Are We REALLY Sabbath-Keepers?

As Adventists, our FLAGSHIP doctrine is The Seventh Day Sabbath.  For generations, we have taught the world the importance that God puts on keeping the Sabbath in both the Old and the New Testament. We have tried to “build the old waste places,” and be “the repairer of the breach” that Isaiah talks about (Isaiah 58), for we know the promise, “IF thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: THEN shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

But, are we REALLY keeping the Sabbath? I fear that many are becoming more and more lax, and are keeping the Sabbath much like the rest of Christendom keeps Sunday.  Many go to church (most can’t even get up early enough to make it there in time for Sabbath School) for two hours, come home and make lunch (that they ran out of time to prepare before Sabbath began the night before) or they go out to a restaurant to eat.

Then after eating lunch, many take a nap, and sleep away a large part of the rest of the day.  Some go visiting family/friends who are not interested in spiritual things and allow the conversation to go into many places that are not acceptable on the Sabbath. Others entertain themselves watching TV or things on the internet that are not things that will be a spiritual blessing to them.

As a people, I believe we fall FAR SHORT of the mark, when it comes to truly keeping the Sabbath Holy. Talking about certain activities, whether or not those activities are right or wrong to participate in on Sabbath won’t be as productive as talking about the PRINCIPLES of Sabbath-keeping.

I believe the following statements from the Spirit of Prophecy shine light on two principles that will help us in deciding the specifics of Sabbath-keeping.

If it falls into THIS category, it is RIGHT to do on the Sabbath:

“The necessities of life must be attended to, the sick must be cared for, the wants of the needy must be met. God does not hold him guiltless who stays his hand from relieving the suffering on the Sabbath day. The holy Sabbath was made for man, and acts of mercy and benevolence are always in order upon that day. God does not desire his creatures to suffer an hour’s pain that may be relieved upon the Sabbath or any other day.” 2SP 163.2

If it falls into THIS category, it is WRONG to do on the Sabbath:

“The Sabbath law forbids labor on the sanctified rest-day of the Lord. The toil that gains a livelihood must cease; no labor for worldly pleasure or profit is lawful upon the Lord’s day; but the work of Christ in healing the sick did honor to the holy Sabbath….” 2SP 164.2

If you are a MEDICAL worker, (Dr., Nurse, etc.) I think it’s important to look closer at this topic. Many who work in the medical field justify working on Sabbath, because their work is to make people well. My understanding is that Dr.’s & Nurses who work in worldly hospitals should not see their employment as a license to work on Sabbath unless they are working in a STRICTLY SDA hospital, where only the NECESSARY procedures and care is given to the patients on Sabbath. In worldly hospitals, there is no distinction made between Sabbath and any other day of the week, and the Dr.’s & Nurses are called upon to do many things that should be delayed until the next day, alot of unnecessary work is done that causes them to break the Sabbath. Those who do this are just as guilty as those who hold any other job on the Sabbath.

There are many NECESSARY jobs that someone must do, that Adventists shouldn’t take on.  Say for instance, being a Policeman.  This world needs Police NOW more than ever!  But it’s highly unlikely that you could be a Policeman and not have to work on Sabbath. So that is an employment that Adventists shouldn’t even consider. Just because an employment is an ESSENTIAL or NECESSARY job, doesn’t justify you and me taking on that job and breaking the Sabbath.

Remember when Joseph brought his family to Egypt because of the famine, he told his brothers to tell Pharaoh that they were shepherds, so that they wouldn’t fall into temptation, being employed by Pharaoh ~ “Joseph counseled his brethren, when Pharaoh should ask them of their occupation, to tell him frankly that they were shepherds, although such an occupation was regarded by the Egyptians as degrading. Joseph loved righteousness, and feared God. He did not wish his brethren to be exposed to temptation, therefore would not have them in the king’s special services, amid the corrupting, idolatrous influence at court. If they should tell the king that they were shepherds, he would not seek to employ them in his service, and exalt them to some honorable position for Joseph’s sake…” 1SP 153.1

We have been told that as we get closer to the Second Coming, it is going to get more and more difficult for Sabbath-keepers to keep their employment. Being true Sabbath-keepers, separates us from the World in many ways.  Especially in todays world, it’s a great advantage if you can work for yourself and be self-employed. The less we have to depend on those in the world to make a living, the better. If you work for yourself, there is never a reason for you to have a Sabbath issue that might cost you your job. As we all sense that things are heating up in our world, that the contest to obey God or man is coming closer, I’d encourage everyone, as far as possible, to do what you can to learn to make a living being self-employed. And determine from now on, that you will be faithful in keeping the Sabbath Holy. If we are not faithful now, when real persecution comes, there is no hope we will be faithful then.

Should Seventh Day Adventists Vote?

Should Seventh Day Adventists Vote?

Voting – Is it Right or Wrong?

  1. This is a study compiling a number of statements from the Spirit of Prophecy on the subject of VOTING.1.  Dear youth, what is the aim and purpose of your life? Are you ambitious for education that you may have a name and position in the world? Have you thoughts that you dare not express, that you may one day stand upon the summit of intellectual greatness; that you may sit in deliberative and legislative councils, and help to enact laws for the nation? There is nothing wrong in these aspirations. MYP 36.

Comment:  The original source of this quote is Review and Herald. So, when she says, “Dear Youth,” she is undeniably writing to SDA youth.  How can it be not wrong for them to sit in deliberative and legislative councils, and help to enact laws for the nation, and yet at the same time she be teaching our people that it is wrong to vote for men?  You would therefore have to conclude that these “youth” would be going out trying to get people to do something – vote for them – which they themselves and all SDA’s are forbidden to do.  It would be similar to the Jews hiring people to work on the Sabbath because they couldn’t.  Surely, if you give this one quote alone some deep consideration, the stand of not voting for men is definitely “flawed,”- “We should examine the truths we have been led to believe until we know they are without a flaw.”  CSSW-33.

  1. 2.  The Lord would have His people bury political questions. On these themes silence is eloquence. Christ calls upon His followers to come into unity on the pure gospel principles which are plainly revealed in the word of God. We cannot with safety vote for political parties; for we do not know whom we are voting for. We cannot with safety take part in any political schemes. We cannot labor to please men who will use their influence to repress religious liberty, and to set in operation oppressive measures to lead or compel their fellow men to keep Sunday as the Sabbath. The first day of the week is not a day to be reverenced. It is a spurious sabbath, and the members of the Lord’s family cannot participate with the men who exalt this day, and violate the law of God by trampling upon His Sabbath. The people of God are not to vote to place such men in office; for when they do this, they are partakers with them of the sins which they commit while in office. FE 475.

Comment:  “We cannot with safety vote for political parties, for we do not know whom we are voting for.”  That says to me, that if you register “Republican”, you cannot just vote straight across the board, “Republican”.  That is voting for “political parties.”  We cannot labor to please men….The sentence does not stop there. She says what KIND of men not to vote for. “who will use their influence to repress religious liberty”.   The obvious deduction would be – the opposite kind would be right to vote for.  When she says we are partakers with them of the sins which they commit while in office, she is saying that when we know where candidates stand on issues, important to Christians, like abortion…..and we still vote for them, we are partakers with them of the sins which they commit while in office.  A perfect example is Bill Clinton.  It was clear, public information before he ever became President the first time where he would stand on the abortion issue.  And he proved true to that.  He did everything He could to further the abortion agenda and against the pro-life movement.  Congress twice passed bills outlawing partial birth abortion.  He vetoed both of them, and there wasn’t a two thirds majority to override him.  Congress has again passed a bill outlawing partial birth abortion.  George Bush signed it immediately.

3.  Our work is to watch, and wait, and pray. Search the Scriptures. Christ has given you warning not to mingle with the world. We are to come out from among them and be separate, “and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:17, 18). Whatever the opinions you may entertain in regard to casting your vote in political questions, you are not to proclaim it by pen or voice. Our people need to be silent upon questions which have no relation to the third angel’s message. If ever a people needed to draw nigh to God, it is Seventh-day Adventists. There have been wonderful devices and plans made. A burning desire has taken hold of men or women to proclaim something, or bind up with something; they do not know what. But the silence of Christ upon many subjects was true eloquence. . . .

My brethren, will you not remember that none of you have any burden laid upon you by the Lord to publish your political preferences in our papers, or to speak of them in the congregation, when the people assemble to hear the Word of the Lord. . . .

We are not as a people to become mixed up with political questions. All would do well to take heed to the Word of God, Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers in political strife, nor bind with them in their attachments. There is no safe ground in which they can stand and work together. The loyal and the disloyal have no equal ground on which to meet.

He who breaks one precept of the commandments of God is a transgressor of the whole law. Keep your voting to yourself. Do not feel it your duty to urge everyone to do as you do.--Letter 4, 1898.  2SM 337.

Comment:  There is a lot in this quote.  First, it says, “Keep your voting to yourself. Do not feel it your duty to urge everyone to do as you do.”  It does not say, DO NOT VOTE, rather, KEEP YOUR VOTING TO YOURSELF.  In regards to things that do not relate to the 3rd Angels message, such as raising taxes, etc…those things we need to keep to ourselves…but in a later quote, she says how we need to URGE our brethren to do all within their power, including voting, when it comes to temperance issues.  Back then, the issue was alcohol – prohibition.  Today, the issue, at least one of them, is Abortion.

4. Our Pioneers Reach an Important Decision.–[A page from Ellen G. White’s 1859 diary.] “Attended meeting in the eve. Had quite a free, interesting meeting. After it was time to close, the subject of voting was considered and dwelt upon. James first talked, then Brother Andrews talked, and it was thought by them best to give their influence in favor of right and against wrong. They think it right to vote in favor of temperance men being in office in our city instead of by their silence running the risk of having intemperance men put in office. Brother Hewett tells his experience of a few days [since] and is settled that [it] is right to cast his vote. Brother Hart talks well. Brother Lyon opposes. No others object to voting, but Brother Kellogg begins to feel that it is right. Pleasant feelings exist among all the brethren. O that they may all act in the fear of God. Te 255.

“I dressed and found I was to speak to the point of whether our people should vote for prohibition. I told them ‘Yes,’ and spoke twenty minutes.”–

   “Men of intemperance have been in the office today in a flattering manner expressing their approbation of the course of the Sabbathkeepers not voting and expressed hopes that they will stick to their course and like the Quakers, not cast their vote. Satan and his evil angels are busy at this time, and he has workers upon the earth. May Satan be disappointed, is my prayer.”–E.G. White diary, Sunday, Mar. 6, 1859.  Te 256.

Comment:  There is much in this quote, also.  The first point is that many times people say, “It is right to vote for issues….but not for men.”  I think this quote clarifies that objection well.  “They think it right to vote in favor of temperance men being in office in our city instead of by their silence running the risk of having intemperance menput in office.They were not voting on issues here…they were voting on men….men who represented certain issues, such as temperance.  Today, we vote on men who represent Pro-Life.  The second point:  It seems clear that it is the evil men and Satan who are hoping people will not vote.  It is a deception of Satan to think you are doing the right thing, by not voting.

5. There are speculations as to woman’s rights and duties in regard to voting. Many are in no way disciplined to understand the bearing of important questions. They have lived lives of present gratification because it was the fashion. Women who might develop good intellects and have true moral worth are now mere slaves to fashion. They have not breadth of thought nor cultivated intellect. They can talk understandingly of the latest fashion, the styles of dress, this or that party or delightful ball. Such women are not prepared to intelligently take a prominent position in political matters. They are mere creatures of fashion and circumstance. Let this order of things be changed. Let woman realize the sacredness of her work and, in the strength and fear of God, take up her life mission. Let her educate her children for usefulness in this world and for a fitness for the better world. 3T 565.

Comment:  It does not say that women should not be politically active….it says that women who have not been educated to understand what is going on are not PREPARED to make intelligent decisions…and then it says, “Let this order of things be changed.”  What should be changed?  The fact that women are not prepared to make intelligent decisions in regards to political decisions.  Well, if it was wrong to vote, what need would there be of changing anything?

Voting Against the License Law

6.  While we are in no wise to become involved in political questions, yet it is our privilege to take our stand decidedly on all questions relating to temperance reform. Concerning this I have often borne a plain testimony. In an article published in the Review of Nov. 8, 1881, I wrote:–

“Our Creator has bestowed his bounties upon man with a liberal hand. Were all these gifts of Providence wisely and temperately employed, poverty, sickness, and distress would be well-nigh banished from the earth. But, alas! we see on every hand the blessings of God changed to a curse by the wickedness of men.

“There is no class guilty of greater perversion and abuse of his precious gifts than are those who employ the products of the soil in the manufacture of intoxicating liquors. The nutritive grains, the healthful, delicious fruits, are converted into beverages that pervert the senses and madden the brain. As a result of the use of these poisons, thousand of families are deprived of the comforts and even the necessities of life, acts of violence and crime are multiplied, and disease and death hurry myriads of victims to a drunkard’s grave.

     “This work of destruction is carried on under the protection of the laws of the land. For a paltry sum, men are licensed to deal out to their fellow men the potion that shall rob them of all that makes this life desirable and of all hope of the life to come. Neither the lawmaker nor the liquor seller is ignorant of the result of his work. At the hotel bar, in the beer garden, at the saloon, the slave of appetite expends his means for that which is destructive to reason, health, and happiness. The liquor seller fills his till with the money that should provide food and clothing for the family of the poor drunkard.

“This is the worst kind of robbery. Yet men in high position in society and in the church lend their influence in favor of license laws. . . . Thus society is corrupted, workhouses and prisons are crowded with paupers and criminals, and the gallows is supplied with victims. The evil ends not with the drunkard and his unhappy family. The burdens of taxation are increased, the morals of the young are imperiled, the property, and even the life, of every member of society is endangered. But the picture may be presented never so vividly, and yet it falls short of the reality. No human pen or pencil can fully delineate the horrors of intemperance. . . . 

“How can Christian men and women tolerate this evil? . . . There is a cause for the moral paralysis upon society. Our laws sustain an evil which is sapping their very foundations. Many deplore the wrongs which they know exist, but consider themselves free from all responsibility in the matter. This cannot be. Every individual exerts an influence in society. In our favored land, every voter has some voice in determining what laws shall control the nation. Should not that influence and that vote be cast on the side of temperance and virtue? . . . 

“We may call upon the friends of the temperance cause to rally to the conflict and seek to press back the tide of evil that is demoralizing the world; but of what avail are all our efforts while liquor selling is sustained by law? Must the curse of intemperance forever rest like a blight upon our land? Must it every year sweep like a devouring fire over thousands of happy homes? We talk of the results, tremble at the results, and wonder what we can do with the terrible results, while too often we tolerate and even sanction the cause. The advocates of temperance fail to do their whole duty unless they exert their influence by precept and example — by voice and pen and vote — in favor of prohibition and total abstinence. We need not expect that God will work a miracle to bring about this reform, and thus remove the necessity for our exertion. We ourselves must grapple with this giant foe, our motto, No compromise and no cessation of our efforts till the victory is gained. . . .

“What can be done to press back the inflowing tide of evil? Let laws be enacted and rigidly enforced prohibiting the sale and the use of ardent spirits as a beverage. Let every effort be made to encourage the inebriate’s return to temperance and virtue. But even more than this is needed to banish the curse of inebriety from our land. Let the appetite for intoxicating liquors be removed, and their use and sale are at an end. This work must to a great degree devolve upon parents. Let them, by observing strict temperance themselves, give the right stamp of character to their children, and then educate and train these children, in the fear of God, to habits of self-denial and self-control. Youth who have been thus trained will have moral stamina to resist temptation, and to control appetite and passion. They will stand unmoved by the folly and dissipation that are corrupting society.

“The prosperity of a nation is dependent upon the virtue and intelligence of its citizens. To secure these blessings, habits of strict temperance are indispensable. The history of ancient kingdoms is replete with lessons of warning for us. Luxury, self-indulgence, and dissipation prepare the way for their downfall. It remains to be seen whether our own republic will be admonished by their example and avoid their fate.” RH, October 15, 1914.

Comment:  “This work of destruction is carried on under the protection of the laws of the land.”  Is that not also the case with abortion today.  Thank God, we have a President who is doing what he can to change those laws!  He would not be our President, if it were not that many Christians voted for him.  Is he perfect?  No…but he is much better than the others who could have gotten in.  Compare him to Clinton and his record on the abortion issue alone. “But the picture may be presented never so vividly, and yet it falls short of the reality. No human pen or pencil can fully delineate the horrors of intemperance.”  Can the horrors of abortion be any less than the horrors of intemperance? In our favored land, every voter has some voice in determining what laws shall control the nation. Should not that influence and that vote be cast on the side of temperance and virtue?  By not casting your vote with the men who will uphold what is right and fight abortion…you are lending your influence for abortion.  ; but of what avail are all our efforts while liquor selling is sustained by law?  We can preach all we want against abortion…but if the law sustains it, our preaching will avail little.  Therefore it is necessary that the laws be changed through men who we vote into office who have the authority to change the laws. The advocates of temperance fail to do their whole duty unless they exert their influence by precept and example — by voice and pen and vote — in favor of prohibition and total abstinence.  We are clearly told that we FAIL to do our duty, if we do not VOTE.  Let laws be enacted and rigidly enforced prohibiting the sale and the use of ardent spirits as a beverage.  Who enacts laws?  It is the men we vote in.  Think again of abortion.  When was the last time you had the opportunity to vote against abortion?  We haven’t had that opportunity.  But, the men we vote in, they do.  We can go and check their stands on these issues, before we vote, and see who is Pro-Life and who is Pro-Choice.  Then, it is up to us to vote in the Pro-Life men.  Sadly, the fact is…many, many innocent children have been murdered because many Christians think it is not their duty, or that it is actually WRONG to vote for men! 

7.  The act of voting, when exercised in behalf of justice, humanity, and right, is in itself blameless, and may be at some times highly proper. 2BIO 115.

Comment:  I think this quote speaks for itself.

8.  Republicanism and Protestantism became the fundamental principles of the nation. These principles are the secret of its power and prosperity. GC-441.  She says “Republicanism” …is the secret of this Country’s power and prosperity. What is “Republicanism”?  “A state in which the exercise of the sovereign power is lodged in representatives elected by the people.  In modern (1828) usage, it differs from a democracy or democratic state in which the people exercise the powers of sovereignty in person.” Noah Websters 1828 Dictionary.  Do not fall into the trap of thinking that Ellen White didn’t know what a “Republic” was or how it worked.  That is why she said, “Intemperate men should not by vote of the people be placed in positions of trust.”  TE-254. 

Comment:  She does not say “men should not by vote of the people be placed in positions of trust”…she says, “INTEMPERATE men…”  Another perfect example of that is Ted Kennedy.  It is a known fact that he is a heavy drinker.  If we vote for a man who is a known drinker, again, “we are partakers with them of the sins they commit while in office.”

9.  How many forfeit their prerogative as citizens of a republic,–bribed with a glass of whisky to cast their vote for some villainous candidate. Review and Herald, Nov. 8, 1881.  Te 254.

Comment:  Clearly here, she is not talking about voting for “issues”, rather she is talking about voting for candidates.  Our prerogative as citizens of a republic is to have a voice in who represents us – in making laws.  The vast majority of laws in this Country are not voted on by the people….they are voted on by the legislators….that is their role in government.  It is critical that we vote in legislators who believe in the Constitution, because it is the Constitution that guarantees our freedom of religion.  She says, “Such action would be directly contrary to the principles of this government, to the genius of its free institutions, to the direct and solemn avowals of the Declaration of Independence, and to the Constitution. The founders of the nation wisely sought to guard against the employment of secular power on the part of the church, with its inevitable result–intolerance and persecution. The Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” and that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office of public trust under the United States.” Only in flagrant violation of these safeguards to the nation’s liberty, can any religious observance be enforced by civil authority.”  GC-442.

Let us, as Christians, not stand in “neutrality in a time of crisis” any longer.  How many babies have died, because Seventh Day Adventists have not taken a stand?  We need to be active and show the world where we stand on these important issues.  Do not vote for “parties”.  Vote for individuals…those you have researched to your best ability to know where they stand.  And don’t fall into the trap that you shouldn’t vote because you might vote in someone who will “bring in the Sunday law.”  You can be sure, our Pioneers were not voting for SDA’s.

One last quote:  “‘Shall we vote for prohibition?’ she asked. ‘Yes, to a man, everywhere,’ she replied, ‘and perhaps I shall shock some of you if I say, If necessary, vote on the Sabbath day for prohibition if you cannot at any other time.”‘– Ellen G. White Volume 3 The Lonely Years 1876-1891, 160

For studies on other timely subjects contact:

Al & Tammy Roesch
5464 State Road
Kingsville, OH  44048
Email us at:  [email protected]

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The Highest Subject

Few doctrinal subjects have generated more passionate debate among Christians than the theme of the trinity. Churches have split and wars have even been fought over the issues that surround the nature of the Godhead.

Perplexity over God’s nature is not new. Since creation, man has diligently sought to understand and explain Him. In the book of Job, Zophar uttered the cry of each human heart when he declared, “Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?” (Job 11:7).

John Wesley adds, “Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the triune God!”

The study of God is without rival—the highest subject any mortal can ever even attempt to approach or contemplate. Because God defines Himself as everlasting and the ultimate power, presence, and knowledge, this field of study is deeper, wider, and broader than any other.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). Finite human minds will never be able to fully understand everything about the eternal God, anymore than we can jump to the stars with our feeble legs. Therefore, we need to approach this mystery shrouding His person with a large measure of barefoot reverence and deep humility. Like Moses, when he came into God’s presence, we must take off our shoes, “for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). By laying aside our preconceived ideas, opinions and sectarian training, we can go directly to God’s Word and learn what He has chosen to reveal about Himself. But remember, only God can fully understand God, so even after the most diligent research, we may still have some unanswered questions that will prove to be a fruitful field of study even throughout the eons of eternity.

One Big Problem

“But wait,” someone says. “If the Bible teaches that there is only one God, then how can God be composed of three persons?” Scripture unequivocally declares that there is only one God. For more than 3,000 years, Jews have repeated Deuteronomy 6:4. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” This sacred passage is called the shema (named after the Hebrew for its first word) and has been held in high esteem and memorized by devout Jews for centuries.

Isaiah records the testimony of God concerning Himself. “Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. … Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any” (Isaiah 44:6). Jesus also taught about “the only true God” (John 17:3) and Paul wrote, “There is one God” (1 Timothy 2:5).

While most believers agree with this core truth, a heated debate over its deeper implication has raged throughout church history. Does this mean that there is one person who has three different titles? Or are there three separate persons who mysteriously morph into one being? Is Jesus merely a good man, a creation to redeem us, and only the Father is God? Still others hold that the Father and Son are indeed God but the Holy Spirit is only the impersonal force that does their bidding. Each of these conflicting ideas has attracted its loyal followers. Let’s examine the basis for these views and compare them with the Bible.

Only Jesus?

In the 3rd century, Sabellius, a Libyan priest living in Rome, taught that God is a single person with different titles—known as modalism. Thus, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit represent different hats or titles that God wears, depending on how He wishes to communicate with man at the time. It’s akin to water, which can take on the form of a solid, liquid, or gas.

However, they are not three roles played by one person. The church recognized Sabellius’ ideas as contrary to Bible teaching, and he was quickly excommunicated. Yet he still has adherents today in what is commonly known as the “Oneness” or “Jesus Only” doctrine. The Jesus Only teaching claims that Jesus Christ is not only the Son, but also the Father and the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 9:6, in which the Messiah (or the promised Son) is called “The everlasting Father,” is used to provide biblical support for this belief.

The Oneness doctrine, however, overlooks the fact that the Son came to earth to reveal the true character of God the Father to a world groping in spiritual blindness. Jesus prayed to His Father in Gethsemane, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world” (John 17:5, 6). Jesus is the only one who could reveal the Father, because He is the express image of the Father (Luke 10:22; Hebrews 1:3).

Thus when the disciples asked Christ what the Father was like, He could say, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus so mirrored the character of the Father that He perfectly reflected Him, hence the title “The Everlasting Father.” Another reason Jesus is called the Everlasting Father is because this world and everything in it was created through Christ. So in a very real sense, Jesus is our father (Hebrews 1:2; John 1:3).

Isaiah 9:6 is the only place in the Bible where Jesus is called the Father. Keep in mind that Jesus also calls Himself the Son of man, our brother, our shepherd, our friend, and our priest. To build a doctrine on one Scripture is as foolish as building a house on top of a single fence post. The Bible physically separates the Father and the Son repeatedly. While Christ was on earth, He referred to His Father in heaven. “My Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). He always directed His prayers heavenward to the Father and stated that the Father had His own individual will; “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Then after He died and rose again, He ascended to “the right hand of God” (Romans 8:34). This indicates the Father has a separate presence.

In fact, Jesus said that He wasn’t the Father more than 80 times. While always remaining one in purpose and origin, Jesus and the Father are clearly separate and distinct persons. And on more than one occasion, the Father spoke to Jesus from heaven. “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:17 NKJV). Either Jesus and the Father are two separate individual persons, or Jesus was an expert ventriloquist. 

Is Jesus Fully God?

Another group questions whether Jesus actually possesses all the characteristics of the Eternal God. They stem from Arius, a 4th century Alexandrian priest, who had a different take on God. He taught that prior to making anything else, God created a son who was neither equal to, nor coeternal with, the Father. According to this idea, called Arianism, Jesus Christ is a supernatural creature, but He is neither fully human nor fully divine. Still others embrace a more immature version of this doctrine, holding that back in the dawn of time, God the Father had some form of cosmic intimate relations with the Holy Spirit and Jesus was the product. They reason, “How else can you call Him the Son?”

However, these concepts are totally contrary to the teaching of the New Testament in which Jesus is revealed as the Eternal Creator and not a created being (John 1:1–4). As we compare Scripture definitions for God with the Bible record of Jesus, we see the characteristics of Jehovah are also ascribed to Jesus. Note these powerful examples:

He is self-existent (John 1:1–4; 14:6); only God is self-existent (Psalm 90:2).

Jesus defines Himself as eternal. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

He is, and has, eternal life (1 John 5:11, 12, 20).

He is all-powerful (Revelation 1:8).

He created all things (John 1:3). “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16 NKJV).

The Father even calls Jesus God. “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom” (Hebrews 1:8).

Jesus is able to forgive sin (Luke 5:20, 21); The Bible says only God can forgive sin (Isaiah 43:25). Jesus accepted worship that according to the Ten Commandments is reserved only for the Almighty (Matthew 14:33). “And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘All hail.’ And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him” (Matthew 28:9). Upon seeing the risen Savior, the converted skeptic, Thomas, confessed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26–29).

Even the angels worship Jesus. “And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him” (Hebrews 1:6).

The Scriptures also teach that only God knows the thoughts of a man’s heart (1 Kings 8:39). Yet Jesus consistently knew what people were thinking, “for he knew what was in man” (John 2:25). “Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you’” (John 1:48 NKJV).

Through the Spirit, Jesus is omnipresent. “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NKJV). “For I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:10 NKJV).

He has power to give life, and even resurrected Himself. “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:18). “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

Therefore, by considering the primary definitions of God, and seeing that Jesus fits every one of those definitions, obviously, Jesus must be eternal God.

His Enemies Knew

Even Jesus’ enemies understood and recognized His claim of equality with the Father God. When He boldly proclaimed, “I and my Father are one,” Jewish leaders were outraged and sought to execute Him. They understood unequivocally that Jesus was claiming to be God Himself. “The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10:30, 33).

The Jews even attempted to stone Christ when He assumed the self-existent title of Jehovah used at the burning bush. Jesus said to them, “‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’ Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:58 NKJV).

The Jews understood that Jesus claimed equality with God, when He said “‘My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.’ Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, … but said also that God was his Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:17, 18).

There are only three conclusions one can derive from reading these passages. First, Jesus was insane when He made these outrageous claims. Second, He was a liar. These are unacceptable options. The third possibility is that He uttered a sublime truth. For a Christian who accepts the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross, the third option is the only tenable one. Otherwise, a liar or delusional man could not be righteous enough to be our Savior.

Medieval Error?

Probably the most widely held Christian view of God is known as the “trinity.” This popular belief teaches that the Godhead consists of three distinct persons who have existed together from eternity past and are named the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. Each one possesses original, underived, and unborrowed life. They are all equally God and are one in nature, character, and purpose. They are not three “gods,” but one God in a combination of the three distinct persons.

Some have implicated trinitarianism as heresy because they claim the wayward medieval church was the culprit to first introduce it. In fact, to distance themselves from the Catholic version of the trinity, many Protestant leaders from the 19th century preferred the more biblical term “Godhead” when referring to the triune God

However, just because an apostate church believes in the trinity, or any other doctrine for that matter, does not automatically make it unbiblical. The converse is also true. A position is not accurate just because some of the early church leaders advocated it. Even the Apostles misunderstood the nature of Jesus’ first coming. Doctrinal validity must be based on biblical authority and not upon whom advocates it or rejects it.

The Old Testament was written long before the existence of the Christian church, apostate or true, and it teaches there are three persons in the Godhead. In Isaiah, the Redeemer, which is Jesus Christ in the New Testament (Galatians 4:4, 5), declares the “Lord God and His Spirit” are responsible for sending Him on His mission of redemption (Isaiah 48:16, 17 NKJV).

Some think that because the word “trinity” (derived from the Latin word trinitas, meaning “threeness”) is not found in the Bible, the concept of a triune God cannot be right. However, even though the word “millennium,” meaning one thousand years, does not appear in Revelation 20, we use it to describe earth’s 1,000-year rest after Jesus’ return. A teaching is not any less true simply because an extra-biblical word is used to define what is clearly a biblical teaching. This goes for the trinity, second coming, investigative judgment, and a host of other concise terms for doctrines. 

One God, Three Persons

The names of God reveal attributes of His nature. God has a long-established habit of using various names to describe a person’s character. Jacob earned his name that means “swindler” when he practiced deception to steal his father’s blessing away from his brother Esau (Genesis 27:35, 36). At his conversion, Jacob wrestled with the angel and insisted on the blessing of God. Then his name was changed to “Israel,” which means “a prince with God” (Genesis 32:26–28).

Likewise, the names for God found in Genesis and elsewhere tell us volumes about our Creator. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). The Hebrew word here for God is Elohim. It is a plural noun that is used more than 2,700 times in the Old Testament. This means that inspired authors preferred to use Elohim about 10 times more than the singular form “El” when they described God. Even in the Old Testament book of Daniel, we see a picture of the Father and the Son as two separate persons. “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him” (Daniel 7:13). The Son of man, Jesus, is seen coming before the Ancient of Days—who is, obviously, God the Father.

The New Testament writings are sprinkled with this concept of one God with three united, fully divine persons. The apostle Paul wrote that there were three divine persons: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4–6).

Paul frequently referred to the three separate persons of the Godhead. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).

Revelation opens by introducing the three persons of the Godhead. “From the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 1:4–6 NKJV).

In addition, we clearly see three distinct persons at the baptism of Jesus. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16,17).

If Jesus is the only person in the Godhead, where did the voice come from that declared, “This is my beloved Son”? Did He trisect Himself into a voice from heaven, the dove wafting down through the sky, and His body on the bank of the river? No. This was not simply a clever act of holy smoke and mirrors, but rather a regal reunion revealing the truth of the trinity. And on top of this, it is through the shared authority of these three persons that we are commissioned to baptize. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

Unity or Quantity?

Most of the confusion regarding the number of beings composing the Godhead springs from a simple misunderstanding of the word “one.” Simply put, “one” in the Bible does not always mean numerical quantity. Depending on the Scripture, “one” can often mean unity.

We see this principle established very early in Scripture. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, emphasis added). “One flesh” here does not mean that a married couple melt into one human after their wedding, but rather they are to be united into one family. Jesus prayed that the apostles would be one, saying, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:22, 23).

We need to keep in mind that when Moses said, “The Lord is one,” Israel was surrounded with polytheistic nations that worshiped many gods that were constantly involved in petty bickering and rivalry (Deuteronomy 6:4), whereas the God who created is composed of three separate beings who are perfectly united in their mission of saving and sustaining their creatures. As the Spirit is executing the will of both the Father and Son, it is His will also.

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (1 John 5:7). Granted, it is a brain exercise to grasp that one God (“He”) is also, and equally, “They.” Like one rope with three united strands, the three persons of the Father, Son, and Spirit make up the one God.

God Manifested in Nature

Though there is nothing in this world that adequately illustrates God, Paul declares the “invisible things of him from the creation of the world” can help us understand “his eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20). The truth that God is a “tri-unity” of two invisible persons (Father and Spirit) and one visible person (Jesus) is evident even in creation.

The universe is composed of three structures: space, matter, and time. Of these three, only matter is visible. Space requires length, height, and width to constitute space. Each dimension is separate and distinct in itself, yet the three form space—if you remove height, you no longer have space. Time is also a tri-unity of past, present, and future. Two are invisible (past and future), and one visible (present). Each is separate and distinct, as well as essential for time to exist. Man is also a “tri-unity,” having physical, mental, and spiritual components. Again, two are invisible (mental and spiritual) and one visible (physical). Cells compose the fundamental structural unit of all living organisms. All organic life is made up from cells that consist of three primary parts: the outer wall, the cytoplasm, and the nucleus (like the shell, white, and yoke of an egg). If any one is removed, the cell dies.

In each of these examples, the removal of any one component results in the demise of the whole. In like manner, the Godhead contains three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each is God (Ephesians 4:6; Titus 2:13; Acts 5:3, 4), yet there is one God. The removal of one person destroys the unity of the whole.

Even the gospel story illustrates the interdependency of threes. The sanctuary had three places: the Courtyard, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. There are three stages of salvation: justification, sanctification, and glorification. In Isaiah 6:3, the angels around God’s throne cry “Holy, Holy, Holy” three times—once for the Father, once for the Son, and once for the Holy Spirit.

The Source of Misunderstanding

Almost all of the Scriptures used by those who reject the trinity to portray Jesus as a “lesser god” spring from a basic failure to understand the incarnation. Jesus, God the Son, laid aside or veiled the full dimension of His divinity when He came to earth. How else could He live as God among men?

“God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3).

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).

We also clearly see that before and after His incarnation, Jesus beams again with undimmed divine glory. “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour” (Hebrews 2:9).

If God the Son had not veiled His glory when He came to earth, man could not have endured His brilliant presence, much less learned from His example.

Who Outranks Whom?

Let us now venture a little deeper onto sacred ground. As we consider the mysteries of the Godhead, we notice that there seems to be an order of authority concerning the three persons in the trinity. Keep in mind that while all three are the same in properties and attributes, and equal in power and glory, it appears that the Father is recognized as the ultimate authority. “And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:23). “But I would have you know, that … the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). The Son constantly receives His glory, power, throne, and prerogatives as Judge from the Father (John 3:35; John 5:22). Indeed, it was God the Father that “gave” the Son. In fact, while it might not be wrong, we are never told to pray to Jesus or the Spirit – but instead to the Father in the name of the Son. Yet just because the Father seems to have supreme authority, it does not in any way diminish from the divinity of Jesus and the Spirit. That would be like saying that a corporal is less of a soldier than a sergeant.

Among the three members of the Godhead, we do not see a clamouring for preeminence, vying for recognition, or revealing in power. Instead, the exact opposite is true. In fact, the Father, Son, and Spirit always seem to be trying to outgive and glorify each other. The Father wants to glorify the Son. The Son lives to glorify the Father, and the Spirit lives to glorify the Father and Son (John 17:1, 5; John 16:14; John 13:31, 32).

A Friend or Force?

It would be a mistake to leave this sublime subject without addressing an additional distortion to the teaching of the trinity. Another class of sincere Christians believes that while the Father and Son are truly distinct persons, they only see the Holy Spirit as a cosmic force or essence—an impersonal power conduit or vehicle to do the bidding of the Father and Son.

We can appreciate why the Holy Spirit seems to be the hardest member of the Godhead to visualize and define. Sometimes He is called the Holy Ghost, which leaves people with a “spooky” image. The Scriptures compare Him to everything from wind and fire, to a dove, water, and even a defense attorney!

But as we consider the various features of the Holy Spirit, we can quickly see He has all the credentials of a separate and distinct, intelligent, individual being.

The Holy Spirit leads and guides. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13 NKJV). It’s true that a map or GPS can lead you, but no one calls a map “he.” It would have been very easy for Jesus to simply say, “When it comes,” but Jesus called the Holy Spirit “He” more than 15 times. Why would God go to so much trouble to personify His own inherent power to the extent that it possessed emotions, thoughts, and speech independent of Himself?

The Holy Spirit also comforts. “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). I have never seen a lonely child run to a vacuum cleaner for an embrace—only intelligent beings can offer comfort. Jesus promised before His ascension that He was sending another helper; paraclete is the Greek word that signifies a multi-sided personal ministry as counselor, consoler advocate, helper, comforter, ally, and supporter (John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15). These are all traits that usually belong to a person or friend. If the Holy Spirit is merely God’s active force, then John 16:7, 8is nonsense: “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has comes, He will convict the world.” It is obvious from this text that the Holy Spirit would be more personally present after Jesus ascended. If the Holy Spirit is mere energy, there is simply no explanation or logic to why He would not come unless Jesus left.

The Holy Spirit can even be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). Cars have many unique characteristics and idiosyncrasies. At times, they might even seem to have a “personality.” But motor vehicles cannot be grieved. Nor can they speak, as the Holy Spirit does. “Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot’” (Acts 8:29). Computer programs exist that can reproduce speech, but they cannot create inspired thought. The Holy Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

We also read in Revelation 1:4, 5, a prayer for grace and peace from the Father, the Spirit, and Jesus Christ. We must ask, would John have put the Spirit between the Father and the Son if he had not regarded the Spirit as a divine intelligence in the same sense as they are?

If the Holy Spirit is simply some divine force, then why is it even more offensive to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, and even more fatal, than speaking against the Son? “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31, 32NKJV). By definition, blasphemy is “a contemptuous or profane act, utterance, or writing against God.” By this simple deduction, the Holy Spirit must be God! This is also why Peter said that to lie to the Holy Spirit is to lie to God (Acts 5:3, 4).

The Holy Spirit can be a witness (Hebrews 10:15). In any court of the world, only living beings can be called witnesses. Finally, the Holy Spirit is said to have His own mind (Romans 8:27).

We can clearly see the Holy Spirit is not simply a force, but the third divine person of the Godhead. Though a spirit, He has all the characteristics of a person and individual. The Spirit is plainly portrayed as a being who speaks, teaches, guides, makes choices, witnesses, comforts, and can be grieved. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14 NKJV).

Love at Calvary

The truth of the triune God can also be found in the gospel itself. In essence, when we consider John, we read that God the Father so loved the world that He sent God the Son that we might be born of God the Spirit (John 3:8, 13, 16, 17).

But it is especially on Golgotha’s hill that the doctrine of the trinity explodes with meaning and becomes more than denominational jousting. Before earth’s creation, the triune God discussed the potential of man’s rebellion and fall. Through the lens of divine foreknowledge, He saw the terror that sin’s rape of the world would cause. And there, before man was formed, it was decided that Jesus would leave the throne of heaven and become humanity’s substitute. Jesus was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8; 1 Peter 1:19, 20).

If Jesus was merely a created super-being, then His death for man’s redemption is no better than an angel dying for us. If Christ is not deity itself, then any angel or sinless created being could have served the purpose. This would have virtually sustained Satan’s charge that God is selfish by demonstrating that He is only willing to sacrifice His creation and not Himself.

A Tearing at the Trinity

Another point to consider is that sin causes separation from the Creator (Isaiah 59:2). The iniquities of the human race were placed upon the Son of God (Isaiah 53:6). When Jesus hung on the cross, suffering for our sins, every fiber of His being was torn as the eternal relationship with His Father and Spirit was ripped apart. In agony He cried out, “My God [for the Father], my God [for the Spirit], why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). If there had been only one person in the Godhead, there would not have been this excruciating pain of separation to wring the life out of the heart of Jesus.

The real risk in the redemption plan, besides the loss of man, was the breakup of the Godhead. Had Jesus sinned, He would have been working at cross-purposes with the Spirit and His Father. Omnipotent good would have been pitted against omnipotent evil. What would have happened to the rest of creation? Whom would the unfallen universe see as right? One sin could have sent the Godhead and the universe spinning into cosmic chaos; the proportions of this disaster are staggering. Yet the Godhead was still willing to take this fragmenting risk for the salvation of man. This reveals the depth of God’s amazing love.


Augustine, that great man of God, was once walking on the shore of an ocean while greatly perplexed about the doctrine of the trinity. As he meditated, he observed a little boy with a seashell running back and forth from the waters edge, filling his shell, and then pouring it into a crab hole in the sand. “What are you doing, my little man?” asked Augustine.

“Oh,” replied the boy, “I am trying to put all the ocean out there in this hole.” Augustine had learned his lesson.

As he passed on, Augustine said, “That is what I am trying to do; I see it now. Standing on the shores of time, I am trying to get into this little finite mind things which are infinite.” Likewise, let us be content to let God know some things that we cannot yet know.

It would be pompous and preposterous to pretend that we understand everything about God. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33). If we could completely unpack Him like cracking some genetic code, He would cease to be God.

Nevertheless, there is much about God that is revealed for our blessing. “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever” (Deuteronomy 29:29). What is revealed is that this teaching of the trinity must be important to God. The ministry of Jesus both begins and ends with an emphasis on the three persons in the Godhead. The Father, Son, and Spirit are present at Jesus’ baptism and when He ascends to heaven. Jesuscommanded His followers to baptize in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The testimony of Scripture indicates that the Godhead can neither be separated into three Gods nor merged into one person. This three-in-one not only created us, but they love us and devised an amazing plan to save a lost world from sin to restore us to His presence in paradise.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen” (2 Corinthians 13:14).


The Wisdom of Solomon? OR The Politics of Pragmatism: by George B. Gainer


By George B Gainer

Early Adventism published positions in harmony with the Physicians’ Crusade Against Abortion, 1850-1890, though it was not active in that movement. The church produced its first set of abortion guidelines in 1970, when American attitudes toward abortion had changed and some of the church’s hospitals were experiencing growing pressure from their surrounding communities to provide abortion services.

Less than a year after the first set of abortion guidelines were developed, the church revised and expanded them. The resulting liberalized guidelines have allowed Adventist hospitals a great deal of freedom in their abortion practices, a freedom that has resulted in a large number of abortions being performed. Although the church has been hesitant to let it be known, at the present it is clearly not, in either policy or practice, limiting its medical institutions to therapeutic abortions.



Therefore each of you must put off falsehood
and speak truthfully to his neighbor,
for we are all members of one body.
Ephesians 4:25

“With malice toward none with charity for all…
to speak the truth… in love.”

NOTE to reader:

This paper by Pastor George Gainer is dated February 21, 1988 and was presented at the Loma Linda Conference on Abortion in November 14-16, 1988. The original document can be found by searching online. Written permission was given by George Gainer to Andrew Michell on October 22, 2016 to convert this document to a searchable PDF form. Please forward any questions about this updated version by visiting and using the contact form.


My questions about abortion and the Seventh-day Adventist Church began on a cold day in January 1985.1 A “chance” encounter with a
pastor while searching for parking at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC had led to an invitation to worship with his church sometime. The following Sunday, I decided to drop in and hear him preach. I arrived late and sat in the back, unnoticed, and ungreeted.
He stood to preach and announced to the congregation that this was “Sanctity of Life” Sunday. After spending some time on the Biblical
basis for the sanctity of life position, he told the following story:

During my wife’s pregnancy with our son, Seth, we decided to look for a
Christian doctor who shared our sanctity of life convictions.
So we drove to Takoma Park, Maryland to the office of Dr. _________ ___,
a Seventh-day Adventist. Following the test and examination which
confirmed that she was pregnant, the very first question she asked was
‘do you want this baby or do you want an abortion?’
We looked at each other in shock and disbelief.
We then turned and said, ‘We are sorry. We must be in the wrong place.’
We got up and left. 2

At the close of his sermon he invited questions and comments from the congregation. One lady stood and asked, “Are you sure that what you said about the Seventh-day Adventists is true? I always thought that they were Bible-believing Christians.” He answered, “I am sorry to tell you that the Seventh-day Adventists are aborting hundreds of babies in their hospitals.” 3

While they sang a hymn I went out… unseen but not unshaken. What was the truth regarding Adventism and abortion? I remembered seeing an editorial in the Adventist Review which had stated that, “the Adventist Church has no official position on abortion.”4 But what does that mean? Does it mean that Seventh-day Adventists see no moral implications surrounding the practice of abortion? Does the Church really have no bias in either direction? What does the lack of an “official position” mean in the actual day-to-day practice of the hospitals of the Adventist Health System? Most rank and file Adventists believe that our hospitals perform abortions very infrequently and then only in extreme or life-threatening situations. Was it possible that they had been misinformed and that this preacher was right? What indeed, is the truth about Adventism and abortion? A search for answers to these questions led me to survey the history or our church’s position on abortion.

Adventism and America’s First Right-to-Life Movement

In 19th century America, the practice of abortion was wide- spread.5 Then in the 1820’s medical science made a momentous discovery. The human ovum was discovered and with it came the realization that a distinct human life was created through the fertilization of the ovum with a sperm. The discover that throughout her pregnancy the woman is “with child” led the American Medical Association in 1859 “to pass a resolution condemning induced abortion and urging state legislatures to pass laws forbidding it.”6 The earlier laws in America had been based on the English “common law” theory that human life was present only from the point of “quickening” (sometime between 13 and 20 weeks) onward.7 Dr Horatio Robinson Storer led the campaign to make abortion, except to save the life of the mother, a criminal offense at any point during a pregnancy.8 Dr Storer and his colleagues condemned abortion as “the unwarrantable destruction of human life.”9 The efforts of these doctors to protect human life at every stage of development has been called by historian James Mohr, “The Physicians’ Crusade Against Abortion.”10 This first “right-to- life” movement in the United States took place between 1850 and 1890.11

This movement coincided with the formation and establishment of the SDA Church in North America. There are several statements from Adventist publications at that time which make it clear that both General Conference and medical leadership were cognizant of the movement and sided with the physicians against abortion.

The June 25, 1867 Advent Review and Sabbath Herald contained what apparently was the first statement on abortion to appear in Adventist literature. In an article titled “Fashionable Murder,” the author, John Todd, praised the work of the Physicians’ Crusade. He stated that,

… the medical profession have taken a noble stand.
The desolations have become so fearful that,
as the guardians of human life, they are compelled to do so:
and society owes a debt of gratitude to Dr H R Storer, of Boston,
especially for his powerful arguments, lucid arrangement of facts,
patient investigations and earnest and eloquent remonstrances.
Among his writings on this subject, the little work entitled “Why Not?”
is a “book for every woman,” and I wish every woman might carefully read it.
But the medical profession cannot arrest the evil,
and they tell me they need, and must have, the moral power of good people to aid them. 12

Todd went on to say that,
…in the sight of God it is willful murder.
The willful killing of a human being at any stage of its existence,
is murder’ …
The practice is a direct war against human society,
that the best good of the country, against the 
family order,
against the health, the peace, the conscience,
and the moral well-being of the mother,
and against a child which could otherwise have an immortal existence. 13

Todd raised an interesting point for Seventh-day Adventists when he said:

I am sorry to learn from undoubted testimony,
that the practice is far more common among Protestants than among Catholics.14

The abortion question was again addressed in the November 30, 1869 issue of the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald during the editorship of J N Andrews. Entitled, “A Few Words Concerning a Great Sin” the Review made the following statement:

One of the most shocking, and yet one of the most prevalent sins of this generation,
is the murder of unborn infants. Let those who think this a small sin, read Psalm 139:16.
They will see that even the unborn child is written in God’s book.
And they may be well assured that God will not pass unnoticed the murder of such children.15

The next reference to abortion in the Adventist press is contained in the book, A Solemn Appeal. This book was edited by James White in 1870 while he was president of the General Conference. He introduced the statement which he excerpted from Dr E P Miller’s Exhausted
Vitality, by calling the book “a valuable little volume” which contained “important extracts”. The quotation he used reflects the strong sentiments of those physicians involved in the crusade against abortion.

Few are aware of the fearful extent to which this nefarious business,
this worse than devilish practice, is carried on in all classes of society!
Many a woman determines that she will not become a mother,
and subjects herself to the vilest treatment, committing the basest crime to carry out her purpose.
And many a man, who has ‘as many children as he can support,’
instead of restraining his passions, aids in the destruction of the babes 
he has begotten.
The sin lies at the door of both parents in equal measure…
And besides all this, the consequences of such a practice are most disastrous
both upon the physical and moral nature of those whose souls
are stained with this terrible sin.16

The use of these statements by the General Conference president is another indication of where early Adventist leadership stood on this issue.
Where did the “right arm” of the church, the medical work, stand on the abortion question? In his book, Man, the Masterpiece, publishes in 1894, Dr John Harvey Kellogg wrote:

The idea held by many that the destruction of foetal life is not a crime until after ‘quickening’ has occurred,
is a gross and mischievous error. No change occurs in the developing human being at this period.
The so-called period of ‘quickening’ is simply the period at which the movements of the
little one become sufficiently active and vigorous to attract the attention of the mother.
Long before this, slight movements have been taking place, and from the very moment of conception,
those processes have been in operation which result in the production of a fully developed human being
from a mere jelly drop, a minute cell. As soon as this development begins,
a new human being has come into existence, — in embryo, it is true, but
possessed of its own individuality, with its own future,
its possibilities of joy, grief, success, failure, fame, and ignominy.
From this moment, it acquires the right to life, a right so sacred that
in every land to violate it is to incur the penalty of death.
How many murderers and murderesses have gone unpunished!
None but God knows the full extent of this most heinous crime; but the Searcher
of all hearts knows and remembers every one who has thus transgressed;
and in the day of final reckoning, what will the verdict be?
Murder? — MURDER, child-murder, the slaughter of the innocents, more cruel than Herod,
more cold-blooded than the midnight assassin,
more criminal than the man who slays his enemy,
— the most unnatural, the most inhuman, the most revolting of all crimes against human life.17

This statement by Dr Kellogg affirms the unique “individuality” of this “new human being” and its “right to life” from “the very moment of “conception.” It espouses the position of the “Physicians’ Crusade” and is in harmony with earlier statements in the Adventist press.

The above quoted statements verify the widely unknown fact that historic Adventism has not been silent regarding the abortion question. While the Church did not directly involve itself in the 40-year battle to legislate anti-abortion statute law in the United States, there can
be no question based on the above evidence as to where these Adventist leaders stood on the issues in that crusade.

Although not directly related to the abortion issue, the Church’s counsel to young men entering military service was rooted in the same sanctity of human life concept that motivated the above quoted statements. The position of not bearing arms was taken to insure that Seventh-day Adventists not break the 6th Commandment by killing a fellow human being. It was also taken as a response of discipleship to the call and example of Jesus’ redemptive activity for human beings. The following statement made in 1941 summarizes nearly a century of historic Adventist thinking on the issue:

He went about doing good (Acts 10:38),
doing things which were the exact opposite of destroying human life…
On the basis of this teaching and example of Jesus Christ,
the taking of human life, to a Seventh-day Adventist,
seems so completely incompatible with his profession of Christian discipleship,
that he 
is constrained to take the position of noncombatant in war. 18 (emphasis mine)

The connection between noncombatancy and the abortion question was seen by one Adventist physician who was quoted anonymously in the March, 1971 issue of Ministry: “It will be tragic indeed if our church should support the free and willful destruction of human life (abortion for convenience), while urging those who are of military age not to bear arms in order to refrain from taking life—even that of an enemy.”19
This consistent Adventist opposition to the taking of human life found support from Ellen G White who made a number of strong sanctity of human life statements. She said in The Ministry of Healing,

Life is mysterious and sacred. It is the manifestation of God Himself,
the source of all life. Precious are its opportunities, and
earnestly should they be improved. Once lost, they are gone forever….
God looks into the tiny seed that He Himself has formed,
and sees wrapped within it the beautiful flower, the shrub, or the lofty wide-spreading tree.
So does He see the possibilities in every human being.20

And in Patriarchs and Prophets, she spoke even more directly to the point of protecting innocent human life when she said,

Human life, which God alone could give, must be sacredly guarded.21

And so we find as part of our Adventist heritage statements which both explicitly espouse the sanctity of human life and explicitly
condemn abortion. This brief historical survey indicates that 19th century Adventism stood in harmony with the previous 18 centuries of Christian thought stretching back to the Didache (100 AD) which commanded early Christians, “… Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten.” (2:2).

By the 1890’s, the “Physicians’ Crusade” was successful in influencing the legislation of anti-abortion laws in the United States. This resulted in a cooling of public debate over abortion and began what has been called the “century of silence” on the abortion question. 22 In reality, the “silence” lasted for approximately 70 years. Christian thinking on abortion remained consistent during this period into the mid-20th century. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor and theologian, is one example of this consistency of thought. Best known for his opposition to the Nazi persecution of the Jews, Bonhoeffer also reaffirmed the historic Christian stance on abortion when in 1940-41 he wrote:

Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation
of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life.
To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not
is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly
intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being
has been deliberately deprived of his life and that is nothing but murder.23

This opposition to abortion was not only to be found in the church, it was also evidenced in the society at large. As recently as 1963 a Planned Parenthood pamphlet warned that, “An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun. It is dangerous to your life and health.”24

James Londis points out that, “Not until comparatively recent times did Christian theologians begin to argue that other considerations affected the discussion, such as the “quality-of-life” of existing members of the family, emotional stress on the parents, and overwhelming financial burdens.”25 The call for abortion rights was sounded with increasing intensity in American society throughout the decade of the 1960’s. A movement was begun to repeal the anti-abortion statute law enacted in the 19th century.

Community pressures Hawaiian hospital

The years 1970 and 1971 proved pivotal for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in its stance on abortion. In January 1970, a bill was introduced in the State Legislature of Hawaii to repeal the state abortion laws. Three weeks later the bill was law. Castle Memorial Hospital (an SDA institution) suddenly found itself needing to establish a position regarding abortion. On the Island of Oahu, Hawaii, only two hospitals were open to the public for maternity or OB cases. There was Kapiloani Hospital which was exclusively an OB-GYN facility and Castle Memorial Hospital, which was the only general hospital that accepted OB-GYN patients. (A third institution, Kaiser Hospital cared only for those people enrolled in the Kaiser Health Plan.)

Due to its unique position of being a general hospital that provided OB-GYN services, Castle Memorial, upon repeal of Hawaii’s abortion laws received numerous requests for elective abortions. Requests for abortion were not new and Castle Memorial had in the past performed what it termed, therapeutic abortions – to save the life of the mother, or in the case of rape or incest, or even for severe mental anxiety of the mother.26 But the repeal of all state abortion laws had created a new situation for which the hospital was unprepared.


Marvin C Midkiff, the Administrator of Castle Memorial Hospital at that time tells the following story:

… a prominent man in this community came to me and said,
“my 16 year old daughter has got herself in trouble.
She is in her second month of pregnancy,
and I want an abortion for her at this hospital.”
He brought out a brochure that had been
used for fund raising in this community when this
hospital was being planned. The brochure stated,
“this hospital will be a FULL SERVICE HOSPITAL and
will provide every service that is needed by the
residents of the community.” He brought me the
$25,000 check that he had given towards the
construction several years ago. What would you do?27

The pressure on Castle Memorial to be a “full service hospital” by providing abortion on demand began to grow. M C Midkiff called W J Blacker, president of the Pacific Union Conference and asked for guidance from the Church on how to proceed. Elder Blacker informed the General Conference of the situation and then according to M C Midkiff called to tell him that “no one knows of any position the Church has
taken on it (abortion).”28 In response to that information, Castle Memorial Hospital made an interim decision in which M C Midkiff reported that:

In the absence of any decision by our church organization on whether or not we approve or disapprove of abortion, or whether or not we permit abortions in the hospital, our management group has made the decision to permit abortion for other than therapeutic reasons through the first trimester (3 months) of pregnancy, provided there has been counseling by a clergyman, and by two qualified physicians, and written consultations have been entered in the patients records. I want to make it clear that this is a temporary ruling until such time as a decision is handed down from our church headquarters in Washington, DC.29

On March 11, 1970, the General Conference Officers appointed a committee to consider counsel to be given to the SDA hospitals. The thinking at this time was that the Church would consider the abortion question in June, 1970 in Atlantic City, NJ at the General Conference Session.

On March 17, 1970, Elder Neal C Wilson, president of the North American Division, made a statement on abortion that was carried by the Religious News Service. He predicted that when the denomination met at Atlantic City in June it would steer a middle-of-the-road course on abortion. He was quoted as saying that,

The Church deplores anything that would contribute to declining morals
and would steer away from anything which would encourage promiscuousness….
Therefore, we would not feel it our responsibility to promote laws to legalize abortion… nor oppose them….

Though we walk the fence, SDA’s lean towards abortion rather than against it.
Because we realize we are confronted by big problems of hunger and over population,
we do not oppose family planning and appropriate endeavors to control population.30

He stated that because the denomination is active in 220 different countries and would therefore have a difficult time taking a hard and fast position on the abortion question. He also said that Adventists have no position against sterilization and might favor abortion in some instances (rape, mental or physical illnesses in the mother or in cases of probable severe illness in the fetus).31

On May 13, 1970 after considerable discussion and rewriting the GC Officers voted to accept “suggestive guidelines for therapeutic
abortions.” (The guidelines were of necessity “suggestive” since they were voted by the GC Officers and not by the General Conference Committee). The guidelines are as follows:


It is believed that therapeutic abortions may be performed for the following established indications:

1. When continuation of pregnancy may threaten the life of the woman or seriously impair her health.
2. When continuation of the pregnancy is likely to result in the birth of a child
with grave physical deformities or mental retardation.
3. When conception has occurred as a result of rape or incest.
When indicated therapeutic abortions are done,
they should be performed during the first trimester of pregnancy.

The plan to take the Guidelines to the floor of the GC Session at Atlantic City in June 1970 for discussion and a vote was dropped. The feeling among some of the medical community was that the Abortion Guidelines were inadequate because therapeutic abortions had been performed all along even before the repeal of Hawaii’s abortion statutes. Marvin C Midkiff went home from Atlantic City to Castle Memorial unable to fulfill his promise of coming home with the official position of the church.32

Moving toward a liberalized policy

The issue however remained alive. The rejection of the May 13, 1970, abortion guidelines by the medical community signaled the beginning of serious discussions regarding the feasibility of an open door policy in Adventist hospitals to abortion on demand. During the first week of July, 1970, Elder R R Bietz, vice president of the General Conference met in Honolulu with A G Streifling, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Castle Memorial Hospital and M C Midkiff, administrator. Elder Bietz relayed the substance of their conversation in a letter to Elder W J Blacker on July 8, 1970. The following statements from that letter shed light on the thinking of leadership after the first abortion guidelines were rejected:

Five or six non-adventist M.D.s who patronize Castle Memorial
wish to go beyond the present policy of performing therapeutic abortions only.
If they are not allowed to do this in Castle Memorial,
they will take their patients to other hospitals in the city of Honolulu.
If this is done, chances are fairly good that they will take their patients over there for other treatments as well.
This could mean a loss of goodwill and also patronage for Castle Memorial….

Our own Seventh-day Adventist doctors strongly oppose,
expect for therapeutic reasons, abortions.1
This further complicates the problem.
If we change our policy we may have the ill-will of our own men,
and if we don’t change we’ll be misunderstood by the non-Adventist M.D.s.
Some heavy contributors to the Castle Memorial Hospital
feel we should be willing to work in harmony with the laws of the state.
In their opinion the community, federal and state monies
have for all practical purposes made this a community hospital.
They reason, therefore, that community wishes should be taken into consideration…

It is important that either the Pacific Union Conference,
the Northern American Division, or the General Conference take a position in regard to this matter.
The hospital administration and Board need support no matter which direction they might go.
Should the decision be to have abortions beyond what they are doing now,
the Adventist doctors could no doubt be satisfied or at least silenced if the administration would have
the support of the higher church organization.

As I see it, the crux of the matter is mostly theological.33 (Emphasis mine)

1 Marvin Midkiff remembers one non-SDA doctor and one SDA doctor who pushed for a policy change allowing elective abortions.


Elder Bietz concluded his letter by suggesting that, “It may well be that the church will want to tell each hospital to solve its own problem…. We could be easily misunderstood in this question if it is not handled wisely…. The wisdom of Solomon is something we need to pray for.”34

Meanwhile at the GC Officers meeting, July 6, 1970 it was voted to enlarge “the former committee so as to study what counsel should be Given regarding elective abortions.”35 This decision was made in response to a request for “further counsel regarding elective abortion.” The local members of what was now called the Abortion Problems Committee met on July 20, 1970 to discuss the implications of the issue for the Church and its health care institutions. This small committee also looked specifically at “the viewpoint of our West Coast leaders in gynecology.” No solutions were arrived at and the committee recommended further study.

The committee met again on September 25, 1970 and recommended that “the enlarged committee appointed July 20, 1970, be further expanded to make it representative of additional areas of concern and that it be authorized to meet for approximately two days to study the problem in depth hopefully to develop guidelines that will be useful in bringing uniformity into the direction given our health case institutions in North America.”36 The committee concluded its meeting with, “the expressed hope that due to the urgency described in correspondence from our health care institutions the expanded committee might meet for study as early as possible to give study to this challenging question.”37


Chief of staff urges decision

It was on December 13, 1970, that Dr Raymond deHay, M.D., chief of staff at Castle Memorial wrote to A G Streifling asking that the decision process be expedited. He said that “this decision has been under deliberation for some ten months now” and was “much too long a time… without some answer being communicated to the members of the medical staff of this hospital.”38

On December 16, 1970, Dr deHay wrote a second letter to protest the delay of the decision, this time to Elder R H Pierson, president of the General Conference. Dr deHay made the following remarks to Elder Pierson:

It is our understanding that the Seventh-day Adventist Church
in all of its history has never taken a stand
or made any ruling regarding either birth control or abortion….
We recognize that Castle Memorial Hospital is a church-operated hospital
but we also feel that you must concede to being at least a quasi public hospital
in the eyes of many local residents who consider Castle Memorial Hospital to be a community hospital. …
Many people in the community who were not Seventh-day Adventists
gave of their time and resources to make this hospital a reality.
I believe it is also timely for me to point out that the State has appropriated
on two occasions the total sum of over one million dollars
to assist in construction costs of your medical institution.
Considering these matters we on the Medical Executive Committee
feel that perhaps the local public is justified in requesting total care at Castle Memorial Hospital.39

Dr deHay then referred to the lack of an “official stand on abortion” by the church and said, “We have rather reliable information that a number of your west cost hospitals are permitting abortion which is termed therapeutic but appears to be greatly liberalized as to the actual definition of therapeutic abortion as we in the medical profession have come to understand it over the years. We feel that there is already a precedent for permitting this surgical procedure at this hospital.”40

Elder Pierson’s response to Dr deHay on January 5, 1971, defended The May 13, 1970 “Abortion Guidelines” document by saying that “They
are based upon our appreciation for the sanctity of life, respect for the person image, and our sense of responsibility for the care of fellowmen.”41 [emphasis mine] Elder Pierson then stated:

We stand ready to assist in making total health care available to all.
However, Doctor, we have not conceded to the assumption that total health care includes abortion on demand.
Our guidelines allow for therapeutic abortions when life or health of the expectant mother are jeopardized.
We do not feel the term “health care” rightfully includes a procedure
that is requested merely because of desire based upon convenience.42

Elder Pierson then informed Dr deHay that, “A competent committee will be meeting in Loma Linda, California, January 25 to discuss the matter further.”43

The decision to hold the Loma Linda meeting on January 25, 1971, Had been made at the GC Officers’ meeting on January 4, 1971. By the January 6, 1971, GC Officers’ meeting the “expanded” committee became a “reconstituted” committee44 and on January 11, 1971, W R Beach invited this “restructured”45 abortion committee to meet at Loma Linda, California, on January 25, 1971. One physician, Dr James E Anderson, who was invited to be a committee member wrote to Elder N C Wilson to say that he had “noted among the committee members those whom I feel are very logical, realistic, and would I’m sure, approach problems like this with great discretion and much careful consideration…. He went on to say that, “It is my firm conviction that abortions are not a religious problem with questions of moral versus immoral factors.”46

And so, on January 25, 1971, in Loma Linda, one year after the abortion issue had been brought again to the attention of the 20th
century church, an ad hoc committee convened “to make sure that the cause of truth and humanity are recognized theologically, medically and philosophically in this large area of concern today.”47 Of the 18 individuals named to the “restructured” committee on January 6, 1971,
11 were present. To these 11 were added 4 new members, making it an ad hoc committee of 15 members. Those members present were: W R Beach, David Hinshaw, MD, P C Heubach, C B Hirsch, Gordon Hyde, Joann Krause, Elizabeth Larsen, MD, R E Osborn, Jack W Provonsha, MD, A G Streifling, W D Walton, N C Wilson, Mrs C Woodward, Harold Ziprick, MD, C E Bradfor. [The most notable committee member not present was Elder R H Pierson, who had declared just 20 days earlier his support for the existing guidelines.]

W R Beach, committee chairman, in his opening remarks, reviewed the work of the Abortion Committee stating that the Abortion Guidelines
of May 13, 1970, had been helpful, but that the rapidly changing situation, especially in Hawaii and New York made a new and updated statement necessary.48 Harold Ziprick, M.D., the head of LLU’s Ob-Gyn department presented a paper entitled “The Abortion Problem Today,” showing the complexity of the abortion question. The rest of the morning was spent discussing the numbers of therapeutic abortions in Adventist hospitals [e.g. Glendale Hospital—1966, 1 abortion; 1967, 3 abortions; 1968, 4 abortions; 1969, 10 abortions; 1970, 34 abortions. White Memorial Hospital–1968, 3 abortions; 1969, 12 abortions; 1970, 79 abortions.]49 Also discussed were the problems Castle Memorial was facing due to the repeal of Hawaii’s abortion laws.

In the afternoon session Jack Provonsha, M.D. presented a paper titled “An Adventist Position Regarding the Abortion Problem.” Dr Provonsha advocated that with each request for abortion every attempt Should be made to save both the pregnant woman and the developing fetus “but if this cannot be achieved and one must be sacrificed, the lower must be sacrificed in favor of the higher human value.”50 Following Dr Provonsha’s presentation, the committee voted to amend and revise the May 13, 1970, Abortion Guidelines. The committee concluded its work that day by recommending that the GC Officers appoint a committee to give continued study to the issue.

Back in Washington this committee began its work by turning first to the task of amending and revising the old guidelines. This work developed into an entirely new document entitled “Interruption of Pregnancy Guidelines.” This document contained both a Statement of Principles and Guidelines to acceptable “interruptions of pregnancy.” A comparison of this document with the papers presented by Drs Ziprick and Provonsha at the Loma Linda meeting shows that their ideas and wording served as primary sources for both the Statement of Principles and the Guidelines.

The work on the new “Guidelines” involved a number of rewrites and revisions. During the month of February the Statement of Principles
was first composed and then expanded. Between February and June of 1971 the Guidelines themselves were composed in at least 3 different forms. First, a fourth guideline was added to the three from the original Abortion Guidelines, stating that, “In case of an unwed child under 15 years of age” abortion was permitted. Later a fifth guideline was added that permitted abortion “When, in harmony with the statement of principles above, the requirements of functional human life demand the sacrifice of the lesser potential human value.” Soon thereafter guideline #5 underwent still another revision.

Elder W R Beach referred to guideline #5 in a letter responding to Elder N C Wilson on March 8, 1971. He thanked Elder Wilson for his observations on March 2, on the report of the committee on abortion.
He then continued, “I think some of your observations are
indispensable. I am therefore suggesting that all but three be

incorporated immediately into our text.”51 Referring to one of Elder Wilson’s three observations that he questioned [regarding consultation before an abortion], Elder Beach cautioned that, “Your wording could liberalize our viewpoint a little more than perhaps we should at present.”52 Later in the letter, he agreed with Elder Wilson that the word “grave” as pertaining to physical deformities and mental retardation in guideline #2 be dropped. He then stated his preference to retain the word “seriously” in guideline #1. Elder Beach also referred to guideline #5 by saying that it would, “cover less definitive reasons for any interruptions of pregnancy.”53 It was after
this exchange between Elder N C Wilson and Elder W R Beach in early March (and sometime before June 21) that guidelines #5 was revised to read, “When for some reason the requirements of functional human life demand the sacrifice of the lesser potential human value” abortion is permitted. [emphasis mine] The word “seriously” in guideline #1 was also deleted during this time. (See Appendix)

The Statement which included most of the revisions noted above was Then filed with the GC Officers in a “tentative report”. But no action
Was taken and pressure from the Pacific Union for a decision continued to build. W J Blacker wrote to N C Wilson on March 30, 1971 and
reported that,

On March 26, Brother Midkiff called me from Hawaii,
and he is very much concerned about the abortion problem,
and is anxious to get a report so that they will know how to proceed.
And I too am anxious to get the direction on this problem so
that we will know how to relate ourselves to it.
When can we expect to receive some word from you or from the General Conference Office?54

W R Beach wrote to N C Wilson again on May 11, 1971 and said,

The field continues to harass me on the problem of abortions.
The Pacific Union seems to be hard pressed in this area. I am never sure, of course,
if one of my friends at the office (he could be vice president for North America!)
is not behind this pressure and harassment.55

Beach gives an insight into why he delayed pushing the Statement when later in his letter he stated, My opinion is that we must avoid opening the door to abortion on demand, but rather keep it within the context of a total philosophy. If I read the literature aright, there is a growing feeling in favor of a more conservative line than that promoted by the liberation movement and adopted, more or less, in some of the States. We need to watch this and make sure that our philosophy is basically sound.56

It was a month later on June 14, 1971 that the GC Officers voted: To request Neal C Wilson, C E Bradford, and R F Waddell to serve as a committee to refine certain aspects of the report “Interruption of Pregnancy” submitted by the Committee on Abortions.57

On that same day of June 14, Elder W J Blacker wrote to Elder N C Wilson asking,

When, oh when, are we going to get the “Guidelines on Abortion?
Please do all you can to jar this matter loose or
we are just going to have to proceed on our own
because we cannot hold this matter any longer.
Is this one of the problems that we face
because we do not have a North American Division organization as such?58

Elder Wilson responded to Elder Blacker on July 13, 1971 and said,

Please contain yourself and do not become too ecstatic,
but at long last we have a report for you regarding the interruption of pregnancy.
This is a more sophisticated term than “abortions.”
And since there are therapeutic and elective,
we feel that the new term covers the whole spectrum.
To be sure, we have not answered every question that can come up,
nor have we made provision for opening up the door
in harmony with certain pressures that are being brought to bear on the medical profession today.
We feel it is a fair position and one that we can defend. I hope it will be helpful to you
and to our brethren who have been facing the music for over a year now in Hawaii.59

Elder Wilson’s letter referred to the fact that finally, on June 21, 1971, the General Conference Officers had voted to accept the “Interruption of Pregnancy Statement of Principles.” Still, it wasn’t until August 10, 1971, that Elder C E Bradford, secretary of the now- named Committee on Interruption of Pregnancy released the statement, “… as the opinion of a representative committee of theologians, physicians, teachers, nurses, psychiatrists, laymen, etc., who met at Loma Linda, California January 25, 1971,2 with the understanding that the report is to be used as counsel to denominational medical institutions….”60 The statement was subtitled, “Recommendations to SDA Medical Institutions.” Elder Bradford in his covering letter made the following observation, “I suppose you would say this is quasi official without the full imprimatur of the brethren.”61 [emphasis mine]

So after more than a year and a half of intermittent committee work and discussion the SDA Church still had no “official position” on the abortion question. Did this mean that Castle Memorial Hospital was still left in the same quandary regarding abortion on demand as they had found themselves in with the repeal of Hawaii’s abortion laws in January, 1970? This answer was no. The wording of the new Guidelines was “broad enough to interpret any way you chose to.”62 This allowed Castle Memorial to open its doors to abortion on demand through the twentieth week (and even later for “compelling social or medical reasons”)63 and still be in harmony with General Conference guidelines. It would appear that the wisdom of allowing each hospital to solve its own problem64 had prevailed.

Continuing confusion re church’s policy

So, what’s the truth about Adventism and abortion? The answer is

2 Dr. Jack Provonsha stated from the floor at Loma Linda University’s “Conference on Abortion,” November 15, 1988, that although his paper’s wording was used in the 1971 Interruption of Pregnancy Statement that it was used out of context and that he did not see or
vote on the statement until it was released to the SDA medical institutions as a completed document.


that a straight answer is hard to come by. A flow of confusing and misleading information on this question began even before the Abortion Committee had finished its work. In March 1971, nine months after the General Conference Officers voted “to study what counsel should be given regarding elective abortions”,65 The Ministry published an issue on the abortion question. The cover photo pictured a new-born baby, held upside down by the feed being X-ed out and asked the question, “Is Abortion the Answer?” Two articles were run in response to that question. In the first article entitled, “Abortion?”, Elder W R Beach concluded his remarks by saying, “that except in the extreme circumstances listed under our guidelines on therapeutic abortion [author’s note: May 13, 1970 guidelines], it would be better to enhance our reverence for life and the Christian way that leads to it.”66 The second article was entitled, “Abortion is Not the Answer” and was written by Dr Ralph F Waddell, secretary of the General Conference Department of Health. Dr Waddell called abortion a “war on the womb” and said, “As Christians we abhor the thought of wholesale carnage on this level. Although we accept therapeutic abortion based on proved medical indications, we do not find abortion on demand compatible with our person image concepts.”67 He went on to say that therapeutic abortions should be performed “during the first three months, before the embryo can be considered to possess life in itself.”68

In this same issue, The Ministry published the “Abortion Guidelines” of May 13, 1970. It is important to remember that this is March, 1971. In Loma Linda on January 25, 1971, the restructured Abortion Committee had voted to “amend and revise” these original Guidelines. By March 2, 1971 the new Interruption of Pregnancy Guidelines was written and in its final revisions stage.69

There was one General Conference officer and member of the Abortion Committee who vigorously protested publishing this material. Elder Robert E Osborn in a letter to Elder W R Beach on March 2, 1971 pointedly asked, “In view of the articles which are in the current issue of The Ministry (March 1971) on abortion, why should we have spent a whole day at Loma Linda recently with the corresponding costs of conducting such a meeting?”70 He questioned the printing of the guidelines saying, “The abortion guidelines… were supposed to have been guidance to our medical institutions and I did not realize they would get into print in a general paper.”71 He went on to say that, “It seems to me that the articles are completely premature, or else the appointment of a committee to look into the matter in depth is a farce.”72 Elder Osborn’s protest was based on his knowledge that the original guidelines were deemed too restrictive and were being superceded. He therefore opposed the publishing of them.

Elder Beach defended the decision to publish the articles and guidelines in his letter to Elder Osborn of March 8, 1971. He said,

…in view of the fact that the upcoming report of the committee
which met in Loma Linda will liberalize somewhat the current guidelines,
I believe that from a practical viewpoint,
it was well to give the rationale for the current situation and the future viewpoints.
I think it will be evident that our viewpoint has been liberalized.
I feel, however, that this liberalization will be understood and accepted.

Perhaps we are both confused!73 But the publishing of the new guidelines which would have allowed the “liberalization” to be “understood and accepted” never happened. That the older, more restrictive set of guidelines was published and the newer, more liberalized set was not, resulted in a great deal of confusion among the Adventist clergy and laity regarding the church’s position on abortion and its practice in our medical institutions.3 There is no evidence that leadership attempted to educate the clergy and the church regarding the new set of guidelines and its implications. In fact, one seeks in vain for evidence of a determined, good-faith effort from leadership to overcome the inertia of that original release of misinformation.

Leadership’s reason for maintaining this duplicity (16 years & counting) is all too clear. It has allowed the Church to present to its own clergy and laity, and to the general public4 as well, a restrictive stance toward abortion, based on the published May 13, 1970 Abortion Guidelines. At the same time it allowed the Church to permit its hospitals a free hand in the economically significant practice of abortion on demand, on the basis of the unpublished Interruption of Pregnancy Guidelines.

3 A recent case in point: On April 23, 1987, copies of the Discarded May 13, 1970 guidelines were presented to members of the Columbia Union Executive Committee as the church’s position during a discussion relative to a request from the Ohio Conference constituency for guidance on the abortion question.

4 The Christian Action Council in their 1983 publication, A Community Planning Guide for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday included a “Summary of Attitudes Toward Abortion by Religious Organizations.” The Seventh-day Adventist church was listed in Group 2 (see Guide, page 15) as “generally opposed to abortion but would make exceptions in hard cases (e.g. pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, pregnancy leading to the birth of a baby with deformities or birth defects, pregnancy resulting in a sever threat to the mother’s health).”


Statements in the Church press since 1971 have continued this confusion on where the Church stands on abortion. Twelve years after the 1971 decision, an editorial by Eugene Durand in the Adventist Review, “About Abortion,”74 once again emphasized the “1970… abortion guidelines” as “the nearest this church came to a stand on the problem.”75 The editorial later listed guidelines #4 and #5 but made no effort to point out why there were added or what they meant. The only comment made was that, “Probably most Adventists would agree with these guidelines.”76 And so the vast majority of Adventists went on as before, unaware of the true state of affairs in the Adventist Health System.

The “Dear Miriam” column in the Adventist Review of September 1, 1985, continued the confusion. A reader wrote to her “very concerned about some friends of ours who have asked to have their names removed from the church books because they don’t want to be part of a church whose hospitals perform ‘abortions of convenience’ and that takes no stand on the issue of abortion.”77 Wood responded by saying that upon reading this letter she “communicated immediately with the Health and Temperance Department of the General Conference and discovered that a statement of ‘Abortion Guidelines’ was drawn up back in 1970 and given to all Adventist hospitals. The statement is very clear indeed.”78 Wood then proceeded to quote the three original guidelines for therapeutic abortions. She went on to imply that “abortions of convenience” in Adventist hospitals were the result of “infractions of guidelines and rules.”79 Apparently Wood was not told about the second more liberal set of guidelines titled Interruption of Pregnancy Guidelines.

Compounding the confusion

But the greatest single release of misinformation to the Church on this question came from the president of AHS/US, Donald Welch. On February 13, 1986, the Adventist Review ran what it called an “In-depth look at the Adventist Health System.” The issue featured a 7-page interview of Donald Welch conducted by Adventist Review editor, William G Johnsson and associate editor, Myron K Widmer. In the interview
Welch made the following statement:

The Church developed guidelines for hospitals and health-case institutions
in regard to abortions back in 1969 (sic.).
Those guidelines strongly discourage abortions.
They do allow for abortions in certain cases
where there is medical consultation–several doctors agree
that it needs to be done for the health of the mother, and in certain other cases such as rape.80

It is important to note once again that Donald Welch too is referring to the 1970 Abortion Guidelines rather than the 1971 Interruption of Pregnancy Guidelines. Welch continued in the interview to say that our Adventist hospitals “don’t do abortions for social or economic reasons, but are doing them only when a number of physicians feel it is medically justified for the safety and health of the mother.81 Welch continued with an even more incredible assertion when he said, “I will be frank and tell you there was a time when a number of our institutions did quite a few abortions, and that situation led to these guidelines.”82 Whether or not he intended them to be, Welch’s statements were misleading, to say the least.


Donald Welch’s statements must be judged on their own merit but what about the role of the Adventist Review in passing on this misinformation to the Church? When confronted with six specific instances of discrepancy from fact in Welch’s statement, in three separate meetings at the Adventist Review offices over the next two months, W G Johnsson, editor of the Adventist Review, decided to let “Letters to the Editor” clear up the problem. He later decided to run neither of the two letters (one letter was discarded for being “late”)83 which spoke directly to the misinformation. So, the Adventist Review, continued a fifteen-year pattern in the church press allowing Donald Welch’s statement to stand without challenge and the Church-at-large was once again spared the truth.

Adventism and abortion

So what is the truth about Adventism and abortion? Is abortion on demand the norm for the institutions of AHS/US? Commenting on this question Marvin C Midkiff said,

My other disagreement is that the article5 (at least to me)
leaves the impression that Adventist Hospitals permit
only therapeutic abortions to be done in their facilities.
I believe if you do a bit of research you will find that
the majority of Adventist hospitals permit abortion on request.
As late as last week (October 1986) a nurse who works
in that department at Washington Adventist Hospital tells me they do abortions
on request all the time. I believe this is a very common pattern.
(I am not saying it is wrong, I am just saying it is what is happening.)84

This comment confirms a statement made by Ronald D Marx, president of

5 M Widmer, “Current Suggested Guidelines,” Adventist Review, September 25, 1986, pp. 14, 15.


Washington Adventist Hospital on April 19, 1985 when in a letter to this writer he stated, “The administration, therefore, in good faith, leaves the responsibility of deciding for or against abortion to the physician and the patient, who really are the only individuals who know the full medical situation and consequences of the case. I do not want to give the impression that we are for abortion or that we try to rationalize in its favor.”85

“The American Hospital Association Guide to the Health Care Field, 1986” lists 12 of the 56 Adventist Hospitals in the United States as
offering “abortion services” including “a program and facilities.”86 The hospitals listed are as follows: Castle Medical Center, Hadley
Memorial Hospital, Hanford Community Hospital, Loma Linda University Medical Center, Porter Memorial Hospital, Portland Adventist Medical Center, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Shawnee Mission Medical Center, Sierra Vista Hospital, Walla Walla General Hospital, Washington Adventist Hospital, and White Memorial Medical Center. One could be forgiven for wondering if our other hospital supplied reports on which the “Guide” is based are accurate as to the difference between therapeutic abortion and elective abortion.

It is apparent that abortion on demand for any reason is practiced in a number of significant Adventist hospitals and that this practice
is not out of harmony with current Church guidelines. But was the preacher correct when he said that, “The SDA’s are aborting hundreds of babies in their hospitals?” In response to a question about the number of abortions performed at Washington Adventist Hospital, Ronald D Marx, president, said, “We do not maintain statistics on abortions performed.”87 When The Washington Post, in its coverage of a “Pastors’ Protest Against Abortion” demonstration in front of Washington Adventist Hospital and Sligo SDA Church, on October 5, 1985, asked for a statement from the Hospital, its spokesman, Reg Burgess, replied that abortions, “aren’t just performed willy-nilly at the hospital.”88 A

nurse employed at Washington Adventist Hospital in June 1985 had a different story to tell. She said, “Some doctors treat us like their
own private abortion clinic. There are some days when we stack them (abortions) up.”89 The “Pastors’ Protest” supplied the figure of 1,494 performed at WAH from 1975 – Julye 1982. They reported that these “statistics were furnished by the Medical Records section of the Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Maryland.”90 It would appear that the preacher was justified in his assertion based on the figures from just one of our Adventist hospitals that provide “abortion services.”

In summary

And so we find that early Adventism published positions in harmony with the Physicians’ Crusade Against Abortion, though it was not active
in that movement. The church produced its first set of abortion guidelines in 1970, when American attitudes toward abortion had changed and some of the church’s hospitals were experiencing growing pressure from their surrounding communities to provide abortion services.

Less than a year after the first set of abortion guidelines were developed, the church revised and expanded them. The resulting liberalized guidelines have allowed Adventist hospitals a great deal of freedom in their abortion practices, a freedom that has resulted in a large number of abortions being performed. Although the church has been hesitant to let it be known, at the present it is clearly not, in either policy or practice, limiting its medical institutions to therapeutic abortions.

A difficult question

This brief historical survey confronts us with a difficult question. Should the hospitals which represent the Seventh-day Adventist Church be offering this “service”? Is this really God’s will for our medical institutions? Dr Jack Provonsha warned 15 years ago in his paper read to the Abortion Committee in Loma Linda that, “ ‘Abortion on demand’ may have as one of its moral consequences the dehumanization of the society that practices it.”91 It the same true of a “Church” that permits abortion on demand in its hospitals?

Dr. Robert H Dunn has protested since February 1977 that the Interruption of Pregnancy Guidelines teach,

…that man is not a soul from the time of
conception but is one later in life and hints at
the time of fetal viability or afterward.
This is consistent with the classical or pagan view of man
which emphasized rationality as the essence of the soul.6
This explains the “lesser value” of the fetus in the early stages,
which would then tip the balance of the scale in favor of the mother and her supposed needs.
This statement above (i.e. paragraph 2 of the Statement of Principles)
is not consistent with the statement which says, “Man does not have a soul; man is a soul.”92

6 Reinhold Nieburh’s The Nature and Destiny of Man (Charles Scribner’s and Sons, 1955), contrasts the classical/pagan view of man with the Biblical view of man. (see pp 5, 6, 12, 13).


Dr Dunn’s charge that the Statement of Principles and Guidelines is more consistent with the classical/pagan view of man than the
Biblical view of man has serious implications for Seventh-dayAdventists. That the debate over whether “man is a soul” or “man has a soul” is more than an academic question is illustrated by the growing medical use of tissue from aborted fetuses. The November 3, 1986 issue of U S News and World Report stated that, “Researchers at dozens of medical laboratories around the world are using cells from aborted human fetuses to develop new therapies for ailments from leukemia to paralysis.”93 Note carefully the reasoning used by a woman quoted in
the article who was receiving cells from aborted fetuses to treat her diabetes. She said:

It’s sad to think that the cells that are helping me come from aborted fetuses….
But is it really that different from getting organs from a brain-dead person?
If you believe the soul goes to heaven, and transcends the body
with all its interchangeable parts, then that alters your view.94 (emphasis mine)

This woman clearly justified her treatment by appealing to the classical/pagan view of man (i.e. the “soul transcends the body”), rather than the Biblical “body-soul unity” view of man. The article goes on to say that, “Many of the scientists using fetal tissue are acutely uncomfortable about it.”95 Why so? Is it perhaps because they sense the slide into the dehumanization of both their profession and our society?

How should the Seventh-day Adventist Church respond to the growing threats to the integrity of its doctrine and practice from the biomedical field? Dr Robert H Dunn in his 1977 paper also protested that the Statement of Principles and Guidelines was “prepared by an ad hoc Committee of the General Conference… and was not the work of a broader, more representative committee.”96 One of the principle presenters at the January 25, 1971 meeting in Loma Linda (who asked not to be named) stated to this writer as recently as November 12, 1986, that the development of the Guidelines, “wasn’t taken seriously….The General Conference put together an ad hoc committee to meet the problem” and ended up with “fairly superficial guidelines.”97 Has the time come to open this question up to the wider Church in a conscious effort to seek a Biblical base for both our philosophy and practice?

The wider church has certainly experienced the effects of the present, supposedly neutral, General Conference policy on abortion. The present policy has especially had a negative impact in the area of a ministry of healing to abortion’s second victim, the aborted woman. Who cares for the women in our churches, scarred by abortion with no one to turn to? What healing resources do we as a denomination offer them?

How many Adventists are aware of the fact (the Church press never reported it) that WEBA (Women Exploited by Abortion) was co-founded by a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Mrs Patti McKinney? She founded WEBA to help women, like herself, who are suffering from the consequences of a choice for abortion. Mrs McKinney travelled extensively in the process of establishing WEBA in the USA and six
foreign countries. Everywhere she went she found women seeking post- abortion healing. Yet, she reports that when she travelled to
Washington, DC to share her mission with the General Conference Officers, she was told, “Get off your soapbox or get out of the Church.”98

Another group adversely affected by the present General Conference policy are those SDA medical personnel, including physicians, who
believe in the sanctity of human life. The pressures, both overt and covert, brought to bear on them to cooperate and even participate in
the open abortion practices of many Adventist hospitals, are real. A former Washington Adventist Hospital chaplain, Ardyce Sweem, remembers that after expressing her concerns to administration over the hospital’s abortion practices, she found on her desk the next day an information sheet for job openings in a local Catholic hospital. She reports that, “…because of my convictions on this matter, I was
even advised to seek employment in a Catholic hospital!”99 Sweem expressed the conflict of conscience she felt in the Hospital as

As a former chaplain at Washington Adventist Hospital,
I sometimes dealt with women who
were either having or considering abortions….
it became very painful for me to work in a hospital
which did abortions as a “service” to the community.
To work in such a hospital became a contradiction in terms—a terrible hypocrisy,
especially since we claimed to be a Christian institution.
How could we save life on one hand
and yet destroy it on the other? Although
personally against abortion, I felt as part of the
staff that I was implicated. For example, on
entering a room in which an abortion was taking place,
what could I say to the patient to comfort and support her
when I was convicted that what she was doing was morally wrong
and yet the hospital which I was a part of was helping her to do?
At times the moral conflict was nearly unbearable.
I also discovered that partly because of a lack of clear Biblical teaching
that many Adventist women were having abortions as well,
which I believe is a subtle plot of Stan to destroy many potential church members
of the next generation…. I was convicted that I could not work indefinitely in a hospital
which did abortions and would not return to such a situation….
I pray that our Adventist hospitals in North American and elsewhere
will awaken to this moral issue and be in the forefront of
those who seek to protect rather than destroy human life.100

We can no longer deny that there is a growing question among Adventists as to whether abortion can continue to be a neutral issue
for a Church that claims to “keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus.” Perhaps a sign carried by a protestor in front of
Sligo Seventh-day Adventist church on October 5, 1985 best summed up the significance of this issue for the Church. It read: “Adventists–Remember the 6th Commandment too!”


Author’s Note

This paper had its beginning in April 1986, when Ministry magazine first asked me to write a history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s position on abortion. Ministry’s plan was to publish this history along with four other articles in an issue devoted to a study of the
abortion question. I responded in the affirmative and was immediately confronted with a problem. My request to the General Conference
Archives for permission to include in my research the North American Division President’s “Abortion File” was denied when it reached the
desk of Elder C E Bradford, the President of the North American Division.

In August 1986, Ministry informed me that the “abortion issue” would be published January 1987 and expressed concern over my lack of progress. Ministry’s need for an accurate history of the church’s position on abortion led Elder J R Spangler to send a letter to Elder
C E Bradford requesting permission to use the “Abortion File.”

I was informed by Elder J David Newman on September 19, 1986 that permission to research the file had been granted. I began my research
on the following Monday, September 22, 1986. After reading through the file, I requested that Archives photocopy nearly one half of the file
to enable me to work evenings on the paper.

The following Tuesday, September 30, 1986 Elder Newman called again with the information that Elder Neal C Wilson, General Conference President had closed the file.

I requested a meeting with the editorial staff of Ministry in order to seek counsel. At that meeting the staff reaffirmed their commitment to publish on the abortion question. I was then asked to explain why the “Abortion File” material was pertinent to the paper. After my explanation, it was agreed that I should use the material in the paper. At the close of the meeting Elder J R Spangler urged me to write an accurate history on the subject and to leave permission for publication up to him.

I completed a rough draft of the paper in November 1986 but it wasn’t until February 1987 that I delivered it to Ministry and the
editing process began. In the meantime, Ministry moved the date for their “abortion issue” several times finally deciding on August, 1987.

The week before the issue was to go to press, I called Ministry and was told that the General Conference President had “suggested” that this was not a good time to deal with the abortion question. After discussion the Ministry staff decided to cancel the “abortion issue.”

It was September 1987 when I was told that the other papers written for August 1987 would be run in later issues but that Ministry would never publish my paper. I was also told that since I had received no remuneration for my work the paper belonged to me.

I find encouragement in the old Russian proverb,

“One word of truth, outweighs the whole world.”


G.B.G. 2/21/88


1970 Abortion Guidelines

“It is believed that therapeutic abortions may be performed for the following established indications:

“1. When continuation of pregnancy may threaten the life of the woman or seriously impair her health.

“2. When continuation of the pregnancy is likely to result in the birth of a child with grave physical deformities or mental retardation.

“3. When conception has occurred as a result of rape or incest.

“When indicated therapeutic abortions are done, they should be performed during the first trimester of pregnancy.”

1971 Interruption of Pregnancy Guidelines

“1. When continuation of the pregnancy may threaten the life of a woman or impair her health.

“2. When continuation of the pregnancy is likely to result in the birth of a child with physical deformities or mental retardation.

“3. When conception has occurred as a result of rape or incest. “4. When the case involves an unwed child under 15 years of age. “5. When for some reason the requirements of functional human

life demand the sacrifice of the lesser potential human value.
“When indicated interruptions of pregnancy are done, they should

be performed as early as possible, preferably during the first trimester of pregnancy.”

The 1971 guidelines differ from the 1970 version in both the


wording of the indications that they have in common and in the addition of other indications. The first and second indications of the 1970 guidelines were loosened by the removal of the words seriously and grave. And a fourth and fifth indication were added.

When it was first written, the fifth indication read, “When, in harmony with the statement of principles above, the requirements of functional human life demand the sacrifice of the lesser potential human value.” Later it was revised to its current reading. A letter
Elder W R Beach wrote to Elder N C Wilson (March 8, 1971) suggests the intention of this indication. It would “cover less definitive reasons
for any interruptions of pregnancy.”

Both guidelines say that no person should be compelled to undergo nor physician forced to participate in an abortion if he or she has a
religious or ethical objection to it. The 1971 guidelines broadens
this to include nurses and attendant personnel.



  1. Martin Luther King, Jr Day, January 14, 1985.
  2. Sermon by Berry E Wood, pastor, Solid Rock Church, Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Greenbelt, MD, January 20, 1985.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Adventist Review, September 1, 1983, p.14 (854).
  5. Kristin Luker, Abortion & the Politics of Motherhood (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984), p. 18.
  6. Ibid., p. 20.
  7. Curt Young, The Least of These (Chicago: Moody Press, 1983), p. 11.
  8. Ibid., p. 12.
  9. James C Mohr, Abortion in America, the Origins and Evolution of National Policy, 1800-1900 (New York: Oxford U., 1978) p. 157.
  10. Ibid.,p.147.
  11. KristinLuker,op.cit.,p.14.
  12. JohnTodd,AdventReviewandSabbathHerald,June25,1867,p.30.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. AdventReviewandSabbathHerald,Nov.30,1869,p.184. (Vol. 34, No. 23).
  16. White,ASolemnAppeal,(BattleCreek,Michigan:SteamPress, 1870), pp. 100, 101.
  17. JHKellogg,M.D.,Man,theMasterpiece.ModernMedicine Publishing Company, Battle Creek, Michigan; Illinois; New York City. 1894. pp. 423-425.
  18. CBHaynes,StudiesinDenominationalPrinciplesofNoncombatancyand Governmental Relationships, p. 28.


19. TheMinistry,March1971,p.3[99].

  1. EGWhite,TheMinistryofHealing,p.397.
  2. EGWhite,PatriarchsandProphets,p.516.
  3. KristinLuker,op.cit.,p.40.
  4. DietrichBonhoeffer,Ethics.(NewYork:MacmillanPublishing Company, Inc., 1955), pp. 175, 176.
  5. JohnPowell,Abortion:TheSilentHolocaust,(Allen,TX:Argus Communications, 1981), p. 92.
  6. JamesJLondis,Abortion:MercyorMurder?(Nashville:Southern Publishing Association, 1980), p. 10.
  7. ConversationwithMarvinCMidkiff,October22,1986.
  8. MarvinCMidkiff,SpeechtoKailuaRotaryClub,Jan/Feb(?),1970.
  9. ConversationwithMarvinCMidkiff,October22,1986.
  10. MarvinCMidkiff,SpeechtoKailuaRotaryClub,Jan/Feb(?),1970.
  11. ReligiousNewsService,March17,1970,pp.16,17.
  12. Ibid.,p.17.
  13. ConversationwithMarvinCMidkiff,October22,1986.
  14. RRBietz,GCvice-president,toWJBlacker,presidentofthe Pacific Union, July 8, 1970.
  15. Ibid.,p.3.
  16. GenConfOfficersMeeting,July6,1970,p.70-330.
  17. AbortionProblemsCommittee,minutes,September25,1970.
  18. Ibid.
  19. RaymonddeHay,MD,chiefofstaff,toAGStreifling,chairmanof Board of Trustees, Dec 13, 1970.
  20. RaymonddeHay,chiefofstaff,toRHPierson,GCpresident, Dec 16, 1970.
  21. Ibid.
  22. RHPierson,GEpres,toRdeHay,MD,chiefofstaff,Jan5,1971.


42. Ibid.

  1. Ibid.
  2. ArthurHRothtoNCWilson,Jan5,1971.
  3. GCOfficersMeeting,Jan6,1971,p.71-7.
  4. JamesEAnderson,MDtoNealCWilson,Jan21,1971.
  5. WRBeach,chairman,toAbortionCommittee,Jan11,1971.
  6. MinutesofGCCommitteeonAbortions,Jan25,1971.
  7. Ibid.
  8. JackProvonsha,MD,“AnAdventistPositionRegardingtheAbortion Problem,” pp. 10, 11.
  9. WRBeachtoNCWilson,Mar8,1971.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. WJBlackertoNCWilson,March30,1971.
  13. WRBeachtoNCWilson,May11,1971.
  14. Ibid.
  15. GenConfOfficersMeeting,June14,1971,p.71-218.
  16. WJBlackertoNCWilson,June14,1971.
  17. NCWilsontoWJBlacker,July13,1971.
  18. CEBradford,Aug10,1971.
  19. Ibid.
  20. ConversationwithMarvinCMidkiff,Oct22,1986.
  21. RRBietz,op.cit.,p.2.
  22. Ibid.,p.3.
  23. GenConfOfficersMeeting,July6,1970,p.70-330.
  24. WRBeach,TheMinistry,March,1971,p.6[102].


  1. RFWaddell,TheMinistry,March,1971,p.9[105].
  2. Ibid.
  3. WRBeachtoNCWilson,March8,1971.
  4. REOsborntoWRBeach,March2,1971.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. WRBeachtoREOsborn,March8,1971.
  8. AdventistReview,September1,1983,p.14[854].
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. MiriamWood,AdventistReview,September12,1985,p.21.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. AdventistReview,February13,1986,p.15[183].
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. ArdyceSweemtoAdventistReview,Feb21,1986andMar12,1986. George and Leanne Gainer to Adventist Review, May 15, 1986.
  18. MarvinCMidkifftoBertHaloviak,October20,1986.
  19. RonaldDMarxtoMrandMrsGeorgeGainer,April19,1985.
  20. AmericanHospitalAssociationGuidetotheHealthCareField, 1986.
  21. RonaldDMarxtoMrandMrsGeorgeGainer,April19,1985.
  22. TheWashingtonPost,October5,1985.
  23. ConversationwithNurse“Y”,PotomacConferenceCampmeeting, 1985.
  24. WashingtonAdventistHospital–Abortionsdocument.


  1. JWProvonsha,“AnAdventistPositionRegardingtheAbortion Problem, p. 10.
  2. RobertHDunn,MD,MPH,“TheNatureofManintheEarly Stages of Life and Our Responsibility”, p. 3.
  3. USNewsandWorldReport,November3,1985,p.68.
  4. Ibid.,pp68,69.
  5. Ibid.,p.69.
  6. RobertHDunn,MD,MPH,“TheNatureofManintheEarly Stages of Life and Our Responsibility”, p. 3.
  7. ConversationonNovember12,1986withparticipantattheLoma Linda meeting on January 25, 1971.
  8. SpeechbyPattiMcKinneyatSligoSDAChurch.Seminar– “Adventism & Abortion: A Second Look”, April 24, 25, 1987.
  9. ArdyceSweem’sApril16,1987lettertoSeminar–“Adventism& Abortion: A Second Look”.

100. Ibid.


Where is truth?

“…me IN CAPTIVITY to the law of sin.” {Romans 7:23}

“…me FREE from the law of sin.” {Romans 8:2}

Once again, as when comparing Romans 6 with Romans 7, we find Paul’s testimony in Romans 8:2 the exact opposite of his testimony in Romans 7:23; with both passages using the same terminology. But what makes this comparison even more significant is the statement Paul makes in-between those two verses. Note closely his words:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are…” {Romans 8:1}

He then goes on to describe, in the rest of verse one and verse two, the person who is now no longer condemned. The person is

#1—“in Christ Jesus”
#2—“walks not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”
#3—“made free from the law of sin”

His use of the word “now” in verse one would certainly seem to indicate that there was condemnation, or is condemnation, to the person who is in the opposite condition from that which he goes on to describe, part of which is being “made free from the law of sin.” So, if “there is therefore now no condemnation” to the person that is “free from the law of sin,” then it would seem to be equally true that there is condemnation to the person that is not “free from the law of sin,” which is how Paul describes his condition in Romans 7:23—”me in captivity to the law of sin.”

Here are two more thoughts to consider:

  • One of the fruits of being “in Christ Jesus,” is being made “free from the law of sin.” Conversely, if one has not been “made free from the law of sin,” but instead is in “captivity to the law of sin,” then the opposite would seem to be true: he is not “in Christ Jesus.”

  • Similarly, Romans 8:2 says, “the Spirit…hath made free from the law of sin.” Conversely, the person who is not “free from the law of sin,” but instead is in “captivity to the law of sin,” must not have “the Spirit.” (Paul goes on to say, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Romans 8:9)

  • Once again, no matter which of Paul’s writing you compare with Romans 7, whether it’s Romans 8, or Romans 6, or any of his other letters, the conclusion seems unavoidable, the Paul of Romans 7 has a completely different testimony than the Paul of any other part of the Bible.


Where is truth?

Comparing what Paul says in Romans 7 on COVETOUSNESS
with what he says elsewhere on COVETOUSNESS

“I would not have known what it was to covet if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”   But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire.” {Romans 7: 7 & 8 NIV}


“I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous…with such an one no not to eat.” {1 Corinthians 5:9-11}

So, according to the belief that Paul in Romans 7 is describing his christian experience, Paul is telling the Corinthian believers that they shouldn’t even eat with a brother who is covetous, while he himself is having “every kind of covetous desire.” For me, I can only see two options: Paul was either a huge hypocrite, or the belief that Romans 7 describes Paul’s christian experience is incorrect. I don’t know about you, but I’m forced to believe the second of those two options.


“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.”  {Acts 20:33}

So, if Paul the apostle had “coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel,” who was doing all that coveting in Romans 7?


“The covetous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” {1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 & Ephesians 5:5}

#1–The Paul of Romans 7 was coveting.
#2–The covetous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
#1 + #2 = The Paul of Romans 7 shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Comparing what Paul says about being SPIRITUAL

“The law is spiritual; but I AM UNSPIRITUAL.”  {Romans 7:14 NIV}
“If a man be overtaken…YE WHICH ARE SPIRITUAL, restore such an one.”  {Galatians 6:1}

I can’t understand how anyone could possibly believe that while there were “spiritual” people in the church of Galatia, Paul the great apostle was “unspiritual.”

Comparing what Paul says about SIN being the MASTER

“I am sold into slavery, with SIN as MY MASTER.” {Romans 7:14 NLT}
“Now you are free from SIN, YOUR OLD MASTER.” {Romans 6:18 NLT}

Again, I just can’t see how someone could believe that sin was no longer the master of the Roman christians, but sin was still the master of the great apostle Paul.

Comparing what Paul says about being “slaves to sin”

I AM unspiritual, sold as A SLAVE TO SIN.” {Romans 7:14 NIV}


This is just the last point repeated–only stated in a different manner. And just reinforces what I said after the last point.

Comparing what Paul says about DOING EVIL

“The evil which I would not, that I do.” {Romans 7:19}
“Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” {Romans 2:9}

#1–The Paul of Romans 7 was doing evil.
#2–Tribulation and anguish upon every man that does evil.
#1 + #2 = Tribulation and anguish upon the Paul of Romans 7


Where is truth?

Romans 7:14 from three different translations:

“I am sold into slavery with SIN as MY MASTER.”   {Romans 7:14 NLT}
I AM unspiritual, sold as A SLAVE TO SIN.”     {Romans 7:14 NIV}
“I am not spiritual. SIN RULES ME AS IF I WERE ITS SLAVE.”    {Romans 7:14 NCV}

Romans 7:17 from three different translations:

“I can’t help myself.”  {Romans 7:17 NLT}
“It is no longer I myself who do it.”  {Romans 7:17 NIV}
“I am not really the one doing these hated things.”  {Romans 7:17 NCV}

(To me, that sounds like someone who’s possessed.)

Romans 7:24 from three different translations:

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me..?”   {Romans 7:24 NIV}
“What a miserable man I am! Who will save me…?”     {Romans 7:24 NCV}
“Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?”  {Romans 7:24 NLT}

Is this what Christianity has to offer a lost, dying world?
Thank God, we have something better to offer the world than this.

Is Suicide the Fast Track to Heaven?

Suicide concept word cloud background

Suicide used to be a rare thing, but today it is very common. Why? One main reason I think, is because the preachers are not teaching the TRUTH when it comes to the subject of dying.  Most of them teach that “when you die you go right to Heaven” and that tends to encourage people, when they are depressed and feeling hopeless, to take their own life, to commit suicide, thereby speeding up the process of getting to Heaven.  It is a terrible doctrine, invented by the Devil himself.

Suicide is murder of oneself, and the Bible is clear that no murderers will be in Heaven. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8. There will be those in Heaven who have murdered other people, but who afterward sincerely repented.  But if you murder yourself, you have no opportunity to ever repent.

If the TRUTH were taught regarding what happens at death, and the condition a person must be in, in order to go to Heaven, there would be many less suicides today.

If you know someone who is contemplating suicide, do your best to make sure they understand that it is not the fast track to Heaven, and in fact, the suicide path will never take one to Heaven.  Try to encourage them, that as long as they are alive, there is always HOPE that their life can improve, but once they take their life, it is final, and nothing will ever change. As the world turns more and more away from God, away from the Bible, away from TRUTH….suicides will increase, proportionately.  They will become almost as common as the common cold, because that is what people with no hope do when things get desperate.

I am a firm believer that discouragement comes to all of us at times, and on our own, we are incapable of winning the mental and spiritual battles…but with God’s help, every one of us, no matter how weak we are, no matter how depressed we are, we can gain the victory and the life that looks so dark today could be amazingly bright tomorrow.  Knowing Jesus is the ANSWER.


Did Jesus Die the Second Death?


Maybe my observations and evaluations are less than perfect, but it seems to have become orthodox theology to believe and teach that Jesus died the second death. But although it may have become orthodox theology that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s correct theology.

I would like to spend the first part of this study examining this question of whether or not Jesus died the second death from a strictly Biblical perspective. After that I’ll look at this question in the light of the Spirit of Prophecy.

Part I—Christ & the Second Death: Using the Bible Only

 Point #1—What is the Second Death?

There’s only one definition to be found in Scripture for the second death: “…the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Revelation 20:14.  Revelation 21:8 repeats this same definition: “…the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” There is no other definition to be found.

While we will never be able to comprehend what Jesus went through to save us from sin, and I certainly don’t want to minimize it in any way, it simply wasn’t “the lake of fire: which is the second death.”

 Point #2—Where else in the Bible do we find those words: “The Second Death?”

The term second death is found in the Bible only four times; all of which are in the book of Revelation. (There are other passages in the Bible referring to the second death, but these are the only ones that specifically say “the second death.”) Two of the four we’ve already looked at; the other two are found in chapter two, verse eleven & chapter twenty, verse six. Do either of these two verses shed any light on this question of whether or not Jesus died the second death? I believe they both do.

Revelation 2:11 says,He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”
In Revelation 3:21 Christ tells us,I overcame.”

Putting those two verses together–since Jesus “overcame,” and those who “overcome shall not be hurt of the second death”–it would seem to point to the conclusion that Jesus wasn’t hurt of the second death.

Revelation 20:6 tells us, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power.” Is there anything in the Bible that would lead us to connect Christ’s resurrection to the first resurrection? If so, then once again it would seem to lead to the conclusion that Christ didn’t die the second death.

1 Corinthians 15:21-23 tells us that Christ’s resurrection was a “first fruits” of the resurrection of “they that are Christ’s,” and of course, “they that are Christ’s” have “part in the first resurrection.” So, as with the other comparison, the evidence seems to indicate that on Christ, “the second death hath no power.”

Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to ‘insist’ that those second two texts, Revelation 2:11 and 20:6, prove that Christ didn’t die the second death, but I would ‘insist’ that there’s absolutely nothing in them that would lend support to the idea that Christ did die the second death.

Just a quick recap to help end this section: There are four verses in the Bible that specifically mention the second death. Not one of them lends even the slightest support to the idea that Christ died the second death. Two of the four clearly define the second death as the lake of fire, something Christ surely never went through.

With those thoughts in mind I want to finish with one Spirit of Prophecy quote and then two questions relating to it:

“Every position of truth taken by our people will bear the criticism of the greatest minds; the highest of the world’s great men will be brought in contact with truth and therefore every position we take should be critically examined and tested by the Scriptures.” {Evangelism 69}

 Question #1: Will the “position” that Christ died the second death “bear the criticism of the greatest minds?”

Question #2: How will that “position” hold up when “critically examined and tested by the Scriptures?”


Part II—The Second Death in the Light of the Spirit of Prophecy

 Point #1—“…an everlasting death”

In Early Writings we’re told:

“The soul that sinneth it shall die an everlasting death – a death that will last forever, from which there will be no hope of a resurrection.”  {Early Writings 51}

Here we have a quote describing one major aspect of the second death. And in one short sentence we find this aspect brought out no less than three times:
#1—it’s “an everlasting death.”
#2—it’s “a death that will last forever.”
#3—it’s a death “from which there will be no hope of a resurrection.”

Christ’s death lasted all of three days, and then ended with His resurrection. Clearly, His death in no way equates with any of those three expressions. In the light of this quote alone I find it hard to understand how someone could believe that Christ died the Second Death.

Point #2—“…even the death of the cross.”  Phil. 2:8

This is the main text that is usually quoted in support of this teaching. But does it actually support it? Peter died “the death of the cross.” I’ve never heard anyone teach that he died the second death. Multitudes during the reformation died “the death of the cross.” I’ve never heard anyone teach that these people died the second death. The fact of the matter is that no one believes any of these people that died “the death of the cross,” died the second death. Then why, when it speaks of Christ dying “the death of the cross,” should people be so convinced the verse is teaching that He died the second death?

Ellen White wrote extensively about the crucifixion of Christ, often quoting the verse “even the death of the cross,” yet not once does she connect the death of the cross with the second death.  Here’s a typical example. (The italicized part is Phil. 2:8 in its entirety.):

“They have but a faint conception of the depths of humiliation to which the Redeemer of the world condescended in becoming a man. It was an act of humiliation to which they can find no parallel. But being formed in fashion as  a man Christ humbled himself, and became obedient unto death. Had it been a common death even, it would still have been the greatest of humiliations. But oh, what a death the Son of God suffered, – the most cruel, the most shameful! He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. And do not let any one think that Jesus was insensible to ignominy (public disgrace). He yielded up his life to save the fallen race; but he felt, keenly and bitterly felt, the humiliation of dying as a malefactor.”  {Review & Herald, November 20, 1883}

I feel I need to include another quote. In that last one Ellen White made known to us her understanding of Paul’s words, “even the death of the cross.” In this next one she describes for us Paul’s understanding of his own words (Once again the italicized portion is Phil. 2:8):

“Paul was deeply anxious that the humiliation of Christ should be seen and realized. He was convinced that if the minds of men could be brought to comprehend the amazing sacrifice made by the Majesty of heaven, all selfishness would be banished from their hearts. He directs the mind first to the position which Christ occupied in heaven, in the bosom of His Father; he reveals Him afterward as laying off His glory, voluntarily subjecting Himself to all the humbling conditions of man’s nature, assuming the responsibilities of a servant, and becoming obedient unto death, and that death the most ignominious and revolting, the most shameful, the most agonizing – the death of the cross.”  {4 Testimonies 458}

So we see that both Paul and Ellen White understood the words “even the death of the cross” as pointing to the fact that the cross was “the most ignominious and revolting, the most shameful, the most agonizing’” death a person could be subjected to. But I have not been able to find a single passage, either in the writings of Paul or Ellen White, connecting the death of the cross with the second death. Paul uses the word cross eleven times in his writings.  Not once does he connect it to the second death. Ellen White cites the words, “even the death of the cross,” over a hundred times, often pointing out how cruel and shameful it was, but not once have I seen her connect the death of the cross with the second death.

While it troubles me that teachers use this verse to support the belief that Christ died the second death, it troubles me far more that so many people seem to so readily accept what is being taught them without carefully investigating to see if it’s so.

I think a fitting end to this point would be Paul’s final reference to the cross. And once again, we see the death of the cross combined, not with the second death, but with shame:

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.”  {Hebrews 12:2}

Point #3 –From Gethsemane to Calvary

I’ll begin this point with a most solemn quote:

“The garden of Gethsemane has become pre-eminently the place of suffering to a sinful world. No sorrow, no agony, can measure with that which was endured by the Son of God.
Man has not been made a sin-bearer, and he will never know the horror of the curse of sin which the Saviour bore. No sorrow can bear any comparison with the sorrow of Him upon whom the wrath of God fell with overwhelming force.”  {5 BC 1103}

Truly, “no agony (not even the second death) can measure with that which was endured by the Son of God” in Gethsemane. But at the same time I think it needs to be realized that from the time Christ’s agony in Gethsemane ceased“No traces of His recent agony were visible as Jesus stepped forth to meet His betrayer.” (DA 694) — till the end of His trial (DA 740), there are at least a dozen statements like the following:

“A divine light illuminated the Saviour’s face, and a dovelike form overshadowed Him… As one glorified He stood in the midst of that hardened band, now prostrate and helpless at His feet.”  {DA 694}

“A heavenly light seemed to illuminate His pale countenance… For a moment the divinity of Christ flashed through His guise of humanity.”  {DA 707}

“As He spoke, His countenance lighted up as if a sunbeam were shining upon it.”  {DA 726}

“He felt that this was no common man; for divinity had flashed through humanity. At the very time when Christ was encompassed by mockers, adulterers, and murderers, Herod felt that he was beholding a God upon His throne.”  {DA 731}

Undeniably, up to this point Christ had not died any death. So, as bad as Gethsemane was, it had nothing to do with death–the 1st or the 2nd!

Point #4—His Death

This will be a very short point. All it will consist of is one passage from The Desire of Ages: the one that describes Christ’s death. Truly, this was the only death He ever died; and just as truly, you will not see portrayed here the experience of one who is dying the second death. Please read it very carefully. (I’ll highlight the portions that I believe support my assertion.)

“Suddenly the gloom lifted from the cross, and in clear, trumpet like tones, that seemed to resound throughout creation, Jesus cried, “It is finished.” “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” A light encircled the cross, and the face of the Saviour shone with a glory like the sun. He then bowed His head upon His breast, and died.
“Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance heretofore given Him. He was acquainted with the character of His Father; He understood His justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him whom it had ever been His joy to obey. And as in submission He commited Himself to God, the sense  of the loss of His Father’s favor was withdrawn. By faith, Christ was victor.”  {Desire of Ages 756}

Point #5 –The Sanctuary, the Scapegoat, and the Final Penalty

I have no doubt that this last point is a crucial one.

There are many quotes like the following:

“Christ himself bore the penalty of sin.”  {Signs of the Times, June 17, 1897}

Because “Christ bore the penalty of sin,” and the final part of that penalty is the second death, multitudes are absolutely convinced that Christ had to have died the second death.

Let me stop here and give just a brief word of caution: I have seen people cling to a particular belief, even when there is an abundance of evidence disproving that belief, simply because there is one point, or one quote, that they cannot reconcile. Sunday keepers are doing exactly that when it comes to the Law and the Sabbath, with fatal consequences.

I believe this key pillar supporting the belief that Christ died the second death completely crumbles in the light of the sanctuary service. For while it is true that “Christ bore the penalty of sin,” the sanctuary service (with the help of the enlightenment that we gain from the Spirit of Prophecy) clearly shows that Christ bore those sins, not to the lake of fire, but to the heavenly sanctuary. And that those same sins will one day be “placed upon Satan (the scapegoat) who in the execution of the judgment must bear the final penalty… [when] he will be blotted from existence in the final destruction of sin and sinners.”

“As anciently the sins of the people were by faith placed upon the sin offering and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary…
It was seen, also, that while the sin offering pointed to Christ as a sacrifice, and the high priest represented Christ as a mediator, the scapegoat typified Satan, the author of sin, upon whom the sins of the truly penitent will finally be placed… When Christ, by virtue of His own blood, removes the sins of His people from the heavenly sanctuary at the close of His ministration, He will place them upon Satan, who, in the execution of the judgment, must bear the final penalty. The scapegoat was sent away into a land not inhabited, never to come again into the congregation of Israel. So will Satan be forever banished from the presence of God and His people, and he will be blotted from existence in the final destruction of sin and sinners.”  {Great Controversy 421, 422}

Clearly, it is Satan, not Christ, who is “blotted from existence;” and clearly, it is Satan, not Christ, “who must bear the final penalty.” And it is the fires of the second death that accomplish it.

One Closing Thought

I must admit I have never been able to see what bearing this subject, right or wrong, has on daily, practical, godly living. At the same time, I know it’s true that, “error is never  harmless. It never sanctifies, but always brings confusion and dissension. It is always dangerous.” {5T 292} So, in the light of that warning, I leave you with that divine counsel:  “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1Thes. 5:21)


We would love to hear from you!

Allen & Tammy Roesch
5464 State Rd
Kingsville OH 44048
[email protected]

Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees ~ Dennis Priebe


Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees



This is going to be an examination of a handful of quotes from Dennis Priebe’s book, “Face to Face with the Real Gospel.” But before beginning, I think it’s 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 leaders in the church. For example, Joe Crews (the founder of Amazing Facts), 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.” (The “notes” we sent him from Priebe’s book consisted largely of the quotes we’re going to be looking at here.) Obviously, Ralph Larson also holds the same belief. Priebe used to work with Ron Spear, and was a regular writer for his magazine, “Our Firm Foundation.” He’s also a regular speaker at Hartland. Together, these men and their organizations reach and influence a large percentage of the conservative segment of the church. (All of those men I named (not including Priebe) are dead and gone, but they were some of the leading conservative teachers 20 or 30 years ago.)
There’s something else I need to say before I begin: I want to state as clearly and as strongly as I possibly can that I’m in no way in harmony with the New Theology. (That we can’t become like Christ, and we can’t overcome sin.) I believe it’s nothing short of complete and open apostasy from the advent message, and it’s an absolute disgrace that it has reached such strength and proportions in the Adventist church.

I’ll be quoting heavily from the Spirit of Prophecy. I hold her writings to be nothing less than the word of God to the advent people. She herself said, “Sister White is not the originator of these books.” (3SM 50) I only pray that the evidence will be carefully weighed and that you’ll learn for yourself where lies the truth in this issue.

I’ll 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 study. I’ll also say that most of what Priebe teaches 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)

The subject of this paper couldn’t be more important: Jesus Christ as our example of what constitutes a true Christian experience.

“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.” {7 Bible Commentary 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.” {Acts of the Apostles 273}

And on the flip side of that:

“Man will rise no higher than his conceptions of truth, purity, and holiness.” {Patriarchs & Prophets 91}

I’d like to stop and point out something here: Both of those first two quotes emphasize the character of Christ—“His character is our model,” and “the character of Christ must be understood.” I point that out because almost any time this subject comes up, much is said about the nature of Christ, while very little is said about the character of Christ. Yet if you do a search in Ellen White’s writings you’ll find that she uses the phrase “nature of Christ” somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred times, while she uses the phrase “character of Christ” somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand times. In keeping with that, this critique will be primarily about the character of Christ, not the nature of Christ.
Okay, let’s begin.

Quote #1

“Why did Jesus say, “I seek not mine own will” (John 5:30), and “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will” (John 6:38)? 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.” {Face to Face with the Real Gospel 59—Hereafter FF} (All quotes are taken from the 1985 edition.)

Please realize that Priebe is saying that Christ’s will wasn’t “faultless, pure, and holy,” but was instead, “tending toward the negative.” He’s also saying that Christ’s inclinations were tending toward the negative. He also interprets John 5 & 6 to be saying that Christ’s will was different than His Father’s.

I want to first compare what Priebe says concerning Christ’s will “tending toward the negative” with two quotes from Ellen White.

“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.” {Desire of Ages 547}

I can’t conceive how a person can harmonize in his mind the belief that while Christ’s “heart” was in perfect oneness with the Father’s will, His “will” wasn’t.
As good as that last quote is, I believe this next quote is even better, because it’s taken from the chapter in Desire of Ages that’s based on John 5, which if you remember, was one of the chapters that Priebe cites as proof that Christ’s will was contrary to His Father’s and that it was “tending toward the negative.”

“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.” {Desire of Ages 208}

So, in the very discourse where Jesus was claiming His oneness with God“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” (pg. 210)—and where Ellen White tells us that Jesus Himself said, “I am one with Him in will,” Dennis Priebe interprets Christ as informing us that “His own will was tending toward the negative.” To me, it’s undeniably clear that Priebe is in serious conflict with what Ellen White teaches.

And as an answer to the frequently asked question, “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 acknowledged as their supreme ruler (Jesus they didn’t acknowledge), and that in rejecting Him, they were in reality rejecting the Father. “He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him.” (Jn 5:23)
Jesus made a similar statement in chapter seven, where He said, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” (vs.16) Surely no one believes Jesus was saying that His doctrine was different from His Father’s. Again, as with chapters 5 & 6, He was trying to make them understand that in rejecting His doctrine, they were in reality rejecting the Father’s doctrine.
And second, we’re told that Jesus was giving them an example of submission and surrender to God, just as He was baptized as an example. (see pg. 208 & 209) And in the midst of telling us that, she quotes Psalms 40:8, applying it to Jesus“I delight to do Thy will, O my God.” 
The other part of that quote that I want to look at concerns Christ’s inclinations. Priebe says, “His own inclinations were tending toward the negative.”
Compare that with what Ellen White has to say concerning Christ’s inclinations:

“Never, in any way, leave the slightest impression upon human minds that a taint of, or inclination to, corruption rested upon Christ.” {5BC 1128}

In my mind, it’s undeniably clear that Priebe does precisely what Ellen White so strongly warns against doing.
Because I believe this is so important, and so misunderstood, I want to share a couple more quotes on inclinations; but these are about our inclinations, not Christ’s inclinations:

“In returning to God, the inclinations…are brought into higher, holier channels.” {Review & Herald 3/1/1887}

“Of ourselves, we are not able to bring the purposes and desires and inclinations into harmony with the will of God; but if we are “willing to be made willing,” the Saviour will accomplish this for us.” {Acts of the Apostles 482}

Yes, there are many quotes saying that we need to “control,” and “deny,” and even “war against” our natural “inclinations,” but as you just saw, God offers us a higher experience than just controlling our inclinations. Clearly, and wonderfully, if we’re “willing to be made willing,” “the Saviour will bring our inclinations into harmony with the will of God.” And I have to say, I’ve never met a believer in the teachings of Dennis Priebe who truly believes that. (Surely, if one believes that Christ’s inclinations were “tending toward the negative,” they certainly can’t believe that their own inclinations won’t be tending toward the negative.)

                                                                              Quote #2
“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 from within His nature.” {FF 60}

There are also two points in this quote that I want to examine. First, Priebe says, “He knew what it was like to want to go wrong.”
Let me start by saying: I’m sure many of you—those of you who aren’t real familiar with what Dennis Priebe teaches—will have a hard time believing that he’s actually teaching that Christ “wanted to go wrong. But I assure you, that’s precisely what he teaches. (Surely it goes hand-in-hand with teaching that “His own will and His own inclinations were tending toward the negative.”)
I believe this point is absolutely critical, because if one believes that Christ wanted to go wrong, then it inevitably follows that they’ll believe that we’ll always want to go wrong. (Surely no one can believe that we’ll have a higher experience than Christ had.)
To begin trying to show you how out of harmony this teaching is with the Spirit of Prophecy, I want to share a handful of quotes about Christ. Three contain the word evil, and one contains the word sin. As you read each quote try to consider what they tell us about Christ, alongside the idea that He “wanted to go wrong.”

“Never lived there another who so hated evil.” {Education 79}

“Never before had there been a being upon the earth who hated sin with so perfect a hatred as did Christ.” {1 Selected Messages 254}

“As the sinless one His nature recoiled from evil.” {Steps to Christ 93, 94}

“The refined sensibilities of His holy nature rendered contact with evil unspeakably painful to Him.” {7BC 927}

I’ve had people disagree with me, but I think it’s impossible to want to do something that you not only have a “perfect hatred” for, but also that your “nature recoils from,” and that you find “unspeakably painful” just coming in to contact with.
Now let me try to convince you from another angle. We’re told:

“In the heart of Christ, where reigned perfect harmony with God, there was perfect peace.” {Desire of Ages 330}

Again, some may disagree with me, but I think it’s impossible to be in perfect harmony with God in your heart, and at the same time “want to go wrong.”
That’s all the time I’m going to spend on that part of the quote. Now I want to look at the other part—“He knew what it was like to feel the temptation to rebel against God, and that temptation arose from within His nature.”
I agree that Jesus “knew what it was like to feel the temptation to rebel against God.” But I don’t agree that, “that temptation arose from within His nature.” Here’s why:

“Temptation is enticement to sin, and this does not proceed from God, but from Satan and from the evil of our own hearts.” {Mount of Blessings 116}

According to that quote temptation comes from two places: #1—“from Satan,” and #2—“from the evil of our own hearts.” I would think all would agree: the first of those temptations is from without, and the second is from within. Priebe says Christ’s temptations “arose from within.” (I’m sure he realizes that Christ had them from without also.) All I’ll say is: What Priebe teaches looks incredibly bad in the light of that Ellen White quote.

                                                                       Quote #3
“Are not our problems basically self and pride and the desires that come from our fallen nature? Do we not fall most often because of the inner desires 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?” {FF 59}

I can’t help but ask: Why did Priebe include “self and pride” there? If he doesn’t think self and pride were a problem for Christ why did he include them there? To me, at best it’s irresponsible, and at worst it’s a horrible misrepresentation and misunderstanding of Christ’s humanity.

“…pride, selfishness, and covetousness… 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.” {Steps to Christ 30}

                                                                        Quote #4
“If Jesus’ life is to have any meaning as an example for us, then it is crucial that He inherit just what I inherit.” {FF 55}

(That’s a very strong word Priebe uses there—“crucial.”)
Now, on page twenty-seven of his book he says, “We do inherit badness, weakness, and corruption.” I’ll just ask: Do you believe Jesus inherited “badness” and “corruption?”
Second, and far more importantly in my mind, on page fifty-four of his book he says, “our inherited bent to evil.”
    So, if it’s “crucial” that Jesus inherit just what I inherited, and I inherited a “bent to evil” (which of course I did), then Jesus must have also inherited a bent to evil. And that’s precisely what Priebe and all who have been influenced by him believe.
Now, let me show you that not only did Christ not inherit “just what I inherited,” but neither did He inherit a “bent to evil.” (Three times in this next quote Ellen White uses the word “propensity.” Please note carefully each of them.)

“Be careful, exceedingly careful as to how you dwell upon the human nature of Christ. Do not set Him before the people as a man with the propensities of sin. He is the second Adam. The first Adam was created a pure, sinless being, without a taint of sin upon him; he was in the image of God. He could fall, and he did fall through transgressing. Because of sin his posterity was born with inherent propensities of disobedience… but not for one moment was there in Him an evil propensity.” {5BC 1128}

Clearly, and everyone agrees on this, you and I are “born with inherent propensities of disobedience.” Just as clearly, in my mind at least, if “not for one moment was there in Christ an evil propensity,” then He couldn’t have been “born” with them, and He couldn’t have “inherited” them. So once again, Priebe is teaching something that’s directly contrary to what Ellen White teaches.
That’s all I’m going to share from Dennis Priebe’s book. Hopefully you’ve seen enough to cause you to realize that there are some serious problems with his “gospel.” (I call it his “gospel” because that’s the name of his book, “Face to Face with the Real Gospel.”)
Now, going back to that last point: because to me, what God intends for us to become is infinitely more important than how we’re born, I want to share a few quotes; quotes that to me are some of the most important and wonderful in all her writings. (All of them have wonderful news concerning that troublesome fallen nature we’ve inherited.)

“Having taken our fallen nature, He showed what it might become.” {3 Selected Messages 134}

“Teach the children that because of God’s great love their natures may be changed and brought into harmony with His.” {Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing 98}

“Jesus took upon Himself man’s nature, that He might leave a pattern for humanity, complete, perfect. He proposes to make us like Himself, true in every purpose, feeling, and thought—true in heart, soul, and life. This is Christianity. Our fallen nature must be purified, ennobled, consecrated by obedience to the truth.” {5 Testimonies 235}

“The forgiveness of sins is not the sole result of the death of Jesus. He made the infinite sacrifice, not only that sin might be removed, but that human nature might be restored, rebeautified, reconstructed from its ruins, and made fit for the presence of God.” {5 Testimonies 537}

As one of those quotes said: Our “natures may be changed and brought into harmony with His.” And as another of them said: “This is Christianity.” Some may disagree with me, but this simply isn’t the gospel Dennis Priebe teaches. Yes, his gospel teaches obedience and overcoming sin, but it’s an obedience that ever leaves our “will” and our “inclinations” “tending toward the negative,” and a part of us always “wanting to go wrong.” (There are times in our Christian experience when it’s truly victory to have that kind of experience, but that’s not the ultimate experience God is calling us to, and it certainly was never the experience that Jesus had.)

I’m going to stop there and just say, if you see any light in what I’ve shared, I’ve written a book that deals much more thoroughly with this whole subject. (But I don’t mention Priebe or anyone else.) You can read it online for free.

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

Al & Tammy Roesch

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Kingsville, OH 44048

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