Trinity Index
Question
Do Christians who use the Nicene Creed believe Jesus had a beginning?

Answer
The answer is no! But confusion at times arise because the Nicene Creed uses expressions like "born, not made" and "eternally begotten/born before all times". Strange as these and many other expressions may sound today, the intention when they were formulated was to counter the Arians teaching that Jesus had a beginning. Those who authored, voted for, and later have confessed the teachings of the Nicene Creed, by these terms express their faith in the eternal divinity of the Son.

 

Question
Is the Doctrine of the Trinity a Peculiar Roman Catholic Doctrine?

Answer
Myths about the Trinity docrine prevail. One of the most common is that the doctrine of the Trinity is a peculiar Roman Catholic doctrine.

The fact is that the Nicene Creed was based on a previous baptismal vow, mostly likely from Antioch. The 318 delegates who according to tradition voted it in 325 A.D. and confirmed the doctrine were primarily from the East. Only four bishops from the Western part of the Roman Empire took part, and the bishop of Rome, the pope, was not present. The slightly edited version which was finalized in Constantinople in 381 A.D., was still voted by a vast majority of Christians from the eastern part of the empire though the pope had more influence on its development than in 325 and though the west of course also in this case agreed.

The Trinity doctrine was embraced by the vast majority of the early Christian Churches. It is historically accepted by Orthodox, Lutherans, Reformed, Puritans, Anglicans etc. It is not a uniquely Roman Catholic doctrine.

The word "catholic" had originally another sense, however, namely universal or general. It was and is the generally accepted Christian doctrine. It was the Christian understanding of God in contrast to pagan and Jewish views at the time of the Early Church, and to the muslim view of Allah a little later in history.

But shouldn't we, some Protestants say, reject the doctrine if it is also shared by Catholics? In that case, should we then also reject the incarnation, the virgin birth, and prayer? Of course not. While there certainly are differences in the way Catholics and Adventists view this as well as other doctrines because of the difference in our general theological perspective, we agree on the eternal distinction as well as the unity of the three, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Just as we agree with Lutherans, Reformed, Orthodox, and Christians in general-in contrast to muslims and Jews.

Adventist share with many other Protestant strong views on the Roman Catholic Church, and we have identified this power in the historical prophecies of the Bible. But it is worth noting that one of the main founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Ellen White, who exercised a life long prophetic ministry, never includes the doctrine of the Trinity as one of the critical elements of the teachings of Rome.

 

Historical Questions to the issue of the Trinity


Ellen White's Vision of the Heavenly Confirmation of Jesus

Question
I have been told that Ellen White saw in a vision that Jesus was made equal with God, and that he, therefore, cannot be eternal God. Is that true?

Answer
The quotation which is at times used to support the claim that Ellen White believed that Jesus at some stage became a God, or was made equal to God, is taken from the book Spirit of Prophecy, written in 1870. Here is the quote.

A special light beamed about his [Satan's] countenance, and shone around him brighter and more beautiful than around the other angels; yet Jesus, God's dear Son, had the pre-eminence over all the angelic host. He was one with the Father before the angels were created.... The great Creator assembled the heavenly host, that he might in the presence of all the angels confer special honor upon his Son ....
The Father then made known that it was ordained by himself that Christ, his Son, should be equal with himself; so that wherever was the presence of the Son, it was as his own presence .... His Son would carry out his will and purposes, but would do nothing of himself alone. Spirit of Prophecy (1870), Vol. 1, pp 17-18.

Some years later, when the issue was discussed, Ellen White clarified the meaning by these words,

He [Satan] was beloved and reverenced by the heavenly host, angels delighted to execute his commands, and he was clothed with wisdom and glory above them all. Yet the Son of God was exalted above him, as one in power and authority with the Father . . . There had been no change in the position or authority of Christ. Lucifer's envy and misrepresentation, and his claims to equality with Christ, had made necessary a statement of the true position of the Son of God; but this had been the same from the beginning. Many of the angels were, however, blinded by Lucifer's deceptions. Patriarchs and Prophets (1890), 37-38.

There is little doubt about what she wanted to say. She described the beginning of the great controversy in heaven, and Satan's whispering campaign. That was what made it necessary to confirm the position of Jesus as the unique representative of God. He was not made God. He had always been one with the Father.


Ellen White and the Holy Spirit as Christ's Representative

Question
Did not Ellen White claim that the Holy Spirit simply was Jesus himself?

Answer
The quote commonly used to make that claim, is found in a private letter from Ellen White to her son James Edson, the musician and missionary to the Afro-Americans in the south. This is what she wrote,

Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally; therefore it was altogether for their advantage that He should leave them, go to His father, and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth. The Holy Spirit is Himself, divested of the personality of humanity and independent thereof. Although our Lord ascended from earth to heaven, the Holy Spirit was His representative among men. [John 14:15-18 quoted]....He would represent Himself as present in all places by His Holy Spirit, as the Omnipresent. Private Letter to her son James Edson 19, 1895 (MS 14, 23)

Note that she never published this letter. A little later when she worked on a statement for publication, this is what she wrote,

The Holy Spirit is Christ's representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof. Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it was for their interest that He should go to the Father, and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth. No one could then have any advantage because of his location or his personal contact with Christ. By the Spirit the Saviour would be accessible to all. In this sense He would be nearer to them than if He had not ascended on high. Published as edited by Ellen White in DA 669, 1898.

Once again, there is little doubt about her intention. She did not mean to say that the Holy Spirit and Jesus are one and the same person, but that the Holy Spirit is the representative of Jesus. Sound hermeneutics will let her speak for herself, and she did so in the statement she herself chose for public use.


Ellen White's Vision of the Heavenly Confirmation of Jesus

Question
I have been told that Ellen White saw in a vision that Jesus was made equal with God, and that he, therefore, cannot be eternal God. Is that true?

Answer
The quotation which is at times used to support the claim that Ellen White believed that Jesus at some stage became a God, or was made equal to God, is taken from the book Spirit of Prophecy, written in 1870. Here is the quote.

A special light beamed about his [Satan's] countenance, and shone around him brighter and more beautiful than around the other angels; yet Jesus, God's dear Son, had the pre-eminence over all the angelic host. He was one with the Father before the angels were created.... The great Creator assembled the heavenly host, that he might in the presence of all the angels confer special honor upon his Son ....
The Father then made known that it was ordained by himself that Christ, his Son, should be equal with himself; so that wherever was the presence of the Son, it was as his own presence .... His Son would carry out his will and purposes, but would do nothing of himself alone. Spirit of Prophecy (1870), Vol. 1, pp 17-18.

Some years later, when the issue was discussed, Ellen White clarified the meaning by these words,

He [Satan] was beloved and reverenced by the heavenly host, angels delighted to execute his commands, and he was clothed with wisdom and glory above them all. Yet the Son of God was exalted above him, as one in power and authority with the Father . . . There had been no change in the position or authority of Christ. Lucifer's envy and misrepresentation, and his claims to equality with Christ, had made necessary a statement of the true position of the Son of God; but this had been the same from the beginning. Many of the angels were, however, blinded by Lucifer's deceptions. Patriarchs and Prophets (1890), 37-38.

There is little doubt about what she wanted to say. She described the beginning of the great controversy in heaven, and Satan's whispering campaign. That was what made it necessary to confirm the position of Jesus as the unique representative of God. He was not made God. He had always been one with the Father.


Ellen White and the Holy Spirit as Christ's Representative

Question
Did not Ellen White claim that the Holy Spirit simply was Jesus himself?

Answer
The quote commonly used to make that claim, is found in a private letter from Ellen White to her son James Edson, the musician and missionary to the Afro-Americans in the south. This is what she wrote,

Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally; therefore it was altogether for their advantage that He should leave them, go to His father, and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth. The Holy Spirit is Himself, divested of the personality of humanity and independent thereof. Although our Lord ascended from earth to heaven, the Holy Spirit was His representative among men. [John 14:15-18 quoted]....He would represent Himself as present in all places by His Holy Spirit, as the Omnipresent. Private Letter to her son James Edson 19, 1895 (MS 14, 23)

Note that she never published this letter. A little later when she worked on a statement for publication, this is what she wrote,

The Holy Spirit is Christ's representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof. Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it was for their interest that He should go to the Father, and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth. No one could then have any advantage because of his location or his personal contact with Christ. By the Spirit the Saviour would be accessible to all. In this sense He would be nearer to them than if He had not ascended on high. Published as edited by Ellen White in DA 669, 1898.

Once again, there is little doubt about her intention. She did not mean to say that the Holy Spirit and Jesus are one and the same person, but that the Holy Spirit is the representative of Jesus. Sound hermeneutics will let her speak for herself, and she did so in the statement she herself chose for public use.

 

 

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