Chapter 23

Clarification of Major Doctrines

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Larger View of the Plan of Salvation
Sickness, Suffering, and Death
Light for the Heathen
Eschatology
“Conflict of the Ages” Series
The Laodicean Message
Anti-Triumphal Self-Understanding
Sanctification Interacting With Last-day Events
Key to Perception of Truth
Rebellion Rarely Curable
Endnotes
Study Questions


“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16).

Because of the Great Controversy Theme as expressed in the ellipse principle, Ellen White was able to transcend the objectivists (undue emphasis on doctrinal correctness) and the subjectivists (undue emphasis on feeling or human autonomy) of her time. This ability was very evident in the 1888 Minneapolis doctrinal crisis. Note how she transcended the tensions in contemporary theologies: “While one class pervert the doctrine of justification by faith and neglect to comply with the conditions laid down in the Word of God—‘If ye love Me, keep My commandments’—there is fully as great an error on the part of those who claim to believe and obey the commandments of God but who place themselves in opposition to the precious rays of light— new to them—reflected from the cross of Calvary. The first class do not see the wondrous things in the law of God for all who are doers of His Word. The others cavil over trivialities and neglect the weightier matters, mercy and the love of God.

“Many have lost very much in that they have not opened the eyes of their understanding to discern the wondrous things in the law of God. On the other hand, religionists generally have divorced the law and the gospel, while we have, on the other hand, almost done the same from another standpoint. We have not held up before the people the righteousness of Christ and the full significance of His great plan of redemption. We have left out Christ and His matchless love, brought in theories and reasonings, and preached argumentative discourses.”1

Limited ideas of the character and purposes of God lead to limited ideas of the atonement. Monumental arguments have arisen throughout Christian history because the disputants did not understand the truths involved in the Great Controversy.2


Larger View of the Plan of Salvation

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Ellen White was led to see the results of “limited views of the atonement.”3 Some of these results included:

(1) A limited sense of what Christ suffered on Calvary, linking His agony to physical pain only.4

(2) A limited sense of how the Father was involved in the agony of Calvary, not comprehending that God’s wrath expressed in His withdrawal of His immediate presence was the ultimate “price of redemption.”5

(3) A limited sense of how Christ’s life and death together “were earning the right” for Jesus to become humanity’s High Priest.6

(4) A limited sense of how far-reaching Christ’s atonement was in that it embraced everyone who has ever lived, this limited sense caused by the presupposition that God’s sovereignty has chosen both the special “elect” and those predestined to burn in an eternal hell-fire.7

(5) A limited sense of the “cost”of what God “gave” (John 3:16) in the death of Jesus by not recognizing that Jesus did not resume all of His former prerogatives, that He indeed “gave” Himself to the human race, to forever identify as a human with the human race—He was forever limited to time and space.8

(6) A limited sense of what Christ “satisfied” on Calvary in not recognizing that He died to give sinners a “second probation . . . that they might return to their loyalty and keep God’s commandments,” not that He died so that obedience to God’s law was unnecessary.9

(7) A limited sense of the “atonement” by confining the benefits to justification only, not grasping that the atonement was a “divine remedy for the cure of transgression and the restoration of spiritual health,” not sensing that it provided the means “by which the righteousness of Christ may be not only upon us but in our hearts and characters.”10

(8) A limited sense of the depth in Jesus’s cry, “My God, my God, why? . . .” whenever a person believes in the immortal soul error, not realizing that His hour of death was that which all sinners will experience in their “second” death after the judgment. Nobody on this planet except Christ has really died, those who have “passed on” are only sleeping, awaiting the Life Giver’s call; Jesus felt the final agony of sinners who realize what they have rejected.11 Further, Jesus experienced the unspeakable “wages of sin” (Rom. 6:23), thus proving that Satan was wrong when he said, “You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:4).

(9) A limited sense of sin in that most Christians have no idea of the universal implication of sin on this earth and how it affects the well-being of the universe.12

(10) A limited sense of how God plans, because of the atonement, to “place things on an eternal basis of security,” a plan that involves an executive review including angels prior to the Second Advent of all people who have ever lived, and then a peer review conducted by the redeemed between the two resurrections (John 5:29).13


Sickness, Suffering, and Death

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Because of Ellen White’s understanding of the Great Controversy Theme, she could clearly teach why suffering existed, who caused it, and when it would end. Amidst a mountain of speculative books written since the dawn of history on the problem of suffering, she lucidly explained that “sickness, suffering, and death are [the] work of an antagonistic power. Satan is the destroyer; God is the restorer.”14

Throughout Christian history the notion has prevailed that God punishes sinners and that a suffering sinner must accept his or her plight as the will of God. An incorrect picture of God’s character produces this kind of thinking. Because of Ellen White’s understanding of the Great Controversy as it unfolds in the Biblical story, she was able to transcend the prevailing view: “It is true that all suffering results from the transgression of God’s law, but this truth had become perverted. Satan, the author of sin and all its results, had led men to look upon disease and death as proceeding from God—as punishment arbitrarily inflicted on account of sin. . . . The history of Job had shown that suffering is inflicted by Satan, and is overruled by God for purposes of mercy. But Israel did not understand the lesson. The same error for which God had reproved the friends of Job was repeated by the Jews in their rejection of Christ.”15

Ellen White did not lay the blame for all suffering on Satan’s direct intervention. She recognized that whenever men and women accept Satan’s philosophy of self-indulgence they open the door to sad consequences. Jesus “taught that they had brought disease upon themselves by transgressing the laws of God, and that health could be preserved only by obedience.”16

Yet, she saw even more in the big picture regarding suffering. She saw how God would use (not cause) human troubles as a means of helping human beings to “be partakers of His holiness” (Heb. 12:10). Though the suffering has been caused either by satanic intervention or by wrong human choices, God will intervene and help the sufferers find a blessing amidst the misery. She asked: “How many there are who would never have known Jesus had not sorrow led them to seek comfort in Him! The trials of life are God’s workmen, to remove the impurities and roughness from our character. . . . The Lord will work for all who put their trust in Him. Precious victories will be gained by the faithful. Precious lessons will be learned. Precious experiences will be realized.”17 “The trials of life” that could destroy all hope are turned around by God, if He is asked, and made His “workmen” for each person’s spiritual growth.

Jesus spoke of another kind of suffering not caused by human disobedience to the laws of life—the frequent fallout of serving righteousness (Matt. 5:10). Paul referred to this kind of suffering: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). In many comforting and ennobling ways, Ellen White put suffering for truth’s sake in its proper perspective: “God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as coworkers with Him. Not Enoch, who was translated to heaven, not Elijah, who ascended in a chariot of fire, was greater or more honored than John the Baptist, who perished alone in the dungeon. . . . And of all the gifts that Heaven can bestow upon men, fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is the most weighty trust and the highest honor.”18


Light for the Heathen

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In providing the big picture, the Great Controversy Theme helps us to understand the plight of the heathen (at all times, in all places on earth, in all social and economic strata). God is the waiting Father who chooses to have all His children return home; in fact, He is persistently seeking them with wooing invitations that vary from person to person because of varying capabilities and circumstances. He knows where everyone lives, He knows their names.

Everyone, in some way, receives some light from our heavenly Father’s front door (John 1:9). Everyone has enough light to make a moral decision. Ellen White caught this higher view that has not often been present in the Christian world: “Wherever there is an impulse of love and sympathy, wherever the heart reaches out to bless and uplift others, there is revealed the working of God’s Holy Spirit. In the depths of heathenism, men who have had no knowledge of the written law of God, who have never even heard the name of Christ, have been kind to His servants, protecting them at the risk of their own lives. Their acts show the working of a divine power. The Holy Spirit has implanted the grace of Christ in the heart of the savage, quickening his sympathies contrary to his nature, contrary to his education. The ‘Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world’ (John 1:9), is shining in his soul; and this light, if heeded, will guide his feet to the kingdom of God.”19


Eschatology

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The study of the end-time (the end of the world as we now know it and the events that precede the return of Jesus) is a subject that has been given much attention in recent times, especially in the evangelical churches. The Second Advent of Christ is one of the defining doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. However, no other church looks at the Second Advent the same way as do Adventists.20 The distinctly Adventist view is formed by a “mutually supportive cluster” of ideas. This “cluster” includes “conditional immortality, seventh-day Sabbatarianism, a premillennial historicist eschatology that emphasizes the imminence [nearness] of the Second Coming, acceptance of the gift of prophecy in the ministry of Ellen White, and teachings about the priestly work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. These doctrines coalesce into a distinctive eschatological theme, which lies at the heart of Adventism.”21


“Conflict of the Ages” Series

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This “mutually supportive cluster” of ideas that marks Adventist eschatology exists today because of the writings of Ellen White. Each book in the five-volume Conflict of the Ages series presents a particular aspect of the Great Controversy Theme. The first, Patriarchs and Prophets, reveals the origin and nature of sin and how it affects the universe as well as planet earth. Prophets and Kings traces the controversy as truth survives even during Israel’s defeats, backslidings, captivity, and reformations; it shows that God’s side of the conflict can still be given during apparent defeat and captivity. The Desire of Ages focuses on the purpose of Christ’s incarnation and why His life and death were the supreme display of God’s love and justice. The Acts of the Apostles unfolds the marvelous manifestation of God’s Spirit in the life of men and women who found in the life and death of Jesus a new power that regenerated and ennobled those who gladly followed His “way.”

The last book in the series, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, answers the great questions of how long the controversy will last, how it will end, and why the questions that started the controversy will be settled forever. The latter part of this volume focuses on the “end-times” and how the destiny of all will be affected by each person’s response to Bible truth. In no book by any other author can be found Ellen White’s “mutually supportive cluster” of ideas, all interdependent. Note how interdependent, unambiguous, relevant, and totally reflective of actual events (excepting those yet to take place on the time-sequence line) are the chapters, “Modern Revivals,” “The Investigative Judgment,” “Snares of Satan,” “Spiritualism,” “Aims of the Papacy,” “The Impending Conflict,” “The Scriptures a Safeguard,” “The Final Warning,” and “The Time of Trouble.”

This eschatologically focused volume draws together Ellen White’s first forty years of comment on last-day events. In 1851 she wrote: “Such subjects as the sanctuary, in connection with the 2300 days, the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, are perfectly calculated to explain the past Advent movement and show what our present position is, establish the faith of the doubting, and give certainty to the glorious future. These, I have frequently seen, were the principal subjects on which the messengers [Adventist preachers] should dwell.”22

But the Adventist emphasis was not to be on mere prophetic interpretation. Ellen White strongly affirmed that the third angel’s message was “the soul-purifying truth for this time.”23


The Laodicean Message

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In the early years after the 1844 experience, Sabbatarian Adventists identified themselves as the church of Philadelphia, other Adventists as Laodiceans, and non-Adventists as Sardis.24 However, by 1854 Ellen White was led to point out that “the remnant were not prepared for what is coming upon the earth. Stupidity, like lethargy, seemed to hang upon the minds of most of those who profess to believe that we are having the last message. . . . Ye suffer your minds to be diverted too readily from the work of preparation and the all-important truths for these last days.”25

By 1856 James White, Uriah Smith, and J. H. Waggoner were clearly telling the young Adventist groups that the Laodicean message applied to Sabbatarian Adventists as well as others who were “lukewarm” in their Christian experience. They, too, needed thorough repentance. Further, they combined in their conclusion that the third angel’s message was the final message to the “rebellious world,” and the Laodicean message was the final message to a “lukewarm church.”26


Anti-Triumphal Self-Understanding

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This anti-triumphal self-understanding stirred Sabbatarian Adventists to renewed missionary activity, hoping thus to hasten the Advent. However, most church members heard the mission emphasis without the deeper implication: “The heart must be purified from sins which have so long shut out Jesus . . . . But as they failed to see the powerful work accomplished in a short time, many lost the effect of the [Laodicean] message. . . . It is designed to arouse the people of God, to discover to them their backslidings, and to lead to zealous repentance, that they may be favored with the presence of Jesus, and be fitted for the loud cry of the third angel.”27

One of Ellen White’s consistent themes is that character preparation is needed before God can endorse the church’s missionary efforts with the latter rain experience and the resulting “loud- cry” world-shaking interventions just before the Advent: “If the message had been of as short duration as many of us supposed, there would have been no time for them to develop character. Many moved from feeling, not from principle and faith. . . . It wrought upon their feelings, and excited their fears, but did not accomplish the work which God designed that it should.”28

In this same chapter, “The Laodicean Church,” Mrs. White gave candid counsel regarding what the Laodicean message needed to accomplish if members of the last-day church were to complete their assignment as the proclaimers of the three angels’ messages. She emphasized that those who apply the message to their lives will be “purified through obeying the truth”; they will have stood “every test, and overcome, be the price what it may”; they will “have heeded the counsel of the True Witness [Laodicean message].”

When God’s people have fully cooperated with the Lord who stands at the door, when, by the enabling power of the “indwelling Christ,” God’s people will “overcome . . . as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne” (Rev. 3:21), then “they will receive the latter rain, and thus be fitted for translation.”29 “This antitriumphalism in the Laodicean context has continued to be an important factor in the Adventist theology of mission up till the present. It has not only improved the spiritual climate for mission work but has also provided a rationale for the delay of the parousia [Second Advent].”30

Because of Ellen White’s eschatological teachings, Adventists think differently about the return of Jesus than do other Christians. They know that “certain events in the history of salvation” must yet occur.31 Using the Elijah motif,32 a special emphasis was placed on the work of restoration as a specific burden of the third angel’s message. One of these specific burdens was the place that health reform would serve in preparing a people for fulfilling their spiritual responsibilities.33


Sanctification Interacting With Last-day Events

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Another emphasis embedded in the third angel’s message is the principle that “the Christian is in the world as a representative of Christ, for the salvation of other souls.” The purpose of character development is to prepare Christians for the latter rain and the “loud cry” (Rev. 18:4) when God steps in to greatly enhance the impact and credibility of the third angel’s message. Ellen White graphically depicts the Christian’s primary privilege: “Christ is seeking to reproduce Himself in the hearts of men; and He does this through those who believe in Him. The object of the Christian life is fruit-bearing—the reproduction of Christ’s character in the believer, that it may be reproduced in others.”34

The Great Controversy Theme informs all areas of Ellen White’s thought. Every area, because it unfolds out of this organizing principle, is coherent and interactive with all other areas. For example, her understanding of sanctification is thoroughly interactive with last-day events. As we will note later, her profound emphasis on the Adventist health message interacts with both sanctification and last-day events.35

Sanctification relates to eschatology not only in terms of each person’s moment of death but also in terms of the generation alive when Jesus returns. Sanctification prepares the Christian to be “safe” to save,36 for the latter rain,37 and for translation.38 The principle is transparent throughout her writings: “Character cannot be changed when Christ comes, nor just as a man is about to die. Character building must be done in this life.”39


Key to Perception of Truth

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The Great Controversy Theme provides the conceptual framework for an understanding of epistemology—how we learn, the process of knowing. Along with the knowledge that human beings are free moral agents comes the awareness that two loyalties are in conflict—allegiance to God, or loyalty to self and Satan’s kingdom of evil.

Since Plato and Aristotle, men and women have proposed a variety of suggestions as to how knowledge is acquired, most of them contradictory. In reference to salvation truth, Ellen White lucidly taught that “the perception and appreciation of truth . . . depends less upon the mind than upon the heart.”40 She based her insights on Christ’s teaching: “If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority” (John 7:17).

What does this mean—the heart determines the perception of truth? The conflict of loyalties in the Great Controversy directly affects how people perceive truth! The Reformers grasped this concept when they distinguished three aspects of faith: cognition, assent, and trust. Without assent and trust, theology would be a mere intellectual exercise; without cognition, feelings would be the master and the door would be open to individual whim. Ellen White would agree with Calvin when he wrote that “all right knowledge of God is born of obedience.”41 Defining this thought further, she wrote that the reception of truth “depends upon the renunciation of every sin that the Spirit of God reveals.”42 A mind using the scientific method alone, for example, will fail “to understand the things of God. . . . Only the mind and heart cleansed by the sanctification of the Spirit can discern heavenly things.”43

Thus, not by reason or historical research alone can salvation truth be discovered. Ellen White emphasized: “A knowledge of the truth depends not so much upon strength of intellect as upon pureness of purpose, the simplicity of an earnest, dependent faith.”44

A spinoff of the practical aspect of this “knowing” principle occurred in the 1888-1901 period. Helping the church to come to a peaceful and constructive agreement regarding the “two laws” in Galatians, she maintained that “it is not so essential to understand the precise particulars in regard to the relation of the two laws. It is of far greater consequence that we know whether we are transgressing the law of God, whether we stand in obedience or disobedience before the holy precepts.”45


Rebellion Rarely Curable

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Closely connected to the principle that the heart [human desire] determines the way the head perceives “truth,” is the phenomenon of rebellion. Rebellion means that a person who once knew truth, to some degree, chooses no longer to perceive it as “truth.” Some personal, internal conflict has arisen that is in conflict with the obligations of “truth.” In terms of the Great Controversy, such persons have made their own judgment the “lord” of their lives.

For all of us, we must move on from the limited knowledge of the past to the fuller knowledge of unfolding truth. At those moments we should abide by our consciences and move on, with head and heart united, in responding to the higher demand of truth. The committed Christian makes a habit of responding to “known duty.”46

Rebellion, however, is a turning away from “known duty,” from that advancing light—rebelling at the increasing demand of the lordship of truth. No one other than the person involved knows when that first rebellious thought arises. Neither does one know when someone else crosses the line in letting thoughtful reflection become rationalization. But rationalizers who seek reasons to justify their reluctance to accept all the implications of truth know when that intoxicating spirit of rebellion takes over. It then becomes a slippery slope.

In reflecting on the experience of Australian Pastor Stephen McCullagh47 in the 1890s, Ellen White wrote: “I question whether genuine rebellion is ever curable.”48

The issue in rebellion is primarily attitude—an attitude that determines and governs the way a person looks at information. Rebellion happens when a person changes allegiance—a change that he or she may not recognize intellectually. Mrs. White used Korah’s rebellion against Moses as an example of an incurable rebellion, even as she did Satan’s rebellion in heaven.49

The anatomy of rebellion is this: “jealousy [gives] rise to envy, and envy to rebellion.”50 The heart of rebellion is self-will set against the expressed will of God. The appeal of a rebellion is that people have “been deprived of their liberty and independence,” and that relief will be found by joining the rebellion.51 The methodology of rebellion is to whisper half-truths and to dissemble when confronted; those whom the rebels oppose are vilified and “represented in the blackest character.”52

Why is it that rebellion is not easily cured by the light of truth? Because incurable rebellion rests on a refusal to submit to divine authority. Pride of opinion rises up to shade the light of truth. In Korah’s rebellion, his followers “fondly cherished the hope that a new order of things was about to be established, in which praise would be substituted for reproof, and ease for anxiety and conflict. . . . It is hardly possible for men to offer greater insult to God than to despise and reject the instrumentalities He would use for their salvation.”53

After the death of the rebel leaders, God gave those who had been deceived by their dead leaders time to think and to come to their senses. How did they spend the night? By “devising some way to resist the evidences which showed them to be the greatest of sinners. They still cherished hatred of the men of God’s appointment, and braced themselves to resist their authority.”54 Again, the rebels selected from the evidences of truth those notions that pleased their hearts.

Ellen White saw how the rebellion of Korah was a repeat of Satan’s ambition for position and honor in heaven. But she saw more: “All through the history of the church, God’s servants have had the same spirit to meet.”

How does this “spirit” take hold of a person? Ellen White was unequivocal: “By sinful indulgence . . . men give Satan access to their minds. . . . The rejection of light darkens the mind and hardens the heart, so that it is easier for them to take the next step in sin and to reject still clearer light, until at last their habits of wrongdoing become fixed.”55

What are the first signals of a rebel spirit? “They [rebels] are ready to pervert the truth, falsifying and misrepresenting the Lord’s servants, and even charging them with the base and selfish motives that inspire their own hearts. By persistently reiterating falsehood, and that against all evidence, they at last come to believe it to be truth. While endeavoring to destroy the confidence of the people in the men of God’s appointment, they really believe that they are engaged in good work, verily doing God service.”56

Ellen White recognized that one thing that helps create the rebel heart is unwillingness “to endure the pain and sacrifice necessary to reform.” Thus, one of the rebel’s key motives is to soothe the conscience by “turn[ing] upon the Lord’s servant, and [denouncing] his reproofs as uncalled for and severe.”

Mrs. White saw the thread of rebellion from Moses’ day through the Reformation to our day: “Every advance made by those whom God has called to lead in His work, has excited suspicion; every act has been misrepresented by the jealous and fault-finding. Thus it was in the time of Luther, of the Wesleys, and other reformers. Thus it is today.”57

Rebellion becomes incurable when the “weight of evidence” is continually rejected, when habits of self-justification are so deeply etched in the neural pathways that light and darkness change places. Ellen White wrote that closing the mind to the light because of heart preferences is to sin against the Holy Spirit, “a sin by which man’s heart is effectually hardened against the influence of divine grace.” The Spirit does not leave principally because He feels offended, although that is a factor (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19); He leaves because He no longer can break through the rebel’s defenses against the truth. God has no more “reserve power.”58

The principle of the Great Controversy is working itself out: God does not coerce anyone to believe against his/her will. God will provide “the most convincing evidence”59 but He will leave the decision finally up to men and women. Rebels supplant the Lordship of God with the kingship of their own desires. Because His character is opposed to coercion God respects freedom, even for created beings who choose to rebel.


Endnotes

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1.Faith and Works, pp. 15, 16.

2.“Through the plan of salvation a larger purpose is to be wrought out even than the salvation of man and the redemption of the earth. Through the revelation of the character of God in Christ, the beneficence of the divine government would be manifested before the universe, the charge of Satan refuted, the nature and results of sin made plain, and the perpetuity of the law fully demonstrated. Satan had declared that the law of God was faulty, and that the good of the universe demanded a change in its requirement. . . . But through the plan of salvation the precepts of the law were to be proved perfect and immutable, that at last one glory and love might rise to God throughout the universe. . . .” —Signs of the Times. Feb. 13. 1893.

3.“In order to fully realize the value of salvation, it is necessary to understand what it cost. In consequence of limited ideas of the sufferings of Christ, many place a low estimate upon the great work of the atonement. . . . Some have limited views of the atonement. They think that Christ suffered only a small portion of the penalty of the law of God; they suppose that, while the wrath of God was felt by His dear Son, He had, through all His painful sufferings, the evidence of His Father’s love and acceptance; that the portals of the tomb before Him were illuminated with bright hope, and that He had the abiding evidence of His future glory. Here is a great mistake. . . . We should take broader and deeper views of the life, sufferings, and death of God’s dear Son. When the atonement is viewed correctly, the salvation of souls will be felt to be of infinite value.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 200, 213, 215.

4.Ibid., pp. 200-215.

5.Steps to Christ, p. 13.

6.The Desire of Ages, p. 745.

7.Ibid. “Variously described as the decline of Calvinism, the rise of Arminianism, and the defeat of deism. . . . it may be summed up by saying that Americans ceased to believe, between 1800-1860, in the doctrines of predestination and election preached by Edwards and Whitefield; they could no longer accept the notion that men were too depraved to play any part in their own salvation. Instead they decided that God had given man the ability, the freedom of the will, to understand his fallen state, to repent of his sins, and to turn to Christ for help and salvation.”—William G. McLoughlin, “Revivalism,” Gaustad, ed., Rise of Adventism, p. 142; see also p. 131.

8.Review and Herald, Dec. 22, 1891; SDABC, vol. 7, p. 925; Testimonies to Ministers, p. 19.

9.Testimonies to Ministers, p. 134; Review and Herald, Jan. 25, 1898, Sept. 17, 1901. Christ came to this earth to show the human race how to obey God. He might have remained in heaven, and from there given exact rules for man’s guidance. But He did not do this. In order that we might make no mistake, He took our nature, and in it lived a life of perfect obedience. He obeyed in humanity, ennobling and elevating humanity by obedience. . . . By so doing, he not only declared that we ought to obey, but showed us how to obey. . . . We need to keep ever before us the reality of Christ’s humanity. . . . He came to show what God is willing to do and what he has done that we might be made partakers of the divine nature. . . . The obedience that Christ rendered is exactly the obedience that God requires from human beings today.”—Signs of the Times, Jan. 25, 1899.

10. Letter 406, 1906, cited in SDABC, vol. 6, p. 1074.

11. SDABC, vol. 5, p. 1149; The Desire of Ages, pp. 752, 753; The Great Controversy, pp. 668, 671; Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 429; Selected Messages, book 1, p. 340.

12. Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 68, 78, 79; Signs of the Times, Dec. 22, 1914.

13. The Desire of Ages, p. 759; Selected Messages, book 1, p. 341; Signs of the Times, Dec. 30, 1889 (SDABC, vol. 5, p. 1132).

14. The Ministry of Healing, p. 113. See Steps to Christ, p. 46.

15. The Desire of Ages, p. 471; Selected Messages, book 2, p. 411; Welfare Ministry, p. 16.

16. Ibid. See Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 461; see also Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 224; The Ministry of Healing, p. 113.

17. Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 10, 11.

18. The Desire of Ages, pp. 224, 225. See also Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 71.

19. Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 385. “God’s test of the heathen, who have not the light, and of those living where the knowledge of truth and light has been abundant, is altogether different. He accepts from those in heathen lands a phase of righteousness which does not satisfy Him when offered by those of Christian lands. He does not require much where much has not been bestowed.”—Manuscript 130, 1899, cited in SDABC, vol. 5, p. 1121.

20. Douglass, The End, pp. 21-55.

21. Staples, “Adventism” in Variety of American Evangelicalism, p. 65.

22. Early Writings, p. 63.

23. Letter 13, 1859 and Letter 18, 1861, cited in Damsteegt, Foundations, p. 216.

24. References to the churches mentioned in Revelation 2-3; see Damsteegt, Foundations, p. 244.

25. Early Writings, p. 119.

26. Damsteegt, Foundations, p. 246.

27. Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 186.

28. Ibid., pp. 186, 187.

29. Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 186-188.

30. Damsteegt, Foundations, p. 248.

31. Ibid., p. 270.

32. A reference to Mal. 4:5 and Luke 1:17—that God will raise up a people before the Second Advent “in the spirit and power of Elijah.”

33. Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 62, 63.

34. Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 67. “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?”—2 Pet. 3:11, 12. Ibid. “By giving the gospel to the world it is in our power to hasten our Lord’s return. We are not only to look for but to hasten the coming of the day of God. 2 Peter 3:12, margin. Had the church of Christ done her appointed work as the Lord ordained, the whole world would before this have been warned, and the Lord Jesus would have come to our earth in power and great glory.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 633, 634.

35. See pp. 292, 293.

36. Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 280.

37. Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 187, 188.

38. See Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 355, 505; Ibid., p. 705; Signs of the Times, Sept. 29, 1887; Last Day Events, p. 295.

39. Testimonies to Ministers, p. 430.

40. The Desire of Ages, p. 455.

41. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 1, chapter 6, section 2.

42. The Desire of Ages, p. 455.

43. Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 301.

44. Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 59. “Human theories and speculations will never lead to an understanding of God’s word. Those who suppose that they understand philosophy think that their explanations are necessary to unlock the treasures of knowledge and to prevent heresies from coming into the church. But it is these explanations that have brought in false theories and heresies.”—Ibid., p. 110.

45. Letter 165, 1901, cited in SDABC, vol. 6, p. 1110.

46. Selected Messages, book 1, p. 396.

47. The McCullagh family had received many letters from Ellen White between 1893-1901. During that time, Pastor McCullagh had been a successful evangelist. But he and his wife resented Mrs. White’s counsel, though his expressions of devotion to her are memorable. He eventually made wild allegations against her, only later to repent publicly. Returning to evangelism he became restless again, and in the midst of an evangelistic meeting he abruptly left the ministry, declaring the church to be “a machine of the devil for the manufacture of hypocrites.”—Bio., vol. 4, p. 286.

48. Letter 1, 1897, cited in SDABC, vol. 1, p. 1114; also Selected Messages, book 2, p. 393.

49. Korah, a cousin of Moses and a man of ability and influence, wanted the status of a priest. Because Moses had set apart his brother Aaron and his family to the priestly office, Korah, though a Levite, allowed jealousy and dissatisfaction to grow in his heart. His insinuations and dissemblings attracted the sympathies of other leaders who also grumbled at the wilderness hardships. They forgot they were being led by God, not Moses; yet, they looked for every pretext to believe that Moses was masterminding their wanderings which led to their disappointments. The small group of leaders knew well how to arouse the sympathy and praise of the people; they knew how to incite people by planting thoughts that Moses was an overbearing ruler and by urging them to fight for “their rights.”—See Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 395-405.

50. Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 397.

51. Ibid., p. 398.

52. Ibid., p. 399.

53. Ibid., pp. 401, 402.

54. Ibid., p. 402.

55. Ibid., p. 404.

56. Ibid., p. 404.

57. Ibid.

58. Ibid., p. 405; see also pp. 268, 269, 635; Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 66.

59. Ibid.


Study Questions

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1. What are the theological concepts and emphases that divide other churches but which can be either clarified or united by the Great Controversy Theme?

2. How did Ellen White harmonize two concepts that have divided Christianity for centuries—the sovereignty of God and human responsibility?

3. How did the Great Controversy Theme inform Ellen White’s understanding of why suffering exists and when it will end?

4. How does the Great Controversy Theme help us to understand the plight of the heathen who have never heard about Jesus?

5. Why is character preparation a core issue in end-time events?

6. How did Ellen White transcend the limited concepts of the atonement that prevailed in her day with her fuller view of salvation provided by the Great Controversy Theme?

7. How does the Great Controversy Theme clarify certain elements in the way we understand truth?

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