing of a clock pendulum marks seconds. The revolutions of the earth mark days and years. The earliest measure of time is the day. Its duration is strikingly indicated by the marked contrast and succession of light and darkness. Being a natural division of time, it is very simple, and is convenient for the chronology of events within a limited period.

The week, another primeval measure, is not a natural measure of time, as some astronomers and chronologers have supposed indicated by the phases or quarters of the moon. It was originated by divine appointment at the creation, six days of labor and one of rest being wisely appointed for man’s physical and spiritual well-being.

This assumption that the week is the sole unit of time-measurement that is not tied to anything is nature was repeated by J. N. Andrews in his weighty tome, History of the Sabbath and First Day of the Week, published by Review & Herald Publishing Association in 1887, where he quoted Bliss’ above statement. For these statements to make it into publication would seem to indicate that there was wide enough agitation of the subject that the authors felt the need to address the matter, however briefly.

Around this same time, Alonzo T. Jones wrote a scathing rebuttal of the concept as presented by a Sunday-keeping minister. Unfortunately, his response was more of an impassioned attack rather than a well-reasoned, logical refutation addressing the various evidences supporting the concept. To the author’s knowledge, there is no evidence that Ellen White was involved in any discussion of the topic or even aware of it.

However, within the Spirit of Prophecy (as the writings of Ellen White are known to Seventh-day Adventists) numerous statements are made that do support luni-solar reckoning of time. A few examples include:

Alonzo T. Jones

  • Acknowledgment that the crucifixion occurred on the Passover, the sixth day of the week and the 14th day of the lunar month. (See Great Controversy, p. 399.)
  • Confirmation that the Passover was observed nationally the night Yahushua lay at rest in Joseph’s tomb. (See Desire of Ages, p. 775.)
  • Recognition of the latter rain link to the spring barley harvest beginning of the year. (See From Trials to Triumph, p. 30.)

([The original author notes:] It is true that there are some references in her writings to “Friday” and “Saturday” but such terminology cannot be found in Scripture. Furthermore, it is historically documented fact that the seven-day planetary week in use today did not enter the Julian calendar until after the death of Jesus.)

ADVENTISM AND THE SABBATH: When the Truth Started as a Lie. Part 1

[Once again, a great debt of thanks is due to just a handful of people. Much of the source materials used herein came from a friend who obtained them from “BibleTruthers.org,” who, for whatever reason, now appears to be inactive. Having said that, the thrust of this post is to further examine the basis of Adventist Sabbatarianism.  Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself as you read:

  1. Is the basis of Adventist Sabbatarianism valid?
  2. Are people correct in their determination that the historical, biblical Sabbath, is different than what is understood and practiced today?
  3. Did the leaders of Adventism, then and now, know and understand that there was a problem in its calculation?
  4. If they knew at the beginning that there was a problem, and they know now there is a problem, why haven’t they addressed it with the church’s membership?  –And to God in repentance, and on their knees?

It is not lightly that we tread here. The understanding and realization that the faith of many will eventually be tested; their true spiritual identity will be both shaken and revealed, is a fact that should cause all of us to enter into this discussion with meekness and in prayer.]

LunarThesis Statement: When the Sabbath is calculated by the true Biblical calendar, it will fall differently than on the Saturday as it is worshipped on today.
Thesis Question: If the Sabbath on the Biblical calendar does not fall on Saturday, and if the Adventist Leadership knows this, why does the Seventh-day Adventist Church still teach that Saturday is the true Biblical Sabbath, unchanged since creation?

 The history of the Sabbath within the Seventh-day Adventist Church…

This is the sad story of a cover-up spanning decades. Heaven has tried many times to bring this truth to the world, but each time spiritual pride or fear of the consequences of accepting such a radically different truth has led the Church to reject it and, still more, to cover up the evidences for this truth.

In the mid-1990s, questions arising out of California and Washington regarding the concept of the lunar Sabbath prompted the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GC) to take action. In 1995, an order originating from the office of then-GC president, Robert Folkenberg, Sr., commissioned a study group to look into the issue of calculating the Sabbath by the ancient Hebrew luni-solar calendar.

The committee members consisted of five scholars, hand-picked from the seminary at Andrews University. In addition to these five, there was also a representative from the Ministerial Department of the North American Division (NAD) of Seventh-day Adventists and another representative from the ministerial Department of the General Conference. Robert M. Johnston, professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the seminary, was selected to head this research committee. No representative from the Biblical Research Institute was on the committee as it was felt that the well-respected scholarship of the various members was of sufficient authority that it was not needed.

The vaults were thrown open for the committee. They were asked to research the Grace Amadon Collection (housed at the Center for Adventist Research at Andrews University) as well as the four volume series, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, by Leroy Edwin Froom. Additional material supplied the committee for study was a series of letters, written by well-respected Adventist scholar, M. L. Andreasen. A research paper on the subject by Elder J. H. Wierts was to be provided, but before it could, something unexpected happened.

It had been expected that the committee would be able to very quickly refute the idea of a lunar Sabbath. What was not expected was what actually happened: as the committee members began studying into the subject, a number of them became convicted of its truth!

The fact is, the entire Seventh-day Adventist denomination was founded upon a belief that the 2300 day/year prophecy of Daniel 8:14 ended on October 22, 1844, as taught by the Millerite Movement of the 1840s. This is significant because the only way to arrive at that date is by using the ancient Biblical luni-solar calendar.

As far back as April, and then in June and December of 1843, and in February of 1844 (1)– months before [William] Miller’s original date expired for the ending of the “Jewish year 1843” at the time of the vernal [spring] equinox in 1844 – his associates (Sylvester Bliss, Josiah Litch, Joshua V. Himes, Nathaniel Southard, Apollos Hale, Nathan Whiting, and others) came to a definite conclusion. This was that the solution of Daniel’s prophecy is dependent upon the ancient or original Jewish form of luni-solar time, and not upon the altered modern rabbinical Jewish calendar. . . . They therefore began to shift from Miller’s original date for the ending of the 2300 years (at the equinox in March), over to the new moon of April, 1844. –Leroy E. Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 4, p. 796. (2)

Without the original luni-solar calendar, there would be no Day of Atonement on October 22 in 1844. This ancient method of time-measurement was the very foundation for determining the time prophecy and the cleansing of the sanctuary doctrine which is the hallmark belief of the Seventh-day Adventist Church which grew out of the Millerite movement.

It is important to note in the quote above that a distinction must be made between the “ancient or original Jewish form of luni-solar time” and the “altered modern rabbinical Jewish calendar” in use by Jews around the world today.

The calendar used by Jews today is not the same as was used in Bible times.

Under intense persecution following the Council of Nicæa,] the Jews “fixed” their calendar to align with the continuous weekly cycle of the Julian calendar. Consequently, the Jews in 1844, kept Day of Atonement, or “Yom Kippur,” on September 23, and not on October 22 as the Millerites and later the Seventh-day Adventists claimed was the true Day of Atonement.

The fact that the Jews observed Day of Atonement on September 23 and not October 22 was a fact well-known to the Millerites.

There were many in 1844 who made merry over a lunar reckoning that was not based upon the modern Jewish calendar. The answer was returned: “Every scholar knows that we are correct as to the Karaite [original Jewish] seventh month.” The Millerites were well aware of the rabbinical seventh month in September in 1844, and the circumstance was often mentioned in their papers. At the same time they were emphatic in their challenge that they dissented from the modern Jewish calendar because it did not agree with the laws of Moses. (3)

Heaven used the Millerite Movement to restore to the world a knowledge of the original calendar of Creation, uncorrupted by the later traditions of rabbinical Jews reconciling their observances to the pagan Julian calendar.

Painstakingly studying the Karaite [Jewish] protest in the Middle Ages against the Rabbinical perversion of the calendar, they at last deliberately and irrevocably accepted, restored, and applied to their time-prophecy problem, the earlier calendation championed by the Karaites. And this they did in defiance of the whole body of Rabbinical scholarship and the general current practice of Jewry which change was introduced in the same century and at approximately the same time that the Roman Church . . . changed the Sabbath by church law from the seventh to the first day of the week. (4)

What wisdom . . . the Lord gave those earnest God-fearing and sincere believers . . . to proclaim to the world that they were following the calendar adopted by the Karaite Jews, – those Jews who profess to follow the Scripture rather than following the calendar adopted by the rabbinical orthodox Jews who were following a calendar which they admit is inaccurate in its mode of reckoning. –F. C. Gilbert

The Millerites knew the ancient luni-solar calendar so well that they were able calculate, in advance, the Day of Atonement. Without this understanding, there would have been no “Seventh-Month Movement,” no “Midnight Cry,” and later, no cleansing of the sanctuary doctrine within Adventism. It is not too strong a statement to say that without the luni-solar calendar, there would be no 2300-day doctrine within the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The problem is when the Sabbath is calculated by the original Biblical calendar, it does not fall on Saturday because the weekly cycle of the luni-solar calendar does not align with the weekly cycle of the Gregorian calendar, which is a solar calendar. Furthermore, this can be proven by the fact that if the 2300 day/year time period started in 457 BC as taught by both the Millerites and the SDA Church, the year AD 31 is pinpointed as the year of the crucifixion. When the luni-solar calendar for AD 31 is overlaid the Julian calendar for the same year, Passover, the sixth day of the week, does not fall on Friday!

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I will try by God’s grace to make one post each week as I am able. –MWP
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  1. See Midnight Cry, April 27, 1843, p. 30; Signs of the Times, June 21, 1843, p. 123; Dec. 5, 1843, pp. 133-136; Midnight Cry, Feb. 22, 1844, pp. 243, 244.
  2. Bold in original; italics supplied.
  3. Grace Amadon, “Millerite Computation of the October 22 Date,” Box 2, Folder 4, Grace Amadon Collection, Center for Adventist Research, Andrews University.
  4. Amadon, “Courageous Action of Millerites on ‘Jewish Calendar’ Problem,” Box 2, Folder 4, Grace

The Beginnings of Adventism: As the Twig was Bent, So Grew the Tree. Part One, Troubled Roots.

Written by Michael W. Pursley

bent-treeTroubled Roots

It is one thing to talk about the inherent ills and evils of a church or cult and to discuss some of its embedded heresies and heterodoxies, but it is quite another to understand where a particular group headed off of God’s path, and the tensions that seemingly drove them thus. My prayer is that God will let us see the Gospel more deeply and discern error, with its baleful effects, more clearly. .

 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.…”

                                                                                               –Matthew 24:23-24. .

And o’er thy Church established on the floods
The lurid cloud, e’en now, portentous broods.
Rude schism yawns, and error’s baleful breath
Spreads wide and far the sickness unto death.
                                                      –Ecclesia Anglicana .

It is hard to see in modern times constructive parallels to the decades just prior to the “final” formation of Adventism.

Not only do the times speak to us of their singularity, but so also do the people, the thinking, and the moods of countries and of states.  As there are periods of history that are like the oppressive calm before the storm, where the trees and people seem to stand still, and almost motionless. Yet beneath the surface of it all, the impact of heat breeds a profound tension; a tension which bespeaks of an ending. 

While there seems to be in the heart of man that impulse which softly whispers to us the knowledge of a storm which is about to break; this impulse at once consoles us and at the same time terrifies us. It consoles us, because it portends to us an ending of the tedium of our labors, and yet it terrifies us because it opens before us the yawning chasm of the darkness unknown, and threatens us with non-being.

So too, during these periods in the history of mankind, as in dry Summer weather, there comes those swift and sudden stirrings of people, as a burst of wind, a squall, that seemingly comes out of nowhere, and suddenly trees are flattened at the onslaught, and the presentiment of an ending is replaced by an anticipation and realization of movement. Thus it was in the early to mid-nineteenth century.

For the first time in history of the world, religious and spiritual events were happening in rough tandem world-wide; driven largely by increased communications and speculations concerning end time events which were propounded by people freshly looking into Biblical prophecy. Christians around the world, both inspired and encouraged each other. Feeding off of each others excitement while not having the benefits of self-corrective checks and guidance in real time; religious excitement and fervor often grew to such a pitch as to be nearly uncontrollable.

But even if we were to only examine or survey the United States out of all the nations in the world, and even if we to only look at the institutions and people in that country and do so from solely a religious context, and to that, from a personal life perspective, a “weltanschauung,” of a spiritual and religious nature, we would find a certain continuity of perspective that could indeed be construed as definitive for the period; namely, that the Second Coming of Christ was near at hand. And not just that it was near, but that Christians everywhere had the responsibility and a specific and definitive part to play in the final scenes ushering in this momentous occasion. 

It is with deep tenderness that we must view Millerite convictions, just as we must view with reverential awe their tenacious commitment.

If it were possible to briefly sum-up their stance, it might be: 

Their call:Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?”

Their answer:  “The morning cometh, and also the night” -Isa. 21:11 (The morning here was the Second Coming, and the night, was believed to be the eternal second death as referenced in Revelation 20:14.)

Their commission: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…” Matthew 28:19

The consequences for refusal: “When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” -Ezekiel 3:18

It is not to be wondered at that this part of history is often described as the “Second Great Awakening.”

And it cannot be questioned that this particular “Great Awakening” was gravely distinctive in its nature and character from the first. Whereas the “First Great Awakening,” was championed by great leaders and thinkers such as George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards who were Calvinistic therefore “Confessional” by nature, so too the “Second Great Awakening” was rigorously “Evangelical,” and tended to be more led by the strong convictions of lay popular thinking which tended toward pietism; as such it can be seen to be championed by the Wesleys. But where the First Great Awakening had its emphasis on inward personal piety and ones personal relationship with God, the latter placed its emphasis on outward evangelism and the conversion of the lost.

However, it was as a result of this new emphasis, spurred by the text and thought of Ezekiel 3:18, that many good and wonderful things occurred: Bible societies flourished and blossomed, missionary boards were filled with people looking to be used in the “mission fields”. Temperance Societies were formed. And a strong stance was once again taken against the pervasive creep of Liberalism that had wormed its way into the mainline churches.  As a result, there was a turning back to scripture, and there was a turning of hearts to the Lord.

With all that being said, statistics show that the Second Great Awakening was really a Baptist and Methodist movement. For while older mainline and confessional denominations remained largely static in their church membership, the congregations of Baptists and Methodists exploded. As never before, church members were motivated towards personal evangelism. True, there were many more females to males that were converted, but what was more important was that young people as never before, were often the first to join. And while things may not have been perfect, there was a spirit and a fervor not largely seen elsewhere.

Because of the large numbers of lay people that felt called to the ministry, there were also large diversity of Biblical thought and interpretation.  And as one may guess, herein lies the rub. Because of the lack of oversight of the Clergy, and because of the lack of education on the part of so many of the rural, self-taught, pastors, many of whom were circuit riding throughout the vast reaches of the American wilderness, divergent views of theology sprang into being, and with them new and strange denominations began to form.

It is from one of these “self-taught roots,” the old Methodist, “Millerite root,” that Adventism sprang. Numerous books have been written on this particular movement, for of all of them it was one of the most spectacular. A casual student might call it spectacular because of its overwhelming and public failure, but in reality that falls far short. Rather, I believe it is stunning in terms of movement’s tenacity to unswervingly interpret biblical prophecy, the commitment of its followers, and the excitement that it generated.  To finish this post, and to demonstrate the excitement and devotion of this unhappy group, let me leave with you the following story.

saints4-16fw

“Most of the towns and villages in western Massachusetts were hot-beds of Millerism, and each had its own experience while awaiting the end of all things terrestrial.

Westford, perched upon a high ridge of granite boulders, holds a most poignant memory of the last night of the great delusion. Mr. John Fletcher, a member of one of the oldest families there, gave the author a vivid account of it, which he had heard from childhood up from his father, who was not a believer in Prophet Miller’s doctrine, but was deeply interested as an onlooker, and was a witness of all that happened to his followers in Westford.

The principal meeting place of the Millerites there was in a fine old mansion facing the green on the site of which now stands the Fletcher Memorial Library. It was owned by a man named Bancroft, and he and his family were held in high esteem by the townspeople, and it caused much comment that they and a family of Leightons and also one named Richardson, all well-to-do people with a certain amount of education, should have fallen so completely under the spell of the delusion, but they did so with great enthusiasm and faith, and the Bancroft house was filled to overflowing with large numbers of persons as deluded as themselves. Every believer in the prophecy in Westford was an ardent one – there was not a lukewarm soul among them. According to Mr. Fletcher’s father, many of them had white robes ready, and each one prayed loud,and sang loud, and shouted loud; and on this last night the unbelievers who were not up to see what was going to happen, lay awake listening to the tumult of sound that issued forth from the Bancroft mansion.

Now there was a man who lived near by who was generally known by the name of “Crazy Amos.” He was somewhat addicted to drink and was one of those queer characters sometimes found in country districts. He was the possessor of a very large horn, and it so happened that, as he lay in his bed listening to the sound of voices that rose and fell like the waves of an incoming tide, a sudden thought flashed through his befuddled brain, and jumping out of his bed he hurriedly dressed himself, and seizing his horn he rushed out upon the village green and blew a terrific blast upon it. The poor deluded fanatics, now congregated in the Bancroft house to await the awful summons of the Holy Angel Gabriel, heard the sound and for a moment a death-like stillness came over the assembly; then, uttering a great shout of exaltation, they rushed tumultuously in a body out of the house and on to the green, hustling and jostling each other in a frantic attempt to secure an advantageous position from which they might easily be “caught up into the air.”

When they gained the green, they gazed about in bewilderment, scanning the heavens, looking first at the east, then at the north and south, then at the west, and to their astonishment they could see nothing unusual in the night skies. Then of a sudden came another terrible blast from a horn – loud and clear – awaking the echoes!

With one accord a great shout went up – “HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH! GLORY! GLORY!” and believing the fulfillment of the prophecy to be at hand they strained their eyes upwards, searching the heavens again, expecting any moment to see the angelic hosts appear, and they raised their arms high above their heads in an attitude of prayer and supplication. Then a regular fanfare rang out, and one of them espied their neighbor “Crazy Amos” blowing as though for dear life upon his horn. 

A muffled exclamation of dismay, mixed with anger and resentment, escaped from the lips of the humiliated enthusiasts, who retreated into the house again in dire confusion, exhausted and trembling from the high pitch of ecstasy which they had reached for the space of a few supreme moments, and from the sense of shame at having been so duped, while they clasped their hands over their ears so as to deaden the sound of the gibes and taunts of “Crazy Amos,” who shouted after them: “Fools! Go dig you potatoes – for the Angel Gabriel he won’t go a-digging ’em for ye!”  —“Days of Delusion – A Strange Bit of History” by Clara Endicott Sears, 1924; Chapter 10.

Part 4 of 4. Inconvenient Reflections of Darkness: The Awful Evidence of the Evilness of a False Faith Totally Berift of Grace

Written by Michael W. Pursley

lucifer

“It is very plain that he who modifies the teachings of the Word of God in the smallest particular at the dictation of any man-made ‘opinion’ has already deserted the Christian ground, and is already, in principle, a ‘heretic.’ The very essence of ‘heresy’ is that the modes of thought and tenets originating elsewhere than in the Scriptures of God are given decisive weight when they clash with the teachings of God’s Word …” — B. B. Warfield

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The prophets prophesy falsely,
the priests rule at their sides,

and my people love it this way!
But what will you do when the end comes?

-Jeremiah 5:31 

An Introduction…

[I have been a parent-spectator in the fortunes of war. But now, I am a parent-combatant in the realms of spiritual and theological warfare.

When my daughter as a young Marine was badly wounded during the battle of Fallujah, our whole lives changed. Gone were the rosy expectations of a normal life for our daughter and family. Gone was the peaceful equilibrium of family balance. Gone were the days when we could wake up with expectations of a day’s quiet contentment and harmony. The new normal? Pain was the new normal! Medications were the new normal. Visits to the V.A. Hospital were the new normal. Prayers for healing were the new normal. Nothing was or is the same.

Why? Because, when a family member is hurt, the whole family is wounded… And only people who have had loved ones wounded or hurt, in one way or another, can ever truly understand this. 

When I walked away from Seventh-day Adventism roughly 30 years ago, over the numerous theological errors I knew then, –the same, well-documented, fundamental, doctrinal errors of faith, recognized by denominational leaders since early days of Adventism, I felt as one who had climbed out of a long dark tunnel, as one who had been slimed, perhaps from the inside out; I was very happy to walk away, and I did; not just from the denomination, not just from the theology, but also from the people. –I say this to my shame and condemnation. Therefore, for me, this post is an act of repentance; it is a turning away from the sin of faithlessness. And it is a turning back to that task which God had given me to faithfully proclaim, His Gospel, in whatever circumstances I may find myself, both when it is convenient and when it is not. To faithfully do this; I must paint truth in its whitest white, error in its blackest black and to make sure there is no compromise between the two. “…Consider well Michael, do you not know from where you come? Do you remember whose message you were given? Even the great and mighty God! Who is all present! And who beholds all your ways! Do you not remember, that He is able to cast your soul into hell? Therefore, take care that you deliver your message faithfully!”  May I do so faithfully with God’s grace. –MWP]

A Lament…

A few posts ago, we saw how those who have rejected God’s terms of grace were eternally damned.

There is no equivocation on this. As we saw earlier, the quaker, William Penn thunderously pronounces doom against the false pietistic churchmen,  “There is no flying from his final justice,  for those that reject the terms of his mercy.”  Further, as we saw how Penn goes on to sorrowfully pronounce the reason for God’s righteousness judgment against them,  “Their vain hope silences their convictions, and overlays all tender motions to repentance: so that their mistake about their duty to God, is as mischievous as their rebellion against him.” 

How utterly sad. How utterly forlorn of divine help are those leaders and teachers in Seventh-day Adventism, who have knowingly lead their people down “false paths” and have not repented for doing so. As false shepherds they have led their sheep down false avenues of faith to their own damnation. Why? Simply because they feared what man would say, more than what they feared God would say in that final day.

Though these false religious leaders have had no qualms of having converts giving up their employment on Saturday, yet they fear to give up their own jobs, their own security, their own prestige, and their own power, for the sake of truth and for Jesus. They were, and are, posers and hypocrites of true Christianity. Their false piety was, and is, nothing more than a false compliment to the Son of God. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!” Matt. 23:15.

And when that day does come; that day of the Second Coming of Christ, that day which the leaders of Seventh-day Adventism claim they look for with their entire being, that day when they look up to Jesus, and Jesus says to them, “I never knew you,” they will then abandon all pretense, as they will abandon all hope.  The weeping and gnashing of teeth will begin and it will not end, for they will be cast into that Lake of Fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.

How should you take this writing if you are a Seventh-day Adventist, or a leader in Seventh-day Adventism?

How?

It should make you think, and think deeply, at the very least.

If you have read some of these earlier posts regarding Adventism, you are already beginning to know of  just some of Adventism’s grossest errors. They are just a beginning; indeed, they are not very conclusive at all. They are not but a feeble few of the errors to be found in Adventism. But, if you already know that these errors are wrong, and have decided not to act Biblically upon your knowledge, if you have not come to Jesus and asked for forgiveness and turned from your erroneous teaching, then your attitude, your lack of true repentance, you lack of making Jesus the Lord of your life, may already be enough to damn you for all eternity, for you have already willfully rejected Christ –just as the Jews did. If Jesus is not Lord of all your life, then he is Lord of none of your life!  

Think about that.  Look inside yourself, do you not feel a knot of fear residing there? Is this not that fear which is a pang of conscience? Do you not realize that your conscience maybe the work of the Holy Spirit which is begging you, imploring you, to make things right with God? Do you not realize that your belonging to Seventh-day Adventism, is nothing more than a false compliment to God; that “Sabbath keeping” is a work counted against you if you are not “within the terms of God’s grace?” “Sabbath keeping” is not going to save you! It did not save the Jews! When A.D. 70 came along, they thought to themselves … just as you are doing now, “peace and Safety,” we are part of “God’s Remnant Church!” How utterly wrong they were! There was no flying from his final justice,  for those that rejected the terms of his mercy. Not one stone was left on top of another.  

Luther once related that, “Latomus (Jacobus Latomus) was the best among all my adversaries: his point was this: ‘What is received of the Church, ought not to be rejected.’ As the Jews said: ‘We are God’s people;’ so the Papists cry: ‘The Church cannot err.’ This was the argument against which the prophets and apostles fought; Moses says, ‘They moved me to jealousy with that which was not God, and I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation’ And St Paul: ‘That he is a Jew which is one inwardly;’ and Isaiah: ‘In Him shall the Gentiles trust.’ ‘It is impossible,’ say they, ‘that God should forsake His Church,’ for He declares, ‘I am with you always, unto the end of the world,’ etc. The question is, to whom do these words, refer? Which is the true Church whereof Christ spake? The perplexed, broken and contrite in heart, or the Romish courtesans and knaves?'” –I would add, “does this not also include the Adventist Leadership who insist that they have the “Sabbath” and Ellen White, and are therefore the true remnant church…even though they have rejected God’s “Plan of Salvation” as inscribed in Holy Scripture and who have also added the profane writings of Ellen White to his Holy Word to support their position?”

You can neither keep the Law nor the Sabbath perfectly, and you never will, and it is that absolute perfection which is all that matters with God.  Perfection of keeping the law, including the Sabbath, was something that Christ did for you.  In your heart you have broken all the commandments, including loving God with all your heart, mind and strength, or soul… Which is what God said was most important. IT was not the Sabbath. Neither is the Sabbath the means of Salvation, though Ellen White says… “It means eternal salvation to keep the Sabbath holy unto the Lord….” –Ellen White, 6T 356.4.  (NOTE: Many references regarding the relationship and linking of salvation to the Sabbath were written by Ellen White. Though these visions and the theology were known to be false by the leadership of Seventh-day Adventism then… and now.

Dear Adventist, do not believe that there are not many, many Adventist professors and pastors, old and young, who do not know their error, they do! But like Nicodemus, they are afraid, …they will only meet with their Savior under the cover of darkness, and like Judas they will sell their Lord for 30 pieces of silver!

Worse, if you are a church leader, and you are knowingly teaching a lie, a lie which you know changes or adds to God’s Holy, Inspired and Inerrant Word, the Bible, what can you expect from God?  Should you not expect “a certain fearful looking for a judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries”?  Do you not feel this fear in your heart right now?

I implore you now, look deeply, do you at least even remember that nagging feeling you had when you realized you were teaching that which was not right? But you washed it away….   Repent!  Repent!  Repent, before it is too late!

Part 3 of 4. Inconvenient Reflections of Darkness: My Thoughts on Seventh-Day Adventism and the Correct Reasons Why I Left.

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

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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?

–Proverbs 22:20-21
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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.

descent_of_the_modernists_e-_j-_pace_christian_cartoons_1922Also, 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