John Harvey Kellogg was a visionary who also had the ability to get the entire Adventist denomination deeply in debt with his propositions for many medical buildings in the United States and Mexico for which there was not adequate funding. At the turn of the twentieth century the Adventist institutional indebtedness was approximately half a million dollars. To give some perspective regarding the size of this debt, physicians and ministers working for the denomination were only paid $12-$15 per week. Dr. Kellogg had a vision for Battle Creek to be the worldwide headquarters for the Adventist medical work.
At the same time, the leaders in the Adventist publishing work wanted to make Battle Creek a worldwide publishing center with the publishing house in Oakland, California, and the publishing work in Nashville, Tennessee, simply subsidiaries directed and controlled from Battle Creek.
Many reproofs and cautions against centralization were delivered, apparently in vain. But on February 18, 1902, the Battle Creek Sanitarium burned to the ground. On December 30, 1902, the Review and Herald building burned to the ground. God’s word does not return to Him void. If men will not listen to warning or reproof, He has other ways of speaking.
What happened in Battle Creek at the turn of the twentieth century is a warning to the whole world today. God gives warnings, reproofs, and rebukes. For 177 years, He has sent messengers all over the world with the three angels’ messages, the last message of warning and available mercy for the repentant. If we do not listen, what is going to happen?
“We are warned that the Lord will come suddenly, surprising the world in their idolatrous wickedness.” Letter 243, 1903
“The solemn fact is to be kept not only before the people of the world, but before our own churches also, that the day of the Lord will come suddenly, unexpectedly. The fearful warning of the prophecy is addressed to every soul. Let no one feel that he is secure from the danger of being surprised.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 336