Historical, Biblical or PAPAL Adventists?

The term, "Historic Seventh-day Adventist" became popular a few years ago with the sudden explosion of home churches and independent ministries, all unhappy with the falling standards, the changing doctrines and the general worldly and ecumenical trends in the "mother" Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Terry Ross, the founder of "Servants of Our Saviour" Ministry, claims that he is the person who first coined the term. Be that as it may, it quickly became a phrase which the independent ministries favored, and many home churches began to use the term "historic Adventists" to identify themselves. It was a term which seemed to say, "we stand by the old landmarks on which the SDA Church was founded. We belong to the original SDA church and not the present day imposter!" It made a good springboard for launching the claim that the present day SDA denomination is in apostasy, has departed from the teachings of the earlier Adventists, and therefore is not the true Seventh-day Adventist Church, even though it bears the same name. Of course, the logical thing to conclude is that the "Historic Seventh-day Adventists are really the true Seventh-day Adventists.

All seemed to be well until the publication of the "Issues" book by the SDA church revealed a glaring inconsistency on the part of the Independent Ministries. On page 39 of the book, in the section entitled, "Historic Adventism – Ancient Landmarks and The Present Truth" the publishers point out that the early Adventists were non trinitarian and quote from the statement of beliefs published by the Adventists in 1872 to support their claim. They then go on to say:

"Would one be willing to accept all the content from that earlier era? Are the modern defenders of so-called historic Adventism really prepared to return to a non-Trinitarian position?"

The silence from the "Historic" Independent Ministries on this point was deafening. The Issues book was perfectly right. Are you truly a Historic Seventh-day Adventist? Since you say that the church has no right to change the position of the pioneers, but must stick by the original doctrines, then be consistent. Acceptall of historic Adventism, or give up the sham of being a defender of the "faith of our fathers."

Interestingly, Elder John Grosboll (Steps To Life) Published three little booklets in rebuttal to the Issues book published by the denomination. In the second of these booklets entitled, ISSUES: The Letter the NAD Officers did not Publish in their ISSUES Book – The Church – Part Two, Elder Grosboll reprints the 1872 statement of beliefs referred to by the SDA church leaders and makes the following remarkable statement:

"Who is an historic Seventh-day Adventist? An historic Seventh-day Adventist is a person who believes the historic teachings of Seventh-day Adventists. The following article by James White from the Signs of the Times in 1874 outlines the historic doctrines of Seventh-day Adventists. A historic Seventh-day Adventist still believes all of these . . ."

This is a remarkable statement, coming from Elder Grosboll. Let us look at the first point in the statement of beliefs as published by the Early Adventists. It reads as follows:

"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. Psalm 139:7"

Notice that in this statement, the one God is clearly identified as being one Person. Not three. The Holy Spirit is identified as being, not the one God, but rather, the representative of the one God. Furthermore in the second point of this statement of beliefs, Jesus Christ is stated to be, not God, but rather, "the Son of the Eternal Father, the One by whom God created all things" It is clear that this statement of beliefs teaches that the only Being who is God in the sense of being the absolute supreme authority and the source of all things, is God the Father.

Yet in his Landmarks magazine of December, 1996, Elder Grosboll, in an article entitled, The Godhead, accuses the SDA pioneers of being Arians, contends that these "Historic Adventists" believed false doctrines and contradicts their statement of beliefs by stating many times that God is not a single person, but is rather, three Beings (though he does not use the word Trinity yet he teaches the trinity concept).

"A second point that we notice in Ellen White's writings is that she speaks of one God. She does not teach that there are three Gods, but that there is one God. And yet, at the same time, as we will see, she teaches that this one God includes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which are three personalities mysteriously united as one . . ."". . . Notice, there is One upon the throne. There is one God, but this one God includes both Christ and the Father. . ."

Landmarks – Dec. 1996, p.16

It is evident that many of these "Independent Ministers" are not willing to be "Historic Adventists" except where it is convenient for them and fits in with their agenda.


Others of the Independent Ministries, have chosen to take a different label. Perceiving the inconsistency in calling oneself "Historic" while rejecting doctrines which are fully a part of the "Historic" package, they have chosen to refer to themselves as "Biblical Adventists", implying that our pioneers were not Biblical in at least some of their beliefs. Here, however, we find a fulfillment of the Biblical proverb, "As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; " (Amos 5:19). If the pioneers were non-trinitarian, the Bible is even more so. Let us briely compare the beliefs of the pioneers concerning God, with the teachings of the Bible.

Pioneer's Belief no. 1:

"That there is one God, a personal, spiritual Being, the Creator of all things ...(who is) everywhere present by His representative, the Holy Spirit

The Bible:

"But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him...." (1 Cor 8:6)

"Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?" (Psa 139:7)

Pioneer's Belief no. 2:

"That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, and Son of the Eternal Father, the One by whom God created all things..."

The Bible:

"...and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." (1 Cor 8:6)".... God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:" (Eph 3:9)

"Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God." (1 John 4:15)

Our pioneers were men of prayer and study. God chose capable vessels to define the faith which would take the remnant into the kingdom; men who spent countless hours in seeking God's guidance as they endeavored to learn the truth. One is impressed when reading the publications of the early Adventists with the careful research and the depth of thought, the logical reasoning, the deep spirituality of our forbears. The contrast with the present day crop of "theologians" is striking.Several of these proponents of the Trinity doctrine have claimed that Jesus never became the Son of God until He was conceived in Mary's womb! This concept is so destructive to the basic focus of the gospel that it is appalling to think that men who profess to be the ministers of that gospel should propose it.

What says the Scripture?

"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." (1 John 4:9)

Note three things here:

1. we may discern how much God loves us by the value of the gift which He gave.2. the gift which He gave was His Only Begotten Son.

3. He gave His Son, by sending Him into the world.

What was the identity of Jesus Christ at the time when He was sent? Was He then, God's Son? If He was not, then it was not His Son that God sent. Did God the Father send another God to become the Son? No. Plain reason indicates that at the time when He was sent, He must have already been the Son, or else the whole sense of the verse is lost. The point being emphasized by the Holy Spirit in this verse, is, the revelation of God's love. This, according to the verse, is manifested by the value of the gift which He gave. How valuable was this gift? The Holy Spirit calls upon us to discern the wonder of it all - it was His only begotten Son that He gave. Could there have been a more wonderful manifestation of God's love? No. Nothing else could have revealed it so fully as the giving of such a gift.

But now we are told that it was not really His Son that God gave. What are we to make of the declarations of these "theologians" that the Father did not truly give His Son, but really incarnated a fellow God and gave Him the title of His Son, by virtue of the fact that He had transformed Him into flesh? What then is the measure of the love which God had for this Son? Logically, His Fatherly love for Jesus was based on the fact that He had changed Him into flesh (according to this teaching, this is how Jesus became the Son of God, therefore we must begin to measure God's love for Jesus as a Father from that point). Do you see what I am saying? The scriptures do not ask us to behold the love of the Father for a fellow God, or for some mysterious fellow companion. The emphasis all through is the Father's love for His Son. This is how we may measure the greatness of the Father's love for us.

The doctrine that Jesus was not originally the Son of God is a most destructive one and is diametrically opposed to the foundation teachings of the gospel.

Hebrews 1:5,6 is used as a key text to prove that Jesus only became God's Son at His birth. It says:

"For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him."

It is correctly claimed that this text applies to Jesus' arrival into the world. However, this becomes the basis of the claim that all references to the Sonship of Jesus must be applied from that time. It is this kind of reasoning which tempts me to question the sincerity of these men. These are men who quote profusely from the writings of Ellen White when it suits them. They surely know what Ellen White has said on this matter. How is it that they ignore her so completely on this point? This is what Sister White has to say about the arrival of Jesus into this world: "Before the foundations of the world were laid, Christ, the Only Begotten of God, pledged Himself to become the Redeemer of the human race, should Adam sin. ...

" In His incarnation He gained in a new sense the title of the Son of God. Said the angel to Mary, "The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). While the Son of a human being, He became the Son of God in a new sense. Thus He stood in our world—the Son of God, yet allied by birth to the human race." -- 1SM, PG- 226, 227

It seems clear to me that there is a convenient use of the Testimonies by these men. When it suits them, they champion the writings. When it doesn't, they ignore them completely. One glaring example of the misuse made of Sister White is in the case of a paper put out recently by one of these independent ministries. The author, in attempting to prove that Jesus is the absolute equal of the Father in every respect, quotes from the "Signs of The Times" of May 3, 1895, as follows:

"He gave His only begotten Son— not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner … but one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  -- The Signs of the Times - 05-30-95

When we see what the complete quotation says, as quoted below, it is difficult not to question the sincerity of the writer. The underlined section is the part which was left out. The full quote reads as follows:

"He gave His only begotten Son— not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father's person, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

When I see things like this, many strong words come to my mind. I restrain them with difficulty. This is not a matter of mere words. What are we contending for here? Popularity? Financial support? Acceptance? The scoring of points? No, no, no! The very character of our God is the issue in question here. God's sincerity, the reality of His love, the foundation of our relationship with Him are the issues in question and shall we endanger these concepts by manipulating words? God help us to be honest! How can we escape the wine of Babylon imbibed in schools reeking with Babylonish philosophies? No wonder God has "hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes and sucklings."


The Encarta Encyclopedia has this to say about the origin of the Trinitarian doctrine:

"Trinity (theology)

In Christian theology, doctrine that God exists as three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who are united in one substance or being. The doctrine is not taught explicitly in the New Testament, where the word God almost invariably refers to the Father; but already Jesus Christ, the Son, is seen as standing in a unique relation to the Father, while the Holy Spirit is also emerging as a distinct divine person.

The term trinitas was first used in the 2nd century, by the Latin theologian Tertullian, but the concept was developed in the course of the debates on the nature of Christ. In the 4th century, the doctrine was finally formulated; using terminology still employed by Christian theologians, the doctrine taught the coequality of the persons of the Godhead. ... For an adequate understanding of the trinitarian conception of God, the distinctions among the persons of the Trinity must not become so sharp that there seems to be a plurality of gods, nor may these distinctions be swallowed up in an undifferentiated monism."

The description here of how the Trinity doctrine originated, is not unique to the Encarta Encyclopedia, but is basically the same as that which may be found in any reliable encyclopedia. Note the statement that "The doctrine is not taught explicitly in the New Testament, where the word God almost invariably refers to the Father" Here is an assessment of the situation from people who do not have a religious agenda. The Trinity is not a doctrine which is taught in the Bible. So where did it originate? We are provided with an answer to this question as well: "the concept was developed in the course of the debates on the nature of Christ. In the 4th century, the doctrine was finally formulated …"

The implications of this are devastating. This is a doctrine which was formulated after the Bible was completed. A doctrine which was formulated in the Catholic councils of the 4th Century! No wonder the Catholic Church has stated:

"Our opponents sometimes claim that no belief should be held dogmatically which is not explicitly stated in Scripture . . . . But the Protestant Churches have themselves accepted such dogmas as the Trinity for which there is no such precise authority in the Gospels."

Life Magazine, Oct. 30, 1950

This doctrine does not belong to Historic Adventism. Upon the testimony of unbiased researchers, neither does it belong to the teachings of the Bible or the apostolic church. In actual fact, this doctrine originated in the Catholic councils of the 4th century. Since when did these councils become authoritative for Adventists?

In adopting this Trinitarian teaching, Adventists have placed themselves right alongside the false protestant churches, the daughters of Babylon who claim the scriptures as their authority, but in actual fact, adopt the traditions of Rome. In following this dangerous trend, The "mother" Adventist church and the "reformers" alike have adopted the Catholic principle of accepting tradition as an authoritative source for defining Christian belief. When all things are considered, perhaps a more fitting title for Adventists who believe in the Trinity, is neither, "Historic Adventists, nor Biblical Adventists, but rather, Papal Adventists.

The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie.One word of truth outweighs the world.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn