Uriah Smith and his semi-Arian book “Daniel and the Revelation“

The Semi-Arian theology was present already in the year 325 as a rejection of the Trinity that was officially introduced that year. This view teaches that only God the Father is the God of the whole universe, but at the same time, that Jesus, as His literal Son, possesses a Divine nature because He was born of the Father and not created. This was the correct teaching of our pioneers. Uriah Smith had been associated with Adventism since his childhood and took over the editorial of the Review and Herald in 1855. He was one of the most prolific writers in our church. He had a fundamental influence on the interpretation of the prophecies. 

His most famous works were the books “Revelation” (1867) and “Daniel” (1873), which were later merged into one book “Daniel and Revelation“. Although Uriah Smith had many disputes with Ellen White, she called him one of the most important authors in our church. His 1898 version of the book had clear Arian views (acceptance of Jesus as the literal Son of God, with a Divine nature, and rejecting the holy Spirit as an independent being) and had statements against the Trinity. These statements were removed from his book between 1940 and 1946. 

So much about the „proofs“ that the pioneers expounded the false teachings, and that Ellen White “recognised, understood, and removed” it after 1890. Jesus’ statement that “no one can serve two masters” means OR – OR in that sense. The first commandment says very clearly that we can and should pray only to the true God. This means that either the Trinity or Arianism attacks the first commandment directly. Jesus clearly says that there is no halfway. Arianism itself is named after the fighter for truth, Bishop Arius, who fought against the Trinity before and during the council of Nicaea. 

He accepted the Deity of Jesus but taught that Jesus was literally and has always been the only begotten Son of God, since heaven. On the other hand, after his defeat at Nicaea 325ad, lies were spread about him claiming that Jesus was a created being. And those who are fighting against the Trinity today, who believe in the biblical truth that Jesus, although God, is indeed a Son already born in heaven, are labeled as rejecters of Jesus as a Divine Being. Correct Arianism was the believe of Ellen White and all of the pioneers. Ellen White would never recommend a book as the most important, if it went against the first commandment, because that would mean rejecting the One true God! 

In the sense of the Spirit of Prophecy, this fact alone is already clear and sufficient evidence, for which other arguments are even unnecessary, although of course, we will study the whole topic together. What did she write in 1905 about Uriah Smith? At that time, it was very important for the discussion with Dr. Kellogg not to come to the recommendation of a theologian or literature that leads to delusion, where the truth is mixed with the false doctrine of the holy Spirit. Until his death in 1903, Uriah Smith was known as one of the most determined fighters against the false teaching of the Trinity. Below are Ellen White’s statements regarding Uriah Smith’s book:

  • “The interest in Daniel and the Revelation is to continue as long as probationary time shall last. God used the author OF THIS book as a channel through which to communicate light to direct minds to the truth.” {Ellen White: 1MR, No. 26, page 63, “Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation“ MS 174 1899
  • “Instruction has been given me (from the God) that the important books containing the light that God has given regarding Satan’s apostasy in heaven should be given a wide circulation just now; for through them the truth will reach many minds. ‘Patriarchs and Prophets,’ ‘Daniel and the Revelation,’ and ‘Great Controversy’ are needed now as never before. They should be widely circulated because the truths they emphasise will open many blind eyes.” {Ellen White: RH 16. February 1905. “A call for Active Work“} 

It is important to emphasise that this statement was made in 1905, and at that point, Uriah’s Smith book “Daniel and the Revelation” were book available. She also writes clearly that God used that author Uriah Smith and not those authors, i.e. the bible prophets Daniel and John.

  • “In Desire of Ages, Patriarchs and Prophets, The Great Controversy, and in Daniel and the Revelation, there is precious instruction.” {Ellen White: Letter written from St. Helena, California to Edson White and W. C. White, 27th September 1903, 21MR No. 1594, see also ‘Evangelism’ chapter 10 page 366} 
  • These books must be regarded as of special importance, and every effort should be made to get them before the people.” {Ellen White: Letter written from St. Helena, California to Edson White and W. C. White, 27th September 1903, 21MR No. 1594, see also ‘Evangelism’ chapter 10 page 366} 

Pressed by this clear evidence, theologians give new arguments again, that Ellen White recommended his book, which contained the “wrong” theology, „because“ it contained „also“ important truths. We have already seen how important the truth about the Trinity is, both then and today. Since she wrote that God used that author as a channel for truth, that book certainly cannot contain false teachings! The Bible makes it clear that no one can serve two different Masters! The only two points of contention regarding this book are on the 11th chapter of the book of the prophet Daniel, where Uriah Smith and James White had different opinions on whether one part concerned to Turkey or Rome, as well as the question of whether Uriah Smith understood that the Pope did lose his power. Perhaps his words may have left such an impression in some places, but we do not see it in Chapter 8 (vision of a ram, a goat and a little horn) of his book on Daniel, where he called the Papacy the leading force of persecution until the end of time. 

Uriah Smith also wrote about the Sunday Law. Can you believe that he wrote that the two beasts that will persecute God’s people will be the Papacy and America? Smith was inspired by the holy Spirit as he lined up his book! These passages are just one additional description to understand the already clear truth, this time from a different perspective. Incomplete interpretation of the contained symbolism, in this case, means only that we may have a lack of confirmation of the intentions of the Papacy, but it does not bring false doctrine or diminish the whole truth! Insufficient understanding of these passages does not change the fundamental meaning of the prophecies about the end of time or some of the foundations of our faith! Today we do not even have a complete interpretation of Revelation, but that does not mean that we can justify interpreting it with false teachings! Ellen White herself never defined the meaning of those passages, therefore, we have no proof that Uriah Smith misinterpreted those portions either. 

Had Ellen White recommended a book with an emphasis on the Trinity, that would give us evidence of her favor of this doctrine. However, some theologians say that Ellen White “just tolerated” Brother Smith’s book! An important German theologian writes the following words that Ellen White herself never defined the meaning of those passages, therefore, we have no proof that Uriah Smith misinterpreted those portions either. Had Ellen White recommended a book with an emphasis on the Trinity, that would give us evidence of her favor of this doctrine. However, some theologians say that Ellen White “just tolerated” Brother Smith’s book! An important German theologian writes the following words:

  • “Only after the death of the older generation of Adventist theologians could the “understanding” of Trinitarianism be completely broken, and it was first formulated in 1931 in our Fundamental Beliefs. In 1944, all anti-Trinitarian and semi-Arian statements from Uriah Smith’s printed books, if later printed, were altered or removed. “{M. Böttcher} 

Thus, we can see once again that, despite today’s completely false claims that we „recognised and accepted ” the Trinity bevor the year 1931! We can also recognize that the content of our old books has not remained intact, but has often been changed by people who considered themselves “authorised and professional”, without others knowing of these changes that were being made. Below we can see Uriah’s original statements:

  • “To the Lamb, equally with the Father who sits upon the throne, praise is ascribed in this song of adoration. Commentators, with great unanimity, have seized upon this as proof that Christ must be coeval with the Father; for otherwise, say they, here would be worship paid to the creature which belongs only to the Creator. But this does not seem to be a necessary conclusion. The Scriptures certainly clearly intimate that the existence of Christ had a beginning (John 1:1), which was not so in the case of the Father. (See remarks on Rev.3:14, where it is shown that Christ is not a created being.) But while he does not possess a co-eternity of past existence with the Father, the beginning of his existence, as the begotten of the Father, antedates the entire work of creation, in relation to which he stands a joint creator with God (John 1:3; Heb.1:2).  Could not the Father ordain that to such a being worship should be rendered equally with himself, without it’s being idolatry on the part of the worshiper? He has raised Him to positions which make it proper that He should be worshiped, and has even commanded that worship should be rendered him, which would not have been necessary had he been equal with the Father in eternity of existence. Christ himself declares that ’as the Father hath life in himself, so hath He given  to the Son to have life in himself.’ (John 5:26).  The Father has ’highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name.’ (Phil. 2:9).  And the Father himself says, ’Let all the angels of God worship him.’ (Heb. 1:6). These testimonies show that Christ is now an object of worship equally with the Father; but they do not prove that with him he holds an eternity of past existence.“  {Uriah Smith: Daniel and the Revelation, 1897, 401}  
  • “These Things Saith the Amen. – This is, then, the final message to the churches ere the close of probation. And though the description of their condition which he gives to the indifferent Laodiceans is fearful and startling, nevertheless it cannot be denied; for the Witness is “faithful and true.“ Moreover, He is “the beginning of the creation of God.“ Some understand by this language that Christ was the first created being, dating his existence anterior to that of any other created being or thing, next to the self-existent and eternal God. But the language does not necessarily imply that He was created; for the words, “the beginning of the creation,“ may simply signify that the work of creation, strictly speaking, was begun by Him. “Without Him was not anything made.“ Others, however, and more properly we think, take the word αρχη to mean the “agent“ or “efficient cause“, which is one of the definitions of the word, understanding that Christ is the agent through Whom God has created all things, but that He himself came into existence in a different manner, as He is called “the only begotten“ of the Father. It would seem utterly inappropriate to apply this expression to any being created in the ordinary sense of that term.“ {http://sdapillars.org/media/download_gallery/US_DanRev1897.pdf} {Uriah Smith:  Daniel and the Revelation, 1897, p. 371} 
  • The holy Spirit is the Spirit of God; it is also the Spirit of Christ. It is that Divine, mysterious emanation through which they carry forward their great and infinite work.” {Uriah Smith: General Conference Daily Bulletin Volume 4, March 14, 1891, pp. 146, 147} 
  • This Spirit is the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of Christ; the Spirit being the same whether it is spoken of as pertaining to God or Christ. But respecting this Spirit, the Bible uses expressions which cannot be harmonised with the idea that it is a person like the Father and the Son. Rather it is shown to be a Divine influence from them both, the medium which represents their presence and by which they have knowledge and power through all the universe, when not personally present. Christ is a person, now officiating as priest in the sanctuary in heaven; and yet he says that wherever two or three are gathered in his name, he is there in the midst. Mt. 18,20. How? Not personally, but by his Spirit. In one of Christ’s discoursed (John 14-16) this Spirit is personified as “the Comforter,” and as such has the personal and relative pronouns, “he,” “him,” and “Whom,” applied to it. But usually it is spoken of in a way to show that it cannot be a person, like the Father and the Son. For instance, it is often said to be “poured out” and “shed abroad.” But we never read about God or Christ being poured out or shed abroad. If it was a person, it would be nothing strange for it to appear in bodily shape; and yet when it has so appeared, that fact has been noted as peculiar.” {Uriah Smith: RH, October 28, 1890}

Daniel and Revelation – Uriah Smith 1897

This Text is part of the book First Commandment OR Trinity? – Encyclopedia of Evidences of the Old Trampled Truths of All Areas