A Few Reflections on the Trinity
One of the fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the doctrine of the Trinity. The book Seventh-day Adventists Believe, explains it this way: “Seventh-day Adventists believe: There is one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons.” (Seventh-day Adventists Believe, p. 23) In recent years this doctrine has come undersome criticism by certain groups within the church. Some have even gone so far as to say that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has become Babylon because of its teaching on the Trinity. The main argument that is used against this doctrine is that our pioneers did not believe in it because they perceived that it came into Christianity from paganism in the days of Constantine the Great. It is anundeniable historical fact that some of our pioneers were anti-Trinitarian. Among these were some notable men including James White, Joseph Bates, J. N. Andrews and Uriah Smith. But it is true also that in the course of time the church came to realize that this doctrine is firmly based on Scripture. Perhaps an analogy will be helpful. Most of our pioneers were opposed to church organization andadopting a denominational name. For example, on February 15, 1844 George Storrs categorically affirmed: “Take care that you do not seek to manufacture another church. No church can be organized by man’s invention but what it becomes Babylon the moment it is organized.” The main reason they were opposed to church organization and adopting a name was because the builders of the Tower of Babel hadorganized and adopted a name in rebellion against God. Thus they perceived that organizing and incorporating the church and adopting a name would be equivalent to the rebellion of the Babel builders. In the course of time, however, after studying Scripture and following the guidance of the Spirit of Prophecy our pioneers discovered that there was organization in the New Testament church and that theoriginal believers first called themselves Christians in Antioch. In this way they reached the conclusion that church organization was necessary and they even adopted a name: Seventh-day Adventists. The point is that they grew in their understanding and changed course upon further Bible study. Under the guidance of Ellen White they adopted our name and organized as a body even incorporating the churchlegally. A similar process can be seen in the adoption of the doctrine of the Trinity — with the passing of time and deeper Bible study the church grew in its understanding of the Godhead. Ellen White has some rather categorical statements about the eternal Deity of Christ, the distinction between his human and divine natures, the personality of the Holy Spirit, and yes, the Trinity. Let’s beginwith her statements on the eternal Deity of Jesus. In John 8:58 we find Jesus affirming to a startled Jewish crowd: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.” Here Jesus was claiming to be the great I AM of the burning bush. Ellen White’s comment is quite enlightening:
“Silence fell upon the vast assembly. The name of God, given to Moses to express the idea of the eternalpresence, had been claimed as His own by this Galilean Rabbi. He had announced Himself to be the selfexistent One, He who had been promised to Israel, "whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity." Micah 5:2, margin. The Desire of Ages, pp. 469, 470. A few pages later in The Desire of Ages, Ellen White made another startling statement: “In Christ is life, original, unborrowed,underived. "He that hath the Son hath life." 1 John 5:12. The divinity of Christ is the believer's assurance of eternal life.” The Desire of Ages, p. 530. It is not too difficult to understand what is meant by “original, unborrowed, underived.” When Ellen White wrote these words she had gained a significant command of the English language and therefore it is inconceivable that she did not...
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