Questions on Doctrine, 7&8

Questions on Doctrine, 7&8

The Scandal Of A Book PARTS 7 and 8 of 8
The Colossal Question — Why?

Before me, as I write, is a book.
In appearance it is a most impressive volume.

It consists of 597 pages of quality paper in a handsome two-colour binding, with gold lettering. For my copy I paid a goodly sum. It is apparent that the book’s publishers made a very heavy financial investment, which required strong financial backing from somewhere. I am moved to wonder where the money came from.

But the title is what stretches my mind. The book is a reprint of the scandalous Questions on Doctrine, which we have examined in a series of articles earlier this year. (See previous articles posted on this site.)

No, it is not a revision. It is a reprint. All of the original edition is there wrapped around by comments and notes by the present publishers. It is therefore called an Annotated Edition. The notes range from a few lines to a few pages.

Could it be possible that they were unaware of the enormous injury that had been done to the church by the first publication in 1957?

No, that is not possible. The following lines, taken from various pages of the book, make it abundantly clear that the publishers of the new Annotated Edition were fully aware of the enormous injuries that had been done to the church by the first edition. On the Viewpoints page before the preface they wrote:

“The publication of Questions on Doctrine did more than any other single event in Adventist history to create what appears to be permanently warring factions within the denomination.”

The Preface adds: “It is a volume that has stood at the very center of Adventist dialogue since the 1950’s, setting the stage for ongoing theological tension.”
The Introduction tells us that: “Questions on Doctrine easily qualifies as the most divisive book in Seventh-day Adventist history.
. . . Its release brought prolonged alienation and separation to the Adventist factions that grew up around it.”

On page 516 we read: “The result has been that Questions on Doctrine has been vilified by many Adventists and has probably done more to create theological division in the Adventist church than any other document in its more than 150 year history.”

And on page 522:
“The result would spell disaster in the Adventist ranks in the years to come. Official Adventism may have gained recognition as being Christian from the evangelical world, but in the process a breach has been opened which has not healed in the last fifty years and may never heal.”

So the enormous injuries that had been done to the church by the first edition of Questions on Doctrine were very well known to the publishers of the new edition, which confronts us again with our colossal question, Why? What could have been the purpose of the publishers in printing this new edition?

And our puzzlement increases as we move on to our next question. Could it be possible that the publishers of the new edition were unaware of the grievous violations of procedural integrity in the first edition?

No, that is not a possibility. At various places in the book there are expressions that reveal very clearly that the publishers knew about the violations of procedural integrity. Rather than put forth a series of long quotations I will just present some of the words or phrases with their page numbers. Observe:

Page xv “less than transparent” xxx “push the facts a bit too far”
xxx “present their data in a way that creates a false impression” xxxiv “misleading title”
41 “masks the fact”
45 “in a historic sense, false” 324 “not accurate”
516 “a misleading heading” 517 “less than straightforward” 520 “data was manipulated”
521 “had not told the truth”
522 “elements of betrayal in the manipulation of data and in untruths” 524 “misleading heading”

So there can be no doubt that the publishers of this new edition were fully aware of the violations of procedural and intellectual integrity, the sheer dishonesty, in the first edition. If you question that reality, just read the list again. It makes me shudder. And the question that confronts us now is agonizing. Why? What is going on here? What are we looking at?

The Grim Facts

Three facts, three grim realities that are established beyond question, are before us:

The publishers of the new Annotated Edition were fully aware of the enormous injury that had been done to the church by the first edition.
The publishers of the new Annotated Edition were fully aware of the sheer dishonesty, the violations of integrity, in the first edition.
With full knowledge of these things, they nevertheless made a conscious decision to republish the book, at great expense.
Why? Why? WHY??? What is the purpose of this? What are they trying to do?

If they had removed all the evils from the book, and then printed a revision of it, we could to some extent understand that, though questioning its hope of success. But they did not revise it, they reprinted it as it was, untruths, manipulations of evidence, and all. Why?

The editor of this Annotated Edition states his hope that “a forthright treatment of the explosive issues opened up by Questions on Doctrine and the answers this edition provides will be enlightening to both the larger community of readers and to Adventists.” Annotated Edition, xi

Despite the wonderful hopes expressed by the editor, it appears we have but two choices as to why the book has been reprinted: Either. . .

The Scandal Of A Book PART 8 of 8
The Colossal Question; — Why?

Last month (Part 7), we noted a number of instances in the new Annotated Edition of Questions on Doctrine in which the publishers indicated that they were fully aware of the enormous injury that had been done to the church by the dishonesty and distortions in the first edition.
With full knowledge of these things, they nevertheless made a conscious decision to republish the book, at great expense. Why?

It appears that we have but two choices as to why the book has been reprinted: Either the present publishers were innocent persons, with no ulterior motives, who exercised incredibly poor judgment or—Or somebody, somewhere, who hated the Seventh-­?day Adventist Church and had access to lots of money, looked at the situation and said, “The first edition of Questions on Doctrine brought enormous injury to the Seventh-­day Adventist Church. A second edition might well injure the church beyond the possibility of recovery. Let’s do it!”

We have to view this problem in its context. Our church is not loved by the world, nor yet by the churches of the world. We are surrounded by groups who would take pleasure in our church’s collapse and downfall. And there are certain groups which make use of infiltration to accomplish their purpose within other organizations. We have been appalled by the sheer dishonesty practiced by the writers of the first edition of Questions on Doctrine. But it gets worse.

The Lunatic Fringe

Donald Grey Barnhouse, editor of Eternity magazine and the leader in the conversations with the Adventist group, published a report of those meetings in his edition of September 1956. (1) He wrote that the Adventists had stated firmly that the real Seventh-­?day Adventists had always believed, like Barnhouse and Martin and their evangelical colleagues, that Christ came to earth in the unfallen nature of Adam. The only exceptions, they were told, were Adventism’s “lunatic fringe” and “wild-­?eyed irresponsibles.”

Here infamy reached a height seldom seen in this world. Permit me to introduce you to some of Adventism’s “lunatic fringe” and “wild-­?eyed irresponsibles.” We begin with General Conference presidents White, Daniels, Spicer, Watson, McElhany and Branson. The list includes six of the seven Review editors who served during the years 1852—1952, and five of the six Signs editors.

The list includes a galaxy of General Conference vice presidents, division presidents, and departmental chairmen; union conference presidents and local conference presidents, along with a few college presidents and teachers. You will find them all listed in my book The Word Was Made Flesh, (2) pages 34 and onward, along with their contributions. (possibly only obtainable second-­?hand now from a SDA used book source such as Leaves of Autumn Books.)

All of them had published, at least once, their belief that Christ had come to earth in the human nature of fallen man.

And Ellen White had published the same thing four hundred times, which would clearly establish her as by far the worst of Adventism’s “lunatic fringe” and “wild-­ eyed irresponsibles.”

The grand total of all such statements, by Ellen White and the church leaders shown above, is twelve hundred.
Certainly there had to be something terribly; terribly, wrong with the minds of men who would tell the world that these persons were Adventism’s “lunatic fringe” and describe them as “wild-­?eyed irresponsibles.”

So How Could It Happen?

Let us go to the inspired writings for the answer to our question. The apostle Paul wrote of certain people in 2 Thessalonians 2: 10—11 who “received not the love of the truth, that they might not be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”

Notice that here is described a mental problem that begins with not loving the truth and ends in an inability to recognize what is truth. Ellen White commented on this condition:
“By rejection of evidence, they lost their spiritual eyesight, and could not discern between good and evil, between truth and error, light and darkness.” Review and Herald, April 18, 1893. (All emphasis supplied)

“The mind that cherishes sentiments that tend to destroy the foundation of the faith that has made us what we are becomes confused, and cannot discern between truth and error.” Bible Training School, March 1, 1915

“He who deliberately stifles his convictions of duty because it interferes with his inclinations will finally lose the power to distinguish between truth and error.” The Great Controversy, 378

Is she not here describing a manner of madness, a form of insanity? She does not allege that such persons will be totally out of touch with reality, but only in regard to truth and error. They simply cannot tell the difference. And that is a desperate condition.

Persons who are afflicted with this manner of madness will unblushingly declare that Ellen White taught that Christ came to the earth in the human nature of the unfallen Adam, in spite of the fact that she had written and published four hundred statements to the contrary.

Persons who are afflicted with this particular manner of madness will soberly affirm that Adventism’s first line of leadership, from General Conference presidents down through the ranks, are part of Adventism’s “lunatic fringe” of “wild-­?eyed irresponsibles.”
How could Adventism’s first line of leadership, including six General Conference presidents, be described as our lunatic fringe? What kind of a mentality would expect to get away with such a conspicuous atrocity in the mishandling of evidence? Either of two kinds of mentalities. As mentioned above, there is a group of people in our world who have for centuries been practicing deception on a grand scale. Volumes have been written about the deceptions that they have engineered with great expertise. They are called Jesuits. One of their most successful methods is infiltration. They work with great patience to get their people into the inner organizations of all churches, including ours. I was taught that in a church history class years ago. For them the inflicting of enormous damage on our church through the publication of Questions on Doctrine would probably be regarded as a simple routine procedure.

That is one possibility. The only other possibility that I can see would be the one described by Ellen White when she wrote a warning that there is a mental disorder that begins with having no love for the truth and ends with an inability to discern truth and error.

Neither is a happy conclusion. And either of them that we accept leaves us to struggle with the agonizing question, What about the people who have now republished Questions on Doctrine?

We cannot escape from reality that they were fully aware of the enormous injury that had been done to our church by the first edition of Questions on Doctrine, and they were fully aware of the dishonest manipulation of evidence in that volume. They acknowledged both. But then they go right on and repeat the offense by publishing a new edition of the same scandalous book.

Must we prepare our minds to recognize that this new Annotated Edition was published for the deliberate intention of bringing the Seventh-­?day Adventist Church to utter ruin? And that the acknowledgements of the dishonesty practiced in the first edition are only for the purpose of throwing us off out guard?

The only reasonable answer to these questions is Yes. We cannot afford to do otherwise.
We are moving into the final, closing events of the greatest conflict of the ages. How can we hope to escape the enormous deceptions?

Let us remember that these events may astonish us, but they do not astonish God. He knew all about then in advance, and supplied is with all the information that we need. Here is a promise that is exquisite in its simplicity and fully adequate in its clarity:

“Men may get up scheme after scheme, and the enemy will seek to seduce souls from the truth, but all who believe that the Lord has spoken through Sister White, and has given her a message, will be safe from the many delusions that will come in these last days.” Selected Messages, book 3, 83—84.
May I suggest that we all memorize this promise, live by it, and repeat it often. We are going to need it.

May God bless you.

Series concluded.

“Are Seventh-­?day Adventists Christians? A New Look at Seventh-­?day Adventism,” Eternity Evangelical Foundation, Philadelphia, PA, 6—7.
Cherrystone Press, Cherry Valley, CA, 1986 (May not exist any more, since the death of Elder R. Larson.)

For a more detailed reading of this subject there is a book that tells the whole story as known and written by one who had a personal experience of it all at the time it was in progress. The book is entitled Our Evangelical Earthquake and is available from Harvestime Books, Altamont, TN 37301 USA. (In Great Britain it is available from Sister Shirley Farago of the Gospatrick Road Church in North London.)

(see also:

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