WHEN AND HOW WAS THE TRINITY REALLY ADOPTED AS PART OF BELIEFS?

Dr. Francis McLellan Wilcox:

A. G. Daniells:

Dr. LeRoy Froom:

The Trinity was officially VOTED and accepted in the GC session of 1980 in Dallas, TX. The first step towards its introduction was made in 1931, and before that, it was only a few of the leading theologians who were trying to spread the idea, but without success until 1931, when most of the pioneers has already retired. What does the church itself say about that? The official German Adventist magazine “Adventecho” has a very good description, which unfortunately most Adventists do not know, who simply think that the Trinity has been our basic teaching since time begun for us, even during the time of Ellen White:

  • “The year 1930 marked an additional milestone in the shaping of the Adventist faith… Bypassing the General Conference board, in the year 1931, the Annual Book included a draft of 22 Fundamental Beliefs, prepared by editor Francis M. Wilcox along with three other theologians, including the President of the General Conference, Charles H. Watson. According to Adventist historian LeRoy E. Froom, behind this surprise action was an intention to avoid resistance from traditional church leadership circles. The new version, which was not implicitly understood as a firmly formulated creed, contained, for the first time, a recognition of the Trinity which was expressed through great Christocentrism. The decades-long influence of Uriah Smith and his followers was thus overcome. In 1932, the fundamental beliefs were taken over in the newly created book of the church. They gained even more strength because they became a measure of preparation for baptism.“ {Adventecho SDA Germany, April 1998, Seite 11+12}

We can see in this official statement that, as a church, we did not always believe in the Trinity! When something is tolerated for a long time or agreements are passed in that direction, it takes a similar meaning as a law, and it becomes a legal obligation. That happened with the 28 points of „our“ belief, which were officially accepted in year 1980! We also see this at the Council of Nicaea, where the celebration of Sunday is mixed with the rest of the fundamental principles of Christianity.

  • “Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good. Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour” {Ecclesiastes 9:18 – 10:1}

The late “legal integration” of the 28 Fundamental Beliefs is more proof that the lie is mixed with the truth, otherwise, it would have been voted back in 1931, when the expression and position of the Trinity was first introduced to the Adventist church. In terms of case law, the Trinity had been present for almost 50 years by 1980, and the official vote was only the “legal” confirmation of it. Were those 28 points used before they were fully adopted in 1980? As early as 1941, the Trinity had to be accepted at baptism, although it was not as specific as it is today, because the Holy Spirit was described back then as ‘our comforter’, and we baptised, of course, in His name. 

The formulation of the Trinity came only as a consequence, with a gradual emphasis on names and meanings. However, the other side claims that the 28 points are just a formulation of what we have already believed and held. This is not truth! Until 1941 we did not have to accept the Trinity! This tells us, that Ellen White and the church have remained completely clear on the truth. If the Trinity had been presented in its full form at that time, the church would have instantly recognised that it belonged to the apostasy. But this “new truth” was brought slowly to the church until the members got used to it.

Thus, the beginning of the apostasy was sown in 1913, when for the first time a leadership official arbitrarily inserted the word ‘Trinity’ in one of our church articles. The fact that this leader used the word ‘trinity’ did not, at that point, change the official belief of the church. Satan always takes the first step gently, to remove fear from people. The article quoted below was not our official teaching, but only the position of the editor, F.M. Wilcox, who together with prof. Prescott and Dr. Froom later introduced this false teaching into our ranks:

  • “Seventh Day Adventists believe in the divine Trinity. This Trinity consists of the eternal Father, a personal, SPIRITUAL BEING, omnipotent, omniscient, infinite in power, wisdom, and love; of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the eternal Father, through Whom all things were created, and through Whom the salvation of the redeemed hosts will be accomplished; the holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, the one regenerating agency in the work of redemption.” {F. M. Wilcox: “The Message for Today“, RH, October 9, 1913

Many take the above quote as “proof” that we definitely believed in the Trinity even during Ellen White’s time. But when we compare our official ‘Adventist Yearbook 1914’ of the General Conference with this text from F. M. Wilcox from 1913, we will see contradictions; Our church has firmly denied his testimony from 1913 in the Year Book 1914, listing points of belief identical to those of 1872! So today’s claim that we did not have a formulation of our beliefs before 1931 and that it was only formulated in 1931 is not true. Points 1 and 2 of the official beliefs were identical in the years 1872 and 1914. There was no trace of a belief in the Trinity in the list of our teachings in the years 1872 and 1914! 

A Declaration of the Fundamental Principles 1872 by SDA – Uriah Smith

Year Book 1914 of the SDA Pages 293-297 confirm the Faith Points from 1872

So our beliefs were still the same by 1913, despite this one article on the Trinity Francis McLellan Wilcox, published and which is used today as “proof” that we accepted the Trinity back then. In 1919, among the leading theologians in the GC, such as Prescott, Lacey, and Daniells, there was an attempt to officially introduce the Trinity. But that attempt was rejected by most theologians. The official change did come in 1931, after most of the old pioneers had already passed away. At that time, the teaching of the Trinity was adopted semi-officially. 

One of the main bearers of the introduction of the Trinity was Francis M. Wilcox, supported, among others, by GC President, Charles H. Watson, and by Dr. Froom, who was one of the key theologians from the general conference. At that time, Dr. Froom was part of a team responsible for the preparation of the 22 points of belief. He later wrote that “wrong” teachings about God were removed from our beliefs. His book, “Movement of Destiny”, states that until then, there was nothing in the literature written by Adventist theologians on the subject of the Trinity:

  • “May I here make a frank personal confession. When back between 1926 and 1928 I was asked by our leaders to give a series of studies on “The holy Spirit”…..covering the North American Union Ministerial Institute of 1928, I found that aside from priceless leads found in the Spirit of Prophecy, there was practically nothing in our literature setting forth a sound, Biblical exposition in this tremendous field of study. There were no previous pathfinding books on the question in OUR literature.” {Dr. LeRoy Edwin Froom: Movement of Destiny, page 322-324, 1971} 
  • “The next logical and inevitable step in the implementing of our unified fundamental beliefs, involved revision of certain STANDARD works, so as to eliminate statements that taught, and thus perpetuated erroneous views on the Godhead.” {Dr. L. Froom: Movement Of Destiny p. 422, 1971} 

The first Adventist book about the Trinity was written by Dr. Froom. The book title, “The Coming of the Comforter”, was published in 1928. Apostasy is like a snowball that rolls down faster and faster from the top of the hill and becomes bigger and bigger and destroys everything on its way. This was literally fulfilled after the introduction of his new doctrine. When we compare the fundamental points of faith from 1914 and the current ones, we will see a gradual development of Trinity teaching. On the first step of apostasy (Trinity) in year 1931 our official believe remained that Jesus is the literal Son. Today is this truth rejected and denied!

Adventist Yearbook 1914:

  • 1: “That there is ONE God, a personal, spiritual being, the Creator of all things, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal; infinite in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, truth, and mercy; unchangeable, and everywhere present by His representative, the holy Spirit.” {Adventist Yearbook 1914, p. 293} 
  • 2: “That there is ONE Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the one BY WHOM he created all things, and by Whom they do consist; that he took on him the nature of the seed of Abraham for the redemption of our fallen race; that he dwelt among men, full of grace and truth, lived our example, died our sacrifice, was raised for our justification, ascended on high to be our only mediator in the sanctuary in heaven, where through the merits of his shed blood, he secures the pardon and forgiveness of the sins of all those who persistently come to him; and, as the closing portion of his work as priest, before he takes his throne as king, he will make the great atonement for the sins of all such, and their sins will then be blotted out (Acts 3: 19) and borne away from the sanctuary, as shown in the service of the Levitical priesthood, which foreshadowed and prefigured the ministry of our Lord in heaven.“ {Adventist Yearbook 1914, p. 293} docs.adventistarchives.org/docs/YB/YB1914__B.pdf

Adventist Yearbook 1931:

  • 2: “That the Godhead, or Trinity, consists of the Eternal Father, a personal, spiritual Being, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, infinite in wisdom and love; the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, through Whom all things were created and through Whom the salvation of the redeemed hosts will be accomplished; the holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, the great regenerating power in the work of redemption.” {Adventist Yearbook 1931, p. 377} docs.adventistarchives.org/docs/YB/YB1931__B.pdf

How much did the official teaching of the Adventist Church change by 1980?

  • 2: “There is ONE God: Father, Son, and holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation.” {SDA: 2nd Point of belief} 

We can see that for „our“ theologians this “ONE GOD” consists of three “Gods”, while the Bible and the writings of EGW only call God the FATHER the “ONE GOD”! In the last step became the holy Spirit new name „God the eternal Spirit“ which gives more accent, that he „is“ the „third God“.

  • 5: “God the eternal Spirit was active with the Father and the Son in Creation, incarnation, and redemption. He is as much a person as are the Father and the Son. He inspired the writers of Scripture. He filled Christ’s life with power. He draws and convicts human Beings; and those who respond He renews and transforms into the image of God. Sent by the Father and the Son to be always with His children, He extends spiritual gifts to the church, empowers it to bear witness to Christ, and in harmony with the Scriptures leads it into all truth.“ {SDA: 5th Point of belief} 

Many, soon after, adopted the name God the Eternal Spirit, and some of them, as a logical consequence, began to pray directly to “God, the Holy Spirit”, a direct transgression of the first commandment! In the whole Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, there is not a single place where “God, the Holy Spirit” is mentioned. We only read about “the Spirit of GOD! There is also not a single word about praying to the Holy Spirit, nor has anyone in our whole history ever prayed to the Holy Spirit!

  • Satan was once an honored angel in heaven, next to Christ (not next to a trinity)” {Ellen White: EW, p. 145.1 1858.} 

Here we can see how Satan, who at one point was the highest angel standing next to God the Father and the Son, decided to promote the Trinity, abusing the name of the Holy Spirit. He hid behind that name as the “third God”, and received prayers that did not belong to him as a creature! Praying to the Holy Spirit is a direct prayer to the enemy! Ellen White wrote in 1915 that this great apostasy would come immediately after her death, and it happened indeed:

  • “I am charged to tell our people, that some do not realise, that the devil has device after device, and he carries them out in ways that they do not expect. Satan’s agencies will invent ways to make sinners out of saints. I tell you now, that when I am laid to rest, great changes will take place. I do not know when I shall be taken; and I desire to warn all against the devices of the devil. I want the people to know that I warned them fully before my death.” {Ellen White: Ms 1, Feb 24th, 1915

She announced the emergence of such theology:

  • “Be not deceived; many will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. We have now before us the alpha (beginning) of THIS danger. The omega will be of a most startling nature.” {Ellen White: Special Testimonies Series B, No. 2 page 16, ‘A Letter to Leading Physicians’, July 24th, 1904, ‘Teach the Word’} 
  • “The ´Living Temple´ (by Dr. Kellogg) contains the alpha (beginning) OF THESE theories. I knew that THE OMEGA would follow in a LITTLE WHILE; and I trembled for our people.” {Ellen White: Special Testimonies, Series B No. 2 Page 53, ‘The Foundation of our Faith’ 1904

That topic came to the surface immediately after her death, and soon after that, it continued at the 1919 Bible Conference where Prof. W. Prescott tried to push his and Wilcox’s teachings. They had the support of other leading theologians such as, H.C. Lacey and A.G. Daniells, but due to the determined resistance of the majority, these few did not succeed. Why did they not succeed then, if we as a church had already recognized this “truth” much earlier? In 1919, when the session was convened, the opponents of that teaching were not invited at all or received the invitation too late. If we accepted the Trinity during Ellen White, why was there so much fear of the conservatives, if they were really the minority?

  • “Don’t let the conservatives think that something is going to happen, and the progressives get alarmed for the fear that it won’t happen. Let’s keep up this good spirit. Bring out what you have. Let us get all the light we have, believe what we can, and let the rest go.“ {A.G. Daniells 1919} 

Why was it so difficult to accept the Trinity then, if it had already been accepted by Ellen White and the rest of the church around 1890? The answer we get is that at the GC session of 1931 they only “wrote down the points we already believed in. Around 1922, the apostate leaders began to unobtrusively insert Catholic songs with the Trinity in them into our SDA hymnal. But even then, the acceptance of that teaching was still not complete, because it had not been voted for by the whole church. JS. Washburn tried to defend the truth in 1940 and called the theology of the Trinity by W. Prescott the Omega apostasy. This time though, the defence of the truth did not succeed, because the apostasy was already too deep.

It was not until 1946 that the Trinity was accepted as teaching in GC! But even at this time was this decision not the result of votes in General Conference session! In 1950, Robert J. Wieland and Donald K. Short tried to defend the old truth, but this time they weren’t able to succeed as the number of those who fought against the apostasy had become very small. At the same time, all true Aryan views such as that Jesus was the literal Son, were removed from Uriah Smith’s books around 1944, and his book “Daniel and Revelation” was changed. The explanation that we get from this is Uriah Smith did not fully understand the truth, therefore the error had to be removed, but we already know that Ellen White strongly supported his book!

  • The foundation of our faith, which was established by so much prayer, such earnest searching of the Scriptures, was being taken down, pillar by pillar. Our faith was to have nothing to rest upon—the sanctuary was gone, the atonement was gone. I realised that something must be done. The battle nearly killed me.“ {Ellen White: 1SAT, p. 344, 1904

She wrote clearly that apostasy will overflow any attempt to defend the truth. Is such apostasy just minority in the church? That is the absolute majority because only majority can overcome any resistance. Are there other theologically and philosophically destroyed pillars of our faith? In 1913 and 1935, the sons of Ellen White made it clear that the Trinity had broken the pillar of truth about God. This is an attack on the main pillars of truth! What else changed since Ellen White’s death? The biggest change was the teaching of the Trinity, which came with other points, such as that Jesus had the nature of Adam before sin when He came to Earth.

Today, there are claims that a “small” number of pioneers rejected the Trinity, and that the majority believed in it even during the time of Ellen White. Several quotes are used as evidence that several theologians, in the initial stage of the apostasy, wrote supporting the teaching of the Trinity. By that logic, quoting several theologians who reject the Trinity should be enough “argument” that the church did not believe in the Trinity! The real facts can be found in one of the most important representatives of the Trinity and apostasy leader, Merlin Burt, who made the following statement:

  • “During the 1940s an ever increasing majority of the church was believing in the eternal underived deity of Christ and the trinity, yet there were those who held back and even actively resisted the change. This group was mainly comprised of some older ministers and Bible teachers.”{Merlin Burt: https://www.andrews.edu/~burt/010524_Burt.pdf

If the older theologians of that time fought against this false teaching, even 25 years after Ellen White’s death, it is really funny to claim that our church had taught this false teaching before that time! So it is no wonder that in 1980 we adopted the new doctrine that the one God (indirectly Buddhist in this view) consists of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, although the Bible clearly talks about one God the Father, His (literal) Son, and (Their own) Holy Spirit! May God be merciful to us, and help us to repent, because according to the prophet Ezekiel, the punishment will go first to the apostate people of God.

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