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"1888 Re-Examined"

by

R. J. WIELAND and D. K. SHORT

 

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

The Advent Movement has thus far not made progress consistent with its prophetic destiny. The world has not as yet been truly stirred by the threefold message of Revelation 14. Though we may boast of our achievements, regaling ourselves with statistical appraisals of our "phenomenal progress", we cannot escape the conviction of our better, soberer judgment that the Advent movement has so far fallen far short of the divine ideal for it. The conviction is deepening within the movement that its failure is assuming truly vexing proportions. This thought, though increasingly difficult to repress, is not openly confessed, simply because no one seems to know what would be the next step to take following such a confession. It must be said, sooner or later, to our shame and confusion, that we have not yet understood very clearly the reasons why the movement has fallen so far short of its ideals.

To say helplessly that the reason is that we have failed to do our duty is merely an expression of the unanswered question in different terms. Why haven't we done our duty, and when will we do it? On the other hand, to say helplessly that God will soon arise and do something is merely to state the unanswered question in still another form: Why hasn't He already done what He will eventually do? We would not dare to charge God with any negligence or reluctance to bring about the complete fulfillment of prophecy, for we know that He has been ready to bring the Advent movement to its ultimate triumph long ago. The question remains, and now insists on being answered: What is the reason for our failure, and how can the difficulty be rectified? [Back to "Short History].

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For the greater portion of a century this question has been awaiting its answer. In recent decades, it has been vainly hoped that each succeeding resolution, program, policy, and "revival" would make the answering of the question unnecessary. We have assumed that the embarrassing show-down may somehow be obviated. If only some supernatural power could be attained which would render the propagation of Seventh-day Adventism universally and indisputably phenomenal, there would be no need for an unsavoury and humiliating investigation into Seventh-day Adventist history. The church and its leaders would thus be vindicated before the world and the universe, and in that "vindication", the long-awaited triumph of the movement would be realized.

This vain hope does not take into account the fact that such a vindication before the world and the universe of an unfaithful church could not, by any means be a vindication of God’s truth. God could never bring the movement to a triumph without the making of past denominational wrongs right, unless He should "back down" to the point of surrending (sic) His century-long insistance (sic) on the following of right principles, as communicated to His church through the ministry of the Spirit of Prophecy. To do so would be for Him to admit defeat, such a defeat being virtually that of the entire plan of redemption It would be an admission that His standards had been too high, and that He never seriously expected that [they] would indeed be followed. Such a lowering of the standard in order to vindicate an unrighteous people would be a complete travesty of divine justice. It would mean the establishment of Old Jerusalem, continually back-sliding, unrepentant, and disobedient, in the New Earth, in place of the spiritually triumphant and thoroughly repentant New Jerusalem. It would be a complete disappointment of the hopes of Abraham, who "looked for a City which hath foundations whose builder and Maker is God," and which city was to comprise a finally victorious community of his spiritual descendants victorious in that they had attained to the maturity of Christian experience and faith of which he was the true spiritual ancestor. Such a denouement to the drama of the ages is unthinkable. Every failure of God’s people to follow the light shining upon their pathway for the past century must be completely rectified by the present generation before the remnant church can be granted any divine vindication before the world. Absolutely nothing which does not bear the test of truth will be triumphant in the Judgment. As Judge, God simply cannot and will not clear the guilty, whether it be an individual or a movement. If this is true, it follows that there is before the remnant church a heavy account to settle. And the sooner the issue is faced squarely and candidly, the better.

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The findings of this essay indicate that there has been some serious misunderstanding of the significance of our history. A closer investigation is absolutely necessary, Truth will lose nothing as a consequence. The following quotation is primarily concerning doctrinal positions, with which the first section of this essay is not concerned; but the principles stated apply equally to any interpretations of our history that will not bear the closest scrutiny:

"The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people, is not proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose any- thing by close investigation. We are living in perilous times, and it does not become us to accept everything claimed to be truth without examining it thoroughly; neither can we afford to reject anything that bears the fruits of the Spirit of God; but we should be teachable, meek and lowly of heart. The Lord designs that our opinions shall be put to the test.' (R. & H., Dec. 20, 1892.)

If we ourselves do not "put to the test" our opinions concerning both doctrinal matters and historical interpretations, we may be sure that keen minds among our opponents will eventually do the work for us:

"If God has ever spoken by me, the time will come when we shall be brought before councils and before thousands for His name’s sake, and each one will have to give the reasons of his faith. Then will come the severest criticism upon every position that has been taken for the truth. We need, then, to study the word of God, that we may know why we believe the doctrines we advocate." (R. & H., Dec. 18, 1888.)

When the above words were written, denominational history was in the making. To-day it lies buried in the archives, and certain interpretations of it very current amongst us have assumed almost the form and authority of "doctrines",

it being considered as serious a matter to question these official interpretations of our past as to question our fundamental doctrines. Hence the need for thorough investigation, that true history may be distinguished from the "tradition of the elders". For various reasons to be named later, the Minneapolis episode of our history has been enveloped in the foggy mists of that tradition. Fact must be separated from fancy.

The cleansing of the sanctuary can never be complete until the Minneapolis incident of our history is fully understood, and the tragic mistake rectified:

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"The sin committed in what took place at Minneapolis remains on the record books of heaven, registered against the names of those who resisted light, and it will remain upon the record until full confession is made, and the transgressors stand in full humility before God." (Letter to O. A. Olsen, Sept. 1, 1892, 0. 19, d'92.)

That generation gone to their rest, and a new one is now faced with the duty of correctly interpreting the significance of what happened. It will be seen that we are being tested just as truly as they were tested. Minneapolis, like Calvary, is much more than a mere historical event; it represents the outworking of principles. In a certain sense, we are each one at Calvary. We are also at Minneapolis. That we shall be called upon to do what a past generation failed to do is evident in the following quotation from unpublished portions of the serious testimony given Nov. 3, 1890:

"We should be the last people on the earth to indulge in the slightest degree the spirit of persecution against those who are bearing the message of God to the world. This is the most terrible feature of unchristlikeness that has manifested itself among us since the Minneapolis meeting. Sometime it will be seen in its true bearing, with all the burden of woe that has resulted from it." (G. C. B. 1893, p184, emphasis supplied.)

A former president of the General Conference recognized that the Minneapolis issues will remain a perennial test among us, until we fully overcome:

"Some may feel tried over the idea that Minneapolis is referred to. I know that some have felt grieved and tried over any allusion to that meeting, and to the situation there. But let it be borne in mind that the reason why anyone should feel so is an unyielding spirit on his part. Just as quickly as we fully surrender, and humble our hearts before God, the difficulty is all gone. The very idea that one is grieved, shows at once the seed of rebellion in the heart. . .

If we fail at one time, the Lord will take us over the ground again; and if we fail a second time, he will take us over the ground again; and if we fail a third time, the Lord will take us over the same ground again. . . Instead of being vexed over the idea that the Lord is taking us over the same ground, let us thank Him, and praise Him unceasingly, for this is God's mercy and compassion. Anything else than this is our ruin and destruction!' (Ibid., p. 188.)

A prediction made by A. T. Jones in 1893 is also worthy of serious consideration in this connection:

"That, however, is but a sample. There will be things to come that will be more surprising than that was to those at Minneapolis, -- more surprising than anything we have yet seen. And, brethren, we will be required to receive and preach that truth. But unless you and I have every fiber of that spirit rooted out of our hearts, we will treat that message and the messenger by whom it is sent, as God has declared we have treated this other message.' (Ibid., p. 185.)

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Until we recognize the facts of our past more candidly, all our attempts to secure a supernatural display of spiritual "power" proportionate to the promised latter rain must be, of necessity, doomed to failure. There are two reasons for the necessity of this failure:

(1) The true God has promised that He will not add His blessings to confusion, for His name and the cause of truth could not thereby be glorified.

(2) The false "God" of the modern religious world is powerless to make final and effective use of advantages gained by him already in his efforts to fasten the remnant church in his relentless grasp. He cannot bestow a supernatural "power" upon the Seventh-day Adventist church as a whole, as he is doing with other religious bodies, because of the presence within Israel of many thousands who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Even he cannot add his supernatural "blessings" to a divided people, halting between two opinions! The residual strength of the honest in heart who still constitute a great proportion of modern Israel renders impotent Baals final attempt to subjugate the Israel of God. a

The next step will obviously be for Israel to take stock of her situation, and decide to follow - in the sense of utter devotion -- one Lord or the other. The implications of such a decision are staggering to contemplate. [Back to "Short History"].

 

 


We have found a site which has 8 more chapters from this book and are happy to pass you on to them.

http://breadoflife.simplenet.com/sbhn/1888/

They also have other books by Jones and Waggoner.

 

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