Holy Flesh and Celebration Music, Part I

In 1898, Satan, through a false teaching known as the “Holy Flesh Movement” in Indiana, made an unsuccessful attempt to introduce a false Christ and a “Pentecostal” or “Celebration” type of worship into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Elder S. S. Davis, Indiana Conference evangelist, developed these strange new teachings, never before known among Seventh-day Adventists. Elder R. S. Donnell, President of the Indiana Conference, along with a majority of the ministry of the Conference, was swept away by the erroneous teachings. The advocates of this strange new phenomena believed the movement was the outpouring of the “Latter Rain,” and the teachings swept through the Indiana Conference with the speed of a prairie fire.

It is interesting to note that “Pentecostal” type of worship, and Pentecostal denominations as we know them today, had their beginnings in the skid row, clapboard, store-front churches of Los Angeles at the turn of the century. This erroneous type of “Pentecostal” worship was introduced into the Seventh-day Adventist Church at precisely the very same hour in history!

Ellen White was in Australia at the time and knew nothing of the development of this erroneous form of worship in Indiana. The General Conference sent Elder Stephen N. Haskell to investigate the new movement. He reported to Ellen White in two letters. (Note: These two letters will be referred to as Haskell Letter #1 and Haskell, Letter #2. Both letters are on file at the Ellen G. White Estate and are available for research).

“To describe it, I hardly know what to say,” Haskell wrote to Ellen White. “It is beyond all description. I have never seen any company held with a firmer grasp by a certain number of the leading ministers, than they are held in Indiana.” Letter #1, S. N. Haskell to Ellen G. White, Sept. 25, 1900. [Emphasis in all quotations is supplied.]

Notice that the Conference leaders of this erroneous movement in Indiana used crowd-control to deceive the people. One should always be aware that control of the masses is one of Satan’s most effective tools to “deceive the very elect.” Matthew 24:24.

In her reply to Haskell, Ellen White recalled the improper use of music, in worship, in fanatical movements of the past. “I bore my testimony, declaring that these fanatical movements, this din and noise, were inspired by the spirit of Satan, who was working miracles to deceive if possible the very elect.” Letter 132, 1900, 5–8, October 10, 1900; Released December 10, 1971.

Notice that Ellen White called the Holy Flesh deception a “din and noise,” and that this din and noise was “inspired by the spirit of Satan.” One of the outstanding features of this deception was a “Celebration” type of worship and music, utilizing a full band with drums. But that was not all. Along with the erroneous style of worship was taught dangerous heretical doctrines.

The Doctrine of the Holy Flesh Movement

The central doctrine of the Holy Flesh advocates was (1) that Jesus was born with Holy Flesh—with a human nature like that which Adam possessed in the Garden of Eden before the fall. (2)Jesus passed through an experience in the Garden of Gethsemane and those who followed Him through this experience would have holy flesh like Jesus had (and which Adam possessed before the fall), and this experience would fit the individual for translation. (3) After this experience the individual would then possess flesh like Jesus had and therefore would no longer sin. (4) After passing through this Garden of Gethsemane they experience the Holy Flesh. (The Early Elmshaven Years, vol. 5, 108.)

“Brother R. S. Donnell is president, and they have an experience in getting the people ready for translation,” Stephen N. Haskell wrote to Ellen White. “They call it the ‘cleansing message.’ Others call it the ‘holy flesh.’” Haskell Letter #1, September 25, 1900.

Individuals who did not pass through this “Garden Experience” were considered “adopted sons,” and therefore did not possess translation faith. These individuals would have to pass through the grave and “go to heaven by the underground railway.” The Early Elmshaven Years, vol. 5, 108.

“Attempting to gain this Garden experience that would give them holy flesh, the people gathered in meetings in which there were long prayers, strange, loud, instrumental music, and excited ,extended, hysterical preaching,” Arthur White wrote. “They were led to seek an experience of physical demonstration. Bass drums and the tambourines aided in this.” Ibid., 101. [Emphasis supplied.]

Notice the three important elements of this erroneous type of worship. (1) “Long prayers.” (2)”Extended, hysterical preaching.” (3) “Strange, loud, instrumental music,” and the fact that “bass drums and the tambourines” aided in the deception. These three elements are absolute essentials to elevate the emotions of any church gathering. In the “holy flesh” meetings, in Indiana, some of the people would reach a state of hysteria and pass out on the floor. Monitors would carry these individuals to the front “where a dozen or more people would gather around and shout, ‘Glory to God!’ while others prayed or sang.” Ibid. When they regained consciousness they were said to have “holy flesh” and were then considered fit for translation.

The Holy Flesh Movement and Celebration Music

In their meetings, the Holy Flesh leaders used loud instrumental music and hysterical preaching to elevate the emotions of the people to a frenzy until a state of delirium existed. This method of crowd control was developed more fully the following year in the Pentecostal tongues-speaking movement in the clapboard storefront, skid-row churches of Los Angeles. This form of satanic worship progressed into “false healing,” “false speaking in tongues,” “handling of snakes in worship,” and other satanic delusions. In the past ninety-eight years, the phenomena has grown to worldwide proportions in the so-called “Full Gospel” Pentecostal churches of today. Is it not curious that this satanic delusion was first developed among Seventh-day Adventists? Satan’s clever movements can be detected if the Christian is wide-awake, studying his or her Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. The Seventh-day Adventist Christian should never forget “how the Lord has led us, and His teaching, in our past history.” Life Sketches, 196.

“As the conference president stood speaking one evening,” Arthur White wrote, “he held his arms outstretched toward the congregation, and later reported that he had felt great power coursing down his arms and passing through his fingers out to the people.” Early Elmshaven Years, vol. 5, 101.

There is a great power that goes with the movement that is on foot there,” Haskell wrote to Ellen White. “It would almost bring anybody within its scope, if they are at all conscientious, and sit and listen with the least degree of favor, because of the music that is brought to play in the ceremony.” Haskell Letter #1.

Please notice, dear Adventist friend, that in this “celebration” type of worship “there is a great power,” and that power is in the music! Pioneer Adventist, Stephen Haskell, said that if one would “listen with the least degree of favor,” they would be swept away with the deception “because of the music that is brought to play in the ceremony!”

“They have an organ, one bass viol, three fiddles, two flutes, three tambourines, three horns, and a big bass drum, and perhaps other instruments which I have not mentioned,” Haskell observed. “They are as much trained in their musical line as any Salvation Army choir that you ever heard.” Ibid.

“In fact, their revival effort is simply a complete copy of the Salvation Army method,” Haskell added, “and when they get on a high key, you cannot hear a word from the congregation in their singing, nor hear anything, unless it be shrieks of those who are half insane. I do not think I overdraw it at all.” Ibid.

“Those things which have been in the past will be in the future,” Ellen White warned. “Satan will make music a snare by the way in which it is conducted. God calls upon His people, who have the light before them in the Word and in the Testimonies, to read and consider, and to take heed.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 38.

Loud Music the Prerequisite for Speaking In Tongues

“A bedlam of noise shocks the senses and perverts that which if conducted aright might be a blessing,” Ellen White wrote. “The powers of satanic agencies blend with the din and noise to have a carnival, and this is termed the Holy Spirit’s working.” Ibid.

All historians of contemporary music know that Rock’ n Roll developed in the 1950s and had its roots in black and Pentecostal gospel music. Indeed, in the NBC television production of the early career of Elvis Presley, one complete episode portrayed how Elvis developed his music from the Pentecostal church services he attended with his mother and father as a young lad.

In this episode, Elvis was appearing on his first Grand Ole’ Opry country music show. The crowd was not responding to his rendition of a beautiful ballad. Elvis was “bombing”, as the entertainment industry would describe the incident. In his mind’s eye Elvis was taken back to the Pentecostal church he attended as a lad and was impressed by the audience’s response to the wild gyrations of the minister at the service. He could clearly see the reaction of the people to the minister’s loud preaching and crowd-control methods. Presley immediately broke into a black Rhythm and Blues tune and began to imitate the gyrations of the Pentecostal minister he had observed. At that precise moment the legend of Elvis Presley was born. The cameras focused in on his mother and girl friend standing at the side of the auditorium. The camera neatly captured the expression of astonishment on their faces. Their stunned expression revealed that they too realized there was a power, a supernatural force at work that neither they nor Elvis could ever reverse. This supernatural, demonic, musical influence eventually killed Elvis Presley, and it will destroy an individual or group, denomination or church, who dare to embrace this dangerous last-day delusion of Satan!

In the 1960s, this form of music developed into small “electronic” Rock bands of four or more members. First, there was the “Beatles” of England. Soon other groups followed, such as the “Animals,” the “Rolling Stones,” and many more too numerous to mention. This Satanic music developed into what was termed “acid” music because of the drug LSD that was advocated by the musicians of the era. Later, homosexual groups appeared, such as “Alice Cooper,” and “Kiss.” Then Satan really revealed himself in the “Satan Rock” of the 1970s.

In the 1970s this satanic form of music made its entrance into the major Christian denominations of America—and even into the Roman Catholic Church! The two motion picture productions, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Godspell, will suffice as proof enough to substantiate this claim. These two blasphemous movies were accepted totally by major denominations around the world as a tool to reach the youth for Christ. These movie productions were even accepted in some Seventh-day Adventist circles—at least the music was accepted as tools to reach the youth in Sabbath Schools around the English-speaking divisions of the Church. A true Christian who has seen either of these two blasphemous productions can come away with nothing less than complete disgust.

Is it not curious that the phenomena of “speaking in tongues” came to these major denominations immediately after the lively Rock and Country gospel music was introduced into their church worship services? Another proof of this theory is that contemporary Christian Rock music did not make an entrance into the Church of Christ denomination. Why? Because the Church of Christ does not believe in the use of instrumental music in the worship service. Therefore, the phenomena of speaking in tongues did not make an entrance into that denomination!

“Fanaticism, false excitement, false talking in tongues, and noisy exercises have been considered gifts which God has placed in the church. Some have been deceived here. The fruits of all this have not been good. ‘Ye shall know them by their fruits.’ Fanaticism and noise have been considered special evidences of faith. Some are not satisfied with a meeting unless they have a powerful and happy time. They work for this and get up an excitement of feeling. But the influence of such meetings is not beneficial. When the happy flight of feeling is gone they sink lower than before the meeting because their happiness did not come from the right source.” Last Day Events, 159, 160. [Emphasis supplied.]

Notice that Ellen White states that this kind of music has “been considered gifts which God has placed in the church,” but, “the fruits of all this have not been good.” She added further “the influence of such meetings is not beneficial.” Why? It was “because their happiness did not come from the right source.”

“The Holy Spirit has nothing to do with such a confusion of noise and multitude of sounds as passed before me last January,” Ellen White stated. “Satan works amid the din and confusion of such music, which, properly conducted, would be a praise and glory to God. He makes its effect like the poison sting of the serpent.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 37.

The subtitle of this article in Selected Messages is, “Music Is Made a Snare.” A publisher’s note states; “These comments were made in connection with the ‘Holy Flesh’ movement at the Indiana Camp Meeting of 1899. For further details, See Selected Messages, Book 2, 31–39.” [Sub-title and Publisher’s Note omitted in later editions.]

History of the Past to be Repeated

Those things which have been in the past will be in the future,” Ellen White warned. Why will these things be repeated? Because “the itching desire to originate something new results in strange doctrines.” Ibid., 38.

“Last January the Lord showed me that erroneous theories and methods would be brought into our camp meetings, and that the history of the past would be repeated. I felt greatly distressed. I was instructed to say that at these demonstrations demons in the form of men are present, working with all the ingenuity that Satan can employ to make the truth disgusting to sensible people; that the enemy was trying to arrange matters so that the camp meetings, which have been the means of bringing the truth of the Third Angel’s Message before multitudes, should lose their force and influence.” Ibid., 37.

Notice that Ellen White was “instructed to say” by a heavenly being that “demons in the form of men are present, working with all the ingenuity that Satan can employ to make the truth disgusting to sensible people.” At these contemporary Seventh-day Adventist “celebration” worship services “demons in the form of men are present.” Dear Adventist friend, beware!

History Repeated Just Before the Close of Probation

“The things you have described as taking place in Indiana, the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation,” Ellen White wrote to Stephen Haskell. “Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated.” Last Day Events, 159.

Notice that this satanic phenomena “would take place just before the close of probation” in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and that “every uncouth thing will be demonstrated.” All the practices of the Holy Flesh Movement will be, and are being, repeated in the Church “just before the close of probation.” (For further study see, Last Day Events, 159,160; Maranatha, 226; Selected Messages, Book 2, 36–39; The Voice in Speech and Song, 417, 418; Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 107–109; The Early Elmshaven Years, 100–107.)

“And while those who are devoted to these sciences laud them to the heavens because of the great and good works which they affirm are wrought by them, they little know what a power for evil they are cherishing; but it is a power which will yet work with all signs and lying wonders—with all deceivableness of unrighteousness,” Ellen White concluded. “Mark the influence of these sciences, dear reader, for the conflict between Christ and Satan is not yet ended.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 352.

Those who love the new “celebration” style of worship “laud them to the heavens.” Why? “Because of the great and good works . . . they affirm are wrought by them.” However, “they little know what a power for evil they are cherishing.” Ellen White warned that this type of celebration worship is a power which will yet work with all signs and lying wonders—with all deceivableness “There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing,” Ellen White warned. “The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions.” Last Day Events, 159. In the book Maranatha, article, “Drums, Dancing and Noise,” page 234, the sentence is added: “And this is called the moving of the Holy Spirit.”

Notice also that in this testimony Ellen White states that, “There will be.” Not possibly, or maybe, but there will be! What will there be? “Shouting, with drums, music and dancing,” and, “the senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions.” Will this happen overnight? No, Satan never works that way. He is not stupid. It will come with portions of the above introduced a little at a time. Holy dancing will probably be the last part to be accepted by “rational beings” who “cannot be trusted to make right decisions.” Today we already have the drums and the music in celebration worship services in liberal Seventh-day Adventist churches across America. Next will probably be the shouting, false speaking in tongues and false healings, then the holy dancing.

Mark this point carefully, dear reader. There are two major differences between this final hour deception of Satan, and the deception he introduced to Seventh-day Adventists in the Holy Flesh Movement of 1900. Added to the instrumentation of the “holy band” of the Holy Flesh Movement of 1900, would be the essential 1990s instrumentation of contemporary Rock’ n Roll music. (1)Electric amplified guitar; (2) electric amplified bass, (3) electric amplified keyboards, (4) a full set of drums, not just a “bass drum.” The key word here is “amplified.” If the reader observes this combination of electric instrumentation in any church worship service—beware!

Remember that Ellen White warned that, (1) “Satan will make music a snare by the way in which it is conducted.” (2) The music would be loud, “a bedlam of noise.” (3) “God calls upon His people…to take heed.” Ibid., 38.

False Manifestations of the Holy Spirit

“The Holy Spirit never reveals itself in such methods, in such a bedlam of noise,” Ellen White counseled. “This is an invention of Satan to cover up his ingenious methods for making of none effect the pure, sincere, elevating, ennobling, sanctifying truth for this time.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 107. “No encouragement should be given to this kind of worship.” Ibid., 108.

“Brother and Sister Haskell, we must put on every piece of the armor, and having done all, stand firm,” Ellen White counseled. “We are set as a defense for the gospel, and we must compose a part of the Lord’s grand army for aggressive warfare.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 38.”By the Lord’s faithful ambassadors the truth must be presented in clear-cut lines,” Ellen White continued. “Much of that which today is called testing truth is twaddle which leads to a resistance of the Holy Spirit.” Ibid.

“Much is being said regarding the impartation of the Holy Spirit, and by some this is being so interpreted that it is an injury to the churches,” Ellen White wrote to Haskell. “Eternal life is the receiving of the living elements in the Scriptures and doing the will of God.” Ibid., 38, 39.