The Background of Volume VIII

The Background of Volume VIII (Concluded)

Our continued series on the background of the writings of Ellen White

By W. C. WHITE

D. E. ROBINSON

and A. L. WHITE

On December 30, 1902, only ten months after the Battle Creek Sanitarium had been razed by fire, the main buildings of the Review and Herald Publishing Association at the same place were completely destroyed by fire. Of this Mrs. White wrote a few days later:

"The news of this recent calamity has caused us to mourn deeply, but it was permitted by the Lord to come upon us, and we should make no complaint. but learn from it the lesson that the Lord would teach us. The destruction of the Review and Herald build­ing should not be passed over as something in which there is no meaning. Everyone connected with the office should ask himself, 'Wherein do I deserve this lesson?' "--"Testimonies," Vol. VIII, p. 101.

As the General Conference session was soon to be held in Oakland, California, plans for the rebuilding of the Review office were held in abeyance until that time.

The Move From Battle Creek

On April 2, 1903, the committee on plans brought before the General Conference the resolution:

"That the General Conference offices be moved from Battle Creek, Michigan, to some place favorable for its work in the Atlantic States."—General Conference Bulletin, Vol. V, No. 5, p. 67.

The next day, this resolution was read to Mrs. White in public, and she was asked if she had any light or counsel to give.

In her reply she referred to the many mes­sages that had been borne by her, deploring the centering of so many interests in Battle Creek. She spoke approvingly of the removal 'of the Battle Creek College to a country location at Berrien Springs, Michigan. She pointed out that the "Testimonies" had reproved wrong principles prevailing in the publishing house, and said:

"Before the fire came which swept away the Review and Herald factory, I was in distress for many days. I was in distress while the council was in session, laboring to get the right matter before the meeting, hoping. if it were a possible thing, to call our brethren to repentance. and avert calamity. It seemed to me that it was almost a life-and-death question. It was then that I saw the representation of danger—a sword of fire turning this way and that way. I was in an agony of distress. The next news was that the Review and Herald building had been burned by fire."—/d., No. 6, p. 85.

Definite advice regarding a change of loca­tion for the publishing house was then given:

"The very worst thing that could now be done would be for the Review and Herald office to be once more built up in Battle Creek. . . . I must say to our people that the Lord would have that institution established in an entirely new place. He would have the present influences of association broken up."—Ibid.

Then in direct answer to the specific question that had been put to her, Mrs. White continued:

"In reply to the question that has been asked in regard to settling somewhere else. I answer. Yes. Let the General Conference offices and the publishing work be moved from Battle Creek. I know not where the place will be. whether on the Atlantic coast or else­where. But this I will say. Never lay a stone or brick in Battle Creek to rebuild the Review office there. God has a better place for it."--Ibid.

In harmony with this counsel, prompt steps were taken to find a suitable location for the General Conference headquarters, and for the Review and Herald office. But it was not with­out opposition that these steps were taken. The expense of the transfer from Battle Creek was said by some to be unjustified. A number of stockholders in the publishing association not only refused to transfer their stock to a new corporation, but threatened legal measures to stop the move. Some even contended that those who left Battle Creek were secessionists, and that the leadership of the church would remain in the hands of those who remained there.

But, convinced that they were following di­vine counsel, a majority of the General Con­ference Committee searched until they found a place near Washington, D.C., where the head­quarters of the denomination is now located. As they proceeded, timely counsel from the Spirit of prophecy followed them step by step.

Crisis Over Pantheism

"Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfec­tion?" are questions that have baffled the minds of men from earliest time. Distorted and speculative views regarding Jehovah have been suggested to the human race ever since that first temptation when Eve was led to believe that through transgression she herself might be "as gods."

The danger of engaging in speculation re­garding this mystery has been repeatedly pointed out to Seventh-day Adventists through the gift of prophecy. The following words were published as early as 1885:

"We can never by searching find out God. He doe not lay open His plans to prying, inquisitive minds We must not attempt to lift with presumptuous hand the curtain behind which He veils His majesty. The apostle exclaims. 'Flow unsearchable are His judg­ments. and His ways past finding out.' It is a proof of His mercy that there is the biding of His power, that He is enshrouded in the awful clouds of mystery and obscurity : for to lift the curtain that conceals the Divine Presence is death."—Review and Herald, April 7, 1885.

The attempt to indoctrinate Seventh-day Ad­ventists with theories regarding Jehovah that represent Him as personally present in the tree, flower, animal, and every other living creature and to draw the cream of Seventh-day Adventist youth to Battle Creek to be converted to this doctrine and to become teachers of it, is an important part of the story of the background of "Testimonies for the Church," Volume VIII. How this attempt was met with clear, convincing testimonies at a crucial moment has been well told by Elder A. G. Daniells, in his book, "The Abiding Gift of Prophecy."

The lapse of time has clarified many of the issues that were then bewildering the minds of not a few Seventh-day Adventists. The or­ganized work of the church has gone steadily forward, prospered in proportion to our fidelity to the principles laid down in the guiding mes­sages sent from heaven. Many who were waver­ing have found their moorings; a few have remained adamant in their opposition.

The necessity for publishing the many warn­ings and counsels given to certain individuals in former years, was a source of regret. It was only, however, through making these mes­sages widely known that misunderstandings could be removed which were causing bewilder­ment to some who did not fully understand the issues.

Only in the light of the experience connected with the controversies that have been here briefly outlined can the reader fully appreciate the value of the instruction and counsel found in Volume VIII of the "Testimonies."

A knowledge of these issues, and of the clear counsel given regarding them, may serve to en­able us not only to understand the stirring crisis through which the denomination passed, but also to recognize the enemy's subtle decep­tions which we shall be called upon to meet in the future.

(To be continued)


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By W. C. WHITE

D. E. ROBINSON

and A. L. WHITE

November 1937

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