One God, One
Bible picture of God.
Adventist Doctrine of God
Part 2: The Alpha
|Kellogg's New Theology||Person or Personalitiy||Kellog's Living Temple|
|1905 Kellogg Climax||Godhead Trio||God in Two Persons|
During this same time
period John Harvey Kellogg began entertaining new ideas about the nature
We get a glimpse of these concepts within the book he later published, the Living Temple. Some of Kellogg's ideas indeed realized the presence of God in everything and drifted toward an impersonal universal power.
is divine energy and the presence of God because John said "God is light." p.
God is the very substance of the food we eat; we absorb from our food the very substance of His body. p. 88
The Creator is himself present in our blood because He is life, and the life of the flesh is in the blood. p. 252
The divine Intelligence thinks and wills within the white blood cells of our body. p. 261
God is ever present within us acting through our instincts which way we should go. p. 437
The great Designer is a personal being yet an all-pervading, all-controlling personality within nature. p. 451
There is a universal unity of being, an infinite indwelling presence. p. 459
Every meal is a sacrament, a partaking of God's substance sacrificed for our sustenance. p. 459
But he also presented a
theology that equated the indwelling Spirit of God with Christ:
the Creator dwells in our body temple He bears all the pain, sorrow that we
suffer. p. 441
The Spirit of God is the Lord, the Christ, that made us and dwells in us (Job 33:4; 32:8; 2Cor 3:16,17) p. 457
We must put our wills into harmony with God's ever-present intelligence and will. p. 485
We can believe that God is ever present within us and feel a mighty power working within. p. 486
See Appendix C for actual quotes from the Living Temple.
Ellen White would later point out that some of Kellogg's expressions and sentiments were in harmony with her writings. But she refused to allow this alone to support all the teachings in the book:
"I am compelled to speak in denial of the claim that the teachings of Living Temple can be sustained by statements from my writings. There may be in this book expressions and sentiments that are in harmony with my writings. And there may be in my writings many statements which, taken from their connection, and interpreted according to the mind of the writer of Living Temple, would seem to be in harmony with the teachings of this book. This may give apparent support to the assertion that the sentiments in Living Temple are in harmony with my writings. But God forbid that this sentiment should prevail." EGW, 1SM 203
She does not here identify which expressions and sentiments were at fault and which were in harmony. In 1881, however, Ellen White was forced to send him a warning
"Those theories are wrong. I have met them before." Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 278, 279.
Which theories was Ellen
White referring to?
Was she objecting to the view that God Himself dwells within us? This is the teaching of Scripture.
Or to the conclusion that the Spirit of God is Jesus Christ? The Bible speaks of the Spirit of Christ.
Or, more likely, to the pantheistic notions that God was in sunlight, in water, in food, in our blood?
In 1897 Kellogg began to express his ideas publically and joined forces with his wife's Seventh-day Baptist preacher and EJ Waggoner who presented the teaching to the General Conference.
"What a wonderful thought, that this mighty God that keeps the whole universe in order, is in us! ...What an amazing thing that this almighty, all-powerful, and all-wise God should make Himself a servant of man by giving man a free will-power to direct the energy within his body!" General Conference Daily Bulletin 1897, p. 83.
God in us. Sounds biblical. The Holy Spirit dwells in us; Christ in us, the hope of glory. But these sentiments are different: Not a personal indwelling, abiding, Spirit of Christ, but the focus is on a "power" an "energy" within. This was actually the precursor of what has become present day New Age spiritualism. More than this, Ellen White objected to the thought that God would dwell in the sinner.
"In Living Temple the assertion is made that God is in the flower, in the leaf, in the sinner." Ellen White, Sermons and Talks, Vol. 1 Manuscript 46, 1904, MR 900, p 343.
"But God does not live in the sinner. The Word declares that He abides only in the hearts of those who love Him and do righteousness. God des not abide in the heart of the sinner; it is the enemy who abides there." Sermons and Talks, Vol. 1 Manuscript 46, 1904, MR 900, p 343.
"If God is an essence pervading all nature, then He dwells in all men: and in order to attain holiness, man has only to develop the power that is within him." Testimonies, Vol. 8, p. 291, 1904.
Mrs White continued sending warnings from Australia. But when the Battle Creek Sanitarium burned down in early 1902, Dr. Kellogg proposed to sell 500,000 copies of the book he was writing on health called the Living Temple to finance the rebuilding of a new facility.
General Conference President, A.G.Daniels, counselled Kellogg to not include any of his "new ideas" in the book.
"Now look here, Doctor, that book must not contain a single argument of this new theory you are teaching, because there are a lot of people all over the States who do not accept it. I know from what they say, and if it has any of what they consider pantheism they will never touch it." (Arthur L. White, The Early Elmshaven Years Vol. 5 chapter 21 page 288)
However, Kellogg introduced a considerable amount of his fanciful ideas anyway-- ideas on the all pervasive nature of God which he saw in every aspect of creation: light, clouds, rain, circles, sound, etc, etc. Ellen white responded by forcefully expounding the Personality and Personhood of God and His Spirit.
Ellen White explained the nature of her objections:
"I have been instructed to say, the sentiments of those who are searching
for advanced scientific ideas are not to be trusted.
Such representations as the following are made:
'The Father is as the light invisible: the Son is as the light embodied; the Spirit is the light shed abroad.'
'The Father is like the dew, invisible vapor; the Son is like the dew gathered in beauteous form; the Spirit is like the dew fallen to the seat of life.'
'The Father is like the invisible vapor; the Son is like the leaden cloud; the Spirit is rain fallen and working in refreshing power.'
All these spiritualistic representations are simply nothingness. They are imperfect, untrue. They weaken and diminish the Majesty which no earthy likeness can be compared to. God cannot be compared with the things His hands have made. These are mere earthly things, suffering under the curse of God because of the sins of man. The Father cannot be described by the things of earth." Evangelism p. 614
Notice, she cites various analogies used to illustrate the Trinity, but concludes "God cannot be compared…The Father cannot be described by the things of earth." Two issues appear to be addressed: 1) the notion of a trinity, and 2) "spiritualistic representations" of God. She did not denounce the truth that God dwells within us by His Spirit nor that the Spirit of God is the Lord Jesus Christ. She is, in fact, taking issue with the characterization of the Godhead by then popular Pentecostals such as William Boardman.
Popular in England during the 1870's was the 'Higher Life' movement. William Boardman, who teamed up with Dwight L. Moody, wrote a 100,000 copy best-seller called "The Higher Christian Life" in 1858. Coincidentaly, He had used the same examples cited above by Ellen White to illustrate what he called "the triune God."
"The Father is as the light invisible. The Son is as the light embodied. The Spirit is as the light shed down."
"The Father is like the dew in invisible vapor. The Son is like the dew gathered in beauteous form. The Spirit is like the dew fallen to the seat of life."
"The Father is like to the invisible vapor. The Son is as the laden cloud and palling rain. The Spirit is the rain — fallen and working in refreshing power."
(W. Boardman, The Higher Christian life, part 2, chapter 1, pp. 201-203)
Sound familiar? Ellen White was essentially quoting Boardman, rejecting his examples as "untrue" "spiritualistic representations." But then Boardman continued.
"They may also illustrate the truth that all the fulness of Him who filleth all in all, dwells in each person of the Triune God." Ibid.
Ellen White was thus rejecting the physical world metaphors used by both Boardman and Kellogg to promote belief in a "Triune God."
Boardman also wrote another famous trinitarian statement:
"The Father is all the fulness of the Godhead invisible.
The Son is all the fulness of the Godhead manifested.
The Spirit is all the fulness of the Godhead making manifest.”
(William Boardman, The Higher Christian Life, part ii, chapter 1)
Ellen White took Boardman's statement and corrected it point by point.
"The Father is all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and is invisible to mortal sight.
The Son is all the fulness of the Godhead manifested.
The Word of God declares Him to be “the express image of His person." "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Here is shown the personality of the Father.
The Comforter that Christ promised to send after He ascended to heaven, is the Spirit in all the fullness of the Godhead, making manifest the power of divine grace to all who receive and believe in Christ as a personal Saviour."
(Ellen G. White, Special Testimonies Series B No.7, page 62 1906) (Ev 1946 p. 615) (In Heavenly Places 1967 Chapter 330) (SDABC 1970 Vol 7A p. 441) (Bible Training School March 1, 1906)
While Boardman concludes
with three "persons of the living God"
i.e., three personalities united in one indivisible God.
Ellen White changes it to three "living personalities of the heavenly trio." She does not treat them as a single Being.
Boardman's living God is
composed of three persons--an orthodox trinitarian statement.
White's Godhead is a trio of three living personalitiess--clearly nontrinitarian as of 1906.
Those who note that Ellen White's printed statement is "three living persons" not "personalities" will shortly see that her handwritten edited and thus corrected version was indeed "personalities." While she was making a conscious effort to quote Boardman, she did not do so exactly, but rather to correct the errors in his version. Boardman's statement is "living persons," and although Ellen initially wrote this, she appears to see in this expression room for improvement and adjusted in her own handwriting the word to "personalities."
An official photocopy of the original Ellen White manuscript obtained from the E.G.White Estate shows that many words in the original were adjusted by Mrs White herself: Significantly, "persons" was changed to "personalities."
S.F. III 1906
The Father is not to be described by the earthly
The Father is all the fullness of the Godhead
invisible to mortal earthly sight
The Son is all the fullness of the Godhead
For God so loved the world that he gave
his only begotten Son that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish but have
everlasting life. Here is the personality of the Father
|The Spirit the Comforter whom
promised to send after he ascended to heaven
of the God head making manifest to the
all who receive him and believe in him
These are ^ living three person
trio in which every soul repenting of their
faith to them who are baptized
of Jesus Christ to them
|Father and of the
Son and off the Holy
Ghost their high dignified personalities
______to the obedient subjects
Give power ^ because they are God's property
W he called the Sons of God. What is the sinner
to do, believe in Jesus Christ because they
are His property which he hath purchased
with his own blood through the test and trial
to which he was subjected...
It seems to follow nearly the same structure as the Boardman quote, but it diverges with the third stanza becoming essentially meaningless:
"The Father is all the fullness of the Godhead invisible...
The Son is all the fullness of the Godhead manifested...
The Spirit....is the Spirit in all the fullness of the Godhead making manifest"
The expected symmetry would have been "The Spirit is all the fullness of the Godhead..." This awkward expression is the result of changing an initial thought. In this middle section we see that the original wording was: "The Spirit, the Comforter whom Christ promised to send after he ascended to heaven, is Christ." This would have avoided the circular redundancy of the subsequent correction.
Also notice that she at first wrote "baptized in the name of Jesus Christ..." and then change it to "...in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost..." Both are scripturally accurate, depending on whether one places favored status on the single occurrence in Matthew 28 of "the threefold name" or the multiple occurrences throughout the book of Acts citing the single name of Jesus Christ.
Boardman summarizes by using the standard trinitarian construct--three persons of the one God:
"The persons are not mere offices, or modes of revelation, but living persons of the living God."
(William Boardman, The Higher Christian Life, part ii, chapter 1)
Ellen modifies this statement as well, replacing the one God with a trio:.
There are three living personalitiess of the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powers-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit-those who receive Christ by living faith are baptised, and these powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ." (Ellen G. White, Special Testimonies Series B No.7, page 62 1906) (Ev 1946 p. 615) (In Heavenly Places 1967 Chapter 330) (SDABC 1970 Vol 7A p. 441) (Bible Training School March 1, 1906)
Her change of "persons" to "personality" is significant. However, for whatever reason, the adjusted reading in her own handwriting was not captured in the printed version. If it had, then it would have provided consistency with the other statements that clearly express the personality of the Father and the Son.
"The Father and the Son each have a personality. Christ declared, "I and My Father are one." Yet it was the Son of God who came to the world in human form." Evangelism p. 614 T9 p. 68 (1909)
"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us." These words present God and Christ as two distinct personalities. (Notebook Leaflets, p. 124)
"On Sabbath, April 27, many of our brethren and sisters from neighboring churches gathered in the parlors with the sanitarium family, and I spoke to them there. I read the first chapter of Hebrews as the basis of my discourse. This chapter clearly indicates the individual personalities of the Father and the Son. (R&H, Aug. 1, 1907)
"In this Scripture [John 1:1-4, 14-16: 3:34-36] God and Christ are spoken of as two distinct personalities, each acting in their own individuality. (MR 760, p. 18)
But when speaking of the Holy Spirit she appears to be ambivalent.
"The Holy Spirit is Christ's representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof." DA p. 669
"The Holy Spirit has a personality, else He could not bear witness to our spirits and with our spirits that we are the children of God. He must also be a divine person, else He could not search out the secrets which lie hidden in the mind of God. "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. [which is in Him]" Manuscript 20, 1906. Evangelism p. 617
"The Holy Spirit is a person, for He beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. When this witness is borne, it carries with it its own evidence." Evangelism p. 616;
This last quote, originally found in Manuscript 20, pages 64-69 and written in 1906, is shown below.
The Holy Spirit always leads to the written word
Only a few words were changed in the final published text.
The Holy Spirit has no personality,
and has a personality, and is a person.
If the identity of the Spirit, however, is understood to be Christ Himself, the confusion is resolved.
The Holy Spirit is Christ
without (divested of) His [Christ's] human personality.
Christ is the only divine being with a human personality.
Thus, the Spirit of Christ has a divine personality and is a divine person--Christ.
This perspective is also consistent with the following statement regarding God's designated channel of communication with the fallen human race:
"To Adam in his innocence was granted communion, direct, free, and happy, with his Maker. After his transgression, God would communicate to man only through Christ and angels."
Signs of the Times, Jan. 30, 1879
“All the communion between heaven and the fallen race has been through Christ."
Patriarchs & Prophets p. 366
The Holy Spirit is a distinct personification of Christ, but not distinct from Christ.
"The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, in Christ's name. He personifies Christ, yet is a distinct personality." 20MR p. 324.2 Taken from Manuscript 93, 1893.
“After His ascension He [Jesus] was to be absent in person; but through the Comforter He would still be with them, and they were not to spend their time in mourning." Desire of Ages p. 277
“The Saviour is our Comforter. This I have proved Him to be.” 8MR p. 49 July 16, 1892
“As by faith we look to Jesus, our faith pierces the shadow, and we adore God for His wondrous love in giving Jesus the Comforter.” 19MR No. 1405 Preston, Melbourne, July 26, 1892 p. 297; Sons and Daughters of God p.124
“There is no comforter like Christ, so tender and so true. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. His Spirit speaks to the heart.” Review and Herald Oct 26, 1897
“He is coming to us by His Holy Spirit today. Let us recognize Him now; then we shall recognize Him when He comes in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” Review and Herald, April 30, 1901
"While Jesus ministers in the sanctuary above, He is still by His Spirit the minister of the church on earth." Desire of Ages p. 166
He gives them His Holy Spirit, the manifestation of His presence and favor.” Testimonies Vol 9, p. 230 1909
"Before the disciples could fulfill their official duties in connection with the church, Christ breathed His Spirit upon them." Desire of Ages p. 805
“Jesus is waiting to breathe upon all his disciples, and give them the inspiration of his sanctifying spirit, and transfuse the vital influence from himself to his people… Christ is to live in his human agents.” Signs of the Times Oct 3, 1892
“The Holy Spirit, which proceeds from the only begotten Son of God, binds the human agent, body, soul, and spirit, to the perfect, divine-human nature of Christ." Review & Herald April 5, 1906
" 'The words that I speak are spirit and life' John 6:63. Christ is not here referring to His doctrine, but to His person, the divinity of His character.” 1Selected Messages p. 249
Romans 8:9 speaks of the Father and Son as sharing the same Spirit referred to as the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ.
“It is through the Spirit that Christ dwells in us; and the Spirit of God, received into the heart by faith, is the beginning of the life eternal.” Desire of Ages, page 388
“They are two in individuality, yet one in spirit”Youth’s Instructor Dec 16, 1897
“What saith our Saviour? ‘I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.’ ‘He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him and will manifest myself to him’ When trials overshadow the soul, remember the words of Christ, remember that He is an unseen presence in the person of the Holy Spirit, and He will be the peace and comfort given you, manifesting to you that He is with you, the Sun of Righteousness, chasing away your darkness. 'If a man love me,' Christ said, 'he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him'” Letter 124, 1897 (Daughters of God p.185), John 14:16, 18, 23 Review and Herald Sept 23, 1902
“In giving us His Spirit, God gives us Himself, making Himself a fountain of divine influences, to give health and life to the world.” Testimonies vol. 7, p. 273
"That He [the Father] would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." Ephesians 4:14-17
"God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts." Galatians 4:6
"For I know that this shall turn to my salvation, through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:19
"And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth." Revelation 5:6
"And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things says he that has the seven Spirits of God." Revelation 3:1 [Jesus possesses the omnipresent Spirit of God]
“The reasons why the churches are weak and sickly and ready to die is that the enemy has brought influences of a discouraging nature to bear upon trembling souls. He has sought to shut Jesus from their view as the Comforter” Review and Herald, August 26, 1890
“Let them study the seventeenth of John, and learn how to pray and how to live the prayer of Christ. He is the Comforter. He will abide in their hearts, making their joy full.” E.G. White, Review and Herald, January 27, 1903
Therefore, the Holy Spirit is a distinct (real, not different) personality because it is Christ himself personified.
But despite Ellen White's words of caution, Kellogg persisted undeterred and the Review and Herald printing house, which was printing his book, burned to the ground in December that same year.
Kellogg claimed to have had a conversion experience in the months following this disaster. He felt that he had been rejected because of his treatement of the Holy Spirit as a "force" rather than a person. So he now confessed to have accepted a belief in the trinity. Writing to G.I.Butler, then President of the Southern Union Conference, Kellogg said,
"As far as I can fatham (sic), the difficulty which is found in the Living Temple, the whole thing may be simmered down to this question: is the Holy Ghost a person? You say no." "I had supposed the Bible said this for the reason that the personal pronoun he is used in speaking of the Holy Ghost. Sister White uses the pronoun he and has said in as many words that the Holy Ghost is the third person of the Godhead." "How the Holy Ghost can be the third person and not be a person at all is difficult for me to see." (Letter, Kellogg to G. I. Butler, October 28, 1903)
Kellogg was essentially saying that the church did not share his new conviction that the Holy Spirit was an individual person separate from the Father and Son. Technically, he was proposing three gods, or tritheism. He did not emphasize or insist on the typical trinitarian "oneness." However, he felt justified in taking this position because "Sister White uses the pronoun he" and referred to the Holy Ghost as "the third person of the Godhead." She indeed had made such statements 5-6 years earlier:
"…the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit." Special Testimonies, Series A, No. 10, p. 37. (1897) Evangelism p. 617
"The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating agent, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail...Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the third person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power." DA p. 671 1898
Subsequent editions of The Desire of Ages demonstrate a capitalization of the words "Third Person" which is further evidence of intentional efforts to legitimize a trinitarian position.
In fact, Ellen White had originally written this phrase two years before the initial publication of The Desire of Ages in a letter dated February 6, 1896 from Sunnyside Cooranbong, Australia and addressed 'To my brethren in America.' Again, no capitalization for the 'third person.'
“Evil had been accumulating for centuries, and could only be restrained and resisted by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fulness of divine power."
The following day A.G. Daniells, then GC president, confronted Kellogg with the "objections" in his material:
"He [Kellogg] then stated that his former views regarding the trinity had stood in his way of making a clear and absolutely correct statement; but that in a short time he had come to believe in the trinity and could now see pretty clearly where the difficulty was, and believed that he could clear the matter up satisfactorily.
He told me that he now believed in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; and his view was that it was God the Holy Ghost, and not God the Father, that filled all space and every living thing. He said that if he had believed this before writing the book, he could have expressed his views without giving the wrong impression the book now gives.
I placed before him the objections I found in the teaching, and tried to show him that the teaching was so utterly contrary to the gospel that I did not see how it could be revised by changing a few expressions." Letter: A. G. Daniells to W. C. White. Oct 29. 1903, p1.2.
Six months later Butler again attempted to convince Dr. Kellogg of his error.
"God dwells in us by His Holy Spirit, as a Comforter, as a Reprover, especially the former. When we come to Him, we partake of Him in that sense, because the Spirit comes forth from him; it comes forth from the Father and the Son" "It is not a person walking around on foot, or flying, as a literal being, in any such sense as Christ and the Father are--at least, if it is, it is utterly beyond my comprehension or the meaning of language or words." (G. I Butler, letter to J. H. Kellogg April 5th 1904)
This was the prevailing view of the Holy Spirit among Seventh-day Adventists in the early 1900s, contrary to the now popular revisionist teaching that Ellen White by this time had "matured" into a full trinitarian understanding of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit at this late date (6 years after the publication of The Desire of Ages) was still believed to be the personal presence of the "Father and the Son" because it comes from them both.
The following month Ellen White commented on her dismay regarding the teachings presented in Kellogg's The Living Temple:
"I am so sorry that Living Temple came out as it did, and was circulated, and the worst of it -- that which struck right to my heart -- was the assertion made regarding the book: 'It contains the very sentiments that Sister White has been teaching.' When I heard this, I felt so heartbroken that it seemed as if I could not say anything. Had I said anything, I would have been obliged to speak the truth as it was." "Living Temple contains the Alpha of these theories. The Omega would follow in a little while. I tremble for our people. These beautiful representations are similar to the temptation that the enemy brought to Adam and Eve in Eden." (Ellen G. White, Talk given on May 18th 1904, Sermons and talks, Volume one, page 341, Manuscript 46, 1904, ‘The Foundation of our Faith’)
Kellogg was promoting the trinity and now embraced the trinitarian formula of "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost." And Ellen White urged caution in this matter.
"Our ministers must be very careful not to enter into controversy in regard to the personality of God. This is a subject that they are not to touch. It is a mystery, and the enemy will surely lead astray those who enter into it. We know that Christ came in person to reveal God to the world. God is a person and Christ is a person. Christ is spoken of in the Word as "the brightness of His Father's glory, and the express image of His person." Ibid p. 343
Just two months later, Ellen White wrote "To Leading Physicians":
"Be not deceived; many will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. We have now before us the alpha of this danger. The omega will be of a most startling nature.” (Ellen G. White, Special Testimonies Series B, No. 2 page 16, ‘To Leading Physicians’, ‘Teach the Word’ Nashville, Tennessee, July 24th 1904)
While many have debated what "the omega" would be, in the context of the prevailing controversy over the identity of the Holy Spirit between Dr. Kellogg and the Adventist leadership including Ellen White, the "alpha" should be clearly recognized. Kellogg was promoting a three person trinity and it was causing a denominational crisis.
Kellogg's conception of the Holy Spirit remained dramatically different from the rest of the Seventh-day Adventist leadership at that time. He swung from God being in everything to God being three persons with "God the Holy Spirit" being in everything. But bringing two more gods into the picture and confessing a fully developed belief in the trinity did not address Daniells' objections nor Butler's counsel.
Kellogg's error lay in making the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit to transform our characters into the image of God, simply an all pervasive energy field that could restore the physical body, change gray hair back to its youthful color, and even grant men the prospect of never dying! See General Conference Daily Bulletin 1899, pp. 53-58, 119, 120; Gilbert M. Valentine, The Shaping of Adventism (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University, 1992), pp. 159-163,
To counter Kellogg's aberrant teachings, Ellen White began to emphasize the Spirit as a real person (as Christ is a real person) to offset the temptation to view "it" as a mystical, spiritualistic force. After the Living Temple was finally printed, she pronounced her own critique on Dr. Kellogg's masterpiece:
"The new theories in regard to God and Christ as brought out in 'The Living Temple', are not in harmony with the teaching of Christ. The Lord Jesus came to this world to represent the Father. He did not represent God as an essence pervading nature, but as a personal being. Christians should bear in mind that God has a personality as verily as has Christ." Letter 212 to teachers at Emmanuel Missionary College, 1903 in SpM p. 324
"Ministers and people are deceived by these sophistries. They lead to making God a nonentity and Christ a nonentity. We are to rebuke these theories in the name of the Lord." Manuscript 70, 1905 'To the delegates at the 1905 General Conference', pp. 3,4 "A Message of Warning."
This period of crisis dealing with Kellogg's Living Temple theology climaxed with the 1905 General Conference. Ellen White, now nearing age 78, having been God's messenger for over 60 years, reminded the delegates during her pre-conference address on May 16 that God had directed the "light" of their understanding in regards to "Christ, his mission and his priesthood." The faith given to them would extend until "the time when we shall enter the city of God."
"God has given me light regarding our periodicals. What is it? -- He has said that the dead are to speak. How? -- Their works shall follow them. We are to repeat the words of the pioneers in our work, who knew what it cost to search for the truth as for hidden treasure, and who labored to lay the foundation of our work. They moved forward step by step under the influence of the Spirit of God. One by one these pioneers are passing away. The word given me is, Let that which these men have written in the past be reproduced.
"Let the truths that are the foundation of our faith be kept before the people. Some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.
"We are now to understand what the pillars of our faith are, -- the truths that have made us as a people what we are, leading us on step by step.
"I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, his mission, and his priesthood.
"During this whole time I could not understand the reasoning of the brethren. My mind was locked, as it were, and I could not comprehend the meaning of the scriptures we were studying. This was one of the greatest sorrows of my life. I was in this condition of mind until all the principal points of our faith were made clear to our minds, in harmony with the Word of God. The brethren knew that, when not in vision, I could not understand these matters, and they accepted, as light directly from heaven, the revelations given." EGW, Review and Herald May 25, 1905
The following day, in a message entitled "A Warning Against False Theories," she counselled her listeners to keep the pillars of faith, the landmarks that made us what we are.
"Let not any man enter upon the work of tearing down the foundations of the truth that have made us what we are. God has led His people forward step by step, though there are pitfalls of error on every side. Under the wonderful guidance of a plain "Thus saith the Lord," a truth has been established that has stood the test of trial. When men arise and attempt to draw away disciples after them, meet them with the truths that have been tried as by fire."
"Those who seek to remove the old landmarks are not holding fast; they are not remembering how they have received and heard. Those who try to bring in theories that would remove the pillars of our faith concerning the sanctuary or concerning the personality of God or of Christ, are working as blind men. They are seeking to bring in uncertainties and to set the people of God adrift without an anchor." (Manuscript Releases 760)
Certainly by this time, now 7 years after the publication of the Desire of Ages, if Ellen White was now fully informed by God of His triune nature, she would not recommend the reprinting of the pioneer's words so universally anti-trinitarian. Today, the general concensus is that these "misguided" pioneers actually taught error regarding the Godhead, that Ellen White in her advanced years came to a "mature" and "correct" understanding of the trinity.
Only a few months earlier, in March of 1905 she said
"We are God's commandment-keeping people. For the past fifty years [1855-1905] every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us, to becloud our minds regarding the teaching of the word,--especially concerning the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, and the message of heaven for these last days, as given by the angels of the fourteenth chapter of Revelation.”
"Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayerful study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord."
"But the way-marks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His word and the testimony of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority." (Ellen White, Letter 95, 1905, To Dr. and Mrs. Daniel Kress, March 14, 1905, sea also Special Testimonies Series B. No. 2 page 59)
If The Desire of Ages was really the "continental divide", "paradigm shift" exposition of Ellen White's new trinitarian understanding, then why would she maintain that for 50 years Seventh-day Adventists have preserved the truth, the way-marks that had been established point by point by prayerful study?
In fact, the General Conference Yearbook for 1905 contained (the first time since 1889) a statement of fundamental beliefs.
"Seventh-day Adventists have no creed but the Bible; but they hold to certain well-defined points of faith, for which they feel prepared to give a reason" to every man that asketh" them. The following propositions may be taken as a summary of the principal features of their religious faith, upon which there is, so far as is known, entire unanimity throughout the body.
1. That there is one God, a personal, spiritual being, the Creator of all things, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal; infinite in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, truth, and mercy; unchangeable, and every where present by his representative, the Holy Spirit. Ps. 139: 7.
2. That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the one by whom he created all thing's, and by whom they do consist;"
If these sound familiar, it is because they are entirely unchanged from those first published in 1874. They were reprinted without change every subsequent year until 1914. Ellen White died in 1915. They were not printed again until 1931 when for the first time in our church history the term "trinity" appeared.
In 1905 it was the trinitarian conversion of John Harvey Kellogg and his need to make the "all pervasive Spirit" acceptable to the brethren that threatened the foundations of Adventist faith. Later she identified the satanic nature of these pillar-threatening "theories" that rendered God and Christ as "nonentities."
"Again and again we shall be called to meet the influence of men who are studying sciences of satanic origin, through which Satan is working to make a nonentity of God and of Christ." Testimonies Vol 9 p. 68, 1909.
It should be noted that she does not feature the need to include the Holy Spirit "as a personal being" nor among those that are made "a nonentity." This silence strongly indicates her understanding that the Holy Spirit is not a separate person like the Father and Son.
"You are not definitely clear on the personality of God, which is everything to us as a people. You have virtually destroyed the Lord God Himself." Letter 300, 1903.
"We need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds." Manuscript 66, 1899. (From a talk to the students at the Avondale School.) Evangelism p. 616 compiled posthumously by LeRoy E. Froom.
This selectively edited excerpt when seen in its full context demonstrates that it is "the Lord God" who knows, who hears, who is our Keeper and Helper, who walks unseen by human eyes:
"The Lord says this because He knows it is for our good. He would build a wall around us, to keep us from transgression, so that His blessing and love may be bestowed on us in rich measure. This is the reason we have established a school here. The Lord instructed us that this was the place in which we should locate, and we have had every reason to think that we are in the right place. We have been brought together as a school, and we need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds, unseen by human eyes; that the Lord God is our Keeper and Helper. He hears every word we utter and knows every thought of the mind." EG White, Sermons and Talks Volume Two, pp. 136, 137 Also in Manuscript Releases Vol. 7, p. 299
Even though the Lord God is unseen, He is personally present in His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a person because He is the personal presence of Jesus Himself. The messenger didn't say "they" she says "He". She is speaking of only one person, the Lord God, Jesus Christ.
We may notice that the section from which this and other quotes are taken is titled "The Trinity." Just remember, the unauthorized subheadings added to compilations such as the book Evangelism are just one example of the direction Ellen White warned would happen:
"There will be those once united with us in the faith who will search for new, strange doctrines, for something odd and sensational to present to the people. They will bring in all conceivable fallacies, and will present them as coming from Mrs. White, that they may beguile souls." EG White, Selected Messages Book 1, p. 41
Who, then, is it that walks unseen among us?
"Christ walks unseen through our streets. With messages of mercy He comes to our homes. With all who are seeking to minister in His name, He waits to co-operate. He is in the midst of us, to heal and to bless, if we will receive Him." E. G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 107
"Remember that Jesus is beside you wherever you go, noting your actions and listening to your words. Would you be ashamed to hear his voice speaking to you, and to know that he hears your conversation?" EG White, The Youth's Instructor, February 4, 1897 par. 3
"The Lord Jesus standing by the side of the canvasser, walking with them, is the chief worker. If we recognize Christ as the One who is with us to prepare the way, the Holy Spirit by our side will make impressions in just the lines needed." E. G. White, Colporteur Ministry, p. 107
This is the same thought also expressed in The Desire of Ages page 671 where the "third person of the Godhead" is clearly identified:
"It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world's Redeemer. It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given His Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress His own character upon His church."
Thus the two positions were presented:
Christ is eternal by himself
Christ is one of three divine Beings
Christ is equal to the Father
Christ is eternal through divine inheritance
Christ as the Son of God receives all authority and power from His Father
Christ is equal in nature with the Father but not in position or person
The mystery is not that there is a three-in-one God, but that God can be personally yet invisibly with us:
"That Christ should manifest Himself to them, and yet be invisible to the world, was a mystery to the disciples. They could not understand the words of Christ in their spiritual sense. They were thinking of the outward, visible manifestation. They could not take in the fact that they could have the presence of Christ with them, and yet He be unseen by the world. They did not understand the meaning of a spiritual manifestation." E. G. White, The Southern Work, September 13, 1898 par. 2
Ellen White described not a Trinity but a Godhead trio of three living personalities, eternal heavenly dignitaries, the three highest powers in heaven:
"The Godhead was stirred with pity for the race, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit gave themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption." Amazing Grace 1906; Review and Herald, May 2, 1912
"The work is laid out before every soul that has acknowledged his faith in Jesus Christ by baptism, and has become a receiver of the pledge from the three persons--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." (MS 57, 1900 in SDABC V6 p. 1074).
"The eternal heavenly dignitaries-God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit-arming them [the disciples] with more than mortal energy" Manuscript 145, 1901; Ev 616
"We are to co-operate with the three highest powers in heaven-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost-and these powers will work through us, making us workers together with God." Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, p. 51. (1905); Evangelism p. 617
"Christ made baptism the entrance to His spiritual kingdom. He made this a positive condition with which all must comply who wish to be acknowledged as under the authority of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost...Baptized into the threefold name." 6SDABC p. 1075.
Mrs White demonstrated a distinction between the words "person" and "being". She did not use them interchangeably. While Ellen White speaks of multiple personalities in the Godhead, she consistently identifies only two beings: The Father and His Son.
"The Scriptures clearly indicate the relation between God and Christ, and they bring to view as clearly the personality and individuality of each. [Hebrews 1:1-5 quoted] God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son." EGW, 8T 268.3, 1904
"The only being who was one with God lived the law in humanity, descended to the lowly life of a common laborer, and toiled at the carpenter's bench with his earthly parent." EGW, Signs of the Times, October 14, 1897 par. 3
"Christ the Word, the Only Begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father-one in nature, in character, and in purpose-the only being in all the universe that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God." EGW, Great Controversy 493. 1888, Patriarchs and Prophets, p.34
"There is a personal God, the Father; there is a personal Christ, the Son."
Review & Herald, Nov. 8, 1898.
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,"-- not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father's person, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Signs of the Times, May 30, 1895
This is mentioned in Scripture:
|Zech 6:13||Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. (both indicates only two)|
How can such statements
as these be consistent with a belief in the trinity?
This is blasphemy to trinitarians. And when the Spirit is identified it is the Spirit of Christ.
"Let them be thankful to God for His manifold mercies and be kind to one another. They have one God and one Saviour; and one Spirit-the Spirit of Christ-is to bring unity into their ranks." EGW, 9T 189 1906
Again, notice there is only one relationship between two beings: that of Father and Son:
"Christ is one with the Father, but Christ and God are two distinct personages. Read the prayer of Christ in the seventeenth chapter of John, and you will find this point clearly brought out.” (Ellen G. White to the delegates at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Takoma Park Washington D. C., May 19, 1905 in Review and Herald, June 1, 1905)
"By the power of His love, through obedience, fallen man, a worm of the dust, is to be transformed, fitted to be a member of the heavenly family, a companion through eternal ages of God and Christ and the holy angels.…-Manuscript 21, Feb. 16, 1900. (The Upward Look, page 61).
"The Father and the Son alone are to be exalted." Youth's Instructor, July 7, 1898, par. 2.
"The human family cost God and his Son Jesus Christ an infinite price." Special Testimonies On Education, p. 21
"No man, nor even the highest angel, can estimate the great cost; it is known only to the Father and the Son." E. G. White, The Bible Echo, October 28, 1895 par. 4.
Did we not cost the Spirit anything? Is this great cost not known to the Spirit? There is only one apparent exception to Ellen White's consistent use of persons/personalities and beings. The following was not actually written by Ellen White, but reported by someone listening to a sermon which she gave in Oakland, California, Sabbath afternoon, October 20, 1906:
"You are born unto God, and you stand under the sanction and the power of the three holiest beings in heaven, who are able to keep you from falling . . . When I feel oppressed, and hardly know how to relate myself toward the work that God has given me to do, I just call upon the three great Worthies, and say; You know I cannot do this work in my own strength." 7 Manuscript Release 267.2
The use of the term "beings" differs from all her other published statements where she uses "persons". The fact that this isolated comment alleged to have been made by her contradicts her other written and published statements, makes it applicable to the following words of caution from Ellen herself:
"And now to all who have a desire for truth I would say: Do not give credence to unauthenticated reports as to what Sister White has done or said or written. If you desire to know what the Lord has revealed through her, read her published works." 5T 696.1
It is interesting that this statement of "three holiest beings" was only revealed very recently. The date of release is noted by the White Estate as "Released March 16, 1976." 7MR 273.
Ellen White emphasized the threeness of the Godhead in terms of thinking persons with manifested personalities (not impersonal force fields). She explained the oneness of the Godhead in terms of having the same divine nature, character, purpose and love. But she never speaks of three in one person; she recognizes only two beings.
Because of these changes in Ellen White's explicit statements after 1888, some contend that an understanding of the Godhead was a late development that matured over time into a fully orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. But Ellen White stood firm on maintaining the original "pillars of the faith" established in those early years after 1844.
"When men come in who would move one pin or pillar from the foundation which God has established by His Holy Spirit, let the aged men who were pioneers in our work speak plainly, and let those who are dead speak also, by the reprinting of their articles in our periodicals." EG White, Manuscript Releases Volume 1, p. 55
Ellen White's sons followed her advice and did not change their belief in either the literal Sonship or the separate individuality of the Spirit:
"Christ is the only being begotten of the Father." James Edson White, Past, Present and Future, p. 52. 1909
Her son Willie C. White wrote as late as 1935:
"As I read the Bible, I find that the risen Saviour breathed on the disciples 'and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.' The conception received from this Scripture, seems to be in harmony with the statement in 'Desire of Ages', page 669 [The Holy Spirit is Christ's representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof.], also Gen. 1:2 [the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters]; with Luke 1:4 [that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed]; with Acts 2:4 [and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak] and also 8:15 [Peter and John prayed for those in Samaria that they might receive the Holy Spirit] and 10:44 [while Peter spoke the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word]. Many other texts might be referred to which seem to be in harmony with this statement in 'Desire of Ages.'
"The statements and the arguments of some of our ministers, in their effort to prove that the Holy Spirit is an individual as are God the Father and Christ, the eternal Son, have perplexed me, and sometimes they have made me sad. One popular teacher said 'We may regard Him, as the fellow who is down here running things.' My perplexities were lessened a little when I learned from the dictionary that one of the meanings of personality, was characteristics. It is stated in such a way that I concluded that there might be personality without bodily form which is possessed by the Father and the Son. There are many Scriptures which speak of the Father and the Son and the absence of Scripture making similar reference to the united work of the Father and the Holy Spirit or of Christ and the Holy Spirit, has led me to believe that the spirit without individuality was the representative of the Father and the Son throughout the universe, and it was through the Holy Spirit that they dwell in our hearts and make us one with the Father and with the Son." Letter, W. C. White to H. W. Carr, April 30, 1935
See Formation of the Heavenly Trio
in Two Persons
The 1905 General Conference dealt with the crisis that new theology in Kellogg's Living Temple presented to the separate personalities of Christ and his Father (see Spirit Personality 3a). In that context she spoke of theories that threaten the "pillars of our faith" such as the personality of God" and making Christ "a nonentity."
"Those who try to bring in theories that would remove the pillars of our faith concerning the sanctuary or concerning the personality of God or of Christ, are working as blind men. They are seeking to bring in uncertainties and to set the people of God adrift without an anchor." Ellen G. White to the delegates at the 1905 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Takoma Park, Washington D. C., May 24, 1905, "A Warning against False Theories," MR 760
"All through the Scriptures, the Father and the Son are spoken of as two distinct personages. You will hear men endeavoring to make the Son of God a nonentity. He and the Father are one, but they are two personages." "Wrong sentiments regarding this are coming in, and we shall all have to meet them." Ellen G. White to the delegates at the 1905 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Takoma Park Washington D. C., May 25, 1905 Review and Herald July 13, 1905, 'Lessons from the first Epistle of John'
These statements were being made after John Harvey Kellogg confessed his new found belief in the Trinity. Ellen White urged the church to remain faithful to their original beliefs about the Father and Son.
"He who denies the personality of God and of his Son Jesus Christ, is denying God and Christ. "If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father." If you continue to believe and obey the truths you first embraced regarding the personality of the Father and the Son, you will be joined together with him in love. There will be seen that union for which Christ prayed just before his trial and crucifixion." Ellen White, Review and Herald, March 8, 1906
Ellen White's use of "denies the personality of God and of his Son Jesus Christ" is actually borrowed from a statement James White made nearly 50 years earlier.
"Here we might mention the Trinity, which does away the personality of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, and of sprinkling or pouring instead of being " buried with Christ in baptism," "planted in the likeness of his death:" but we pass from these fables to notice one that is held sacred by nearly all professed Christians, both Catholic and Protestant [the Sabbath]." James White, Review and Herald, December 11, 1855
This was the conviction of many early Adventist pioneers. The Trinity was viewed as directly contradicting the distinct personhood of the Father and Son. The consubstantial, indivisible mystical three-faced concept of the orthodox Trinitarians rendered the Godhead but an amorphous, inconceivable Deity without form.
"The doctrine of the Trinity which was established in the church by the council of Nice A. D. 325. This doctrine destroys the personality of God and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The infamous, measures by which it was forced upon the church which appear upon the pages of ecclesiastical history might well cause every believer in that doctrine to blush." (J. N. Andrews, Review and Herald, March 6th 1855, 'The Fall of Babylon')
"It is not very consonant with common sense to talk of three being one, and one being three. Or as some express it, calling God "the Triune God," or "the three-one-God"." "If Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are each God, it would be three Gods; for three times one is not one, but three. There is a sense in which they are one, but not one person, as claimed by Trinitarians. It is contrary to Scripture. Almost any portion of the New Testament we may open which has occasion to speak of the Father and Son, represents them as two distinct persons." John Loughborough, Review and Herald, November 5, 1861
"That God is an infinite and eternal Spirit, without person, body, shape, or parts; is everywhere and nowhere present; or, is everywhere as a Spirit, and nowhere as a tangible being. I ask, Is not this making God almost a mere nothing?" "That Jesus Christ is God himself; the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are one identical being; hence in describing one, we describe the other. Certainly this is doing no better by the Son than by the Father." "Is this not spiritualizing away God, Christ, angels, saints, and Heaven?" A. C. Bourdeau, Review and Herald, June 8, 1869
Continue: Part 3