Although most of the modern Seventh Day Adventist cult is is relatively pro-Trinitarian, a “study of Adventist history indicates that from the earliest years of [the] church to the 1890s a whole stream of writers took an Arian or semi-Arian position. The view of Christ presented in those years by Adventist authors was that there was a time when Christ did not exist, that his divinity is a delegated divinity, and that therefore He is inferior to the Father. In regard to the Holy Spirit, their position was that He was not the third member of the Godhead but the power of God. . . . Two of the principal founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Joseph Bates and James White [the husband of the “prophetess” Ellen White] . . . rejected the doctrine of the Trinity . . . [further] prominent Adventists who spoke out against the Trinity were J. N. Loughborough, R. F. Cottrell, J. N. Andrews, and Uriah Smith. . . . [These men made statements such as] ‘the Trinity . . . is contrary to common sense . . . is contrary to scripture . . . its origin is Pagan and fabulous . . . the Son of God . . . did . . . have a beginning of days . . . [as] the first created being.’ . . . During the early decades of the [Seventh Day Adventist] church Ellen White made statements which [were] . . . anti-Trinitarian [but she] received more light which eventually led to her very clear Trinitarian statements in the late 1890s. . . . The first positive reference to the Trinity in Adventist literature appeared . . . in 1892 . . . [but it still] insists on the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father . . . [in] 1897 Ellen White [taught that Christ was] . . . the self-existent One . . . equal to the Father . . . [in] spite of these [new] clear statements from the pen of Ellen White, it took many years before this truth was accepted by the [Seventh Day Adventist] church at large. . . . Uriah Smith believe[d] until his death in 1903 that Christ had a beginning . . . [as did] many [others] . . . [at] the 1919 Bible Conference . . . L. L. Caviness . . . [said] ‘I cannot believe that the two persons of the Godhead are equal, the Father and the Son . . . I cannot believe the so called Trinitarian doctrine of the three persons always existing.’ . . . All [the Seventh Day Adventist] pioneers, including Ellen White[,] were anti-Trinitarians [originally]” (pgs. 1-9, “The Doctrine of the Trinity Among Adventists,” Gerhard Pfandel. Silver Spring, MD: Biblical Research Institute, 1999).
“James White remained an avowed anti-Trinitarian to his death and Ellen never sought to correct him or other anti-Trinitarian leaders. Her sons William and James were both anti-Trinitarians. Furthermore, Ellen White publicly supported Uriah Smith’s [anti-Trinitarian] book until her death in 1915” (“Anti-Trinitarian Nature of Early Adventism,” David Cloud, elec. acc. Fundamental Baptist CD-ROM library, Port Huron, WA: Way of Life Literature, 2003). Modern pro-Trinitarian Seventh Day Adventist publications admit, “[M]ost . . . early Seventh-day Adventists . . . believed that He [Christ] did not have eternity in the past . . . most pre 1890s Adventists were both anti-Trinitarian and semi-Arian. That is, they were opposed to the doctrine of the Trinity and the full divinity of Christ. . . . [M]ost early Adventists were not orthodox on the Godhead. James White, Joseph Bates, J. N. Andrews, Uriah Smith, Ellet J. Waggoner, and other leaders were in that number. Their position was widely known in the wider Protestant community. . . . [some explicitly preached that] Christ was a created being . . . such as the early Uriah Smith . . . very few among the earliest Adventist leaders . . . [were] not aggressively anti-Trinitarian” (pgs. 44-46, Seventh-Day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine, Annotated ed., Notes with Historical & Theological Introduction,George R. Knight. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 2003).Light Bearers to the Remnant, by R. W. Schwarz (Mountain View, CA:Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1979), the “Denominational History Textbook for Seventh-day Adventist College Classes . . . Prepared by the Department of Education[,] General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists” (preface, ibid.), admits: “Joseph Bates and James White . . . reject[ed] Trinitarianism. . . . As early as 1848 James White had referred to the Trinitarian conception as ‘unscriptural.’ Loughborough, Uriah Smith, J. H. Waggoner, and D. M. Canright were only the more prominent Sventh-day Adventist theologians who agreed with White and Bates that Trinitarianism was contrary to common sense and of pagan origin . . . a pervert[ion] [of] the clear teachings of Scripture . . . ‘nauseating.’ . . . As late as 1891 . . . Uriah Smith . . . defined the Holy Spirit as . . . [an] emanation,” (pgs. 168-169,ibid.), yet during this entire period Ellen White stated that the Seventh Day Adventists “have the truth . . . We know it” (pg. 167, ibid, citing E. G. White, Letter 18, 1850, to Bro. nd Sr. Hastings, E. G. White Estate). Professors of church history at Seventh-Day Adventist colleges and seminaries admit that the overwhelming majority of the “founders of Seventh-Day Adventism would not be able to join the church today if they had to subscribe to the denomination’s Fundamental Beliefs [on] . . . the Trinity . . . [that] Jesus is both eternal and truly God . . . [and on] the personhood of the Holy Spirit” (pg. 10, “Adventists and Change,” George R. Knight. Ministry: International Journal for Clergy, October 1993, 10-15. The article indicates that “George R. Knight is professor of church history at the [Seventh-Day Adventist] Theological Seminary, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan.”).This anti-Trinitarianism was never exposed as abominable heresy or idolatry by Ellen White. Mrs. White, in over 100,000 pages of writing, never once used the word “Trinity” to describe her view of the Godhead, and during some seventy years of her life as a “prophet,” while surrounded by scores of Seventh Day Adventist leaders who publicly spoke and wrote against the Trinity, she never once exposed their heresy as idolatry and blasphemy, but instead publically endorsed their persons, sermons, and writings. Thus, Seventh Day Adventism was anti-Trinitarian for over fifty years, before many Adventists began gradually moving (although there are still Arians within Seventh Day Adventism today) towards a relatively more Trinitarian position in the 1890s and the following decades. One wonders how a typical modern Trinitarian Adventist can believe that his denomination is the one true church, re-established in 1844 and years subsequently, but have his prophetess, her husband, her children, and countless Seventh Day Adventist leaders for decades be idolatrous anti-Trinitarians. Did the “one true church” worship the devil for over fifty years?
The “prophetess” Ellen White and her denomination also held other Trinitarian and Christological heresies. She taught (although, since her writings are not inspired, they are often contradictory and confusing) that the Lord Jesus took a sinful human nature. “Christ . . . took . . . our sinful nature” (pg. 181, Medical Ministry, Ellen. G. White. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing, 1963). “Jesus also told . . . the angels . . . that He would take man’s fallen nature” (pg. 150, Early Writings of Ellen G. White(a writing specifically entitled Spiritual Gifts) Ellen White. Washington, D. C.: Review & Herald Publishing, 1882; repr. 1945;). “[T]he Son of God . . . took upon Him our sinful nature” (The Review and Herald, Dec. 15, 1896, cited pg. 535 of Seventh-Day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine,ibid.). “He [Christ] condescended to connect our fallen human nature with His divinity. . . . Having taken our fallen nature, He showed what it might become” (Special Instruction Relating to the Review and Herald Office, and the Work in Battle Creek, May 26, 1896, pg. 13, cited pg. 541, Seventh-Day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine, ibid.). Christ “took upon himself fallen, suffering human nature, degraded and defiled by sin” (Youth’s Instructor, Dec. 20, 1900, pg. 394, cited in Questions on Doctrine, pg. 516).“Christ was not in as favorable a position in the desolate wilderness to endure the temptations of Satan as was Adam when he was tempted in Eden. The Son of God . . . took man’s nature after the race had wandered four thousand years from Eden, and from their original state of purity and uprightness. Sin had been making its terrible marks upon the race for ages[.] . . . [T]he human family had been departing every successive generation, [sic] farther from the original purity, wisdom, and knowledge which Adam possesssed in Eden. Christ bore the sins and infirmities of the race as they existed when He came to the earth . . . [He had] the weaknesses of fallen man upon Him . . . in order to elevate fallen man, Christ must reach him where he was. He took human nature, and bore the infirmities and degeneracy of the race” (The Review and Herald, July 28, 1874, cited pg. 542, Questions on Doctrine). Other Adventists leaders believed the same thing, as did the denomination at large. Unlike the Arian heresy, the Adventist teaching that Christ had a sinful human nature was not rejected in the 1890s but remains common in the movement into modern times. “E. J. Waggoner in 1889 (see Signs of the Times, Jan. 21, 1889, pg. 39) . . . [made the] clear statement that Christ was born with ‘sinful tendencies’ as was every other child. . . that teaching [became] central to the teaching of Waggoner, A. T. Jones, and W. W. Prescott. At [the 1895] General Conference session Jones taught that ‘In [Christ’s] human nature there is not a particle of difference between him and you. . . . All the tendencies to sin that are in human flesh were in his human flesh.’ . . . The teaching that Christ had sinful flesh in the sense of having the same tendencies to sin as every other child of Adam became the belief of the majority of Seventh-Day Adventists in the first half of the twentieth century. That teaching was so widely accepted that it no longer needed to be argued in Adventist literature.It was accepted as a fact. . . . It was upon this teaching that M. L. Andreasen . . . the most influential theologian in Adventism . . . in the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s . . . [taught that] the final generation of [Adventists] would have to . . . live a sinlessly perfect life. . . . Satan would be defeated by the final generation’s demonstration. God was dependent for his own vindication upon that demonstration[.] . . . [this] theology [was] accepted by the large majority of Adventists. And that theology, we need to note once more, was based upon the fact that Christ was just like every other child of Adam. He not only had a sinful human nature in the general sense, but He also possessed sinful tendencies. That is, He was viewed as having a nature just like Adam’s after the Fall. . . . . [The teaching of] Jones, Waggoner, and Precott in the mid 1890s . . . held that Christ was just like other human beings without ‘a particle of difference’; that Christ had the same sinful tendencies as other humans. That interpretation . . . had been widely published and had become the accepted position of most Adventists. . . . [Any other] strand of Adventist thinking on the topic had been largely invisible . . . Andreasen [wrote in] 1959 . . . ‘That God . . . exempted Christ from the passions of corrupt men, is the acme of all heresy. . . . Such a teaching is . . . completely contrary to what Seventh-Day Adventists have always taught and believed. . . . To accept [this teaching . . . necessitates giving up faith in the Gift [Ellen White’s writings] God has given this people.’” (pgs. 516-525, Questions on Doctrine). For further evidence, see pgs. 8ff. of The Word Was Made Flesh: One Hundred Years of Seventh-Day Adventist Christology, 1852-1952, Ralph Larson (Cherry Valley, CA: Cherrystone Press, 1986); Touched With Our Feelings: A Historical Survey of Adventist Thought on the Human Nature of Christ, J. R. Zurcher, trans. Edward E. White (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 1999). Zurcher, chairman of the Biblical Research Committee of the Euro-Africa Division of the Seventh Day Adventist denomination and Adventist professor, wrote:“The [t]raditional or [h]istorical [Adventist] Christology . . . [is] called postlapsarian because it teaches that Jesus came in fallen human nature, the nature of Adam after [emphasis in original] the Fall. Consequently Christ’s flesh . . . carried within it inherent tendencies to sin[.] . . . This teaching . . . [is] contrary to the beliefs of mainline Christianity. This is why Adventists have often been considered as heretics[.] . . . [The Adventist] church has taught, for a century—from the origin of the movement until 1950 [without question] the postlapsarian position[.] . . . [After 1950] some Adventist theologians, not understanding how it could be possible for Jesus to live without sin in fallen human nature . . . [and with] a desire on the part of some to be recognized as ‘authentic’ Christians . . . [adopted] a [n]ew Christology, or the [p]relapsarian [p]osition . . . [Nonetheless,] probably the most widespread [Adventist] . . . Christology . . . today . . . teaches . . . [i]n harmony with the traditional Christology of the pioneers . . . that Jesus took Adam’s human nature after [emphasis in original] the Fall” (pgs. 272-273,ibid.).
Ellen White also taught that the Lord Jesus could have sinned (“Christ . . . is the second Adam. The first Adam . . . could fall, and he did fall through transgressing. . . . Jesus Christ . . . took upon Himself human nature, and was tempted in all points as human nature is tempted. He could have sinned; He could have fallen . . . He was assailed with temptations in the wilderness, as Adam was assailed with temptations in Eden” (Letter 8, 1895, cited from “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary, ed. Francis D. Nichol, Raymond F. Cottrell, Don Neugeld, & Julia Neuffer. Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1956, vol. 5, pg. 1128). “Many claim that it was impossible for Christ to be overcome by temptation. Then He could not . . . have gained the victory that Adam failed to gain. . . . But our Saviour took humanity, with all its liabilities. He took the nature of man, with the possibility of yielding to temptation” (The Desire of Ages, pg. 117, cited pg. 543-4, Questions on Doctrine).
How could the “true church” and its prophetess, Ellen White, deny the Trinity and teach that Christ had a sinful nature and could have sinned? Does the “true church” commit idolatry, worship the devil, and blaspheme the sinless Son of God? Seventh-Day Adventist anti-Trinitarianism explodes the cult’s claim to be the restored true church.