Let History Speak
Let History Speak


The Truth of Adventist History Will Stand Forever.
When Will It Be Seen and Accepted?
A Verdict Is Pending.

Primacy of the Gospel Committee • Andrews University • May 14-16, 1999

Compiled by Donald K. Short

"Are We Blind Also?"

This compilation was distributed to all Primacy Committee members in December 1999, only a few weeks before the final meeting held at Loma Linda University in February 2000. It reviews the profound experience of Jesus, and the man born blind recorded in John 9. Read carefully, the account seems to be an acted-out parable in Jerusalem before the eyes of church authorities. They were loath to believe what the indisputable facts proclaimed. In this there is a modern video of the message to Laodicea—a message of benevolent judgment. The True witness has a right to pass the verdict; "blind."

A few weeks before this paper was distributed to committee members, an 80-page spiral-bound book was printed and supplied to each member. It was a summary of what the 1888 Message Study Committee was trying to make plain. It posed the question in ten Bible studies with two appendices: What Is the 1888 Message? Here is the fifth paper:



The evidence was beyond dispute. The man who was born blind now stood before the church administrators with eyes that were wide open. They repeatedly grilled him. Plainly he told them how he had received his sight. Four times they rejected his testimony. Dismayed, he wondered why they refused that which others knew to be a fact. With deep concern he declared:

"I've told you over and over and you haven't listened. Why do you want to hear it again? Are you so eager to become his disciples?" With that they jumped all over him. "You might be a disciple of that man, but we're disciples of Moses. We know for sure God spoke to Moses, but we have no idea where this man comes from."

The man replied, "This is amazing! You claim to know nothing about him, but the fact is, he opened my eyes! … That someone opened the eyes of a man born blind has never been heard ofever. If this man didn't come from God, he wouldn't be able to do anything."

They said, "You're nothing but dirt! How dare you take that tone with us!" Then they threw him in the street.

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and went and found him. He asked him, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

The man said, "Point him out to me, sir, so that I can believe in him."

Jesus said, "You're looking right at him. Don't you recognize my voice?"

"Master, I believe," the man said and worshiped him.

Jesus then said, "I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind."

Some Pharisees overheard him and said, "Does that mean you're calling us blind"?

Jesus said, "If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you're accountable for every fault and failure."

And so the Faithful and Accurate Witness says to the last church on earth:

"I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You're not cold, you're not hotfar better to be either cold or hot! You're stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, 'I'm rich, I've got it made, I need nothing from anyone,' oblivious that in fact you're a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.

"Here's what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that's
been through the refiner's fire. Then you'll be rich. Buy your clothes from
me, clothes designed in Heaven. You've gone around half-naked long enough.

And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see."

From The Message, John 9 and Revelation 3
(Eugene Peterson version).


The Lord Jesus took the sins of the human race upon Himself "for he knew what was in man." But the ecclesiastical authorities of His day did not know what was in their own hearts, and called light darkness and condemned Him to the cross. He made it clear that He came to bring everything into the open, revealing the light of truth. But they were certain that they were already in the light and deeply offended at the suggestion they were blind. Upon this the Saviour solemnly passed judgment and told them, and today He tells us the same thing—blindness. On its own it carries no condemnation, even to be born blind, but rather a false claim of good sight is sin.

The message to the "angel of the church of the Laodiceans," which is a message to the leaders of the end-time seventh church, proclaims this same judgment, "blind." But the True Witness says they don't know it!

For over a century the statistics of the church have shown ever larger numbers. For this we may rejoice and thank the Lord. We have worldwide satellite evangelism, more members, more schools, more hospitals, more money, more degrees, more everything that the world uses to measure reputation and progress. But these man-made standards do not yet contain the seal of the living God that is granted to the "hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads." These worldly measurements will not produce a unique people who "in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God." These earthly criteria will not prepare a church for translation.

In our sober moments the Holy Spirit compels us to sense that an audit of our condition is imperative. Why are we still here? Why the delay? Why do we not see how "our fathers," our pioneers, passed through an experience that "with many of them God was not well pleased," and which confirmed their blindness.

This paper is a kind of review of the past five years and rehearses some considerations facing the final meeting.


Because of the prevailing conditions in the church spanning several decades, a memorandum from the General Conference President's office on May 12, 1994 set in motion an ad hoc committee. It contained a unique mandate: "There is no prepared agenda, and the purpose of the meeting is to attempt to identify the causes of the apparent rift between the church and those focusing on 1888, and work at ways to heal the gap and bring a sense of unity."

This "apparent rift" was in fact apparent only, and did not and does not exist in the understanding of the 1888 Message Study Committee. This Study Committee has a deep "sense of unity" with all the purposes and teachings of the corporate body of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The original and continuing reason for this committee grows out of a document prepared nearly fifty years ago. That manuscript, 1888 Re-examined, written in 1950 by two missionaries on furlough from Africa, was presented to the General Conference as a private document for careful consideration. Because of that manuscript there has been nearly half a century of ongoing concern and difference of understanding our history as recorded, and which makes plain the experience of the church at the 1888 Minneapolis General Conference Session.

Before the second advent the reason for this difference must be analyzed and recognized because the loud cry and latter rain are involved.


The 1888 Message Study Committee was founded and exists upon the firm conviction that God has entrusted to Seventh-day Adventists His last message of warning, and a corresponding "much more abounding grace" for humanity. The Seventh-day Adventist message must be the final cure for the problem of sin, demonstrate righteousness in believing humanity, and vindicate the sacrifice of Christ. It is beyond dispute that the fourth angel of Revelation 18 has not yet lightened the earth with the glory of that message. The true success of the plan of salvation depends on its final hour. Before the Lord can vindicate His remnant church, the present generation must "see" and somehow in principle rectify every failure of God's people to follow the light. Agape must ultimately be revealed in humanity, and in the Bride finally prepared for her Husband.

The love of God in its fullness cannot be manifest and imparted to the world by a people who deny the truth of their own history. The Holy Spirit cannot function in an environment of hidden reservations buried in the conscience. "The cleansing of the sanctuary" can never be complete until the resistance of the Spirit in our 1888 history is fully understood and the underlying spiritual problem solved.

The solemn truth of this situation is confirmed and set forth by the Lord's Messenger in hundreds of pages of counsel and reproof to which must be added the voluminous witness of the 1888 contemporaries and the Lord's "delegated messengers."

A glimpse of the awful blindness and spiritual poverty that pervaded our leadership and laity in the 1888 era is set forth by Ellen White in a 15-page letter to the General Conference President written from Australia in 1892:

"The only hope for our churches today is to repent and do their first work. …Well may the people fear and tremble under these words: 'Except thou repent, I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place.' What then? 'If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!' … God's people have evidence piled upon evidence; they have truth powerful and convincing. Shall it be kept in the outer court …? Why do not brethren of like precious faith consider that in every age, when the Lord has sent a special message to the people, all the powers of the confederacy of evil have set at work to prevent the word of truth from coming to those who should receive it. …Now, although there has been a determined effort to make of no effect the message God has sent, its fruits have been proving that it was from the source of light and truth. …One matter burdens my soul: The great lack of the love of God, which has been lost through continued resistance to light and truth … in the face of evidence piled upon evidence, have exerted an influence to counteract the work of the message God has sent. I point them to the Jewish nation and ask, Must we leave our brethren to pass over the same path of blind resistance, till the very end of probation? … What a condition of blindness. … 'wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.' The guilt of self-deception is upon our churches. The religious life of many is a lie. …Evidence has been piled upon evidence, but they have been unwilling to acknowledge it. …The time will come when many will be willing to do anything and everything possible in order to have a chance of hearing the call which they rejected at Minneapolis. …The sin committed in what took place at Minneapolis remains on the record books of heaven. …When God speaks to men, commanding them to bear His message to the people, it means something. … Those who claim to know the truth, and yet lay every obstacle in the way so that light shall not come to the people, will have an account to settle with God that they will not be pleased to meet. God manages His own work, and woe to the man who puts his hand to the ark of God" (1888 Materials, pp. 1020-1032, italics added).

If the counsels of Ellen White are accepted as from the Lord, this tiny sample taken from 1821 pages of the 1888 Materials should confirm that Minneapolis holds a place in Seventh-day Adventist history as important as Israel crossing Jordan. There is therefore urgent need to "see" this and to pursue whatever it takes to heed the counsel of the True Witness to the last church. It is reasonable to believe that the Primacy of the Gospel Committee is Heaven ordained, having a very serious responsibility.

For the record, no matter how long it stands before the second advent, it must be noted that this seemingly protracted period of five years of dialogue has actually been only nine sessions spread over sixteen and one-half days. With varying attendance this committee has been made up of nine or ten members representing the General Conference and five or six members from the 1888 Message Study Committee. The time and places of meeting are as follows:

Nine Sessions of Dialogue

  • First Meeting—May 12,1994—General Conference
  • Second Meeting—May 24,1995—General Conference
  • Third Meeting—April 29-30,1996—Andrews University
  • Fourth Meeting—October 16,1996—General Conference
  • Fifth Meeting—June 17-18,1997—Andrews University
  • Sixth Meeting—October 17-19,1997—Andrews University
  • Seventh Meeting—May 1-3,1998—Andrews University
  • Eighth Meeting—November 6-8,1998—Loma Linda University
  • Ninth Meeting—May 14-16,1999—Andrews University


No audio recording was made of any meeting. Only rough notes were taken during the sessions. This record of the extended dialogue makes clear that there are serious differences in basic understanding of Adventist history and theology, as well as a blessed harmony within the committee as a whole. It is also true that there is difference as well as harmony among the General Conference committee members.

This is brought into sharp focus by considering the Ellen White letter noted above. When she proclaims that the only hope for "our churches today is to repent," it has to mean corporate repentance for the church is a body. The idea of corporate repentance has been a stumbling block of large proportions.

However the truth of this principle was ably presented to the committee early on in October 1997. Dr. Richard Davidson read a 40-page carefully documented study confirming the truth of corporate solidarity in the Bible.

Ellen White's deep concern is stated clearly when she repeats three times that God's people are brought into judgment for disregarding the "evidence piled upon evidence." Her assessment is made of "truth powerful and convincing" but held in an immature pre-1844 concept of a work still in the outer court of the sanctuary, whereas the final cleansing must be in the most holy place. The President in 1892 was called to note that "the Lord sent a special message to the people" which the powers of evil would oppose and which by the "determined effort" of the brethren would make of no effect. It was not a repetition of Luther's work or any of the other Reformers but "the message God has sent … proving that it was from the source of light and truth."

She was burdened that there was continued resistance to this "light and truth" notwithstanding that the evidence proved it was "the message God has sent." She makes the fearful comparison with the Jewish nation and ponders whether our brethren will "pass over the same path of blind resistance, till the very end of probation." This reference to the close of probation over 100 years ago should now deepen the concern of any committee having honest convictions to proclaim the third angel's message. Without constraint, for the third time, she proclaims that "evidence has been piled upon evidence" but "they have been unwilling to acknowledge it." This leads to her awesome conclusion: "The time will come when many will be willing to do anything and everything possible in order to have a chance of hearing the call they rejected at Minneapolis. …[This sin] remains on the record books of heaven."

There is no possible way to interpret this "condition of blindness" as having been healed by what Ellen White has written over the years, either before or after Minneapolis. Nothing she has ever penned can take the place of the "most precious message" which "the Lord in His great mercy sent" through A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner. The message given to us was to bring to the human race the "uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world." This good news was to make clear the unconditional love of God and Christ's sacrifice, thus motivating a deep faith and holy living.

It is futile for any person or committee to suggest that the work of those "messengers" can be discounted and ignored or replaced from other sources. Ellen White made it clear to the President: "When God speaks to men, commanding them to bear His message to the people, it means something." What reason can possibly be given that this message which the Lord sent should not be made known to the church without repress as from the "men who have been chosen of God"?

During the past five years of discussion in the Primacy of the Gospel Committee, the 1888 Message Study Committee has presented over 150 pages of outlines and study material. This material is based on the belief that the Seventh-day Adventist Church leadership should acknowledge the need and do more to emphasize and teach the great gospel concepts which the Lord sent and which began to shine in the 1888 era. It is these concepts that the 1888 Committee has tried to present. We believe as the Lord leads we should continue to present them within the church and in evangelism. A growing segment of church membership in many countries is convicted and many have been reclaimed as their belief of Adventist truths is confirmed because of hearing the 1888 message.

Yet there is still continued objection and opposition against the promotion of this message as done by the 1888 Message Study Committee. They are accused of teaching a gospel that is not proclaimed by the Church, nor taught in the Scriptures or supported by Ellen White. These charges have gone out to the world field on official stationary from the General Conference. Yet the indictments have not been substantiated by specific example of error in their publications, or their failure to support the 27 doctrines, or by their misquoting Scripture or Ellen White. What would a jury say to this?

The overwhelming response of church members and the fruit of the message the 1888 Committee is preaching and publishing is joy and healing with confidence in the purpose and teachings of the organized SDA church. The five papers that have been given to each committee member since the last Primacy meeting present such teachings and must be assessed against Adventist theology.

It is now in the hands of this generation, this Primacy of the Gospel Committee, to face the truth and make a decision. There is no need for more time. We know enough now. For the sake of the gospel and the prayer of Christ for us we must have unity— "that they may be one." With over 300 endorsements of the message that Jones and Waggoner brought, we have a responsibility without further delay to heed the Ellen G. White 1888 Materials which proclaim clearly, "Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them. …The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been kept away from the world" (p. 1575, [1SM 234, 235]).

As we face the final meeting, the 1888 Message Study Committee has compiled an 80-page booklet which has been supplied to all Primacy Committee members. This is a summary of the understanding held by the 1888 Message Study Committee which they have tried to present in papers and dialogue, and which is taken from the Bible and the historical record of the message that "the Lord sent." This understanding invites, indeed requires, careful study and appraisal before the final meeting.

Is It Biblical? An Answer to Inquiries
Ten Bible Studies Presented by Members of the
1888 Message Study Committee
to the Primacy of the Gospel Committee.

With this summary book in hand, any jury could decide the truth or error of what the 1888 Message Study Committee is proclaiming to the church and the world. If their understanding is in error it should be easy to record that error for all to see. Should this be the case, they will then in humility before the Lord have to ask: "Are we blind also?"

End of Section Five — The Fifth Paper — Compiled in December 1999

Primacy of the Gospel Committee • Final Meeting Pending at Loma Linda
February 8, 2000

See Appendix F for covering joint letter, October 1,1999

Read Section #6 — "Evidence Piled Upon Evidence … Till the Very End of Probation"

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