LETTERS TO THE CHURCHES
by Elder M. L. Andreasen, 1957
CHAPTER 5 - WHY NOT A HEARING?
In a previous letter I have related how in the month of May, 1957, I came into possession of some official minutes of the White Board of Trustees - supposed to be secret - which revealed an attempt to tamper with the Testimonies by having inserted in some of the volumes notes and explanations that would make it appear that Sr. White was in harmony with, or at least not opposed to, the new theology advocated in the Ministry and the book Questions on Doctrine. I was dumfounded when I read this official document, and doubly perplexed when I learned that this plan had the sanction of the leadership, and was approved procedure. This would mean that men could freely attempt to have insertions made in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy that would vitiate or change the intended meaning of what Sr. White had written. What assurance could we then have that the books being published were the unadulterated teachings of the author, and that they were not "remedied and corrected" as were other books, according to the account in the Eternity-Extra, of September, 1956?
While I felt uneasy at what the men had attempted to do, my real concern was the realization that this had been approved by the administration, and was henceforth to be accepted policy. Men could now go to the White Board, and with its approval, have inserted explanations and notes secretly and privately before any one would find out what was happening. And they could do this with the assurance that if any one learned of this and revealed what was being done, the administration would deal with such and threaten them unless they ceased their "activity."
In my case, I was told that the minutes were confidential, that I had no right to have them or even read them. Though I had quoted directly and correctly from the official minutes,' I was told, "You are doing all this upon hearsay and upon confidential minutes which you have no right even to read." Letter, December 1957. While the men wished to insert "notes," "explanations," "appendix notes," "foot notes," "suitable notes," "in future printings of the E. G. White writings," (note that all these statements are in the plural) the chairman minimized the matter by declaring in a letter of September 20, 1957, that all it involved was a "cross reference inserted at the bottom of a certain page;" that is, one cross reference, at the bottom of one page, in one of Sr. White's books. This is altogether at variance with the official record. How can this discrepancy be explained?
My first thought and hope was that I would be called to account immediately, and be asked to prove my charges or retract them; that an impartial group of men would be asked to conduct a hearing. But in this I was disappointed.
The first reaction to my "activity" came in a letter of December 16, 1957. There I was told: "The question of your activity was discussed by the officers of the General Conference and they deeply deplore what you are doing. They therefore request you to cease your present activities."
Before I had an opportunity to answer, I received the following on December 19:
"I wish to repeat what I wrote you before, that men have a perfect right to go to boards, including the White Estate group, and make their suggestions without the fear of being disciplined or dealt with as heretics. When we recall that you are doing all this upon hearsay, and upon confidential minutes which you had no right even to read, it certainly impresses one as not the Adventist way of doing things. You were not present at this board meeting, and all you know about it is hearsay and the brief notes recorded by the secretary of that meeting . . . . Now for you to go forward and broadcast a matter like this, certainly puts you in an unenviable light. If you do this, we shall have to do some broadcasting, too. This will again 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."
As will be noted, there was no suggestion of a hearing to ascertain the truth or falsity of my charges. I was simply asked to cease my "activities," or else . . .
How did I react to this? As any man would under threat. I answered that I was a man of peace, that I could be reasoned with, but not threatened. I asked them to go ahead with their plans. I was ready for whatever might come.
What would come? I did not know what was meant by considering my "relationship to the church." It might mean anything. I know what impression they had left upon Dr. Barnhouse if any should object to their usurped authority. Here is what he recorded.
"The position of the Adventists seems to some of us in certain cases to be a new position; to them it may be merely the position of 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 1, 1956.
It seems unfortunate that our leaders should have left such an impression upon the evangelicals. This statement has now been in print three years. The attention of our leaders has been called to it and requests made that they disavow any such intention. But they have made no such disavowal or protest, and our people have somewhat reluctantly come to the conclusion that Mr. Barnhouse is correct in his estimate of our leaders. Add to this what Mr. Martin reports the leaders told him, that "they (the Adventists) have among their number certain members of their 'lunatic fringe' even as there are similar 'wild-eyed irresponsibles' in every field of fundamental Christianity." This is what our leaders told the evangelicals in discussing the important topic of the nature of Christ while in the flesh. These statements I consider an insult. It shows the contempt our leaders have for those who disagree with them. I think these statements are ample ground for impeachment. Our people are longsuffering, but this is the first time of which I know that insults are heaped upon loyal Seventh-day Adventists by the leaders.
A Short Meeting
The only meeting I have ever had with our leaders was one day in February, 1958, when two officers asked me to meet with them for the few minutes they had to spare between sessions of their business meetings. The chief thing seemed to be their desire to know if I intended to continue my "activity." I told them I would. A remark was made as to why I had not asked for a hearing. It had never occurred to me that I should ask for a hearing. I expected to be summoned. But thinking it over, the next day I wrote:
"I did not know that you wanted me to come to Washington for a hearing or discussion as you never mentioned such a thing. If that is your desire, I am ready to come. . . . I have only one request, that the hearing be public; or that a stenographer be present, and that I receive a copy of the-minutes." letter, February 5, 1957.
In response to this I received this, dated February 10, inviting me to come, saying:
"In compliance with your wish, the brethren see no objection whatever in recording our conversation. It is suggested that a tape-recording would likely be the most practical way of doing this."
This was satisfactory to me. I noted, however, that nothing was said of my receiving a copy of the minutes. But perhaps, I thought, this was taken for granted, as I had made this a condition, and they had accepted my proposition. But I felt uneasy. If I should write for further confirmation it might appear that I was questioning their sincerity. But when by February 21, I had received no further word, I wrote:
"Whether by oversight or intent, you did not answer my request that I be given a copy of the minutes. This is necessary; for in any discussion of what is said or not said, it will be my word against that of twelve. I cannot afford to put myself in that position. This is the condition upon which I come."
To this I received a reply dated February 27:
"In the matter of record, I think I indicated in my letter of February 10 that the brethren had in mind recording on tape the proceedings of the meeting. This would provide a full record of what is said and done. We assume that such a complete record would be agreeable to you."
I had asked for a copy of the minutes, and this letter assured me that a tape recording would be made which would "provide a full record of what is said and done." It was assumed "that such a complete record would be agreeable to you." It would be. At last I was assured that a full and complete record would be made, and that according to their own suggestion it would be tape-recorded. I could ask for no more.
But having read Questions on Doctrine carefully, I had noticed that certain things would be said on one page, and a few pages further on this would be ignored. I had made note of certain double-tongued expressions, and it gave me a sense of uncertainty. I could not avoid the conviction that some of these expressions were used for the purpose of confusion and were intended to mislead,
I therefore reread the letters I had written, and also those I had received, especially the portions dealing with my request for a copy of the minutes. I found that nowhere had my request been acknowledged, but the issue had been avoided. This made me wonder. Had there throughout been a studied purpose not to give me a copy of the minutes, while the letters were so worded as to give the impression that I would get a copy? The evidence seemed to substantiate my suspicion. To make sure of my ground, I wrote on March 4 that I wanted absolute assurance, plainly stated, that I would get a "full and complete copy of the minutes" each as had been mentioned. I closed by saying: "On this point I must have absolute assurance."
As by March 12 I received no answer, I wrote again, "I am still waiting for definite word that not only will a tape recording be made, but that I will get a copy. As I stated in my first letter, this is a necessary condition."
March 18 this answer came:
"You have referred to a desire to have minutes kept, and also a copy of the minutes. In discussing this with the officers, it occurs to the brethren that we do this, which would seem fair to all concerned: a secretary be appointed from the group to write out the conclusions we arrive at, and these be submitted to the whole group for approval, after which each will be given a copy. We believe, Brother Andreasen, that this suggestion will be agreeable to you."
This was a wholly new and entirely different suggestion. After I had been told in the February 27th letter, that a tape-recording would be made, a "full" record of "what was said and done," and hope expressed that such "a complete record would be agreeable" to me, I was now presented with a new and previously unheard of proposal, a complete face-about. There would be no stenographer, no taperecording, no minutes at all, but one of the men would write down the conclusions arrived at. And that was supposed to be agreeable to me! It certainly was not agreeable to me. It was a complete breach of faith. It was like substituting Leah for Rachel, a dishonorable transaction. I felt as did Jacob that I had been beguiled. Three weeks earlier, I had been promised "a complete copy" of the minutes which it was hoped would be agreeable to me. Now I was offered a copy of the conclusions, which it was also hoped would be agreeable to me.
This March 18 letter reveals the fact that it was never the intention to give me a copy of the minutes, and yet they had played me along, thinking I would accept their suggestion, coming to a hearing or discussion, and having no record whatever of the discussion, but only of the conclusions. In the dark ages heretics were taken and convicted in secret. There was no habeas corpus act in existence then. And now the officers suggested an unrecorded session, where only a few would be present and no record of any kind be made! I consider this an immoral suggestion. Of what were they afraid? Moreover, before coming to such a hearing the condition was made "that you agree, in submitting your case to the General Conference committee, to abide by the decision of the committee." (Letter of May 13, 1958). This clearly reveals the intent of the committee. A hearing is to be held, a secret hearing, and a discussion entered into, but before the hearing or discussion is held, I am to agree to accept their conclusion and verdict. Under these conditions, how could they help winning their case?
It appears that the officers had in mind appointing themselves accusers, jurors, judges, and executors. In *a case involving points of doctrine where of necessity there must be discussion to arrive at sound conclusions, a neutral committee of men not directly involved in the controversy must hear the case. No judge ever hears a case where he is personally interested. He refuses to sit on a case where he is even remotely concerned. But our officers appoint themselves to hear the case and act as arbiters in a dispute involving points of theology, with powers to act, and ask that one side agree beforehand to accept whatever decision might be made. This, of course, is tantamount to accept the dictum of men elevated as administrators, executives, promoters, financiers, organizers and counselors to have jurisdiction over doctrine, for which work they are not educated. I have heard every one of them say, "I am no theologian."
March 26, 1958, I answered the letter which stated that there would be no record of any kind, but that I would get a copy of the conclusions. I did not need this. I knew beforehand what they would be, for I had already been judged and threatened. I had purposely been kept in ignorance of the intent not to give me a copy of the minutes but to try me secretly. Apparently it was the intention to keep the matter from becoming known, and if I agree beforehand to accept their conclusions, I could be accused of breaking my promise if I made any further comment. If I could be induced to come to Washington under these conditions, I surely would be "sunk." With the whole case in mind, with the repeated evasions of my request for a copy of the minutes, I felt I had been deceived and ended my letter by saying, "Your broken promise cancels the agreement." My faith in men had been severely shaken.
April 3 I received an answer stating that my letter "had been received and its content presented to the officers." There was no mention whatever of my statement, "Your broken promise cancels the agreement," the most important part. Also, this statement was not read to the officers, for a month later I received a letter saying, "Through others I have learned that you feel we have broken our promise to you." This perversion of my words has gone out to the field, who would naturally believe that I had written to others and not to the person concerned. I don't do that kind of work.
In this same letter of April 3, the writer states:
"It is true, as you state, that a tape recording was suggested at first, without a promise, however, of giving you a copy. Since making this suggestion, we have thought further about the matter and believe that such recording would not be a wise plan to follow. . . . A tape recording of every little remark would not be fair to the participants. In such discussions it is not uncommon for earnest men to make a slip which they later regret and correct. Mortal man is subject to such errors; but why preserve them? The sincere purpose of the meeting would be to arrive at conclusions together. . As I look over your letters, this would appear to be in accord with your original suggestion."
This makes clear several matters. It admits that a tape-recording was suggested at first. It also makes clear that it was never the intention of giving me a copy, though the letters were written to hide this fact. It also states that the officers changed their mind and decided that it would not be a wise plan to record anything, as it "would not be fair to the participants," a most astounding reason, and revealing a most decided weakness. And then the last untrue statement: "As I look over your letters, this would appear to be in accord with your original suggestion."
Greater untruth was never uttered. I challenge the writer who says he looked over, my letters to find any place where I say or intimate any such thing. And yet, this impression has gone to the field from Washington. Never suspecting that Washington would tell anything but the absolute truth, the men in the field who were admonished to "hold the line," naturally would believe that this was my "original suggestion." Nothing could be farther from the truth. Again and again, again and again, I stressed in all my letters that I wanted a copy of the minutes, and now the writer says as he looks over my letters that a copy of the conclusions was my original suggestion. What was his reason for such patent misstatement? I think I know. Is it possible that news from Washington is given a biased slant?
Why This Sudden Change?
There must have been some weighty reasons why it was suddenly decided not to have any record at all, after it was first decided to have a complete and full record "of all that was said and done?" The records of the 1888 crisis, the Alpha of apostasy, have largely disappeared, and the existing records are safely hidden and not available. We do not want a like situation in the time of the Omega. Let there be light.
I do not know why the change came about. I can only surmise. It was understood that my "activity" would be considered as well as my relationship to the church. The brethren also suggested that perhaps I had some matters also that should be discussed. I had. I made a list of these subjects. Here it is:
1. Elder Froom's articles, particularly those in the February number of the Ministry, 1957, downgrading Mrs. White.
2. The vault visits of Elders Anderson and Read in regard to having insertions made in the writings of Mrs. White, and the general policies now prevailing.
3. A list of the topics discussed with the evangelicals, which had taken "hundreds of hours," and the main conclusions reached.
4. A detailed list of the books "remedied and corrected" at the recommendation of Mr. Martin, and a further list of books yet to be remedied.
5. The $3,000 law suit.
6. Proselytization. What was agreed to?
7. The meaning of "putting the brakes on" and "lunatic fringe" and "wild-eyed irresponsibles."
8. The new university and the languishing foreign fields.
9. "Exchange monies."
10. A complete audit by a responsible firm of public accountants.
This list I did not send to Washington, for I well knew that it would be a matter of months to compass such a program. I suggested only a few subjects, and of course, I did know what the results would be. But, curiously enough, at just this time the brethren decided that it would not be wise to have any recording made. Under the circumstances I agree with their decision. The pusillanimous reason given for not having a record made- that the brethren might make remarks of which they later would repent- is simply inane. But let there be no misunderstanding. An accounting will yet have to be made.
To top it all comes this in the April 3 letter: "You never asked for a hearing." I will let the reader decide this question for himself. I answered:
"Make no mistake on that point. I not only want a hearing, but such a hearing must be held if this sorry matter is ever to be settled. You say that you wonder if I am really sincere in wanting a hearing. Yes, I want a hearing, I demand one. Not a secret hearing. An open one, or else with a full and complete record of all that is said and done. This has been my desire from the beginning. No star chamber proceedings."
My last communication to headquarters was dated June 28, 1958. I asked if it was still the determination to give me a hearing with a tape-recording for me. A secretary answered:
"With reference to a tape-recording of the meeting, I am instructed to say that our correspondence reveals no promise of a tape-recording for you. If desired, one can be made, but it will be kept in this office for a permanent record as previously stated."
This leaves me free. I have exhausted all means of corresponding with the men I should address. I can now speak to the church, as Christ said might be done if other means fail. This I shall do. But I still hold myself ready to come to a hearing or trial, properly conducted and properly recorded. Let the light in.
On page 383 of the book Questions on Doctrine occurs the statement that Christ "was exempt from the inherited passions and pollutions that corrupt the natural descendents of Adam."
This is not a quotation from the Spirit of Prophecy. It is a new doctrine that has never appeared in any Statement of Belief of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, and is in direct conflict with our former statements of doctrine. It has not been "adopted by the General Conference in quadrennial session when accredited delegates from the whole field are present," as Questions on Doctrine says must be done if it is to be official. See page 9. It is therefore not approved or accepted doctrine.
There are two statements in the Testimonies which are referred to as proving that Christ was exempt from inherited passions. The first says that Christ "is our example in all things. He is a brother in our infirmities, but not in possessing like passions." Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 202. The other states, "He was a mighty petitioner, not possessing the passions of our human, fallen natures, but compassed with like infirmities, tempted in all points even as we are." Ibid., p. 509. Both of these statements mention passions, neither mentions pollutions. The word exempt is not found.
Does Sr. White's statement that Christ did not have or possess passions mean that He was exempt from them? No, for not to have passions is not equivalent to being exempt from them. They are two entirely different concepts. Exempt is defined "to free or excuse from some burdensome obligation; to take out, deliver, set free as from a rule which others must observe, which binds others; to be immune from." Was Christ excused from "a rule which others must observe, which binds others"? No, "God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to (not exempt from) the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life's peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss." Desire of Ages, p. 49.
"While He was a child, He thought and spoke as a child, but no trace of sin marred the image of God within Him. Yet He was not exempt from temptation. He was subject to (not exempt from) all the conflicts which we have to meet." Ibid., p. 71.
"God spared not His own Son." Romans 8.:32. "No child of humanity will ever be called to live a holy life amid so fierce a conflict with temptation as was our Saviour." Desire of Ages, p. 71. "It was necessary for Him to be constantly on guard to preserve His purity." Ibid. A man may not have cancer, but does that mean that he is immune from it, exempt from it? Not at all. Next year he may be afflicted with it. Sr. White does not say that Christ was exempt from passions. She says He did not have passions, did not possess passions, not that He was immune from them.
Why did Christ not have passions? Because "the soul must purpose the sinful act before passion can dominate over reason, or iniquity triumph over conscience." Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 177. And Christ did not purpose any sinful act. Not for a moment was there in Him a sinful propensity. He was pure, holy, undefiled. But this did not mean that He was exempt from temptation or sin. "He could have sinned, He could have fallen." Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1128. I am still puzzled how any one can make Sr. White say that Christ was exempt, when she says just the opposite, and does not use the word exempt.
Is Temptation Sin?
Temptation is not sin; but it may become so if we yield to it. "When impure thoughts are cherished, they need not be expressed in word or act to consummate the sin and bring the soul into condemnation." Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 623. "An impure thought tolerated, an unholy desire cherished, and the soul is contaminated. . . . Every unholy thought must be instantly repelled." Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 177.
Satan tempts us to get us to sin. God uses controlled temptation to strengthen us and teach us to resist. Satan tempted Adam in the garden; he tempted Abraham and all the prophets; he tempted Christ; he tempts all men, but God will "not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." 1 Corinthians 10:13.
"Christ was a free moral agent who could have sinned had He so desired. He was at liberty to yield to Satan's temptations and work at cross-purposes with God. If this were not so, if it had not been possible for Him to fall, He could not have been tempted in all points as the human family is tempted." Youth's Instructor, October 28, 1899.
The Great Law of Heredity
Questions on Doctrine says, page 383, that Christ was "exempt from the inherited passions and pollutions that corrupt the natural descendents of Adam." Every child, that is born into this world, inherits varying traits from his ancestors. Did Christ likewise inherit such traits? Or was He exempt? Here is the answer:
"Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity." Desire of Ages, p. 48. "What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors." Ibid. Some of these ancestors were good people; some were not so good; some were bad; some were very bad. There were thieves, murderers, adulterers, deceivers, among them. He had the same ancestors that all of us have. "He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations." Ibid.
"Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin." Ibid.
In view of these and many other statements, how can any say that He was exempt? Far from being exempt or reluctantly submitting to these conditions, He accepted them. Twice this is stated in the quotations here made. He accepted the results of thee working of the great. law of heredity, and with "such heredity He came to share our sorrows and temptations."
The choice of the devout Adventist is therefore between Questions on Doctrine and Desire of Ages, between falsehood and truth. "God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life's peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss." Desire of Ages, p. 49.
"Christ knew that the enemy would come to every human being to take advantage of hereditary weakness. . . and by passing over the ground which man must travel, our Lord has prepared the way for us to overcome." Desire of Ages, pp. 122, 123. "Upon Him who had laid off His glory, and accepted the weakness of humanity, the redemption of the world must rest." Ibid., p. 11.
Few, even of our ministers, know anything of what Sr. White calls the great law of heredity. Yet this is the law which made the incarnation effective and made Christ a real man, like one of us in all things. That Christ should be like one of us in all things, Paul considered a moral necessity on the part of God, and makes bold so to state. Says he: "In all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God to make reconciliation for the sins of the people; for in that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted." Hebrews 2:17, 18. Behoved here means "ought to," a moral duty devolving upon God.
The great law of heredity was decreed by God to make salvation possible, and is one of the elemental laws that has never been abrogated. Take that law away, and we have no Saviour that can be of help or example to us. Graciously Christ "accepted" this law, and thus made salvation possible. To teach that Christ was exempt from this law negates Christianity and makes the incarnation a pious hoax May God deliver Seventh-day Adventists from such teaching and teachers!
I have not touched upon the subject of pollution, though it is mentioned in Questions on Doctrine in connection with passions. Christ was subject to the great law of heredity, but that has nothing to do with pollution. Impure thoughts tolerated, unholy desires cherished, evil passions indulged in, will issue in contamination, pollution, and downright sin. But Christ was not affected by any of this. He "received no defilement;" "Jesus, coming to dwell in humanity, received no pollution." Desire of Ages, p. .266.
Passion and pollution are two different things, and should not be placed together as they are in Questions on Doctrine. Passion can generally be equated with temptation, and as such is not sin. An impure thought may come unbidden even on a sacred occasion, but it will not defile; it is not sin, unless it is dwelt upon and tolerated. An unholy desire may suddenly flash to mind at Satan's instigation; but it is not sin unless it is cherished.
The law of heredity applies to passions and not to pollutions. If pollution is hereditary, then Christ would have been polluted when He came to this world and could not therefore be "that holy thing." Luke 1:35. Even the children of an unbelieving husband are called holy, a statement that should be a comfort to the wives of such husbands. 1 Corinthians 7:14. As Adventists, however, we do not believe in original sin.
On this matter of pollution there is much to say. But as the problem we are facing deals only with passions, we shall not discuss pollutions further. On occasion I may have more to say about passions, for I consider the statement in Questions on Doctrine deadly heresy, destructive of the atonement.
My next letter will be the last one in this series. But if the reader will consult the list of ten subjects which I have enumerated elsewhere in this letter, he will see that there is yet much to be done. And that list is not exhaustive. However, I shall give time for what I have said to sink in, for large bodies move slowly, and it takes time for the leaven to "leaven the whole lump." But the leaven is working, and in due time expected results will come. But I am in no haste. Time is with truth, and truth will make its way, and is not dependent on any human instrument. I get many encouraging letters, and am thankful for them, and only sorry that I must leave most of them unanswered. One rather prominent man from Washington wrote me of the confusion existing there, and stated: "We are watching events, and when the time comes, we will be ready to act. Personally, I do not believe that the time is quite ripe, but nearly so. We are with you, and you can depend on us."
I am glad to report that my health is good, and that I am enjoying life to the limit. It is wonderful to live in such a time as this. "I am immortal till my work is done." That may be tomorrow, but if so, I am satisfied and ready."
Greetings to all my friends with 1 Thessalonians 5:25.