More than forty years ago the writer was laboring as a young ordained minister on Puget Sound, Washington, when a false "loud cry" movement broke out in that section of the United States, perhaps the only place where it made any showing of success. Several churches were seriously affected. The conference president telegraphed the writer from Portland,—then the headquarters,—to visit these churches and try to help the disaffected members find their way back to safety. In those days our laboring force was small, and at that particular time the writes' was the only ordained minister in that region, and young and inexperienced at that. This is the movement referred to in "Testimonies to Ministers," pages 32-62, in the chapter, "The Remnant Church Not Babylon."
As I review the character of that movement of many years ago, and compare it with certain efforts projected in recent years, I observe many like features that mark them all with a common brand.
Well can I remember the extraordinary zeal and apparent devotion of those who led out in that movement more than forty years ago, and their frequent quotation of the Bible and the Testimonies. Some of the laymen who became bewildered and joined forces with them were unquestionably possessed by another spirit. Their countenances sometimes seemed to change, and some even became unusually fluent in speech. But the results of that work were disastrous, and not one single good thing came out of that offshoot effort. Although many ultimately found their way back to the church fold, others became discouraged and lost their way.
It may be helpful in meeting similar heresies to observe a few notable points of difference between the true and the false, and to review what God has forewarned concerning false teachers. Deceivers are to work with power and cunning, especially in these last days. (See Matt. 24:24; 2 Thess. 2:9-11.) The devil himself is come down with great power to do his last deceptive work. Rev. 12:12. We must therefore be firmly established in the faith in order not to be "carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." Eph. 4:14. We as workers need to know well our "bearings," remembering the admonition, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." 1 Cor. 10:12. We, above all others, must keep our feet on the solid Rock.
In comparing these old and new deceptions with the word of God and the Testimonies of the Spirit, we may profitably observe the following warning from the Scripture, together with certain related references and comparisons: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." Rom. 16:17, 18.
While sometimes quoting copiously from both Bible and Testimonies, deceivers neither "rightly divide" the word of truth, nor do their conclusions harmonize with the spirit and tenor of the Spirit of prophecy. For example:
1. The Testimonies constantly tend to build up the church of God, while such countermovements divide and pull down. Theirs is a false message. (See "Testimonies to Ministers," p. 36, last par.)
2. While reproof for sin and backsliding abounds in the Testimonies, hope of a final triumph is ever set before the church. (See "Testimonies to Ministers," pp. 22, 23.) On the contrary, false teachers preach a message of doom, instead of one of hope and victory.
3. Consistently with the foregoing statement, both the Bible and the Testimonies, when speaking of the "shaking time," tell of many losing their way, but hearten the church by assuring us that we who "cannot be shaken," but "remain," are assured of triumph with the victorious remnant church. Deb. 12:27, 28. (See also "Testimonies to Ministers," pp. 15, 16, 61.) On the other hand, false shepherds in that movement of a generation ago—and those of today as well—would lead us to think that the church that received the message is shaken out, and that some of the offshoots will move on to victory. But observe this declaration:
"I saw a company who stood well-guarded and firm, giving no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body. God looked upon them with approbation. . . . I saw individuals approach the platform and examine the foundation. Some with rejoicing immediately stepped upon it. . . Some stepped off the platform to examine it, and declared it to be laid wrong. But I saw that nearly all stood firm upon the platform, and exhorted those who had stepped off to cease their complaints."—"Early Writings," pp. 258, 259.
4. One outstanding feature of all spurious or countermovements is the fact that, like the parasite that lives upon the tree from which it draws its life, these movements, while denouncing the church of God in their preaching and writing, nevertheless seek to live upon the movement by breaking down the confidence of members in the cause, and by obtaining the tithe of such, endeavoring all the while to secure members to their defection from the ranks of the church. They would starve without the advent movement as the base for their operations.
5. Note also the following significant fact: The gospel commission commands the church to evangelize—to send forth missionaries to the heathen, and into all parts of the world. But whoever heard of a foreign mission fund to raise money for mission endeavor adopted by such offshoots? Which of them has a Harvest Ingathering or similar effort for the support of missions? Where and who are their missionaries? Like the parasite cited, clinging to the vine it would kill, they depend on sucking out its life to maintain their own. Such movements have all the earmarks of falsity.