The Mysery of 1888


This letter is a reply to the Defense Literature Committee letter of December 4, 1951, published in "A Warning and Its Reception," Pp. 245 - 255.

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Box 22, Kampala, Uganda

February 27, 1952

Defense Literature Committee

General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists

Takoma Park, Washington 12, D.C.

Dear Brethren:

Thank you for your letter of December 4, 1951, and the 11-page reply to our manuscript "1888 Re-examined."

We fully recognize from your reply that the committee has clearly and unequivocally decided that we are in error and that at least part of the manuscript is "false and unfounded." We note that you have asked that we not "press" our "rather critical view" any further.

In the course of the last 18 months we have presented to you our deepest convictions. This we have done openly and frankly in a written form. This letter, which to all appearances will be the last on a matter that to us seems of staggering importance, will be no less frank.

On the outset we wish to make it clear that we submit to the counsel of the General Conference in this matter and further that we acknowledge the General Conference to be the highest body God has placed on earth and therefore the matter is now their responsibility — being the properly constituted watchmen upon the walls of Zion. We also wish to state that we are prepared to write to every individual who has received a copy of the manuscript and to point out the decision of the General Conference. While we make this statement of submission to the General Conference we also wish to be frank in saying that we do not believe the reply as given to us will bear careful analysis. Therefore to go into your file before it is closed on this matter we submit the following and quite needless to say time will soon prove how "false and unfounded" or how dreadfully true our convictions are.

1. While we appreciate the "concern" of the brethren over what appears to them to be a very critical attitude on our part yet we submit that the first concern should be with the future of Israel and the tremendous issues facing Israel today rather than what happens to us as two young workers in the heart of Africa. If there is one grain of truth presented in the manuscript that has been denied or is being repressed then that is of prime importance and no amount of "criticism" charges against us will nullify that truth. We freely admit that truth always brings division.

2. It was not out intent nor our expression to disparage Paul's understanding of the gospel by mentioning him in connection with the 1888 message. Reference to Abraham will illustrate the point. The gospel was preached to him (Gal. 3:8) and he was called the "friend of God." "He saw Christ. A supernatural light was given him. … He was given a view of the divine sacrifice for sin." (DA 468.) "The sun of righteousness shone upon his heart." (PK 683.) Thus Abraham, like Paul, had a "clear, full comprehension of the love of Christ." But he "died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off. … God having provided some better thing for us that they without us should not be made perfect." (Heb. 11.) To say that Paul preached a "more mature, more developed" understanding of the gospel than Abraham perceived in his day does not disparage Abraham in the least. Surely it is not wrong to believe that the last generation of mankind will have a "more mature concept of the everlasting gospel than has been perceived by any previous generation of human beings, a preaching of 'righteousness by faith' more mature and developed, and more practical than has been preached by any previous generation of God's faithful people." Certainly Paul or Luther or Wesley did not preach the "third angel's message in verity."

3. We believe that Sister White always presented the "matchless charms of Christ" as quoted in your letter on page 4 from Manuscript 5, 1888, (1889?) yet the next sentence from that quotation presents the true context in which she made that statement: "When Brother Waggoner brought out these ideas at Minneapolis, it was the first clear teaching on this subject from any human lips I had heard, excepting the conversations between myself and my husband." (Sermon delivered at Rome, N.Y. June 17, 1889, Ms. 5, 1889, Pp. 9, 10.)

4. We appreciate Elder Spalding's letter and we wish to accord to our "older, experienced, and highly honoured brethren" all the respect due them but we consider it perilous and a denial of truth to accept any man's "impression" in preference to the clear word of the Lord as given through the Spirit of Prophecy. Elder Spalding's statement, "My impression was that the great majority of our ministers and our people accepted this truth" must be put beside such statements as found in Testimonies to Ministers, pages 76 and 77; the chapter pages 89 to 98 and page 413, etc. Further, it must be compared with Sister White's statement: "When I came to Battle Creek, I repeated the same testimony in the presence of Elder Butler, but there was not one who had the courage to stand by my side." (U-3-1889.)

5. We appreciate your list of works by E. J. Waggoner which coincides with our understanding as well as of course a number of items in old Reviews and General Conference Bulletins but we would point out that this does not in any way make these works generally available to our corps of workers nor does it suggest what would be wrong with publishing these again along with all that Mrs. White says about Minneapolis.

6. We reaffirm that we believe "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." Further we note that a very similar sentiment is put forward by Elder Spalding in no less than three places in the letter you quote, in such statements as: "I believe, indeed, that it is because we have not entered into the depths of the experience of righteousness in Christ, that we have strayed farther and farther from the Testimonies of the Spirit of God, in health and healing, in education, in evangelism, in daily living in every respect." But further brethren, if as you say it is not "according to God's plan and purpose for the present leadership of the movement to make acknowledgement of confession" or that our "proposal is not according to God's plan in His dealings with His people" or that "such teaching is totally at variance with the divine pattern" or that "we do not find the Lord requiring of the next generation that they confess the mistakes of the generation before" — if this is the case, then the following plain words of the Lord demand some careful study.

If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; and that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity; then will I remember my covenant …" Lev. 26:40 - 42.

Josiah said: "Go ye, enquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us." 2 Kings 22:13.

Great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do after all that is written in this book." 2 Chron. 34:21.

Sad to say even the world may come to know of the confession:

But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, He gave them up into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean …" Ezra 5:12.

O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our heads and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day. Ezra 9:6, 7.

We have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned. Neh. 1:6.

We have sinned with our fathers. … Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt. Ps. 106:5, 6.

Baal-worship has always devoured the fruit of our father's toil, their flocks and their herds, their sons and daughters. Let us lie down then in our shame, let our dishonour cover us; for we have sinned against our God, both we and our fathers, from our youth until now, and never have we listened to the voice of our God. Jere. 3:24, 25. Moffatt.

There are many other texts with a similar thought such as: 2 Chron. 29:6 - 9; Neh. 9:16 - 38; Jer. 16:10 -12; Ez. 20; Dan. 9:8, 10, 16, 20. Surely these texts ought to have a meaning for Israel today. The context indicates in many places that where there was a true repentance and confession that great spiritual blessing came to Israel, Our need today is the same.

7. We note your charge that our conviction and statement in relation to Baal worship is "entirely false and unfounded." We do not deny that there may be more to be understood but if our statement is "false" it remains with the brethren to explain what the statement in Testimonies to Ministers, pages 467 and 468 means. It cannot be denied that Sister White has warned against an alluring, clever, highly disguised false Christ — the Baal of the popular religious world. Did she warn in vain?

8. No mention was made in your reply as to what the "omega" might be as referred to in Special Testimonies, Series B. If it was such as to cause the prophet to "tremble" certainly it ought to call us to study what the awful insidious thing is.

9. We note your appeal in closing your letter that we look to the "mission lands" and see what God is doing. We live in the mission lands. We know of the hundreds that are clamoring for baptism, are even willing to pay to get baptized. We know also that if it were not for the large increases in membership from the mission fields our world membership would be virtually static. But all the mission stories in the world can never cancel out the fact that we are spiritually sick and feeble. We believe that the germs of this sickness were contracted about 60 years ago.

In closing we would say that we agree with you brethren wholeheartedly that the Lord does love His church "enfeebled and defective as it may be." He remembers that we are but dust. But is it right to play upon the patience of the Lord? Are we to be satisfied with boasting rather than deep repentance? Our concern has been with teachings and with an understanding of the Spirit of Prophecy and not with any of the brethren personally. As we have said in the past to you, so we repeat, we may be two of the most stupid fools ever to be in denominational employment. We have presented our convictions to you and you have replied that they are "false and unfounded" and contain "nothing new." We accept your verdict and shall not press the matter further. But brethren, if the Investigative Judgment is now in session and if the facts of our denominational history are a mighty call to repentance and if we have sensed the seriousness of the urgent warnings to beware of the misrepresentations of the false Christ so rampant around us and further if we have understood aright the seriousness of God's call to straighten out every crooked thing that has hindered the progress of His work in every branch — then surely God will soon give judgment in His own way according to His will and we shall be proven terribly wrong or dreadfully right. We leave the case in His hands.

Sincerely yours,

(Signed) R. J. Wieland (Signed) D. K. Short

Table of Contents of The Mystery of 1888  |  Appendix B
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