LETTERS TO THE CHURCHES
by Elder M. L. Andreasen, 1957
CHAPTER 4 - A RESUME
In the documents and letters I have sent out from time to time concerning what I consider a serious departure from the faith on the part of the leaders, I have adhered strictly to the advice which Christ gives in Matthew 18:15-17. There He says that if differences arise among brethren, "tell him his fault between thee and him alone." If he will not hear, "take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church." This principle I have followed as will appear from the record.
In the month of May, 1957, there was placed in my hand, providentially I believe, a copy of the minutes of the White Board of Trustees for May 1 and 2, 1957, recording a meeting of two brethren with the Trustees concerning a statement they had found in Mrs. White's writings regarding the atonement.' They sought counsel in this matter, inasmuch as what they had found did not harmonize with the new view which the leaders were advocating. What attitude should these researchers take in view of Mrs. White's statement?
For a number of months, even for years, our leaders had been studying with some evangelical ministers with a view to eventual recognition of the Adventists as an-evangelical Christian body. The studies were concerning the doctrines of the Adventists, particuarly the Atonement, the Investigative judgment, and Christ's work in the heavenly sanctuary since 1844. These doctrines the evangelicals had called " the most colossal, psychological, face-saving phenomenon in religious history," and had so denominated them in their journal, Eternity, for September, 1956, reprinting the article in an Extra under the title, "Are Seventh-day Adventists Christians?"
The evangelical ministers appear to have made a pronounced impression upon the Adventist leaders, so much so that Dr. Barnhouse, one of the participating evangelical ministers, reports that the Adventist leaders "totally repudiated" some of their most important doctrines. It may be best to let Dr. Barnhouse tell the story himself as he reported it in the Extra named above, for September, 1956. The particular subject which he discusses is what is called "The Great Disappointment," and has reference-to the great disappointment of the Adventists in 1844 when they expected the Lord to come. Here is his account:
"On the morning after the 'Great Disappointment' two men were going through a corn field in order to avoid the pitiless gaze of their mocking neighbors to whom they had said an eternal Good-bye the day before. To put it in the words of Hiram Edson the man in the corn field who first conceived this peculiar idea), he was overwhelmed with the conviction 'that instead of our High Priest coming out of the most holy of the heavenly sanctuary to come to this earth on the tenth day of the seventh month at the end of 2,300 days, He for the first time entered, on that day the second apartment of that sanctuary, and that He had work to perform in the most holy before coming to this earth. It is to my mind, therefore, nothing more than a human, face-saving idea! It should also be realized that some uninformed Seventh-day Adventists took this idea and carried it to fantastic, literalistic extremes. Mr. Martin and I heard the Adventist leaders say, flatly, that they repudiate all such extremes. This they have said in no uncertain terms. Further, they do not believe, as some of their earlier teachers taught, that Jesus' atoning work was not completed on Calvary, but instead that He was still carrying on a second ministering work since 1844. This idea is also totally repudiated. They believe that since His ascension Christ has been ministering the benefits of the atonement which He completed on Calvary.
"Since the sanctuary doctrine is based on the type of the Jewish high priest going into the Holy of Holies to complete his atoning work, it can be seen that what remains is most certainly exegetically untenable and theological speculation of a highly imaginative order. What Christ is now doing, since 1844 according to this version, is going over the records of all human beings and deciding what rewards are going to be given to individual Christians. We personally do not believe that there is even a suspicion of a verse in Scripture to sustain such a peculiar position, and we further believe that any effort to establish it is stale, flat, and unprofitable." (Emphasis in original).
In explanation of this somewhat involved statement, I append the following explanation, which may clarify some expressions.
Dr. Barnhouse first reports the well-known incident of Hiram Edson going through the cornfield on the morning after the "Disappointment," and becoming convinced that "instead of our High Priest coming out of the most holy. . . He for the first time entered on that day the second apartment of that sanctuary, and that He had a work to perform in the most holy before coming to this earth." The work He was to do before coming to this earth was the completion of the atonement which involved the investigative judgment. This conception, says Dr. Barnhouse, "is nothing more than a human, face-saving idea." Then he continues, "Some uninformed Seventh-day Adventists took this idea and carried it to fantastic, literalistic extremes." That is, they believed that Christ really did go into the most holy to do a work which had to be done before His coming to this earth, which involved the investigative judgment and the completion of the atonement. Dr. Barnhouse reports: "Mr. Martin and I heard the Adventist leaders say, flatly, that they repudiate all such extremes. This they have said in no uncertain terms."
If we are to believe Dr. Barnhouse's statement, then our leaders repudiated a doctrine which we have held sacred from the beginning. This is made clear as Dr. Barnhouse continues: "Some of their earlier teachers taught that Jesus' atoning work was not completed on Calvary, but instead that He was still carrying on a second ministerial work since 1844. -This idea is also totally repudiated."
When Dr. Barnhouse says that "some" of our earlier teachers taught "that Jesus' atoning work was not completed on Calvary," he must have gotten his information from some of the "uninformed" authors of our new theology; for history records that all our teachers taught this. James White, J. H. Waggoner, Uriah Smith, J. N. Andrews, J. N. Loughborough, C. H. Watson, E. E. Andross, W. H. Branson, Camden Lacey, B. S. Owen, 0. A. Johnson, H. H. Johnson, F. D. Nichol (until 1955), all stoutly defended the doctrine of Christ's atoning work since 1844, and committed their convictions to writing. As I write this, I have nearly all of their books before me. James White, who was three times the General Conference president, when he was elected the first editor of Signs of the Times, wrote in the first issue of that paper an article "to correct false statements circulated against us. . There are many who call themselves Adventists, who hold views with which we can have no sympathy, some of which, we think, are subversive of the plainest and most important principles set forth in the word of God."
The second of the twenty-five articles of faith reads in part as follows: Christ "lived our example, died our sacrifice, was raised for our justification, ascended on high, to be our only mediator in the sanctuary in heaven, where, with His own blood, He makes atonement for our sins; which atonement, so far from being made on the cross, which was but the offering of the sacrifice, is the very last portion of His work as priest."
These Fundamental Beliefs, were also printed in a little tract and circulated by the thousands. It would be interesting if the one who wrote pages 29,30,31,32, in Questions on Doctrine would furnish us with a list of writers who held views contrary to those of the authors mentioned above. I have not found any proof for the incorrect statements found on those particular pages.
To continue our study of Dr. Barnhouse's report in the Eternity Extra. He has just affirmed that the Adventist leaders have "totally repudiated" the idea that Christ is "still carrying on a second ministering work since 1844," by which he means an atoning works Instead of this, he says, "they believe that since His ascension Christ has been ministering the benefits of the atonement which He completed on Calvary." This view, however, he does not consider consistent. The Old Testament informs us that the high priest killed the sacrifice in the court outside the tabernacle. But the killing was not the atonement. "It is the blood that maketh atonement." Leviticus 17:11. Therefore the high priest shall "bring his blood within the vail. . . and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat and before the mercy seat, and he shall make an atonement for the holy place." Leviticus 16:15, 16. "He goeth in to make an atonement." Verse 17. Dr. Barnhouse argues, that as we base our doctrine of atonement largely on the figure given us in Leviticus, and use that in our teaching on the atonement, we must believe that as the high priest on earth took the blood into the sanctuary and there made atonement, so Christ must do likewise, He must go in to complete the atonement. Else we have an atonement without blood. If we do not take the last step, then we are compelled to believe that the atonement was made in the court and not in the sanctuary, which completely destroys all typology. If this last service with the blood is omitted, then our theory of the atonement is sadly incomplete, and "is most certainly exegetically untenable, and theological speculation of a highly imaginative order." If Christ does not go in with the blood to complete the atonement, then what we have left "is stale, flat, and unprofitable." He has a good argument.
Is It True?
When I first read in the Extra that our leaders had repudiated the doctrine of Christ's atoning work in the sanctuary since 1844, and had substituted for this "the application of the benefits of the sacrificial atonement He made on the cross," I could not believe it, and did not believe it. When I was told that even if I read in "the writings of Ellen G. White, that Christ is making atonement now," I am not to believe it, I wondered, "What are we coming to?" The atonement was made 1800 years ago, our leaders say. Sr. White says the atonement is going on now. Questions on Doctrine says it was made 1800 years ago. The Ministry says the atonement on the cross was final. Whom or what am I to believe? To me, to repudiate Christ's ministry in the second apartment, now, is to repudiate Adventism. That is one of the foundation pillars of Adventism. If we reject the atonement in the sanctuary now, we may as well repudiate all Adventism. For this, God's people are, not ready.' They will not follow the leaders in apostasy.
At this juncture it occurred to me that perhaps the Eternity men had regretted what they had written and had retracted, or would retract, all they had written. So I wrote to Eternity, asking if they still published the Extra. They answered that they did. The article being copyrighted, I then asked for permission to quote them. I received this answer: "We are glad to give you permission to quote from the article, 'Are Seventh-day Adventists Christians?' and would appreciate you giving credit to Eternity when you do this." This letter was dated Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 2, 1958, and signed by the editor.
This was twenty months after the article had first appeared in Eternity. If at any time during those twenty months our leaders had protested, if they had made a demurrer, in honesty the editor would have warned me not to use the material, and not to quote these statements. But the editor did no such thing. He was glad and willing for me to use the material, willing to stand by what the Extra had published, willing for me to quote them. It is fully five years since the discussions began, and three years since the Extra was published. For this long time I have been waiting for our men to deny the charges, and rebuke the evangelicals for publishing such defamation of our entire leadership. But I have heard no protest.
On the contrary, I have read several references in our papers to these evangelicals as being fine, Christian gentlemen, which I believe is true. Such men do not tell falsehoods. In the absence of any denial or protest from our men, I have reluctantly drawn my own conclusions. But if our men will make a straightforward declaration that Dr. Barnhouse and Mr. Martin never heard them make such statements as Eternity avers, I will immediately get in contact with the evangelicals and ask them to make apologies for such serious and grave accusations. This matter is too serious to go by default. Thousands of our people have read the Eternity article and are seriously concerned. One of the main pillars of our faith has, according to Eternity, been removed. Shall we stand idly by and permit the sanctuary to be trodden under foot, and that by its supposed supporters?
The Vault Incident
We shall now return to the two men who entered the White vault in May, 1957, to counsel with the White Trustees. They had finished their research work, and reported to the board that they had found "indications" that Sr. White taught that "the atoning work of Christ is now 1880) in progress in the heavenly sanctuary." This discovery was a death-blow to their new theology. It was evidently impossible to believe that the work of atonement was completed on the cross and was final, and also to teach that it was still in progress in heaven. Both statements could not be true. However, the denomination had already committed itself on this point, and had in 1957 published in the Ministry that the great act on the cross was "a complete, perfect, and final atonement for man's sin." Ministry, February, 1957. The article said that this is now "the Adventist understanding of the atonement, confirmed, and illuminated and clarified by the Spirit of Prophecy." Ibid. This statement has never been retracted, or modified, or changed, and neither the writer nor editor has been reproved. It stands.
In view of the situation, what were the researchers to do? They were faced with the statement of Mrs. White's that the atonement is now in progress in heaven. They were face to face with the other statement of the leaders that the atonement was made and finished on the cross. They must accept one or the other. They chose to go with the leaders.
But what about Sister White's statements, for there are many of them? It was clear that in some way her influence must be weakened and her statements watered down. But that was a delicate piece of work; and whatever was to be done had to be done in secret. If it were found out in time, the plan would not succeed. If, however, they could work in secret, and work rapidly, that matter would be a "fait accompli" - done before any one found out about it.
It was at this time that a copy of the White minutes were handed me. I shall now present the minutes, so that all may see for themselves what was done.
The Minutes, as of May 1, 1957, p. 1483:
'At this juncture in our work, Elders X and Y were invited to join the Trustees in discussing further a matter that had been given study in January. Elder X and his group who have been studying with certain ministers have become acutely aware of E. G. White statements which indicate that the atoning work of Christ is now in progress in the heavenly sanctuary. In one statement in Fundamentals of Christian Education, the word "sacrifice" is used. To non-Adventists, unfamiliar with our understanding of the sanctuary question, references to a continuation of the atoning work of Christ, are difficult to grasp, and it was suggested to the-Trustees that some footnotes or Appendix notes might appear in certain of the E. G. White books clarifying very largely in the words of Ellen White our understanding of the various phases of the atoning work of Christ. It was felt by the brethren who joined the Trustees in the discussion that this is a matter which will come prominently to the front in the near future, and that we would do well to move forward with the preparation and inclusion of such notes in future printings of the E. G. White's writings. The matter was discussed carefully and earnestly, but at the time that the meeting broke up to accommodate other committees, no action was taken."
Meeting, May 2, p. 1488. E. G. White Statements on the Atoning Work of Christ
"The meeting of the Trustees held May 1 closed with no action taken on the question which was discussed at length - suitable footnotes or explanations regarding the E. G. White statements on the atoning work of Christ which indicate a continuing work at the present time in heaven. Inasmuch as the Chairman of our board will be away from Washington for the next four months, and the involvements in this question are such that it must have the most careful consideration and counsel,
"It was VOTED, That we defer consideration until a later time of the matters that were brought to our attention by Elders X and Y involving the E. G. White statements concerning the continuing atoning work of Christ."
After the chairman of the board had returned from his four-month's trip, the matter was further discussed, and it was decided not to grant the request. This action is worthy of commendation, but the praise is somewhat dimmed by the fact that it took eight months to come to this decision, and that they did not arrive at this conclusion until the plan had become known.
This report stunned me. How did anyone dare to suggest inclusions in Sister White's writings to bolster the new view? I pondered long, and prayed much. Did I have any responsibility in this matter? If I did, it would be my duty to speak to one man, and one only. As the transgression was not against me but against the church and our most holy faith, it was my duty to speak to our highest officer. This I did.
In my letter of February 27, 1957, I had voiced my fear of publishing the proposed book, Questions on Doctrine, as it had been prepared altogether too hurriedly and-after only a short time of study. Books of this kind cannot be written on short notice and should be prepared by men who have given a life-time of study to the subject and spent years in research of the Testimonies.
March 7, 1957, I received this answer- "I notice your observation:
'I fear greatly for the contents of the book that is being published setting forth our belief.' I do not believe, Brother Andreasen, that you need to fear for what will appear in the book. It is being carefully gone over by a *group of capable men in whom we have the utmost confidence. I feel quite confident you will be happy with the results."
In my answer of March 11, I again expressed my fear of the contents of the book. Referring to an article that appeared in the Ministry, February, 1957, I said: "If the committee agrees with his published views, I must most earnestly protest. For the views are most certainly not Adventist doctrine, but views derived from a superficial study of certain portions of the writings of Sr. White, and do not represent the general teachings." I finished with these words:
"I hereby lodge my protest against the publication at this time of any doctrine of the atonement, and wish my protest to be duly recorded. I can but feel that some of the brethren have been led into the present predicament by a desire to be like the nations around us (churches) and that we will yet rue the day when we began making concessions because of pressure from outside sources."
Receiving no answer, I wrote again May 10, 1957:
"I trust that you get the idea that I am in earnest. I have the utmost confidence in you. In my more than sixty years of official connection with the denomination, one of my chief aims has been to inspire confidence in the Spirit of Prophecy. The last two years I have spoken on the subject 204 times. I have felt that our people needed help, and I have tried to help them. I am heartbroken of what the future seems to hold unless God helps us. May the Lord give you both wisdom and courage to do what the situation demands."
After I had come into possession of the confidential minutes of the White Estate board, I followed Christ's instruction to "speak to him alone," and sent four letters to our chief officer. June 26 1957, I received this answer:
"I am certain we can trust the brethren of the White Estate to move cautiously in this direction and not to take positions that might be embarrassing in the future. Certainly, Brother Andreasen, there is no intention here whatever to tamper with the writings of Sister White. We value them most highly.
"Referring to the book on Questions and Answers, let me assure you here, too, that this is not the work of the brethren whose names you mention. It is true that they did certain original work, but it was taken out of their hands and is the product of a large group of men rather than a few."
July 4, 1957, I answered. Here is part of this answer.
"I fear the day may come when this matter will become known to the people. It will shake the faith of the whole denomination. Of course, some will rejoice that at last Sr. White has been disposed of. Others will weep and cry to the Lord for consolation, 'Spare thy people, and give not thine heritage to reproach.' And when we are caught in our own net, will the churches of the world gloat? Please, brother, see to it that the proposed book is not published. It will be fatal. If there is no atoning work now going on in the sanctuary above, then the denomination may as well admit their mistake openly and fairly, and abide by the consequences. Let us throw Sr. White aside, and no longer hypocritically defend her writings, but behind thee scenes edit them and still claim that they are her work. . . . I close with an expression of high regard for you, facing the greatest apostasy the church has ever faced."
September 18, 1957, I received this communication.
"I have considered the matter to which you referred closed..
"I do not believe that you have the right to use the board minutes of the White Estate as you have done. The minutes are confidential and not intended for public use. I hope the time will never come when we take the position that men are to be condemned and disciplined because they come before properly constituted church boards to discuss questions that they may have pertaining to the work and belief of the church."
September 27, 1957, I answered:
"I thank you for your letter of September 18, wherein you state that 'the matter to which you refer is closed.' I called for an investigation. This you denied. You have condoned the men involved, and you have also said I had no right to use the information which has come to me, and then you closed the door. May I explain that the only way I have used my information is to inform you, and no one else. What else could I do? You state that if such information had come to you, you would not have used it. Quite an admission. I consider the present instance the greatest apostasy that has ever occurred in this denomination, and this you would have kept under cover! And now, you have closed the door. . . . I do not believe, Brother Figuhr, that you have considered the seriousness of the situation. Our people will not stand for any tampering with, or attempt to tamper with the Testimonies. It will give them an uneasy feeling that all is not well at headquarters.
"Read again my letter of September 12. You can save the situation, but only as you are willing to open up the matter. You are about to ruin the denomination. I am praying for you."
My correspondence with Washington proceeded along this line until on December 16, 1957, I received this ultimatum:
"They (the officers) therefore request that you cease your activities."
Three days later I received this additional word: "This will place you in plain opposition to your church, and will undoubtedly bring up the matter of your relationship to the church. In view of all this, the officers, as I have previously written, earnestly ask you to cease your activities."
Up till this time there had been no suggestion of a hearing. I was simply ordered to cease my activity, and the implied threat that if I did not do this, "it will undoubtedly bring up the matter of your relationship to the church." There was no suggestion of a hearing, I was simply ordered to stop my activity. I would be condemned without recourse. The threat that my name would come up for consideration could mean anything. There was no question raised as to the justice of my complaint. I was condemned already; the only question was what my punishment would be.
This brought to mind what had been published in the Eternity Extra, that our men had "explained to Mr. Martin that they (the Adventists) had among their number certain members of their "lunatic fringe even as there are similar wild-eyed irresponsibles in every field of fundamental Christianity." In contrast to this lunatic fringe they had a "sane leadership," meaning themselves. I do not know how our leaders conducted themselves while with the evangelicals, but they left the impression upon these men that "the majority group of sane leadership (which) is determined to put the brakes on any members who seek to hold views divergent from that of the responsible leadership of the denomination." Eternity Extra, September, 1956, p. 2.
Let the reader ponder this. We have a sane leadership according to their own estimation. We have also a lunatic fringe of wild-eyed irresponsibles. This sane leadership is determined to put the brakes on "any members who seek to hold views divergent from that of the responsible leadership of the denomination."
I could not believe this when I first read it. Here I was, for fifty years an honored member of the church, having held responsible positions. But if I dared hold "views divergent from that of the responsible leadership of the denomination," I became a member of the "wild-eyed irresponsibles" who constituted the "lunatic fringe" of the denomination; and without a hearing I was ordered to cease my activity or feel the "brakes" applied. If I did not now have the documents before me, I would have difficulty in believing that any "sane leadership" would attempt to stifle criticism and make threats against any members who seek to hold views divergent from that of the responsible leadership of the church. Had it come to this? Rome went but little further.
Some will object that this is only what the evangelicals say of our leaders. The fact remains that our men have never protested against these accusations. My own case makes clear that without any trial or hearing I was to be brought before the tribunal, not for a hearing, but to be condemned without a hearing by the men who had appointed themselves as judges. It is to be had in mind that this was before the General Conference of 1958, before the new theology had been officially accepted, and before the denomination had an opportunity to express itself on the subject. All public criticism must cease. If I did not cease, it will "undoubtedly bring up the matter of your relationship to the church." This was an ultimatum.
How did I react to this? As any man would. Here was a usurpation of authority. I wrote that I was a man of peace, and that I could be reasoned with, but not threatened. I felt, and I now feel, that this denomination is facing the apostasy foretold long ago, that our leaders are following the exact procedure which the Spirit of Prophecy outlined they would follow, and that I have a duty which I must not shirk. I regret very much that our leaders by their actions have made it possible for our enemies to bring deserved reproach to God's cause. In my early letters I mentioned again and again that our enemies would sooner or later discover our weakness and make capital of it. I pleaded with our leaders to make amends for what had been done; but without results. We are now reaping what we have sown.
In my next letter I shall recount the efforts I have made to get a hearing - not a secret hearing, but a public hearing - and if that was not thought best, a private hearing, but one that would be recorded and of which I would get a copy. In this I have failed. I shall give the documented reasons for my failure to get a recorded hearing.
I have been asked what I expect to accomplish. I have received hundreds of letters pledging support if I will only do certain things. I answer very few letters, as it is physically impossible for me to enter into correspondence. I have received many offers of advice and direction, but I don't want to involve others. I have had all manner of motives attributed to me, some good people apparently failing to understand that to attribute motives is judging. Also, it seems impossible for some to understand that doctrine in itself is important enough to furnish motive to protest. In this crisis we are now in, it would be cowardice for me to fail to come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty.
I have had three delegations come to me to plead with me to do something "practical." In effect they said: "We are with you, but you are not going at the matter in a practical way. The moment we take our stand with you, we may, and probably will, lose our position. (They were ministers.) If you had something to offer us, if you would start another movement which we could join, we would go with you. But to be left stranded without any prospect, is unrealistic. You will never get anywhere unless you have something to offer."
To that I answer that I am a Seventh-day Adventist, that I am not interested in starting any movement, and that I do not care for the support of any who hold such views. They are not the kind of material that will stand in the coming crisis.
I am a Seventh-day Adventist, rejoicing in the truth. Right and truth will triumph in the end. I am hoping that as the truth of the present situation becomes known, there will be men and women who will protest and exert influence enough to effect certain changes in our organization that will ensure men in holy office that are faithful to the truth once delivered to the saints.
I end this with hearty greeting to all. My next letter on the matter of a hearing should be an interesting one. Till then, may the dear Lord be with you.