Many religious movements have suffered critical spiritual adjustment in their second and third generation of witness. Passing time has, in turn, severely tested the doctrinal position and living standards of the founders of each movement. Can we safely presume that the remnant church is immune from such reactions?
We might reverently ask whether the "predestined" glorious triumph of the truth of God is reason sufficient for inattention to the subtle forces of change and compromise that are increasingly threatening the church. Can we do our work effectively if we grow unsure of what that work is? And if this movement is assured of continued and growing life, more than its contemporaries, it is well that we know wherein lies that confidence and the protecting forces God has thrown around us. Might there be waning confidence in the very source of our guidance and we not realize it?
It is now forty years since the messenger of God lived among us in the flesh. Those days of awe-inspiring personal counsel and penetrating messages to the church at large are now a matter of written record. As a result, too often our belief in Sister White and her writings has approached the superstitious. We have been willing to depend upon fulfillment of predictions and interventions of God through the "gift" as fundamental evidence of Ellen G. White's call to the prophetic office. However inspiring these have been, sounder thinking on more basic fundamentals than these are necessary if the counsels are to continue to claim our attention with positive molding influence upon our personal lives and the work we manage.
Increasingly we hear expressed the reservation: "Are not many of the writings of Sister White out of date? Since time has lingered longer than we originally expected, are we not facing life which today demands a radically less rigid approach to the standards and practice of godliness?"
It seems, therefore, that one vital test—and test the Spirit of prophecy we must—of the validity of this counsel to our generation depends upon its enduring quality. However inspiring and convincing the early records of divine leadership proved to be in the building of the church, we know that times have changed. We are removed a generation or more from the setting of those early counsels. And more radical still is the ideological cleavage between the present and the past, marked by two world wars and the profound changes to society that they brought. In short, we have been catapulted into a new age. Therefore we must face the inevitable question: "May our youth, our homes, our churches, our institutions, find in the 'gift' the safe, sane counsel that this modern day demands?" We sincerely answer this question in the affirmative. God's Word to the human race has always met this requirement. We believe that "His truth endureth." In so saying we are not speaking idle words or giving thoughtless expression to blind enthusiasms. Truth can stand investigation, and the writings of the "gift" stand the continuing test.
Strange, isn't it, that the very distinctiveness, the very uniqueness, of certain phases of our message which in the past has caused embarrassment to some within our ranks has now, in many instances, brought recognition and respect from the world. One outstanding example of this enduring quality has been in the field of education, and science has not come far behind.
Counsel on the Mental Sciences
To illustrate: Shall we move for a moment into the area about which our last editorial spoke—the area of the present conflict between the materialistic Freudian concept of the mental sciences and the philosophy of religion and life as held by Seventh-day Adventists. We speak now of hypnotism, that fast-developing practice of mind controlling mind that has already swept Europe and is now challenging the integrity of our doctors, dentists, and thinking laymen here in America.
Hypnotism as a medical aid grew to•alarming proportions during the recent war years. The convincing evidence of its so-called innocent use in the relieving of pressure-filled soldier minds from wartime stress led to further experimentation immediately following the war. Now it is not at all uncommon to see the most painful operations conducted under the influence of the hypnotic state. It is difficult to determine in which field it is making more rapid progress—the medical or the dental profession—so effective an anesthesia does it prove to be.
Our doctors and our dentists are facing severe tests as convincing papers are read and demonstrations performed in their State and national conventions. The universities now offer quick easy courses in hypnotism.
While we in the ministry have thought of the practice in its cruder state of questionable parlor entertainment and cheap circus lure, soon you, my brother, may be seated in polite circles and hear convincing evidence that the actual practice involves the possession of no devilish power whatever. You may hear that almost anyone can practice the art provided he has a willing subject. Whatever degree of truth or devil possession there may be in these claims, we know that those who have given thoughtful attention to this matter to safeguard the people of God have discovered one important admission from the growing number of medical books on the subject. That is, the evil of the practice lies in the willing surrender of an individual mind to that of another mortal. Thus is opened the precincts of the soul in a way the enemy himself cannot do. It is then that he takes advantage. This is what is involved when science says, "A person can be effectively hypnotized only to the extent to which his conscious mind is silenced."
Note carefully the following quotations and then the pertinent references from the Spirit of prophecy concerning this growing ultramodern trend.
"Most doctors prefer to use drugs, the so-called hypnotic drugs, as an aid to relaxation. . . . But drugs have their own side effects which may not be desired in some cases. Often, hypnoidal suggestion will do the trick quite easily, and probably more safely. The technique is not all difficult. Many sensitive doctors, nurses, and nannies have a flair for it—without realizing what it is or ever giving it a name.
"The real danger lies in the use of deep hypnosis, which has quite a different effect on the mind, by those who know nothing of psychological medicine.
"Deep hypnosis is an artificial splitting of the mind—dissociation is the technical term. In people with a tendency to hysterial neurosis, the mind is already slightly dissociated. Indeed, that is one of the definitions of this neurosis. It is all too easy to widen this gap in the mind by deep hypnosis. But if you do so, you are not helping the mind to become whole. On the contrary, you are helping to break it up."—DR. JOHN WHITWELL, reprinted from the January, 1954, issue of Family Doctor, published by the British Medical Association.
It is claimed that the "innocence" of modern trends in hypnotism can be defended on the basis that it merely uses "suggestion." It is further stated, in almost every volume on the subject, that the salesman and the advertiser and the minister use these principles continually. They point out that when suggestions are planted in the minds of the people, actions will follow. But herein lies a subtle deception. In hypnosis the conscious mind is silenced. The guardian of the soul, the power of human choice, the precincts of the human personality, are invaded, not by the divine Son of God or by His Spirit, but by an erring mortal mind; and what is more, those who advocate the use of this so-called science are usually of the naturalistic school, which considers man but little above the animal stage, disregarding man's moral accountability to God and the operation of the supernatural within the human heart. Following are statements revealing the crux of the danger:
"When your conscious mind is active it acts as a censor through which all thoughts must pass in order to reach your subconscious mind. Once suggestions reach a subconscious mind, they are accepted without question. So the hypnotist puts the conscious mind to sleep. Without the censorship of the conscious mind, the subconscious mind immediately accepts all his suggestions. In this way the hypnotist can control thoughts and actions.-- DR. DAVID F. TRACY, How to Use Hypnosis (Sterling Pub. Co., N.Y., 1952), pp. 15, 16.
In other words, kill the watchdog, silence the conscience and let the human mind take over. This is the very essence of evil. Herein lies the vital difference between the "suggestion" of the advertiser, or politician, or minister. Men weigh those suggestions. In hypnotism they cannot—the guardian of the soul is silenced.
"Just such favorable reaction to suggestion is what the therapist tries to accomplish with his subject. He recognizes that he cannot expect a subject to carry out a suggestion in full command of his reasoning faculty. . . . Elms the therapist must partially inactivate, temporarily, the centre of conscious reason in the individual.... Experimentation in the Nancy School in France postulated the theory that acuity of reason is the greatest hindrance to the accomplishment of deep hypnosis."—BERNARD C. GINDES, New Concepts of Hypnosis (Julian Messner, Inc., Publishers, N.Y., 1951).
"Put bluntly, through hypnosis it is possible to force persons to commit crimes, although I doubt that at present more than half a dozen persons in this country command technique sufficient to do so. Those who speak of the necessity for hypnotic suggestion to fit in with a subject's 'moral code' should revise their concepts.
"This distressing power of hypnosis is completely logical, for to the extent that one is effectively hereto conditioned, to precisely that extent has one no effective auto-control over his own behaviour. When the bell rings the appropriately trained dog salivates. He cannot help it.
"Hypnosis now remains merely a term of convenience. It is all conditioning, and when this is constantly kept in mind, hypnosis, or conditioning, becomes an instrument of the most fantastic power, and the person under treatment needs neither faith, nor hope, nor confidence for satisfactory psychotherapy."—ANDREW SALTER, What Is Hypnosis? (Richard R. Smith, Inc., Topside, West Rindge, N.H., 1944), p. 35.
"May not telepathy, indeed, be the natural and intended means of communication between our mind (or spirits) and the Creator's Mind (or Spirit)?"—ALSON J. SMITH, Religion and the New Psychology (Doubleday and Co., Inc., N.Y., 1951), p. 166.
Warnings and Counsel
Now, in view of the foregoing alarming yet revealing admissions, read every word of the following Spirit of prophecy warnings and counsel.
In language too clearly stated to be misunderstood, Ellen G. White warns:
"I have been shown that we must be guarded on every side, and perseveringly resist the insinuations and devices of Satan. He has transformed himself into an angel of light, and is deceiving thousands and leading them captive. The advantage he takes of the science of the human mind, is tremendous. Here, serpentlike, he imperceptibly creeps in to corrupt the work of God. The miracles and works of Christ he would make appear as a result of human skill and power. . . . The sciences of phrenology, psychology and mesmerism [hypnotism] are the channels through which he comes more directly to this generation and works with that power which is to characterize his efforts near the close of probation. . . . While it is believed that one human mind so wonderfully affects another, Satan, ready at hand, insinuates himself and works on the right hand and on the left. . . . This entering in of Satan through the sciences is well devised by his satanic majesty, and in the minds of thousands, will eventually destroy true faith in Christ's being the Messiah, the Son of God."—Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 290, 291. (Italics supplied.)
"It is not God's purpose that any human being should yield his mind and will to the control of another, becoming a passive instrument in his hands. No one is to merge his individuality in that of another. He is not to look to any human being as the source of healing. His dependence must be in God. In the dignity of his God-given manhood, he is to be controlled by God Himself, not by any human intelligence. . . .
"The theory of mind controling mind was originated by Satan, to introduce himself as the chief worker, to put human philosophy where divine philosophy should be. . . . Innocent though it may appear, if exercised upon patients it will tend to their destruction, not to their restoration. It opens a door through which Satan will enter to take possession both of the mind that is given up to be controlled by another, and of the mind that controls."—The Ministry of Healing, pp. 242, 243. (Italics supplied.)
"Men and women are not to study the science of how to take captive the minds of those who associate with them. This is the science that Satan teaches. We are to resist everything of the kind. We are not to tamper with mesmerism and hynotism,—the science of the one who lost his first estate, and was cast out of the heavenly courts. . . .
"For thousands of years Satan has been experimenting upon the properties of the human mind, and he has learned to know it well. . . .
"I am instructed that you are entertaining ideas with which God has forbidden you to deal. . . You suppose that you can use this mind cure in your professional work as a physician. . . . God has not appointed you this work. The theory of mind controlling mind is originated by Satan to introduce himself as the chief worker, to put human philosophy where divine philosophy should be.
"No man or woman should exercise his or her will to control the senses or reason of another, so that the mind of the person is rendered passively subject to the will of the one who is exercising the control. This science may appear to be something beautiful, but it is a science which you are in no case to handle."—Medical Ministry, pp. 110, Ill.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12).
Some of our people are asking, "Is there anything wrong with this practice when the objective is to the good health of an individual? Is it not an 'innocent' practice?" What will be your answer?
Is the Spirit of prophecy old-fashioned, out of date, unequipped to meet this tremendous "modern" emergency?
No, a thousand times No!
We may humbly thank God for its safe and sound guidance in a day when it will be difficult to trust even one's senses.
The worker for God who has mastered the safeguarding philosophy of The Ministry of Healing and the scores of helpful references through the Testimonies and the Conflict of the Ages series, especially The Great Controversy, is fully abreast of the situation and admirably capable of guiding His people into safe paths. These are critical days, when the precincts of the soul are stormed by him who "knoweth that he hath but a short time."
"Through His Holy Spirit the voice of God has come to us continually in warning and instruction, to confirm the faith of the believers in the Spirit of prophecy. . . . Time and trial have not made void the instruction given. . . . The instruction that was given in the early days of the message is to be held as safe instruction to follow in these its closing days. Those who are indifferent to this light and instruction must not expect to escape the snares which we have been plainly told will cause the rejectors of light to stumble, and fall, and be snared, and be taken."—ELLEN G. WHITE in The Review and Herald, July 18, 1907.
Just one question in closing. If the Spirit of prophecy is accurate in its foresight and warning in this highly specialized area of the mental sciences, is it not equally accurate and abreast of the times on all matters of faith and morals? "We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history."—Life Sketches, p. 196. (Italics supplied.)