The Mystery of 1888 — Chapter 3

CONFLICTING VIEWS OF WHAT “WE SEE”

Daniells versus Froom — The contribution Froom has made in Movement of Destiny is large and has been acknowledged. At the same time the work has been called into question as “dependable history.” (Andrews University Seminary Studies, January 1972, Pp. 119-122.) There is ample reason for this. Yet it may be assumed that it was published in the providence of God that the real truth of “our” history might come into focus and be known by the Church after these eighty odd years.

Froom affirms that more than forty years ago he received his mandate from Daniells to undertake his survey (P. 17). Repeatedly, he vouches for the veracity of his work. (Pp. 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23.) He proclaims the following as his goal and uses terms such as: “comprehensive portrayal — one that would honor God and exalt truth, that would enlighten and uplift the Church. … complete and forthright, and documented … fair and faithful to fact … impartial in treatment … full picture in balance … avoid any superficial type of treatment … true and trustworthy picture … candid portrayal … plumb the depths, to record faithfully … comprehensive and trustworthy … faithful and forthright … my fidelity to truth … above all to be faithful to fact and unswerving in fidelity to the full truth … to get to the bottom of the facts, to reveal the resultant findings, and to be candid and undeviating in my presentations, correcting misconceptions and false impressions and where needed — and providing a sound setting for the final advances. … Above all, I must not be unfaithful to God and to the Church.”

It is impossible to misunderstand the tenor of these affirmations but does true history require such to validate the stance taken? Should not the plain facts of the case be sufficient support? And aside from what men may or may not have said and misunderstood, should not the witness of the Lord be taken at face value?

How can anyone understand the inferences, the statements and the tenor of Froom’s book as a whole regarding the 1888 era of “our” history when it concludes on a basis diametrically opposed to the book Daniells wrote? Daniells is said in the first instance to have given him the charge to write Movement of Destiny.

Here is the dichotomy. A very good summation of 1888 and the Church’s relation to the era and its aftermath may be found in Froom’s words as follows:

There is one contention that, regrettably, has periodically been brought forward that needs to be considered frankly in our quest for historic truth. Ever since the 1888 tensions there have been recurrent harpers on the note that the Church, and primarily its leaders actually rejected the Message of 1888 — at and following that fateful hour of trial. This is perhaps as suitable a place as any to examine its validity — for echoers still persist, maintaining that the leadership of the Movement, at the time, ‘rejected’ the message of Righteousness by Faith, and thereby incurred the continuing disfavor of God.

And along with that assumption and assertion goes a contention that until and unless the Movement as a whole today — nearly eighty years later — repents as a body in sackcloth and ashes for the sins of the ‘some’ who, back at that fateful time, did definitely reject the Minneapolis Message at and following 1888, the smile and benediction of God will never rest upon the Advent people and Movement, and its message will never be consummated under present conditions.

In other words, such maintain that the Loud Cry and Latter Rain will never be visited upon us until that retroactive penitence requirement is met through some official acknowledgement and action. (P. 357, italics in original.)

Froom emphatically denies the dichotomy yet his understanding of the problem seems fairly clear. (1) There has been “contention” on the subject. (2) “Primarily” the “leaders” and “the leadership” were involved. (3) They “rejected” the message. (4) There is now a question of repentance. (5) The Loud Cry and Latter Rain have not yet come.

Under the circumstances it seems reasonable to ask: Where did this “contention” start? Is it the fruit of some mischievous troublemaker? Did some apostate create the idea? Is it the result of some amateurs riding hobby horses? On the other hand, is it possible that the “contention” is the outgrowth of “our” reluctance to face “our” history — just like the Jews?

Froom’s verdict cannot be misunderstood. The thrust of the entire book ends with this thought:

Traditional attack on the integrity of leaders, at and following 1888 and onward, is an assumption without justification in historical truth or fact. … One can only come to the conclusion that persistent clinging to such a charge is sheer stubbornness, based on a personal stance that has been taken and that must be maintained irrespective of the actual evidence and the testimony of facts that persuade all others. And it should be added that no defector or detractor through the years, has ever produced any such E. G. White statements, or evidence, sufficient to convince unbiased scholars.

In the light of all this, it is my considered view that such a charge of ‘leadership rejection’ stands as invalid and unproved, and is deeply regrettable. (Pp. 685, 686, italics in original.)

What Does Daniells “See”? — What is the witness of Daniells; what does he recognize in this history and what does he actually say?

With regard to instruction that came from EGW for a period of “nearly two years” immediately prior to the session, he states, “This instruction is directed especially to ministers — the teachers in Israel. … Who can tell what would have come to the church and the cause of God if that message of Righteousness by Faith had been fully and wholeheartedly received by all at the time? And who can estimate the loss that has been sustained by the failure of many to receive the message? Eternity alone will reveal the whole truth regarding this matter.” (Pp. 38 - 40).

Are “ministers” leaders in the church? Are they to be compared to “teachers in Israel”? Does Israel of old have any connection with modern Israel? Daniells’ perception on this is clear! But there is much more.

The message was not received alike by all who attended the Conference, in fact, there was serious difference of opinion concerning it among the LEADERS. This division of opinion may be classified as follows:

Class 1.— Those who saw great light in it and gladly accepted it. …

Class 2.— There were some, however, who felt uncertain about the ‘new teaching.’ …

Class 3.— But there were others who were decidedly opposed to the presentation of the message. … [If words mean anything, the preponderance of opposition was in the third class.]

This difference of views among the LEADERS led to serious results. It created controversy, and a degree of estrangement which was most unfortunate. But through the intervening years there has been steadily developing the desire and hope — yes, belief — that someday the message of Righteousness by Faith would shine forth in all its inherent worth, glory, and power, and receive full recognition.

Through subsequent writings of the Spirit of Prophecy information is furnished regarding the developments in connection with the giving of the message and its reception and also its REJECTION, and it is quite necessary to become familiar with this inspired information in order to understand better our present situation. It would be far more agreeable to eliminate some of the statements given by the Spirit of Prophecy regarding the attitude of some of the LEADERS toward the message and the messengers. But this cannot be done without giving only a partial presentation of the situation which developed at the Conference, thus leaving the question in more or less of mystery. (Pp. 41-43, capitals supplied.)

Are these statements “out of context”? Does Daniells mean what he says? When within three pages of his book he three times says “leaders,” does he mean leaders? When he says “failure of many to receive” does he mean “few” or “some” and does “failure” really mean in this case something opposite from failure? When he mentions Spirit of Prophecy and refers to “rejection” does he mean rejection or is this a problem of semantics? Can there be any doubt as to what he thought and what he meant? As further study will prove, it is precisely because “statements given by the Spirit of Prophecy” have been eliminated or overlooked or ignored, that the situation has continued “in more or less of mystery,” as he suggests could happen. But Daniells has more to say, much more.

What a mighty revival of true godliness, what a restoration of spiritual life, what a cleansing from sin, what a baptism of the Spirit, and what a manifestation of divine power for the finishing of the work in our own lives and in the world, might have come to the people of God if all our ministers had gone forth from that Conference as did this loyal obedient servant of the Lord! (i.e., EGW, P. 47.)

This paragraph has terrible implications! Daniells says that “if all our ministers,” had followed the urging, the counsel, the example of EGW, following that conference, there would have come to the people of God all the things they have been talking about for the past eighty years — including “a power for the finishing of the work” in their “own lives and in the world.” Since the SDA church has only one ministry, it is plain to see where the burden rests. It is certainly not on the laity as has been inferred by both Froom (Pp. 582, 613) and Olson (Pp. 238, 239). “We” the ministry are at fault. “We” are the messengers of the church of the Laodiceans.

Daniells continues on the same page (47) to emphasize what he had seen and heard and knew to be a fact. “The message has never been received, nor proclaimed, nor given free course as it should have been in order to convey to the church the measureless blessings that were wrapped within it. The seriousness of exerting such an influence is indicated through the reproofs that were given. These words of reproof and admonition should receive most thoughtful consideration at this time.”

It must be remembered that this was published in 1926, thirty-eight years after the Conference. At that date he could say, “The message has never been received, nor
proclaimed. …” He knew this not only from living through the era but from the messages God’s servant brought and which he freely quotes. Evidently the meaning and the intent of what EGW said was not lost on Daniells in this instance. All that she has said about the experience of 1888 has never been compiled. Much is now available in the facsimile reprints of the Review articles. Considerable of this has never been reprinted in any other form and much is in the Estate vault awaiting the time when it will be known, read, and understood by the watchmen on the walls of Zion.

The relevance of the EGW material which Daniells quotes is very great. A few high-lights need to be presented.

There are those who see no necessity for a special work at this time. … they seek to turn aside the message of warning, reproof, and entreaty. … Some of our brethren are not receiving the message of God. … Will you dare to turn from, or make light of, the warnings, because God did not consult you. … Some have turned from the message of the righteousness of Christ to criticize the men. … cast contempt and reproach on the message and the messenger. Spiritually deadened. … If our brethren were all laborers together with God, they would not doubt but that the message He has sent us during these last two years is from heaven. Our young men look to our older brethren, and as they see that they do not accept the message, but treat it as though it were of no consequence, it influences those who are ignorant of the Scriptures to reject the light. These men who refuse to receive truth, interpose themselves between the people and the light. (Pp. 48 - 51.)

The understanding Daniells received from EGW is quite different from that of Froom, thus the title for this section, Daniells versus Froom. He summarizes with words that are the opposite of those attributed to him.

The twofold result of rejecting the message. … The division and conflict which arose among the leaders … produced a very unfavorable reaction. … Its rejection by some of the more experienced brethren led the younger men into uncertainty and confusion. … Those who rejected the message, interposed themselves between the people and the light. … Those who refuse to walk in this advancing light, will be unable to comprehend the third angel’s message. … Those who refuse to walk in this heavenly light, … will call it a ‘false light’.
(Pp. 50 - 53, italics supplied.)

Not only did Daniells sense the problem as being a “rejection” by the “leaders,” but he also understood that the opposition was in reality against the Latter Rain and the Loud Cry. His reference to EGW and his analysis of what she said makes this clear. (Pp. 56 - 63.) This is of great significance. His understanding is evident in the following words as he referred to EGW in the Review, Nov. 22, 1892. She says: “The loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth.”

Upon this statement and others to which he makes reference, he makes the observation:

This was declared in 1892. What marked the fresh, or new revelation of the righteousness of Christ and the beginning of the loud cry? As the statement itself points out, it was ‘the revelation of the righteousness of Christ’ as set forth at the Minneapolis Conference.

Now these important manifestations are ordained of God for the finishing of His work in the earth. When they began, they marked the starting point for that closing work. That place, that hour was reached in 1888.

This is a tremendous conclusion, but what other conclusion can be reached with all the statements before us? Why should this conclusion be thought incredible? We believe the statements to be true. We have looked for their fulfillment. Our waiting for the fulfillment has been anxious and long. The fulfillment will be witnessed by someone. Why may we not see it and be in it? (Pp. 62, 63.)

Again it must be noted that this was his view and understanding in 1926.

The burden and frustrations that Daniells bore may be seen in the following:

O that we had all listened as we should to both warning and appeal as they came to us in that seemingly strange, yet impressive, way at the Conference of 1888! What uncertainty would have been removed, what wanderings and defeats and losses would have been prevented! What light and blessing and triumph and progress would have come to us! But thanks be unto Him who loves us with an everlasting love, it is not too late even now to respond with the whole heart to both warning and appeal, and receive the great benefits provided.
(P. 69.)

Could anyone at a subsequent date prepare anything that would nullify this understanding of Daniells? If after thirty-eight years the situation was as he has portrayed it, could even a massive work prepared after another forty-two years really alter the facts of the case? Why should anyone try? This is the mystery of 1888.


Table of Contents of The Mystery of 1888  |  Chapter 2  |  Chapter 4
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