Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees ~ Dennis Priebe


This is an examination of the book by Dennis Priebe, FACE TO FACE WITH THE REAL GOSPEL.  Before beginning, it is very important that it be realized that the beliefs expressed in this book are not just the beliefs of one lone individual; on the contrary, these views are held by some of the most influential conservative leads in the church.  For example:  Joe Crews advertises and sells the book, saying, “This book is an excellent study in righteousness by faith…False gospels are unmasked and the real gospel is presented.”  In a letter we have from him, he says, “I appreciated the notes you sent along from Dennis Priebe’s book.  Actually, I felt that he clarified the subject about as well as anyone I have ever read, except, Ralph Larson.”  Obviously, Ralph Larson also holds the same belief.  Priebe used to work with Ron Spear, and was a regular write for the magazine, “Our Firm Foundation”.  Robert Weiland also is very much in harmony with this teaching.  Together, these men reach and influence a very large number of the conservative segment of the church.

Before I go any further, I want to state very clearly that I am in no way in harmony with the New Theology.  I believe it is nothing short of complete and open apostasy from the advent message.  It is an absolute disgrace that it has reached such strength and proportions in the Adventist church.

In this paper I will be quoting very heavily from the Spirit of Prophecy.  I hold her writings to be nothing less than the Word of God the Advent people.  She herself said, “Sister White is not the originator of these books.”CM-125.  She also says, “…all who believe the the Lord has spoken through Sister White, and has given her a message, will be safe from the many delusions that will come in these last days.”  3SM-84. That is the purpose of this paper.  I only pray that the evidence will be carefully weighed and that you will learn for yourself where lies the truth in this issue.  Please contemplate the importance of this quote from GC-598. “However strong may be his convictions, however confident he may be that the minister knows what is truth, this is not his foundation….WITH DIVINE HELP we are to form our opinions for ourselves as we are to answer for ourselves before God.”

I will try to make this study as brief and as clear as possible.  Therefore, there will be much that will have to be left out, and inevitably many questions will be raised which will not be answered in this paper.  I will also say that most of what Priebe writes is true, which only makes the error more dangerous – “…The most dangerous falsehoods are those that are mingled with truth.  It is thus that errors are received that captivate and ruin the soul.”  PP-338.  “We may disguise poison by mingling it with wholesome food, but we do not change its nature.  On the contrary, it is rendered more dangerous ,as it is more likely to be taken unawares.  It is one of Satan’s devices to combine with falsehood just enough truth to give it plausibility.”  GC-587.

The subject of this paper could not be more important:  Jesus Christ – our Example of what constitutes a true Christian experience.

The Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy clearly give the same admonition.  “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”.  Hebrews 12:2.  “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”  John 1:29.  “We are to copy no human being.  There is no human being wise enough to be our criterion.  We are to look to the man Christ Jesus, who is complete in the perfection of righteousness and holiness.  He is the author and finisher of our faith.  He is the Pattern Man.  His experience is the measure of the experience that we are to gain.  His character is our model.  Let us, then, take our minds off the perplexities and the difficulties of this life, and fix them on Him, that by beholding we may be changed into His likeness.  We may behold Christ to good purpose.  We may safely look to Him; for He is all wise.  As we look to Him and thin of Him, He will be formed with, the hope of glory.”  7BC-970.

“Paul saw that the character of Christ must be understood before men could love Him or view the cross with the eye of faith.  Here must begin that study which shall be the science and the song of the redeemed through all eternity.”  AA-273.

Surely the importance of this subject should cause it o be carefully studied.  I believe Priebe holds some views about Jesus that if accepted, will “captivate and ruin the soul.” Please, “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.”  1 Thes. 5:21.

The first point that I want to look at is on FACE TO FACE, pg. 59.  *Note:  All quotes taken from Face to Face with the Real Gospel by Dennis Priebe are taken from the 1985 edition. “Why did Jesus say, ‘I seek not mine own will’ (John 5:30), and ‘I come down from heaven, not to do mine own will’ (John 7:38)? Why would it be necessary to say this if His own will was faultless and pure, and holy?  But if His own will and His own inclinations were tending toward the negative, then it would make sense for Him to ask that His Father’s will be done.”  Please realize that Priebe is here saying that Jesus’ will was NOT “faultless, pure and holy” and also that “His own will and His own inclinations were tending toward the negative.”  He is also interpreting John 5 & 6 to be saying that Jesus’ “will” was different than His Father’s.  There are two parts to this that I want to examine:  His “will” and His “inclination”.

Priebe says, “His own will was tending toward the negative.”  I just want to compare this to three Spirit of Prophecy quotes.

“The WILL, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service.”  DA-668.

“The time of the Passover was drawing near, and again Jesus turned toward Jerusalem.  In His heart was the peace of PERFECT ONENESS WITH THE Father’s WILL, and with eager steps He pressed on toward the place of sacrifice.”  DA-547.  “…perfect ones with the Father’s WILL”.  Can Priebe’s statements and this quote be made to harmonize?

The last quote may be the best one for this comparison, because it is from the chapter in Desire of Ages, which is a commentary on John 5, which Priebe uses to say that Jesus’ will was contrary to His Father’s and that “His own will was tending toward the negative.”  In Desire of Ages, pg. 208 she says, “Jesus repelled the charge of blasphemy.  My authority, He said, for doing the work of which you accuse Me, is that I am the Son of God, one with Him in nature, in WILL, and in purpose.”  In the very discourse where Jesus is claiming His oneness with God, (“Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”  John 5:18.), and where Ellen White says He is “one with Him in WILL”, Priebe is saying “His will was tending toward the negative”, and contrary to His Father’s.  I find this incredible!  Please read those chapters for yourself – John 5 and “Bethesaida and the Sanhedrin” and decide for yourself.  On pg. 210 of Desire of Ages, she says, “The humble Nazarene asserts His real nobility.  He rises above humanity, throws off the guise of sin and shame, and stands revealed, the Honored of the angels, the Son of God, One with the Creator of the universe.  His hearers are spellbound.  No man has ever spoken words like His, or borne himself with such a kingly majesty.  His utterances are clear and plain, fully declaring His mission, and the duty of the world.”

And as an answer to the often asked questions, “Why did Jesus say ‘I seek not mine own will’?”  First, He was trying to make them understand that everything He did was from God the Father – Whom they claimed to acknowledge as their supreme Ruler – (Jesus, they didn’t acknowledge), and that in rejecting Him, they were truly rejecting God.  “He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him.”  John 5:23.  A similar statement is found in one of the very next chapters of John’s Gospel, where He says, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.”  John 7:16.  Again He was trying to make them understand that in rejecting His “doctrine”, they were in reality, rejecting God’s doctrine.  No on would ever say that Jesus was here saying His “doctrine” was different from His Fathers’.  Secondly, Jesus was showing an EXAMPE of submission and surrender to God, just as He was baptized as an example.  Please read pgs. 208 and 209 of Desire of Ages.  She gives a very strong illustration of this.  And in the midst it says, “He (Jesus) said, ‘I DELIGHT to do Thy WILL….”  (Psalms 40:8).

The Bible says God’s will is, “This is the WILL of God even your sanctification.”  1 Thes. 4:3. IF Jesus’ will was different from God’s, what would this mean?  Ellen White says, “From His earliest years He was possessed of one purpose; He lived to bless others.”  DA-70.  “Jesus alone could read this secret.  Yet He did not expose him.  Jesus hungered for his soul.  He felt for him such a burden as for Jerusalem when He wept over the doomed city.  His heart was crying, ‘How can I give thee up’?”  I believe it can be equally said of Jesus:  “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.”

The other part of the quote that I want to look at concerns His “inclinations”.  “His own INCLINATION was tending toward the negative”, Priebe says in FACE TO FACE, pg. 59.  In BC-1128, Ellen White says, “NEVER in ANY way, leave the SLIGHTEST impression upon human minds that a taint of or INCLINATION to corruption rested upon Christ, or that He in any way yielded to corruption.”  Please read this quote over and over and let every word have its proper bearing, and then compare both quotes very carefully.  There is no way that these quotes can be made to harmonize.  The subject of our “inclinations” deserves further study, but I won’t spend time on that in this paper.

The next quote I want to look at is on FACE to FACE, pg. 60.  Here he says “He knew what it was like to want to go wrong.  He knew what it was like to feel the temptation to rebel against God, and that temptation arose within His nature.”  There are also two points in this quote that I want to examine.  First, “He knew what it was like to WANT to go wrong”.  Please realize that he is saying Jesus knew by experience.  I again want to compare a few Ellen White quotes with this statement.  The first is from 1888 Materials pg. 538.  “…as we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ we have a power and a strength that is imparted unto us, and we will not WANT to sin.”  “…we will not WANT to sin”.  Again, I believe there is no way these two quotes can be made to harmonize.  Here are a few more to consider.  “Never before had there been a being upon the earth who hated sin with so perfect a hatred as did Christ.”  1SM-254. “…Never lived there another who so hated evil.”  ED-79.  Try to think of anything you have a “perfect” hatred for and then ask yourself if you “want” to do it.  In 7BC-927, she says, “…the refined sensibilities of His holy nature rendered contact with evil unspeakably painful to Him.”  Can you imagine “wanting” to do something that in just witnessing it you find “unspeakably painful”?  She also says, “…as the sinless one His nature recoiled from evil.”  SC-93, 94.

Please allow me to make one illustration.  To me, one of the most sickening things I can think of is child sexual abuse.  If there is anything I “hate with a perfect hatred”, “recoil” from, find “unspeakably painful”, it is this.  I believe with all my heart that never in a million years would I for one second “WANT” to do this.

The second part of that quote I want to look at says, “He knew what it was like to feel the temptation to rebel against God, AND THAT TEMPTATION, AROSE FROM WITHIN HIS NATURE.”  FACE to FACE, pg. 60.  In Mount of Blessings, pg. 116, it says, “Temptation is enticement to sin, and this does not proceed from God, but from #1) from Satan and #2) from the evil of our own hearts.”  I find Priebe’s quote very disturbing in the light of this quote.  Now coming from a different aspect is this quote, “The completeness of Christian character is attained when the impulse to help and bless others springs constantly from WITHIN.”  AA-551.  Once again I find a serious conflict between what Ellen White says and what Priebe says.

On pg. 59, Priebe says, “Are not our problems basically self and pride and the desire that come from our fallen nature?  Do we not fall most often because of the inner desire that lead us astray?  If Jesus did not have any of these, could it really be true that He was tempted in all points as we are?”  This quote is absolutely incredible!  And I thank God that he chose the specific words that he did – SELF and PRIDE.

Please compare his statement with the following six quotes:

1).    “So utterly was Christ emptied of SELF that He made no plans for Himself.”


2).      “The drunkard is despised and is told that his sin will exclude him from heaven;
while PRIDE, selfishness, and covetousness too often go unrebuked.  But these
are sins that are especially offense to God; for they are contrary to the
benevolence of His character, to that unselfish love which is the very atmosphere
of the unfallen universe.”  SC-30.

3).       “The divine love ruling in the heart EXTERMINATES PRIDE and selfishness.”

4).        “Human nature is ever struggling for expression, ready for contest; but he who
learns of Christ is EMPTIED of SELF, of PRIDE, of love of supremacy, and there
is silence in the soul.”  MB-15.

5).        “PRIDE, ambition, deceit, hatred, selfishness, must be cleansed from the heart.”

6).        “It was the PRIDE and ambition cherished in the heart of Satan that banished him
from heaven.  These evils are deeply rooted in our fallen nature, and if not
REMOVED they will overshadow every good and noble quality and bring forth
envy and strife as their baleful fruits.”  5T-242.

There is one more very important point which must be examined.  It concerns what Christ inherited by nature.  Priebe is very correct in opposing the New Theology teaching that Christ came with an unfallen nature or the nature of Adam before the fall.  But in doing this he makes some very grave mistakes.  On pg. 55, he says, “If Jesus’ life is to have any meaning as an example for us, then it is crucial that He inherit just what I inherit.”  In his own book, Priebe says, “We do inherit BADNESS, weakness, and CORRUPTION from Adam.”  Pg. 27.  Again Priebe says on pg. 55, “…it is, crucial that He inherit just what I inherit.”  Ellen White says,”…Because of sin his (Adam’s) posterity was BORN with PROPENSITIES OF DISOBEDIENCE.  But Jesus Christ was the only begotten Son of God…not for one moment was there in Him an evil propensity.”  BC-1128.  Ellen White clearly teaches WE INHERIT evil propensities, in the same paragraph she contrasts Christ with us and she says He did not inherit evil propensities.”  On pg. 54, he says, “The crucial point is that a sinful propensity is permitted to develop from our INHERITED bent to evil.  Jesus never developed such sinful propensities.”  And on pg. 55, is the sentence, “If Jesus’ life is to have any meaning as an example for us, then it is CRUCIAL that He inherit JUST what I inherit.”  Please reread those last two quotes very closely.  Priebe is clearly and openly teaching that Jesus Christ had a bent to evil.  Please give this point some very serious thought and study.  How you stand on it is absolutely critical.  Remember, “He is the Pattern Man.”   7BC-970.

This is all the time I’m going to spend on FACE TO TACE WITH THE REAL GOSPEL.  But before bringing this study to a conclusion, there is one more quote that I feel must be included here.  In some ways this may be the most important quote in this study.  The reason I say this is because the quote is by A. T. Jones.  Almost without exception A. T. Jones is whom the teachers of this doctrine cite as support for their views.  I feel this quote give an excellent overall description of this belief.  Here is the quote.  (Please give it the prayerful consideration it deserves).  “Then Satan took Jesus upon an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, too – the glory, the honor, the dignity, – he showed him all that.  And there at that moment there was stirred up all the ambition that ever appeared in Napoleon, or Caesar, or Alexander, or all of them put together.  But from Jesus still the answer is:  ‘It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.’” 1895 GCB, No. 17.

If there is any question that Jones is actually saying what he appears to be saying – “THAT IN JESUS was stirred up all the ambition that…”, – the rest of the chapter goes on to make that very clear.  This is exactly what Dennis Priebe is teaching.  I must say that I find this quote to be no less than Satanic.  Here are a few quotes from EGW about “AMBITION”.

1).    “With the gentle touch of grace the Savior banishes from the soul unrest and unholy AMBITION…” PK-60.

2).    “Pride, AMBITION, deceit, hatred, selfishness, must be cleansed from the heart.
With many these evil traits are partially subdued, but not thoroughly uprooted from
the heart.”  5T-175.

3).    “It was the PRIDE and AMBITION cherished in the heart of Satan that banished
him from heaven.  These evils are deeply rooted in our fallen nature, and if not
removed they will over shadow every good and noble quality and bring forth envy
and strife as their baleful fruits.”  5T-242.

Ellen White says in DA-123, “The prince of this world cometh,’ said Jesus, ‘and hath nothing in Me.’ John 14:30.  There was in Him NOTHING THAT RESPONDED to Satan’s sophistry.”  Jones says, “there at that moment there was STIRRED UP all the ambition that ever appeared in …”.  According to Jones there was something in Him that responded, but He kept it from coming out.  Now consider this quote very carefully.  “The law of God takes note of the jealousy, envy, hatred, malignity, revenge, lust and AMBITOION that surge through the soul, but have not found expression in outward action, because the opportunity, not the will, has been wanting.  And these SINFUL EMOTIONS will be brought into the account in the day when ‘God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.’”  (Eccl 12:14).  1SM-217. This is exactly where Jones is putting Christ.  Jesus did not SUBDUE this “sinful emotion”.  There was none in Him.  (John 14:30.).  On the contrary, HE WAS infinite humility:  “What He taught, He lived.  ‘I have given you an example,’ He said to His disciples; ‘that ye should do as I have done.’ ‘I have kept My Father’s commandments.’ John 13:15; 15:10.  Thus in His life, Christ’s words had perfect illustration and support.  AND MORE THAN THIS; what He taught, HE WAS.  His words were the expression, not only of His own life experience, but of His own character.  Not only did He teach the truth, but HE WAS the truth.  It was this that gave His teaching power.”  ED-78, 79.

Priebe says PRIDE, Jones says AMBITION.  These are the very characteristics of Satan himself.  “It was the PRIDE and AMBITION cherished in the heart of Satan that banished him from heaven.”  Please consider these next two quotes very carefully, for this is a very serious charge I am making.  “With his own evil characteristics he sought to invest the loving Creator.  Thus he deceived angels.  Thus he deceived men.”  DA-22.  “Satan had charged upon God the attribute he himself possessed.  Now in Christ he saw God revealed in His true character.”  1SM-254. Satan has simply skirted his attack from the Father to the Son, “who was a perfect representation of the Father”.  1SM-254.

I will stop here.  I realize that Dennis Priebe does a masterful job of presenting his side.  Our ONLY sure course is to strictly live by these words of Ellen White, “SO closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures.  By their testimony every statement and every miracle must be tested.”…”WITH DIVINE HELP we are to form our opinions for ourselves as we are to answer for ourselves before God.”  GC-593,598.

“The Word of God is a solid rock, and we may plant our feet securely upon it.  Every soul must needs be tested, every faith and doctrine must needs be tried by the law and the testimony.  Take heed that no man deceive you.  The warnings of Christ on this matter are needed at this time; for delusions and deceptions will come in among us, and will multiply as we near the end. ‘Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.  Therefore watch, and remember.’ Acts 20:30.31.  Bear in mind that trials of this character are to come upon us, not only from without, but from within our own ranks.  OUR INDIVIDUAL SAFETY IS IN ENTIRE CONSECRATION TO GOD.”  7 BC-952.

PLEASE remember, “We are to copy no human being.  There is no human being wise enough to be our criterion.  We are to look to the man Christ Jesus, Who is complete in the perfection of righteousness and holiness.  He is the author and finisher of our faith.  He is the Pattern Man.  His experience is the measure of the experience that we are to gain.—His character is our model…” 7BC-970.  “The seal of the living God will be placed upon those ONLY who bear a likeness to Christ in character.”  7BC-970. “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads….These are they which follow the Lamb withersoever He goeth.”  Rev. 14:1, 4.  Le us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand.”  7BC-970.

In closing, my wife and I would both like to say that these words from the Great Controversy best express the feelings of our heart and mind, “In preaching the doctrine of the Second Advent, William Miller and his associates had labored with the sole purpose of arousing men to a preparation for the judgment.  They had sought to awaken professors of religion to the true hope of the church and to their need of a deeper Christian experience…said Miller, ‘…My whole object was a desire to convert souls to God, to notify the world of a coming judgment, and to induce my fellow men  to make that preparation of heart which will enable them to meet their God in peace.’”  GC-375.

“Character building is the most important work ever entrusted to human beings; and never before was its diligent study so important as now.”  ED-225.


We look forward to hearing from you!  You may write us at:

Al & Tammy Roesch
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