Sabbath, September 13, 2014 

“The law of God is the foundation of all enduring reformation. We are to present to the world in clear, distinct lines the need of obedience to His law. The great reformative movement must begin in the home. Obedience to God’s law is the great incentive to industry, economy, truthfulness, and just dealing between man and man.” –Child Guidance, p. 489.

Biblical pacifism

1. According to the Lord’s teaching and example, how are one’s enemies to be treated? What activities will not be part of the Christian’s life? 

Matthew 5:39, 44; 26:52 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also…. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…. 26:52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

“Satan delights in war; for it excites the worst passions of the soul, and then sweeps into eternity its victims steeped in vice and blood. It is his object to incite the nations to war against one another; for he can thus divert the minds of the people from the work of preparation to stand in the day of God.” –The Great Controversy, p. 589.

“I was shown that God’s people, who are His peculiar treasure, cannot engage in this perplexing war, for it is opposed to every principle of their faith. In the army they cannot obey the truth and at the same time obey the requirements of their officers. There would be a continual violation of conscience.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 361.

The original Adventist position 

2. What position did the Adventist General Conference take originally following the inspired vision?

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 

2 Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. 

The Executive Committee of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference addressed a “Statement of Principles” to the governor of Michigan on August 3, 1864:

“To His Excellency, Austin Blair, Governor of the State of Michigan:

“We, the undersigned, Executive Committee of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, respectfully beg leave to present for your consideration the following statements: “The denomination of Christians calling themselves Seventh-day Adventists, taking the Bible as their rule of faith and practice, are unanimous in their views that its teachings are contrary to the spirit and practice of war; hence, they have ever been conscientiously opposed to bearing arms. If there is any portion of the Bible which we, as a people, can point to more than another as our creed, it is the law of ten commandments, which we regard as the supreme law, and each precept of which we take in its most obvious and literal import. The fourth of these commandments requires cessation from labor on the seventh day of the week, the sixth prohibits the taking of life, neither of which, in our view, could be observed while doing military duty. Our practice has uniformly been consistent with these principles. Hence, our people have not felt free to enlist into the service. In none of our denominational publications have we advocated or encouraged the practice of bearing arms; and, when drafted, rather than violate our principles, we have been content to pay, and assist each other in paying, the $300 commutation money. And while that provision remained of universal application, we did not deem any public expression of our sentiments on this question called for.

“We would further represent that Seventh-day Adventists are rigidly antislavery, loyal to the government, and in sympathy with it against the rebellion.

“But not having had a long existence as a distinct people, and our organization having but recently been perfected, our sentiments are not yet extensively known. The change in the law renders it necessary that we take a more public stand in the matter. For this reason we now lay before Your Excellency the sentiments of Seventh-day Adventists, as a body, relative to bearing arms, trusting that you will feel no hesitation in endorsing our claim that, as a people, we come under the intent of the late action of Congress concerning those who are conscientiously opposed to bearing arms, and are entitled to the benefits of said laws.

General Conference Executive Committee of Seventh-day Adventists
Battle Creek, Michigan, August 2, 1864”

F.M. Wilcox, Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War, p. 58. 

3. Which of the three provisions available to them did the Adventists prefer? 

“… When drafted, rather than violate our principles, we have been content to pay, and assist each other in paying, the $300 commutation money.” F.M. Wilcox, Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War, p. 58. 

“It is said that the next draft will take about one in three able-bodied men, liable to the draft. And it is supposed that this proportion of Seventh-day Adventists will be drawn; that is, one in three. In this case if each should pay into the treasury $100.00, the same would be sufficient to pay $300.00 for all drawn in the coming draft.” –Elder James White, Review and Herald, January 24, 1865.

4. In what were the Adventist believers everywhere instructed?

Acts 4:19; 5:29 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye…. 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

“We are to recognize human government as an ordinance of divine appointment, and teach obedience to it as a sacred duty, within its legitimate sphere. But when its claims conflict with the claims of God, we must obey God rather than men. God’s word must be recognized as above all human legislation. A ‘Thus saith the Lord’ is not to be set aside for a ‘Thus saith the church’ or a ‘Thus saith the state.’ The crown of Christ is to be lifted above the diadems of earthly potentates.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 69.

A time of crisis

5. Exactly fifty years later, in 1914 when World War I began, what did some European leaders do under government pressure?

Isaiah 5:20, 21 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

“While we stand on the fundamentals of the Holy Scriptures, and seek to fulfill the precepts of Christendom, keeping the Rest Day (Saturday) that God established in the beginning, by endeavoring to put aside all work on that day, still in these times of stress, we have bound ourselves together in defense of the ‘Fatherland,’ and under these circumstances we will also bear arms on Saturday (Sabbath). On this point we take our stand on the Scripture found in 1 Peter 2:13-17.” –Elder H.F. Schuberth, President, to the German War Ministry, August 4, 1914 (emphasis ours).

“… At the outbreak of the war, the leaders of the Adventist organization in Germany, of their own accord, advised all their military service members, in all the land, under the pressing circumstances and need of the Fatherland to do their duties required of them as citizens, according to the Scripture; and earnestly to do on Saturday (Sabbath) as other warriors do on Sunday.” –Elders L.R. Conradi, H.F. Schuberth, P. Drinhaus, Dresden, March 5, 1915.

A remnant takes the Biblical position

6. How many Adventists were led astray? How many remained faithful?

Romans 11:3-5; 9:27 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace…. 9:27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved. 

“At the beginning of the war our

[S.D.A.] denomination divided into two parts. While ninety-eight percent of our membership took the position on Bible ground that it was their conscientious duty to defend the Fatherland with weapons, and that also on the Sabbath, and this united position of the leaders was at once forwarded to the War Department, two percent, however, did not submit themselves to this united resolution….” –S.D.A. statement in Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten (Dresden Latest News), April 12, 1918.

7. What happened to the few faithful believers? Did they separate from the truth?

Isaiah 66:5 Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.

Zephaniah 3:19 Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.

“Two percent, however, did not submit themselves to this united resolution, and therefore had to be disfellowshipped because of their unchristian conduct.” –Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten, April 12, 1918.

“During the course of the war there were nevertheless isolated members among them [S.D.A.’s] which did not confess their own conscientious scruples publicly before the government, but rather withdrew secretly from their duties, and furthermore walked from town to town to entice others in word and writing to take the same step. Called to account for this by the church, because of their stiff endurance in their position and as threatening the internal and external peace, they had to be disfellowshipped from the church.” –Berliner Lokalanzeiger (Berlin Local News), August 24, 1918.

8. Therefore, who is responsible for the crisis among Seventh-day Adventists?

Isaiah 3:12, last part; 9:16 … O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths…. 9:16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.

“Any departure from the revealed standard by leaders called to be examples and exponents of the will of God, must bring confusion into the ranks of His people. Honest souls are perplexed and confused over what ought to be plain and clear. In such a situation the people are left to one of two conclusions only; there is no alternative. They must condemn the practice of such leaders and hold to the Lord’s standard themselves, or they must conclude that if such leaders are approved and accepted of God, then the Lord must not be so particular as they had supposed in regard to exact obedience to His standard, and so decide that they too may depart from it, and still hope to be accepted of God.” –The Medical Evangelist, vol. 9, no. 2, p. 9.

9. What erroneous teaching of the Adventist General Conference did the apostate European leaders take hold of?

1 Peter 2:16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

“We have taken the position that each one should act according to his own conscience in this matter.” –A.G. Daniells, General Conference President (1920), Protokoll der Verhandlung mit der Gegenbewegung von 21. bis 23. Juli 1920 in Friedensau, p. 36.

“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.” –Resolution of European Committee, Gland, Switzerland, January 2, 1923, Review and Herald, vol. 101, No. 10, March 6, 1924, p. 4.

10. Why are members of God’s church never at liberty to “set up a standard of duty for themselves”? What are the consequences when every man does what is right in his own eyes?

Romans 2:21-24 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? 24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.

Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

“Were men free to depart from the Lord’s requirements and to set up a standard of duty for themselves, there would be a variety of standards to suit different minds and the government would be taken out of the Lord’s hands. The will of man would be made supreme, and the high and holy will of God–His purpose of love toward His creatures–would be dishonored, disrespected.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 51, 52.

11. What is absolutely necessary for one to be able to endure in the coming crisis? What is the Lord’s purpose for individual members and for His church? 

Ephesians 4:14; 5:27 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;… 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Hebrews 13:9, first part Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace.

“God is sifting His people. He will have a clean and holy church. We cannot read the heart of man. But the Lord has provided means to keep the church pure.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 99.

“Sin and sinners in the church must be promptly dealt with, that others may not be contaminated. Truth and purity require that we make more thorough work to cleanse the camp from Achans. Let those in responsible positions not suffer sin in a brother. Show him that he must either put away his sins or be separated from the church.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 147.