Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, October 27, 2006

Yes, Dead Men Do Tell Lies!

The Adventist World NAD Edition recently published a reprint of an article first published in the Review and Herald in 1929. Written by W. A. Spicer the article in the Adventist World NAD Edition is titled “It Was Not of Our Doing” The Origins of the Remnant Church Testify to God’s Leading (August 2006 page 38-39)

Unfortunately this edition goes out to the entire World and it includes a gross falsehood. Something that probably no current SDA scholar would be willing to say but since this is produced by someone who was once thought of as a scholarly SDA the falsehood is continued throughout the SDA world. The specific problem is presented by the following quote from page 39 of Spicer’s article:

“Then began to come messages to them trough the Spirit of prophecy. The first view, given in 1844, described a large work yet to be done---the gathering out of many thousands of believers to be made ready for the coming of the Lord.”

“Even those who accepted the experience of the youthful agent through whom the Spirit of prophecy spoke, had no idea of another movement to carry a message to the world. So firmly fixed in their minds was the idea that Christ would shortly appear, that they did not understand what was plainly revealed in the first message of the Spirit of prophecy---that a great soul winning work was yet to be done.”

As most knowledgeable people in Adventism know this is not the case, Ellen (Harmon) White was in agreement with the other Millerite Adventists who expected a very soon return of Christ. In fact it was soon after this vision that the “shut door” concept was spoken of by Ellen White. The concept that Adventists were to be a great missionary church was not revealed in Ellen White’s first vision, and was not mentioned till after the shut door concept had passed away. Spicer presents a myth which is easily proven wrong by reading Ellen Whites own presentation of her first vision.

Her First Vision. One morning in December 1844, at a time when many Millerites were wavering in their faith and others were disavowing their recent experience, Ellen Harmon joined four other women in family worship at the home of a close friend, Mrs. Haines, in south Portland. While the group was praying, she experienced her first vision, in which she witnessed a representation of the travels of the Adventist people to the City of God (EW 13–17; 1T 58–61; LS 64–67). She was only 17 years old at the time. When she related this vision to the Adventist group in Portland, they accepted it as light from God. In response to a later vision, Ellen reluctantly started out, travelling with friends and relatives as opportunity afforded, to relate to the scattered companies of Adventists what she had seen in the first and other visions that followed

Here are some sections from her first vision as recorded in Early Writings

While I was praying at the family altar, the Holy Ghost fell upon me, and I seemed to be rising higher and higher, far above the dark world. I turned to look for the Advent people in the world, but could not find them, when a voice said to me, "Look again, and look a little higher." At this I raised my eyes, and saw a straight and narrow path, cast up high above the world. On this path the Advent people were travelling to the city, which was at the farther end of the path. They had a bright light set up behind them at the beginning of the path, which an angel told me was the midnight cry. This light shone all along the path and gave light for their feet so that they might not stumble. If they kept their eyes fixed on Jesus, who was just before them, leading them to the city, they were safe. But soon some grew weary, and said the city was a great way off, and they expected to have entered it before. Then Jesus would encourage them by raising His glorious right arm, and from His arm came a light which waved over the Advent band, and they shouted, "Alleluia!" Others rashly denied the light behind them and said that it was not God that had led them out so far. The light behind them went out, leaving their feet in perfect darkness, and they stumbled and lost sight of the mark and of Jesus, and fell off the path down into the dark and wicked world below. Soon we heard the voice of God like many waters, which gave us the day and hour of Jesus' coming. The living saints, 144,000 in number, knew and understood the voice, while the wicked thought it was thunder and an earthquake. When God spoke the time, He poured upon us the Holy Ghost, and our faces began to light up and shine with the glory of God, as Moses' did when he came down from Mount Sinai.

The 144,000 were all sealed and perfectly united. On their foreheads was written, God, New Jerusalem, and a glorious star containing Jesus' new name. At our happy, holy state the wicked were enraged, and would rush violently up to lay hands on us to thrust us into prison, when we would stretch forth the hand in the name of the Lord, and they would fall helpless to the ground. Then it was that the synagogue of Satan knew that God had loved us who could wash one another's feet and salute the brethren with a holy kiss, and they worshiped at our feet.

Soon our eyes were drawn to the east, for a small black cloud had appeared, about half as large as a man's hand, which we all knew was the sign of the Son of man. We all in solemn silence gazed on the cloud as it drew nearer and became lighter, glorious, and still more glorious, till it was a great white cloud. The bottom appeared like fire; a rainbow was over the cloud, while around it were ten thousand angels, singing a most lovely song; and upon it sat the Son of man…

The vision then goes on to describe the heavenly experience. The question we may want to ask is why Spicer’s falsehoods are being disseminated throughout the Adventist world. I would guess that even back in 1929 Spicer was attempting to rewrite Adventist history. What however are the editors of the Adventist Review trying to do today? Are they careless or once more trying to rewrite Adventist history?

I would welcome their response.

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