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The Doctrine of the Trinity in the Seventh-day Adventist Church

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1 The Doctrine of the Trinity in the Seventh-day Adventist Church
. Bible Conference, 2015 Gil Valentine

2 Pioneers and Anti-Trinitarian Beginnings

3 Connectionist Roots Trinity was “unscriptural”
Believed in “one living and true God, who is un-originated, independent, and eternal”. Christ was not. Holy Spirit - “the power and energy of God holy influence” Joshua V. Himes, Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1835) 363

4 Sabbatarian Anti-Trinitarians
James White Joseph Bates J.N. Andrews M.E. Cornell J.H. Waggoner J.N. Loughborough Uriah Smith A.C. Bourdeau D.T. Bourdeau R.F. Cottrell A.T. Jones W.W. Prescott “Did all the Fathers sin?” (A. W. Spalding to L. E. Froom, 1947)

5 Sabbatarian Pioneers - I
James White “old unscriptural trinitarian creed” (1846) “the old trinitarian absurdity that Jesus Christ is the very and Eternal God” (1852) “inexplicable trinity” (1877) 16th C reformers should have continued to reform and included Trinity in cleanup (1856)

6 Sabbatarian Pioneers - 2
John N Andrews “the Son of God At some point in the eternity of the past” had a “beginning of days.” (1869) Christ’s immortality was “derived” (1874) M E Cornell “a fruit of the great apostasy”

7 Sabbatarian Pioneers - 3
Uriah Smith – semi-Arian “first created being . . .before any other created being” (1865) “God alone” is “without beginning”. (1898) Christ appeared due to “some divine impulse or process.” (1898)

8 Fundamental Beliefs (1980)
2. The Trinity There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal persons. 4. The Son God the Eternal Son Forever truly God . . . 5. The Holy Spirit God the Eternal Spirit He . . .

9 Students of the Development
Erwin Gane (1963) Russell Holt (1969) LeRoy Froom (1971) Merlin Burt (1996) Woodrow Whidden (1998) Jerry Moon (2003)

10 Ellen White An Episcopalian Methodist
Articles of Religion 1: Of Faith in the Holy Trinity. “There is but one living and true God And in unity of this God-head, there are three persons of one substance, power, and eternity;—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” The Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America ~ (1798) (Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury)

11 Ellen White’s Difficulty
“There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, And in unity of this God-head, there are three persons of one substance, power, and eternity;— Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” (Articles of Religion 1: Of Faith in the Holy Trinity).

12 Reasons for Rejecting Trinity
Spiritualized God too much – made God “unreal” How could “immortal” God die on Cross and still be immortal?

13 More Reasons . . . Thought the Trinity made the Father and the Son identical. Misconception that “Trinity” means the existence of three Gods. “Son” of God means more recent origin for ‘Son.”

14 The Ambiguous Ellen White
Troubled by “without body or parts.” Anti-creedal. No explicit anti- or semi- trinitarian statements.

15 The Ambiguous Ellen White
No traditional trinitarian expressions. No “trinity.” No “unity of the God-head.” Statements can be read either way.

16 EGW Godhead Terminology
The three great powers of heaven. Three living persons of the heavenly trio. Three holy dignitaries of heaven. (Evangelism 616)

17 Why and How did things change? In stages.
Our Question Why and How did things change? In stages.

18 Gil’s View of the Stages
Dominant Anti-T: A paradigm shift at the core: Widening Realignments: /14 Slow Decline of Anti-T Dominance of Trinitarianism

19 Jesus at the Center of Adventist Theology
A Watershed “A Paradigm Shift” Jesus at the Center of Adventist Theology Not law!

20 The “Paradigm Shift” How? Who? When?

21 How ? Ellen White? or ?

22 Adventist Preaching meets Jesus
A Story of How and Why 1888 1893 Adventist Preaching meets Jesus

23 The Letters . . . L. E. Froom & A. W. Spalding ask H. Camden Lacey (1945 & 1947) Corroborated by W. W. Prescott, A. G. Daniells & W. C. White (1893 – 1897)

24 1895 Developments Prescott travels to Australia.
Assignment: A year-long SS lesson series – to begin 3rd Qtr Studies Gospel of John.

25 1895 Developments Prescott reads Neander
Preaches gospel-centered sermons in Melbourne

26 Apologetics and Christology
Semi-arianism offends. SDAs perceived as “cult.”

27 1895 Developments Workers Meetings - Melbourne Study of Holy Spirit

28 1896 Developments Two strands of development converge.
Melbourne to Cooranbong An “Institute” – March/April

29 1896 Developments Literary Project
Difficulties with “The Life of Christ” Prescott to read “critically”

30 Change Agents Cooranbong 1896

31 Clearer Views of Jesus “It was Christ who from the bush on Mount Horeb spoke to Moses saying, "I AM THAT I AM Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." Ex. 3:14. This was the pledge of Israel's deliverance. So when He came "in the likeness of men," He declared Himself the I AM

32 Clearer Views of Jesus And to us He says: "I AM the Good Shepherd." "I AM the living Bread." "I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life." "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth." John 10:11; 6:51; 14:6; Matt. 28:18. I AM the assurance of every promise. I AM; be not afraid. "God with us" is the surety of our deliverance from sin, the assurance of our power to obey the law of heaven.” (DA 24.3)

33 Clearer Views of Jesus “Jesus declared, "I am the resurrection, and the life." In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. "He that hath the Son hath life." 1 John 5:12. The divinity of Christ is the believer's assurance of eternal life.” (DA 530)

34 John Cumming Sabbath Evening Readings on the New Testament: St John (1854). Cumming was minister of a Church of Scotland congregation in Convent Garden, London. Published approximately 180 books during his lifetime. One of the most virulent anti-catholic preachers of his day.

35 Clearer Views of Jesus 1898

36 Andrew Murray The Spirit of Christ (1888)

37 Andrew Murray “It is generally admitted in the Church that the Holy Spirit has not the recognition which becomes Him as being the equal of the Father and the Son, the Divine Person through whom alone the Father and the Son can be truly possessed and known . . .” The Spirit of Christ p 20

38 The Spirit as “Person” Institute Bible Studies
(March/April 1896) “Holy Spirit in our Schools.” EGW first time in print uses “He” (May 10, 1896)

39 Clearer Views of the Spirit
“The prince of the power of evil can only be held in check by the power of God in the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.” Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers, 25, 37(1897).

40 Clearer Views of the Spirit
“The mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power.” Desire of Ages. 671 (1898)

41 Clearer Views of the Spirit
“We need to realize that the Holy Spirit who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds.” [Avondale] (MS )

42 Implementing a New Consensus
New Summary of Beliefs F. M. Wilcox – Inclusive Revising the books – Bible Readings Thoughts on Daniel/Revelation

43 Implementing a New Consensus
Theology and Adventist Hymnody 1941 Hymnbook: No 73: “Holy Holy Holy” but no “Trinity” No 45 “The Sun is on the Land and Sea” last stanza “All Glory to the Trinity”

44 Implementing a New Consensus
Theology and Adventist Hymnody 1985 Hymnbook: No 73: “H, H, H,” with “Blessed Trinity” Six others on theme of Triune God

45 The Processes of Change
Encounters with God – love and grace Clearer views of Jesus Apologetics Study of Scripture Inadequacy of previous explanations Change Agents

46 Clearer Views of Jesus Enriched our understanding of God
Enlarged our horizons of mission Are still the need of the church

47 End

48 Sources Jerry Moon. “The Adventist Trinity Debate, Part 1: Historical Overview” (AUSS [41:1] Spring 2003, ); and “The Adventist Trinity Debate, Part 2: The Role of Ellen G. White” (AUSS [41:2] Autumn 2003, ). W. Whidden, J. Moon, J.W. Reeve. The Trinity: Understanding God’s love, His plan of salvation, and Christian relationships (RHPA 2002), Gilbert Valentine. “A slice of history: How clearer views of Jesus developed in the Adventist Church” Ministry , May 2005, 14-19 Gilbert Valentine W. W. Prescott (RHPA, 2005) ; Merlin Burt, “Demise of Semi-Arianism and Anti-Trinitarianism in Adventist Theology, ” Unpublished Paper, Andrews University Research Center (1996) Correspondence: H Camden Lacey to L. E. Froom, 1945, H Camden Lacey to A. W. Spalding, General Conference Archives. George Knight, Search for Identity, (RHPA, 2000) , , , 196

49 E. J. Waggoner 2nd Gen Adventists
Christ in position of equality with Father but there was a time when he “proceeded forth” from the father. (1890)

50 Stages in Development Dominant Anti-T: 1846-1888
Dissatisfaction with Anti-T: Paradigm shift: Decline of Anti-T: Dominance of Trinitarianism Jerry Moon

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