XXXVIII - 9(05)
what of the night?
hour has come, the hour is striking and striking at you,
The Doctrine of the Incarnation as Taught in Adventism 8c
Decades of Conflict and
1952 - Present - (3)
Movement of Destiny is but an enlargement of, and justification for, the position taken in Questions on Doctrine on what is termed "the Eternal Verities." They were written from two different motivations, or, at least so claimed. It is obvious that Questions on Doctrine was written to answer the questions asked by the Evangelicals at the SDA-Evangelical Conferences in 1955-1956. On the other hand, Froom alleges that he wrote Movement of Destiny at the behest of A. G. Daniels. In his preface to the book, he wrote:
Back in the spring of 1930 Arthur G. Daniels, for more than twenty years president of the General Conference, told me he believed that, at a later time, I should undertake a thorough survey of the entire plan of redemption - its principles, provisions, and Divine Personalities - as they unfolded to our view as a Movement from 1844 onward, with special emphasis upon the developments of "1888," and its sequel (p. 17; emphasis his).
Much is suggested in this one paragraph: "1930" - this must be noted in the light of Froom's comments on informal Sabbath afternoon "intimate Bible study" and "dialogue" at the General Conference headquarters during the years from 1930 to 1935 (p. 429). Not being "official" meetings, no minutes were kept, but Froom alleges that "copious notes" were taken by some present. These have yet to surface, but they do need to see the light of day. "1888" - this was revived in the research done by Wieland and Short in 1950 - 1888 Re-examined. But this was kept in wraps for more than a decade until it imploded upon the Adventist scene about the same time as Andreasen's Letters to the Churches challenged the compromises of Questions on Doctrine. This all occurred because of the dedication of a laymen A. L. Hudson and the devoting of his expertise and facilities to the service of the Lord.
While each of these dates - 1930, 1950, and 1955-56 - open avenues for research and observations, we need to note carefully the advice of Egemar Linden, teacher at Uppsala University, Sweden, when reviewing Froom's conclusions as a denominational "apologist." He wrote: "the reader must always be on the alert when studying Froom, asking himself whether Froom has given a full account, or whether important aspects have been neglected, or misrepresented" (Spectrum, Autumn, 1971; emphasis mine). This is very apropos when noting Froom's handling of the doctrine of the Incarnation in Movement of Destiny.
In rewriting the doctrinal history of the Church's teaching, Froom found himself faced with some difficulties when presenting the teaching of the Church in regard to the nature of Christ's humanity. He had set forth the General Conference of 1888 as towering above all other conferences before or since. He wrote:
The epochal Minneapolis Session stands like a mountain peak towering above all other sessions in uniqueness and importance. It was a distinct turning point. Nothing like it had occurred before and none since has been comparable to it. It definitely introduced a new epoch (p. 187).
First, Froom had to show beyond question that the doctrine of the Incarnation was a major point of discussion at the 1888 Session, and then, secondly, show that what was taught was the same thing that was affirmed to the Evangelicals.
There were no official verbatim minutes made of the 1888 General Conference Session. Froom alleges that the book, Christ and His Righteousness, published in 1890 by the Pacific Press, was an edited copy by E. J. Waggoner of "shorthand reports taken down by Jessie F. Moser-Waggoner at the time" (p. 189). Nothing in the "October 15, 1890" publication of the book indicates this to be true; and Froom gives no source documentation for his allegation. The book did set forth in clear uncompromised statements the nature assumed by Christ
in becoming the Son of man, and it was not the position as affirmed to Barnhouse and Martin. How did Froom handle that?
Froom chose a section from Waggoner's book, -"God Manifest in the Flesh" (pp. 24-28). He selected phrases, words, and added comments to what Waggoner wrote so as to convey the opposite meaning to what had been written. To illustrate: Waggoner (p. 27) quoted 2 Cor. 5:21 and commented:
This is much stronger than the statement that He was made "in the likeness of sinful flesh." He was made to be sin." Here is the same mystery that the Son of God should die. The spotless Lamb of God, who knew no sin, was made to be sin. Sinless, yet not only counted as a sinner, but actually taking upon Himself sinful nature. He was made to be sin in order that we might be made righteousness.
Froom's interpretive quoting reads: "As to His humanity, Christ came in the 'likeness of sinful flesh.' 'God laid on Him the iniquity of us all.' He 'took' all the 'weaknesses' of man, and 'suffered all the infirmities' of man. More than that, He was actually 'made' - vicariously - to 'be sin for us', that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Then Froom quotes verbatim the above paragraph from Waggoner beginning with "Here is the same mystery as that the Son of God should die (p. 197).
The fact is simply that Waggoner never used the word, "vicariously." That word was taken from Questions on Doctrine and written into this interpretive quotation from Waggoner. This type of misrepresentation - for it is simply prevarication - in a work that claimed to give an accurate presentation of our denominational history as a Movement of Destiny leaves one stunned. It stands as a mute testimony to what extent apostates will go to cover their tracks. A creditability gap is created. Why the leadership of the Church placed their full weight of approval behind such a work has yet to be explained.
Another "exhibit" from this period of conflict and apostasy will evidence how deeply this alien doctrine on the human nature of Christ had penetrated the Church, and how the very sentiments of Roman Catholicism were echoed.
The Southern Publishing Association published in 1971 a book by Edwin W. Reiner, M.D. In the Foreword, Dr Reiner stated that "Elder Harry W. Lowe, of the General Conference, and Dr. W.G.C. Murdoch, dean of the Theological Seminary of Andrews University, critically read each chapter before its final approval. [Lowe had served for ten years as secretary of the Defence Literature Committee until it was merged with the Biblical Study Research Committee in 1969 to become later the Biblical Research Institute.] In a chapter captioned, "Christ the Sinless Sinbearer," the following concepts were presented:
Christ, as He lived on earth, was a singular combination of man and God. To become human, He clothed His divinity with humanity, yet He never ceased to also be God. It is, of course, unthinkable that Deity could dwell in a body combined with sinful human nature. Sin cannot exist in the presence of God, and although He shared man's physical degeneration, He did not possess man's spiritual alienation from and rebellion against God. Neither did He sin by thought, deed, or action. He accepted only the human physical condition as it existed after four thousand years, becoming tired, hungry, and weak like any other human being (p.132).
Here we find that the Church in 1971, in a published volume, critically read by the dean of the Theological Seminary, declared that the concept that Christ took upon Himself the fallen nature of man in the incarnation to be "unthinkable." In a Sabbath School Lesson for 1913, a Catholic source was quoted which stated:
Disbelief in the immaculate conception of the blessed virgin Mary would imply belief in the following revolting consequences; namely, that He who is holiness itself, and has an infinite horror of sin, took human nature from a corrupt human source (Quoted in Senior SS Lesson Qrt., May 17, 1913, p. 26).
The Roman Church considers the doctrine that Christ accepted the fallen nature of man in the Incarnation as "revolting," because Christ is "holiness itself." An Adventist publication in
1971 considers the doctrine as "unthinkable," because "sin cannot dwell in the presence of God." How apropos are Elder E. J. Waggoner's words - "We need to settle, every one of us, whether we are out of the Church of Rome or not. There are a great many that have the marks yet" (GC Bulletin, 1901, p. 404).
During this period, not all of the voices contending for the historic faith of the Church were drowned in the flood of water pouring forth from the dragon's mouth. In 1960, the Pacific Press published a book by a layman from Iowa on the subject. After quoting - "He [Christ] did in reality possess human nature," Albert H. Olesen wrote:
Throughout Christ's life upon this earth, and when He went into the grave, this was the only human nature that He had. This nature was tempted to retaliate when tormented, to anger when insulted, to covet distinction when adored. Jesus was tempted, not merely vicariously, but actually through His own human nature. He fought against this nature until the last hours on the cross, even as we are tempted throughout life (The Golden Chain, p. 30).
In our study we come to this conclusion: While it was possible for Christ to bear vicariously the penalty of sin for mankind, yet it appears to have been impossible for Him to have lived the human life vicariously. Because this sinless human living was the center and the heart of redemption, it of necessity was exact and total reality; no substitution could here suffice (p. 33).
This layman also made very clear what he understood the term "human nature" to mean. On this point he wrote - "Our nature is the inheritance we receive at birth, the legacy of inclinations and trends that enfold us without our conscious volition. This legacy includes the physical structure and certain tendencies that we receive from former generations, the possession of which is not our responsibility" (p. 15).
In a private publication, Think Straight About the Incarnation, this same author stated very clearly the historic position of the Church. He wrote:
Christ proposed to take in reality man's fallen nature, and to overcome the devil in that very nature, and it was in the order of God that this should be done. This was the divine plan that was to "open the way" for Redemption. ... In other words, it was the foundation upon which Salvation was to be built. For it was not the desert or the garden or the cross alone that saved us, but the whole lifetime struggle of Christ against tempting fallen flesh in His own person of humanity! It was a titanic daily accomplishment for all those human years that saved man and refuted the challenge of Satan before the universe. For it was in the "form and nature of FALLEN MAN" that Christ saved us. NOT in the form and nature of sinless Adam. This is the very foundation of Redemption, that Christ overcame Satan in our fallen nature of flesh and blood, and there is no other salvation for man (p. 15).
The last two issues of the Review for 1971 and the first for 1972 carried a series of editorials on the nature of the humanity which Christ assumed in the Incarnation. These editorials echoed the historic position of the Church. As far as this editor has been able to verify, these editorials were the first such presentations in any Church publication in over a decade. It must be understood, however, that after the August 31, 1967 issue, the Review no longer carried in the masthead the status of the journal as "the official organ of the Church." It would be simply "The General Church Paper of the Seventh-day Adventists." Thus editorials appearing in the paper "in no way bind the church body to an action, nor do they reflect any particular official position that a committee has designated."
In the first editorial, the associate editor, Dr. Herbert E. Douglass wrote:
The song above all songs that will be sung forever is that Jesus did not take flesh but became flesh, taking "our sinful nature, that He might know how to succour those that are tempted" - Medical Ministry, p. 181. He took "upon himself man's nature in its fallen condition" yet in no way, "not in the least," did He participate in its sin (BC5:1131)." Indeed, though beset by fallen, sinful nature, our Lord remained sinless (R&H, Dec. 23, 1971, p. 13).
The second editorial told of Satan's attempt to vitiate the victory won by Jesus in our fallen nature. It read:
One of the mysteries of iniquity is the successful outcropping of Satans malice in traditional
Christian thought. For example, in order to vitiate the victory of Jesus, many attempts have arisen to explain that Jesus did not defeat Satan in man's sinful, fallen, degenerate, hereditary nature but in some sphere with only a physical appearance like other men. This error is the foundation of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception whereby to assure the perfect, sinless nature of Jesus He is said to have been born of a perfect sinless mother. But the same subtle and perverse doctrine lies under other explanations such as "Jesus took the sinless nature of the first Adam," or He "vicariously bore man's weaknesses" (R&H, Dec. 30, 1971, p. 16).
It has been forever true, that when the Church proclaimed
the truth of the greatness of Christ's
The faith that made Jesus the sinless man among men is that characteristic which distinguishes the living saints in the last generation....
The last generation of those who "keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" will dissolve forever all lingering doubts as to whether man's will joined to God's power can throw back all temptations to self-serving and sin (R&H, Jan. 6, 1972, p. 14).
In 1972, the February issue of The Ministry carried a valuable supplement prepared by the Biblical Research Committee of the General Conference. It was a revision of the one appearing in Questions on Doctrine as Appendix B. The new compilation of quotations from the Writings on the incarnation of Christ removed the heading which introduced Section III of the previous set. In other words, the concept that Christ "took sinless human nature" is muted. Upon receiving this supplement, this editor addressed a letter to the committee which read in part:
It was with interest that I noted in detail the most recent insert in The Ministry. Certain corrections which appear as different from the compilation in the book, Questions on Doctrine, have been long overdue. I refer to the heading "III. Took sinless Human Nature" which appears on page 650 of the book. But it is very difficult to understand just what objective is to be served by the present compilation which is in itself incomplete. It is very difficult for me to believe that you men who compose the committee are unaware of those statements which have been omitted, and which unless included cannot give the true picture which the title of your insertion conveys "The Nature of Christ During the Incarnation." In fact, such an omission leaves you brethren open to some very serious questioning.
In order that you might see there is another section to the subject of the Incarnation, I am enclosing a copy of a proposed section to be included somewhere in your brochure either after "V Christ Was the Second Adam," or after Christ Took Real Human Nature." Now it is true you have in Section VII used several quotations wherein is found the expression, "fallen nature," but by your association of these statements with others in the same section, you are conveying the impression that this expression means "effects of sin" in a physical sense alone. But you have omitted the statements which give the full picture a nature "defiled by sin," and the "offending nature of man."
A copy of the quotations as sent to the Research Committee will appear as Appendix C in this series of articles. In the letter sent to the Committee I also asked about a quotation which is printed in several places but quoted two different ways. A reply to my letter was written by Dr. Gordon M. Hyde, Secretary of the Committee. He kindly sent me a copy of the article from the Youth's Instructor wherein the quotation in question was printed, but completely ignored the section of my letter which is quoted above.
In closing the original manuscript in 1972 - An Interpretive History of the Doctrine of the Incarnation as Taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, - I wrote the following paragraph:
As one surveys the last two decades, and the present hour of decision to which the Church has arrived in regard to the doctrine of the humanity our Lord assumed in becoming the Son of man, a message of an ancient prophet of Israel speaks to this hour "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark." Would to God the next verse could soon be fulfilled in regard to our teaching on the most
marvelous thing that ever rook place in heaven or earth - "It shall be one day, which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light" (Zechariah 14:6-7). If this research will in any way hasten the "light" at "evening time," it will have accomplished its mission.
In these intervening years two events have taken place: 1) In 1980, the General Conference Session at Dallas, Texas voted a new Statement of Beliefs. The Statement regarding Jesus Christ continues the description of the prophet Zechariah - neither "clear, nor dark;" and 2) In 2003, after all the major participants in the production of the book, Questions on Doctrines had passed from the scene, the book was republished as a part of the Adventist Classic Library series by the Andrews University Press with notes by Dr. George R. Knight, successor "apologist" to Leroy E. Froom. To call a book which misrepresents the historic position of the Church on a major teaching, as a "Classic" is difficult to comprehend. But when Knight admits that the book "easily qualifies as the most divisive book in Seventh-day Adventist history (p. xviii); and to state that "Froom and his colleagues were less than transparent" [lied] (p. xv) to the Evangelicals, then to classify it as an Adventist "Classic" leaves one stunned.