Spiritism in the Adventist Church, part 1

The close links of Spiritism with the New Theology are rarely perceived by most Seventh-day Adventists. Many have failed to recognize that the sin-and-live theology is the most pervasive form of Spiritism in the world and the church. It was the sin-and-live theology that was presented to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by Satan. Eve was told that if she disobeyed God by eating of the tree, she would not surely die, but would still live. Today, using all the cunning and sophistries accumulated in six thousand years of experimentation, Satan is presenting, in the most winning and persuasive way, the same concept that men and women can continue to sin until Jesus comes, and still be saved in the kingdom of heaven. As he makes his presentations, he is able to express the majority of his sophistries in truly dramatic ways though his servants. The final deception will be “confirmed” through his own impersonation of Christ. He will pretend loving and winning sentiments that only the very elect will resist.

Satan cannot bring himself to acknowledge the law of God. This law represents the very character of God. It is the transcript of that character. This is the character that Satan has maligned and has claimed is arbitrary and unloving. Therefore it is on this point alone that we can tell the difference between Satan’s army and Christ’s ambassadors. While the servants of Christ will point men and women to the sacred law of God and to the power of victory over sin that Christ provides through His death and ministry, the ambassadors of Satan will deny the saving power of Christ.

“The prophet Isaiah brings to view the fearful deception which will come upon the wicked, causing them to count themselves secure from the judgments of God: ‘We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.’ In the class here described are included those who in their stubborn impenitence comfort themselves with the assurance that there is to be no punishment for the sinner; that all mankind, it matters not how corrupt, are to be exalted to heaven, to become as the angels of God. But still more emphatically are those making a covenant with death and an agreement with hell, who renounce the truths which Heaven has provided as a defense for the righteous in the day of trouble, and accept the refuge of lies offered by Satan in its stead—the delusive pretensions of Spiritualism.” The Great Controversy, 560–561.

One has only to walk through the cemetery of any churchyard in the Christian world to realize the truth of this statement. It is almost impossible to find a tombstone which reads “Gone to hell.” Most seem to have made their way to heaven. There are many such assurances as “At home with the Lord,” “With Jesus,” or “Resting in Peace” engraved on many gravestones. It would seem that death brings instant sanctification, and that somehow, irrespective of how profligate the life may have been, the individual is instantaneously ready for the kingdom of heaven. However, such thinking is truly a covenant with death. The idea of Universalism, that all will be saved no matter what abominations they committed, is a fatal deception. The vast majority of supposed Christians will be shocked when, in the second resurrection, they recognize that that resurrection is not unto life but unto eternal destruction. While most Seventh-day Adventists do not espouse Universalism, nevertheless, a casual attitude to occasional sin will result in eternal loss by many expecting to be saved.

We believe that it is impossible for human beings to recognize the preparation that Satan has put into the deception of mankind. That satanic preparation is at least partially unveiled in the book, The Great Controversy.

“Satan has long been preparing for his final effort to deceive the world. The foundation of his work was laid by the assurance given to Eve in Eden: ‘Ye shall not surely die.’ ‘In the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’ Little by little he has prepared the way for his masterpiece of deception in the development of Spiritualism. He has not yet reached the full accomplishment of his designs; but it will be reached in the last remnant of time. Says the prophet: ‘I saw three unclean spirits like frogs; . . . they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.’ Except those who are kept by the power of God, through faith in His word, the whole world will be swept into the ranks of this delusion. The people are fast being lulled into a fatal security, to be awakened only by the outpouring of the wrath of God.” The Great Controversy, 561–562.

Satan has made an all-out effort to take control of the minds of people through the use of alcohol, mind-expanding and destroying drugs, music, permissive sexual relations, and pornographic and sadistic literature. While some of these things are not used by most members of the church, many are trapped by television and the misuse of the computer. These are mesmerizing the minds of men and women, and driving them deeper and deeper into carnal security while they are moving headlong into eternal destruction. We must not ignore the efforts of Satan to control every form of education. It is almost impossible today to carry on any course in a secular institution, and often in the institutions of the church, which is not undergirded by paganistic, spiritualistic, humanistic, New Age or evolutionary principles, all designed to deceive, and to derail the lives of unsuspecting human beings.

Spiritism reaches its greatest subtlety when Satan seeks to deceive those who are dedicated to Christ, who are members of the remnant. “As Spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, it has greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan himself is converted, after the modern order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency of Spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will profess faith in the Bible, and manifest respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power.” The Great Controversy 588.

The above statement was written especially for the fallen churches of Protestantism. As Seventh-day Adventism is drawn deeper and deeper into the ecumenical web, it faces the same dilemma, and the same consequences. People who have not fortified their minds with the Word of God, who have not taken the Bible, and the Bible only as their basis of practice, and who have listened to the sophistries of men rather than the pure word of truth, are drawn unsuspectingly into the deadly web of Satan.

No matter how subtle the attempt of Satan, no matter how perfectly he has laid his plans, there is no excuse for being deceived, no excuse for failing to stand firm, for the power of God is available to every human being without exception. The power of Christ is able to destroy every attempt of the evil one to undermine the confidence of our faith, and to lead us from the fold of Christ. We have been promised that He will not allow us to be taken out of His hand against our will. (John 10:28.) We know that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and therefore, with those assurances, and providing we never forsake Him, our victory is assured.

There has been no time in the history of the world when vigilance has been more necessary than in these last moments of probationary time. Our appeal is for every reader to daily consecrate himself to God and to the finishing of His work through witnessing to those who otherwise are moving in the pathway of death. The God of heaven patiently and longingly is waiting for His people to reflect His character so that Jesus might come to take us home to live with Him. “When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 69.


Spiritism and Celebration


Our first intimation of the movement now referred to as the “Celebration” movement within the Adventist Church goes back to the beginning of the 1980s when a pastor Eion Giller began what some people thought was an unusually Pentecostal type of worship form in the Hillview Church near Avondale College. Of course this association with the Pentecostal movement was denied, but nevertheless there were some of the evidences of it: the expressive activities commonly associated with that movement.

The next alarm was sensed by Colin when, on a tour of Europe in 1987, he was told of charismatic Adventists in France and then met about a dozen of them when the Hartland Bible Conference was being held in the Central Church in Rome. It was at that point that we wrote the chapter on Pentecostalism in the book, Keepers of the Faith, and in so doing we were able to get a warning out prior to the movement becoming an established movement within the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

But with the introduction of such churches as the Colton Church in the Southeastern Conference, and the Milwaukee Church, Portland, in the Oregon Conference, and the Buffalo Church in the New York Conference (by the way, initially under the leadership of Dr. Eion Giller), and of the Cherrybrook Church in Sydney, it was clear that not a small effort was going to be made to bring the elements of the charismatic movement and its sister, Pentecostalism, into the church.

We were alarmed when the church leaders at the General Conference level were to repeatedly declare they could not evaluate this form of worship; that they had to wait and see, for they did not have sufficient information to make a decision. It would seem that such was rather a means of allowing the movement to develop to such an extent that there would be no way of turning it back. Those with spiritual discernment saw from the very beginning that this was nothing short of the Pentecostal and spiritualistic movement that we as a church had fought against constantly over the decades. But now it was becoming more and more a part of the church. The usual denials began to flood in when churches began to move in this direction.

The pastors were urging their churches toward Celebration services, while assuring them that it wasn’t Pentecostal or charismatic, but those who looked at what was taking place had not the slightest doubt that this was the Pentecostal movement being subtly and not-so-subtly introduced into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Eventually, numerous churches began to be pressured in this direction. Some eagerly accepted this form of “worship”; others with some reservations accepted it. Still others were forced into it with many of the members clear on what was taking place, yet apparently impotent to do anything about it. The tragedy is that so many leaders, even perhaps somewhat opposed to it, keep denying the extent of this movement. There are hundreds of Seventh-day Adventist churches that have started on the pathway of the charismatic movement. Some have not reached the maturity that some of the early ones have, but they certainly have begun the pathway and we can be certain that Satan will bring them more and more into the full-fledged charismatic movement as he is able.

The whole presentation has been subtle. Colin overheard a dialogue at the General Conference session where men who were obviously supportive, and maybe leaders in the charismatic movement, were stating that the word “Celebration” had now acquired a negative connotation and that perhaps we should not use the term. This, of course, was meant to derail the efforts of faithful Adventists from identifying the charismatic movement when it came into the church. But no matter whether it is called Celebration or not, it is still the intrusion of Satan’s charismatic movement. Leaders and laity alike should have been forewarned. The counsel is clear.

“The things you have described as taking place in Indiana, the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation. Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions. And this is called the moving of the Holy Spirit.

“The Holy Spirit never reveals itself in such methods, in such a bedlam of noise. 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. Better never have the worship of God blended with music than to use musical instruments to do the work which last January was represented to me would be brought into our camp meetings.” Selected Messages, vol.2, 36.

“I will not go into all the painful history; it is too much. But 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. . . .

“The Holy Spirit has nothing to do with such a confusion of noise and multitude of sounds as passed before me last January. 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.” Ibid., 37.

It will be noted from these statements that this movement is not under the power of the Holy Spirit, but under the power of another spirit—Satan. Therefore it is only right that faithful Adventists do not attend such churches. Our counsel is that such members look for churches where the pastors preach present truth and where they have the stirring, soul-searching messages that God has designed for this time, with the inspiring hymns of dedication, and they teach the members to lovingly serve their fellow men and train them to witness of the great message of salvation.

It is of the greatest danger for us to go deliberately into Satan’s territory. Neither one of the authors is willing to attend, knowingly, a Celebration church because of the knowledge that these churches are of Satan. We should not even allow curiosity to lead us in that direction. If Celebration is coming to your church, you have a responsibility to speak out, to urge and to counsel. But if there is no response to your counsel, and the majority of the people are determined to go with it, or lock-step follow the recommendations of the pastor in that direction, you have no alternative but to leave that church and to look for another place to worship. If there are no churches in the area, you are forced into a branch Sabbath School if that is possible, or even into home worships. This is not denying your membership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. On the contrary, it is a very important indication that you will not move away from the truth and that you are being a faithful Seventh-day Adventist.

Those who are parents of children must be especially careful. They have a responsibility not to allow their children to go to such services, for they may be led away from salvation under the influence of Satan. Colin had the tragic experience the Sabbath before Christmas, 1990, to attend with his wife and family a church in Perth, Australia. The children were sent to the Primary and Kindergarten Sabbath School respectively. You can imagine Colin’s and his wife, Cheryl’s, consternation when the children of these divisions gave special music and they sang a rock Christmas carol with much jumping about and clapping and celebration-type behavior. Of course, their children had not learned this song, but as might be expected, they were trying to do what the other children were doing. How tragic such an experience is. Parents now must carefully evaluate that the Sabbath School to which they are sending their children is a fit place for them to learn the wonderful messages of God.

In August, 1989, Russell attended a church in Melbourne, Australia. He had known the church in earlier times and was surprised to find it only about one-third full.

The following week there was a transformation. The church was full. The difference was astounding. After Sabbath School a young man, dressed extremely casually, lounged on the lectern and invited the congregation to sing some choruses projected on a screen. After about ten minutes of singing, an elder came up and made an announcement. Thereafter another ten minutes of the singing of projected choruses ensued. At this point the “pastoral prayer” was announced. For the first time it dawned on Russell that we were already twenty minutes into the “divine service” and the song leader was the young pastor. The singing, interrupted once more by a children’s story and the offering, had a duration of fifty minutes. The final ten minutes of the service were devoted to a short homily by the pastor, a special item and benediction. Russell had received his first introductory lesson in Celebration.

At the conclusion of the service one senior member remarked to Russell, “It’s wonderful when this young pastor comes, he brings all these young people with him and fills up our church. They come from all over Melbourne and follow him wherever he preaches.” Some may have thought that these young people were being spiritually fed, but Russell concluded that they were on starvation rations.

We are spending large sums of money to train our ministers in the Celebration methodology. In the Ministries Department of the seminary there is a strong training program encouraging Celebration type services. Many of our pastors and leaders from Australia and New Zealand have been taken on tours to the United States where they not only visit the more “advanced” charismatic churches of Adventism, but they attend and dialogue with pastors from non-Adventist charismatic and Pentecostal churches. It is hard to imagine that God’s sacred money could be used to train our ministers away from the great purpose of God and towards the banner of Satan.

The tragedy is that few of the laity are rising up to ask for an absolute halt. In 1991 a four-day worship seminar was held mainly for ministers in the United States. Many pastors attended it, including some from Australia. There is only one answer to this. In spite of leaders frequently saying they are waiting to see the results, they are indeed supporting these changes in worship form. Do such leaders have a right to continue as the guardians of the flock? They have betrayed their trust and they have allowed their ministry to come under the power of another spirit.

Colin could not have helped but notice some of the seminars offered by the Potamac Conference in Convention ‘91, November 1 and 2, that were promoting New Age philosophy. For example, “What you see is what you are, Christians can use meditation and visualization for peak mental health—learn how!”

In the same set of seminars, participants could attend “Batman’s Action-packed perspective of Sabbath School programming. Action—one of Batman’s trademarks. Today young people need to learn by doing, not just hearing. What is active learning and how can you use it to reach your kids? In this seminar you will hear and do activities which you can use with your Juniors, Earliteens and Youth on the following Sabbath!”

Any faithful Seventh-day Adventist will be distressed by the use of a worldly television program such as Batman as a basis for training for Sabbath School class teachers. Is it any wonder then that one of the other seminars was, “How my Sunday School can help your Sabbath School.” Or that we have another seminar by a non-Adventist presenter, “Growing kids spiritually in an unspiritual world. How come young people of the Baptist Church have such strong denominational loyalty, faith and values? Why are they so much stronger than our kids?”

To every perceptive Adventist the reason is simple. We are no longer presenting the challenges of the Three Angels’ Messages to our young people; we are no longer training them in selfless service for God and man; we are presenting to them the egocentric concepts of the world, rather than the power of God. One is also alarmed to see our great university churches, whether it be Loma Linda University Church, Pioneer Memorial Church at Andrews University, or the Sligo Church at Columbia Union College, all moving at least in one service to the Celebration format.

For example, the Pioneer Memorial Church at Andrews University put out its little brochure, “Sabbath Sunburst Celebration Saturday mornings at 8:45 a.m. Come fellowship with the Son, let Him burst across your horizon. A new dimension for your Sabbaths. Praise. Music. Fellowship. The spirit of worship, the song of encounter, the simplicity of celebration. Or choose the 11:20 service and experience the grandeur of traditional worship—the same inspirational preaching at both.”

With tragic clarity our young people are being thrown into the arms of Satan’s counterfeit and few seem to know it. Colin was concerned at the report that he received while in Brisbane at the end of 1991, where the congregation had sung the pagan hymn, “Let us break bread together on our knees.” But as the people were leaving for foot washing the pastor continued to sing, according to some who were witnesses there, “Let us break God together on our knees.” Brother Lin Harmon made this comment, “At that juncture my wife and I segregated and went home as did some others.” What a tragedy that men and women are forced to go home because of the intrusion of erroneous Catholic doctrines within the church.

Nor can one remain unmoved by the service at the La Sierra University Church the end of October, 1991. Here the program contained the ecumenical words on the front of the program, “A liturgy celebration unity in diversity.” There is no such thing as unity in diversity. Unity is in truth, unadulterated and uncontaminated. After reading some good scriptures and singing some good hymns, the program tragically moved into human words. For example, “In Thee, in me,” translated from the Sanskrit by Mohandas Gandhi. The pantheistic spiritualism of Gandhi came through very quickly in the words used in this liturgical service. “In Thee, in me, in all persons, there dwelleth the one God.”

Any Christian knows that God does not invade humanity without their permission. Revelation 3 portrays Christ as standing at the door of our hearts and knocking, and if we open the door He will come in. But pantheism believes that God is in everything and in every human being. It was this pantheism of Kellogg that God declared to be spiritualism, and yet this liturgy could be presented. Other messages were presented from John Donne, the sixteenth century English poet, “No man is an island.” Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr., the Peaceable Kingdom by Stanley Hauer was, but strangely no words from God’s end-time prophet. The folk who gave Colin the program left when a woman danced an extended liturgical dance during the divine service hour. How can it be that God’s church has fallen so far and so fully into these idolatrous practices? We are repulsed by the paganism of the Israelites and the Jews and yet we ourselves have walked headlong into the same paganistic practices.

Not only is the Celebration movement seen in the use of rock and hypnotic music, but it is seen in the entertainment that is flooding into our church with comedians holding services on Sabbath such as was held on the Friday evening at the Arco Center in Sacramento the end of October, 1991. Also “clown ministry” and “miming” are in common use today in church worship.

The spiritual becomes the profane; the holy becomes corrupted; the sanctified becomes secular. How tragic are the consequences of these activities. And yet many blindly move forward saying that this is the leading of God to help our youth stay in the church. Is it any wonder that we in the Western world are losing three-quarters of our youth from the Adventist Church? Is it any wonder that we are finding our youth growing up into self-centered, pleasure seeking young people who know not the principles of the truth and who are unready for the mighty work that God has called them to fulfill?

Now is surely a day to call our people back to true worship, the worship of the God of heaven, not the worship of the false god of Satan.