How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news! (Rom. 10:15, RSV)
The months following Minneapolis were strenuous for Ellen White, Jones and Waggoner as they preached Christ and His love to Adventist ministry and laity across the nation in 1889. While the results were far from those desired, some confessions regarding a wrong attitude at Minneapolis did occur as well as a fair amount of rejoicing over newly found freedom in Christ’s righteousness. Mrs. White joyfully wrote during the 1889 General Conference session that they were “having most excellent meetings. The spirit that was in the meeting at Minneapolis is not here.” Many of the delegates testified that the past year had “been the best of the life; the light shining forth from the Word of God has been clear and distinct — justification by faith, Christ our righteousness” (3SM 160).
The good news is that progress was being made. And it would continue throughout the 1890s, even though some did hold back.
By 1899 Waggoner told the delegates at the General Conference session that the principles that he and Jones had preached at Minneapolis “have been accepted, to a considerable extent, since that time.”
Four days later Jones noted in the Review that not only had the church largely accepted the message, but “I am afraid that there has been a tendency to go over to the other side now, and preach the faith of Jesus without the commandments.” He went on to argue proper balance in presenting the various parts of Revelation 14:12.
A third witness to the theological acceptance of the 1888 message was Ellen White. On February 6, 1896, she advised the discontinuation of the three-to-five-month ministerial institutes set up in the wake of the Minneapolis crisis to educate the ministry. “There was a time when this work was made necessary, because our own people opposed the work of God by refusing the light of truth on the righteousness of Christ” but such effort was no longer required (TM 401).
Praise the Lord! The denomination had made progress. But such a thing is never universal nor totally lasting. Reformation is a constant mandate of the church. We need more of Christ today, but we also need an ongoing balance as we seek to present both saving faith and the commandments of God in their proper relationship.
George R. Knight is a retired professor of Church History at the Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. This article is from his book, Lest We Forget, a daily devotional, published by the Review and Herald Publishing Association, page 295.