(1) “One little disregard of ‘Thus saith the Lord’ is sufficient to stop the promised blessing of the Holy Spirit. By disobedience the light once so precious becomes obscured. Satan takes charge of the mind and soul, and God is greatly dishonored.” – Letter, Oct. 10, 1899; Manuscript 7-148.
(2) “In the book ‘Living Temple’ there is presented the Alpha of deadly heresies. The Omega will follow, and will be received by those who are not willing to heed the warning God has given. . . . Dangers that we do not now discern will soon break upon us, and I greatly desire that they shall not be deceived.” – Special Testimony, Series B, No. 2, p. 50.
(3) “I have a message for you. The Lord is in earnest with His people. I expected that great humiliation of heart would follow the Lord’s displeasure in the destruction of the principal buildings of our two largest institutions. But how little influence this has had to bring humiliation and repentance. God’s people have dishonored Him, and their hearts have become so unimpressible that even when He speaks in judgment, they make no decided change.” – Manuscript 114, October 5, 1903.
HERESIES COME IN
“Certain it is that there has been among us a departure from the living God and a turning to men, putting human in place of divine wisdom.
“God will arouse His people; if other means fail, heresies will come in among them, which will sift them, separating the chaff from the wheat.” – Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 707 (emphasis ours).
In the first part of this lesson we shall study the heresies which began to come in among the Adventists at the turn of the century. As early as 1897 at the General Conference new theories were presented to the church by Dr. J. H. Kellogg. This was the beginning of a great crisis in the church. The errors in his pantheistic theories were so finely spun that they passed unrebuked by the delegates.
In 1899 at the General Conference, more heresies and confused theories were presented to the delegates. No doubt these ideas and theories had been on the minds of the leaders and workers for some time; now they were ready to be presented to the General Conference in session.
At this conference in 1899, speakers presented erroneous pantheistic ideas. The General Conference Bulletin of 1899, p. 58, described some of these, as follows:
(1) The air man breathes is the medium through which the Holy Spirit is given to us. When a man knows and recognizes that every breath he draws is a direct breathing of God in his nostrils, he lives in the presence of God and has a Spirit-filled life.
(2) Righteousness, according to another false teaching, was received by manifesting faith that the very life of God is in air, in food, and in drink. Everything that God has given us by which to convey life is the means of conveying to righteousness to us.
(3) It was stated that there is power and life in pure water, because God’s life is in it. Also when Jesus said of the communion bread, “This is My body,” He was speaking not figuratively, but literally.
(4) Another speaker presented a theory that the message of health reform now centered in that simple statement, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.”
These and many other false teachings were expounded at this conference, and the speakers who were foremost in presenting these theories were among those in whom the people had great confidence as Bible expositors.
These near-pantheistic views were heartily accepted by the Superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Dr. J. H. Kellogg, and were made very prominent afterward in his lectures to the patients, sanitarium staff, and medical students.
At the General Conference Session of 1901, he was asked to speak to the delegates on the question of the divine life in man. He presented ideas such as the following: It is God in the sunflower that makes it follow the sun. “Wherever God’s life is , God Himself is. You can not separate God and His life. That is the reason God is everywhere.” – General Conference Bulletin, 1901, pp. 492-495.
Many testimonies and rebukes were given by Sister White against these false theories. When messages sent by God’s Spirit did not work a reformation and revival, God in his love for His people had to send stronger rebukes and punishments in order to alert them to their danger. This was witnessed in the great fire in the Sanitarium in Battle Creek on February 18, 1902. That same year, on December 30, the Review and Herald publishing house was totally destroyed by fire of an unknown origin.
Was this merely coincidental? No, these catastrophes were predicted, and the reason for them was plainly given.
PREDICTION AND REACTION
One year before the fire, the following message was given to the managers of the Review and Herald. You will find it in Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 91 (Nov. 1901):
“I feel a terror of soul as I see to what a pass our publishing house has come. The presses in the Lord’s institution have been printing the soul-destroying theories of Romanism and other mysteries of iniquity. The office must be purged of this objectionable matter. . . .
“I have been almost afraid to open the Review, fearing to see that God has cleansed the publishing house by fire.”
When on January 5, 1903, Sister White received the message of the fire, she wrote the following:
“Today I received a letter from Elder Daniells regarding the destruction of the Review office by fire. . . . But I was not surprised by the sad news, for in the visions of the night I have seen an angel standing with a sword as of fire stretched over Battle Creek.
“This morning I was drawn out in earnest prayer that the Lord would lead all who are connected with the Review and Herald office to make diligent search, that they may see wherein they have disregarded the many messages God has given. . . .
“At the General Conference held in Battle Creek in 1901, the Lord gave His people evidence that He was calling for reformation. Minds were convicted, and hearts were touched; but thorough work was not done. If stubborn hearts had then broken in penitence before God, there would have been seen one of the greatest manifestations of the power of God that has ever been seen. But God was not honored. The testimonies of His Spirit were not heeded. Men did not separate from the practices that were in decided opposition to the principles of truth and righteousness, which should ever be maintained in the Lord’s work.” – Testimonies, vol. 8, pp. 97, 98.
“I pray that those who have resisted light and evidence, refusing to listen to God’s warnings, will see in the destruction of the Review and Herald office an appeal to them to turn to God with full purpose of heart.” – Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 102.
Review and Herald Publishing Association, Battle Creek, Michigan, taken before the fire which destroyed this building on December 30, 1902.
Inset: J. H. Kellogg.
Instead of letting these sad events speak to them, the leaders continued on into deeper apostasy. The following statements give us a clear picture:
“Be not deceived; many will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. We have now before us the alpha of this danger. The omega will be a most startling nature.” – Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 2, p. 16, July 24, 1904.
“‘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!” – Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 2, p. 53, 1904.
The Spirit of prophecy has always proven to be a great blessing to the people of God. Many times great dangers have been averted when the believers heeded the straight testimonies and solemn appeals of Sister White. But with sadness and tears she saw the time approaching when she would no longer be present to rebuke and warn the people.
“May the Lord have mercy upon you; for if you go on in this way, nothing but evil can be prophesied concerning you.
“The patience of God has an object, but you are defeating it. He is allowing a state of things to come that you would fain see counteracted by and by, but it will be too late. God commanded Elijah to anoint the cruel and deceitful Hazael king over Syria, that he might be a scourge to idolatrous Israel. Who knows whether God will not give you up to the deceptions you love? Who knows but that the preachers who are faithful, firm, and true may be the last who shall offer the gospel of peace to our unthankful churches? It may be that the destroyers are already training under the hand of Satan, and only wait the departure of a few more standard-bearers to take their places, and with the voice of the false prophet cry, ‘peace, peace,’ when the Lord hath not spoken peace. I seldom weep, but now I find my eyes blinded with tears; they are falling upon my paper as I write. It may be that erelong all prophesyings among us will be at the end, and the voice which has stirred the people may no longer disturb their carnal slumbers.” – Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 77.
In no uncertain terms Sister White warned the church. To her son, Elder W. C. White, she said: “I will tell you now that when I am laid to rest, great changes will take place. I do not know when I shall be taken, and I desire to warn against all the devices of the devil. I want the people to know that I warned them fully.” – Sent out by W. C. White, February 24, 1915.
THE REBUKE UNHEEDED
Even these drastic measures that should have warned the church of its impending doom were not heeded.
“How true is the solemn statement, ‘My people know not the judgment of the Lord. Has not this been repeatedly demonstrated in Battle Creek? Have not men stood up in public assemblies and ridiculed the idea that the burning of our two largest institutions was a reproof and a judgment from God? Could they have seen the presentation given me of what will be in the future, their ridicule would suddenly have turned to mourning.” – Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, p. 9 (emphasis ours).
To raise money for the erection of a new sanitarium, a book was written by Dr. J. H. Kellogg called The Living Temple. All the profits were to be given by the author, publisher and distributor to the fund for the new facility. The erroneous theories of the immanence of God in all living things were presented in this book. In May 1902, the galley proofs were presented to the General Conference Committee, which declined the book. The plates and type were still at the Review and Herald publishing Assn. and were destroyed in the December fire. But Dr. Kellogg did not give up and persisted in publishing the book under the auspices of the Good Health Pub. Co. of Battle Creek and put it up for sale. That this book made serious inroads into the ranks of Seventh-day Adventists on both sides of the ocean is evident from the earnest testimony that followed this episode:
“One thing it is certain is soon to be realized – the great apostasy, which is developing and increasing and waxing stronger, and will continue to do so until the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout.” – Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, pp. 56, 57, Dec. 4, 1905.