How near is the Omega?

Ellen White characterized the crises through which the church passed in the late 1800's and early 1900's as the "Alpha" of apostasy, and warned that the church would have to face a similar "Omega" at a later time. Roger W. Coon analyzes and synthesizes the evidence concerning the "Alpha" in order to better recognize and resist the "Omega."

Roger W. Coon, Ph.D., is pastor of the Takoma Park Seventh-day Adventist church, Takoma Park, Maryland.

Apostasy, that tragic falling away from a faith relationship, is as I V old as Adam and Eve, the gar den, the tree, the fruit, and the first ventriloquist act in history. It has ever been a sad but central fact of life with which the Christian church has had to deal: Jesus had His Judas, Paul had his Demas, and Ellen White had her John Harvey Kellogg.

In what well may have been the second earliest book of the New Testament to be written, Paul warned the Thessalonian Christians of his day that the re turn of their Lord would not, could not, take place until there first came a major "falling away" from the basic principles undergirding the faith. 1 It would be masterminded by "wicked spirits in heavenly places," 2 and effected organizationally by an apostate ecclesiastical system personified historically as "that man of sin . . . , the son of perdition," 3 who would reign supreme over the con sciences of Christendom for some 1260 literal years.4

The historical church of Ephesus symbolized the first century of the Christian era in its leaving its first love, 5 and the best that could be said of Laodicea, symbolizing the final era, was that it was lukewarm. 6

In her earliest writings Ellen White spoke variously of a "shaking" and a "sifting" of God's people in the time of the end. On January 26, 1850, she was told by a heavenly angel that it had already begun, and would continue to the close of probation, "and all will be shaken out who are not willing to take a bold and unyielding stand for the truth and to sacrifice for God and His cause." 7

Thus was established the fact of the final shaking.

The causes of this shaking are at least four in number: (1) persecution from sources outside the church;8 (2) introduction of false theories from within its ranks;9 (3) an eroding worldliness caused by the twin failures either to receive the love of the truth10 or to be sanctified through obedience to it; 11 and (4) the resistance of some of God's people to the "straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness." 12

Indeed, the "very last deception of Satan" within the remnant would be the twofold task of destroying the credibility of the prophetic voice within its midst and the creating of a satanic hatred against that prophet's writings. 13

The extent of the shaking was further depicted, both in terms of numbers and also in identifiable groupings. Numerically, the defectors would constitute "a large class,"14 indeed, a "larger proportion than we now anticipate." 15

In terms of people, "entire families" will go out,16 even whole companies "company after company from the Lord's army joined the foe." 17 Under another figure, "chaff like a cloud will be borne away on the wind, even from places where we [now] see only floors of rich wheat." 18 Leadership as well as rank and file are involved in the final betrayal: "Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls" 19 and "Many a star that we have admired for its brilliance will then go out in dark ness." 20 Indeed, "in the last solemn work few great men will be engaged." 21

(To keep things in perspective, re member that this tragic exodus of half of Adventism takes place on a two-way street. As a result of the giving of the loud cry at this time, thousands will simultaneously be coming into the church to take the places of those departing. The same paragraph that reports "company after company" deserting the Lord's army also tells of an even greater influx: "Tribe after tribe from the ranks of the enemy united with the commandment-keeping people of God"!)

During Ellen White's own lifetime the church witnessed what she thrice described as the "Alpha" of apostasy,22 the most serious schism in Adventism's first half-century of existence. It involved a movement to subvert the basic doctrines of the faith, which were derived from intense Bible study and con firmed by the Holy Spirit through direct revelations to an inspired prophet, and to change the basic nature and direction of the organic church. 23

After identifying the "Alpha's" doctrinal abberations variously as "deadly heresies," 24 a "danger" that would cause "many" to "depart from the faith," 25 and "theories and sophistries that undermine the foundation pillars of the faith," 26 Ellen White spoke gravely, even cryptically, of the "Omega" of apostasy. And she made three basic points:

1. The "Omega" would follow the "Alpha" 27—not right away, but in a little while. 28

2. The "Omega" would be worse than the "Alpha"—it would be of a "most startling nature";29 indeed, the prophet "trembled" for our people, in anticipation of it30 (she said that the "Alpha" controversy brought her "great dis tress," and that the entire experience "has nearly cost me my life"). 31

3. The "Omega" would be received by those Seventh-day Adventists who unwittingly, if not willingly, fail to heed the warning concerning the "Alpha" that God had graciously given in considerable detail through His prophet. 32

Ellen White did not further identify the "Omega" of apostasy. But she did clearly imply in this last statement that if there were not a one-to-one correspondence between "Alpha" and "Omega," there would be at least sufficient points of congruence that if one knew the "Alpha" in detail he would probably recognize the "Omega" when and where it would appear.

This implication not only justifies a detailed analysis of the "Alpha" but almost makes such a study mandatory, if one hopes to escape the deception and spiritual perils attendant with the "Omega." The following, therefore, analyzes and synthesizes the available evidence from the writings of Ellen White and her contemporaries concerning the "Alpha," under the categories of (1) the men of the "Alpha," (2) the movement of the "Alpha," and (3) the message of the "Alpha,'' the better to be forewarned and forearmed in coming to grips with "Omega."

The men of the "Alpha"

At least eight characteristics of the men of the "Alpha" surface as one digs into the writings of the period:

1. Leaders. Just as in the apostasy of ancient Israel, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram led "two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown," 33 so in the apostasy of modern Israel there were involved "men of prominence in ministerial, medical, and educational circles." These "openly took their position" 34 in favor of the new theology and new denominational direction. The leader? "Some one high in responsibility in the medical work" 35—an obvious euphemism for Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, medical director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Kellogg at this time was better known in nonchurch circles around the world than even his mentor, the church's prophet, Ellen White.

2. Scientists. While it is true that there was broad-spectrum support for Kellogg among educators at Battle Creek College and not a few clergy (the chaplain of Battle Creek Sanitarium was a prominent proponent), nevertheless one gets the distinct impression from contemporary source materials that physicians, medical scientists, led the vanguard of the "Alpha." (Perhaps they felt less vulnerable to reprisal from denominational administrators.)

3. Personality. Ellen White trenchantly characterizes these leaders as men with "mischievous tongues and acute minds, sharpened by long practice in evading the truth, . . . continually at work to bring in confusion and to carry out plans instigated by the enemy." 36 She predicted that the distinctive truths held by SDA's would be "criticized, scorned, and derided";37 and this seems to have been chief among the intellectual activities of these misguided men.

4. Philosophical Speculation. Mrs. White was clearly worried about physicians who "talk for hours, when they are weary and perplexed, and in no fit condition to talk," men who held "long night sessions of conversations. These night talks have been times when Satan with his seductive influence" stole away, first "from one and then another the faith once delivered to the saints." She further cautioned: "Brilliant, sparkling ideas often flash from a mind that is influenced by the great deceiver. Those who listen and acquiesce will become charmed, as Eve was charmed by the serpent's words. They cannot listen to charming philosophical speculation, and at the same time keep the word of the living God clearly in mind." 38

5. Anticlerical. The role of the gospel ministry within the SDA Church was clearly spelled out by the prophet: "Since His ascension, Christ the great Head of the church, has carried forward His work in the world by chosen ambassadors, through whom He speaks to the children of men, and ministers to their needs. . . . Christ's ministers are the spiritual guardians of the people en trusted to their care. Their work has been likened to that of watchmen. . . . [They] are appointed as guardians of the church, stewards of the mysteries of God." 39

Mrs. White wrote Dr. Kellogg from Australia, warning him "not to separate your influence from the ministry of the gospel." 40 Many paragraphs later she returned to this thought: "You have not been willing to heed the counsel of the Lord's servants. . . . The Lord would have you respect the gospel ministry." 41

Only a month earlier, she had cautioned Kellogg, "The enemy has been working ... to take advantage of circumstances. . . . He has tried to bring about a condition of things which would lead men to belittle the ministers of the gospel and criticize their work." 42

Dr. Kellogg's definitive biographer, Richard W. Schwarz, has catalogued the doctor's reasons for antipathy toward Adventism's clergy. Few of them were practicing vegetarianism or other health principles espoused and advocated by Kellogg and Ellen White. They had what he viewed as an inferior professional education. They were, as he saw it, poor financial managers of church monies in religious work, and certainly were in no position to be telling medical personnel how to practice their arts or how to manage their institutional operations. And their shortsightedness, he held, was well illustrated by the fact that they promoted religious publications to a greater extent than they did his brand of medical missionary work!43

6. Anti-Ellen White. Of even greater concern, however, was the fact that the leadership of the "Alpha" in general, and Dr. Kellogg in particular, rather frequently ignored the counsel of Ellen White, either neglecting to implement her written instructions from the Lord or actually working against them.

On December 12, 1899, Mrs. White wrote the leader of the denomination's medical work "as a mother would write to her son. I would help you if I could." Then, in conclusion, she injected a note of solemn urgency: "As one who knows, as one who has been permitted to see the results of the work that you have taken upon you, I call upon you to stop and consider. . . . Cast not behind you as of no consequence the warnings that as yet you do not understand. If you receive the messages of warning sent you, you will be saved from great trial." 44

Three weeks later, on New Year's Day, 1900, Mrs. White wrote to General Conference President G. A. Irwin, "Seek to save Dr. Kellogg from himself. He is not heeding the counsel he should heed." 45

And three months later the prophet addressed this further word to Dr. Kellogg: "Your voice is working against the success and triumph of the truth in these last days. . . . You are leading away from the very work to be done." 46

7. Authoritarian Coercion. Dr. Kellogg would brook no interference with his ideas or his plans. He surrounded himself with "yes men"; some of his counselors were even men "under the reproof of God." The only test was that of personal loyalty to the chief physician ("You were willing to link up with them if they would second your proposition"). 47 Opponents were ruthlessly thrust aside. Concerning the "Alpha," Ellen White wrote directly, "Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement." 48

This "steamroller" attitude of Dr. Kellogg was accurately reflected in the words of a "prominent" professional colleague, one of about ten men who came from Battle Creek to the first Annual Council held in Washington, D.C., in October, 1903, to press for acceptance of the theological and organizational ideas of their chief.

Accosting Arthur G. Daniells, General Conference president at the time, under a streetlamp on the night of the first day of the session, the young doctor impetuously, imperiously, shook his finger in the face of his church leader, declaring, "You are making the mistake of your life. After all this turmoil, some of these days you will wake up to find yourself rolled in the dust, and another will be leading the forces."

Wearily, the General Conference president replied, "I do not believe your prophecy. At any rate, I would rather be rolled in the dust doing what I believe in my soul to be right than to walk with princes, doing what my conscience tells me is wrong." 49

8. Subversive Spirit. Ellen White bluntly attacked the basic dishonesty of the men of the "Alpha" who were working in "an underhand, powerful way to tear down the foundation of our faith." 50

In an especially apt parable-type vision, one midnight she was shown a ship in heavy fog: "Suddenly the lookout cried, 'Iceberg just ahead!' There, towering high above the ship, was a gigantic iceberg. An authoritative voice cried out, 'Meet it!' There was not a moment's hesitation. It was a time for instant action. The engineer put on full steam, and the man at the wheel steered the ship straight into the iceberg. With a crash she struck the ice. There was a fearful shock, and the iceberg broke into many pieces, falling with a noise like thunder to the deck. The passengers were violently shaken by the force of the collision, but no lives were lost. The vessel was injured, but not beyond re pair. She rebounded from the contact, trembling from stem to stern, like a living creature. Then she moved forward on her way." 51

The iceberg represented the "Alpha" heresy and movement; the ship represented the Adventist Church of 1903. The "Captain"—Jesus, of course recognized that there would be less danger ultimately to the church by a direct, head-on collision than by seeking to avoid the iceberg and perhaps suffering a glancing but potentially fatal blow. And so the helmsman was instructed, "Meet it!"

And the cry ' 'Meet it!" itself became a rallying cry in various church circles as loyal Seventh-day Adventist workers and laity alike met the challenge of the "Alpha" in a head-on confrontation that seriously shook—but did not destroy—the Adventist Church of that day.

The movement of the "Alpha"

The "Alpha" consisted not alone of heretical teachings espoused by Dr.

Kellogg and his followers, as will be noted in detail below, but there was definitely a "new movement" involved as well indeed, Ellen White used that very term to describe it.52 It may be identified by at least three characteristics:

1. New Organization. "A new organization would be established" by the proponents of the "Alpha," Mrs. White declared.53

The question of whether or not the Advent Movement should be organized at all agitated the early pioneers, and Ellen White was right in the thick of the controversy. William Miller had originally taught that if his movement ever organized, it would automatically be come part of Babylon. Many of the early pioneers who founded what later would be known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church took a similar position. But God sent light through Ellen White that there should be organization in the ranks of His followers on earth. 54 And the structure evolved over a period of years, with changes in form taking place as changing needs dictated.

There are three basic forms of church organization: (a) episcopal, in which all authority and power is centered in the top, and trickles down; (b) "presbyterian" or representational, in which the church as a whole delegates authority to individuals to act on its behalf, renewing that mandate periodically; and (c) congregational, in which a local congregation decides absolutely everything, from their doctrinal creed to how they will spend their money—democracy in its purest form, in the world of religion.

Seventh-day Adventists traditionally have followed the second of the three, a modified presbyterian system with authority delegated by constituencies at stated intervals.

Dr. Kellogg proposed—and finally succeeded, as far as the Battle Creek Sanitarium was concerned—to remove all the medical work of the denomination from central control and direction, and to place it under his own personal supervision, independent of denominational strictures on deployment of personnel or expenditure of funds. Wrote Ellen White: "I was instructed by the Lord that your temptation would be to make your medical missionary work stand independent of the conference." 55 (The story of how Kellogg engineered a major shift in emphasis from a general evangelistic thrust toward all classes of society, incorporated in a unique "City Mission," to a Salvation Army-type movement aimed principally at the lower, disadvantaged classes of society, is well documented in a series of four articles by Arthur L. White, then secretary of the Ellen White Estate, in the Review and Herald of November 5, 12, 19, and 26, 1970, and will not be retold here.)

Today suggestions are continually surfacing in some Adventist circles advocating a change in organizational structure, in the direction of a congregational stance, where each individual congregation would define its doctrinal beliefs, set its own financial policies, and chart its own individual course. Such proposals are not new; the men of the "Alpha" dreamed such dreams.

2. New Literature. Furthermore, the men of the "Alpha" had revolutionary ideas in the field of publishing. Said God's servant, "Books of a new order would be written." 56

The chief textbook detailing Dr. Kellogg's pantheistic heresies was The Living Temple. How it came to be written is an interesting story:

When the Battle Creek Sanitlerium burned to the ground in 1902, the insurance coverage barely paid off the mortgage; there was no money with which to rebuild. Elder Daniells proposed to Dr. Kellogg that he write a popular medical book and donate the royalties to the building project; our people could rally and sell the book, and our sanitarium could be rebuilt more quickly.

Elder Daniells specifically warned Dr. Kellogg not to put any of his "new theology" in the book. The good doctor promised that he would not.

Because time was so vital, no book committee was formed to read the manuscript; indeed, the book was set in type almost as quickly as the chapters were written. Word soon leaked out, how ever, that the book was filled with the pantheistic heresy that was increasingly intruding into workers' meetings, committee meetings, and every other gathering of Adventists around Battle Creek. A quick examination of the galley proofs at the publishing house confirmed the worst suspicions.

A committee of five was appointed by the General Conference Committee to investigate. Three said print the book; two said don't publish it. The General Conference Committee adopted the minority report. But Dr. Kellogg had been around Battle Creek longer than the new General Conference president, Elder Daniells, and he ordered the superintendent of the publishing house to "print my book!" Some 5,000 copies were printed, but before the covers could be put on the bound signatures, the Review and Herald Publishing House burned to the ground, destroying not only the unbound books and their covers but melting the printing plates as well.

Dr. Kellogg sent a copy of the manuscript to a commercial printer and ordered 3,000 copies, and the book began to make its way around among the churches. 57 Appalled, Ellen White wrote, "In the book Living Temple there is presented the alpha of deadly heresies. The omega will follow, and will be received by those not willing to heed the warning God has given." 58

In a vision, "one of authority" spoke to Mrs. White. Holding up a copy of Living Temple, he said, " 'In this book there are statements that the writer him self does not comprehend. Many things are stated in a vague, undefined way. . . . And this is not the only production of the kind that will be urged upon the people.'" 59

Had God not nipped in the bud, at the Autumn Council of 1903, the "Alpha" movement, who knows what further publications might have flooded the market to deceive and destroy!

3. Overemphasis Upon Social Welfare.

In the 1890's, the Seventh-day Adventist public evangelism in the cities consisted of meetings for the general public con ducted by ministers, assisted by literature evangelists. Often general instruction in simple hydrotherapy treatments and preventive hygiene was given by trained nurses and physicians. Health restaurants were opened in some places.

Dr. Kellogg, greatly influenced by Dr. George D. Dowkontt, who was a pioneer in nonsectarian, nondenominational medical missionary work, was instrumental in shifting the emphasis in Adventist public evangelism to a specialized ministry to down-and-out classes—alcoholics, prostitutes, and other similar groups. He also began to change the features of what he called "medical missionary work," particularly in Chicago, where he started up a medical school, from an "unmuted, distinctive evangelistic objective in all phases of denominational work to a generalized, nonsectarian character." 60 Said Ellen White of the proponents of this overemphasis on social welfare to the exclusion of an evangelistic witness to the middle and higher classes, with just a hint of sarcasm, "The founders of this system would go into the cities, and do a wonderful work." 61 But it was not the work God would have SDA's do. 62

Before the new program envisaged by Dr. Kellogg could be checked, he had arranged for many of our ministers and Bible instructors to leave their posts in conventional evangelism and to work in new city missions for the poor and out casts. 63

No informed person will challenge that there is a proper place for practical ministry to the needy in the work of the SDA Church. The existence of our Dorcas Societies, and even the existence of the Ellen White book Welfare Ministry, is prima facie evidence of that undisputed fact. But the central question is one of balance. The tail should not wag the dog; Seventh-day Adventist ministry should not degenerate into simply a pale imitation of something known a few decades ago as the "social gospel." The "Alpha" would make this emphasis on social-welfare work the main thrust of the church. Ellen White demurred, gently at first, vigorously later, as the implications of the threat to the entire Advent Movement were successively revealed to her by God.

The message of the "Alpha"

Perhaps most sinister and most dangerous of all were the new directions in doctrinal beliefs proposed by the leaders of the "Alpha." Ellen White summed up the situation quite succinctly when she wrote very simply, "Our religion would be changed." 64

How? Some of our "principles of truth," she wrote, "would be discarded. . . . Fundamental principles . . . would be accounted as error." 65 Other beliefs would be downplayed, de-emphasized "lightly regarded," to use her phrase. 66 Let us note several specific examples:

1. General Characteristics of "Alpha" Theology: Ellen White spoke of the prepositional truths of the "Alpha" variously as "a system of intellectual philosophy," 67 "spiritualistic theories," 68 "insidious fallacies," 69 "false science," 70 "specious philosophy," 71 and "fanciful and spiritualistic interpretations of the Scriptures, interpretations which undermine the foundations of our faith." 72 These were '"doctrines that deny the past experience of the people of God.' " 73

2. "Doctrinal Reform" Proposed: (a) Sabbath and Creationism: The doctrines of the Sabbath and creationism would not be thrown out; instead, they would simply be de-emphasized, "lightly regarded," 74 relegated to a lesser role in the hierarchy of importance of doctrinal teachings.

(b) Eschatology: Ellen White always accorded the study of last-day events a very high priority for Christians living in the very end of time; the leaders of the "Alpha," however, "teach that the scenes just before us are not of sufficient importance to be given special attention." 75  

(c) Inspiration/Revelation: The leaders of the "Alpha" totally scorned at worst, and damned with faint praise at best, the contribution of the gift of prophecy in the remnant church through Ellen White.

In essence "they make of no effect the truth of heavenly origin, and rob the people of God of their past experience giving them instead a false science." 76

(d) Foundation Doctrines of Adventism: In sum, the leaders of the "Alpha" would advance "theories and sophistries that undermine the foundation pillars of the faith." 77 This charge will be examined more fully.

3. Emphasis on Humanistic Ethics: A major facet of the "Alpha" was its reliance on a system of humanistic ethics divorced from the power of God: "The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice, but God being removed, they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worth less." 78

In another place, Ellen White wrote about "promises and resolutions" made in the Christian life that were like "ropes of sand." 79 Some, who contend that faith alone will save them in spite of their indifference to God's claims, are "trusting to a rope of sand, for faith is strengthened and made perfect by works only." 80 To the Christian who does not understand the "true force of the will," his promises are like "ropes of sand." 81 And any system of ethics, divorced from God and His power, is just as powerless.

4. Counterfeit Nature: The ideas and doctrines of the "Alpha" were not all error; there was an insidious mingling of truth with error, making it all the more dangerous and deceptive. The Living Temple contained "specious sentiments," but also "sentiments that are entirely true, but these are mingled with error. Scriptures are taken out of their connection, and are used to uphold erroneous theories." 82 "Scriptures are brought in in such a way that error is made to appear as truth." 83

Ellen White employed the analogy of parallel railroad tracks and an optical illusion created by perspective: "The track of truth lies close beside the track of error, and both tracks may seem to be one to minds which are not worked by the Holy Spirit, and which, therefore, are not quick to discern the difference between truth and error." 84

The "platform" visions

In one of her first visions Ellen White was shown a "platform" upon which a group of Christians were standing "a solid, immovable platform." 85 There were three steps leading up to this plat form. God was leading the people along, step by step, until they found their way to the top of the platform. She noted several different groups among the Christians: (1) those who, upon seeing the platform and examining the foundation pillars, immediately stepped upon it with rejoicing; (2) those who came up and rummaged around among the foundation pillars, complaining of inadequacy "They wished improvements made, and then the platform would be more perfect, and the people much hap pier"; (3) others, who had mounted the platform and then come down from it to examine the foundation, declaring it to be laid all wrong.

Most of those who got on the platform stayed there, and exhorted those who had left to cease complaints because God was the Master Builder, and they were in effect fighting against Him. Some of those disaffected ones heeded the words of admonition and returned to their former place on top.

Concerning the three steps leading up to the platform, an angel told Ellen White, "'Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these mes sages.'" 86 The symbolism of this and related visions is clear: the "exalted platform" on which we are to stand is "the truth as it is in Jesus." 87 The three steps leading up to it are the three angels' messages of Revelation 14. 88 The supporting pillars are the foundation doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. 89

In this vision Ellen White saw Dr. John Harvey Kellogg directing several men to loosen this timber and that among the foundation pillars. A voice from heaven declared, however, "This foundation was built by the Master Worker, and will stand storm and tempest." 90 She was shown that "it is the constant effort of the enemy to remove these truths from their setting, and to put in their place spurious theories." 91

Ellen White, furthermore, left us in no doubt as to what constitutes the foundation pillars of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She identified them specifically as (1) the heavenly sanctuary doctrine, with its corollary issues of atonement, cleansing, et cetera; (2) the three angels' messages of Revelation 14, which bring to view the issues of judgment, worship, creationism, the fall of spiritual Babylon, and the ultimate controversy between the seal of God and the mark of the beast; (3) the Sabbath in the frame work of the law of God; and (4) the nonimmortality of the soul. 92

In the context of the "Alpha" heresy, Ellen White mentioned that "especially" challenged in the first fifty years of our denominational history were the issues of "the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary" and the three angels' messages.93

Concerning the doctrine of the heavenly sanctuary, Ellen White wrote in 1905, in the context of a "platform" of truth on which we are to stand, that in the future "the enemy will bring in false theories, such as the doctrine that there is no sanctuary. This is one of the points on which there will be a departure from the faith." 94

Two years later she pointed out, in a discussion of the various heresies of the last half-century: "As the great pillars of our faith have been presented, the Holy Spirit has borne witness to them, and especially is this so regarding the truths of the sanctuary question. Over and over again the Holy Spirit has in a marked manner endorsed the preaching of this doctrine. But today, as in the past, some will be led to form new theories and to deny the truths upon which the Spirit of God has placed His approval." 95

What of the "Omega"?

What is the "Omega"? When will it arise? Ellen White did not tell us. She did say, in effect, that if you know the "Alpha," you will recognize the "Omega" when you see it.

One has speculated that the "Omega" was the legal theft of the Battle Creek Sanitarium by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. 96 Others have suggested it is antihealth-reform views, or even acupuncture!

Based on the evidence of the "Alpha," quite probably the "Omega" will involve a repudiation of Ellen G. White as an authentic, legitimate, in spired prophet of the Lord whose mes sage is authoritative for Seventh-day Adventist Christians today.

In the framework of the "Alpha," her instruction to the church of eighty years ago seems pertinent to us as we contemplate the "Omega":

1. Be Alert! "Every one is now to stand on his guard." 97

2. Recognize the Motivation of the Enemy. "Flattery, bribes, inducements, promises of wonderful exaltation, will be most assiduously employed." 98

3. Take an Active Stand Against Error. "No longer consent to listen without protest to the perversion of truth. TJnmask the pretentious sophistries." 99

4. Firmly Preserve the Pillars of the Faith. "But the waymarks which have made us-what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His Word and the testimony of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority." 100

5. Don't Fear; Don't Forget! We are assured that "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." 101

The following promises should be especially comforting to those who care about the direction of the church—those who "sigh and . . . cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof," 102 "ministers of the Lord" who "weep between the porch and the altar": 103

"The Lord will put new, vital force into His work as human agencies obey the command to go forth and proclaim the truth. . . . The Lord will raise up men of keen perception, who will give these truths their proper place in the plan of God." 104

"God never leaves the world without men who can discern between good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness.

He has men whom He has appointed to stand in the forefront of the battle in times of emergency." 105

"Satan has laid every measure possible that nothing shall come among us as a people to reprove and rebuke us, and exhort us to put away our errors. But there is a people who will bear the ark of God. Some will go out from among us who will bear the ark no longer. But these cannot make walls to obstruct the truth; for it will go onward and upward to the end. In the past God has raised up men, and He still has men of opportunity waiting, prepared to do His bidding men who will go through restrictions which are only as walls daubed with untempered mortar. When God puts His Spirit upon men, they will work. They will proclaim the word of the Lord; they will lift up their voice like a trumpet. The truth will not be diminished or lose its power in their hands. They will show the people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins." 106

"Those who stand in defense of the honor of God and maintain the purity of truth at any cost will have manifold trials, as did our Saviour in the wilderness of temptation. While those who have yielding temperaments, who have not courage to condemn wrong, but keep silent when their influence is needed to stand in defense of the right against any pressure, may avoid many heartaches and escape many perplexities, they will also lose a very rich reward, if not their own souls. Those who are in harmony with God, and who through faith in Him receive strength to resist wrong and stand in defense of the right, will always have severe conflicts and will frequently have to stand almost alone. But precious victories will be theirs while they make God their dependence. His grace will be their strength. Their moral sensibility will be keen and clear, and their moral powers will be able to withstand wrong influences. Their integrity, like that of Moses, will be of the purest character." 107

Our task, very simply, then, is this: "When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason." 108

Said Jehoshaphat of old, "Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper." 109 How comforting it is to know that "all who believe that the Lord has spoken through Sister White, and has given her a message, will be safe from the many delusions that will come in these last days"! 110 "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." 111

Note: The standard abbreviations have been used for Ellen White reference works.

1 2 Thess. 2:3; 2 Eph. 6:12, margin; 3 2 Thess. 2:3; 4 Dan. 7:25; 5 Rev. 2:4; 6 Chap. 3:15, 16; 7 EW 50; 8 GC 608, 5T 81, 463, 6T 400, Ev 360, 361; 9 TM 112, ISM 193-208; 10 6T 401; 11 GC 608, 2SM 368; 12 EW 270; 13 ISM 48, 2SM 78; 14 GC 608; 15 2SM 368, Ev 361; 16 TM 411; 17 8T 41; 18 5T 81; 19 GC 608; 20 PK 188; 21 5T 80; 22 ISM 197, 200, 203; 23 The historical backgrounds of the "Alpha" are ably presented by a leading opponent of the breakaway movement, the then president of the General Conference, Arthur G. Daniells (The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, chapter 30) and a contemporary denominational administrator, L. H. Christian (The Fruitage of Spiritual Gifts, chapter 20). The precipitating, climactic crisis in 1903 is discussed by Ellen G. White herself in Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 193-208; 24 ISM 200; 25 Ibid., p. 197; 26 Ibid.; 27 Ibid., p. 200; 28 Ibid., p. 203; 29 Ibid., p. 197; 30 Ibid., p. 203; 31 Ibid., p. 199; 32 Ibid.; 33 Num. 16:2; 34 Daniells, op. cit., p. 336; 35 ISM 204; 36 Ibid., p. 195; 37 Ibid., p. 201; 38 Ibid., p. 197; 39 GW 13-15; 40 8T 180; 41 Ibid., p. 188; 42 Letter 232, Nov. 10, 1899, cited in RH 11-12-70; 43 John Harvey Kellogg, M.D., pp. 175, 180; 44 8T 190, 191; 45 Letter 3, Jan. 1, 1900, cited in RH
11-26-70; 46 Letter 4, March 12, 1900, cited in RH 11-19-70; 47 8T 188; 48 ISM 205; 49 Daniells, op. cit., pp. 336, 337. See also Arthur L. White, "The Kellogg Story," Testimony Countdown I;  501SM 207; 51 Ibid., pp. 205, 206; 52 Ibid., p. 205; 53 Ibid., p. 204; 54 For reasons why the SDA movement finally chose to organize, and for a brief sketch of Ellen White's historic vision on the subject (cf. Manuscript 11, 1850), see T. Housel Jemison, A Prophet Among You, pp. 215, 216; 55 8T 187; 56 ISM 204; 57 Daniells, op. cit., pp. 332-336; 58 ISM 200; 59 Letter 211, 1903, cited in Daniells, op. cit., p. 337; 60 Arthur L. White, "Strategy of Division," RH 11-19-70; 61 ISM 204, 205; 62 8T 185; 63 Christian, op. cit., p. 283; 64 ISM 204; 65 Ibid.;66 Ibid., p. 205; 67 Ibid., p. 204; 68 Ibid.; 69 Ibid., p. 195; 70Ibid., p. 204; 71 Ibid., p. 198; 72 Ibid., p. 196; 73 Ibid., p. 204; 74 Ibid., p. 205; 75 Ibid., p. 204; 76 Ibid.; 77 Ibid., p. 197; 78 Ibid., p,205; 79 SC 47; 80 SR 289; 815T 513; 82 ISM 199; 83 Ibid., p. 202; 84 Ibid.; 85 EW 259; 86 Ibid., pp. 258, 259; 87OT 2SM 29, 5T 593; 88 EW 258; 89 ISM 201, 204; 90 Ibid., p. 204; 91 Ibid., p. 201; 92 CW 30, 31; 93 ISM 208; 94 RH 5-25-05, cited in Ev 224; 95 Manuscript 125, 1907, cited in Ev 224; 96 Christian, op. cit., p. 292; 97 ISM 196; 98 Ibid., p. 194; 99 Ibid., p. 196; 100 Ibid., p. 208; 101 LS 196; 102 Eze. 9:4; 103 Joel 2:17; 104 ISM 201; 105 GW 263; 106 TM 411; 107 3T 302, 303; 108 5T 136; 109 2 Chron. 20:20; 110 Letter 50, 1906; 111 Rev. 22:20.

 

 

 

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Roger W. Coon, Ph.D., is pastor of the Takoma Park Seventh-day Adventist church, Takoma Park, Maryland.

April 1980

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