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Trinity in Adventist History

Ministry Magazine, October, 1993

Ministry Magazine, October, 1993

What SDA historians say about our own church history:

"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)

“Adventist beliefs have changed over the years under the impact of ‘present truth’”

"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 R. Knight--professor of church history at the Theological Seminary, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan; Ministry, October, 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.”

"In like manner, most of the founders of Seventh-day Adventism would have trouble with fundamental belief number 4, which holds that Jesus is both eternal and truly God. For J. N. Andrews "the Son of God ... had God for His Father, and did, at some point in the eternity of the past, have beginning of days." And E. J. Waggoner, of Minneapolis 1888 fame, penned in 1890 that "there was a time when Christ proceeded forth and came from God,... but that time was so far back in the days of eternity that to finite comprehension it is practically without beginning." (ibid) Read the entire article from Ministry Magazine, October, 1993 issue HERE.

"The Development of the Trinity doctrine demonstrates that sometimes doctrinal changes require the passing of a previous generation. For Seventh-day Adventists, it took over 50 years for the doctrine of the Trinity to become normative."
Burt, Merlin D. (2006) "History of Seventh-day Adventist Views on the Trinity, " Journal of the Adventist Theological Society: Vol. 17 : Iss. 1, Article 9. (P. 139)

For Seventh-day Adventists, it took over 50 years for the doctrine of the Trinity to become normative.”

A Brief Summary of Trinity in Adventism

1) The church did not have an official directly voted upon trinity doctrine for the first 117 years of its existence (from 1863 to 1980). There was no corporate study ever done upon the subject by the general conference and it was only in the year 1980 that the church actually directly voted on the subject. The 1931 statement was adopted by default at the 1946 conference. Even to this day the church, at large, is in great confusion about this doctrine and it needs to be studied out officially. 

2) Ellen White never used the word "trinity" to describe God in her approximately 25 million words even though she had plenty of opportunity to do so and clearly knew the word. We know that she read trinitarian authors and even used their wording at times but she never once described God as a "trinity" or spoke of a "triune God." What would you call someone who never did that? Non-trinitarian seems like a reasonable expression. The closest thing you'll ever read from her pen is the phrase the heavenly trio. Mrs. White seems to have gotten as close as you can to the trinity without crossing over. She appears to have remained neutral. She never rebuked the anti-trinitarian pioneers and wrote some things in harmony with them. She also never rebuked her post 1890 contemporaries who used trintiarian terminology and wrote some things in harmony with them. It would appear that inspiration takes a position between the two camps, supporting some aspects of each view but never embracing either holistically. 

3) What is accurate to say is that from 1844 till at least 1890 the nearly unanimous position of the SDA people was non-trinitarian. This is what the fundamental principles (1872-1914) indicate. Ellen White gave strong endorsements of these principles and so there must be an aspect of truth in them that should not be abandoned. What is also accurate to say is that from 1844 up until the 1930s the consensus view remained that the pre-incarnate Son of God was begotten although there was a shift in terms of when that occurred, with some even adopting an orthodox view (i.e. eternal generation). It is between the 1950s -1970s that SDA theology started to shift toward unbegottenism which is now the dominant view. 

Ellen White Has Warned that Changes Would Take Place:

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. {1SM 204.2}
— Ellen White


"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." {1SM 204.2} Letter 242, October 19, 1903

What did she say would happen?

1. The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists.

2. This reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization.

3. The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded.

4. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error.

5. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written.

6. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced.

7. 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 (original concept of One God is removed and was replaced with One God means trinity), they would place their dependence on human power.

8. It's worth noting that of all the "fundamental principles" Seventh-day Adventist church has held when Ellen White wrote those words, the most notable doctrine that the modern SDA church counts it as being an error is the doctrine that the church pioneers have held that deals with the personality of God.

"Who has authority to begin such a movement? We have our Bibles. We have our experience, attested to by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. We have a truth that admits of no compromise. Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth?" {1SM 205.1}

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. {1SM 204.2}
— Ellen White

"I hesitated and delayed about the sending out of that which the Spirit of the Lord impelled me to write. I did not want to be compelled to present the misleading influence of these sophistries. But in the providence of God, the errors that have been coming in must be met." {1SM 205.2}

“I have been instructed to warn our people; for MANY ARE IN DANGER of receiving theories and sophistries that undermine the FOUNDATION PILLARS OF THE FAITH.” {Selected Messages bk. 1 p.196, 1904}

“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. {2SM 390.1}

"What influence is it would lead men at this stage of our history to work in an underhand, powerful way to tear down the foundation of our faith—the foundation that was laid at the beginning of our work by prayerful study of the Word and by revelation? Upon this foundation we have been building for the past fifty years. Do you wonder that when I see the beginning of a work that would remove some of the pillars of our faith, I have something to say? I must obey the command, “MEET IT!”... 

“I must bear the messages of warning that God gives me to bear, and then leave with the Lord the results. I must now present the matter in all its bearings; for the people of God must not be despoiled. 

“We are God’s commandment-keeping people. For the past fifty years every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us, to becloud our minds regarding the teaching of the Word—especially concerning the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, and the message of Heaven for these last days, as given by the angels of the fourteenth chapter of Revelation. Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayerful study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord. But the waymarks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His Word and the testimony of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority." 1SM 207.3-208.2

Note: When she wrote all of these warnings, Seventh-day Church was a non-trinitarian denomination and the Fundamental Principles (Fundamental Beliefs as it is called now) of the church were published annually in the church's yearbook from 1889 until the Fundamental Principles were changed and was published in 1931 and later officially voted in 1981.

What did the Seventh-day Adventist Church believe Prior to the Change?

In 1893 Ellen White said there was not a people on earth who believed in the Divinity of Christ more than Adventists.

“For instance, an effort was made to obtain the use of the hall at a village four miles from Hastings, where some of our workers proposed to present the gospel to the people; but they did not succeed in obtaining the hall, because a school-teacher there opposed the truth, and declared to the people that Seventh-day Adventists did not believe in the divinity of Christ. This man may not have known what our faith is on this point, but he was not left in ignorance. He was informed that THERE IS NOT A PEOPLE ON EARTH WHO HOLD MORE FIRMLY TO THE TRUTH OF CHRIST’S PRE-EXISTENCE THAN DO SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS. But the answer was given that they did not want that the doctrines of Seventh-day Adventists should be promulgated in that community. So the door was closed.” — RH, December 5, 1893 par. 5

In 1888 - Ellen White was burdened that the Christian churches of America needed to know the truth about God and His Son and that those churches were in Idolatry.

“I feel my spirit stirred within me. I feel to the depth of my being that the truth must be borne to other countries and nations, and to all classes. Let the missionaries of the cross proclaim that there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, who is Jesus Christ the Son of the Infinite God. This needs to be proclaimed throughout every church in our land. Christians need to know this, and not put man where God should be, that they may no longer be worshipers of idols, but of the living God. Idolatry exists in our churches. [Means had] better be employed to save souls from death, which would be placing jewels in the crown of Jesus Christ and stars in our own crowns in the kingdom of heaven.” — 1888 886.3

She sat with her husband in a train as he explained why they rejected the Trinity but believed in the Divinity of Christ:

“This missionary seemed very liberal in his feelings toward all Christians. But after catechizing us [James and Ellen White] upon the trinity, and finding that we were not sound upon the subject of his triune God, he became earnest in denouncing unitarianism, which takes from Christ his divinity, and leaves him but a man. Here, as far as our views were concerned, he was combating a man of straw. WE DO NOT DENY THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST. WE DELIGHT IN GIVING FULL CREDIT TO ALL THOSE STRONG EXPRESSIONS OF SCRIPTURE WHICH EXALT THE SON OF GOD. We believe him to be the divine person addressed by Jehovah in the words, " Let us make man." He was with the Father before the world was. He came from God, and he says, "I go to him that sent me." The apostle speaks of Christ as he now is, our mediator, having laid aside our nature. "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

“THE SIMPLE LANGUAGE OF THE SCRIPTURES REPRESENT THE FATHER AND SON AS TWO DISTINCT PERSONS. With this view of the subject there are meaning and force to language which speaks of the Father and the Son. But to say that Jesus Christ "is the very and eternal God," makes him his own son, and his own father, and that he came from himself, and went to himself. And when the Father sends Jesus Christ, whom the Heavens must receive till the times of restitution, it will simply be Jesus Christ, or the eternal Father sending himself.

“We have not as much sympathy with Unitarians that deny the divinity of Christ, as with Trinitarians who hold that the Son is the eternal Father, and talk so mistily about the three-one God. Give the Master all that divinity with which the Holy Scriptures clothe him.” — RH June 6, 1871

The attached picture is the official position from the Review and Herald in 1883. It was part of the fundamental principles (or beliefs) in 1883.

The attached picture is the official position from the Review and Herald in 1883. It was part of the fundamental principles (or beliefs) in 1883.

The "Declaration of Fundamental Principles Taught and Practiced by Seventh-day Adventists" consisting of 25 propositions largely written by James White was published as a pamphlet at Battle Creek, Michigan. This laid down a clear non-Trinitarian foundation and is not replaced or changed in any way until 1931. These propositions are based on 1 Cor. 8:6 and contain neither the term Godhead nor Trinity. First year that the Fundamental Principles were actually published in the Yearbook was 1889. Prior to 1981, the years of publish are 1905, 1909, 1913, 1914.  Then it goes dark but published again until it changed in 1931.  Then 1942, 1955, 1965-66, 1973-74, 1975, 1980, 1981.


1872 Fundamental Beliefs

1872 Fundamental Beliefs

1931 Fundamental Beliefs

1931 Fundamental Beliefs

1931 - This Yearbook with the new Statement of Beliefs is published without a vote or authority. The G.C President C.H. Watson is voted the authority to select a committee of four men of which he is a member, to prepare a statement for publication in the Yearbook. The four are G.C Associate, Secretary M.E Kern, Review editor F.M Wilcox, manager of Review and Herald E.R. Palmer, and G.C President C.H Watson. Francis McLellan Wilcox, editor for the Review and Herald (for 33 years), alone wrote up the new Statement of Beliefs with 22 Fundamental Beliefs with the approval of the committee and passes it over to Edson Rogers (G.C statistician from 1903-1941) who places it in the 1931 Yearbook. Le Roy Froom, a well respected Adventist theologian and a historian; would later claim there was a consensus because no one complained. He fails to mention the church was unaware of this action. President Watson knew, but did not seek to take official action. Thus the Statement of Beliefs is added not by approval of the G.C, but “by common consent” and is “accepted without challenge.” (Le Roy Froom, Movement of Destiny, p. 414)

1942 - same as 1931. Not a real trinity doctrine as Jesus is the Son of the Eternal Father. He is not called or referred to as co-equal, co-eternal as in what would happen in at the Dallas GC Conference in 1980.

1955 - Same as 1931 and 1942. While the Holy Spirit was labeled as the third person of the Godhead, there isn't a first person, second person identified. And the Holy Spirit was not called God.

1981 - The unbegotten theology and the separate and individual personhood of the Holy Spirit which was finally officially adopted in all its fulness. One God is now defined as "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons." 

Original 1872 Fundamental Principles; published as a pamphlet at Battle Creek, Michigan. View/Download HERE

Original 1889 SDA Yearbook (Fundamental Principles are found on pages 147 to 151).
View/Download HERE

Original 1905 SDA Yearbook ( Fundamental Beliefs on p. 188-192) View/Download HERE.

Original 1909 SDA Yearbook ( Fundamental Beliefs on p. 220-224) View/Download HERE.

Original 1913 SDA Yearbook ( Fundamental Beliefs on p. 281-285) View/Download HERE.

Original 1914 SDA Yearbook ( Fundamental Beliefs on p. 293-297) View/Download HERE.

Original 1931 SDA Yearbook ( Fundamental Beliefs on p. 377-380) View/Download HERE.

Original 1942 SDA Yearbook ( Fundamental Beliefs on p. 4-6) View/Download HERE.

Original 1955 SDA Yearbook ( Fundamental Beliefs on p. 4-5) View/Download HERE.

Original 1981 SDA Yearbook ( Fundamental Beliefs on p. 5-7) View/Download HERE.

For a full archive of the SDA Yearbooks click HERE.

Progressive Truth?

Adventists are told that it was progressive truth that took God's remnant Church from the non-Trinitarian view to the Trinity doctrine. They say, the church pioneers grew in their understanding not unlike other beliefs or practices such as eating of the unclean meat, Sunday keeping, tobacco chewing, Sabbath's opening and closing times, or the "shut door" theory, etc.

Nobody, whether Trinitarian or not, is arguing for a return to the above erroneous practices. Yes, of course, it's true that they at one point did all of these things. The Lord winked at their ignorance on these matters (Acts 17:30). Nevertheless, these practices are completely different from the non-trinitarian position the denomination held, and aren't even in the same category, for the following reason:

While practiced by some, the pioneers never made the above beliefs or practices into points of faith, or statements of belief. Ellen White never mentioned these matters as being true in any of her counsels nor did God give any messages to Ellen in support of these matters. As for their belief in the only true God, the Father, His only begotten literal Son Jesus Christ, and their Holy Spirit however were front and center in their statement of beliefs, were published in our prominent publications for many decades without a single rebuke and were affirmed by the living prophet.

Adventists are expected to believe that God gave many important truths to His remnant Church but never told them what the correct view was on the Godhead. The truth on the Godhead is just as important as the truth on the Sabbath as you cannot have true worship with the wrong ideas about God.

So often you hear Adventists say, “Ellen White was wrong about her understanding of God, and she came to the Trinitarian understanding later which also coincided with her writing The Desire of Ages.

Well, there is a problem with this. Not only was Ellen White a Methodist and most of the pioneers were also Protestants (with the exception of James White who was the ordained minister of Christian Connection-a non-Trinitarian church), and the Trinity doctrine was one of the pillars of Protestantism that came from Catholicism. So how is it that none of the pioneers or Ellen White was no longer Trinitarian according to their church affiliations? The answer should be obvious! Ellen White was raised a Methodist, and Methodists still worship a Trinity to this day. So she already knew about the Trinity. Ellen White received nearly 2000 visions and her first few visions revealed the truth that the Father is indeed a Father and Jesus is begotten literally and hence is the literal Son of God just as the Bible tells us over and over again.

So Ellen White could not have come out of the Trinity, accept the non-Trinitarian truth, and then go back to the Trinity again and be a true prophet. If one would only care enough to take the time to check, they would find that Ellen White wrote non-Trinitarian statements until her death. This means the quotes from her that have been abused and misunderstood are just that, abused and misunderstood.

Adventists are also expected to believe that God sent Ellen White from place to place correcting others with false doctrines while allowing her own Church to believe the worst false doctrine of all.

“I was sent by the Lord from place to place to rebuke those who were holding these false doctrines. There were those who were in danger of going into fanaticism, and I was bidden in the name of the Lord to give them a warning from heaven.” — (E.G. White, RH, May 25, 1905)

So, even though God instructed Ellen White to do this, God supposedly never told His own remnant that they were in error? Is it important to know if God and Christ are a real Father and Son or a 3 in 1 god that is just role playing? God would have corrected such an error. But He did not have to as He gave this truth as one of the pillars of faith from the beginning and why God also told her to recommend the non-Trinitarian writings of the pioneers.

The change to the Trinity doctrine took place very slowly over many decades. It did not get into the fundamental beliefs for 87 years and even then most did not know it had happened, and it was not official until 136 years after the Church began. There is only one spirit that does things slowly over time so as not to be noticed. That is the spirit of Satan!

But let's make this even clearer. The Lord also instructed Ellen White from the very beginning to correct others who were teaching false ideas regarding God more than once.

“After the passing of the time in 1844, we had fanaticism of every kind to meet. Testimonies of reproof were given me to bear to some holding spiritualistic theories. There were those who were active in disseminating false ideas in regard to God. Light was given me that these men were making the truth of no effect by their false teachings. I was instructed that they were misleading souls by presenting speculative theories regarding God. I went to the place where they were and opened before them the nature of their work. ... This is only one of the instances in which I was called upon to rebuke those who were presenting the doctrine of an impersonal God pervading all nature, and similar errors.” — (E.G. White, 3TT 270.4, 271.2)

With the above quote in mind consider the following.

  1. How could Ellen White correct others on false ideas and speculative theories about God if she was in error herself?

  2. Why would God be content for His own Church to be in error for decades and yet see the urgency to correct others?

  3. And why is there no record of her instructing a change to the Trinity doctrine? She never even used the word.

There is no record of Ellen White telling anyone she had become a Trinitarian and instructing the Church to change because she never did. If she failed to inform others of such a change, then she would have failed in her duty as a messenger of the Lord. Would God instruct Ellen White to go from place to place rebuking those holding false doctrines while allowing His own remnant Church to hold the worst false doctrine of all?

And how could God's prophet correct others on false ideas about Him if her own understanding was false? That is not even possible! God's remnant Church had the God given truth the entire time Ellen White was alive. It was not until after her death and that of the pioneers that error was able to be brought into the Adventist Church. So don't let anyone try and tell you that the change to the Trinity doctrine was progressive truth.

Stop and think about this for a moment. If the Trinity doctrine were true, then every mainstream Church that arose after the Protestant reformation which God calls the daughters of Babylon would have been the only Churches with truth. The only mainstream Church in error would have been God's very own remnant Church, which was also the only Church that had a real live prophet to guide them.

All the daughters of Babylon had the truth but God's remnant with its very own prophet was supposedly the only Church in error and God sent her to other places to correct others with false ideas and theories about God? Progressive truth they say! No, progressive error that was slowly brought in over time so as not to be noticed! The whole idea of progressive truth and God's very own remnant Church with a real live prophet to guide them being the only Church in error mocks and insults God.

Adventist’s adoption of the current trinitarian doctrine is not a progressive truth but a total reversal on the most important of all doctrines.

As many (actually almost all except John Harvey Kellogg as far as the prominent leadership was concerned) Adventists did not believe in the Trinity in the early years of the movement, it would only be proper for God to send Mrs White to correct their heretical views. But is this what she did? Answer: No.

If she didn't do this, it begs me to ask why she didn’t! Because she certainly rebuked against any other doctrine that tried to destroy the personalities of God, namely Kellogg’s pantheism.

"The spiritualization of heaven, God, Christ, and the coming of Christ lay at the foundation of much of the fanatical teachings that 17-year-old Ellen Harmon was called upon by God to meet in those formative days. THE VISIONS FIRMLY ESTABLISHED THE PERSONALITY OF GOD AND CHRIST, the reality of heaven and the reward to the faithful, and the resurrection. This sound guidance saved the emerging church." {1BIO 81.1} (Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862 (vol. 1))

Note: Through the visions of Ellen White, the doctrine regarding the personality of God and of Christ have been firmly established as part of our church's pillars of faith during Ellen White’s time. And yet it is clear that our church’s position has changed in this regard since then. There is no other significant changes to our church's previous doctrines other than what is now the Trinity doctrine that fits Ellen White's warning. 

Many do not realize that the non-Trinity doctrine is not the "new movement" which Sister White has warned us against in her writings but it is actually the other way around. It was the Trinity doctrine, which crept into our early church, many years after Ellen White's warning, that has led our church to discard its former beliefs and regard them as error.

Note: Ellen White received her first vision soon after the Great Advent Disappointment in December of 1844, which was first published in 1846. Learn more HERE

The Sabbath truth was clearly given to such men as Joseph Bates and Hiram Edson in the year 1846 and was shared with Ellen and James White. Learn more about how the early Adventists came to observe the Sabbath HERE.

Ellen White on the "shut door":

"For a time after the disappointment in 1844, I did hold, in common with the advent body, that the door of mercy was then forever closed to the world. THIS POSITION WAS TAKEN BEFORE MY FIRST VISION WAS GIVEN ME. It was the light given me of God that corrected our error, and enabled us to see the true position."--Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 63.

Ellen White's warning against changing the pillars of our faith:

"WHEN MEN WHO COME IN WHO WOULD MOVE ONE PIN OR PILLAR FROM THE FOUNDATION WHICH GOD HAS ESTABLISHED BY HIS HOLY SPIRIT, LET THE AGED MEN WHO WERE PIONEERS in our work speak plainly, and let those who are dead speak also, by the reprinting of their articles in our periodicals. Gather up the rays of divine light that God has given as He has led His people on step by step in the way of truth. This truth will stand the test of time and trial. — Manuscript 62, 1905, 6." (“A Warning against False Theories,” May 24, 1905.) {1MR 55.1}

“The past fifty years have not dimmed one jot or principle of our faith as we received the great and wonderful evidences that were made certain to us in 1844, after the passing of the time. ... Not a word is changed or denied.” — (E.G. White, Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7)

"The Three Angels’ Messages—The proclamation of the first, second, and third angel’s messages has been located by the word of Inspiration. NOT A PEG OR A PIN IS TO BE REMOVED. No human authority has any more right to change the location of these messages than to substitute the New Testament for the Old. The Old Testament is the gospel in figures and symbols. The New Testament is the substance. One is as essential as the other. The Old Testament presents lessons from the lips of Christ, and these lessons have not lost their force in any particular. THE FIRST AND SECOND MESSAGES WERE GIVEN IN 1843 AND 1844, and we are now under the proclamation of the third; but all three of the messages are still to be proclaimed. It is just as essential now as ever before that they shall be repeated to those who are seeking for the truth. By pen and voice we are to sound the proclamation, showing their order, and the application of the prophecies that bring us to the third angel’s message. THERE CANNOT BE A THIRD WITHOUT THE FIRST AND SECOND. These messages we are to give to the world in publications, in discourses, showing in the line of prophetic history the things that have been, and the things that will be.—Manuscript 32, 1896." {CW 26.2}

Did Ellen White changed and or matured in her understanding regarding the personality of God?

There are many people today who say that Ellen White changed and/or matured in her views regarding the personality of God and of Christ and became a trinitarian as proved by the book "The Desire of Ages."(Originally published 1898) 

Well, maybe we should take a closer look at what she herself had to say regarding her own faith.

"I should be an unfaithful watchman, were I to hold my peace, when I see the very foundations of our faith being torn away by those who have departed from the faith, and who are now adrift, without an anchor. In this time, when false doctrines are being taught, we are to teach THE SAME TRUTH that we have taught FOR THE PAST HALF CENTURY. I HAVE NOT CHANGED MY FAITH one jot or one tittle, and I am pleading with God that both of you shall be able to discern clearly the difference between loyalty and disloyalty. This God calls upon every physician and every minister to do." — Ellen G. White, Lt150-1906.9

Notice the date—1906 (8 years after she wrote The Desire of Ages). Ellen White said in 1906 that she had not changed her faith "one jot or one tittle" for the past half century.

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

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.

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, they were NEITHER (as far as how Arians/Semi-Arians are generally viewed 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' work, 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, raises legitimate doubts as to whether or not any of the Arius’ survived work is even authentic. You can find a few remaining original documents of the early Arian controversy HERE.

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 (this is not what our pioneers believed):

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 Christ’s pre-incarnate nature was NOT of the same substance as the Father; that the Son had a nature that was inferior to the Father (semi-Arians believe Christ had a nature that was similar but not the same).

3. They believe that the Son can have no direct knowledge of the Father since the Son is finite and 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 the 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:

4. They believe that the Holy Spirit is merely a force, an energy or a pervading essence.

What did our pioneers believe?

1. Not unlike the Arians and the Semi-Arians, our pioneers believed Christ had a point of origin, but NONE of our pioneers believed that Christ was a “creation” nor that He had an inferior nature than the Father. Rather, they believed Christ to be the literal “begotten” Son of God who possessed the same eternal nature 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)

2. Our pioneers believed 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, 193 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. Our pioneers also believed that the Holy Spirit is the Omnipresence of the Father and the Son and not a third separate being as the Trinity claims. They also viewed the Holy Spirit as a "personal" presence of God and Christ and not merely as an energy or a pervading essence.

“‘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)

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, p. 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)

SDA Statement of Beliefs 1872- 1889, Click HERE

SDA Revised Statement of Beliefs 1889 - 1931, Click HERE 

Notice what Ellen White says about the pillars of our faith:

“After the passing of the time in 1844 we searched for the truth as for hidden treasure. I met with the brethren, and we studied and prayed earnestly. Often we remained together until late at night, and sometimes through the entire night, praying for light and studying the Word. Again and again these brethren came together to study the Bible, in order that they might know its meaning, and be prepared to teach it with power. When they came to the point in their study where they said, 'We can do nothing more,' the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me. I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the Scriptures in regard to Christ, his mission, and his priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me.” (RH, May 25, 1905 par. 24)

If we notice carefully, Ellen White clearly recalls that "A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me".
This shows that God had given to Ellen White all the necessary pillars of truth which our church needed from the time she was writing forward until "we shall enter the city of God."

She also stated the following:

“Those who seek to remove the old landmarks are not holding fast; they are not remembering how they have received and heard. Those who try to bring in theories that would remove the pillars of our faith concerning the sanctuary or concerning the personality of God or of Christ, are working as blind men. They are seeking to bring in uncertainties and to set the people of God adrift without an anchor.” {760MR 9.5}

"Just such theories as you have presented in Living Temple were presented then. These subtle, deceiving sophistries have again and again sought to find place amongst us. But I have ever had the same testimony to bear which I now bear regarding the personality of God. Lt253-1903.9

“May 14, 1851, I saw the beauty and loveliness of Jesus. As I beheld His glory, the thought did not occur to me that I should ever be separated from His presence. I saw a light coming from the glory that encircled the Father, and as it approached near to me, my body shook and trembled like a leaf. I thought that if it should come near me, I would be struck out of existence; but the light passed me. Then could I have some sense of the great and terrible God with whom we have to do.” Lt253-1903.11

“I have often seen the lovely Jesus, that He is a person. I asked Him if His Father was a person, and had a form like Himself. Said Jesus, ‘I am the express image of My Father’s person!" Lt253-1903.12

Notice that the doctrine regarding the personality of God or of Christ was already been established during Ellen White’s time and she warned us not to change it. And yet it is clear that our church’s position has changed since then.

The Bible clearly teaches that no other foundation can be laid than Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11) If Adventism built a system of beliefs upon a view of Christ that was essentially incorrect, then the foundation is wrong and the entire system is wrong. This point cannot be sidelined or overlooked.

Statements about the Trinity made by the pioneer leaders of our church:

“My parents were members of long standing in the Congregational church, with all of their converted children thus far, and anxiously hoped that we would also unite with them. But they embraced some points in their faith which I could not understand. I will name two only: their mode of baptism, and doctrine of the trinity. My father, who had been a deacon of long standing with them, labored to convince me that they were right in points of doctrine... Respecting the trinity, I concluded that it was an impossibility for me to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, was also the Almighty God, the Father, one and the same being. I said to my father, 'If you can convince me that we are one in this sense, that you are my father, and I your son; and also that I am your father, and you my son, then I can believe in the trinity.'"  (The Autobiography of Elder Joseph Bates, p. 204, 1868)

The way spiritualizers have disposed of or denied the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ is first using the old unscriptural Trinitarian creed, viz., that Jesus Christ is the eternal God, though they have not one passage to support it, while we have plain scripture testimony in abundance that he is the Son of the eternal God.”  (James White, The Day Star, January 24, 1846)

“The greatest fault we can find in the Reformation is, the Reformers stopped reforming. Had they gone on, and onward, till they had left the last vestige of Papacy behind, such as natural immortality, sprinkling, the trinity, and Sunday-keeping, the church would now be free from her unscriptural errors.” (Review and Herald, February 7, 1856, vol. 7, no. 19, p. 148, par. 26)
— James White

“The inexplicable Trinity that makes the Godhead three in one and one in three, is bad enough; but that ultra Unitarianism that makes Christ inferior to the Father is worse. Did God say to an inferior, 'Let us make man in our image?'” (James White, Review and Herald, November 29, 1877)

“The Father was greater than the Son in that he was first.  The Son was equal with the Father in that he had received all things from the Father.” (James White, Review and Herald, Jan. 4, 1881)

“He (James White) received a commendation that few others have attained. God has permitted the precious light of truth to shine upon His word and illuminate the mind of my husband. He may reflect the rays of light from the presence of Jesus upon others by his preaching and writing.” (E.G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, p. 502)

“What a contradiction of terms is found in the language of Trinitarian creed: 'In unity of this head are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.' There are many things that are mysterious, written in the word of God, but we may safely presume the Lord never calls upon us to believe impossibilities. But creeds often do.” (A.J. Dennis, Signs Of The Times, May 22, 1879)

Christ is the only literal Son of God. 'The only begotten of the Father.' John 1:14. He is God because he is the Son of God; not by virtue of His resurrection. If Christ is the only begotten of the Father, then we cannot be begotten of the Father in a literal sense. It can only be in a secondary sense of the word.” (John Matteson, Review and Herald, Oct. 12, 1869)

“To say that the Son is as old as his Father, is a palpable contradiction of terms. It is a natural impossibility for the Father to be as young as the Son, or the Son to be as old as the Father.” (J. M. StephensonReview and Herald, Nov. 14, 1854)

“In 1 Cor. 15, I find that it is not the natural man that hath immortality; yet Paul assures the Romans that by patient continuance in well doing all could obtain immortality and eternal life. The doctrine called the trinity, claiming that God is without form or parts; that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the three are one person, is another. Could God be without form or parts when he 'spoke unto Moses face to face as a man speaketh unto a friend?' [Ex. 33:11] or when the Lord said unto him, 'Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me and live? And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by; and I will take away my hand and thou shalt see my back parts, but my face shall not be seen.' Ex. 33:20, 22, 23. Christ is the express image of his Father’s person. Heb. 1:3.” (Uriah SmithReview and Herald, July 10, 1856)

“And as to the Son of God, he would be excluded also, for he had God for his Father, and did, at some point in the eternity of the past, have beginning of days.” (J.N. Andrews, Review and Herald, Sept 7, 1869)

“The doctrine of the Trinity which was established in the church by the council of Nicea, A.D. 325. This doctrine destroys the personality of God, and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The infamous measures by which it was forced upon the church which appear upon the pages of ecclesiastical history might well cause every believer in that doctrine to blush.” (J.N. Andrews, Review and Herald, Mar. 6, 1855)

“The inconsistent positions held by many in regard to the Trinity, as it is termed, has, no doubt, been the prime cause of many other errors. Erroneous views of the divinity of Christ are apt to lead us into error in regard to the nature of the atonement. Viewing the atonement as an arbitrary scheme (and all must believe it to be so, who view Christ as the only 'very and eternal God'), has led to some of the arbitrary conclusions of one or two classes of persons; such as predestinarianism, Universalism, etc." (D.W. Hull, Review and Herald, Nov. 10, 1859)

Question: What serious objection is there to the doctrine of the Trinity?

Answer: There are many objections which we might urge, but on account of our limited space we shall reduce them to the three following: 1). It is contrary to common sense. 2). It is contrary to scripture. 3). Its origin is Pagan and fabulous." (J.N. Loughborough, Review and Herald, Nov. 5, 1861)

"It is not very consonant with common sense to talk of three being one, and one being three. Or as some express it, calling God 'the Triune God' or 'the three-one-God.'  If Father, Son and the Holy Ghost are each God, it would be three Gods; for three times one is not one, but three.” (Ibid)

“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 doctrine of the Trinity which was established in the church by the council of Nice, a. d. 325. This doctrine destroys the personality of God, and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The infamous measures by which it was forced upon the church, which appear upon the pages of ecclesiastical history might well cause every believer in that doctrine to blush.” (J.N. Andrews, The Three Angels of Revelation 14:6-12, 1855, p. 54.3)

“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, Looking Unto Jesus, 1898, p. 10.1)

Ellen White's Statements about the Pioneers:

Let Pioneers Identify Truth.--When the power of God testifies as to what is truth, that truth is to stand forever as the truth. No aftersuppositions, contrary to the light God has given are to be entertained. Men will arise with interpretations of Scripture which are to them truth, but which are not truth. The truth for this time, God has given us as a foundation for our faith. He Himself has taught us what is truth. One will arise, and still another, with new light which contradicts the light that God has given under the demonstration of His Holy Spirit.”  (Counsels to Writers and Editors, 1946, p. 31)

“Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid.”

When speaking of how the pioneers met for study in 1844-1848, Ellen White wrote,

“Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, [OLDER BRETHREN AMONG THE PIONEERS ARE HERE THUS REMINISCENTLY REFERRED TO. 'FATHER PIERCE' WAS STEPHEN PIERCE, WHO SERVED IN MINISTERIAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE WORK IN THE EARLY DAYS. 'FATHER ANDREWS' WAS EDWARD ANDREWS, THE FATHER OF J. N. ANDREWS.--COMPILERS.] Elder [Hiram] Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure. I met with them, and we studied and prayed earnestly. Often we remained together until late at night, and sometimes through the entire night, praying for light and studying the Word. Again and again these brethren came together to study the Bible, in order that they might know its meaning, and be prepared to teach it with power. When they came to the point in their study where they said, 'We can do nothing more,' the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me, I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively.” (1 Selected Messages, pp. 206, 207) 

“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 (Pillars of the Faith) that has been established is to be strengthenedWe cannot now step off the foundation (Foundational Beliefs) that God has established. We cannot now enter into any new organization, for this would mean apostasy from the truth.”  (Underscore and emphasis supplied) (Testimony Treasures, Vol. 2, p. 365, 1905)

•“Those who seek to remove the old landmarks are not holding fast; they are not remembering how they have received and heard. Those who try to bring in theories that would remove the pillars of our faith concerning the sanctuary or concerning the personality of God or of Christ, are working as blind men. They are seeking to bring in uncertainties and to set the people of God adrift without an anchor.” (SPTB, 1902 [MR760] p.9, par.5)

“Truths of 1844-46 Abide —I do not wish to ignore or drop one link in the chain of evidence that was formed as, after the passing of the time in 1844, little companies of seekers after truth met together to study the Bible and to ask God for light and guidance. . . . The truth, point by point, was fastened in our minds so firmly that we could not doubt. . . .The evidence given in our early experience has the same force that it had then. The truth is the same as it ever has been, and not a pin or a pillar can be moved from the structure of truth. That which was sought for out of the Word in 1844, 1845, and 1846 remains the truth in every particular.” (Letter 38, 1906, pp. 1,2 [MS])

“Post 1844 Truths Unchangeable The truths given us after the passing of the time in 1844 are just as certain and unchangeable as when the Lord gave them to us in answer to our urgent prayers. The visions that the Lord has given me are so remarkable that we know that what we have accepted is the truth. This was demonstrated by the Holy Spirit. Light, precious light from God, established the main points of our faith as we hold them today.” (Letter 50, p. 3, par. 4 [1906 MS])

“Waymarks Must Be Preserved —At this time many efforts will be made to unsettle our faith in the sanctuary question; but we must not waver. Not a pin is to be moved from the foundations of our faith. Truth is still truth. Those who become uncertain will drift into erroneous theories, and will finally find themselves infidel in regard to the past evidence we have had of what is truth. The old waymarks must be preserved, that we lose not our bearings.”  (Letters 395, 1906, p. 4 [1906MS])

In Matthew 16:13-17, there is a very interesting conversation between Jesus and His disciples. Jesus said, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”  The disciples then gave some answers like Elijah and Jeremiah. Jesus then said, “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter's answer was absolutely correct. He said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus confirmed Peter's answer, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Peter knew that Jesus was and is the real Son of God!

Is it a coincidence that Jesus follows Peter's confession that He is the Son of God with a confirmation that He will build His church upon that solid foundation?  “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven…” (Matt. 16:18, 19)

The belief that Jesus is the literal Son of God is the heart of the gospel. Take out the foundation and the building crumbles around it.  With that thought in mind, let's look for a minute at what the Scripture teaches us about the Antichrist. 

The apostle John calls those who denies Christ as God’s Son, Antichrists. Ellen White confirms this also.

“Here the apostle has pointed out one of the marked characteristics of spiritualist teachers. They refuse to acknowledge Christ as the Son of God. Concerning such teachers the beloved John declares: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father.” 1 John 2:22, 23. Spiritualism, by denying Christ, denies both the Father and the Son, and the Bible pronounces it the manifestation of antichrist.” — (E.G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 686.1)

The Omega of Deadly Heresies--John Harvey Kellogg

John Harvey Kellogg, 1852-1943

John Harvey Kellogg, 1852-1943

Ellen White prophesied of what she termed “the Omega of Deadly Heresies”. In 1904 she said it was yet to come. Back in the early 1900’s a book was published by John Harvey Kellogg called “The Living Temple”. John Harvey Kellogg, famous for his advanced research in the health field, was an influential figure within the church. This book had what Ms. White termed as the “Alpha of Deadly Heresies”. She envisioned an “omega that would follow in a little while.” She tells us that it would be in respect to the “presence and personality of God.” Here is what she wrote:

Living Temple contains the ALPHA of these theories. I knew that the OMEGA would follow in a little while; and I trembled for our people. I knew that I must warn our brethren and sisters not to enter into controversy over the presence and personality of God…” (Selected Messages bk.1, p. 203, 1904)

Ellen White tells us that “the omega would follow”. She was certain of it. And she also tells us that it would be in regard to the “presence and personality of God”. The first and great doctrine of the church has to do with our God according to Jesus Christ. And this is the issue in which she said the “omega” would be regarding.

Kellogg stated,

“Suppose now we have a boot before us–not an ordinary boot, but a living boot, and as we look at it, we see little boots crowding out at the seams, pushing out at the toes, dropping off at the heels, and leaping out at the top–scores, hundreds, thousands of boots, a swarm of boots continually issuing from our living boot–would we not be compelled to say, 'There is a shoemaker in the boot'? So there is present in the tree a power which creates and maintains it, a tree-maker in the tree."—(John Harvey Kellogg, The Living Temple, p. 29)

What Kellogg had come to believe was that God was in everything. Not recognizing that God is a literal being and that God’s power or Spirit is in everything. The Holy Spirit is referred to at times in the Bible as “the presence of God”.

Kellogg was promoting strange ideas, an impersonal God, one that could be made up of everything, or was in everything. Ellen White explained to Kellogg following these teachings that a person could eventually end up worshipping trees, stones, shoes, etc.

“You are not definitely clear on the personality of God, which is everything to us as a people. You have virtually destroyed the Lord God Himself.” (Ellen White wrote to John Harvey Kellogg, Letter 300 1903)

NOTE: Here we find Ellen White admonishing Kellogg's errors which he held in regards to the personality of God. It's worth noting that the subject of the personality of God, according to Ellen White was very important. She stated, "which is everything to us as a people." Yet not a single statement of hers can be found rebuking the "errors" held by our pioneers, the non-Trinitarian views.

Misunderstanding and Misquoting Ellen White

“As far as I can fathom, the difficulty which is found in the Living Temple, the whole thing may be simmered down to this question: is the Holy Ghost a person. You say no. I had supposed the Bible said this for the reason that the personal pronoun he is used in speaking of the Holy Ghost. Sister White uses the pronoun he and has said in as many words that the Holy Ghost is the third person of the Godhead. How the Holy Ghost can be the third person and not be a person at all is difficult for me to see.” (Dr. John Harvey Kellogg wrote to G. I Butler on Oct 28, 1903 concerning ‘The Living Temple’)

In the quote above from Kellogg, we see clearly he is not in agreement with Butler and that Butler is not on board respecting the person of the Holy Spirit.

Why was Ellen White telling Kellogg that he isn’t clear on “the personality of God”? He did not understand her use of the word “person” and the word “Godhead” which is not the same word as “God”. Ellen White wrote to G.I. Butler about the misuse of her writings. Please note that Ellen White was not rebuking Butler for his non-Trinitarian stance. She is talking about men like Kellogg:

There are some, who upon accepting erroneous theories, strive to establish them by collecting from my writings statements of truth, which they use, separated from their proper connection and perverted by association with error.” .—Letter 136, April 27, 1906, to Brethren Butler, Daniels, and Irwin." (Ellen White, 1906, This Day with God, p. 126)

She goes on to speak about this misuse and misunderstanding of her statements such as what Kellogg had done.

“In the controversy that arose among our brethren regarding the teachings of this book, those in favor of giving it a wide circulation declared: ‘It contains the very sentiments that Sister White has been teaching.’ This assertion struck right to my heart. I felt heartbroken; for I knew that this representation of the matter was not true.” (1SM 203)

“I am compelled to speak in denial of the claim that the teachings of Living Temple can be sustained by statements from my writings. There may be in this book expressions and sentiments that are in harmony with my writings. And there may be in my writings many statements which, taken from their connection, and interpreted according to the mind of the writer of Living Temple, would seem to be in harmony with the teachings of this book. This may give apparent support to the assertion that the sentiments in Living Temple are in harmony with my writings. But God forbid that this sentiment should prevail.” (1SM 203)

Ellen White was not in agreement with Kellogg’s views. She felt that John Harvey Kellogg had taken her statements out of their context. Kellogg was saying to Butler that he felt Ellen agreed with him regarding the Holy Spirit being a person like the Father and Son, but in the letters we have between Butler and Ellen, she agrees with Butler and is out of harmony with Kellogg.

To learn more on John Harvey Kellogg and the Trinity Doctrine, click HERE.

There are many individuals that have pointed to our church's switch to a Trinitarian theology as the Omega of apostasy (or heresies) that Ellen White warned us about (Selected Messages Bk. 1, p. 203, 204).  Could the switch to this position, in changing the foundation upon which we are now building, be the reason that we are seeing so much of our distinctiveness as a people eroding away? It's very interesting to note Ellen White's statement in regard to the Omega of apostasy:

"We have now before us the alpha of this danger. The omega will be of a most startling nature. We need to study the words that Christ uttered in the prayer that He offered just before His trial and crucifixion. 'These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.'" (Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 197)

Revisionist Theology-D. M. Canright's role in the introduction of trinity to SDA


Dudley Marvin Canright and his criticisms played a significant role in the introduction of the doctrine of the trinity within Seventh-day Adventism.

For 22 years, Dudley Melvin Canright defended the message, the movement, and the beliefs of the Advent people. Evangelist, debator, and fierce opponent of the Trinity doctrine, Canright had been the first to state that Christ “was begotten of the Father’s own substance,” an expression later repeated by EJ Waggoner and then Ellen White.

But in 1887, just one year before the 1888 Minneapolis General Conference, after years of depression and confession, he left the Adventist communion to write his book, “Seventh-Day Adventism Renounced,” which was published 1889. In it he charged SDAs with rejecting the Trinity and therefore the divinity of Christ.

“Dudley Marvin Canright was a prominent leader in Seventh-day Adventism and had an on again, off again relationship with the church. He left the fold for the final time in 1887 and in 1889 he published his book Seventh-day Adventism Renounced. Its import is best explained by the historian Gary Land. "His book Seventh- day Adventism Renounced became the chief weapon used by Evangelicals against Seventh-day Adventists..." (Adventism in America: a history - Page 105, Gary Land -1986).  

The linked article below by Jason Smith examines the theory that the 1888 meetings were the impetus that first introduced the trinity into Adventism in a positive sense. Contrary to that theory, the article suggests that it was actually a reaction to D.M. Canright. 

For further study, click HERE for the article, Dudley Canright and the SDA trinity.

LeRoy Froom and His Influence

LeRoy Froom, one of the main persons responsible for Adventists to accept the Trinity doctrine:

LeRoy Froom: (October 16, 1890 – February 20, 1974) was a Seventh-day Adventist minister and historian whose many writings have been recognized by the church. He was also a central figure in the meetings with evangelicals that led to the publication of the Adventist theological book, Questions on Doctrine; he authored such books as The Coming of the Comforter, 4 Volumes of Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Movement of Destiny, and the notable compilation of the writings of Ellen G. White, Evangelism.

LeRoy E. Froom, 1890-1974

LeRoy E. Froom, 1890-1974

So how did the central doctrine of the Catholic Church end up as a doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventist faith? It may come as a surprise to many that LeRoy Froom was largely responsible for introducing the Trinity doctrine into the Adventist Church, and purposefully set about to promote its acceptance and institute it into the beliefs of the Church.

LeRoy Froom set out to search over 100,000 pages of her writings (25,000,000 words) for anything that could be mistaken as being Trinitarian and managed to find a small handful of quotes that he rightly figured could. He then placed these quotes into a book called Evangelism. Most think that the quotes called “EV” or “Evangelism” are from a book written by Ellen White. But it was a compilation by Froom in 1946 which was 30 years after the death of Ellen White.

While we may not know his true intent, Froom compiled various “Trinitarian” quotes from Ellen White in the book Evangelism (mostly found in pages 613 to 617) where she appears to have written Trinitarian statements such as “third person”, “three great powers”, and “Heavenly trio” etc.

It so happened that the collection of these statements in the book Evangelism (mostly found in pages 613 to 617) presents only one side of the story when it comes to the personality of God. It has left out volumes of evidence in dealing with the Holy Spirit and the personality of God that would give you a full, comprehensive understanding on the subject.

Unfortunately, Evangelism became the go to book in defending the Trinity doctrine of the church. Too many people go to this single book, and they stop there and the subject is already settled in their minds; they don’t see what is left out. They fail to realize that the representations of the Godhead in the book is not the whole picture but only a partial truth and therefore dishonest. But even so, most say, "the views contained in these few statements (that are found in Evangelism) are clear enough and therefore we don’t need to go any further.” They fail to include volumes of statements that would bring much clarity to many misunderstandings and false representations.

This is how Froom eventually managed to lead the majority of the Adventist Church astray because people did not take the time to research what else Ellen White wrote in this regard. She in fact wrote numerous non-Trinitarian statements right through to her death, which is very easy to confirm if people would only take the time to look without prejudice.

What Le Roy Froom did:

1) Falsify the history about the original SDA pioneer position regarding the trinity. This revisionist history can be seen in the books Questions on Doctrine and Movement of Destiny. While Froom is not the originator of this tactic he is most certainly the key perpetuater and popularizer of it.

2) Burn evidence to the contrary. This little known fact reveals much about Mr. Froom. True historians do not burn the source material yet Froom did! When I learned about this I was not even surprised. It fit the pattern perfectly because based on the personal letters that he received LeRoy Froom actually knew the truth but chose to lie anyway. It's just more dishonest, underhanded tactics on Froom's part.

3) Promote unbegottenism by introducing new theology and playing a part in having the old pioneer references to the begotten Son expunged. Due to this Froom is certainly culpable for the psuedo-tritheistic doctrine that exists in Adventism today.

4) Manipulate the inspired data from the Spirit of prophecy. Froom did this on a few subjects. Basically he used partial data presentations, out of context quotations and ellipses to make Mrs. White seem like she was supporting doctrines that she really was not (i.e. trinity, [pre-fall, sinless flesh] nature of Christ, [completed] atonement [at Calvary]) [brackets added for clarity]

It is also notable that LeRoy Froom did not start with the Bible and then move on to the writings of Ellen White. Instead he did the exact opposite. He actually began with the writings of Ellen White in order to try and find support for his belief. The fact is that Froom's belief in the Trinity and the Holy Spirit came from outside of the Seventh-day Adventist faith, and he set out to try and support it with statements from the Spirit of Prophecy. The reason LeRoy Froom had to go to outside sources, rather than use writings from our Pioneers is because none of the early pioneers were Trinitarians and therefore did not agree with Froom's opinions. This is also why Froom had to wait until Ellen White and the pioneers had all passed away before he could try and achieve his goal. How could this be a greater light as they called it a hundred years later?

“I was compelled to search out a score of valuable books written by men outside of our faith--those previously noted--for initial clues and suggestions... The next logical and inevitable step… involved REVISION of certain standard works, so as to ELIMINATE statements that taught, and thus perpetuated ERRONEOUS views on the Godhead ” (LeRoy Froom, Movement of Destiny, p. 322, 422)

In his book “Movement of Destiny”, which was published in 1971, he tells us how he came to write about the Holy Spirit and believe in the Trinity. How much of what he wrote is truth as he understood is unknown considering other facts. He states that what he calls the “Truth of the Trinity” was an inevitable evolution in our theology stemming from the 1888 Conference and message. He concludes his brief account by claiming that the book The Desire of Ages presented an “inspired depiction” of the Trinity doctrine and because of this it has become our denominations' “accepted position.” And yet the Desire of Ages is filled with non-Trinitarian statements.

LeRoy Froom boasts that the Desire of Ages was even publicized in a prominent Catholic journal. Here are his own words, “...The Desire of Ages, of course, presented an inspired depiction, and was consequently destined to become the denominationally accepted position.... The Desire of Ages.... is one of the most highly esteemed books of the Denomination--a recognized classic, even publicized in such a Catholic journal as the “Universal Fatima News” for September 1965.” (Movement of Destiny; pp. 323, 324). As a professed Seventh-day Adventist, why would he be so proud of its endorsement and publicity in a Catholic Journal? That is what you would expect from a Catholic, not an Adventist.

The book Truth Triumphant written by Adventist theologian Dr. B.G. Wilkinson is an exhaustive study of the history of God's Church in the wilderness and contained statements against the Catholic Church. Froom was angry about the book and ordered the destruction of the offset press plates so the book could not be reprinted. Wilkinson was 80 years of age at this point and could not afford to have the plates made again. Why would an Adventist do such a thing unless of course he was a Catholic? Something is very wrong here and I am inclined to believe the testimony.

On the 14 December 1955, LeRoy Froom in a letter to Reuben Figuhr wrote, “I was publicly denounced in the chapel at the Washington Missionary College by Dr. B. G. Wilkinson as the most dangerous man in this denomination.” This took place in the mid 1940's. I believe Dr. B.G. Wilkinson had very good reason for saying this, much to the disgruntlement of Froom.

Note that the “old timers” described in Froom's letter below are our pioneers. They are the ones who knew what the Church believed while Ellen White was alive and they denied the doctrine of the Trinity Froom was pushing. So who was left to oppose Froom once Ellen white and the pioneers had passed on?

“May I state that my book, The Coming of the Comforter, was the result of a series of studies that I gave in 1927-28, to ministerial institutes throughout North America. You cannot imagine how I was pummeled by some of the old timers because I pressed on the personality of the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Godhead. Some men denied that –-still deny it. But the book has come to be generally accepted as standard.”  (Letter of LeRoy Froom to Otto H. Christensen, October 27, 1960)

The following letter from Froom reveals his agenda was to try and convince others that Ellen White was a Trinitarian for the sole purpose of getting the Church to follow his direction. Here is the letter to Roy Allen Anderson revealing its intent and purpose. The abused and misunderstood quotes from Ellen White are still being used to pervert the truth today.

“I am sure that we are agreed in evaluating the book Evangelism as one of the great contributions in which the Ministerial Association had a part back in those days. You know what it did with men in the Columbia Union who came face to face with the clear, unequivocal statements of the Spirit of Prophecy on the Deity of Christ, personality of the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, and the like. They either had to lay down their arms and accept those statements, or else they had to reject the Spirit of Prophecy.
I know that you and Miss Kleuser and I had considerable to do with the selection of these things under the encouragement of men like Elder Branson who felt that the earlier concept of the White Estate brethren on this book Evangelism was not adequate.” (Letter from LeRoy Froom to Roy A. Anderson, January 18, 1966)

Froom found “every” major statement from Ellen White that could be abused and misunderstood which means he literally had to look at everything she wrote. Could he be so deceived that he could not tell the difference between a non-Trinitarian and Trinitarian statement? Highly unlikely. He had no trouble finding every single statement that could be misunderstood so he had to know the difference. That means Froom saw the tens of thousands of non-Trinitarian statements that she wrote throughout her entire life. And he would also know that she wrote non-Trinitarian statements right through to her death. So LeRoy Froom had to know Ellen White never became a Trinitarian. How could all that he did not be intentional?

Ask yourself what the following points reveal about LeRoy Froom and his agenda:

1) He looked to sources outside the Adventist Church because he couldn't find anything within our writings to fit his agenda.
2) He searched 100,000 pages (25,000,000 words) of Ellen White's writings for anything that could be misunderstood.
3) He wrote his book Evangelism after a trip to the Vatican in which he placed the misunderstood quotes he found.
4) When Adventists use these quotes they almost always have Froom's book as the source and yet he did not write them.
5) Hence most Adventist Trinitarians believe that Evangelism was written by Ellen White, further revealing the deception.
6) Froom boasted that the Desire of Ages was even publicized in a prominent Catholic journal.
7) He wrote that the Desire of Ages was an inspired depiction of the Trinity doctrine and why it is now accepted by the Church.
8) Yet the Desire of Ages is a non-Trinitarian book proven by all the non-Trinitarian statements, again revealing the deception.
9) Froom wrote a letter stating that the pioneers in their old age strongly opposed the Trinity doctrine that he was pushing.
10) Froom had the printing plates of a book destroyed that was not his that revealed many truths about the Catholic Church.
11) It is “alleged” that Froom was seen functioning as a Catholic priest prior to entering the Adventist Church.
12) Dr. B.G. Wilkinson publicly denounced Froom as being the most dangerous man in the Adventist Church.
13) Froom wrote a letter stating how he was able to change the Church by the Spirit of Prophecy quotes he searched for.

Ellen White said serious error would be brought into the Adventist Church after her death, and Revelation 12:17 states that Satan would make war with God's remnant. So how far can and would Satan go? Could some Adventist pastors have the spirit of Satan while thinking they have the Holy Spirit? Most would say no.

“I saw that Satan was working through agents in a number of ways. He was at work through ministers, who have rejected the truth, and are given over to strong delusions to believe a lie that they might be damned. While they were preaching, or praying some would fall prostrate and helpless; not by the power of the Holy Ghost, no, no; but by the power of Satan breathed upon these agents and through them to the people. Some professed Adventists who had rejected the present truth, while preaching, praying or in conversation used Mesmerism to gain adherents, and the people would rejoice in this influence, for they thought it was the Holy Ghost. And even some that used it, were so far in the darkness and deception of the Devil, that they thought it was the power of God, given them to exercise.” (E.G. White, Review and Herald, August 1, 1849)

Click HERE to learn more about how LeRoy Froom systematically altered the course of Adventist history.