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The 1919 Bible Conference and Its Aftermath275
The death of the founder of any movement is often of great significance. This was certainly true for the Seventh-day Adventist Church with the death of Ellen White, in 1915. History shows that when this has happened to other movements of the past the tendency is for the next generation to "pull down the shutters" and strive towards conserving rather than exploring. Bull and Lockhart maintain that this also happened to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
"At the turn of the twentieth century, Adventism underwent significant change. Ellen White died in 1915, and the church was robbed of its chief means of authorizing innovation. The liveliness and flexibility that had characterized the Adventist theological debate in the nineteenth century evaporated. The church became more cautious. . . . Consolidation rather than experimentation was the order of the day. . . . The intellectually disciplined theological debates that had filled the pages of The Review now disappeared. . . . They were also accepting new ideas, usually without arguing them out in the way their forebears would have done. . . . The writings of Ellen White and the Bible now functioned not as a source of new ideas but as a compendium of truths to be expounded and memorised. . . . Adventist theology has developed in parallel with that of the mainstream. It was at its most distinctive during a period of great diversity; it became fundamentalist in the era of fundamentalism; and softened with the rise of evangelicalism"276 (emphasis added).
The history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church reflects many eras of change. Bull and Lockhart have correctly observed that after the death of Ellen White there were forces at work in society that pushed the movement into an unnatural Protestant fundamentalist stance.
Later, the forces in society would also push it back toward what many would claim to be its more natural position, that of Evangelicalism. These same forces were also at work in the Protestant world and affected other denominations in a similar way.
The 1919 Bible Conference
Little was known of the 1919 Bible Conference until December 6, 1974, when Donald Yost, the senior archivist at the General Conference headquarters in Washington, DC was setting up the newly formed archives. He accidentally discovered two packets of papers containing some 2400 pages of typewritten material that were stenographic notes taken at the Bible Conference held in Takoma Park, Maryland, in July 1919. The subsequent publication of those minutes in Spectrum277 gave Adventists a unique opportunity to see how some of the contemporaries of Ellen White viewed her function and authority. This was a world of thought that few, if any, of even the best-informed Seventh-day Adventists knew existed.
We will not focus on the conference itself, but on a smaller after meeting called The Bible and History Teachers Council attended by 22 delegates, some of them prominent church leaders, including:
A. G. Daniells, president of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference.
G. B. Thompson, field secretary of the General Conference.
F. M. Wilcox, editor of the Review and Herald, later Adventist Review, the major church magazine.
M. E. Kern, formerly president of the Foreign Missionary Seminary in Washington DC—later to become Columbia Union College.
W. W. Prescott, former editor of Review and Herald and then a field secretary of the General Conference.
H. C. Lacey, religion teacher at the Foreign Mission Seminary.
W. E. Howell, editor of The Christian Educator, a journal produced by the church for the benefit of parents and teachers.
W. G. Wirth, a religion teacher at Pacific Union College, the church's major institution of learning on the West Coast of North America.
M. C. Wilcox, book editor for the Pacific Press, the church's major
press situated on the West Coast of North America.
Added to this were others who held prominent administrative, educational and publishing responsibilities.
It is surprising to read of these respected leaders and scholars, making statements like those shown in the following extracts: "Every Christian is therefore in duty bound to take the Bible as a perfect rule of faith and duty. He should pray fervently to be aided by the Holy Spirit in searching the scriptures for the whole truth, and for his whole duty. He is not at liberty to turn from them to learn his duty through any of the gifts."278
"Well, now, as I understand it, Sister White. She never claimed to be an authority on history, and never claimed to be a dogmatic teacher on theology, like Mrs Eddy's book on teaching. She just gave out fragmentary statements, but left the pastors and evangelists and preachers to work out all these problems of scripture and of theology and of history."279
"Those who have not heard you, as we have here, and are taking the other side of the question—some of them are deliberately saying that neither you nor Professor Prescott believe the Testimonies."280
"In our estimate of the spirit of prophecy, isn't its value to us more in the spiritual light it throws into our own hearts and lives than in the intellectual accuracy in historical and theological matters. Ought we not take those writings as the voice of the Spirit of our hearts, instead of the voice of the teacher to our heads? And isn't the final proof of the spirit of prophecy its spiritual value rather that its historical accuracy?"281
"Wouldn't it be a splendid thing if a little pamphlet were written setting forth in plain, simple, straight-forward style the facts as we have them—simple, sacred facts—so that we could put them into the hands of inquiring students?
"Voice: Our enemies would publish it everywhere."282
"Really, that is my biggest problem. I shall certainly be discredited if I go back and give this view. I would like to see some published statement given out by those who lead this work so that if that thing should come up there would be some authority back of it, because I am in for a lot of trouble on that thing. I would like to see something done, because that education is going right on, and our students are being sent out with the idea that the Testimonies are verbally inspired, and woe be
to the man out where I am that does not line up to that. . . ."283
"Is it well to let our people in general go on holding to the verbal inspiration of the testimonies? When we do that, aren't we preparing for a crisis that will be very serious some day?"284
"If we had always taught the truth on this question, we would not have any trouble or shock in the denomination now. But the shock is because we have not taught the truth, and have put the testimonies on a plane where she says they do not stand. We have claimed more for them than she did.285
To the reader of these minutes it is obvious that the leaders of the church, along with the Bible teachers present, did not feel comfortable in presenting what they knew to be the truth regarding the subject of the inspiration of Ellen White's writings to the laity of the church. Although most present at the conference were pleased with the open and frank discussion about some sensitive issues regarding inspiration, the subsequent reaction by some who were also present shows that not all were in agreement with presenters like Daniells, Prescott and Lacey.
Among those not pleased with the conference, two stand out in particular: J. S. Washburn, a well-known preacher; and C. E. Holmes who was the Washington correspondent for the denomination's Southern Watchman magazine. Although Holmes was present he did not openly challenge the General Conference president in the discussions for, if he had, it would have become obvious that he was out of his depth. Daniells had been dealing with these issues for many years and had personal contact with Ellen White, and could draw from these experiences.
Willie White, although invited to the conference, chose not to do so because of his heavy involvement in compiling the book Counsels on Medical Work. If he had attended, the evidence suggests he would have supported what those like Daniells were saying.286 His letters of response to questions asked by Leroy Froom, as recorded in the appendices of Selected Messages Vol. 3, show his views of inspiration and indicate that he saw the role and function of his mother similar to that of Daniells.287
Even though opponents of the views being openly expressed did not challenge them during the conference, they certainly did afterwards. Washburn produced a tract written to Holmes entitled The Startling Omega and Its True Genealogy. In it he labels the ideas expressed at
the conference as "the new theology" and states that he and others were going to "stand by the old landmarks."288 He also sees as part of "this deadly heresy" the issue over the Daily in Daniel chapter 8 as being part of this new theology in as much as it was challenging the old view of the pioneers as endorsed by Ellen White in her first book, Early Writings. Washburn continued his allegations by saying that changing a point of teaching so vital in the area of prophetic interpretation is to open the flood gate for all sorts of new ideas and undermine the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy. This, he continued, surely was the "Omega of Apostasy that Ellen White had warned against."289
In "An open letter to Elder A G Daniells," Washburn claimed that the ideas expressed at the Bible Conference were part of the Omega apostasy as forewarned by Ellen White: "In one of the most terrible warnings that God has ever sent to this people through the Spirit of Prophecy, on p. 211, Vol. 4, of the Testimonies, 'Satan's chief work is at the headquarters of our faith.' Then the Omega must develop in Washington, for that is the headquarters of our faith. The Alpha centered and developed in Battle Creek, the old headquarters. The Omega must centre in the new headquarters, Washington, DC, the logical centre, in harmony with the prophecy of Revelation 13th chapter, for the last struggle for truth and liberty. The Omega will develop and centre in Washington, DC."290
He called the 1919 Bible Conference a "diet of doubts" and claimed the work of higher criticism was being applied to the writings of Ellen White.291 He continually used this term "higher criticism" when talking of what he calls the new theology. In doing this, he played on the fears that many loyal Seventh-day Adventists of the time would have heard about the inroads being made into Protestantism by the more liberal churches that had tried to reconcile Darwinism with their faith. This was a subtle ploy used by Washburn and Holmes that, when used in a Seventh-day Adventist setting, was sure to strike a chord of response considering the religious and political climate of the day.
As a result of what was shared at the Bible Conference in 1919, Holmes wrote a tract to Washburn and had it published. In it he stated: "There is a dangerous doctrine that is rapidly permeating the ranks of our people. I feel that it ought to be met and met squarely. It is this: that Sister White is not an authority on history. Some, as you know,
go even further, and claim that she is not an authority on doctrine or health reform: That was practically the position taken last summer, and stands as a sort of unwritten law. During the Bible Conference in the summer of 1919 I heard it stated again and again by a number of our Bible and history teachers that Sister White is not an authority on history. If it were to go no further than these persons it would be bad enough, but think of the possibilities for evil when these men stand as teachers. These erroneous views will be poured into the receptive minds of our young people to undermine their faith in the Spirit of Prophecy and this message."292
Those who had spoken so freely of their convictions at the 1919 Bible Conference, particularly Daniells, were targeted. This would come to a head at the 1922 General Conference session. Those who opposed them had the advantage of the social, economic, political and religious climate of the day. In addition, their views of inspiration probably reflected the majority view in Adventism, and this they could use to their advantage.
The Social, Political, Economic and Religious Climate of the 1920s
The 1920s were a time of cultural instability in North America. Since their founding days by the Pilgrim Fathers, North Americans had a sense of destiny that God was using them to set up a new Israel. The United States of America would be a truly Christian nation and perhaps the world's last hope. Their early society had been dominated by white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants—WASPS. Seventh-day Adventists shared this heritage and reflected closely this American dream.293 However, the 1920s saw many different forces threatening to destroy this dream.
Prominent among concerns conservative Christians shared at the time were the effects of Darwinism. Although Darwin had begun to publish his works on evolution in the 1850s, it took several decades for the full implications of what he was teaching to take effect. A new school of thought takes time to work its way through the universities to colleges, high schools and on to the arts and sciences. This was certainly true of Darwin's ideas and, eventually, they began to challenge the religious
scene. The thought that humans had evolved from a lower order of species and could control his own evolution gained new impetus from the ending of World War One. A spirit of optimism arose that this was the "war to end all wars." It was believed that humankind had learned its lesson and a better world would develop.
This philosophy became attractive to those churches who decided to adjust their faith to incorporate the "new Darwinism." This impacted particularly on mainline churches, which became "liberal" or "modernistic." They felt the Christian faith and its understanding of the Bible should be adjusted to incorporate the latest teachings of science. It led them to question many supernatural aspects of the Bible story, especially the creation account. Some set about to demythologize the Bible. Foremost were the German scholars who utilised the techniques of "scientific history" to picture the Bible merely as a compilation of various types of literature gathered over a period of one thousand years.
Others saw this as selling-out the Christian faith and firmly resisted it. An alleged example of the fruitage of Darwinism was seen in the 1917 Russian Bolshevik revolution, with its slaughter and opposition to the Christian faith. Many conservative Protestants believed these new ideas must be firmly resisted or else they would erode the Christian heritage of the nation and pave the way for Communism to take hold in North America.
In addition, one million immigrants were pouring into the country each year. Large numbers of them were Roman Catholics and Jews. This alarmed many WASPS into thinking that the USA was losing its Protestant identity. At the same time rapid urbanisation and industrialisation was changing the face of what had been rural North America. With this came problems of an increase in crime, poverty and secularism—another cause for concern among the WASPS.
Against this background, arose a Fundamentalist movement among WASPS that gained great appeal from the fact that it was attempting to preserve the American dream. For 40 years this movement had been developing, but in the 1920s their battle against the liberals reached new heights. The New Dictionary of Theology describes early USA Fundamentalism in this way: "Many Fundamentalist groups had lists of fundamental doctrines, though no list was ever standard. The
commonest points were the inerrancy of scripture, the deity of Christ, his virgin birth, the substitutionary atonement, Christ's resurrection, and his second coming.
"During the 1920s Fundamentalists fought hard against modernist gains in the major northern Presbyterian and Baptist denominations. Smaller Fundamentalist controversies occurred in other denominations, and parallel splits between conservatives and liberals took place in a number of churches in the United States and Canada. Meanwhile, Fundamentalists took on a cultural as well as an ecclesiastical dimension as they attacked aspects of moral erosion after world war 1 [sic]. . . . The spread of evolutionary teaching was seen as undermining the authority of the Bible in American life and fostering moral relativism. Marxism, Romanism, alcohol, tobacco, dancing, card playing and theatre attendance were other major targets for Fundamentalist attacks."294
George M. Marsden adds: "Between 1917 and the early 1920s American conservative evangelicals underwent a dramatic transformation . . . after 1920 conservative evangelical councils were dominated by 'fundamentalists' engaged in holy warfare to drive the scourge of modernism out of church and culture. . . . After 1920, fundamentalism became conspicuously associated with a major component of social and political alarm—most evident in the effort to save American civilisation from the dangers of evolutionism. This perception of cultural crisis, in turn, appears to have created a greater sense of theological urgency."295
The militant Fundamentalists of this era crusaded against a wide range of ills, including: alcohol; tobacco; immodesty; the wearing of jewellery; labour unions; dancing; attendance at movie theatres; bowling; card playing; and gambling.296 It is obvious that so much of what Fundamentalists were pushing would find a ready response in Adventist ranks. It was as if a choice had to be made between two camps—Liberalism and Fundamentalism were the only two alternatives. There was no middle ground. (See Appendix B for an example of how this was illustrated at that time.)
That Seventh-day Adventists should readily identify with the Fundamentalists of their day would be expected, particularly when you consider that Fundamentalists were defending the Bible account of Creation against the liberals.297 To lose the Bible account of Creation would mean to lose the Sabbath. The issue over creation versus evolution
was of great significance in helping to align Seventh-day Adventists to the Fundamentalist mode, particularly as they had a prominent champion fighting the creationist cause in George McCready Price.298 He, in fact, became the most frequently-quoted name when Fundamentalists were pressed to give scientific evidence for their creationist ideas. As well, Fundamentalists upheld Christian standards almost as much as Seventh-day Adventists, liberals were changing them to the apparent spiritual hurt of their congregations.299 (See also appendix C which is extra material on fundamentalism etc.)
An examination of Seventh-day Adventist periodicals of this era, until the 1950s, reveals constant quotations from Fundamentalists, and distancing themselves, with horror, from what was happening in denominations with liberal leanings.300 Sympathy toward Fundamentalism was greatly strengthened in the Seventh-day Adventist church during this period leading up to the early 1920s. The moment of truth arrived for Seventh-day Adventists at the 1922 General Conference Session. At that time a conservative thrust effected an alignment of Seventh-day Adventism with Fundamentalism.
The Issue of Inspiration
Through much of its history, Seventh-day Adventism has been a sub-culture of American Protestantism. Coming out of conservative Protestant denominations and having a leadership that was not usually highly educated, there was a natural tendency toward the anti-intellectualism of Fundamentalism. Most Seventh-day Adventist members held a view of inspiration closely aligned to that of the Protestant Fundamentalists, namely, verbal dictation and inerrancy.
Evidence for this is seen early, when church leaders set about to revise Ellen White's Testimonies in 1883. The reaction was strongly negative.301 Compared to the comments of the well-informed church leaders at the 1919 Bible Conference, most church members were not well-informed and few were willing to inform them for fear of being misunderstood. At the time, the indications are that there was an inner group who understood the nature of inspiration correctly (mainly through their contact with Ellen White) but they did not feel free to share what they know with the community at large, perhaps for fear of career reprisals.
If it had not been for the influence of Ellen White, Seventh-day Adventists would probably have always been the strictest of Fundamentalists. However, the availability of some of the original copies of her writings, plus what she has written on the subject of inspiration has been an influence on the church. While the rest of the Protestant world has struggled with issues of inspiration, Seventh-day Adventists have struggled with the subject as it applies to the inspiration of Ellen White.
A long list can be cited by those who have endeavoured to understand her concept of inspiration, with a variety of understandings.302 Others, like Prescott, Daniells and Willie White, were helped by associating with her in her writing and had a realistic view of the subject. But they were never really willing or able to educate the rest of the Seventh-day Adventist community. Undoubtedly there was polarisation in the church over this subject, and over issues such as: What was the exact nature of her inspiration? What was her function and authority? These issues have been fought inside Seventh-day Adventism since the earliest days and carry on to this present time.303
It became a central issue at the 1922 General Conference Session when conservative (it may be even more correct to say Fundamentalist) forces worked to have Daniells removed from the General Conference presidency. It seems there were a variety of reasons why Daniells was removed, including the fact that he had been in office for some 20 years and he had alienated some union conference presidents and the Columbia Union Conference.
But more significant was the pressure applied at the conference by leading conservative forces working through Washburn and Holmes. Both these men had actively attempted to discredit the leadership of the church centred in Washington since the 1919 Bible Conference. They tried to associate the leadership with the higher critics of the more liberal Protestant churches and felt it their God-given duty to preserve the religion of the Seventh-day Adventist pioneers by purging out the corrupt influences. They, and others, were writing letters that were freely circulated to expose and embarrass church leadership.
Holmes had previously been dismissed from church employment because he stole letters from the General Conference vault addressed to Prescott and Daniells from Ellen White. He had then used extracts from them to destroy the reputations of both men in the pamphlets he
published.304 In his We Have an Infallible Spirit of Prophecy tract—dated April 1, 1920—addressed to Washburn, but widely circulated, Holmes claimed that although Ellen White had not learned at the great schools of the world, yet she had knowledge directly from God and as such was always accurate in any subject on which she wrote whether it be astronomy, geology, dietetics, theology, medicine or history. He accused the leaders and teachers present at the 1919 Bible Conference of destroying confidence in her works.305
Within a few days Washburn published his thirty six page tract, The Startling Omega and Its True Genealogy. In it he mentions that Washington College had become "a nest of Higher Criticism." He mentions students by name who had almost had their faith destroyed at the college and rejoices that Albertsworth, Lacey, Sorenson and Field had been removed. He blames all the theological problems on Daniells and Prescott and claims that they along with all the other higher critics are the Omega heresy that Ellen White had spoken of in 1904.306
During the 1922 General Conference session in San Francisco, both men circulated open letters to the delegates. Washburn's letter attacked Prescott and Daniells declaring that their new theology was part of the "Waggoner theology." It was also the "deadly heresy" and Omega apostasy that Ellen White had warned would come to the church. Because of this he challenged Daniells to meet him on this issue at the next General Conference session.307 Holmes's letter lists twelve areas where he believes Daniells has gone against and undermined the counsel of Ellen White. He concludes: "I firmly believe that the deplorable conditions found in the church today are due largely to the course you have followed. In all seriousness I ask: Should men be leaders in our work year after year who neglect to follow God's counsel and persist in following their own ways."308
Daniells and Prescott were clearly at a disadvantage. Holmes and Washburn had an unrealistic understanding of the role and function of Ellen White and did not have knowledge sufficient to match Prescott and Daniells who had developed their concepts by direct association with Ellen White herself. However the views held by Holmes and Washburn were the prevailing views held by most church members at the time. A price was about to be paid for not informing the rank-and-file membership of what they knew to be the truth as they had expressed it at the 1919 Bible Conference.
What took place at the session is not known in detail because the minutes are not to be found in the General Conference archives. In fact, Daniells' files from 1920 through to 1925 are strangely missing. Some references are available in letters written after the event by W. A. Spicer, but more informative still are San Francisco newspaper reports. These show Daniells emotionally defending his leadership against the bitter attacks being made against him while holding a handful of documents he claimed showed the charges were wrongfully laid. The San Francisco Bulletin reported: "William A Spicer, former secretary, will succeed A G Daniels [sic] as president of the Seventh Day Adventist Church [sic] and Daniells will become secretary of the organization, an office which Spicer has held for the last twenty years. Spicer's election came as a compromise following a struggle between opposing factions of the church. . . . Much criticism and bitter denunciation of 'dirty politics' followed by resolutions condemning 'all un-christian propaganda, vilification and false charges,' preceding the selection of the candidates."309
Washburn considered his open letter had indeed saved the church from higher critics.310 The newspapers show Daniells greatly distressed and moved to tears and withdrawing from the nomination for presidency and pledging to work for the church to the best of his ability. They seem to show Spicer reluctant to take over as his successor. These men were close friends. However, at the urging of the delegates Spicer agreed in order to attempt to bring unity. It would be doubtful if this move entirely pleased the Washburn and Holmes camp because Spicer's ideas in regard to Ellen White were not too different from those of Daniells.311
So the roles of the two men were reversed with Daniells the secretary of the General Conference, and Spicer the president. Removing Daniells was a turning point in the denomination. Daniells operated as secretary in name only and began to occupy himself in other areas such as the newly-formed Ministerial Association, and writing. Possibly because of the recent trouble, and the prevailing climate in the religious world of North America against liberal tendencies, neither Spicer or others tackled contentious topics as had been freely discussed at the 1919 Bible Conference. Seventh-day Adventism was being pushed in the direction of the Fundamentalism, particularly in the area of the inspiration of both Ellen White and the Bible.
Bull and Lockhart summarise their convictions regarding this era of Seventh-day Adventist history in this manner: "The crucial issue of the First World War and the 1920s was the Fundamentalist-modernist controversy. Many mainstream churches were divided, and smaller independent groups like the Adventists usually gave their support to the fundamentalist cause. In the nineteenth century, the primary concern had been to find a space and to stake out theological boundaries. At the dawn of the twentieth century, most religiously minded Americans felt compelled to take sides for or against evolution, biblical criticism, and secular liberalism. Adventists were no exception, and they placed themselves firmly in the Fundamentalist camp. . . . But it would be wrong to equate this stabilization with an increase in Adventist intellectualism. Quite the reverse. The intellectually disciplined theological debates that had filled the pages of the Review now disappeared. . . . They were also accepting new ideas, usually without arguing them out in the way their forebears would have done. Adventists, like the fundamentalists with whom they now identified themselves, quietly accepted Trinitarianism: took a stronger line on inerrancy of the Bible; accepted, in line with the penal-substitutionary theory that the cross was a place of atonement; and re-affirmed their belief in human perfectibility in less mystical terms than had been current in the 1890s. . . .
"A misleading picture of Adventist history can be derived from concentrating solely on the changes that have taken place since the Second World War. It can appear that the central dynamic of Adventist development has been the move away from historic certainties toward accommodation with the mainstream of American religion. But what many authors take to be historic Adventism is in fact the creation of the twentieth century—a synthesis that took place in the 1920s and remained dominant till the 1960s. It was, moreover, a synthesis that in itself represented an accommodation to the newly formed fundamentalist movement 312 (emphasis added).
During the next few decades other factors would combine to cause conservative reactions. One such force was the great depression. History shows that in times of hardship or uncertainty society tends to become reactionary. The Christian Church tends to reflect its culture and this certainly was the case with Adventism. The presidents who followed
Daniels and Spicer tended to be more conservative. Possibly they felt a greater responsibility to preserve the church now that Ellen White was dead, especially since other denominations were being eroded by modernism. Her death brought about a period of consolidation where the primary focus was not the exploration of anything new, but a time of solidification of the ideas that are already in place and well accepted.
275 This and the next chapter is a condensation of my fuller work, In the Shadow of Ellen White. Readers wishing to have more information should consult the original work. [back]
276 Malcolm Bull, and Keith Lockhart, Seeking A Sanctuary: Seventh-day Adventism and the American Dream, (New York: Harper and Row, 1989), pp. 88-89. [back]
277 Spectrum, Vol. 10, No. 1, May, 1979; "The 1919 Bible Conference. [back]
278 Ibid., 33. F. M. Wilcox quoting James White from Review and Herald, April 21, 1851. [back]
279 Ibid., 34. A. G. Daniels. [back]
280 Ibid., 37. H. C. Lacey to A. G. Daniels. [back]
281 Ibid., 38. H, C. Lacey to A. G. Daniels. [back]
282 Ibid., 38. H. C. Lacey. [back]
283 Ibid., 40. W. G. Wirth. [back]
284 Ibid., 46. J. N. Anderson. [back]
285 Ibid., 49. G. B. Thompson. [back]
286 This conclusion is supported by "A Response to Two Explanations of W. W. Prescott's 1915 Letter" by Gilbert Valentine. Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI. June 1981. At the same time it could be argued that he was a mixed person on this issue. The material that has come out in the appendix of 3SM seems to suggest he had a clear understanding of her function and authority. However at the same time it must be admitted he did not share this with the Adventist community at large. He chose to do it privately with certain individuals. This seems to apparent in Prescott's letter of complaint to him. He also chose not to release the material she wrote on her inspiration in 1SM. [back]
287 3SM, Appendix A, B, and C. [back]
288 J. S. Washburn, Tract, The Startling Omega And Its True Genealogy, April 18, 1920. [back]
289 The statement he refers to is found in Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, p 57. Readers today may finds the statement in 1SM, pp. 93-208. On p. 203 it can be clearly seen that she was talking of the Kellogg apostasy as being both the Alpha and Omega. However Washburn and Holmes like so many others since their time have seen their theological opponents as being the Omega that she spoke of. For further study on this point see The Sanctuary And The Atonement prepared by the Biblical Research Committee of the Gen. Conference of SDA, (Washington, DC: Review and Herald 1981), pp. 533-537. [back]
290 J. S. Washburn "An Open Letter to Elder A. G. Daniels and an appeal to the General Conference", May 1, 1922. pp. 26-27. [back]
291 Ibid., p. 29. [back]
292 Claude E. Holmes, "Have We An Infallible Spirit Of Prophecy" Tract written to J. S. Washburn, April 1, 1920. p. 1. [back]
293 Bull and Lockhart, Seeking a Sanctuary, develop this theme extensively throughout their book. [back]
294 Sinclair B. Ferguson, and David F. Wright, New dictionary of Theology, (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), article Fundamentalism. [back]
295 George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, (Oxford: Oxford Uni Press, 1980) p. 142. [back]
296 Ibid., pp. 156-163. [back]
297 It must be recognized that there was still considerable difference between SDAs and other fundamentalists in the 1920s over how to interpret "the biblical account of creation". Among non-SDAs the doctrine of the Sabbath was not necessarily connected with a literal six-day creation. [back]
298 Although many non-SDAs did not accept his account of earth's history regarding the flood geology. [back]
299 Gary Land gives a summary of the reasons why SDAs were more inclined to sympathise with Fundamentalists than modernists. ". . . Seventh-day Adventist gave short shrift to modernism, as they called liberal Christianity . . . . Rather than accept higher criticism, Adventist affirmed strongly the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible. As an editor of the Review put it: 'when we stop to consider it, it is a terrible charge which the critics have brought against God in the declaration that his word is inspired but not infallible. That would make God the inspirer of that which is fallible, faulty, false, for it is only the infallible that is certain and true.'
Seventh-day Adventists also allied themselves with Fundamentalism on a nontheological issue—prohibition. . . .
"Despite their agreement on such issues as the inspiration of the Bible, evolution, and prohibition, however when it came to the Fundamentalist movement itself, Adventists spoke both approvingly and critically. On the one hand, the church affirmed that it was fundamentalist, with Francis Wilcox saying that Adventists 'should count themselves the chief of Fundamentalists today'. Adventists also gave the Fundamentalist movement one of its leading antievolution writers in the person of George McCready Price, who according to one scholar, moved Fundamentalists towards the affirmation of the six-day creation, universal deluge, and six-thousand year old earth....the Adventist Church also had to distinguish itself clearly from the Fundamentalist movement in order to maintain its identity. Therefore, Adventist writers attacked Fundamentalism on the issue of God's law. . . . By aligning themselves with fundamentalism, yet maintaining their individuality through their emphasis on the Sabbath, Seventh-day Adventists continued to believe that they had indeed a unique purpose in God's plan." Gary Land, Adventism in America, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986), pp. 167-169.[back]
Ibid., Oct. 1933, 3, Branson shows how SDAs are fundamentalists of the fundamentalists.
Ibid., July 1939, 38 McCready Price fights against the traditional attitude of fundamentalists towards education by saying we ought not to be afraid to train our youth in advanced science as all true science is in harmony with the Bible and quotes Spirit of Prophecy for support.
Ibid., Feb 1941, 7, Thiele makes a plea for higher learning. He claims that higher critics are more willing to study than us and makes a plea for us to be intelligent critics.
Ibid., Index 1928 to 1947 shows a large number of articles on Modernism but nothing from 1947 to 1961.
Ibid., April 1965, 16, article by Wilbur Nelson "Are Adventists Fundamentalist? He shows how fundamentalism has changed and we ought not to use this term to describe SDAs. This article is significant as after a long silence it shows a new departure in our attitudes to Fundamentalists. I will endeavour to show later that it is not so much a change in Fundamentalists as a change in SDAs in the 1950s which has caused us to write this way.
In these Ministry articles we can detect a transition taking place in Adventism from naive primitive fundamentalism in the early 1920's to considering education during the 1940's. This trend towards education will eventually be embraced and lead the church along with other Protestant churches out of fundamentalism [in the 1950's] to a more middle of the road approach. There is not too much to comment on in the Review and Herald regarding this subject which would seem to indicate that the SDA church as a whole was looking from a considerable distance at what was happening at the other churches and not getting too involved. [back]
301 Alden Thompson has a lengthy discussion of what took place when the Testimonies were revised. He outlines the shock of the Adventist community, the criticism of Adventist enemies and the attitude of Ellen White. Adventist Review, September 12, 1985, p. 14. [back]
302 Men such as D. N. Canright, A. T. Jones, A. F. Ballenger, and J. H. Kellogg, etc. [back]
303 Issues over the "Daily", the "Law in Galatians", the 1888 controversy over righteousness by faith, right up to this present era with issues over the date 1844 for the commencement of the Investigative Judgment were basically over the roll and function of Ellen G White in relationship to scripture. The issue being for the most part as to whether Seventh-day Adventists are to accept her as the final word on interpreting the Bible or whether they are free to differ with her. [back]
304 Gilbert Murray. Valentine, "W. W. Prescott: Seventh-Day Adventist Educator" (PHD. dissertation, Andrews University School of Graduate Studies, Aug 1982), 481. [back]
305 Holmes, Infallible, p. 5. [back]
306 Washburn, Omega, pp. 1, 6. [back]
307 "Personally I have nothing against Prof. Prescott. But I do know that many will agree with me that his influence is a menace to this denomination and that he is perpetuating the ruinous theories of Dr. E. J. Waggoner, in part at least . . the core, the root, the seed theory of all our modern Washington new thought, and Adventist new theology, that is the new doctrine of the Daily. . . . The new doctrine of the Daily and the Prescott new theology. . . . This "deadly heresy" will change the original truth, and it is a startling fact that the new Daily doctrine moves "Personally I have nothing against Prof. Prescott. But I do know that many will agree with me that his influence is a menace to this denomination and that he is perpetuating the ruinous theories of Dr E J Waggoner, in part at least...the core, the root, the seed theory of all our modern Washington new thought, and Adventist new theology, that is the new doctrine of the Daily... The new doctrine of the Daily and the Prescott new theology... This "deadly heresy" will change the original truth, and it is a startling fact that the new Daily doctrine moves nearly all our prophetic dates, and opens the way for other theories that draw men forever away from all the message of 1844.
On page 53 this testimony further states: `Living Temple contains the Alpha of these theories. I knew that the Omega would follow in a little while, and I trembled for our people' ...are a few among many other startling indications that this awful prophecy is fulfilling in Washington today...the Omega will be of a most startling nature. The Omega has startled me and my friends beyond expression...because I have forever renounced the Waggoner theology, a part of which you are defending today. You were my true and faithful friend until the Waggoner theology of the Daily gripped you, and you were in the coils of the Omega... In my veins flows the blood of those who knew the Advent movement from its infancy. On my father's and mother's side, the Washburns and Butlers, not only father and mother, but both grandfathers and grandmothers were pioneer Seventh Day [sic] Adventists. I will by the grace of God go through with this people to the kingdom of God. You nor any committee can ever take away my credentials or stop my work. I stand just where my sturdy old warrior uncle, George I Butler stood. If he were to rise from the dead he would stand with me against you and Prescott. I know that he feared that you and those who were following the Waggoner and Prescott theology were leading the work over the precipice to ruin... I challenge investigation, not before a small committee, but before the whole General Conference... I am not at all afraid that the representatives of our people will turn me down or out for standing for the original message and the Spirit of Prophecy. You tried me before a small committee. I will gladly meet you before the whole General Conference..." Washburn, Open Letter, pp. 23-34.[back]
308 Holmes to Daniels, May 1, 1922, "Open Letter." 8, RG33; Inactive Sustentation files, J. S. Washburn Folder. Quoted in Bert Haloviak and Gary Land's paper "Ellen White and Doctrinal Conflict: Context of the 1919 Bible Conference", Spectrum, Vol. 12, No. 4, p. 31 . [back]
309 The Bulletin (San Francisco), May 23, 1922, p. 2. [back]
310 Washburn to F. M. Wilcox, November 27, 1931. [back]
311 W. A. Spicer to L. R. Conradi, November 30, 1914. Here he explains to Conradi his convictions that there was need to put in the revised edition of Great Controversy an explanation of how the book was put together. He blames the bookmakers for not making enough changes in areas where he still feels the book needs improving. [back]
312 Bull and Lockhart, Seeking a Sanctuary, pp. 89-91. [back]