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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

Discern Fact from Fiction

Wrapping Up the Case

< Prev  T. of C.  ...  197-198  199-203  204-205  206-210  211-214  215-217  218-220  ...  Next >

#206, #207, #208, #209, & #210: " 'Point 4: Each cult denies the central truth of the gospel that Jesus is the divine Son of God without beginning or ending. They deny that His death has provided salvation... for the entire human race. As a result, salvation is earned by adherence to the teachings of the cult rather than accepting Christ and following Him.' "—Narrator.

"We would point out that the group originally denied the deity of Jesus Christ. Today they believe Jesus Christ is eternal, but they are stuck with the old doctrine that Jesus is the Archangel Michael. They need to firmly establish one doctrine and discontinue the other. However, they cannot give up this doctrine which contradicts Hebrews 1:13 without having to acknowledge that Mrs. White made a mistake. Instead they try to accommodate both conflicting doctrines. This is an impossible situation."—Steve Cannon.

#206: They originally denied the deity of Christ. This is not true, as pointed out under #94.

James White was editor of the Review and Herald, and Joseph Bates and J. N. Andrews were on the publishing committee when a work by an English author was printed in the issue of October 18, 1853. It contained the following statement:

Christians, keep not silence while your Lord is dishonored, and souls are perishing. Warn those who deny the divinity of the only Saviour, that they must perish everlastingly if they go on rejecting him, for it is fearful and blasphemous to reject him.—p. 116.

Mr. Cannon is really dealing with two separate issues: the deity of Christ and Christ being eternal. They aren't the same.

For example, consider the views of well-known Adventist preacher Ellet J. Waggoner (1855-1916) in his 1890 Christ and His Righteousness. Chapters two and four are entitled "Christ is God" and "Christ not a Created Being." He obviously believed in the divinity of Christ.

In chapter four he deals with some opinions that "actually deny His Divinity." One such is

. . . the idea that Christ is a created being, who, through the good pleasure of God, was elevated to His present lofty position. No one who holds this view can possibly have any just conception of the exalted position which Christ really occupies.—pp. 19, 20.

Waggoner explains what Revelations 3:14 means when it says that Christ is the "Beginning of the creation of God":

And so the statement that He is the beginning or head of the creation of God means that in Him creation had its beginning; that, as He Himself says, He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Rev. 21:6; 22:13. He is the source whence all things have their origin.—p. 20.

Likewise, regarding the term "archangel," Waggoner says:

This does not mean that He is the first of the angels, for He is not an angel but is above them. Heb. 1:4. It means that He is the chief or prince of the angels, just as an archbishop is the head of the bishops. Christ is the commander of the angels. See Rev. 19:11-14. He created the angels. Col. 1:16.—Ibid.

Waggoner also spends some time dealing with Colossians 1:15. "Neither should we imagine that Christ is a creature, because Paul calls Him (Col. 1:15) 'The First-born of every creature' for the very next verses show Him to be Creator and not a creature."—p. 21.

Then he begins to delve into that aspect of the orthodox Trinity doctrine known as the processions, which teaches that Christ proceeded forth from and was begotten of the Father (see #94):

The Scriptures declare that Christ is "the only begotten son of God." He is begotten, not created. As [p. 136] to when He was begotten, it is not for us to inquire, nor could our minds grasp it if we were told. The prophet Micah tells us all that we can know about it in these words, ". . . whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity." Micah 5:2, margin. There was a time when Christ proceeded forth and came from God, from the bosom of the Father (John 8:42; 1:18), but that time was so far back in the days of eternity that to finite comprehension it is practically without beginning.—pp. 21, 22.

Here is a man who says that Christ is God, is divine, and is not a created being, while at the same time he says that Christ is "practically without beginning." Was he contradicting himself? No, he wasn't. We are dealing with multiple issues here.

Notice how clearly Waggoner upheld the full deity of Christ:

And since He is the only-begotten son of God, He is of the very substance and nature of God and possesses by birth all the attributes of God, for the Father was pleased that His Son should be the express image of His Person, the brightness of His glory, and filled with all the fullness of the Godhead. So He has "life in Himself." He possesses immortality in His own right and can confer immortality upon others.—p. 22.

Typically, the debate over whether Christ is divine or not is called the Arian controversy, dating back to the fourth century. After the initial stages, the difference between the two sides hinged on a single letter, the letter "i." The "orthodox" position was that Christ was homoousios. This Greek word means "of the same substance" or essence. The semi-Arian position was that Christ was homoiousios, of "like essence."

Since Waggoner said that Christ was "of the very substance and nature of God," he was on the orthodox side of the question. He was neither Arian nor semi-Arian. Presumably, Mr. Cannon is in agreement with most, if not all, of what Waggoner wrote in these selections.

Regarding Christ being eternal, Mrs. White wrote in 1878:

The unworthiness, weakness, and inefficiency of their own efforts in contrast with those of the eternal Son of God, will render them humble, distrustful of self, and will lead them to rely upon Christ for strength and efficiency in their work.—Review and Herald, Aug. 8, 1878.

Even before this, the Review from 1854 to 1859 published five quotes and selections using the phrase "eternal Son" (Feb. 28, 1854, p. 43; Sept. 12, 1854, p. 33; April 15, 1858, p. 172; March 17, 1859, p. 131; April 21, 1859, p. 169). Searching through each issue through 1863, we find that the only writer to argue against the usage of the phrase was J. M. Stephenson (Nov. 14, 1854, p. 105). Yet his views on some subjects were by no means typical of Seventh-day Adventists, leading to his departure about a year later.

Isaiah speaks of those who "make a man an offender for a word" (29:21). In the fourth century they made a man an offender for a single letter. Things got so bad that by 381 AD, the "orthodox" emperor had forbidden the Arians to worship publicly. Any building in which they met was seized and donated to the imperial treasury (Theodosian Code, bk. 16, title 5, statute 8).

That was only the beginning. Over the centuries that followed, love, acceptance, and fellowship were withheld from those who differed on this and many other issues. Millions died for their faith.

Let's be more tolerant lest our behavior be called cultic. Especially let's be tolerant of those whom we don't really disagree with anyway.

#207: They must discontinue the doctrine that Jesus is the archangel Michael. Sorry, Adventists must be true to Scripture (see #93).

Mr. Cannon, you just condemned Adventists under #198 for their "rejection of historical views held on those Scriptures." Why then criticize them for retaining the "historical view" that Michael is a name for the uncreated, fully divine Son of God (see #87)?

#208: This doctrine contradicts Hebrews 1:13. No, the Bible does not contradict itself. After all, if the Angel who claims to be God in the Old Testament is not Christ, than we have more than one God, and that cannot be.

Hebrews 1:13 makes it plain that Christ is not one of the angels of heaven, but we have to consider that Paul is using a specific definition for the word "angel" in that verse.

By one count, the Hebrew word for "angel" occurs in the Old Testament 214 times. Of these, 98 times it is translated "messenger" and 4 times "ambassadors." Nearly half of the occurrences of this Hebrew word in the Old Testament refer to human beings, not what we normally call angels. Therefore, in the biblical sense anyone who is a messenger can be called an "angel," and that includes Christ.

The context of Hebrews 1:13 makes it pretty plain that Paul is not referring to men or Christ by the term "angel." He thus is restricting his meaning to just the angelic beings of heaven.

Why the script writer thought that the Adventist understanding of Michael contradicts Hebrews 1:13 can be seen from the index to the documentation [p. 137] package. Under "Point 96" in the index is this revealing sentence: "Jesus cannot be eternally God and a created angel at the same time!" Seventh-day Adventism has never taught that Michael is a created angel. If He isn't, then the whole objection to Michael and Christ being the same divine person collapses.

#209: They can't discontinue it without acknowledging that Mrs. White made a mistake. That's putting it too simply. Adventists can't discontinue this doctrine without acknowledging that Charles Spurgeon, John Gill, Matthew Henry, the writer of the footnotes in the 1599 Geneva Bible, and a host of others made a mistake as well (see #87).

As the video informs us, Mr. Cannon is a regional director for Personal Freedom Outreach. His office happens to be in Glendale, Arizona, home to the video's executive producer, Mark Martin.

According to Personal Freedom Outreach's web site, Mr. Cannon "has an associate of arts degree in biblical studies from Antioch Baptist Bible College" (http://www.pfo.org/about.html). Why then would he make such a big deal of this issue? Charles Spurgeon and John Gill are some of the most well known Baptists of all time, and the Baptists sure aren't a cult.

#210: It is impossible to accommodate both doctrines. Why not? It's been done for centuries.

Notice what Jesus says regarding the resurrection:

And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:27-29)

So the voice of Jesus raises the dead. Yet the apostle Paul says that it is the voice of the archangel that does it: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first" (1 Th. 4:16). And Jude tells us who raised Moses: "Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee" (Jude 1:9). So who raises the dead? Jesus or Michael?

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. (Dan. 10:13)

But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince. (Dan. 10:21)

Notice how the old King James said, "I will shew thee," and, "Michael your prince." In this archaic English, "thee" and "thy" are singular, and "you" and "your" are plural. Thus "thee" must refer only to Daniel, and "your" must refer to either the Jews or all of God's people.

So the angel in Daniel 10:21 is saying that Michael is "the prince of the Jews." Why, that's an interesting title! The phrases "king of Israel" and "king of the Jews" are used in the gospels eighteen times to refer to Christ. Remember why He was condemned and crucified? The placard above His head on the cross said that His crime was that He was "the King of the Jews" (Mark 15:26).

The only references to Michael in the Old Testament are the three made by an angel in Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1. A careful reading of chapter 10 suggests that Daniel at some point actually saw Michael, and that Michael must be Christ:

Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: . . . and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. (Dan. 10:5, 6)

And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. . . . and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, . . . and his voice as the sound of many waters. . . . and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. (Rev. 1:13-16)

One last quote may be considered:

And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. (Dan. 12:1)

So Michael is the great prince who will "stand up" at the very end of time. Stand up? What does that mean?

Four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. . . . a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. (Dan. 8:22, 23)

Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia . . . . And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. (Dan. 11:2, 3) [p. 138]

But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate. (Dan. 11:7)

Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom . . . . And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. (Dan. 11:20, 21)

Repeatedly, when Daniel says that a kingdom or king or prince "stands up," he's saying that they are beginning to reign. Thus, in the time of trouble, Michael the great prince begins to reign. Begins to reign?! I thought Christ was the one who did that (Rev. 11:15; Mat. 13:41; 16:28; 25:31; 2 Tim. 4:1)!

A Response to the Video

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