Have Faith in the Advent Movement

The meaning of faith in the pioneers of this movement.

By H. O. OLSON, Bureau of Home Missions

A recent mail brought to my desk two  books from a would-be reformer of Sev­enth-day Adventist doctrine, and two docu­ments from an American lecturer, W. J. Cam­eron. One of the documents of the lecturer was entitled, "Have Faith in America," and contained statements that apply most appro­priately to the invectives of so-called Seventh-day Adventist reformers. Note these two ex­cerpts:

"The noise you hear is not the cracking of foundations; it is but the squeaking mice that cannot gnaw the granite." "Every effort to infect us simply serves as vaccination, render­ing us more resistant to wrong. The present testing of our principles, though meant for evil, will turn out to our good; our roots will drive to deeper holds upon the verities from which we sprang. This is our faith; it may arouse new vigilance, but it utterly casts out fear."

Some years ago fear seemed to exist on the part of some in our ranks that it was danger­ous to delve deep into the facts of history, as we might find data that would disprove certain tenets of our faith. Such fear was, and is, unwarranted; for truth is never endangered by either historical or scientific facts. Instead it is made to stand out in bold relief, by such findings. As Bible students, however, we must beware of spurious history, pseudo science, and subtle sophistry.

The foregoing expression, "Our roots will drive to deeper holds upon the verities from which we sprang," has proved true in our own denominational experience. If it had not been for the opposition encountered from op­ponents to our movement, it is doubtful whether we would have undertaken the thor­ough research work into early advent sources in all parts of the world which is being so ably and efficiently carried on by the General Con­ference. The findings presented at ministerial institutes, arid other gatherings of our workers, have been inspiring and faith strengthening, and have enabled us to secure "deeper holds." We workers deeply appreciate the fact that the General Conference Committee has made it possible to undertake this gigantic task, and we look forward with expectancy to the time when these vital facts will be made available in book form.

To "have faith in the advent movement," as the heading of this unsolicited contribution states, does not mean we must believe that the pioneers in this movement never came to a wrong conclusion during their earnest search for truth. The apostles of Christ often drew wrong conclusions from the statements made by their Master, and He did not always cor­rect them immediately. As late as the ascen­sion day, they still believed that He would restore earthly Canaan to Israel. The same was true of Luther and other denomination founders; in the early part of their ministry they held some beliefs which later they found to be untenable and therefore discarded. No broad-minded person would consider that this weakened their cause, nor hold this against the denominations founded by them.

The pioneers of the advent movement were not given an understanding of our whole sys­tem of present truth by direct revelation. They had to search for truth as for a hidden treasure, and when they found that they had made wrong deductions, a deeper and more thorough study of the subject brought forth a correct conclusion. In this corrective work they had the Spirit of prophecy to aid. We honor them for their openness to conviction.

It will weaken a minister's influence in the eyes of his audience for him to take the posi­tion that some of the early believers did not teach a certain unscriptural point or detail, when the facts show the contrary to be true. How can the audience know that other matters presented by this minister may not also be found to be contrary to fact? Let us ever honor and exalt truth. There is every reason to have faith in the integrity and soundness of the advent faith.

 


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By H. O. OLSON, Bureau of Home Missions

August 1937

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