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August 1994 Table of Contents

 
 

The World-Class Straw Man, Part 3
By Ralph Larson

The World-Class Straw Man, Part 3

To point out all of the errors and distortions of truth in the new book, The Nature of Christ, by Roy Adams, associate editor of the Review, would require a volume at least as large as the original. This would surpass both our time and our interest. We trust that the samplings of grevious errors that have been provided in our first two articles will satisfy those who have a concern for accuracy and truth. In this final article, we wish to simply identify some of Adams’ major disagreements with the Bible and with the Spirit of Prophecy. We believe this evidence will make it clear that Adams is not really fighting Jones, Waggoner, and Andreason. His real enemy is the inspired writings, especially the Spirit of Prophecy.

Adams seems to be deeply offended by two closely related concepts in the inspired writings:

  1. That victory over sin by God’s power is possible in this life; and
  2. That there will be some persons who will stand before God without a mediator in the last days. As we have seen, he endeavors to make us believe that the first concept regarding victory (sanctification) has not come to us from the inspired writings but from Jones and Waggoner through Andreason.

Here is a suggestion. Take a pen in your hand and mark with a V for victory the following verses in your New Testament:

Matthew 5:48; Romans 1:16; 5:21; 6:18, 22; 8:4; 12:2; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 7:1; 10:5; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 1:4; 3:20; 4:22–24; 5:26, 27; Philippians 2:5, 15: 4:13; Colossians 1:22; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 4:1, 7; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 2:19, 22; 3:17; Titus 2:3, 12–14; Hebrews 6:1; 13:20, 21; James 1:4, 21; 4:7, 8; 1 Peter 1:15, 16, 22; 2:11, 12; 5:10; 2 Peter 3:11; 1 John 2:6, 29; 3:3, 7, 22; 4:4; 5:3, 4; Jude 24, 25; Revelation 3:21; 14:12; 22:14.

Then ask yourself the question, Is the victory doctrine biblical or not? Next, borrow or purchase a copy of our second research volume, Tell of His Power, and examine the 2,500 victory statements and references there which were gleaned from a total of more than 4,500 such statements in Ellen White’s writings. Then ask yourself the question, Is the victory doctrine supported by God’s chosen messenger, Ellen White, or is it not?

In his bitter opposition to the concept that there will be a group who will stand without a mediator, Adams argues that the idea originated with Andreason (see previous article) and that it is a false concept because it would require God to deal with the final generation in a different manner than He has dealt with previous generations. But does God expect no more of us than He did of previous generations? Here is a sampling of Ellen White’s several comments on that subject:

"Our responsibility is greater than was that of our ancestors. We are accountable for the light which they received, and which was handed down as an inheritance for us, and we are accountable also for the additional light which is now shining upon us from the Word of God." The Great Controversy, 164.

We have, beyond question, the greatest spiritual light that any generation has ever had. For God to hold us responsible for the light that He has graciously given to us is nothing new in the plan of salvation. It has always been true. Adams states that the people he admires most are "those who never dwell on the subject of perfection or sinlessness." The Nature of Christ, 120. When we remember how frequently Ellen White did dwell upon these subjects, going into print more than 4,500 times, often in entire articles, we recognize that Ellen White could have no place on the list of persons whom Adams admires most. One of her most inspiring statements is found in Christ’s Object Lessons, page 69:

"Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then he will come to claim them as His own."

Adams devotes three and a half pages to arguing that this statement does not mean what it says, and even dares to rewrite it: Here are his words: ". . . we may now rephrase the first statement as follows: When the spirit of unselfish love and labor for others will have fully ripened in the character of His people, then He will come to claim them as His own." The Nature of Christ, 128.

"No focus here on sinless perfection," writes Adams. Indeed? In the second paragraph before her inspiring statement, Ellen White had written:

"The graces of the Spirit will ripen in your character. Your faith will increase, your convictions deepen, your love be made perfect. More and more you will reflect the likeness of Christ in all that is pure, noble, and lovely." Christ’s Object Lessons, 68.

And in the third paragraph before this she had written: "Christ is seeking to reproduce Himself in the hearts of men; and He does this through those who believe in Him. The object of the Christian life is fruit bearing—the reproduction of Christ’s character in the believer, that it may be reproduced in others." Ibid., 67.

If this is not a focus on character perfection, pray tell, what is it? And how can Adams be justified in applying the principle of fruit bearing only to concern for others when she applied it to the reproduction of Christ’s character in the believer? In the book Christ’s Object Lessons, thee are actually a total of 62 statements that focus on character perfection. Perhaps the most relevant of them is on page 331:

"Let no one say, I cannot remedy my defects of character. If you come to this decision, you will certainly fail of obtaining everlasting life. The impossibility lies in your own will. If you will not, then you cannot overcome. The real difficulty arises from the corruption of an unsanctified heart, and an unwillingness to submit to the control of God."

We would earnestly recommend that Dr. Adams give this passage his careful and prayerful attention and not attempt to solve his problem by "rephrasing" it. As for the colossal effrontery of daring to rewrite the Spirit of Prophecy, Ellen White has spoken on that subject also.

"My Instructor said to me, Tell these men that God has not committed to them the work of measuring, classifying, and defining the character of the testimonies. Those who attempt this are sure to err in their conclusions." Selected Messages, Book 1, 49.

We may well pause to consider the seriousness of this man’s condition. He not only presumes to rewrite the testimonies but the rewriting itself is hideously incorrect and consists of gross misrepresentation. I do not recall that I have ever borne against any work such a strong testimony as I am now bearing against this man’s work, but I feel that I have no choice. As I complete my analysis of the Adams book and note its appalling distortions of the Scriptures, distortions of the Spirit of Prophecy, and even distortions of the history of our church, I am filled with dismay. When I consider that it was written by an associate editor of the Review, printed by the Review and Herald Publishing Company, and carries on its back cover recommendations from officers at the highest level of Adventist officialdom, I am driven nearly to despair. But God has promised that He will preserve His people in a purified church, so we must persevere, regardless of how dark are the prospects before us. We need to remember that most of the apostasies in Israel were initiated by church leaders. Why should we expect it to be different in our time?

But the report of my analysis is not finished. On page 90 of his volume, Adams writes of Andreason’s "facile admonitions to ‘get rid of sin’ and ‘do it now, today.’" We have already noted that Ellen White issued such "facile admonitions" several thousand times. Here are some samples:

"We can overcome, fully, entirely." Signs of the Times, November 18, 1886.

"There is no reason why we should not be overcomers." Signs of the Times, March 9, 1888.

"It is our privilege to be overcomers by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony." Review and Herald, April 8, 1909.

And thousands more. But we must go on. On page 89, Adams faults Ron Spear for teaching that the Holy Spirit gives power to keep the repentant soul from sinning. Ellen White testifies to this truth 102 times, like this:

"When the people of God yield themselves to be controlled entirely by the Holy Spirit, in them will appear that Christlikeness which is in accordance with the richness and grandeur of the truth." Signs of the Times, May 8, 1893.

"The omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit is the defense of every contrite soul." Ministry of Healing, 94.

On page 85, Adams writes, "We are not saved by trying to duplicate (Christ’s) victory."

Ellen White testifies 41 times like this:

"We can, we can reveal the likeness of our divine Lord." Review and Herald, April 4, 1912.

"Christians must be like Christ. They should have the same spirit, exert the same influence, and have the same moral excellence that He possessed." Testimonies, vol. 5, 249.

On page 97, Adams assures us that victory over some sins is impossible and that God bears with them until the end. Ellen White again disagrees. She not only assures us that we can fully overcome (see above), she also warns that a failure to do this will disqualify us for heaven.

"We must conquer in the name of Jesus, or be conquered." Signs of the Times, June 10, 1903.

"We shall either overcome our evil traits of character, and become like Christ, or we shall cherish our defects, and fail of the divine standard." Review and Herald, March 17, 1891.

Many more such disagreements with Ellen White are found in Adams’ book, but we cannot detail them all here. How does he deal with these problems? By a technique that has been used by virtually all of the Calvinistic writers among us. He writes of Ellen White’s seemingly conflicting statements" (page 116), her "apparently conflicting statements" (page 119), and her "apparent contradictions" (page 119). We affirm in response that Ellen White is not disagreeing with herself; she is disagreeing with her Calvinistic interpreters and "rephrasers", as she should.

Adams does not even shrink from proposing that his readers challenge us with the lunatic question, "Are you perfect?" Although other Calvinists have done this, I still find it so incredibly inane that I marvel when I see it. To ask this question is to betray an enormous incompetence in the Scriptures, in the Spirit of Prophecy, and even in common sense. In the oldest book in the Bible, Job testified, "Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul." Job 9:21. Ellen White offers similar testimony 25 times:

"Those who are really seeking to perfect Christian character will never indulge in the thought that they are sinless." Review and Herald, January 18, 1881.

"Those whom Heaven recognizes as holy ones are the last to parade their own goodness." Youth’s Instructor, June 5, 1902.

As for common sense, how would you estimate your own humility? Shall I say to people, "You know folks, one thing I like about me is that I am so humble? I am probably the most humble minister in this conference. If you want to see a man who is really humble, just take a look at me!" What kind of sense would that make? Yet Calvinists continue to think that they have confounded us when they ask this senseless question. Is not their condition desperate?

In a chapter entitled, "What Is Sin?" Adams divides sin into four categories and argues that two of the categories can be overcome but the other two cannot. Over against this we have the testimony of Ellen White that we may attain to the full stature of men and women in Christ (36 statements), that we can reflect His likeness (41 statements), that we can live lives of holiness (70 statements), that we can reach moral perfection (135 statements), and that we can reflect the moral image of God (135 statements). She then warns us in 48 statements that there will be no change of character when Christ comes. How did Adams miss all of this?

On page 23, Adams faults Joe Crews for affirming that emphasis was intended by the writer of Hebrews 2:14 in the words "HE—ALSO—HIMSELF—LIKEWISE" took part of the same flesh and blood that we have. [Emphasis by Crews.] Adams says that this emphasis is improper since "the apostle did not write in English" and the words are "merely a matter of English idiomatic style—now nearly 500 years old." But the words are all there in the Greek.

Observe:

Kai—autos—paraplesios

Also—He himself—likewise, in like manner

The Greek lexicons define autos like this:

"Self, intensive, setting the word it modifies off from everything else, emphasizing and contrasting." Gingrich [Italics mine]

"Self, as used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another." Thayer

"Of oneself, by oneself, alone." Liddell and Scott

"Of oneself, of one’s own motion, alone." Greenfield

Did Adams suppose that we had all lost our Greek New Testaments? This is a 2,000 year-old Greek idiom, not a 500 year old English idiom.

We could go on, but we cannot afford to spend overmuch time chasing the devil’s rabbits. We trust that enough evidence has been presented to demonstrate the character of Dr. Adams’ book, The Nature of Christ. And we must sadly admit that it is not essentially different from the other Calvinistic writings that have preceded it. Calvinism began in the Seventh-day Adventist Church through a statement about the nature of Christ in the book Questions on Doctrine that was a methodological monstrosity and an historical fraud. Calvinism has been maintained and promoted in our church by writings that have not departed from that pattern of distortion and misrepresentation, as we now see in the Adams book.

It is with an enormous sense of relief and refreshment that we turn from this to the pure waters of life in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Let others find their satisfaction in the contaminations of Calvinism if they so desire. We have something better. We have no need to drink from broken cisterns. We have a cause that will carry us through to the kingdom of God and will plant our feet upon the sea of glass. We have a truth that shines more brightly from every conflict with error and will emerge totally victorious in the end. It is a truth that is more precious than life itself. Let us hold it fast!

"The time has come when things must be called by their right names. The truth is to triumph gloriously, and those who have long been halting between two opinions must take their stand decidedly for or against the law of God. Some will take up with theories that misinterpret the Word of God, and undermine the foundation of the truth that has been firmly established, point by point, and sealed by the power of the Holy Spirit. The old truths are to be revived, in order that the false theories that have been brought in by the enemy may be intelligently met. There can be no unity between truth and error." Upward Look, 88. {Emphasis mine.]

In closing, let us permit Ellen White to ask a few questions:

"Why should we not perfect a Christlike character?" Youth’s Instructor, February 20, 1896.

"Shall we not give up our sins, and let them go?" Review and Herald, Mary 5, 1904.

"Shall we now, at once, cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God?" Review and Herald, January 31, 1893.

"Why should we not walk with God, as did Enoch? Why should we not have the transforming grace of Christ daily?" Review and Herald, January 31, 1893.

And the most solemn question of them all:

"And you that have not sanctified your souls by obeying the truth, do you expect that Christ at His appearing will make you ready? There will then be no atoning blood to wash away the stains of sins." Review and Herald, August 17, 1869. [Emphasis mine.]

We are forced to recognize that there is hopeless disagreement between Adams and Ellen White, a problem that Adams seeks to solve by rewriting her messages and changing her words to make them agree with his Calvinistic errors. Shall we imperil our souls by following Adams, or shall we put our confidence in the words of God’s chosen messenger?

What would you recommend?

August 1994 Table of Contents

 

       
 

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