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James White and the Trinity

James White and the Trinity

Adventists believe Ellen White was a prophet of God, or to use her terminology, a messenger of God. She was the lady to whom James White was married for 35 years. He ate with her, slept with her, preached with her, prayed with her, had children by her, travelled thousands and thousands of miles with her, building up Churches together, and yet she never once said to him “James, you are wrong in what you are saying about the trinity doctrine.” Not once in 35 years is there any record that she said anything about his anti-Trinitarian views, and neither is there any record of her saying anything to anyone else. And those who know of Ellen White know she was not silent when error was being taught. Now what does it tell us that in 70 years of her husband and all the other leaders and pioneers of the Church, all publishing anti-Trinitarian materials, and never once said they were wrong?

James White was firmly resolved in his anti-Trinitarian belief when he became acquainted with her as Ellen Harmon in 1845. A short while before this in December 1844, she had been given her first vision which had marked her call to the prophetic office. So God had no problem with His prophet marrying a devout anti-Trinitarian either.

Russell Holt did a survey on the introduction of the trinity teaching into the Adventist Church in June 1969, as part of the requirements of his studies in Adventist history for Dr Mervyn Maxwell. Russell Holt produced a term paper that had the title, “The Doctrine Of The Trinity In The Seventh Day Adventist Denomination: Its Rejection And Acceptance.”

The title of this paper speaks volumes in itself considering that Russell Holt was in favour of the change to the trinity doctrine. Holt rightly says in his term paper that James White was an anti-Trinitarian to the day that he died. Note also that Holt said that James White was far from being on his own in taking this anti-Trinitarian stand, and neither was he on his own in writing and publishing anti-Trinitarian statements in the literature that came off the presses of the Adventist Church. In his term paper, Holt makes this observation about the views of other Adventist writers at the time of James White.

“A survey of other Adventist writers during these years reveals, that to a man, they rejected the trinity, yet, with equal unanimity they upheld the divinity of Christ. To reject the trinity is not necessarily to strip the Saviour of His divinity.” — (Russell Holt, “The doctrine of the Trinity in the Seventh day Adventist denomination: Its rejection and acceptance.” A term paper for Dr. Mervyn Maxwell, 1969)

So it is an undisputed fact that right through to his death in 1881, James White made numerous anti-Trinitarian statements and never changed his anti-Trinitarian stance even in the year of his death when he said, “The Father was greater than the Son in that he was first.” — (James White, Review and Herald, January 4, 1881, found in EGW Review and Herald Articles, vol. 1, p. 244)

“I and my Father are one.” John 10:30 The Father and the Son were one in man's creation, and in his redemption. Said the Father to the Son, “Let us make man in our image.” And the triumphant song of jubilee in which the redeemed take part, is unto “Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever.Jesus prayed that his disciples might be one as he was one with his Father. This prayer did not contemplate one disciple with twelve heads, but twelve disciples, made one in object and effort in the cause of their master. Neither are the Father and the Son parts of the “three-one God.” They are two distinct beings, yet one in the design and accomplishment of redemption. The redeemed, from the first who shares in the great redemption, to the last, all ascribe the honor, and glory, and praise, of their salvation, to both God and the Lamb.” — (James White, Life Incidents, 1868, p. 343)

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for THE faith which was once delivered unto the saints...” (Jude 3, 4) ...The exhortation to contend for the faith delivered to the saints, is to us alone. And it is very important for us to know what for and how to contend. In the 4th verse he gives us the reason why we should contend for THE faith, a particular faith; “for there are certain men,” or a certain class who deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ... The way spiritualizers have disposed of or denied the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ is first using the old unscriptural Trinitarian creed, viz., that Jesus Christ is the eternal God, though they have not one passage to support it, while we have plain scripture testimony in abundance that he is the Son of the eternal God.” — (James White, The Day Star, January 24, 1846)

“Paul affirms of the Son of God that he was in the form of God, and that he was equal with God. 'Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God.' Phil. 2:6. The reason why it is not robbery for the Son to be equal with the Father is the fact that he is equal... The inexplicable Trinity that makes the Godhead three in one and one in three, is bad enough; but that ultra Unitarianism that makes Christ inferior to the Father is worse. Did God say to an inferior, “Let us make man in our image?” — (James White, Review and Herald, November 29, 1877)

“The Most Holy, containing the Ark of the ten commandments, was then opened for our Great High Priest to enter to make atonement for the cleansing of the Sanctuary. If we take the liberty to say there is not a literal Ark, containing the ten commandments in heaven, we may go only a step further and deny the literal City, and the literal Son of God.  Certainly, Adventists should not choose the spiritual view, rather than the one we have presented. We see no middle ground to be taken.” — (James White, Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, June 9, 1851, The Parable – Matthew XXV, 1-12)

“We are told by those who teach the abolition of the Father's law, that the commandments of God mentioned in the New Testament, are not the ten, but the requirements of the gospel, such as repentance, faith, baptism and the Lord's supper. But as these, and every other requirement peculiar to the gospel, are all embraced in the faith of Jesus, it is evident that the commandments of God are not the sayings of Christ and his apostles. To assert that the sayings of the Son and his apostles are the commandments of the Father, is as wide from the truth as the old trinitarian absurdity that Jesus Christ is the very and Eternal God. And as the faith of Jesus embraces every requirement peculiar to the gospel, it necessarily follows that the commandments of God, mentioned by the third angel, embrace only the ten precepts of the Father's immutable law which are not peculiar to any one dispensation, but common to all.” — (James White, Review and Herald, August 5, 1852, p. 52)

“Here we might mention the Trinity, which does away the personality of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, and of sprinkling or pouring instead of being “buried with Christ in baptism,” “planted in the likeness of his death:” but we pass from these fables to notice one that is held sacred by nearly all professed Christians, both Catholic and Protestant. It is, The change of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment from the seventh to the first day of the week.” — (James White, Review and Herald, December 11, 1855, p. 85)

“We have not as much sympathy with Unitarians that deny the divinity of Christ, as with Trinitarians who hold that the Son is the eternal Father, and talk so mistily about the three-one God. Give the Master all that divinity with which the Holy Scriptures clothe him. ...” — (James and Ellen White's – Western Tour, Review and Herald, June 6, 1871)

“The “mystery of iniquity” began to work in the church in Paul's day. It finally crowded out the simplicity of the gospel, and corrupted the doctrine of Christ, and the church went into the wilderness. Martin Luther, and other reformers, arose in the strength of God, and with the Word and Spirit, made mighty strides in the Reformation. The greatest fault we can find in the Reformation is, the Reformers stopped reforming. Had they gone on, and onward, till they had left the last vestige of Papacy behind, such as natural immortality, sprinkling, the trinity, and Sunday-keeping, the church would now be free from her unscriptural errors.” — (James White, Review and Herald, February 7, 1856, p. 148)

“With this view of the subject [that Christ is the very Son of God] there are meaning and force to language which speaks of the Father and the Son. But to say that Jesus Christ “is the very and eternal God,” makes him his own son, and his own father, and that he came from himself, and went to himself.” — (James White, Review & Herald, June 6, 1871)

Below James White informs us that the non-Trinitarian view held by his wife is found in her testimonies which were given under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Spirit of Prophecy), and hence were a God given Pillar of our Faith. He says that Trinitarians will needless to say not agree with the God given non-Trinitarian truth and thus condemn her testimonies.

“We invite all to compare the testimonies of the Holy Spirit through Mrs. W., with the word of God. And in this we do not invite you to compare them with your creed. That is quite another thing. The trinitarian may compare them with his creed, and because they do not agree with it, condemn them. The observer of Sunday, or the man who holds eternal torment an important truth, and the minister that sprinkles infants, may each condemn the testimonies' of Mrs. W. because they do not agree with their peculiar views. And a hundred more, each holding different views, may come to the same conclusion. But their genuineness can never be tested in this way.” — (James White, Review and Herald, June 13, 1871)

Sunday worship and the doctrine of the trinity are both counterfeits from the Catholic Church.

“As fundamental errors, we might class with this counterfeit sabbath other errors which Protestants have brought away from the Catholic church, such as sprinkling for baptism, the trinity, the consciousness of the dead and eternal life in misery. The mass who have held these fundamental errors, have doubtless done it ignorantly; but can it be supposed that the church of Christ will carry along with her these errors till the judgment scenes burst upon the world? We think not.” — (James White, Review and Herald, September 12, 1854, p. 36)

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