The Mystery of 1888 - Chapter 7

“GUIDELINES” ON WHAT “WE SEE”

There is a growing polarization in the worker ranks and a bewilderment among the laity concerning what happened in “our” history as it transpired at this ‘88 Conference, and why. In pursuing the present research, it is obvious that certain ideas and biases continue to prevail, just as they did before, at, and following the ‘88 session. But this condition must change. The Spirit is to guide into “all truth” without equivocation.

The “Guidelines for the Study Committee” as provided, seem to be built upon the conscious or unconscious premise that certain stances that have been taken in the past must be protected at all costs. The “Guidelines” betray a prejudice and bias in favor of published views and are worded in such a way as to be loaded and lead to wrong answers. Nevertheless these “Guidelines” must be considered.

* * * * *

SOME GUIDELINES FOR THE STUDY COMMITTEES ON
THE 1888 CONFERENCE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH

Do our findings as we look at the documents (E.G. White and others) reveal,

1. That at Minneapolis and subsequently the church, rejected the messages of justification by faith and righteousness by faith?

Answer: The question as worded is very misleading and is put in a way that does not face the problem nor the issues under discussion, (a) The issue is not whether the church or anybody accepted the historic Protestant “doctrine” of justification and righteousness by faith, but how was the message that was to have been the beginning of the Latter Rain and Loud Cry accepted? (b) The issue is not whether the church per se “rejected” the Latter Rain. The truth is, the church never had a real chance to consider the message. The real issue is: Did the church leadership accept the message? Recorded history on this is clear enough.

2. That there is a call for, and must be, a corporate repentance and confession before the wrongs done at Minneapolis are righted?

Answer: Here again the wording is misleading. Has anyone ever suggested or called for a “corporate confession”? To try to answer this question is deceptive. The wording should be “a corporate and denominational repentance.”

3. That there are varying essential qualities in the concepts of righteousness by faith as understood and advocated by Paul, Luther, Ellen G. White, Jones and Waggoner, and the presentations of Jones and Waggoner disclose their holdings as unique and superior?

Answer: This question is loaded! No one would dare to answer this with a plain “Yes.” And yet the question goes begging. The real question is: Does God have a more mature concept of righteousness by faith for His people to understand in the time of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary? Is it essential that the people who receive the Latter Rain understand righteousness by faith in a deeper and more meaningful way than any previous generation has understood it? Was the message of Jones and Waggoner “light” that was intended by the Lord to lead into a preparation for the end?

4. That Adventist historians and apologists as Spalding, Christian, Froom, Pease and Olson have either intentionally or inadvertently misrepresented the basic facts relating to the Minneapolis experience and the aftermath, and if all documents (particularly the E. G. White manuscripts) were taken into account their witness would be different than it is?

Answer: There is no question but that if all documents particularly E. G. White manuscripts as well as published statements from her pen were taken into account the witness regarding 1888 would be completely different than it now is. Whether the present state is the result of “intentionally or inadvertently” overlooking basic facts is not the real point and need not be judged here. Facts have been overlooked. The whole EGW record has not been presented although more than enough has been made available to settle the matter in a way quite different from that presented by these authors. This paper, “The Mystery of 1888,” has presented enough other material to make the answer evident. The recent study, “An Explicit Confession … Due the Church,” if read, studied and analyzed will add much more to the evidence and clearly show the answer to the question.

5. That there has been no true advance in the experience and work of the church — numbers notwithstanding to the contrary — nor can there be until there is a proper recognition of the point of departure (attitude toward the 1888 experience) and a turnabout marked by a public corporate acknowledgement?

Answer: What is the intent of this question? Has anyone said that there has been no “true advance in the experience and work of the church” since 1888? Who has called for a “public corporate acknowledgement”? This question seems loaded or does it stem from a misunderstanding of what constitutes “true advance”? True advance in understanding the sanctuary truth and understanding righteousness by faith as the beginning of the Latter Rain is quite different than the thrust of this question.

6. That unconscious sin and corporate guilt are at the root of the problem of the church and will remain so, delaying the coming of the Lord, until there is proper recognition, acknowledgement and turnabout.

Answer: This is a perceptive question and puts the matter in the proper context. This must have and is now receiving further study. One thing is clear, the “True Witness” says the Laodicean church “knowest not” her true condition and she is called to “repent.”

7. That in the light of Ellen White’s statements regarding the failures of the General Conference of 1901 the experiences referred to by Christian, Olson, and Froom as victories are not such but in reality dismal failures.

Answer: It would be improper and unfair to use such an expression, “in reality dismal failures.” The General Conference of 1901 was not such! The establishment of institutions and churches all over the world dare not be so termed. Has anyone referred to the reorganization in such terms? Notwithstanding this, the 1901 Conference cannot in any degree be called “victory” in the sense of reversing the 1888 unbelief or ushering in the Latter Rain and Loud Cry. It should be very clear that ultimate “victory” over the beast, his image and all the terrible self-worship for which he stands cannot be gained by organizational efficiencies, numerical greatness, nor material assets.

8. That the Bible record of the experience of prominent Bible characters in confessing before God the sins of the people or nation they represent provides direction to church leaders today in the matter of their obligation to instigate a corporate confession and repentance.

Answer: The persistence of the term “corporate confession” indicates a serious misunderstanding. Where has this concept come from? Nonetheless a serious study of prominent Bible characters in relation to their people would have merit!

9. That until such steps are taken God cannot pour out His Spirit in the Latter Rain.

Answer: Current church history would seem to make it very clear that until some kind of “steps are taken” God cannot do what He said He was willing to do more than eighty years ago. If the Latter Rain had its “beginning” those many years ago, surely it is self-evident that something happened so that the “rain” has turned into what some would call a mere “drizzle.”

10. That certain personal testimonies to Elder 0. A. Olson, president of the General Conference, penned in 1895 and 1896, and reference to him in other E. G. White correspondence of the time, undercuts the credibility of the Froom assertions that Olson ever related himself aright to the teachings of righteousness by faith.

Answer: The credibility of Froom’s assertions are most assuredly undercut by EGW correspondence. But what is meant by “teachings of righteousness by faith”? The doctrines of Luther, Calvin and so on? Or the Latter Rain? Did Olson lead out in the experience of denominational repentance? What is the full intent of the question?

11. That there were other basic issues in 1888 than that of the acceptance of the message of righteousness by faith, such as, relationship to authority as seen particularly in the work of Ellen G. White.

Answer: Can the idea of accepting a “doctrine” be held in contrast to accepting the “authority” of EGW? Has the “authority” of EGW ever been at variance with the teaching of the church? The real issue of 1888 was relationship to the authority of Jesus Christ. Ellen White uses the term “insubordination.”

12. That what is said to be a unique and superior concept of righteousness by faith, not found in the writings of Ellen G. White, but taught by Jones and Waggoner, is of significance and vital importance to the church today?

Answer: In fairness, how could such a question be formulated? There is a subtle aspersion here that pits Jones and Waggoner against Ellen White whereas this ignores the facts of the case — they stood together. All that Jones and Waggoner taught is in harmony with and is implicit in the writings of Ellen White and so why say, “not found in the writings of Ellen G. White”? Furthermore, it must be understood that it was the Lord Himself trying to arouse His people and it was His Spirit that spoke through His messenger when she emphatically stated, “The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones.”

13. That justification and righteousness by faith as taught in the Scriptures and amplified in the writings of Ellen G. White lead us doctrinally and experientially to positions superior to those commonly held today by evangelical groups?

Answer: This is an amazing question! The answer to it is basic to “us” as a people and demands a clear-cut understanding. If the answer is not a decided “yes,” then “we” have not the slightest excuse for existing as a people.

14. That the Early Writings, P. 56, portrayal of men and women “bowed before the throne” left by Jesus as He entered the Holy of Holies having their prayers answered by Satan who breathed upon them “an unholy influence of light and power” has a valid application to the 1888 experience and to the church today, suggesting that Seventh-Day Adventists may be worshipping a false Christ and their ministers motivated by a false Holy Spirit as seemingly suggested in the 1950 Wieland and Short presentation?

Answer: Where in the entire manuscript prepared by Wieland and Short in 1950, do they say what is inferred in this question? They point out the “grave danger” that this will become the case — IF “our” views of righteousness by faith are basically identical to those of the popular churches who have no knowledge of the way into the Most Holy apartment. The call of alarm and warning of danger is vastly different to stating something has transpired, or leveling an accusation.

There is one further matter that must be considered in this list of fourteen questions. The preamble reads: “Do our findings as we look at the documents (E. G. White and others) reveal,” what the questions ask? But who are the “others” besides E. G. White? Would anyone dare to lay aside today what she said at the time about the terrible experience? Where did she get her “authority”? If “we” presume to suggest that someone else may know more about 1888 than she knew — woe to “us”!


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