Were Seventh-day Adventist Pioneers Arians or semi-Arians?

Article by Paul Chung

The Adventist history bears out that our pioneers were “non-Trinitarians”, but often, most SDA historians characterize our pioneers as either Arians or Semi-Arians.

"Our pioneers clearly held Arian or semi-Arian views in regard to the person of Christ. They understood “firstborn over all creation” (Col 1:15) and “only begotten Son” (John 3:16) in a literal sense. The Father, therefore, was first and superior, and the Son, who had a beginning sometime in eternity, was subordinate to the Father. A corollary of this view was the belief that the Holy Spirit is an influence or the power of God, but not a person."
(Gerhard Pfandl, Biblical Research Institute, The Doctrine of the Trinity Among Seventh-day Adventists; Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 17/1 (Spring 2006): 160-179)

"Adventist beliefs have changed over the years under the impact of 'present truth'. Most startling is the teaching regarding Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. Many of the pioneers, including James White, J. N. Andrews, Uriah Smith and J. H. Waggoner, held to an Arian or semi-Arian view--that is the Son at some point in time before the creation of our world was generated by the Father... Likewise, the Trinitarian understanding of God, now part of our fundamental beliefs was not generally held by the early Adventists. Even a few today do not subscribe to it." (William Johnsson, "Present Truth: Walking in God’s Light", Adventist Review, January 6, 1994, p. 10)

Were they Arians/Semi-Arians? Or did they actually have the correct understanding of the True God of the Bible and His Son?

The word Arian was used by Rome as a stigma. And that stigma would apply to anyone who disagreed with her (Roman Catholic Church and their dogma, especially the Trinity). It was like a theological slur. This had a real negative tone to it with real consequences, and history reveals that those who opposed Rome were persecuted as heretics. It is worth noting that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has adopted an attitude that is no different than the Roman Papacy as it defends its Trinity doctrine and similarly labels anyone who opposes the Trinity doctrine as either Arians or Semi-Arians.

Please bear in mind that while our Pioneers held to a belief that was SIMILAR to Arians or Semi-Arians, I wouldn't necessarily categorize them as either Arians nor Semi-Arians (as far as how Arians/Semi-Arians are generally portrayed today). Those who characterize our pioneers as either Arians or Semi-Arians assume that they believed Christ to be a creation and this is simply a gross misrepresentation. The mischaracterization of our pioneers’ beliefs (often intentional) are primarily to discredit the early SDA Church... This is the reason why "non-Trinitarian" SDAs are often viewed as Arians and are also accused of denigrating Christ as a creation.

First of all, as far as trying to reconstruct what Arius actually taught, and why, it is a formidable task, both because very little of his own work survived except in quotations selected for polemical purposes by his opponents, and also because there is no certainty about what theological and philosophical traditions formed his thought based on Arius’ survived work. This does raise some legitimate questions as to why the Catholic Church took such drastic measures to destroy all of Arius' works, and you are left to wonder if there is any credence to any of the criticism against Arians, for there is no way to verify what Arius actually taught. Furthermore, given the fact that the only records we have are those that either fell through the hands of the Catholic power, or those which they have chosen to keep, whether in their original form or altered by them, it raises legitimate doubts as to whether or not any of Arius’ survived work is even authentic.

Even though (at the Council of Nicaea) Constantine ordered the writings of Arius to be destroyed, we know something of what Arius believed because of letters that have been preserved in various historical documents. In one such letter, Arius wrote:

Letter of Arius to Eusebius of Nicomedia-Date: c. 318:

(1.) To that most beloved man of God, the faithful and orthodox Eusebius, from Arius, unjustly persecuted by father Alexander because of the all-conquering truth which you, Eusebius, also are defending!
(2.) Since my father Ammonius is going to Nicomedia, it seemed reasonable and proper to greet you through him, remembering at the same time the innate love and affection which you have for the brothers on account of God and his Christ, because the bishop [Alexander] is severely ravaging and persecuting us and moving against us with every evil.  Thus he drives us out of every city like godless men, since we will not agree with his public statements:  that there was “always a God, always a Son;” “as soon as the Father, so soon the Son [existed];” “with the Father co-exists the Son unbegotten, ever-begotten, begotten without begetting;” “God neither precedes the Son in aspect or in a moment of time;” “always a God, always a Son, the Son being from God himself.”
(3.) Since Eusebius, your brother in Caesarea, and Theodotus, and Paulinus, and Athanasius, and Gregory, and Aetius and all those in the East say that God pre-exists the Son without a beginning, they have been condemned, except for Philogonius and Hellenicus and Macarius, unlearned heretics some of whom say that the Son was “spewed out”, others that he was an “emanation”, still others that he was “jointly unbegotten.”  
(4.) We are not able to listen to these kinds of impieties, even if the heretics threaten us with ten thousand deaths.  But what do we say and think and what have we previously taught and do we presently teach?  — that the Son is not unbegotten, nor a part of an unbegotten entity in any way, nor from anything in existence, but that he is subsisting in will and intention before time and before the ages, full <of grace and truth,> God, the only-begotten, unchangeable. (5.) Before he was begotten, or created, or defined, or established, he did not exist.  For he was not unbegotten.   But we are persecuted because we have said the Son has a beginning but God has no beginning.  We are persecuted because of that and for saying he came from non-being.  But we said this since he is not a portion of God nor of anything in existence.  That is why we are persecuted; you know the rest.
I pray that you fare well in the Lord, remembering our tribulations, fellow-Lucianist, truly-called Eusebius [i.e. the pious one]. 

Source: http://www.fourthcentury.com/urkunde-1/

[Note: #4 Arius clearly distinguishes the Father as “unbegotten” while the Son is described as “begotten.” Contrary to popular belief, Arius appears to have held to a position that the Son was “begotten” as in an offspring of the Father but the phrase such as, “nor a part of an unbegotten entity in any way” “he is not a portion of God” seems to suggest that Arius did not believe the Son as an ontological equal with the Father (Not having the same substance as the Father). Furthermore, Arius’ expressions such as “begotten” or “creation” are not conclusively defined as in #5 “Before he was begotten, or created, or defined, or established, he did not exist.” This appears to be the case throughout his writings]

Confession of faith from Arius and his followers to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria (date: c. 320):

(1.) The Priests and Deacons to Our Blessed Father and Bishop, Alexander; greetings in the Lord.
(2.) Our faith from our forefathers, which also we learned from you, Blessed Father, is this: We acknowledge One God, alone unbegotten, alone everlasting, alone without beginning, alone true, alone having immortality, alone wise, alone good, alone sovereign, judge, governor, and provider of all, unalterable and unchangeable, just and good, God of the Law and the Prophets and the New Testament; who begat an only-begotten Son before time and the ages, through whom he made both the ages [Heb 1:2] and all that was made; who begot Him not in appearance, but in reality; and that he made him subsist at his own will, unalterable and unchangeable, the perfect creature (ktisma) of God, but not as one of the creatures; offspring, but not as one of the other things begotten; (3.) nor as Valentinus pronounced that the offspring of the Father was an emanation (probolē); nor as the Manicheans taught that the offspring was a one-in-essence-portion (meros homoousion) of the Father; nor as Sabellius, dividing the Monad, speaks of a Son-Father; nor as Hieracas speaks of one torch [lit] from another, or as a lamp divided into two; nor that he who existed before was later generated or created anew into a Son, as you yourself, O blessed father, have often condemned both in church services and in council meetings; but, as we say, he was created at the will of God, before time and before the ages, and came to life and being from the Father, and the glories which coexist in him are from the Father. (Source: http://www.fourthcentury.com/index.php/urkunde-6)

[Note: “the perfect creature (ktisma) of God, but not as one of the creatures; offspring, but not as one of the other things begotten;” While the translation reads, “creature” the  very expression is preceded by phrases, “who begat an only-begotten Son” and “who begot him” and also qualified by what follows, “but not as one of the creatures; offspring, but not as one of the other things begotten;”. Again, in #4 below,  we find such expressions as, “but the Son, begotten apart from time by the Father, and created (ktistheis) and founded before the ages” “but was begotten apart from time before all things.”  The usage of the word, “created” and “begotten” seem interchangeable; There seems to be a case of grappling with the right semantics regarding the concept of Christ’s unique begetting; The term, “offspring” in #3 clearly suggest birth of some kind or one being brought forth from another being; One thing is clear is that Arius distinguishes Christ from all other creation]

You can also find a few remaining original documents of the early Arian controversy here: http://www.fourthcentury.com/documents-of-the-early-arian-controversy/

But having said this, there are four main beliefs that are GENERALLY (but not necessarily what Arius actually taught) attributed to both Arians and Semi-Arians today.

1. Christ had a point of origin and that He was/is a “created” being; the first and the greatest creation of God. (Jehovah’s Witnesses believe this way; Socinians and Unitarians believe similarly.)

2. They believe that the Father and Son are not ontological equals; Christ’s pre-incarnate nature was NOT of the same substance as the Father; the Son had a nature that was inferior to the Father (semi-Arians believe Christ had a nature that is similar but not the same see below).

"For it is impossible for him to fathom the Father, who is by himself.
For the Son himself does not even know his own essence (ousia),
For being Son, his existence is most certainly at the will of the Father.
What reasoning allows, that he who is from the Father
should comprehend and know his own parent?
For clearly that which has a beginning
is not able to conceive of or grasp the existence of that which has no beginning."
(Arius, "Thalia"; Source: http://www.fourthcentury.com/index.php/arius-thalia-intro)

"But what do we say and think and what have we previously taught and do we presently teach? — that the Son is not unbegotten, nor a part of an unbegotten entity in any way, nor from anything in existence, but that he is subsisting in will and intention before time and before the ages, full <of grace and truth,> God, the only-begotten, unchangeable. (5.) Before he was begotten, or created, or defined, or established, he did not exist. For he was not unbegotten. But we are persecuted because we have said the Son has a beginning but God has no beginning. We are persecuted because of that and for saying he came from non-being."  (Arius, Letter of Arius to Eusebius of Nicomedia; source: http://www.fourthcentury.com/urkunde-1/)

Note: It appears that Arius understood the Son's nature to be inferior to that of the Father, at least in his survived writings. According to Arius, Son is not the Father's ontological equal; the Son having had a beginning is "not able to conceive of or grasp the existence of that which has no beginning."

"Semi-Arianism was a position regarding the relationship between God the Father and the Son of God, adopted by some 4th century Christians. Though the doctrine modified the teachings of Arianism, it still rejected the doctrine that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of the same substance, or con-substantial, and was therefore considered to be heretical by many contemporary Christians.[1].... Semi-Arians, however, admitted that the Son was “of a similar substance” (homoiousios) as the Father but not "of the same substance" (homoousios) as him.[1] This doctrinal controversy revolved around two words that in writing differed only by a single letter but whose difference in meaning gave rise to furious contests.[2]”

[1] "semi-Arianism." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2012.

[2] Gary Holloway, Randall J. Harris, Mark Cothran Black (editors), Theology Matters (College Press 1998 ISBN 978-0-89900813-4), pp. 24–25

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-Arianism

Note: It's worth noting that SDA pioneers were also characterized as Semi-Arians. But the Semi-Arians held to the view that Christ's nature was similar to the Father but not the same; therefore they also deny the fact that the Father and the Son are ontological equals. We doing a disservice for labeling the SDA pioneers as Semi-Arians for the SDA pioneers did NOT believe this way.

3. And because the Son is not equal with the Father in nature, they believe that the Son can have no direct knowledge of the Father for He is of a different order of existence.

Below is an excerpt from Arius’ own writing, “Thalia”:

"In brief, God is inexpressible to the Son.
ἔστι γὰρ ἑαυτῷ ὅ ἐστι τοῦτ‘ ἔστιν ἄλεκτος,
For he is in himself what he is, that is, indescribable,
ὥστε οὐδὲν τῶν λεγομένων κατά τε κατάληψιν συνίει ἐξειπεῖν ὁ υἱός.
So that the Son does not comprehend any of these things or have the understanding to explain them.
ἀδύνατα γὰρ αὐτῷ τὸν πατέρα τε ἐξιχνιάσει, ὅς ἐστιν ἐφ’ ἑαυτοῦ.
For it is impossible for him to fathom the Father, who is by himself.
αὐτὸς γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ οὐσίαν οὐκ οἶδεν,
For the Son himself does not even know his own essence (ousia),
υἱὸς γὰρ ὢν θελήσει πατρὸς ὑπῆρξεν ἀληθῶς.
For being Son, his existence is most certainly at the will of the Father.
τίς γοῦν λόγος συγχωρεῖ τὸν ἐκ πατρὸς ὄντα
What reasoning allows, that he who is from the Father
αὐτὸν τὸν γεννήσαντα γνῶναι ἐν καταλήψει;
should comprehend and know his own parent?
δῆλον γὰρ ὅτι τὸ αρχὴν ἔχον, τὸν ἄναρχον, ὡς ἔστιν,
For clearly that which has a beginning
ἐμπερινοῆσαι ἢ ἐμπεριδράξασθαι οὐχ οἷόν τέ ἐστιν.
is not able to conceive of or grasp the existence of that which has no beginning."

(Arius, Thalia; Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arius)

4. It is unclear exactly as to what Arius' view was on pneumatology but the general opinion is that Arians rejected the idea that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person or an individual not unlike the Father and the Son. 

What did our pioneers believe?

1. Not unlike the Arians and the Semi-Arians, our pioneers believed Christ had a point of origin. But while a few Adventist pioneers, including Uriah Smith initially held to a position that can be described as Arian (Smith initially used the expression such as "creation" rather than "begotten" in referring to Christ), the denomination eventually adopted a unique position which made them neither Arian nor Semi-Arian. They believed Christ to be the literal “begotten” Son of God (not created) who possessed the same substance as the Father.

“Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. HE WAS BEGOTTEN, NOT CREATED. HE IS OF THE SUBSTANCE OF THE FATHER, SO THAT IN HIS VERY NATURE HE IS GOD; and since this is so ‘it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.’ Col. 1:19 ... While both are of the same nature, the Father is first in point of time. He is also greater in that he had no beginning, WHILE CHRIST'S PERSONALITY HAD A BEGINNING.” — (E.J. Waggoner, Signs of the Times, April 8, 1889)

“The Scriptures declare that Christ is “the only begotten son of God.” HE IS BEGOTTEN, NOT CREATED. As to when He was begotten, it is not for us to inquire, nor could our minds grasp it if we were told. The prophet Micah tells us all that we can know about it in these words, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2, margin. THERE WAS A TIME WHEN CHRIST PROCEEDED FORTH AND CAME FROM GOD, from the bosom of the Father (John 8:42; 1:18), but that time was so far back in the days of eternity that to finite comprehension it is practically without beginning…” (E. J. Waggoner, 1890, Christ and His Righteousness, pp. 19-22)

“CHRIST WAS BEGOTTEN, NOT CREATED; Satan was created, not begotten. As THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON Christ could enter fully into the councils of God. Because he could not do this as Christ did, envy sprang up in the heart of Satan, and he began to determine, I will exalt myself. He began to stir up rebellion, to say, God is arbitrary, and he began also to get his sympathisers. “We are in slavery, and I have a better plan of government. Choose me as leader, exalt me, and then I will exalt you.” Do you not see the same principle that has been in the world ever since the fall? You exalt me and I will exalt you,-perhaps. {E.J. Waggoner Bible Echo and Signs of the Times February 17, 1896, p. 52.12}

“God alone is without beginning. At the earliest epoch when a beginning could be,—a period so remote that to finite minds it is essentially eternity,—appeared the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1. This uncreated Word was the Being, who, in the fulness of time, was made flesh, and dwelt among us. His beginning was not like that of any other being in the universe. It is set forth in the mysterious expressions, “his [God’s] only begotten Son” (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9), “the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14), and, “I proceeded forth and came from God.” John 8:42. Thus it appears that by some divine impulse or process, not creation, known only to Omniscience, and possible only to Omnipotence, the Son of God appeared. And then the Holy Spirit (by an infirmity of translation called “the Holy Ghost”), the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the divine afflatus and medium of their power, representative of them both (Ps. 139:7), was in existence also.” (Uriah Smith, 1898, Looking Unto Jesus, page 10)

"Will you please favor me with those scriptures which plainly say that Christ is a created being?

Answer: "YOU ARE MISTAKEN IN SUPPOSING THAT S.D. ADVENTISTS TEACH THAT CHRIST WAS EVER CREATED. THEY BELIEVE, ON THE CONTRARY, THAT HE WAS “BEGOTTEN” OF THE FATHER, AND THAT HE CAN PROPERLY BE CALLED GOD AND WORSHIPED AS SUCH.”(W.H. Little John Question No. 96, Review and Herald, April 17, 1883, The commentary, Scripture questions, 'Answers by W. H. Littlejohn)

“Elder Porter then said that IN SPEAKING OF CHRIST HE SHOULD NOT HAVE SAID CREATED, BUT “BEGOTTEN.” Begotten is the exact language of the Scripture. The new birth which we must experience to become the children of God is a new creation. We are born of the Spirit of God. This is beyond our comprehension. NEITHER CAN WE TELL HOW CHRIST WAS BEGOTTNE OF THE FATHER. This is one of the “deep things of God.” {General Conference and Daily Bulletin February 2-4, 1893, p. 120.5}

“It is for the well-being and happiness of God’s creatures that some of his intelligences should receive “gifts” and “powers” which others do not. UPON CHRIST, THE ONLY BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER (ALL OTHER BEINGS WERE CREATED BY CHRIST) was bestowed creative, life-giving, and law-making power. In these he was made equal with the eternal Father. Upon no other being were bestowed such gifts. With this power Christ not only created all things, but he up-holds all life in this and every shining world. We read of him, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins; who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Colossians 1:14-17. {GCDB February 2-4, 1893, p. 99.11}

“As the absolute Son, He, who 'in the beginning was with God, and was God,' WAS BEGOTTEN BEFORE TIMES ETERNAL; as the Son, who was the-God-man, He was begotten by the resurrection from the dead. So shall we be 'sons of God, being sons, of the resurrection.' Luke 20:26." (W.W. Prescott Signs of the Times, Jan 8, 1929)

"...ANY IDEA THAT THE SON IS PART OF THE CREATION ITSELF IS UTTERLY FOREIGN TO PAUL’S CONCEPTION. See Colossians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Philippians 2:6-8. Moffatt makes the expression, "the first-born of all creation,' plainer by translating the Greek: "born first before all the creation;" and with this Goodspeed is in substantial agreement.

"THE WORD “BORN” IS USED BECAUSE, IN CONTRASTING THE CREATOR* WITH HIS CREATION, IT POSTULATES THE NATURE OF THE LORD’S ORIGIN. HE WAS NOT CREATED AS WERE CREATURES, BUT WAS BORN OUT OF GOD AS GOD; AND SO IS OF THE SAME NATURE AS THE FATHER. Just as a human son is born human by nature because his father is human, so the divine Son of God is by nature "born" God because His Father is God" ("William G. Wirth "The 'Signs" Question Corner" Signs of the Times, August 5th, 1930)

2. Our pioneers believed, affirmed by Ellen White’s testimony, that Christ had the same “nature” as the Father as a pre-incarnate Son; They did not believe that Christ had a nature that was inferior to the Father.

“Jesus said, "I and my Father are one." The words of Christ were full of deep meaning as he put forth the claim that he and the Father were of ONE SUBSTANCE, POSSESSING THE SAME ATTRIBUTES.” {ST Nov 27, 1893 par. 5}

Note: When Ellen White says “one substance”, she means “possessing the same attributes”, NOT that the Father and the Son are an amalgamation of one substance; they are two distinct personalities.

3. Our pioneers also believed as Ellen White that Christ “knows” the Father and had full access to all the counsels of God.

“And He says, ‘I know Mine own, and Mine own know Me, EVEN AS THE FATHER KNOWETH ME, AND I KNOW THE FATHER’ John 10:14, 15, R.V. What a statement is this!—the only-begotten Son, He who is in the bosom of the Father, He whom God has declared to be “the Man that is My fellow” (Zechariah 13:7),—the communion between Him and the eternal God is taken to represent the communion between Christ and His children on the earth!” {DA 483.2}

“Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father—one in nature, in character, in purpose—the only being that could enter into ALL THE COUNSELS AND PURPOSES OF GOD.” {Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34}

4. Early Adventists certainly believed similar to the Arians/Semi-Arians in that they viewed the Holy Spirit not as a third separate being as the Trinity doctrine teach. However, the early Adventist's pneumatology and their understanding of the Holy Spirit was unique, unlike the Arian nor Semi-Arians in that while they believe the Holy Spirit to be the Spirit of the Father and the Son, they also believed that He is a "Person."  

“‘I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.’ (John 14:18). The divine Spirit that the world’s Redeemer promised to send is the PRESENCE AND POWER of God.”-- (Signs of The Times, Nov. 23, 1891)

“In the plan of restoring in men the divine image, it was provided that the Holy Spirit should move upon human minds, and be AS THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST, a molding agency upon human character.” --(RH, Feb. 12, 1895)

“They have ONE God and ONE Saviour; and ONE Spirit--the Spirit of Christ--is to bring unity into their ranks.” — (E.G. White, 9T 189.3, 1909)

"The terms ‘Holy Ghost’, are a harsh and repulsive translation. It should be ‘Holy Spirit’ (hagion pneuma) in every instance. THIS SPIRIT IS THE SPIRIT OF GOD AND THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST; the Spirit being the same whether it is spoken of as pertaining to God or Christ. But respecting this Spirit, the Bible uses expressions which cannot be harmonized with the idea that it is a person like the Father and the Son. Rather it is shown to be a divine influence from them both, the medium which represents their presence and by which they have knowledge and power through all the universe, when not personally present." (Uriah Smith, Review & Herald, October 28, 1890)

“We have been brought together as a school, and we need to realize that the HOLY SPIRIT, WHO IS AS MUCH A PERSON AS GOD IS A PERSON, is walking through these grounds, that the Lord God is our keeper, and helper. He hears every word we utter and knows every thought of the mind.”--Ms 66, 1899, p. 4. (Talk, April 15, 1899). Released April 28, 1976. {7MR 299.2}

“THE HOLY SPIRT IS A PERSON, for He beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. When this witness is borne, it carries with it its own evidence. At such times we believe and are sure that we are the children of God. . .” {Ev 616.6}

“THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS A PERSONALITY, else He could not bear witness to our spirits and with our spirits that we are the children of God. HE MUST ALSO BE A DIVINE PERSON, else He could not search out the secrets which lie hidden in the mind of God. "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God."--Manuscript 20, 1906. {Ev 617.1}

Note: Ellen White used expressions like "Person", "Personality" to describe the Holy Spirit for the Holy Spirit is the very presence of the Father and the Son; they are NOT "IT" they are "Persons", Their own Spirit is not devoid of their "Personality"; thus, designations such as "He" or "Person" is rightly ascribed in describing the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when Christ gives us Himself (by His own Holy Spirit) it is not just some impersonal force or essence. No, it is very personal and intimate. It is Christ’s own presence, though in Spirit and unseen, but having Christ’s very own personality. Holy Spirit is imbued with the very mind, power and the presence of the Father and the Son with a distinct (different and yet unmistakably their own) personality. Therefore, it would make perfect sense why she would even describe the Holy Spirit as having a “distinct personality” (20MR 324.2) but not to be understood as another being.

Conclusion:

Again, for anyone who claims to know what Arius actually taught is clearly treading under a false pretense and should be regarded with caution for there just isn't enough evidence to establish a reliable conclusion. The history and the belif of Arius and Arians themselves have been largely misrepresented, but to accuse and to surmise a particular group of believers based on the misinformation as being either Arians or Semi-Arians is an unfair characterization that is intended to discredit anyone from challenging the orthodoxy or the church's creed. The epithets are by design, not unlike the Papacy of old, to create a stigma to stop someone in their tracks from furthering their inquiry into the subject. 

It is unfortunate that many conclude, though not accurately, based on a few statements by some respected historians, that SDA pioneers were either Arians or Semi-Arians. However, evidences show that SDA pioneers held to a system of beliefs that were uniquely their own. Therefore to generalize the early Seventh-day Adventists as being either Arians or Semi-Arians, obfuscates the church history and undermines what our church pioneers actually taught and believed.

Additional Notes:

“An erroneous charge was circulated that all who were called Arians believed that Christ was a created being. [Footnote: It is doubtful if many believed Christ to be a created being. Generally, those evangelical bodies who opposed the papacy and who were branded as Arians confessed both the divinity of Christ and that He was begotten, not created, by the Father. They recoiled from other extreme deductions and speculations concerning the Godhead.]” — (Benjamin G. Wilkinson, Truth Triumphant, p. 92)

“Whether the teachings of Arius were such as are usually represented to us or not, who can say? Phillipus Limborch doubts that Arius himself ever held that Christ was created instead of being begotten [Footnote: Limborch, The History of the Inquisition, page 95].” — (Benjamin G. Wilkinson, Truth Triumphant, p. 142)

In 538 A.D, the Arian believers were completely wiped out by the Catholic Church, leaving the Papacy as the sole “Corrector of heretics.” Anyone opposing the Catholic teaching of the Trinity was exterminated, for “the Mystery of the Trinity is the central doctrine of the Catholic Faith.” — (Handbook for Today's Catholic, p. 11)

“The three divisions which were plucked up were the Heruli in 493, the Vandals in 534, and the Ostrogoths in 538 A.D. Justinian, the emperor, whose seat was at Constantinople, working through the general Belisarius, was the power which overthrew the three kingdoms represented by the three horns, and THE REASON FOR THEIR OVERTHROW WAS THEIR ADHERENCE TO ARIANISM IN OPPOSITION TO THE ORTHODOX CATHOLIC FAITH. The details of the overthrow, and the religious controversy which was the root of the trouble, are fully given by Gibbon in the “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” — (S.N. Haskell, The Story of Daniel the Prophet, p. 117, 1908)

And further, “The contest between ARIANISM and the orthodox CATHOLICISM was the means of ENTHRONING THE PAPACY.” — (lbid, p. 266)