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Gregory Matthews

SDA Teaching on the Trinity

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Gregory Matthews

The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most misunderstood doctrines in the Bible.  There have been many posts made on this subject, lots of heat and little light.  I am posting here as I believe that it would be well to understand what the SDA Church, which is a Trinitarian denomination, actually teaches.  The Bible is the standard, not a SDA teaching.

To see what the SDA Church teaches on the Trinity, go to:

https://www.adventist.org/en/beliefs/god/trinity/

https://www.adventist.org/en/beliefs/god/trinity/article/go/-/god-in-three-persons/

 

 

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Gregory Matthews


The following is some of what the SDA Church teaches on the Trinity:

 

Quote

There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. God, who is love, is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation. (Gen. 1:26; Deut. 6:4; Isa. 6:8; Matt. 28:19; John 3:16 2 Cor. 1:21, 22; 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2.)

 

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The Wanderer
4 hours ago, Gregory Matthews said:

The Bible is the standard, not a SDA teaching.

Usually, when someone says it like this...well. Ill be quiet till I see what you are up to. Happy Sabbath Greg, :)

 

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Gregory Matthews

We, as SDA Christians, have an obligation before God, to hold to the Bible as the authorative standard by which we should judge our beliefs.  The   standard by which we should judge our beliefs should not either be the statements of any human or of any organization.  

I am not here arguing that any specific statement by the SDA Church is wrong.  Rather, I am saying:  Hold to the Bible.

 

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JoeMo

In my humble opinion, the Bible strongly supports The Father and Son as members of the Godhead, but is non-committal concerning the Personhood of the HS.  But it is my opinion; not my dogma.

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The Wanderer
5 hours ago, Gregory Matthews said:

I am not here arguing that any specific statement by the SDA Church is wrong.  Rather, I am saying:  Hold to the Bible.

and so what is your agenda for this thread? Are there not enough topics on this already here? What would/should be the difference between this topic and all the others here dealing with the trinity.

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The Wanderer
5 hours ago, Gregory Matthews said:

The   standard by which we should judge our beliefs should not either be the statements of any human or of any organization.  

so how far do you take this statement? Is it "wrong" just because a human says it? What if said human checked, (which they certainly did on this point) and the "human" statement is in complete accordance with what Scripture says?

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8thdaypriest

I'm with Joe, in believing their were/are TWO divine beings. 

"God" IS our Father, and our Father IS "God".  He is the ORIGINAL divine being. 

"God" beget another divine being, from out of Himself.  This second divine being "God" called "My Son". 

Jesus called Himself "the Beginning", so I believe that His begetting WAS "the Beginning".

The Son was exactly like His Father in every way.  

God the Father created THROUGH His Son.  He then communicated with the creation THROUGH His Son.  He reconciles us to Himself THROUGH His Son.  He also judges THROUGH His Son, and will heal THROUGH His Son.  The Father - in fact - does everything, THROUGH His Son.

The Son then incarnated (with the help of His Father, Heb. 1:6).  He took the form and the nature of a male human being.  Before incarnating He "emptied Himself" of all divine powers. 

During His sojourn on the earth, the only divine power available to "the Son" was the infilling of the Holy Spirit (His Father - Matt 1:18&20).  Jesus did say, "The Father who dwells in me, does the works" (John 17:5),  and "You Father are in Me" (John 17:21). 

After completion of His assignment on the earth, the Son returned to His Father in Heaven.  The Father then "glorified" His Son, restoring to Him to that glory He once shared with His Father.  The Father restored to His Son those divine powers He had given up, to incarnate as a human.

The Son then baptized His followers on earth with His spirit presence. 

This is my belief.  I do not believe it is a salvational issue - at least not for those who have not clearly understood it.

I have completed my series of studies on "The Trinity Question".   Anyone interested can find the series on prophecyviewpoint.com. 

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Gustave

The beef comes not from what the SDA Church affirms about the Trinity today but the radical departure of what it initially taught.

“God has given me light regarding our periodicals. What is it? — HE HAS SAID THAT THE DEAD ARE TO SPEAK. How? — Their works shall follow them. WE ARE TO REPEAT THE WORDS OF THE PIONEERS IN OUR WORK, who knew what it cost to search for the truth as for hidden treasure, and who labored to lay the foundation of our work. They moved forward step by step UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD. One by one these pioneers are passing away. The word given me is, LET THAT WHICH THESE MEN HAVE WRITTEN IN THE PAST BE REPRODUCED.” — (E.G. White, RH, May 25, 1905)

 

The words of the Pioneers [ in the SDA periodicals ] were / are explicitly clear.

 

“Here we might mention the TRINITY, which does away [with] the PERSONALITY OF GOD, AND OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST,” — (James White, RH, Dec 11, 1855, p. 85)

 

“The doctrine of the TRINITY which was established in the church by the council of Nice, A.D. 325. This doctrine DESTROYS THE PERSONALITY OF GOD, AND HIS SON JESUS CHRIST our Lord.” — (J.N. Andrews, RH, March 6, 1855, p. 185)

 

Below, James White confirms [ in a Seventh Day Adventist Periodical ] that "The Testimonies" of the Holy Spirit that came through Ellen cannot be reconciled with the Trinity Doctrine.

 

"We invite all to compare THE TESTIMONIES of the Holy Spirit THROUGH Mrs. White with the word of God. And in this we do not invite you to compare them with your creed. That is quite another thing. The TRINITARIAN may compare them with his creed, and because THEY DO NOT AGREE WITH IT, CONDEMN them [ the testimonies of Mrs. White ]. The Adventist Review & Sabbath Herald June 13, 1871

The Pioneers [ in the SDA periodicals ] systematically went through the Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist & Methodist Creeds, paying specific attention to the statements made in those Creeds about the Trinity Doctrine & pilloried them with vigorous fervor. The findings issued by the SDA Pioneer's were that a belief in the Trinity equated to Pantheism at the least and at the most a submission to the anti-Christ. 

Historic Christianity maintains that God is ONE SUBSTANCE that is coequally owned by three distinct persons - Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

Adventism maintained what they called 'The Personality of God & archangels Michael and Lucifer' which was defined to mean that God the Father had a body of flesh and bone with all the organs of a perfect man and that pre-Incarnation Michael the archangel ALSO had a body of flesh with bones and organs along with the archangel Lucifer & the rest of the angels.

In the Pioneers understanding God was ONE which meant that ONLY the Father was God in a strict sense & that because Christ agreed with the Father in perfect unity THEY were ONE in purpose and mind & that was the extent of meaning of ONE.

Ellen summarized this Pioneer understanding 

They are one in purpose, in mind, in character, but not in person.  It is thus that God and Christ are one.”  - Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 269.4

The Pioneers rejected that God was a singular substance and that IN GOD was Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

The Pioneers taught only the Father was God in the strict sense and that God and Christ were ONE ONLY in the same sense that Christ and His Apostles were ONE [ in purpose, mind and character ]. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gustave

I would add that its appropriate that the SDA Church has evolved its thinking on the Trinity & specifically THE SUBSTANCE which is the foundation of the Trinity Doctrine. Today we can be thankful that the modern SDA Church has rejected Ellen's views ( which were the Pioneer's views ) on the Trinity Doctrine.

Below is an excellent summary of what the issue was and the official (current) SDA position.

 

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=shawn+boonstra+trinity+&&view=detail&mid=F4E416CF673F8BA15DA7F4E416CF673F8BA15DA7&&FORM=VRDGAR

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Gregory Matthews

It should be noted that scholars today think that the early Adventists who rejected the Trinity doctrine did not understand it.

At the same time, some like James White came from a background that was not Trinitarian.

 

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Gustave
13 minutes ago, Gregory Matthews said:

It should be noted that scholars today think that the early Adventists who rejected the Trinity doctrine did not understand it.

At the same time, some like James White came from a background that was not Trinitarian.

 

Given that the Pioneers and Ellen White feverishly taught that The Father was a flesh & bone hominid God and that anyone who didn't agree with them was apostate I'm not sure why it would matter that they didn't understand the Trinity Doctrine? 

Yes, James White came from an anti-Trinitarian background & Ellen White came from a decidedly Trinitarian (Methodist) background. The Methodist Creed was specifically called out in the periodicals because of the Trinity "Substance" statements within it. 

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The Wanderer
4 hours ago, Gustave said:

I would add that its appropriate that the SDA Church has evolved its thinking on the Trinity & specifically THE SUBSTANCE which is the foundation of the Trinity Doctrine. Today we can be thankful that the modern SDA Church has rejected Ellen's views ( which were the Pioneer's views ) on the Trinity Doctrine.

Below is an excellent summary of what the issue was and the official (current) SDA position.

 

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=shawn+boonstra+trinity+&&view=detail&mid=F4E416CF673F8BA15DA7F4E416CF673F8BA15DA7&&FORM=VRDGAR

Howdy Gustave, may I ask what you mean with this phrase "the substance?"

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Gustave
10 minutes ago, The Wanderer said:

Howdy Gustave, may I ask what you mean with this phrase "the substance?"

As a finite creation of an Infinite God no human can define what "it is" that the 3 Person's coequally possess. Substance is the word used to describe something spiritual that ONLY God possess by nature. The Father isn't God because He's the Father, the Father is God because He coequally possess the same Substance that the Son and the Holy Spirit possess.

To be clear, God is NOT ONE with Christ and the Holy Spirit in only the same way that Christ was one with His Disciples. 

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The Wanderer
5 minutes ago, Gustave said:

As a finite creation of an Infinite God no human can define what "it is" that the 3 Person's coequally possess. Substance is the word used to describe something spiritual that ONLY God possess by nature. The Father isn't God because He's the Father, the Father is God because He coequally possess the same Substance that the Son and the Holy Spirit possess.

Thank you Gustave. I just didnt want to presume what you meant so I thought I should ask. I am going through the video you linked to above. Very much enjoying it so far.

Edited by The Wanderer

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Gustave
24 minutes ago, The Wanderer said:

Thank you Gustave. I just didnt want to presume what you meant so I thought I should ask. I am going through the video you linked to above. Very much enjoying it so far.

Glad you like it, I thought he did a good job of summarizing the issue for the length of the video. 

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The Wanderer

Yes, I did like that. I copied down all of the scripture texts he  used to study more later. He did a great job summarizing the topic.

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Gregory Matthews

Substance:   In the early days of Christianity, this was the subject of debate which the various creeds addressed.

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Gustave

It's the "Substance" that's ONE and 3 distinct Person's coequally own that one Substance, which is God. If Jesus isn't God Almighty He didn't have the authority to say what He did and we are ALL LOST. 

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The Wanderer
1 hour ago, Gustave said:

It's the "Substance" that's ONE and 3 distinct Person's coequally own that one Substance, which is God. If Jesus isn't God Almighty He didn't have the authority to say what He did and we are ALL LOST. 

Thanks guys...I guess its basically "the nature of God/Christ we are talking about. I have sometimes wondered why this is so important when it comes to The Holy Spirit, yet with 'the other two" it only gets passing mention?

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Gustave

My understanding is that Christ became man without ceasing to be God. 

The O.P. mentioned the confusion within the SDA body about the Trinity Doctrine & I believe this is true. 

The Pioneers, supported by Ellen White's "visions" - affirmed that God the Father was THE FLESH GOD and that came with some specific baggage - such that there COULDN'T be a "Substance" or "SPIRIT" because Father God was said to have a "body of flesh, bone and ALL the organs & members of a perfect man" ( Daddy goes potty too ). SDA's called this teaching "THE PERSONALITY OF GOD". 

Because God had a personality ( flesh bone and organ body ) there was NOTHING to share because there was NO SUBSTANCE. 

The Adventists argued how could 2 be one because they believed that prior to the Incarnation of the Son The Father as well as the archangels Michael and Lucifer all had bodies of FLESH. The Holy Spirit was believe to be similar to flatulence of the Father and the Son, an odor if you will. 

Due to the Internet and the accessibility of what devout SDA's believed up to the death of Ellen White many SDA's question the direction the Church govt. has gone because they see striking differences in what was initially said to be true doctrine and the situation that the Church has reversed itself.

I'm on the side of the General Conference on this issue as it's my position that they finally have accepted the truth laid down by the holy council in 325 A.D. 

 

 

 

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The Wanderer
2 hours ago, Gustave said:

Because God had a personality ( flesh bone and organ body ) there was NOTHING to share because there was NO SUBSTANCE. 

The Adventists argued how could 2 be one because they believed that prior to the Incarnation of the Son The Father as well as the archangels Michael and Lucifer all had bodies of FLESH. The Holy Spirit was believe to be similar to flatulence of the Father and the Son, an odor if you will. 

Form criticisms of scripture like this have always existed but they have never worked.

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Gustave
12 minutes ago, The Wanderer said:

Form criticisms of scripture like this have always existed but they have never worked.

That's the point, the SDA's taught this literal anthropomorphic view of God from 1855 to 1916 so it worked at least that long and continues to work if we can believe there is a significant number of SDA's who are returning to those positions held by the SDA Pioneers. We can hope it's quashed but these types of teachings are unfortunately long lived.

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8thdaypriest

Most SDA members do not realize just WHEN the change came in (about 1895), concerning Trinity - or no Trinity.  The early pioneers were NOT Trinitarian.  Mrs White credited only Father and Son for some 50 years.  You would think the LORD would have enlightened her, long before 50 years of her ministry had passed.  The church publishes collections of the later quotes, when the subject concerns the Holy Spirit. 

The expression "third person of the Godhead" first appeared in Mrs White's writings, in February 1896.  (Letter 8, 1896, To My brethren in America) Manuscript Releases Volume Four pg.329; Testimonies to Ministers pg.39

Prior to this, the "councils of the Godhead" had always been between the Father and the Son.

 

(Letter 126, 1898)  Manuscript Releases Volume Twenty-one pg.54  "By Christ the work upon which the fulfillment of God's purpose rests was accomplished.  This was the agreement in the councils of the GodheadThe Father purposed in counsel with His Son that the human family should be tested and proved to see whether they would be allured by the temptations of Satan, or whether they would make Christ their righteousness, keeping God's commandments, and live." 

"In the Psalms, in the prophecies, in the gospels, in the epistles, God has by revelation made prominent the vital truths concerning the agreement between the Father and the Son in providing for the salvation of a lost race."  Review and Herald, September 24, 1908, pr1

"In the plan to save a lost world, the counsel was between them both; the covenant of peace was between the Father and the Son."  Signs of the Times, December 23, 1897, pr2

"No man, nor even the highest angel, can estimate the great cost; it is known only to the Father and the Son." Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, October 28, 1895 pr.4

"The Father and the Son alone are to be exalted." The Youth's Instructor July 7, 1898 pr.2

"Father and Son are pledged to fulfill the terms of the everlasting covenant."  Youths Instructor  June 14, 1900  pr.5

"The plan of salvation devised by the Father and the Son will be a grand success."  Signs of the Times, June 17, 1903 pr.2

(John 3:16 quoted.)  "He came to declare that altho the agencies of evil had created rebellion in heaven, and sin had entered the universe of God, yet Christ and the Father would redeem the fallen race."  Signs of the Times February 17, 1909  pr9

 

There are soooo MANY of these.  Most of those dated after 1888, were actually written earlier.  The point is that Mrs White's belief concerning the nature of the Holy Spirit as a co-equal co-eternal "third person" did CHANGE.  Her later view was not held by the original pioneers. 

We must look to the Bible, and the Bible ONLY - for our understanding.

 

 

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