It may not be generally known by our workers today, but it was chiefly A. G. Daniells who sparked the revival of the then rather dormant emphasis upon righteousness by faith with its key role in the formation of the Ministerial Association in the 1920's. As his junior associate during the time of this moving episode, with intimate personal knowledge of his burning convictions and fond hopes, his vision and his plans for its transforming revival in the ministry of the Advent Movement, the time has now come to share with our younger workers of today the inner story of this momentous awakening, the significance of which is not commonly understood. Here is the story, written by request of the editors of this journal:
But first, a thumbnail sketch of Elder Daniells as a prologue:
Arthur Grosvenor Daniells (1858-1935), one of Adventism's great leaders, attended Battle Creek College, taught school, had his ministerial apprenticeship under R. M. Kilgore, engaged in evangelistic work, and conducted a Bible instructors' training school. In 1886 he was appointed to mission service in New Zealand and Australia, remaining there fourteen years, and finally serving as union president. Recognized as a coming leader, he was elected president at the General Conference in 1901.
A new day dawned. The headquarters was moved from Battle Creek to Washington, D.C. An effective reorganization was achieved, departments were organized, grave crises in our medical work and other lines were met. Marked missionary expansion characterized his administration. His leadership made a tremendous impact on the Advent Movement. After 1922 came the burden of leading our ministry to new spiritual heights. Truly a spiritual leader, he lighted the tapers of multiplied thousands from the sacred flame that burned in his own heart. Finally the twilight shadows fell across his path. The personal contribution of the last dozen years of his life is here told in intimate narrative.
Gripped by Message of Revival and Reformation
Elder Daniells was not present at the epochal Minneapolis Conference in 1888. He was in New Zealand at the time, and then in Australia. Consequently, he was not involved in the momentous discussion of righteousness by faith and the related questions of 1888. As noted during his long presidency of the General Conference, from 1901 to 1922, Daniells was largely instrumental in developing our present organizational structure, with its various departments. He was involved in the epochal transfer of our headquarters to Washington, D.C., which marked a new order of things. And above all, he was engrossed in the great foreign missions expansion that took place under his administration. In this multifold leadership he was signally blessed of God.
After being relieved of the presidency in 1922, in addition to being the titular secretary of the General Conference he was made secretary of the newly formed Ministerial Commission, shortly thereafter changed to Ministerial Association. Confronted now with a new challenge, and keenly aware of his own personal deficiencies, Daniells began to search his heart to find the root cause of his own weaknesses and shortcomings, and to seek out the underlying reason for our weakness as a ministry and our constrictions as a church. He began to review the past in order to learn basic lessons as a guide to the future. Such was the background as he told it to me.
This led him into an intensive study of the revered counsels of the Spirit of Prophecy writings to seek out the causes, and then to find the remedy for our great needs. He began his search of Mrs. White's writings with those of the mid-eighties, and thus prior to the memorable 1888 Minneapolis meeting—particularly in those vital Review and Herald messages to this people, which at that time were largely hidden because they were not commonly available to our workers. He then traced her counsels through consecutively, so as to get the overall picture. He was profoundly moved by what he discovered, and this led to decisive action.
Transformed His Own Life and Vision
Daniells was gripped by two searching messages with similar emphasis and phrasing. One appeared in the Review of March 22, 1887, and therefore prior to Minneapolis; the other was issued afterward in the Review of February 25, 1902. Though similar, the second was not merely a repetition but was an expansion and intensification of the earlier message; it was more imperative in tone. They both called for a genuine revival and reformation among us as the greatest of all our needs. They constituted a sobering summons, calling upon us to address ourselves to this as our very first work. The second article differentiated between revival and reformation, and warned of the peril of neglect or rejection. It augmented the first one.
These great calls and challenges came as a new discovery to Daniells. So far as he was concerned, they had been largely buried and forgotten in the files of the Review until he found them for himself. But the more he pondered their summons, the more they gripped his soul. They aroused his conscience and fired his resolve. First of all, they revealed his own weakness and the weakness of the church he loved. They became to him a summons to personal repentance and action. To this he responded without reservation. They burned, as it were, as a fire in his bones. They made him a flame of fire for God, in turn to kindle other lives and to set them aflame.
Studying on and on, now especially concerning the supreme question of righteousness by faith, he was brought face to face with the momentous issues of the epochal Minneapolis Conference. Daniells felt their force and humbled his heart before God. He then felt impelled to go out and share his findings and convictions with the ministry of this movement, in whose hands, he felt, lies the destiny of the church of the remnant. His appointed responsibility as secretary of the Ministerial Association gave Daniells his opportunity, and those great messages on revival and reformation provided his authorization and constituted the heart of his message.
Kindles Similar Flame in Other Lives
Daniells began to operate the one way in which he was most effective—through a succession of vital ministerial institutes. This was during 1923-1925. These institutes took him first to the southwest, the Pacific Coast, and the Northwest. These workers' gatherings had a distinct revival and renewal emphasis. Here various men such as Meade MacGuire, Taylor Bunch, E. K. Slade, Carlyle B. Haynes, and others were likewise greatly moved and their vision lifted. They too became evangels of the same messages. A revival of true godliness was under way, with strong emphasis upon the underlying principles and provisions of righteousness by faith.
But simultaneously, it should be stated, God had been impressing other men to call attention to other facets of this great gem of truth—like W. W. Prescott, with his priceless textbook Doctrine of Christ (1920) and his Sabbath school lessons on the all-sufficiency of Christ, covering the year 1921. And Oliver Montgomery in South America was another, The Spirit of God was stirring different minds and moving various hearts. And in 1920 one of our poets, Worthy Harris Holden, set forth righteousness by faith in impressive phrasing. There was a definite awakening.
Christ was exalted in it all. The great throbbing heart of the third angel's message in verity was emphasized. And the relation of it all to the loud cry, the latter rain, and the finishing of the work in power became increasingly apparent to Daniells. It became the burden of his heart.
Both Opposition and Glad Acceptance
The fire spread and began to burn intensely in other lives, though with some, engrossed in functional and routine responsibilities, there seemed to be little response. Now it is an inescapable fact that no one can stand as the administrative leader of our work for a period of years —with its unavoidable confrontations and disciplines—without arousing the antagonism and opposition of some. And in those critical transition years Daniells was instructed to meet the issues resolutely, and he did so with firmness and success.
As a consequence, some seemed to oppose anything Elder Daniells later fostered —even Spirit of Prophecy counsel along spiritual lines. He sensed that this would be a factor in the varied reception to his messages, especially in some sections. And it was. But he rejoiced that there was always a nucleus of earnest men of ability and consecration who responded, and responded without reservation. This was particularly true of certain younger men. They picked up and pressed forward with the proffered torch of truth for the time then present. Therein lay his great hope.
Daniells' Message Touches My Life
It was at this point that Elder Daniells' message touched my own life and deeply moved me. And here I must be forgiven for intimacy of recital. Born an Adventist, as my father and grandmother were Adventists before me, I had first met Elder Daniells in my early teens—for we had lived next door to the Daniells' home in Takoma Park. My father, Dr. John Edwin Froom, had been called by Elder Daniells to serve as secretary of the newly formed Medical Department of the General Conference, after the move from Battle Creek. So Daniells knew me in my tender teens, and never lost interest in me.
He exerted a profound influence upon my young life. He urged me to change from other plans to prepare for the ministry. Then, after ordination, he counseled me to obtain editorial training at the Pacific Press, and finally to go to China in mission service. Later, forced to come home because of Mrs. Froom's health, I was made editor of The Watchman in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Southern Publishing Association. That was the next point of vital contact. He urged that I be present. He had something I needed.
Mental Assent to a System of Truth
May I make this confession: I had always been an ardent Adventist, unswerving in loyalty to our doctrines, fascinated with Bible prophecy, always seeking, like an attorney, to present the best possible case for-Adventism before the world. I worked hard, and profoundly believed in the triumph of the Advent message and Movement. But to me Adventism was then, to a large degree, allegiance to a beautiful system of coordinated doctrinal truth, fidelity to a special message from God and the Word. My Christianity was primarily a devoted mental assent to a beautiful, logical, Heaven-sent framework of abstract truth. To its proclamation I had given myself without reservation. I was presenting the case for Adventism. Incidentally, I came to learn that hundreds of other workers shared the same attitude and had a similar experience. It was a common characteristic among the younger men.
But I was burdened at the time about reaching the neglected upper classes with our magazine, The Watchman. I was concerned over the repeated Spirit of Prophecy calls to reach lawyers, preachers, teachers, le,isla tors, magistrates, professional men. editors, and similar groups—an impressive listing of which T had assembled. We were seeking to build a magazine to that end. But I was oppressed by a certain sense of futility. Something seemed to be lacking- and hindering-. The standard overtures of Adventism to the public at that time were not too successful. They were pre-eminently doctrinal and too negative.
Our approach did not seem to have the appeal that it should, and it was often gravely misunderstood.
Was it the approach and appeal or the substance of its message and emphasis that was at fault? That was my personal problem and deep concern when A. G. Daniells came to Nashville in the fall of 1925 for one of his soul-searching institutes, held in the chapel of the Southern Publishing Association. I was longing and ready for the very light and help that he brought, and so were many others.
Transferred Allegiance to Christ of Message
I was one of those deeply stirred and profoundly moved by Elder Daniells' meetings. I caught a fresh glimpse of my own futility and powerlessness. Then I began to see the reason for the primary difficulty, and best of all, to discover the remedy. It was the turning point in my life and ministry, as it was to others. Christianity, I came to see, was basically a personal relationship to a Person—Jesus Christ, my Lord. The proclamation of this message was to be the setting forth of Christ as the center of every doctrine, the heart of every presentation. He was to be the attractive power, the essence, the living heart of the message. It became interesting, real, and personal to me.
I had been believing and trusting in a message of truth rather than in a Person. I had been propagating a message rather than truly proclaiming a gospel. I had unwittingly placed my affection and my allegiance in a movement ordained of God rather than in the radiant Christ of that movement. The message was only a present-day application of the everlasting gospel. To me that was a revolutionary concept, a startling but blessed awakening. I embraced it with all my soul, and never has that truer concept waned or wavered. And that became the testimony of many others.
Elder Daniells saw how deeply I was moved and how my vision was changed, along with my motives, methods, and objectives. This led him to have a long talk with me. Then he startled me by asking me to join him at the General Conference as his junior associate in his high Ministerial Association endeavors.
He was keenly conscious of the need of producing literature that would make prominent and widespread this great spiritual revival and reformation movement, undergirded by righteousness by faith, centered in Christ, and surcharged with the power of the Holy Spirit and the latter rain. We had no literature of this kind, except the gem statements in the Spirit of Prophecy writings. And he felt, he said, that a new type of literature must be produced, and a journal for preachers launched. He envisioned the Ministerial Association as a forum for this great advance, and THE MINISTRY as a pulpit.
I was awed by the invitation but dared not refuse, nor did I wish to. His burden had now become the great burden of my own life. And to assist Elder Daniells and help him in this Heaven-appointed work was the greatest privilege that could come to any young man. So we came to world headquarters in February, 1926. But let us go back a bit.
Rescued Gems Greatly Move Daniells
At a Ministerial Association advisory council in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1924, it was—
"Voted, that Elder Daniells be asked to arrange for a compilation of the writings of Mrs. E. G. White on the subject of Righteousness by Faith."
This action crystallized the requests from various workers' meetings and entire unions, and provided the necessary authorization. With the help of office assistants an "exhaustive research" was begun through all of our denominational papers for key Ellen G. White messages appearing between 1887 and 1915, the year of her death.
The early discovery of certain statements of far-reaching import "amazed and awed" Elder Daniells. A deep conviction came upon him that he must "rescue these gems from their obscurity" and bring them before all of our workers so their "brilliancy and beauty" could be seen and their sobering challenge received. (We did not then have available the priceless six-volume assemblage of the Ellen G. White Present Truth and Review and Herald Articles. And few workers had access to complete files.)
The unfolding theme was righteousness by faith, centered in and radiating from Christ. Sample sections of the manuscript were sent to discerning readers. The response was enthusiastic, urging that it be brought out in book form at the earliest possible moment. In his "Foreword" Elder Daniells frankly stated:
"In our blindness and dullness of heart, we have wandered far out of the way, and for many years have been failing to appropriate this sublime truth. But all the while our great Leader has been calling His people to come into line on this great fundamental of the gospel,—receiving by faith the imputed righteousness of Christ for sins that are past, and the imparted righteousness of Christ for revealing the divine nature in human fiesh."—Christ Our Righteousness, Foreword, p. 6.
Dual Convictions Grip His Heart
The first gripping conviction that came to Daniells from this study was the now familiar fact that "by faith in the Son of God, sinners may receive the righteousness of God."—Ibid., pp. 6, 7. (Italics his.) While he had long believed this as an abstract doctrine, it now became a living, motivating reality to Daniells personally. He felt impelled to share this new experience with others as his vital testimony. A new purpose gripped his life. A new task was opening before him.The second great conviction concerned the "purpose and providence of God in sending the specific message of receiving the righteousness of God by faith to His people assembled in General Conference in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the year 1888."—Ibid., p. 7.
Great vistas of truth began to unfold. The serious summons of it all deeply moved him. He must again go before our workers. He both entreated and warned against disregarding the fundamental intent of that message and "missing a most important lesson that the Lord designed to teach us. . . It is this conviction that has made it . . . necessary to include . . . the experiences and developments connected with and following the Minneapolis Conference."Ibid. He felt a special concern for those younger workers who had come into the faith, or into service, in the nineteenth century, and who were "unacquainted" with the circumstances and significance of that message and the impelling need presented. These he must enlighten and win.
(To be continued)