Comment on Adventist Review: Pastors Who Don’t Believe by Harold Peters.
For many months I have been following issues on this website and have benefited from much of what has been written. However, in my opinion, this particular thread has degenerated into a slugging match between antagonists–accusations and counter-accusations–rather than a carefully reasoned discussion of the topic. This is not worthy of the topic or those participating in the discussion.
Regrettably, many of the posts on this thread seem to be a direct violation of the published “Comment Guidelines”, adding much more heat to the discussion than light. I encourage each one, including those running the website, to prayerfully consider the following points from the Comment Guidelines before making your comments.
* All comments should be relevant to the topics addressed in the post.
* All comments should be civil. Personal attacks and inflammatory behavior will not be tolerated. If you want to praise or criticize, give examples as to why it is good or bad. General attacks on a person or idea will not be tolerated. If you are are attacked, don’t respond in-kind. Alert staff to the situation by email.
* No belittling of individual members, their character, or their motives.
* Only rebut issues, not the members who write them.
I would add one further suggestion to the above. If someone makes a personal attack against you over something you wrote, refuse to take it personally. It is not necessary to defend yourself against every charge. Most of the readers are quite capable of sorting out the absurd from the legitimate and identifying the truly relevant issues. If someone slams you, don’t rise up in “righteous” indignation; instead, graciously ignore the insult and let truth speak for itself. I am sure that your readers will think more highly of you for demonstrating such restraint.
I believe that following these guidelines at all times will bring a civility to the discussion that this thread presently seems to be lacking. Thanks.
Recent Comments by Harold Peters
‘Yes, Creation!’ at the General Conference Session
As I have reviewed this stream of messages, I have felt rather uncomfortable with the personal nature that some of them seem to take. Most participants to the discussion have strongly held views, and that is to be expected, but a number of these messages seem to be emotive statements of the “you-just-don’t-understand-what-I-am-saying” type.
Many years ago while preparing for doctoral research, I received some very valuable advice from my research methods instructor. “Don’t ever assume”, he exclaimed one day, “that the reader of your research will know how you are defining your terms. Be sure that at the beginning of your report, paper, or dissertation, you clearly and precisely define each of your significant terms, and then consistently use those definitions throughout your paper.”
May I humbly suggest that if we would follow that advice each time we make comments on this website we might significantly enhance the communication process, diminish or eliminate misunderstandings and, hopefully, facilitate speaking more respectfully to one another. Instead of interpretation by inference, followed by the berating of one another for perceived misuse of terms, we could engage in a true dialog of ideas.
There is nothing in this method that guarantees agreement on the issues–that is highly unlikely to happen unless we could all agree to start with the same presuppositions–but I believe it would lead to the generation of more light and far less heat.
Notice of constituency meeting of the NCC
A search of Ellen White’s writings lists 50 uses of the phrase “servant of the Lord”. The term is used in reference to Enoch, Moses, William Miller, David, Elder Haskell, Elisha, Daniel, and pastors; and, in the EGW biography and a letter from church leaders to EGW, the term was used to refer to Ellen White. Ellen White used the term “messenger of the Lord” similarly.
And yes, upon occasion she–and others–prefaced the terms “messenger of the Lord” and “servant of the Lord” with the article “the”. A perusal (not exhaustive) of these occasions suggests that when the words “Messenger” and “Servant” are used to refer to deity they are capitalized and either the context clearly shows it is referring to God or it contains the modifying adjective “heavenly”.
It is interesting that while EGW had no issue with people referring to her as a prophet, she chose to refer to herself as a messenger of the Lord, saying that the heavenly Messenger who spoke to her referred to her in that way.
She writes, “Early in my youth I was asked several times, Are you a prophet? I have ever responded, I am the Lordâ€™s messenger. I know that many have called me a prophet, but I have made no claim to this title. My Saviour declared me to be His messenger. ‘Your work,’ He instructed me, ‘is to bear My word. Strange things will arise, and in your youth I set you apart to bear the message to the erring ones, to carry the word before unbelievers, and with pen and voice to reprove from the Word actions that are not right. Exhort from the Word. I will make My Word open to you. It shall not be as a strange language. In the true eloquence of simplicity, with voice and pen, the messages that I give shall be heard from one who has never learned in the schools. My Spirit and My power shall be with you'” (1 SM 32).
I greatly appreciate the spirit of humility with which Ellen White approached her God-given assignment. At no time does she use titles or terms to build herself up. Rather, her writings consistently lift up Jesus, our Creator, our Redeemer, our High Priest, our Coming King. If only we would always emulate her in this regard!
Notice of constituency meeting of the NCC
Denver, I have been generally impressed with your comments, especially your post of April 6 in another thread. However, having grown up in an Adventist home and having worked for the church for forty years in the U.S., Africa, and the South Pacific, and having served in a variety of capacities, including the teaching for many years of a college class on spiritual gifts, I was very surprised to see you suggesting that Adventists refer to Ellen White as “the Spirit of Prophecy.”
Personally, I have never for a moment thought that the term “Spirit of Prophecy” applied to her personally, but rather to the spiritual gift of prophecy bestowed upon all true prophets–including Ellen White–by the Holy Spirit, and, by extension, to the messages that they spoke or wrote under the direction and influence of the Holy Spirit. With specific regard to Ellen White, that would include the many Spirit-inspired messages that have been published for the edification of the church as a result of her 70 years of Spirit-directed ministry.
After reading your comments, I thought maybe I should check with the SDA Bible Dictionary to see if I have missed something. Here is the entry in its entirety.
“SPIRIT OF PROPHECY. An expression in Rev. 19:10 used by Seventh-day Adventists with several meanings. The text declares, â€œThe testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.â€ This means that Jesus is witnessing to the church through the medium of prophecy. James White interpreted this verse as follows in his Life Sketches: ‘The spirit, soul, and substance of prophecy, is the testimony of Jesus Christ. Or, the voice of the prophets relative to the plan and work of human redemption, is the voice of the Redeemer. Christ undertook the work of redemption, and who should inspire a book upon the subject but the Redeemer Himself?’ (1880 ed., pp. 335, 336).
“By extension of meaning, G. I. Butler, longtime president of the General Conference, defined the term spirit of prophecy as ‘that spirit which causes certain persons to prophesy.’ ‘This Spirit,’ he wrote, ‘comes upon certain ones. They speak as they are moved upon by this Spirit. Future events or things necessary for the well-being of the church to know are thus revealed'(Review and Herald 43:193, June 2, 1874; cf. 3SG 56).
“By still further extension, Seventh-day Adventists apply the term spirit of prophecy to the operation of the gift of prophecy, one of the ‘gifts’ of the Spirit (see 1 Cor. 12:4, 7â€“11, 28; Eph. 4:11â€“13), and thus to the literary productions of Ellen G. White, a cofounder of the church and one whom Seventh-day Adventists regard as having been the recipient of the gift of prophecy in the Bible sense of a duly accredited and authoritative spokesperson for God.
“Definition of ‘the testimony of Jesus’ as ‘the spirit of prophecy’ in Rev. 19:10 characterizes possession of the gift as one of two specific marks for identifying ‘the remnant’ church brought to view in Rev. 12:17: ‘And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ The gift of prophecy, which came to Ellen Harmon (White) in 1844, confirmed the faith of Seventh-day Adventist pioneers in their movement as the one portrayed in this Bible prophecy, as the remnant of the seed of the woman in earthâ€™s last days, a church that keeps ‘the Commandments of God’ and in which was manifested ‘the testimony of Jesus Christ,’ or the ‘spirit of prophecy’ (James White, in the Review and Herald 7:172, Feb. 28, 1856). SDA pioneers similarly recognized the prophecy of Joel 2:28â€“32, with its reference to the last days, to ‘the remnant,’ and to the manifestation of the gift of prophecy, as an appropriate inspired description of their own experience (R. F. Cottrell, in Review and Herald 11:126, Feb. 25, 1858).
“The Spirit of Prophecy is the name of four volumes in which Mrs. White presented a sequence of Bible biographies (1870â€“1884). This set was the forerunner of her present five-volume Conflict of the Ages Series (see White, Ellen G., Writings of).
“Relation to the Bible. In accord with the historic Protestant position, Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible and the Bible only as the Christianâ€™s rule of faith and practice, and believe it to be in its entirety the true, reliable, and authoritative word of God in human language (see Bible; Inspiration of Scriptures). Seventh-day Adventists acknowledge the prophetic gift apart from the Sacred Canon as having operated prior to, during, and since the composition of the Bible, but affirm that the canonical Scriptures constitute the norm by which all other prophetic messages are to be tested. They believe that this gift has never been permanently withdrawn, but has been manifested now and again throughout history, and belongs to the church today. The canon of Scripture is Godâ€™s message to all people of all ages; extracanonical revelation belongs to those to whom it is originally addressed.
“Seventh-day Adventists accept Ellen Whiteâ€™s writings as representing the work of the prophetic gift, but not as taking the place of the Bible or as constituting an addition to it. That is the view that she herself maintained: ‘Brother J would confuse the mind by seeking to make it appear that the light God has given through the Testimonies is an addition to the word of God, but in this he presents the matter in a false light. God has seen fit in this manner to bring the minds of His people to His word to give them a clearer understanding of it’ 4T 246).
â€œ’The word of God is sufficient to enlighten the most beclouded mind and may be understood by those who have any desire to understand it. . . . To leave men and women without excuse God gives plain and pointed testimonies, bringing them back to the word that they have neglected’ (2T 454, 455).
â€œ’The written testimonies are not to give new light, but to impress vividly upon the heart the truths of inspiration already revealed’ (ibid. 605).
“Ellen White referred to her counsels as ‘a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light’ (Review and Herald 80:15, Jan. 20, 1903).
â€œ’The Spirit was not givenâ€”nor can it ever be bestowedâ€”to supersede the Bible; for the Scriptures explicitly state that the word of God is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested’ (GC vii).
“In a foreword to volume 1 of Ellen Whiteâ€™s Spiritual Gifts (1858), Roswell F. Cottrell stated the substance of what has ever since been the denominational position with respect to the gift of prophecy as manifested in Mrs. White. Cottrell recognized the unique position of the Bible as the criterion by which all claims to prophesying must be evaluated. By various texts (Mark 16:15â€“18; Matt. 28:19, 20; 1 Cor. 12:28; 13:8â€“13; Eph. 4:11â€“13; 1 Thess. 5:19â€“21; Joel 2:28â€“32; Rev. 12:17; cf. 19:10; 22:9; 1 Cor. 1:4â€“7) he demonstrated that the Bible itself points to a continuing divine-human channel of communication, and particularly to a renewal of the gifts of the Spirit preceding the promised return of Christ to this earth.”
After carefully reviewing the above, I then went to the SDA Bible Commentary for Revelation 19:10 and the Additional note at the end of the chapter. Here is what I found:
Spirit of prophecy. For the word â€œprophecy,â€ compare the word â€œprophetâ€ in Matt. 11:9. The Holy Spirit was sent to bear testimony to Jesus (John 15:26), and His witness is equivalent to that of Jesus in person. The Spirit of prophecy is one of the gifts of the Spirit (see on 1 Cor. 12:10; Eph. 4:11). For the manifestation of this gift among the people of God in the last days see Additional Note at end of chapter; see on ch. 12:17.
ADDITIONAL NOTE ON CHAPTER 19
In ch. 12:17 John speaks of â€œthe testimony of Jesusâ€ which is â€œthe spirit of prophecyâ€ as one of the identifying marks of the â€œremnantâ€ (see comment there).
The word â€œprophecyâ€ describes any inspired message communicated by God through a prophet (see on Matt. 11:9). Prophecy may be a prediction of future events, though more commonly it is not. The expression â€œspirit of prophecyâ€ refers specifically to the â€œmanifestation of the Spiritâ€ in the form of a special gift of the Holy Spirit that inspires the recipient and enables him to speak authoritatively as a representative of God (1 Cor. 12:7â€“10). when â€œmoved by the Holy Ghostâ€ to do so (2 Peter 1:21). The context of the expression in Rev. 19:10 defines â€œthe testimony of Jesusâ€ and â€œthe spirit of prophecyâ€ in this sense. In view of the fact that the â€œremnantâ€ of ch. 12:17 specifically refers to the church after the close of the 1260 prophetic days of vs. 6 and 14, that is, after 1798 (see on Dan. 7:25), ch. 12:17 stands as a clear prediction of the special manifestation of the â€œspirit,â€ or â€œgift,â€ of prophecy in the church in our day. Seventh-day Adventists believe the ministry of Ellen G. White meets the specifications of Rev. 12:17 in a unique way.
The Bible writers refer to more than 20 of their contemporaries who exercised the gift of prophecy, though their messages were not incorporated into the canon. Such were Nathan, Gad, Iddo, Agabus, and others (2 Sam. 7:2; 1 Chron. 29:9; 2 Chron. 9:29; Acts 11:27, 28; 21:10). It is evident, furthermore, that the gift of prophecy was not limited to men, either in OT or in NT times, for there were prophetesses such as Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (2 Chron. 34:22), and the four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9).
New Testament writers nowhere suggest that the gift of prophecy was to end with the apostolic church. On the contrary, Paul declares that, with the other gifts of the Spirit he lists in Eph. 4:11, it was to continue â€œtill we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christâ€ (v. 13). All of the other special gifts mentioned in v. 11 are still needed in the church, and men and women are still qualified by the Holy Spirit to fill these offices. Why should the office of prophet be considered an exception?
There have ever been counterfeit manifestations of the prophetic gift. Not only was this so in OT times (see Chron. 18; Jer. 27â€“29), but our Lord warned that the Christian church would be troubled by false prophets, particularly as the time for His second advent should draw near (Matt. 24:11, 24). The deceptive power of these false prophets was to be so great that if it were possible they would â€œdeceive the very elect.â€ The fact that Christ warned against a false manifestation of the prophetic gift prior to His second coming argues strongly that there would also be a genuine manifestation of this gift, as otherwise He could simply have warned against any and all prophets who might arise.
In harmony with Christâ€™s warning John counsels the church to test those who claim to have been entrusted with spiritual gifts (1 John 4:1), to determine whether these gifts are genuine. The Scriptures specify certain standards by which those who profess to speak for God are to be measured: (1) The personal life of the prophet will be in harmony with the teachings of Scripture (Matt. 7:15â€“20). (2) His messages will likewise accord with Scripture. (3) His ministry will exalt Christ as the Son of God and the Saviour of men (1 John 4:2). (4) His ministry will be confirmed by fulfilled predictions (Jer. 28:9; cf. 1 Sam. 3:19). It is reasonable also to expect that the messages he bears will be of practical benefit to the church, that they will be timely and appropriate, that they will be free from human influence, and that when he is in open vision his experience will be similar to that of the Bible prophets. The life, ministry, and writings of Ellen G. White fully meet these various requirements.
Seventh-day Adventists do not consider the writings of Ellen G. White as either a substitute for or an addition to the Sacred Canon. For Adventists, the Bible stands unique and supreme as the test of Christian faith and practice (see EW 78), while the writings of Ellen G. White serve, in her own words, as â€œa lesser light to lead men and women to the greater lightâ€ (EGW RH Jan. 20, 1903). The writings of the Spirit of prophecy do not present a new way of salvation, but are designed to lead men to understand and appreciate the Bible, and to avail themselves of the fount of salvation therein revealed.
Some have speculated that there are degrees of inspiration. Accordingly, they consider such prophets, for example, as Deborah, Nathan, and Agabus, as possessing a lower, or inferior, kind of inspiration than the canonical writers. On the same premises they would consider Ellen G. White as possessing a lower, or inferior, kind of inspiration. But the Bible says nothing about degrees of inspiration, nor does it lend any support to the idea. Adventists believe that all such speculation is not only idle but dangerous. How can finite minds hope to understand the mystery of how God, through the Spirit, uniquely illumines the minds of His chosen spokesmen?
For a discussion of certain questions raised regarding Mrs. White see F. D. Nichol, Ellen G. White and Her Critics.
Nichol, Francis D., The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association) 1978.
While I suppose that it might be possible to read into these statements more then they actually say, a careful reading does not suggest to me that the editors of the SDA Dictionary/Commentary are using the term differently from the way I have used it for sixty years. I certainly did not find anything that would suggest to me the idea that Seventh-day Adventists believe or teach that Ellen White IS the Spirit of Prophecy.
Having said that, I should hasten to add that through the years I have often found individuals who have given evidence of confusion on one or more of the teachings of the church–indeed, at times some have made some really strange sounding statements–and I do not question the possibility that you may have encountered some member(s) who said, or seemed to say, that Ellen White is the Spirit of prophecy. To the extent that such statements may have been made, whether intentionally or as an inadvertent misstatement, they do not reflect the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist church that I know and love.
Your brother in Christ,
MBA employee discourages students from attending LSU
This website clearly reveals that LSU professors are advocating evolution and denigrating the “lunatic fringe” who believe in a literal 7-day creation. I wish that all who deplore this position of LSU would take the same stand that David Lara has taken. We should not be sending any of our young people to LSU if we want them to continue to believe the teachings of scripture regarding origins.
In addition to acting individually in this way, concerned members of the church could encourage their local church boards to take official action discouraging Adventist young people from attending LSU. They could also urge their local church boards to officially request their local conference executive committees to take action cutting off all financial support to LSU until such time as the problem has been satisfactorily resolved. Why should church continue to support an institution that is deliberately undermining belief in scripture through the teaching of theistic evolution?
Harold Peters: I would suggest that concerned individuals request to meet with their local church boards to advocate that the board take official action (1) requesting that their conference and union withhold all financial support from LSU and (2) recommending that their members redirect their children to other publicly compliant Adventist colleges/universities (see http://www.educatetruth.com/category/other-schools/), such actions to remain in effect until such time as LSU can demonstrate full compliance with church directives and appeals relative to the teaching of macro-evolution in Adventist schools (see http://www.educatetruth.com/letters/the-advent-appeal/).
Unless I inadvertently missed it, I believe no one has commented on this suggestion that I offered a couple of days ago. I believe this to be a practical approach to encourage conference and union officials to take firm action dealing with the heresy being taught in the LSU biology department. If concerned members can’t convince their own local churches to officially register their disapproval of LSU’s not-so-hidden agenda, what hope is there that they can influence the outcome at LSU?