A Response to the Video:
Seventh-day Adventism, the Spirit Behind the Church
by Bob Pickle
Answers to Questions Raised by:
Mark Martin, Sydney Cleveland
Dale Ratzlaff, The White Lie
. . . and Others
Discern Fact from Fiction
The Investigative Judgment and Shut Door, and Their Ramifications
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|#53 & #54: "After 1851 the other shut door passages were either dropped or
#53: There were other shut door passages.
What other passages? The documentation package does not
mention any other alleged
shut-door passages in Mrs. White's writings. Indeed, there really aren't any that speak of a
shut door of mercy, that say that no more sinners
will ever be converted.
Not that some don't try to manufacture others. Take for example the place where she
speaks of apostate ministers who no longer had a burden
for souls (Early Writings, pp. 42-45). Immediately after writing this out in
March of 1849, she penned the following: "We know we have the
truth, the midnight cry is behind us, the door was shut in 1844 and Jesus is soon to step out
from between God and man."—Manuscript
Releases, vol. 5, p. 200. Now if Jesus is soon to step out from between God and
man, He must still be there now, and thus there must still be
mercy for sinners!
#54: They were reinterpreted after 1851. The
"reinterpretations" referred to surfaced long before 1851, for it is a simple fact that
the term "shut door" amongst Millerites meant a number of different things:
- A shut door of mercy for all sinners.
- A shut door of mercy for those who have persistently rejected
- A shut door of access to the people to present God's message.
- A shut door to the Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary, since
Christ's ministry is now in the Most Holy Place.
When one reads the term "shut door" in a Millerite publication, one has to be careful
to choose the correct definition of the term. If the context
does not indicate which meaning is intended, it may not be possible to know for sure what
the speaker or writer meant.
Further explanations of these four usages follow, taken in part from P. Gerard
Damsteegt's Foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist
Message and Mission, pages 106 ff.
1. Shut "door of mercy" for all sinners.
While this was the initial view of the subject, "it was soon abandoned"
(Spirit of Prophecy,
vol. 4, p. 271). Enoch Jacobs opposed it in November of 1844, claiming it was unbiblical
(Western Midnight Cry, Nov. 29, 1844, p. 20).
Himes similarly advocated preaching to "lost and perishing sinners" in late December 1844
(Advent Herald, Jan. 15, 1845, p. 182). This gives
us an idea of what "soon abandoned" means.
But there were some who adopted strange positions, and incorporated an ongoing
version of this view into their theology. According to John
Loughborough, Joseph Turner was the originator of this (Great Second Advent
Movement, pp. 220 ff.). Loughborough cites Himes's eye-witness account of
Turner's views as of the spring of 1845. Turner taught that Christ really had come after all,
that now it was a sin to work,
and that the door of mercy was shut.
Ellen White was directed by God to oppose Turner's views. Someone had to, for as
she described the situation, "honest, precious souls had
been rejected by these fanatics, and by them told that they were rejected of God."—Arthur
White, vol. 1, p. 83; Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, pp. 49-51. Turner's retaliation
for the rebuke was most unkind.
2. Shut "door of mercy" for only those who have
rejected truth. In contrast to number 1, this view related only to those who
had had opportunity to hear the message of a soon-coming Savior, and had rejected
J. B. Cook came out strongly for this view in the January 30, 1845, issue of
Western Midnight Cry. This was the position that Mrs. White
took, and it is biblical. The Bible contains a number of examples of people who rejected
truth to the point that they could no longer be reached
with the gospel. Even Paul said, "It is impossible . . . to renew them again unto
repentance" (Heb. 6:4-6).
3. Shut "door of access" to preach the
gospel. This view was often espoused along with number 2, and sometimes
with number 1.
No longer were there the opportunities to preach the gospel that there once [p. 47] had been, for the
Lord had shut the "door of access." Scriptures
the New Testament supporting this meaning of "shut door" are found under #58.
Enoch Jacobs, J. B. Cook, and J. D. Pickands were all using the term "door of
access" in 1845. Joseph Bates in his 1847 Second Advent
Way Marks and High Heaps says the same while using different words (pp. 109,
4. Shut door to the Holy Place of the heavenly
sanctuary, God's temple in heaven. Mrs. White described her vision of March
24, 1849, using language like this (Early Writings, pp. 42, 86;
Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, p. 200). The previous January Joseph Bates
was also using such language (A Seal of the Living God, p. 20), language
derived from Jesus's message to Philadelphia:
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he
. . . that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man
openeth . . . . I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut
it . . . . Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my
God. (Rev. 3:7-12)
The door to the Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary was shut in 1844, but the door to
the Most Holy Place was then opened, and Christ's
intercession continued there.
Chapter 3 isn't the only place where Revelation alludes to these two doors.
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven. (Rev. 4:1)
And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were
seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are
the seven Spirits of God. (Rev. 4:5)
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was
given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with
the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. (Rev. 8:3)
And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark
of his testament. (Rev. 11:19)
In Revelation 4:1, John sees "a door" "opened in heaven." After going up to heaven
he sees seven lamps of fire in 4:5 and a golden altar of
incense in 8:3, 4. Since the seven lamps and the golden altar were pieces of furniture in the
Holy Place (Ex. 40:24, 26), the first door opened
must have been the door to the Holy Place of the heavenly temple. When the temple is
"opened" in Revelation 11:19, John sees the ark, a piece
of furniture from the Most Holy Place (Ex. 40:21). This opening would therefore be of the
second door, the door to the Most Holy Place.
The strong possibility also exists that a Millerite's use of the term "shut door" might
refer to the validity of the date October 22, 1844, and
nothing more. In other words, some Millerites undoubtedly had a conviction that something
was shut on that date, but were not sure what exactly
It is a fact that not believing in a shut door of some sort was a repudiation of the idea
that October 22 was a fulfillment of prophecy. Therefore,
belief in a shut door was synonymous with belief in the 2300 days ending in 1844, but not
necessarily synonymous with a shut door of mercy.
Let's conclude by returning to the idea of post-1851 "reinterpretations" of non-existent
shut-door passages in Mrs. White's writings. As we
have seen, definitions 2 and 3 surfaced by 1845, and definition 4 by 1849. So having
"reinterpretations" after 1851 is a bit late.
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