Seventh-day Adventists And The Trinity

I came across a website recently that released its tirade upon Seventh-day Adventists. It took some researching to find the author’s name. I thought I could at least engage with him on one of his many indictments. I eventually found the name David J. Stewart, and with further Google search I found his full name; David John Stewart. Apparently, with the aid of Google, I find he is a very formidable character who seems to take on the whole world with his indictments. I read too that his website does have an enormous amount of hits, from those he appeals to as well as those who feel he is worth investigating.

From reading some blogs or websites critiquing David John Stewart, I decided that any thought of trying to appeal to him to correct the allegation he makes, would be a futile task and would just waste time. It seems from my reading that better minds than mine in the Christian world have tried to address the concerns they have over David John Stewart’s website, but seems to me it is to no avail. There are other allegations, but for now, let me address the one allegation he makes that concerns a belief credited to one of the co-founding members of the Adventist church, Ellen G. White.

The indictment is on a subject dear to my heart, that of the Deity of Jesus. Having come from a direction in life where I treated God with indifference, and even at times with hostility, and ignoring the graciousness of God as described by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:5-11. I consider that my attitude was really a truly treasonable posture, a creature’s total disrespect and indifference towards his Creator.  Since being ‘born again’ through the work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8) and through the reading of His Word (1 Peter 1:23-25), I have become very sensitive of any suggestion that Jesus Christ is anything less than the Creator, and would always want to say with Thomas, “my Lord and my God,” John 20:28.

The Godhead did not send a subordinate to rescue the fallen inhabitants of this world, but came here Himself, God in the Person of Jesus Christ, (John 1:1-31014Colossians 1:16,17).

So it was this indictment of an Ellen White statement that sent me searching for her alleged offence. Let me quote David J. Stewart:

“It makes a difference” he says, ““who” Jesus really is, for 2 Corinthians 11:4 warned there’d be those who’d teach another Jesus, preach a different gospel, and have another spirit. These marks identify cults, who invariably attack the Doctrine of Christ. Early SDA’s denied Jesus’ deity saying he was only an archangel. Their Commentary, volume 5, pg. 1129, cites Ellen White as saying . . .” And then typed in a separate line in bold large print Stewart cites:

The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty.”

SOURCE: Ellen G. White (1903, ms 150, SDA; Commentary V, p. 1129

That is followed by texts “that show that Jesus is Almighty God. John 1:1-3, 14; 10:33; 1st Timothy 2:5; 3:16; Colossians 2:16; Hebrews 7:4; Revelation 1:8; 15:3, 16:5-7; and 17:14 – all show Jesus is Almighty God.” (Some of the texts he has chosen do not seem to fit the category of the Deity of Jesus). But then comes the strong and bold accusation: “Ellen G. White is a LIAR!” He’s not God-angel-man. Clearly, SDA’s have a different Jesus.”

As an Adventist, with a high view of who Jesus is, I found that indictment challenging. Obviously, David John Stewart has access to the SDA Commentary, and so do I. I looked up the SDABC vol.5:1129 which I admit I hadn’t read before. There is a lot of material in those 7 thick volumes. But in fact there wasn’t just one page but 6 pages of compilations of Ellen White comments following the regular comments on John chapter 1. They were all on the deity and humanity of Jesus, over 4400 words.

I made my way down page 1129 to find the offending sentence and sure enough, it is there: “The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, . . .” ten words, selected from over 4400 words, the sentence incomplete and taken completely out of their context to say something the author was not saying.

I have made my own selections from those 4400 word selection of comments to give a representative view of what Ellen White believed on the Deity and humanity of Jesus. I have made these selections for two reasons; they are for my own concerns over what else David John Stewart thinks Adventists believe about Jesus, and my concern over what some Adventists may believe over the nature of the deity of Jesus. The selection that follows might well serve to resolve the other concerns, which I will take up in a following post.

This selection of Ellen White Statements on the Humanity and Deity of Jesus are taken from the same source that David John Stewart used to indict Ellen White as rejecting the Deity of Jesus:

“Equal with the Father, honored and adored by the angels, in our behalf Christ humbled Himself, and came to this earth to live a life of lowliness and poverty—to be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Yet the stamp of divinity was upon His humanity. He came as a divine Teacher, to uplift human beings, to increase their physical, mental, and spiritual efficiency.”

The “offending” sentence comes in this next paragraph, but now in context:

“There is no one who can explain the mystery of the incarnation of Christ. Yet we know that He came to this earth and lived as a man among men. The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one.”

That gives a different intention to the half sentence selected to denigrate the author. Here the author is talking about Christ’s humanity as well as His deity. Notice the next paragraph where she takes the traditional view that Paul was the author of the Book of Hebrews. Citing:

John 1:1–3, 14 (Phil. 2:5–8; Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:6, 8; 2:14–17; see EGW on Mark 16:6). Divine-Human Saviour.— Ellen White says, “The apostle would call our attention from ourselves to the Author of our salvation. He presents before us His two natures, divine and human. Here is the description of the divine: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” He was “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.””

“The tongue can never describe it; the imagination cannot take it in. The eternal Word consented to be made flesh! God became man! It was a wonderful humility.”

(Matt. 27:54; 1 Tim. 3:16.) But although Christ’s divine glory was for a time veiled and eclipsed by His assuming humanity, yet He did not cease to be God when He became man. The human did not take the place of the divine, nor the divine of the human. This is the mystery of godliness. The two expressions “human” and “divine” were, in Christ, closely and inseparably one, and yet they had a distinct individuality. Though Christ humbled Himself to become man, the Godhead was still His own.”

David J. Stewart would have read all this so why did he select a half sentence out of 6 pages of comment to make the indictment he did? So to repeat again the next paragraph which includes the “offending phrase”:

“There is no one who can explain the mystery of the incarnation of Christ. Yet we know that He came to this earth and lived as a man among men. The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one. The Deity did not sink under the agonizing torture of Calvary, yet it is nonetheless true that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.””

“4 (chs. 10:18; 17:3). Christ’s Life Was Unborrowed.—“In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” It is not physical life that is here specified, but eternal life, the life which is exclusively the property of God. The Word, who was with God, and who was God, had this life.” . . . “In Him was life, original, unborrowed, underived.”

“14 (Phil. 2:6–8; Col. 1:26, 27; 2:9; Heb. 1:3; 2:14–18; see EGW on Luke 2:40, 52). The Incarnation an Unfathomable Mystery.—In contemplating the incarnation of Christ in humanity, we stand baffled before an unfathomable mystery, that the human mind cannot comprehend. The more we reflect upon it, the more amazing does it appear. How wide is the contrast between the divinity of Christ and the helpless infant in Bethlehem’s manger! How can we span the distance between the mighty God (highlight mine) and a helpless child?” And I have to include the last two paragraphs of this 4400 word selections of commentary: called “Our Washing and Ironing time”

“29 (Lev. 14:4–8; Rev. 7:14; see EGW on John 12:32). Washing and Ironing Time.—Remember that just as you are in your family, so will you be in the church. Just as you treat your children, so will you treat Christ. If you cherish an un-Christ-like spirit, you are dishonoring God. … Position does not make the man. It is Christ formed within that makes a man worthy of receiving the crown of life, that fadeth not away. …

This is our washing and ironing time—the time when we are to cleanse our robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. John says, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” … Shall we not let Him take them away? Shall we not let our sins go (GCB April 6, 1903, p. 89)?

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