The Shadow of the Stanton Controversy, part 3

Editor’s note:

In the first article, a brief history of the Stanton Controversy was given: In the early part of 1893 two brethren, one whose last name was Stanton, after attending the General Conference, published a pamphlet called the Loud Cry. In this tract the Seventh-day Adventist Church was denounced as Babylon (the great Spiritual Babylon of Revelation 18). This tract proclaimed the fall of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as Babylon and called upon the people to come out of her. This tract was widely circulated. Ellen White began writing pointed rebuttals against this pamphlet and the two men publishing and circulating it. Our first article gave some of the Ellen White definitions about who and what the church is as found in these “Stanton manuscripts.” The church was defined in these manuscripts as God’s chosen people who are keeping His commandments, especially the fourth commandment and are receiving the Holy Spirit, and who will give the final warning to the world. The church is that group of people breasting the opposition from the world and uplifting God’s down-trodden law. It has the added qualifying definition as those who are laborers together with God. These definitions of the church quoted from Ellen White in the first article are paramount if the rest of the manuscripts now to be discussed are to be understood.

In the second article we began to show, from the Stanton manuscripts, the “big picture” about what was really going on—the nine objectives of the devil to harass and eventually destroy the second advent movement. First, by an attempt to separate the true and faithful from the movement. The second article showed how this very same objective of the devil is being carried out today around the world.

Now, we turn to the even bigger picture, the overall focal point of attention in the Great Controversy, at the present time. This should also be our focal point in these closing days of earth’s history.

When we understand this bigger picture, we will be able to keep the rest of the picture in focus. We will not lose our bearings because there is some hard text of scripture or some statement in the Spirit of Prophecy that we cannot immediately understand. What is the really big picture? Here it is from the Stanton manuscripts: “In place of working with divine agencies to prepare a people to stand in the day of the Lord, they have taken their stand with him who is an accuser of the brethren, who accuses them before God day and night.” Review and Herald, August 22, 1893. What are God and heaven doing today? “Oh, that you could see that you are doing nothing while all heaven is engaged in intense activities to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God.” The Signs of the Times, February 8, 1892.

Ellen White asked the following question of those teaching the message with Stanton about the Adventist church being Babylon: “Have they gone to those who are chosen of God to bear a living testimony, and given them evidence that this light would better qualify them to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God?” Review and Herald, September 5, 1893.

To understand the really big picture that emerges from the Stanton manuscripts we must understand what is involved in preparing a people to stand in the day of the Lord. This was the biggest concern expressed by Ellen White in the Stanton manuscripts.

One of the reasons why Ellen White always opposed any manner of time-setting was because of what the Lord showed her in regard to the magnitude of the task of preparing a people for the end. See Appendix #10.

Everything done or taught, every project big or small in the second advent movement, every significant development in the work of God in these last days, revolves around this one worldwide supreme objective. This is the big picture—everything else must fit into this picture. If we are going to pull all lines evenly we must see how everything else fits into the really big picture, for example:

  1. The reason why Adventists developed medical institutions and began to teach health reform was to prepare a people for the great day of God. See Appendix #1.
  2. This is the reason for developing an educational system. See Appendix #2.
  3. This is the reason for developing the restaurant work. See Appendix #3.
  4. This is the reason for preaching the Three Angels’ Messages, righteousness by faith. See Appendix #4.
  5. This is the reason for music in our worship services. See Appendix #5.
  6. This is the reason for all the reforms of belief and life that God has given the second advent movement. See Appendix #6.
  7. This is the reason for the importance of the sanctuary message that was given to us. See Appendix #7.
  8. Preparing a people for the day of God is the reason for everything in Adventism. See Appendix #8.

The big picture is that God is preparing a people for translation. He is bringing these people, whom He is preparing for translation, into the second advent movement. They are not being put to sleep by the new theology, but are learning the historic doctrines that our pioneers taught. Not only are they studying how God has taught us in our past history—the historic Adventist message, but they are also learning how God has led us in the past, and how God led us to New Testament organization. They are returning to the old landmarks both in terms of church organization and theology.


The Spiritual Temple Being Built


“The living church of God is individually a habitation of God through the Spirit, that man may become a well-built temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God, that the Lord Jesus Christ may dwell in his innermost being, ennobling and sanctifying his human nature by His divine attributes.” In Heavenly Places, 283.

This is the reason for the shaking we are presently going through—all defective members must either correct their defects of character or the angels will remove them from the spiritual building. If you are in earnest, God will perfect a spiritual experiment on you that will bring you to character perfection. (This is a major subject of the Stanton manuscripts.) See Appendix #9.

“One stone mislaid affects the whole building. This figure represents human character, which is to be wrought upon, point by point. There is not to be a flaw in it, for it is the Lord’s building. Every stone must be perfectly laid, that it may endure the pressure placed upon it.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 2, 340.

“ ‘Ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.’ [1 Corinthians 3:9.] This figure represents human character, which is to be wrought upon, point by point. Each day God works with His building, stroke upon stroke, to perfect the structure, that it may become a holy temple for Him. Man is to co-operate with God. Each worker is to become just what God designs him to be, building his life with pure, noble deeds, that in the end his character may be a symmetrical structure, a fair temple, honored by God and man. There is to be no flaw in the building, for it is the Lord’s. Every stone must be perfectly laid, that it may endure the pressure placed upon it. One stone laid wrong will affect the whole building.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 173.

This is the temple that the Lord, “through His human agents, has been building up.” The devil is “full of anger because he cannot bind the people of God,” God’s “saints,” “the loyal people of God.” They are “the chosen ones whom he [the devil] cannot deceive.” They are not perfect yet. “The church of Christ on earth will be imperfect, but God does not destroy his church because of its imperfection.” They have turned “from disloyalty to God . . . and come back to their allegiance, standing to vindicate the holy law of God . . . a people in which all heaven is interested, and they are the one object on earth dear to the heart of God.” Through these people “will be made manifest the final and full display of the love of God to the world that is to be lightened with its glory. The prayer of Christ that his church may be one as he was one with his Father, will finally be answered. The rich dowry of the Holy Spirit will be given, and through its constant supply to the people of God, they will become witnesses in the world of the power of God unto salvation.” Some of the most wonderful promises in the Spirit of Prophecy are made to this group of people: “Jesus sees his true church on the earth, whose greatest ambition is to co-operate with Him in the grand work of saving souls. He hears their prayers, presented in contrition and power, and Omnipotence cannot resist their plea for the salvation of any tried, tempted member of Christ’s body.” (Quotations from the Stanton manuscripts: Review and Herald, July 22, 1893; August 29, 1893; September 5, 1893; October 17, 1893.)

This group of people will not apostatize when the National Sunday Law comes: “Will God’s commandment-keeping people be carried away with the prevailing iniquity? Will they be tempted, because universal scorn is placed upon the law of God, to think less of that law which is the foundation of his government both in heaven and in earth?—No. To his church his law becomes more precious, holy, honorable, as men cast upon it scorn and contempt.” Review and Herald, October 17, 1893.

This group of people receive the reproof, rebuke and chastening of God: “He reproves, he rebukes, he chastens; but it is only that he may restore and approve at last.” Review and Herald, October 17, 1893.


Hindering God’s Work


Those who try to cut off these true and faithful commandment-keepers from the second advent movement are doing a similar work to Stanton who received some of the most severe rebukes given in the Spirit of Prophecy. To attempt to cut off a true commandment-keeper from the second advent movement, is according to the Stanton manuscripts, “error,” “greatly deceived,” “is not bearing the message of truth. Receive him not, nor bid him God-speed; for God has not spoken by him,” “they will deceive the people.” “The Lord forbids us to proceed in any violent way against those whom we think erring, and we are not to deal out excommunications and denunciations to those who are faulty.”

Would to God that all who profess to be Seventh-day Adventists would heed this counsel from the Stanton manuscripts. It would bring a halt to the suing, the burning of churches, the stoning, the beatings of one professed Adventist by another, or by structure church officials. If it were carefully heeded, it would bring all Adventists to a position of greater humility and heartsearching than we have ever seen. Instead of having a judgmental attitude, if we would heed God’s counsel, it would force us to completely cease from all politicking, from all cover-up of sin or worldly policy.

The following experience, that the Adventist church structure had in 1893, as reported by the Stanton manuscripts, would be seen again. “Testimonies had been given correcting and counseling the church and many had made a practical application of the message to the Laodicean Church, and were confessing their sins and repenting in contrition of soul. They were hearing the voice of Jesus, the heavenly Merchantman, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.’ Review and Herald, November 8, 1956. (From Manuscript 21, 1893.)

This is the experience that every Adventist must have before the end, otherwise, the angels will separate us (as tares) from the true and faithful, not necessarily from the structure. We may call ourselves Seventh-day Adventists but that will not make any difference: “Shall Seventh-day Adventists walk in the same path as did the Jewish nation? . . . The true commandment-keeping people of God show to the world a character of unspotted integrity, testifying by their own course of action that the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Thus the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, through His obedience to the law of God, exalted and made that law honorable. God will surely condemn every member of every church claiming to be a Seventh-day Adventist, who is not doing Him service, but through pride, selfishness, and worldliness, is showing that the truth of heavenly origin has not worked a reformation in his character . . .

“Will the churches heed the Laodicean message? Will they repent, or will they, notwithstanding that the most solemn message of truth—the Third Angel’s Message—is being proclaimed to the world, go on in sin? This is the last message of mercy, the last warning to a fallen world. If the church of God becomes lukewarm, it does not stand in favor with God any more than do the churches that are represented as having fallen and become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird. Those who have had opportunities to hear and receive the truth and who have united with the Seventh-day Adventist church, calling themselves the commandment-keeping people of God, and yet possess no more vitality and consecration to God than do the nominal churches, will receive of the plagues of God just as verily as the churches who oppose the law of God. Only those that are sanctified through the truth will compose the royal family in the heavenly mansions Christ has gone to prepare for those that love Him and keep His commandments.

“ ‘He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him’ [1 John 2:4]. This includes all who claim to have a knowledge of God, and to keep His commandments, but who do not manifest this by good works. They will receive according to their deeds. ‘Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him’ [1 John 3:6]. This is addressed to all church members, including the members of the Seventh-day Adventist churches. ‘Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother’ [1 John 3:7–10].

“All who claim to be Sabbath-keeping Adventists, and yet continue in sin, are liars in God’s sight. Their sinful course is counterworking the work of God. They are leading others into sin. The word comes from God to every member of our churches. [Hebrews 12:13–17 quoted.]

“This is applicable to many who claim to believe the truth. Rather than give up their lustful practices, they venture on in a wrong line of education under Satan’s deceiving sophistry. Sin is not discerned as sinful. Their very consciences are defiled, their hearts are corrupted, even the thoughts are continually corrupt. Satan uses them as decoys to lure souls to unclean practices which defile the whole being.” [Hebrews 10:28–31 quoted]. Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 172–178.

Notice in the above statement, not everybody who claims to be a Seventh-day Adventist is acknowledged as such by God. As always, there is a difference between the professed church and the true church, “God is honored, not so much by the great number, as by the character of those who serve Him. He appreciates moral worth. He draws the dividing line between those who bear His name by profession, and those whose character shows them to be His children.” The Signs of the Times, June 30, 1881.

There are some intelligent and apparently very sincere people who cannot see the big picture that we have been looking at in these Stanton articles. They believe that these Stanton manuscripts are their strongest argument to prove that the structure of Adventism is the church and that it will for sure go through to glory. Of course one might wonder what such people think about the book of Romans, but truth can always afford to be fair and candid and look at every side of an issue. We have already seen in the first article how Ellen White defines who and what the church is in the Stanton articles, but we hope to look directly at these arguments or objections.

Is there any danger that former historic Adventists could overlook the serious warnings in the Stanton articles to the Seventh-day Adventist church, and souls be lost because of it, while they thought they had proved the historic Adventist position wrong (from the Stanton articles) and had salved the conscience of multitudes? Will the following prophecy actually be fulfilled among historic Adventists who decided to go back into fellowship with apostasy? “They mingled with the tares from choice. Like drew to like in transgression. It is a fearful assimilation. Men choose to stand with the first rebel, who tempted Adam and Eve in Eden to disobey God. The tares multiply themselves, for they sow tares, and they have their part with the root of all sin—the devil.” Testimonies to Ministers, 235.

In the past when the protest of the true and faithful could not keep open sin out of the church, then, “They saw that separation was an absolute necessity if they would obey the word of God. They dared not tolerate errors fatal to their own souls, and set an example which would imperil the faith of their children and children’s children. To secure peace and unity they were ready to make any concession consistent with fidelity to God; but they felt that even peace would be too dearly purchased at the sacrifice of principle. If unity could be secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there be difference, and even war.

“Well would it be for the church and the world if the principles that actuated those steadfast souls were revived in the hearts of God’s professed people.” The Great Controversy, 45, 46.




  1. “The gospel minister should preach the health principles for these have been given of God as among the means needed to prepare a people perfect in character. Therefore, health principles have been given to us that as a people we might be prepared in both mind and body to receive the fullness of God’s blessing. The medical missionary work has its place and part in this closing gospel work. Call to Medical Evangelism and Health Education, 43.

It is for this reason that the historic remnant have had to oppose the new teachings that have come in, which disagree with the health message and teaching, that health reform is not related to a person’s salvation. We still believe that it is heresy to teach that after the cross, eating unclean foods and drinking alcoholic drinks is all right. We still believe that any practice is wrong that harms, weakens or injures the body and is expressly prohibited in the Word of God. (See 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17.)

  1. Adventist education was “to educate in spiritual things, to prepare a people to stand in the trying crisis before us; but there has been a departure from God’s plan.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 221. “The whole line of study in our schools should be to prepare a people for the future, immortal life.” Ibid., 383. When the educational program at Battle Creek did not fit the overall objective Ellen White could not advise parents to send their children there anymore. (See Testimonies, vol. 5, 21.)
  2. “The restaurant work should be made a means in the purpose of God to prepare a people to stand in the day of judgment.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, 402.
  3. The focal point of Adventist preaching is the Three Angels’ Messages because this is the message that will prepare a people for the end. Ellen White states too many times to cite that the Three Angels’ Messages are to prepare a people for the end. A few references are, “These men . . . have been led by the Lord in the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. These messages, received and acted upon, are doing their work to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God. If we search the Scriptures to confirm the truth God has given His servants for the world, we shall be found proclaiming the first, second, and third angels’ messages.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 111. “To you, as God’s servants, has been entrusted the Third Angel’s Message, the binding-off message, that is to prepare a people for the coming of our King.” Review and Herald, November 25, 1909. “The message of the third Angel is to prepare a people to stand in these days of peril. It is to be proclaimed with a loud voice and is to accomplish a work which few realize.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 94. “We need to wake up. The third angel’s message is to prepare a people to stand in the day of the Lord.” Australian Union Recorder, July 28, 1899.

This is the big reason that historic Adventists have had to start home churches. The churches they were going to were not preaching the Three Angel’s Messages anymore (in name perhaps, but not in reality). Their families were not being prepared for the end of all things and to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. James White wrote, “I know you must be rooted, and built up in present truth, or you will not be able to stand ‘in the battle in the day of the Lord’ (Eze. 13:5).” ref??

  1. “The song of praise, the words spoken by Christ’s ministers, are God’s appointed agencies to prepare a people for the church above, for that loftier worship into which there can enter nothing that is impure, unholy.” The Youth’s Instructor, October 8, 1896.
  2. “To prepare a people to stand in the day of God, a great work of reform was to be accomplished.” The Great Controversy, 311. “When their education there [at Loma Linda] is completed, they should be able to go forth and join the intelligent workers in the world’s great harvest fields who are carrying forward the work of reform that is to prepare a people to stand in the day of Christ’s coming.” Loma Linda Messages, 581.
  3. “All need to become more intelligent in regard to the work of the atonement, which is going on in the sanctuary above. When this grand truth is seen and understood, those who hold it will work in harmony with Christ to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God, and their efforts will be successful. By study, contemplation, and prayer God’s people will be elevated above common, earthly thoughts and feelings, and will be brought into harmony with Christ and His great work of cleansing the sanctuary above from the sins of the people. Their faith will go with Him into the sanctuary, and the worshipers on earth will be carefully reviewing their lives and comparing their characters with the great standard of righteousness. They will see their own defects; they will also see that they must have the aid of the Spirit of God if they would become qualified for the great and solemn work for this time which is laid upon God’s ambassadors.” Testimonies vol. 5, 575. For this reason the historic remnant, for duty sake and conscience sake, had to raise a protest when the sanctuary message was and is opposed by many. The sanctuary message that God gave to us corroborates the New Testament teaching that we must overcome sin and perfect a character if we are to have eternal life. This is why it is opposed by those who want to preach a different gospel in Adventism.
  4. “I wish to speak about the relation existing between the medical missionary work and the gospel ministry. It has been presented to me that every department of the work is to be united in one great whole. The work of God is to prepare a people to stand before the Son of man at His coming, and this work should be a unit. The work that is to fit a people to stand firm in the last great day must not be a divided work.” Medical Ministry, 237.
  5. “Although there are evils existing in the church, and will be until the end of the world, the church in these last days is to be the light of the world, that is polluted and demoralized by sin. The church, enfeebled and defective, needing to be reproved, warned, and counseled, is the only object upon earth upon which Christ bestows his supreme regard. The world is a workshop in which, through the co-operation of human and divine agencies, Jesus is making experiments by his grace and divine mercy upon human hearts. Angels are amazed as they behold the transformation of character brought about in those who yield themselves to God, and they express their joy in songs of rapturous praise to God and to the Lamb. They see those who are by nature the children of wrath, converted, and becoming laborers together with Christ in drawing souls to God. They see those who were in darkness becoming lights to shine amid the moral night of this crooked and perverse generation. They see them becoming prepared by a Christ-like experience to suffer with their Lord, and afterward to be partakers with Him in His glory in heaven above.” Review and Herald, September 5, 1893.
  6. “I there stated in public that the Lord had been pleased to show me that there would be no definite time in the message given of God since 1844; and that I knew that this message, which four or five were engaged in advocating with great zeal, was heresy. The visions of this poor child were not of God. This light came not from heaven. Time was short; but the end was not yet. A great work was to be accomplished to prepare a people to be sealed with the seal of the living God.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 73. [All emphasis supplied.] This was one of the problems Ellen White warned against in the Stanton manuscripts: “Let all our brethren and sisters beware of any one who would set a time for the Lord to fulfill his word in regard to his coming, or in regard to any other promise he has made of special significance. ‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.’ False teachers may appear to be very zealous for the work of God, and may expend means to bring their theories before the world and the church; but as they mingle error with truth, their message is one of deception, and will lead souls into false paths. They are to be met, and opposed, not because they are bad men, but because they are teachers of falsehood, and are endeavoring to put upon falsehood the stamp of truth.” Review and Herald, September 12, 1893.