The Gospel Herald -- Promoting the fundamentals of the 1888 message.

 

The Doctrine of the Everlasting Covenant in the
Writings of Ellet J. Waggoner

It is evident that Ellen White saw more in this situation than did most of the people. False issues were confounding the real message that was needed because some of the brethren were cherishing a particular belief concerning the law in Galatians. One can see how Smith would be bound to interpret this letter by thinking that if Sister White was endorsing Waggoner on the covenants, then it would seem that she was also accepting Waggoner's view in Galatians. This, he would feel would bring the church down.

In March of 1890, there was a meeting called in Battle Creek to discuss the current theological disputes and to clear the air of the mounting personal conflicts caused by the polarizing of the different groups. Dan Jones wrote to the brethren around the nation about it.

We had a meeting in the General Conference office a few evenings ago. About twenty-five were present including all the leading brethren in Battle Creek. Sister White came in. The meeting lasted about five hours. The Minneapolis matter and other things that have come in since that were talked over freely. They made some explanations that relieved the minds of some of the brethren considerably, among others, my own mind. It seems from what has been said that brethren White, Waggoner, and Jones, did not have any preconcerted plan when they came over from the Pacific Coast to the Minneapolis meeting to lay their views before the brethren at that time, and have not been attempting to carry through any such plans since. Sister White has come out a little stronger in favor of Dr. Waggoner, but yet has not committed herself definitely as to the points of doctrine in his exposition of the two covenants. She says that she has been shown that he had light on the covenant question, but was not shown as to what that light was. At least that is the way I understand it at the present time.65

Well, the minister's school is almost over. The investigation on the covenant question closed up with no better satisfaction that before it begun For a time it was thought that she (Ellen White) fully endorsed Dr. Waggoner's position on the covenant question, and as so reported to be when I returned from Tennessee but later developments show that such was not the case. It turns out now that the doctrinal points in the matter have (not?) been the real issue. It is the spirit alone that has been manifested to which she has objected, and to which Eld. Waggoner takes exception. Both Sister White and Dr. Waggoner stated that the doctrinal points were not the points at issue. So that removes the real point that was in my mind all the time. I understood that it was the bringing in of new doctrines that were not approved by the denomination, that was the real point at issue. But if I have been mistaken in that matter I am glad to be corrected. I have thought all the time that Sister White did not mean to say that Dr. Waggoner was correct on the covenant question as far as doctrine is concerned; because (it) was so manifestly wrong that I could not at all be reconciled to the idea that she would give it her unqualified approval. I think we have been consuming time and labor on points that are not of the most importance at the present time, and have been striving about these doctrines when we ought to have been putting our shoulders to the burden and pushing along the car of truth. As far as I am concerned I am willing to drop the whole question, if others will do the same, and put my thought and labor toward the advancement of truth. I think, however, some good points will be gained by this investigation this winter. Perhaps both parties will respect each other more than they have in the past, and there will be more counsel in reference to introducing any points of doctrine in the future, than there has been in the past. This has been a very unpleasant winter to me "66

Based upon these accounts, one would be inclined to believe that the covenant question, as well as the law in Galatians were two peripheral issues that were distracting the church from its real mission. Any personal clashes would seemed to have been resolved. However, there are some disturbing questions that arise when the situation is observed as a whole, beginning from 1888 to the turn of the century.

Some Examples

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Waggoner's View of the Covenants