1889 HSDA

Christians of 1889 Historic Seventh-Day Adventism

1889 Historic Seventh Day Adventists

Are we authorized by inspiration to begin a "new organization"?

Yes, and we will show why. Lets consider a few points to start with. The church exists to be the depository of the truth.

" But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."1Ti 3:15

God has told us through his messenger E. G. White:

"After the passing of the time, God entrusted to His faithful followers the precious principles of present truth. ..." Ellen White, Selected Messages vol. 2 p. 389.3

And it is these truths that "have made us Seventh-day Adventists"

"Those who passed through these experiences are to be as firm as a rock to the principles that have made us Seventh-day Adventists. ..." Ellen White, Selected Messages vol. 2 p. 389.4

Some people have taken the following quotation out of its context and misapplied it to say that we are not authorized to organize.

"The Lord has declared that the history of the past shall be rehearsed as we enter upon the closing work. Every truth that He has given for these last days is to be proclaimed to the world. Every pillar that He has established is to be strengthened. We cannot now step off the foundation that God has established. We cannot now enter into any new organization; for this would mean apostasy from the truth."--Manuscript 129, 1905. Ellen White, Selected Messages vol. 2 p. 390.1

But lets notice the points brought out in the statements above:

  • God entrusted to the Seventh-day Adventist Church “precious principles of present truth.”
  • It is these principles that made the church a Seventh-day Adventist church.
  • To step off of the foundation of these principles, is equated with, entering into a new organization (a new church), and this would be apostasy from the truth.

Considering these points puts the quotation in a different light. In fact, when we look a little deeper, we will see that the Seventh-day Adventist Church in our time, is a different church, a new organization. That is because, in 1980 the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the General Conference Session in Dallas Texas, changed these principles, particularly principles 1, and 2 (expressed in no. 2, 4, and 5 in the 1980 statement). Below, I quote these principles as they were in 1889 during the life of God’s servant Ellen White, and then I quote how it reads after the official change of 1980.

1872 and 1889 Fundamental Principles

  • "I. That there is one God, a personal, spiritual being, the creator of all things, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal, infinite in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, truth, and mercy; unchangeable, and everywhere present by his representative, the Holy Spirit. Ps. 139:7. "
  • II. That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the one by whom God created all things, and by whom they do consist; that he took on him the nature of the seed of Abraham …

1980 Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists

  • 2. “The Trinity
    “There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation.” Seventh-day Adventists Believe p. 16
  • “God is omnipresent (Ps 139:7-12; Heb 4:13), transcending all space. Yet He is fully present in every part of space. He is eternal (Ps 90:2; Rev 1:8), exceeding the limits of time, yet is fully present in every moment of time.” Seventh-day Adventists Believe p. 20
  • 4. “The Son
    “God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. … Forever truly God …”
  • 5. “The Holy Spirit
    “God the eternal Spirit was active with the Father and the Son in Creation, ...”

The differences are clearly apparent:

  • The 1889 principles 1 and 2 tell us the one God is the Father. (In harmony with 1Co 8:6). The 1980 belief #2 tells us God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • The 1889 principles #1 and 2 tell us God is one being, the Father of Christ. The 1980 belief #2 says God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - a plurality of persons
  • The 1889 principle #1 tells us God is present everywhere by the Holy Spirit. The 1980 belief #2 says God is omnipresent and that “he” transcends all space and is fully present in every part of space. {This is spiritualism.}
  • The 1889 principle #2 tells us Jesus is the Son of the Eternal Father. The 1980 statement #4 tells us that Jesus is “God the eternal Son”, “forever truly God”.
  • The 1889 fundamental principles do not mention the Holy Spirit in describing the Godhead at all. The 1980 statement #5 calls the Holy Spirit “God the eternal Spirit”.

Every theologian will admit, and in fact it is self-evident, that if you change the doctrines, you change the nature of the church. In other words you have a new church, a new organization. Especially is this the case if you change doctrines that describe the God you profess to worship. Also, the inspired statement quoted previously agrees that if we step off of the foundation of the principles given to us in the beginning, we apostatize from the truth and enter a new organization. We have just shown above, that the corporate Seventh-day Adventist Church has different principles than it had in its beginning, thus we must acknowledge that is a different church than it used to be. It is a new organization than that which existed in 1889. This is highlighted by the following statement by George Knight, a respected Adventist theologian, historian and professor at Andrews University.

George Knight - MINISTRY magazine, Oct/1993 p. 10.

"Most of the founders of Seventh-day Adventism would not be able to join the church today if they had to subscribe to the denomination's Fundamental Beliefs.” "More specifically, most would not be able to agree to belief number 2, which deals with the doctrine of the Trinity."

George Knight goes on to mention beliefs numbers 4 and 5 as well, as we have also mentioned above.

If originally, the church was wrong concerning the principles mentioned above, and it has been corrected now, we must conclude that it was built on the wrong principles and that it was error that made the SDA church what it was. And if that is the case, God was not leading in the founding of this church, and the following statement would be appealing to us to hold to error.

Those who passed through these experiences are to be as firm as a rock to the principles that have made us Seventh-day Adventists. ...Ellen White, Selected Messages vol. 2 p. 389.4

The Possibility of the SDA Church Giving up the Principles of Truth, and Thus Forming a New Church, a New Organization, was Foretold

The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. The founders of this system would go into the cities, and do a wonderful work. The Sabbath of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement. The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice, but God being removed, they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless. Their foundation would be built on the sand, and storm and tempest would sweep away the structure. Ellen White, Selected Messages vol. 1 p..2

This statement warns that there was already a movement underway in 1904 that would consider the doctrines which constituted the fundamental principles of the first 50 years as error, and would give them up and discard them, writing books of a new order, and that this would constitute a new organization and a re-organization. Dr. Kellogg, leaning toward pantheistic theories for several years, had just accepted the Trinity the year before, and within a few years would leave the church with thousands of followers. But the seeds had been planted, and in 1913 F.M. Wilcox described the church's teachings in the Review as a Trinity, though it required a whole generation to die off before it came to be generally accepted.

God Called for Reorganization and a New organization

On several occasions, when wrong principles were being adopted, God called for a reorganization and a new organization through his servant Ellen White.

That these men should stand in a sacred place, to be as the voice of God to the people, as we once believed the General Conference to be,—that is past. What we want now is a reorganization. We want to begin at the foundation, and to build upon a different principle." Ellen White, General Conference Bulletin, April 3, 1901 par. 25
When we see the regular lines are altered and purified and refined, and the God of the heavens mold is upon the regular lines, then it is our business to establish the regular lines. But when we see message after message that God has given has been accepted, but no change, just the same as it was before, then it is evident that new blood must be brought into the regular lines. The leaders of the regular lines, they must have an entire change, an entire new organization, and to have a committee that shall take in not merely half a dozen, that is to be a ruling and controlling power, but it is to have representatives of those that are placed in responsibility in our educational interests, in our Sanitariums, that are working, and the life in them, constantly at work, constantly adding, constantly giving to the field the talent that has come from it. Ellen White, Spalding Magan p. 163.1

As we have seen, the corporate Seventh Day Adventist Church has apostatized from its most central foundational pillars held during the first 50 years, the principles concerning God, and thus has formed a new organization, a new church. And we have seen that Ellen White counsels us when the church departs from those principles that the appropriate response is to reorganize, to form a new organization returning to those first fundamental principles. Therefore, we believe we are fully justified in our decision to step back on the foundation of truth that God gave the Seventh Day Adventist people and to re-organize His church on those principles.

The Principle of Separation

The following references outline a guiding principle which is to actuate believers.

Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
"After a long and severe conflict, the faithful few decided to dissolve all union with the apostate church if she still refused to free herself from falsehood and idolatry. They saw that separation was an absolute necessity if they would obey the word of God. They dared not tolerate errors fatal to their own souls, and set an example which would imperil the faith of their children and children's children. To secure peace and unity they were ready to make any concession consistent with fidelity to God; but they felt that even peace would be too dearly purchased at the sacrifice of principle. If unity could be secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there be difference, and even war." Ellen White, Great Controversy p. 45.3
"Well would it be for the church and the world if the principles that actuated those steadfast souls were revived in the hearts of God's professed people. There is an alarming indifference in regard to the doctrines which are the pillars of the Christian faith. The opinion is gaining ground, that, after all, these are not of vital importance. This degeneracy is strengthening the hands of the agents of Satan, so that false theories and fatal delusions which the faithful in ages past imperiled their lives to resist and expose, are now regarded with favor by thousands who claim to be followers of Christ." Ellen White, Great Controversy p. 46.1
"As the light and life of men was rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities in the days of Christ, so it has been rejected in every succeeding generation. Again and again the history of Christ's withdrawal from Judea has been repeated. When the Reformers preached the word of God, they had no thought of separating themselves from the established church; but the religious leaders would not tolerate the light, and those that bore it were forced to seek another class, who were longing for the truth. In our day few of the professed followers of the Reformers are actuated by their spirit. Few are listening for the voice of God, and ready to accept truth in whatever guise it may be presented. Often those who follow in the steps of the Reformers are forced to turn away from the churches they love, in order to declare the plain teaching of the word of God. And many times those who are seeking for light are by the same teaching obliged to leave the church of their fathers, that they may render obedience." Ellen White Desire of Ages p. 232.2

There is outlined in the references quoted above a biblical principle of separation that must be followed to be faithful to Christ. To remain in an apostate church would be to partake of its sins.