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

As for the theology of Waggoner and Jones, it was understood by Ellen White as the very solution to the problem of human nature, of pharisaism. She wrote in 1895,

The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. they needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world: It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure. 77

The following points stand out in summarizing the conflict within the Seventh-day Adventist church beginning in 1886 with the debate over the law in Galatians, which then led to the covenant debate. The church was in danger of emphasizing the law without comprehending the gospel. When the message of Christ's righteousness was preached, the reaction of many was, "we already believe it, now let us get on with more important things." Later, they saw the message as a dangerous error that should be shunned at all cost, all the while still believing they were right concerning the gospel and the will of God. This reaction to the message was actually facilitated by the creating of false issues, ones that clouded the real issues of salvation and heart conversion. Ellen White's role in the matter was that of a spiritual referee. She began by encouraging honest, open investigation, but after the opposition set in, she strove to disarm the hostility by downplaying the theological differences and fostering a spirit that would make it possible to look at the true doctrinal issues aright. Her rebukes and comparisons of the opposition to the history of the Jews gave insights into the heart of man. The application of the history of the Jews to modern situations opened the way for a type of Bible study that reveals the power of the Word of God to convert modern man. Finally, Ellen White revealed a second criteria to her usual, "to the law and to the testimonies."78 She added that a teaching should be evaluated as to it correctness by the fruit it produced, fruit that was of the Holy Spirit. Bad fruit, i.e. criticizing, agitation, jealousies, does not result from a true message of God.

It is difficult to overstress at this point that the turmoil over the law in Galatians and the covenants were caused by opposition to the message of righteousness by faith. Personalities and politics surely entered in, but the crux was the resisting of the gospel that would transform the heart. Once this idea is established, one is able to move on to evaluating the actual presentation of Waggoner concerning the law and the gospel as seen in the covenants.

Waggoner's Understanding of the Doctrine of the Covenants

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Waggoner's View of the Covenants