Presentation on theme: "Ellen G. White on the Role of the Bible in the Church In The Great Controversy By E. Edward Zinke."— Presentation transcript:
Ellen G. White on the Role of the Bible in the Church In The Great Controversy By E. Edward Zinke
Definitions The Church – used variously –Israel –Jews at time of Christ –Roman church –Protestant churches –People of God –True church at the end of time The Bible –Truth –Word of God –Law of God –Authority of heaven –Oracles of God
Themes of The Great Controversy The magnificence of the character of God and the important role of his law in governing the universe. Satan's purpose to distort our understanding of God's character by bringing doubt upon His Word and by taking God’s authority upon himself. Satan's success in involving human kind in rebellion against God. God's plan of salvation revealed in the Bible.
The important role God's people (the church) have had and will have in the proclamation of God's message of salvation to the world. The foundational role of the Bible in revealing the true nature of God, in resolving the issue of sin, in preserving the integrity and mission of the church, and in revealing God’s purpose in the future.
Purpose of the Bible Before the entrance of sin, humans enjoyed open communication with their creator. Sin disrupted this direct communication between God and humanity. Thus God has given the Bible as a means of restoring His communication with mankind. GC v “He gave His word to men as a revelation of Himself. Every new truth discerned is a fresh disclosure of the character of its Author. The study of the Scriptures is the means divinely ordained to bring men into closer connection with their Creator and to give them a clearer knowledge of His will. It is the medium of communication between God and man.” It is the means by which God communicates His will and His intentions for the future.” GC 69 Satan’s desire is to disrupt our relationship with God. He does so by disrupting the influence of the Bible upon us by destroying its authority in our lives.
The authority of the Bible in History The Bible was given primacy, but was not accepted as the foundational authority in the Church of the early and middle ages The formula was the Bible and –Tradition –Reason –Philosophy –Pope –Church Councils –The Natural World –It was the task of the theologian to synthesize the two worlds even in his understanding of God.
The Reformation and the Authority of the Bible The Reformation --the Bible alone --Verses the Bible and _____________________, etc For the Reformation, God spoke through many other avenues -- Nature -- The Church -- The Holy Spirit --Etc But the Bible alone was the authority for listening to and understanding God’s voice elsewhere. It was the task of the theologian to understand God and the world from the standpoint of scripture
Ellen White and Biblical Authority Ellen White emphasized and re-emphasized the sole foundational authority of the Bible –“All human teaching is to be subordinated to the oracles of God.” GC 204 –Christ “pointed to the Scriptures as of unquestionable authority, and we should do the same.” COL 39, 40 –“The Bible, and the Bible alone, is to be our creed, and sole bond of union.” I SM 416
Ellen White specifically mentions the foundational authority of the Bible in many and varied areas: Basis of religion Basis of faith Test of inspiration (including her own) Test for the operation of the Holy Spirit Guide to life Rule of conscience Standard of character
Foundational authority in the sciences Test of experience Foundation of knowledge and truth Only basis of happiness Foundation of true education Basis of knowledge of God and Christ Foundation for an understanding of history Key to philosophy Foundation of true psychology Foundation to true philosophy Basis of national prosperity etc.
The Reformation Restored the Sole Foundational Authority of the Bible Vaudois Church – Rejected the supremacy of the pope and held the Bible as the only supreme, infallible authority. GC p 36 Wycliffe – “Instead of the church speaking through the pope, he declared the only true authority to be the voice of God speaking through His word.” GC 93 John Huss and Jerome – “God speaking in the Bible, and not the church speaking through the priesthood, is the one infallible guide.” GC p 102
Luther “Fearlessly did Luther defend the gospel from the attacks which came from every quarter. The word of God proved itself a weapon mighty in every conflict. With that word he warred against the usurped authority of the pope, and the rationalistic philosophy of the schoolmen, while he stood firm as a rock against the fanaticism that sought to ally itself with the Reformation.”
“Each of these opposing elements was in its own way setting aside the Holy Scriptures and exalting human wisdom as the source of religious truth and knowledge. Rationalism idolizes reason and makes this the criterion for religion. Romanism, claiming for her sovereign pontiff an inspiration descended in unbroken line from the apostles, and unchangeable through all time, gives ample opportunity for every species of extravagance and corruption to be concealed under the sanctity of the apostolic commission. The inspiration claimed by Munzer and his associates proceeded from no higher source than the vagaries of the imagination, and its influence was subversive of all authority, human or divine. True Christianity receives the word of God as the great treasure house of inspired truth and the test of all inspiration.” GC p 193
Protestant Princes of Spires The Protest laid “down the principle that all human teaching should be subordinate to the oracles of God.” GC p 203 "There is no sure doctrine but such as is conformable to the word of God.... The Lord forbids the teaching of any other doctrine.” GC p 203
Zwingli Zwingli - "When... I began to give myself wholly up to the Holy Scriptures, philosophy and theology (scholastic) would always keep suggesting quarrels to me. At last I came to this, that I thought, ‘Thou must let all that lie, and learn the meaning of God purely out of His own simple word.’” GC 174
Other Reformers Oecolampadius Haller John Calvin Tyndale Baxter Wesley
William Miller and The Early Advent Believers Ellen White notes that Miller founded his message on the Bible alone. GC The early advent believers stood by faith alone in God’s Word. GC 408
God’s People at the End of Time “None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. To every soul will come the searching test: Shall I obey God rather than men? The decisive hour is even now at hand. Are our feet planted on the rock of God's immutable word? GC p 594
“God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority--not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain "Thus saith the Lord" in its support.” GC p 595
Salvation and the Bible When salvation is placed in something other than the Word of God (such as the church), then salvation is by that same authority rather than by faith. The burden of salvation by works is lifted by the teaching of scripture. GC 83
The Bible and Interpretation The method employed by the church in the middle ages placed the interpretation of the Bible under the control of the church, church councils, the pope, the clergy, theologians, tradition, and philosophy. The teaching of scripture was considered obscure thus requiring principles external to the Bible in order to understand its message.
The reformation emphasis on the sole foundational authority of the Bible brought with it a re-introduction of the “old method employed by the church in earlier and purer times.” GC p 176 The Bible is its own interpreter under the Holy Spirit – it’s interpretation is not to be forced by an individual, a church, a culture, a philosophy, a history, or anything else.
THE MEANING OF THE BIBLE IS NOT OBSCURE. IT DOES NOT NEED SOME SPECIAL INTERPRETATION. IT SHOULD BE UNDERESTOOD LITERALLY UNLESS A TYPE OF SYMBOL IS USED. IT SHOULD BE STUDIED IN ITS IMMEDIATE CONTEXT AND WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE BIBLE AS A WHOLE.
ATTITUDE OF INTERPRETER “We should not engage in the study of the Bible with that self-reliance with which so many enter the domains of science, but with a prayerful dependence upon God and a sincere desire to learn His will. We must come with a humble and teachable spirit to obtain knowledge from the great I AM. Otherwise, evil angels will so blind our minds and harden our hearts that we shall not be impressed by the truth.” GC 599
WE MUST COME TO THE BIBLE –ACCEPTING BY FAITH THAT IT IS THE WORD OF GOD –IN PRAYER –WITH SINCERITY –WITH HUMILITY RATHER THAN PRIDE –IN DEPENDENCE UPON THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND ATTENDING ANGELS –WITH A DESIRE TO LOVE AND KNOW THE TRUTH –WITH A DESIRE FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS –WITH A WILLINGNESS TO DO GOD’S WILL
“Only those who have a personal connection with the source of wisdom are able to understand or explain scriptures.” GC 455 By beholding we become changed. The transforming power of the Word of God itself enables us to more fully understand God’s Word.
Satan's intent to nullify the influence of the Bible Persecute those who follow God’s Word. Keep it from the people – at the time of the reformation, Rome summoned all her authority to prevent its circulation. GC 388, 194 Blind people to its true meaning by pride and unbelief. GC 24 Cause people to neglect the study of scripture so that they continue to accept false interpretations and doctrine. GC 298 Enthrall them in pomp and ceremony of worship so that they feel no need to study the Word of God. GC 289
Capture attention with fanciful interpretations. GC 520 Lead people to look to bishops, pastors, and professors of theology as their guides instead searching the scriptures for themselves. GC 598 Substitute tradition for the Word of God. “Tradition and misinterpretation have obscured the teaching of the Bible concerning the character of God, the nature of His government, and the principles of His dealing with sin.” GC 492 Reinterpret the Bible from the world view of philosophy, paganism, and idolatry. GC 58, 80 Replace the scriptural foundation with natural and philosophical theology and rationalism. GC 522 Substitute changeable feelings and impressions for the Word of God. GC 186
Doubt, the most subtle subterfuge For our generation, doubt is probably the most insidious temptation nullifying the Bible as the Word of God. For many, methodological doubt provides the only possible foundation for knowledge. That which withstands the criteria of human doubt provides the rock solid foundation for all other knowledge. God and His Word are subjected to the final authority of human reason and experience. Such a method makes humankind the foundational authority. Scripture is thus no longer the authority, it is subject to whatever authority gives it justification. Doubt requires an epistemology other than the Word of God.
War in heaven began when Satan doubted the goodness of God and the justice of His law. Satan misrepresented the words and acts of the Creator, questioning His justice and doubting His plainest statements. GC 496, 497 Satan separated Adam and Eve from God by causing them to doubt God’s Word about the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They called God’s Word into question by following Satan’s lead. GC 531, 532 Contrast what God has said verses any other authority.
“And this is the object which Satan seeks to accomplish. There is nothing that he desires more than to destroy confidence in God and in His word. Satan stands at the head of the great army of doubters, and he works to the utmost of his power to beguile souls into his ranks. It is becoming fashionable to doubt. There is a large class by whom the word of God is looked upon with distrust for the same reason as was its Author--because it reproves and condemns sin. Those who are unwilling to obey its requirements endeavor to overthrow its authority.” GC 526
“Distrust of God is the natural outgrowth of the unrenewed heart” “Unbelief strengthens as it is encouraged” “If men permit themselves to question and cavil, they will find their doubts constantly becoming more confirmed.” GC 527 “All whose faith is not firmly established upon the word of God will be deceived and overcome.” GC 561
Satan’s Success in destroying the influence of God’s Word Satan’s purpose is to conceal, distort or cast doubt upon the Word of God so as to separate us from Christ. The Great Controversy began in heaven when Satan questioned the character of God and brought His Word in doubt. Doubt = sin.
The people of Israel fell because they did not follow God’s Word. The Jews at the time of Christ rejected Him because they misinterpreted the Old Testament and placed their traditions in its place. The Church at Rome hid the Bible and put in its placed the pope, church councils, philosophy, and traditions. Contemporary Protestant and Catholic Churches are substituting human reason, philosophy and traditions for the Word of God.
Church Doctrine, Does it Matter? We live in an age of doctrineless Christianity. It is felt that doctrine is of little importance so long as one is committed to morality, or has a love relationship with Christ. Satan uses false doctrine to distort our understanding of God and our responsibility to live in harmony with His law. By accepting false doctrine, Satan’s purpose to distort or break our connection with God is achieved.
At one time, heresy was recognized for what it is – idolatry. But now in this postmodern age in which we are not sure if anything is for sure, heresy has become a politically incorrect term. We are not even sure if there is such a thing as heresy or whether it matters if there is; for truth is seen to be subjective to each individual. Thus the church is sometimes reluctant to take action against false doctrine. GC 371, 595
It Matters “It behooves us to be on our guard as to what doctrines we receive.” GC 524, 525 “There is an alarming indifference to the doctrines which are the pillars of the Christian faith.” GC 46 The truth and the glory of God are inseparable; it is impossible for us, with the Bible within our reach, to honor God by erroneous opinions. Many claim that it matters not what one believes, if his life is only right. But the life is molded by the faith. If light and truth is within our reach, and we neglect to improve the privilege of hearing and seeing it, we virtually reject it; we are choosing darkness rather than light.” GC 597
“The great deceiver has many agents ready to present any and every kind of error to ensnare souls--heresies prepared to suit the varied tastes and capacities of those whom he would ruin. It is his plan to bring into the church insincere, unregenerate elements that will encourage doubt and unbelief, and hinder all who desire to see the work of God advance and to advance with it. Many who have no real faith in God or in His word assent to some principles of truth and pass as Christians, and thus they are enabled to introduce their errors as Scriptural doctrines.” GC 520
“All who neglect the word of God to study convenience and policy, that they may not be at variance with the world, will be left to receive damnable heresy for religious truth. Every conceivable form of error will be accepted by those who willfully reject the truth.” GC 523 “The position that it is of no consequence what men believe is one of Satan's most successful deceptions. He knows that the truth, received in the love of it, sanctifies the soul of the receiver; therefore he is constantly seeking to substitute false theories, fables, and another gospel.” GC 520 By perverting the teaching of scripture Satan misrepresents and obscures the character of God. GC 538, 492
The Doctrinal Slippery Slope “It is impossible to estimate the evil results of removing one of the landmarks fixed by the word of God. Few who venture to do this stop with the rejection of a single truth. The majority continue to set aside one after another of the principles of truth, until they become actual infidels.” GC 525
“Many have come to deny doctrines which are the very pillars of the Christian faith. The great facts of creation as presented by the inspired writers, the fall of man, the atonement, and the perpetuity of the law of God, are practically rejected, either wholly or in part, by a large share of the professedly Christian world. Thousands who pride themselves upon their wisdom and independence regard it as an evidence of weakness to place implicit confidence in the Bible; they think it a proof of superior talent and learning to cavil at the Scriptures and to spiritualize and explain away their most important truths. Many ministers are teaching their people, and many professors and teachers are instructing their students, that the law of God has been changed or abrogated; and those who regard its requirements as still valid, to be literally obeyed, are thought to be deserving only of ridicule or contempt.” GC 582
Results of Heresy Illustrated Some claim Satan has no existence as a personal being – Scripture merely uses the term to represent evil thoughts and desires. GC 524 So long as we are ignorant of Satan’s existence – He “has an almost inconceivable advantage.” GC 516
Natural Immortality of the Soul “The only one who promised Adam life in disobedience was the great deceiver. And the declaration of the serpent to Eve in Eden--"Ye shall not surely die"--was the first sermon ever preached upon the immortality of the soul. Yet this declaration, resting solely upon the authority of Satan, is echoed from the pulpits of Christendom and is received by the majority of mankind as readily as it was received by our first parents. The divine sentence, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20), is made to mean: The soul that sinneth, it shall not die, but live eternally. We cannot but wonder at the strange infatuation which renders men so credulous concerning the words of Satan and so unbelieving in regard to the words of God.” GC 533
“Even before the establishment of the papacy the teachings of heathen philosophers had received attention and exerted an influence in the church. Many who professed conversion still clung to the tenets of their pagan philosophy, and not only continued its study themselves, but urged it upon others as a means of extending their influence among the heathen. Serious errors were thus introduced into the Christian faith. Prominent among these was the belief in man's natural immortality and his consciousness in death. This doctrine laid the foundation upon which Rome established the invocation of saints and the adoration of the Virgin Mary. From this sprang also the heresy of eternal torment for the finally impenitent, which was early incorporated into the papal faith.” GC 58
Clinging to the papal error of natural immortality and man's consciousness in death, they have rejected the only defense “Now that Satan can no longer keep the world under his control by withholding the Scriptures, he resorts to other means to accomplish the same object. To destroy faith in the Bible serves his purpose as well as to destroy the Bible itself... Now, as in former ages, he has worked through the church to further his designs. The religious organizations of the day have refused to listen to unpopular truths plainly brought to view in the Scriptures, and in combating them they have adopted interpretations and taken positions which have sown broadcast the seeds of skepticism. Clinging to the papal error of natural immortality and man's consciousness in death, they have rejected the only defense against the delusions of spiritualism. The doctrine of eternal torment has led many to disbelieve the Bible... The teachings of religious leaders have opened the door to infidelity, to spiritualism, and to contempt for God's holy law; and upon these leaders rests a fearful responsibility for the iniquity that exists in the Christian world." GC 586
Natural Immortality of the Soul Brings Misconceptions about God and His Universe “According to the popular belief, the redeemed in heaven are acquainted with all that takes place on the earth and especially with the lives of the friends whom they have left behind. But how could it be a source of happiness to the dead to know the troubles of the living, to witness the sins committed by their own loved ones, and to see them enduring all the sorrows, disappointments, and anguish of life? How much of heaven's bliss would be enjoyed by those who were hovering over their friends on earth? And how utterly revolting is the belief that as soon as the breath leaves the body the soul of the impenitent is consigned to the flames of hell! To what depths of anguish must those be plunged who see their friends passing to the grave unprepared, to enter upon an eternity of woe and sin! Many have been driven to insanity by this harrowing thought.” GC 545
Immortality of the Soul Opens Us to Spiritualism If we conceive of our dead as immortal and therefore as really conscious, then we are open to spiritualism – to communication from them. Their communication is accepted in the place of the Word of God. Satan represents loved ones who led a sinful life as coming back to tell us that they are in heaven, and that the law of God has been done away.
“The apostles, as personated by these lying spirits, are made to contradict what they wrote at the dictation of the Holy Spirit when on earth. They deny the divine origin of the Bible, and thus tear away the foundation of the Christian's hope and put out the light that reveals the way to heaven. Satan is making the world believe that the Bible is a mere fiction, or at least a book suited to the infancy of the race, but now to be lightly regarded, or cast aside as obsolete. And to take the place of the word of God he holds out spiritual manifestations. Here is a channel wholly under his control; by this means he can make the world believe what he will. The Book that is to judge him and his followers he puts in the shade, just where he wants it; the Saviour of the world he makes to be no more than a common man. GC 557
Natural Immortality Leads to the Doctrine of Eternal Suffering in Hell “It is beyond the power of the human mind to estimate the evil which has been wrought by the heresy of eternal torment. The religion of the Bible, full of love and goodness, and abounding in compassion, is darkened by superstition and clothed with terror.” GC 536 It gives a false conception of God’s love. People turn to agnosticism and atheism rather than to accept the God of eternally burning hell. Ibid.
Doctrine of Eternally Burning Hell Leads to Universalism Those who accept the heresy of eternally burning hell and who also attempt to retain the idea that God is love turn to universal salvation to answer the problem it presents for God’s character. GC 537, 540
Historical Criticism The warnings of the word of God regarding the perils surrounding the Christian church belong to us today. As in the days of the apostles men tried by tradition and philosophy to destroy faith in the Scriptures, so today, by the pleasing sentiments of higher criticism, evolution, spiritualism, theosophy, and pantheism, the enemy of righteousness is seeking to lead souls into forbidden paths. To many the Bible is as a lamp without oil, because they have turned their minds into channels of speculative belief that bring misunderstanding and confusion. The work of higher criticism, in dissecting, conjecturing, reconstructing, is destroying faith in the Bible as a divine revelation. It is robbing God's word of power to control, uplift, and inspire human lives. AA 474
The Authority of the Bible in the Church Paul warned even at the time of the early Christian church that there would be an apostasy in which some would think to set themselves up in the place of God. Many were “educated to regard the Church of Rome as the divine, infallible authority, and to accept with unquestioning reverence the established teachings and customs of a thousand years.” GC 93 “The very beginning of the great apostasy was in seeking to supplement the authority of God by that of the church.” GC 289, 290
Instead, Protestantism sets the “authority of the word of God above the visible church.” GC 293 “God speaking in the Bible and not the church speaking through the priesthood is the one infallible guide.” GC 142 The Bible rather than the Church is to be accepted as the Word of God. By virtue of the power of scripture under the Holy Spirit, the Bible is its own assurance, rather than that founded upon the church. GC 75 Rather than having implicit confidence in the church, (GC 135) we are to have implicit confidence in the Bible.
It was the work of the reformation to restore the Bible to the people, and to re-establish its authority in the church. GC 203 The church of Christ does not shut out the testimony of God’s Word. GC 102 If the Bible is the one infallible guide, then it must be its own interpreter. GC 146 It is not subject to the interpretations of the church. GC 114 It is impossible to estimate the evil results of removing one of the landmarks fixed by the Word of God. GC 525 “The sin of the world’s impenitence lies at the door of the church.” GC 389 “No church can advance in holiness unless its members are earnestly seeking for truth as for hid treasure.” GC 522
Church Unity and the Bible If God's professed people would receive the light as it shines upon them from His word, they would reach that unity for which Christ prayed, GC 379 The religion of Christ will unite in close brotherhood all who accept its teachings. GC 46 “The Bible, and the Bible alone, is to be our creed, and sole bond of union.” I SM 416
Compromise “Now the church was in fearful peril. Prison, torture, fire, and sword were blessings in comparison with this. Some of the Christians stood firm, declaring that they could make no compromise. Others were in favor of yielding or modifying some features of their faith and uniting with those who had accepted a part of Christianity, urging that this might be the means of their full conversion. That was a time of deep anguish to the faithful followers of Christ. Under a cloak of pretended Christianity, Satan was insinuating himself into the church, to corrupt their faith and turn their minds from the word of truth.” GC 42
“Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, "the mystery of iniquity" carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions. The nominal conversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth century, caused great rejoicing; and the world, cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished, became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed followers of Christ.”
“This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of ‘the man of sin’ foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above God. That gigantic system of false religion is a masterpiece of Satan's power--a monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will.” GC “Conformity to worldly customs converts the church to the world; it never converts the world to Christ.” GC 509
Witness in Every Generation “In every age there were witnesses for God--men who cherished faith in Christ as the only mediator between God and man, who held the Bible as the only rule of life, and who hallowed the true Sabbath. How much the world owes to these men, posterity will never know.” GC 61 “The faith which for centuries was held and taught by the Waldensian Christians was in marked contrast to the false doctrines put forth from Rome. Their religious belief was founded upon the written word of God, the true system of Christianity... They contended for the faith of the apostolic church,--"the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Jude 3. "The church in the wilderness," and not the proud hierarchy enthroned in the world's great capital, was the true church of Christ, the guardian of the treasures of truth which God has committed to His people to be given to the world.” GC 64
“The spirit of Christ is a missionary spirit. The very first impulse of the renewed heart is to bring others also to the Saviour. Such was the spirit of the Vaudois Christians. They felt that God required more of them than merely to preserve the truth in its purity in their own churches; that a solemn responsibility rested upon them to let their light shine forth to those who were in darkness; by the mighty power of God's word they sought to break the bondage which Rome had imposed.” GC 70 “The Reformation did not, as many suppose, end with Luther. It is to be continued to the close of this world's history. Luther had a great work to do in reflecting to others the light which God had permitted to shine upon him; yet he did not receive all the light which was to be given to the world. From that time to this, new light has been continually shining upon the Scriptures, and new truths have been constantly unfolding.” GC 148