Seventh-day Adventist Godhead-Trinity Petition
NOTICE: This petition is an independent grassroots movement, and is NOT associated with the Corporation of Seventh Day Adventists or the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
Did you know the doctrines of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church were changed after the death of the prophet?
"Most of the founders of Seventh-Day Adventism would not be able to join the church today if they had to subscribe to the denomination’s Fundamental Beliefs. More specifically, most would not be able to agree to belief number 2, which deals with the doctrine of the trinity." - Ministry Magazine, October 1993, p10.
"Adventist beliefs have changed over the years under the impact of ‘present truth’. Most startling is the teaching regarding Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord...... the Trinitarian understanding of God, now part of our fundamental beliefs, was not generally held by the early Adventists." - Adventist Review, Jan 6, 1994. p10.
2020 General Conference Petition:
The signatures of the people who sign this petition are calling for open study and discussion of the Godhead-Trinity to be addressed at the 2020 General Conference Session.
A. During the last fifteen years there has been increasing opposition to the Trinity doctrine as described in our 28 Fundamental Beliefs.
B. This opposition is causing heartache and division in many local Seventh-day Adventist churches worldwide.
C. The 2020 petition wishes to end the discord, and to bring the church into one accord via open discussion on the matter.
- During the days of Elijah a similar situation existed between Jehovah and Baal. This finally led to the Mount Carmel showdown where Israel had to decide between the true God and a false god.
Spirit of Prophecy interpretation...
- There are many who still believe the doctrines of the church were given by God between 1844 and 1848. Others believe Ellen White changed her belief in who God was after fifty years in ministry.
A. The Trinity was officially voted as a doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church at the 1980 General Conference Session.
B. Only the wording of the 27 Fundamental Beliefs was voted upon in 1980, without an open discussion. This subject will not be put to rest by those who know its history until it is freely and openly discussed by the church at a General Conference Session.
Fragmentation... the unintended result of the 1980 Trinity vote...
A. General Conference President Neil Wilson, emphatically assured the delegates that NO persecution would result from the 1980 decision.
B. The Seventh-day Adventist Church continues to disfellowship faithful members who believe in the official 1874 - 1915 Seventh-day Adventist statement of beliefs.
Petition study request...
A. Should we believe in the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist pioneers of a Father who had an only-begotten Son at some point in eternity? (The word 'begotten' and 'Son' as normally understood) Or should we believe in the Trinity?
B. As the Father/Son Movement continues to grow worldwide, we need an open discussion in which all delegates have opportunity to share their findings from the Word of God.
The final outcome would be more than a vote. It would be a united stand of faith in the God of the Bible.
It would also be a request for God not to withhold the promised latter rain.
HOW DID WE RECEIVE OUR DOCTRINES?
- "Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, Elder [Hiram] Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure. I met with them, and we studied and prayed earnestly. Often we remained together until late at night, and sometimes through the entire night, praying for light and studying the Word. Again and again these brethren came together to study the Bible, in order that they might know its meaning, and be prepared to teach it with power.
- When they came to the point in their study where they said, 'We can do nothing more,' the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me, 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.
- A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me." (1SM p206-207)
If this statement is true, it was Divine instruction that laid the foundation of the Advent faith.
Should we take it upon ourselves to change those doctrines, especially who we worship?
A. Did the prophet have a different understanding of the Godhead from the other pioneers?
B. Did she change her understanding in 1898 when the 'Desire of Ages' was written?
There are two veins of thought in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and unless this is rectified, we will continue to fragment.
How can we give the loud cry with a clear sound if we are divided on the God we worship?
The prophet has very strong statements that should make us think about the foundation of our faith. Read the following inspired statement carefully.
"What influence is it that would lead men at this stage of our history to work in an underhand, powerful way to tear down the foundation of our faith -- the foundation that was laid at the beginning of our work by prayerful study of the Word and by revelation? Upon this foundation we have been building for the past fifty years." (1SM p207) written in 1904
Are we still building on the same foundation?
If the God we worship is different to that of the pioneers, one group is not worshipping the true God?
POINTS TO PONDER
How often did Israel of old worship the gods of the nations?
Are we worshipping the gods of the denomi-nations?
In 1888, the belief of the Seventh-day Adventist Church was the same as the pioneers. The dew drops of the latter rain began to fall upon those assembled at Minneapolis. Sadly it was withdrawn, not because the doctrines were wrong, but because the attitude of the leadership was against Waggoner and Jones.
If the Seventh-day Adventist Church had received the message and the latter rain, we are told Christ would have come within four years.
If today we are praying to a God that is different to that of the pioneers, will the latter rain fall upon us? Or is it possible we might receive the counterfeit?
We must all study the subject because the hour is late.
It is a crisis hour because those on the wrong side of the question will receive the counterfeit latter rain.
Let us prepare for open discussion at the 20-20 General Conference Session.
Please sign the petition.....
In the meantime, study and pray for our church and for yourselves.
Jesus is coming soon!
REPEAT THE WORDS OF THE PIONEERS!
"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." (Ellen White, Review and Herald, May 25,1905)
WHAT DID THE PIONEERS BELIEVE?
Russell Holt, in a term paper, written for a course at Andrews University for professor Mervyn Maxwell, has done a study on the development of the Trinity doctrine in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and how it became a doctrine. He looks at it from a positive viewpoint. In other words, he thinks the change was good. He wrote the following on page 4 of his study:
"A survey of other writers during these years reveals that to a man they rejected the trinity."
He is saying that the writings of the early Adventists reveal a non-trinitarian stand -- every single one of them rejected the trinity. Many of the articles read today say most of them rejected the trinity, but this is not true. Every pioneer rejected the trinity while they remained members of the Church.
D.N. Canright rejected the trinity as long as he was an Adventist. After he apostatized and left the Church, he wrote a book against Adventism, saying that he had accepted the trinity. This is probably more significant than we think.
Russell Holt goes on to speak about James White.
"The evidence from his (James White's) pen seems to indicate that from his first spiritual affiliations with the 'Christian Connection', until his death at the age of 60, James White opposed the Trinity both on the basis of logic and scripture, while holding a definite concept of the exalted position and divinity of Jesus Christ. The conclusion reached is intriguing due to his unique and special relationship to the Lord's messenger, who happened to be his wife. She was surely aware of his thinking on this subject. Did she approve? If not, why did he continue in his belief? Did she simply refrain from correcting him? Why? 'The questions raised are fascinating, but not easily answered. At least James White, himself, can be demonstrated to have been a consistent anti-trinitarian'."
SISTER WHITE’S WRITINGS WERE MISUSED TO PROMOTE KELLOGG’S FALSE THEORIES
Dr Kellogg claimed Ellen White’s writings supported the pantheistic heresies promoted in his book 'Living Temple'. Let us read Sister White's words about Kellogg’s claim:
"In the controversy that arose among our brethren regarding the teachings of this book, those in favor of giving it a wide circulation declared: ‘It contains the very sentiments that Sister White has been teaching.’ This assertion struck right to my heart. I felt heartbroken; for I knew that this representation of the matter was not true." (SM1 - 203)
The brethren said Sister White had been teaching the same as Kellogg, who used her writings to support pantheism. The prophecy continues:
"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." (SM1 - 203:)
Today, many are using Sister White's writings to support the trinitarian doctrine. This is totally inconsistent, where you have Kellogg, who believed in the trinity, being rebuked by Ellen White, who it is said also believed in the trinity. Sr White was not inconsistent during the days of the "alpha". Should we not expect it to be happening in the days of the "omega"?
HOW THE CHANGE TOOK PLACE
As far as the records are concerned, it was Dr Kellogg who first began to believe in the trinity prior to the turn of the century. When he wrote his book 'Living Temple' it was his belief in the trinity that influenced him to say that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit was/were (!!!) in nature, in the trees, the flowers, in everything. We do not know where he gained his understanding, although it was possibly from non-Adventists who visited the Battle Creek Sanitarium. When Ellen White read (by her son) the portion of the book relating to pantheism, she said it was not truth and that he had virtually destroyed the Lord God. She told him to change the book. He agreed to change it and instead of the Father, Son, and Spirit being in nature, he said it was only the God Holy Spirit. In response to this, Sr White said he had changed nothing. This did not mean he had not made some changes, but that those changes had in fact not change it to truth. It remained error.
Through Dr Kellogg and his peers, the subject of the trinity very gradually began to infiltrate into the Seventh-day Adventist Church while the prophet was alive, with quiet and subtle movements. By 1926, a young man by the name of Leroy Froom had made a name for himself as a church historian, and it is through his work that much was done to set the course of the church. There was a stirring among the leadership on the subject of the Spirit, as men had already made decisions regarding the trinity. Froom's book 'The Coming of the Comforter' gave a clear picture of the trinitarian understanding of the Holy Spirit. In his book 'Movement of Destiny', published in 1971, Froom explains where his ideas came from:
"May I here make a frank, personal confession. When back between 1926 and 1928 I was asked by our leaders to give a series of studies on "The Holy Spirit..." "...covering the North American Union Ministerial Institute of 1928. I found that aside from priceless leads found in the Spirit of Prophecy, there was practically nothing in our literature setting forth a sound, Biblical exposition in this tremendous field of study. There were no previous pathfinding books on the question in our literature. I was compelled to search out a score of valuable books written by men outside of our Faith." (Movement of Destiny - 322)
A score is 20. Do we go to Babylon to get a score of books to formulate, or to change our doctrines? He goes on to say:
"Having these, I went on from there; but they were decided early helps and scores, if not hundreds could confirm the same sobering conviction that some of these men (20) frequently had a deeper insight into the Spiritual things of God than many of our own men then had on the Holy Spirit and the triumphant life." (Movement of Destiny - 322)
Writing to Dr. Otto H. Christiansen on October 27, 1960, Froom said:
"May I state that my book, 'The Coming of The Comforter', was the result of a series of studies that I gave in 1927 - 28, to Ministerial institutes throughout North America. You cannot imagine how I was pummeled by some of the old-timers because I pressed on the personality of the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Godhead."
Notice who objected to what he was saying: "some of the old-timers". What does this tell you? It says the old-timers -- the pioneers -- opposed Froom. They knew the teachings of the Church when Sister White was alive, and they refused to keep quiet.
Notice something else. Referring to 'The Coming of the Comforter', Froom wrote,
"Some men denied that ... still deny it, but the book has come to be generally accepted as standard."
Note another comment from Russell Holt’s term paper who said the change was a positive move for the Church. It is quite amazing how it is described. He has divided early Church history into three periods. The first is 1844-1890, and he says that during this time:
1844-1890. "...the field was dominated by those who saw the trinity as illogical, unscriptural, pagan and subversive of the atonement. ....anti-trinitarianism is the evident denominational stance."
1900-1930. "This period saw the death of most of those pioneers who had championed and held the anti-trinitarian position. Their places were being taken by men who were changing their thinking, or had never opposed the doctrine.... the trinity began to be published..."
1931-1980. "... until by 1931 it had triumphed, and had become the standard denominational position. Isolated stalwarts remained who refused to yield, but the outcome had been decided."
The trinity was officially voted for the first time at a General Conference Session in 1980. There was no discussion as to the doctrine itself, simply if the wording was stated correctly. And this is the official teaching of the Church today --- one God is three persons.
The Adventist Statements of Beliefs, which appeared in the Adventist Review in 1874 (while Sister White was alive) stated,
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 everywhere present by His representative, the Holy Spirit.
2. That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the one by whom God created all things, and by whom they do consist...
When the trinity teaching was placed in the Adventist Yearbook in 1931, without a church vote, it was widely opposed.
One brother, J.S. Washburn, (a retired Adventist minister), opposed this change in the strongest possible terms. Below, are quotations from a letter he wrote in 1939:
"The doctrine of the trinity is a cruel, heathen monstrosity, removing Jesus from His true position of Divine Saviour and mediator.... Satan has taken some heathen conception of a three-headed monstrosity, and with deliberate intention to cast contempt upon divinity, has woven it into Romanism as our glorious God; an impossible, absurd invention. This monstrous doctrine transplanted from heathenism into the Roman, papal church is seeking to intrude its evil presence into the teachings of the Third Angel's Message."
Notice that he said it "...is seeking to intrude its evil presence..". This tells us that in 1939, the trinity doctrine was not fully established in the Adventist Church, although it was subtlely creeping in. It is a total fallacy to say Sister White believed in the trinity, while at the same time standing for the pillars given in 1844-1848. It was only after she died that these men gained the courage to move this doctrine forward.
Washburn goes on to say:
"If we should go back to the immortality of the soul, purgatory, eternal torment and the Sunday Sabbath, would that be anything less than apostasy? If however we leap over all these minor, secondary doctrines and accept and teach the very central, root doctrine of Romanism, the trinity, and teach that the Son of God did not die, even though our words seemed to be spiritual, is this anything else and anything less than apostasy and the very omega of apostasy?"
He uses very strong words, but this is understandable. He knew the beliefs of the early Adventists; after all, he was one of them. He saw this doctrine as grave apostasy and opposed it in the strongest possible terms.
APOSTASY CREEPS INTO THE CHURCH MANUAL AND YEARBOOKS
The next step in this creeping apostasy that was being perpetrated by LeRoy Froom, the chief architect, along with his other cohorts, was that in 1932, this pro-trinitarian Statement of Beliefs was added to the first Church Manual and all succeeding Adventist Yearbooks. It had not been voted on by the Church at large, by the General Conference, nor even by a representative body of the leaders of the S.D.A. Church. It was just put into the Yearbook by F.M. Wilcox.
The following year, it appeared in the Statement of Beliefs in the Church Manual, and then it began to appear in all the Church books. Those who bothered to read the Yearbook, those who bothered to read the Manual, just saw the term "trinity"appear. I suppose most people never really gave it much thought, although, as I said, there were a few who were violently opposed to what was happening.
BAPTISMAL VOW REVISED
Then, in 1941, the Baptismal Vow was revised to include the trinitarian statement. In other words, now, in order to become a Seventh-day Adventist you had to agree to belief in the trinity. I suppose that every one of us who was ever baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist was asked "Do you believe that there is one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit?", and I suppose we all said "yes" to that belief (I didn't know better). Again, I want to read something that LeRoy Froom had to say about this (He has left a trail, thank God, that clearly identifies what he was up to).
In a letter written to Roy Allan Anderson, J.L. Schuler, Denton Reebok, A.W. Peterson, W.G. Turner and J.E. Weaver; November 22,1966; LeRoy Froom says:
"I am writing to you brethren as a group for you are the only living members of the original committee of 13, appointed in 1931 to frame a uniform baptismal covenant. Elder Branson was the chairman and I was Secretary. Elder Macalaney, Wright, Ruling and Russell are all deceased. The task of this committee was to formulate a uniform baptismal covenant and vow based on the 1931 Fundamental Beliefs statement in the yearbook and Manual. It was also to point up a bit more sharply, the first, second and third persons of the Godhead."
Notice the stated intention of Froom and his committee: one of their aims was to push this doctrine of God as a trinity. You can see that it was a deliberate move, underhanded and sneaky, but deliberate!
STANDARD ADVENTIST BOOKS EDITED
The next step was that, in 1945, all the standard Adventist books were edited, and all the anti-trinitarian statements taken from them. In his book Movement of Destiny, page 422, LeRoy Froom again says:
"The next logical and inevitable step in the implementing of our unified fundamental beliefs, involved revision of certain standard works, so as to eliminate statements that taught, and thus perpetuated erroneous views on the Godhead. Such sentiments were now sharply at variance with the accepted fundamental beliefs set forth in the Church Manual." (Movement of Destiny, page 422)
The Church had now reached a place where the books written by the pioneers were now "sharply at variance" with the accepted beliefs of the Adventist Church. It was not the pioneers who had changed - but something had drastically changed. This man, LeRoy Froom, had taken the Church to the place where the trinity was now so accepted as a part of our beliefs that they went through and changed the books.
Uriah Smith's book, Daniel and The Revelation contained 18 non-trinitarian statements. They went through (after he was dead), and removed all of those statements.
The next step was the compilation of the book Evangelism, which was compiled from the writings of Ellen White. I cannot stress enough the significance of this, because you'll remember that back in the time of the "alpha," Sister White said they were using her writings, and she said that if they took statements from her writings and used them out of context, it would seem that she and Kellogg were teaching the same thing.
Now, LeRoy Froom and a few others picked out statements from Sister White's writings that seemed to support their point of view, and they put them together in a book called Evangelism. This book is now presented to the world as what Sister White believed on the trinity, and certain other key beliefs. This is the book most often used (from the writings of Sister White) to support the trinitarian idea. Listen to what Froom had to say about it in a letter he wrote to Roy Allan Anderson on January 18, 1966:
"I am sure that we are agreed, in evaluating the book Evangelism, as one of the great contributions in which the Ministerial Association had a part back in those days. You know what it did with men in the Columbia Union who came face-to-face with the clear, unequivocal statements of the Spirit of Prophecy on the deity of Christ, the personality of the Holy Spirit, the trinity and the like. They either had to lay down their arms and accept those statements, or else they had to reject the Spirit of Prophecy. I know that you and Miss Cluser and I had considerable to do with the selection of those things under the encouragement of men like Elder Branson, who felt that the earlier concept of the White Estate brethren on this book on evangelism was not adequate."
EVANGELICAL CONFERENCES OF 1955
In 1955 there were some meetings of the leaders of the Adventist Church with Barnhouse and Martin, two evangelical theologians who felt that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was a cult. They were about to write a book in which we were going to be classified as a cult, and our leaders figured that this would make us very unpopular. So they met with these men to try to prove that we were not a cult. In order to do this, they had to water down our doctrines. They said, "We believe in the trinity", "We believe that Christ came with an un-fallen human nature". They said, "Oh we don't believe the atonement is taking place in Heaven right now", and gave a watered down version of our doctrines.
TRINITARIAN BELIEF A REQUIREMENT TODAY
1980 was the first time that the trinitarian belief was voted in a General Conference Session. It was not even discussed then, either. They just voted on all the beliefs as a whole, and included in them was the belief in, and acceptance of, the trinity. So now, if you are a Seventh-day Adventist, you are officially supposed to believe in the trinitarian doctrine because this is the official teaching of the Church today.
This is such a significant change from what the pioneers believed that we are told that they could not have been members of the Church today.
Now let us continue reading from Selected Messages. Book 1, pages 204-205.
"The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization."
Notice what they would do. They would give up "..the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith.." She continues:
"Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded. Our religion would be changed.."
We have seen statement after statement attesting to the fact that our religion has been changed. In the paper by Russell Holt which we read from, he says that the"..comparison of the statements of faith issued at various times, shows a marked change." Our religion has been changed. William Johnson, writing in the Adventist Review, speaks about a most startling change. George Knight says that the change has been so great that the founders of Seventh- day Adventism would not be able to join the church today because of this trinitarian teaching. We can see that Sister White's prophecy has come true: our religion has changed.
She goes on: "The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error..."
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