With so much glorious light shed on its path, the Reform Movement, standing firmly on the old, established principles, forged its way ahead not only in Europe but also in other regions. As it increased in membership and influence, the leadership of the large Seventh-day Adventist Church met among themselves in Gland, Switzerland, on January 2, 1923, to counsel about the war question and to find some means to counteract the rapid growth of the Reform Movement. Since no way of correcting the blunder that created this Movement in the first place could be found, the Adventist leaders resorted to stratagem. In an apparent confession, they condescended to say:
“. . . In peace and in war we decline to participate in acts of violence and bloodshed.”
THE FALSE LIBERTY PHRASE
If they had left the matter there, as a positive statement, there would have been hope for healing the schism in the body. But the same statement continued:
“But we grant to each of our church members absolute liberty to serve their country, at all times and in all places, in accordance with the dictates of their personal conscientious convictions.” – Gland, Switzerland, January 2, 1923 (emphasis ours).
This, in our opinion, as much as says, We do not believe in war, but you do whatever your conscience tells you! Again, that treacherous deception of a liberty of conscience that violates duty and obedience to God’s law is introduced. It confused the issue almost beyond recognition. Besides, it was, to say the least, a candid admission that they had been in great error in sending our brethren into combatant service in 1914. But now, instead of confessing this terrible, farreaching mistake to those whom they had so grievously wronged and disfellowshipped from the church, they agreed in private counsel on this new, deceptive stand. It carried all the earmarks of a false confession brought on because of the results of their apostasy. The reformers were forced to reject this new stand since it did not restore the faithful to their rightful position nor come back to the Biblical standard.
NO CHANGE MADE
In addition, this new position was not filed with any government as an amendment to the previous statements, as is plainly revealed in an answer received on inquiry. We quote the following short excerpt from a letter dated December 30, 1927, from the Armed Forces Ministry in Berlin, Germany, addressed to the Scandinavian Headquarters of the Reform Movement in Copenhagen, Denmark:
“Included in the files of the Armed Forces Ministry is the writing of August 6 (not 4), 1914, signed by H. F. Schuberth. . . .
“Changes or amendments to the writing of August 6, 1914, have not been made.” (emphasis ours).
It will be clear to you what this means. The Adventist young men were still signed over to the government as active soldiers ready for combatant duty; and the Gland document, saying they declined “to participate in acts of violence and bloodshed” was not worth the paper it was written on. That our fears in this respect were justified we shall now illustrate.
TEST NO. 2 DEVELOPS
While the European countries were still patching up the bloody encounter of 1914-1918, and were still pressed down by the reparations levied by the Treaty of Versailles, one political figure was taking advantage of the humiliating situation to lure the nations into another even more deadly conflict. The “Fuehrer,” Adolf Hitler, under false pretense and with fanatical nationalistic zeal, created a fantastic military machine with deadly striking power. His first bold moves and grand successes rallied the German nation around him in satanic unity, but it increasingly embittered the surrounding allied nations.
In this wild enthusiasm, religion was forgotten and was replaced by nationalist idolatry. “Heil Hitler!” became the common greeting (actually meaning “Salvation in Hitler!”).
OUTLAWED AND FORBIDDEN
This Reform Movement was soon placed in jeopardy. Our positive stand against violence and bloodshed, in addition to Sabbath observance identical to the Jews who were Hitler’s avowed foes, naturally added up to trial and persecution. It was not long before things began to happen. The Reform Movement was declared an enemy of the state and publicly outlawed by Edict No. 1, VO of February 28, 1933; and in April 29, 1936, it was officially forbidden and all property was confiscated. But more about this later.
SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST POSITION
Now turning our view on the large Seventh-day Adventist Church, where do we find them? As we said before, the church was still registered with the state as combatant soldiers, in spite of the make believe assertion in Gland, Switzerland, in 1923 of noncombatancy.
100% FOR HITLER
The Adventbote (Advent Messenger), official organ of the German Seventh-day Adventist Church, on January 1, 1937, showed the Adventist ministerial students at Friedensau lined up in Nazi uniforms in front of the seminary while government officials inspected them. It was declared, “Friedensau belongs to those communities which have voted 100% for the Fuehrer.” A former General Conference President (Elder C. H. Watson – 1931) even answered a question by saying, “We can praise God that we have the present government. Hitler received his power from God.”
We have a whole line of statements from official SDA publications which reveal that the Adventist Church leaders praised Hitler as a Godsend. Even though these leaders were somewhat under pressure at first, a Seventh-day Adventist nurse (Hulda Jost), who we are told knew Hitler personally, intervened for them. As a result, the churches remained open on a compromise basis; but this was dearly purchased. The Adventist Church linked itself for the second time with “the kings of the earth” in total apostasy, fighting and dying for Hitler and his cohorts. Statements in Adventist papers, such as the following, show the sad tendency:
“We are now in the midst of a storm of world-wide moving events. A great age must find a great man. . . . Therefore we not only willingly submit ourselves but also gladly perform every required service. To those who shall lose their life in so doing the words may be repeated, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ John 15:3. Let us remember all our fighting men, and especially our brethren, who are willing to risk their life for the homeland and for those who are left behind. Let us also pray for the Fuehrer and his co-workers.” – Adventbote, October 1, 1939.
The Spirit of prophecy predicted that the leadership would express the above sentiments:
“There is a prospect before us of a continued struggle, at the risk of imprisonment, loss of property, and even of life itself, to defend the law of God, which is made void by the laws of men. In this situation worldly policy will urge an outward compliance with the laws of the land, for the sake of peace and harmony, and there are some who will even urge such a course from the Scripture: ‘Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. . . . The powers that be are ordained of God.'” – Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 712.
This was what happened in World War II, which Sister White had predicted would come after “a little time of peace”:
“Once more the inhabitants of the earth were presented before me; and again everything was in the utmost confusion. Strife, war, and bloodshed, with famine and pestilence, raged everywhere.” – Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 268.
GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE
Remember the clear-cut statement in Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 17, which says:
“Fearful tests and trials await the people of God. The spirit of war is stirring the nations from one end of the earth to the other. But in the midst of the time of trouble that is coming – a time of trouble such as has not been since there was a nation – God’s chosen people will stand unmoved.” (Emphasis ours. )
The fact remains that in two severe tests and trials the nominal Seventh-day Adventist Church has now failed completely. They apostatized. But since it says, “God’s chosen people will stand unmoved, ” it is obvious there would be a faithful remnant who “WILL stand UNMOVED.” They are called “God’s chosen people,” indicating that God has chosen them, the Remnant out of a great apostasy, to be His people. To this the prophet Hosea pointed when he said: “. . . I will say to them which were not My people, Thou art My people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.” Hosea 2:23.
Now we go back once more to the minority group of faithful members, outlawed and forbidden by national decree. How did they fare? Their path has gone down in history as stained with the blood of faithful martyrs who faced prison, torture, and even death, rather than dishonor their God and His holy law. Yes, many were thrown into prison, and quite a number sealed their conviction with their life blood. Write to us for the book And Follow Their Faith! describing their experiences. They proved “faithful unto death,” and there is a crown of victory waiting for them. Praise God for these staunch defenders of truth in this Reform Movement. Indeed, they were as true as the needle is to the pole. These are worthy examples for us to follow in the last great test of the Sunday law, which now looms up before God’s people. Will you and I prove faithful, dear student? God grant it!
A FALSE EXPECTATION CORRECTED
A big question remains to be answered. You may ask: “Is it your intention to shake my confidence in the leading Adventist brethren with these lessons?”
You may recall that in Lesson 4 we enumerated many calls for reformation. Therefore a reformation was obviously due. But would it start with the leadership, to which we are so prone to look? Listen to the divine counsel:
“The Lord often works where we least expect Him; He surprises us by revealing His power through instruments of His own choice, while He passes by the men to whom we have looked as those through whom light should come. God desires us to receive the truth upon its own merits – because it is truth. . . .
“Those who have not been in the habit of searching the Bible for themselves, or weighing evidence, have confidence in the leading men, and accept the decisions they make; and thus many will reject the very messages God sends to His people, if these leading brethren do not accept them.” – Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 106,107.
This is in strict keeping with the rather strong expression used by Jeremiah in Jer. 17:5: “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.”
Will this Reformation, like any other divine message, be readily accepted by the majority of members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Here is God’s answer:
“Those to whom the message of truth is spoken seldom ask, ‘Is it true?’ but ‘By whom is it advocated?’ Multitudes estimate it by the numbers who accept it, and the question is still asked, ‘Have any of the learned men or religious leaders believed?’ Men are no more favorable to real godliness now than in the days of Christ.” – Desire of Ages, p. 459.
No, we do not wish to weaken your confidence in true leadership. It was the great American President Abraham Lincoln who said, “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.” May these words be also our life’s motto.
RESULTS OF ALLOWING LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE
“We revere the Law of God contained in the decalogue as explained in the teachings of Christ and exemplified in His life. For that reason we observe the seventh day Sabbath (Saturday) as sacred time; we refrain from secular labor on that day, but engage gladly in works of necessity and mercy for the relief of suffering and the uplift of humanity; in peace and in war we decline to participate in acts of violence. We grant to each of our church members absolute liberty to serve their country, at all times and in all places, in accordance with the dictates of their personal conscientious convictions.” – Gland, Switzerland, Jan. 2, 1923.
“The military service and the participating in war is not making a covenant with the world, nor to defend Babylon. The participating in war is purely a civil duty. In regard to the war our young people will also perform their duty on the Sabbath.” – Prophecy, by P. P. Paulini, p. 39.
“The teaching of the Scripture which says, ‘Give unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s,’ corresponds with the Adventists in every relation. They serve conscientiously their required military time, with weapon in hand, in peace as well as in time of war; and a large number of Adventists have proved themselves in the World War through their valor, and many a breast is decorated with a medal of the highest recognition, due to their bravery.” – Adventizam, p. 53.
RUSSIA 1924 and 1928
“We are convinced that God through His providence, guided the heart of our never-to-be-forgotten W. J. Lenin, and gave him and his fellow-laborers wisdom to bring about the only progressive and timely state-apparatus in the world today. For this reason the Seventh-day Adventists also want to be a rose in the bouquet of the believing citizens of the Socialistic Federal-Republic. The doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventists permits their members freedom of conscience in regard to military duty, and does not attempt to dictate to them as to how they should act, inasmuch as each person must be responsible for himself as to the military question, in accordance with his own conscience.” – The Conference Committee, H. J. Loebsack, President.
“The sixth Congress of Seventh-day Adventists, 1928, declares and decides that Seventh-day Adventists are obliged to render to Caesar that which belongeth to Caesar, and to God that which belongeth to God, namely, to serve the state in the army in all their forms of service, according to the established rule for all citizens.” – Resolution taken by the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Russia, Moscow, May 19, 1928.
HERE ARE SOME EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK “AND FOLLOW THEIR FAITH!”:
Page 18: “Our elder brother in Christ, Otto Welp, who in the First World War had suffered four years of persecution for his faith, was one of the first leaders to give a clear testimony that we could not take part in politics, nor in direct or indirect military service, because the teachings of Christ forbid this and the believers were to be instructed along this line. Everywhere, especially the leading brethren of the Reform Movement gave the same testimony in word and in writing. Consequently, as early as April 29, 1936, the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement was outlawed. We reproduce the letter to Elder Welp (from the Political Police Commander, ins. ), which reads as follows:. . .”
Page 27: “In 1941, Guenther Pietz, whom we just mentioned previously, was taken to Camp Auschwitz because of his refusal to work on the Sabbath. He was 16 or 17 years old when he was arrested. In the camp, he had to work hard and fought for the Sabbath. After six weeks he was released for a short time. His parents, brothers and sisters did not recognize him; they all cried when they saw the thin young man. For about one year he was able to rejoice in freedom, but then he was drafted for the labor service, where he remained for three weeks. During this time, he visited believers, strengthened himself, and rejoiced with them in the truth. Then he received a draft call for the military service and was taken to Halle, where he met Brother Pacha, his good friend and fellow believer. Both took up the battle and refused to do military service. At the command of Himmler, both Brother Victor Pacha and Brother Guenther Pietz were shot to death on one day because of their faithful endurance. Both were good friends in life and in death, and both remained firm in their confession of faith.”
Page 53: “The concentration camps were a world without God – even more, a world opposed to God. Any kind of religious activity on the part of the occupants was forbidden; every religious article was prohibited; even every muttered prayer was forbidden. Not even the dying one was afforded this comfort. All things religious were laughed and scoffed at.
“Toward the inmates, the SS (Schutzstaffel) people felt no restrictions of any of God’s commandments, not even the natural code of ethics which God placed in every human heart, even the hearts of the heathen.”