December 4, 2019

What About the Trinity?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1 KJV).

If the old line leadership of Seventh-day Adventism appears to have been almost unanimously antitrinitarian, what about the reformers at Minneapolis?

Here, interestingly enough, is a theological point on which E. J. Waggoner could agree with Uriah Smith, “There was a time,” Waggoner wrote in his 1890 book entitled Christ and His Righteousness, “when Christ proceeded forth and came from God, . . . but that time was so far back in the days of eternity that to finite comprehension it is practically without beginning.”

His statement remarkably parallels one that Smith made that same decade: “God alone is without beginning. At the earliest epoch when a beginning should be — a period so remote that to finite minds it is essentially eternity — appeared the Word.”

Now, if Smith and Waggoner were on the same side in regard to the Trinity, we need to ask, Where did the stimulus for change come from?

Here is where one of the other 1888 reformers comes in. The 1888 experience literally transformed Ellen White’s writing ministry. It was in the events surrounding that General Conference session that she fully realized the ignorance of the Adventist ministry and laity on the plan of salvation and the centrality of Christ.

The years following would see the publication of her most important books on those topics.

1892 – her classic, Steps to Christ

1896 – Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, which treated the Sermon on the Mount

1898 – The Desire of Ages, her book on the life of Christ

1900 – Christ’s Object Lessons, a volume on the parables

1905 – Ministry of Healing, in which the opening chapters focus on the healing ministry of Jesus

Nowhere in any of those books did Ellen White offer a chapter or even a paragraph on the Trinity or the full divinity of Christ, but they set forth phrases and words that would drive Adventists back to the Bible to restudy the topic. That Bible study would eventually transform Adventism on the Trinity and related issues. Thank you, Lord, for Your gentle guidance. You take Your church forward only as fast as it can absorb what you have for it.