From 1888 to Apostasy

From 1888 to Apostasy: The Case of A. T. Jones

George R, Knight, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D.C., 1987, 288 pages, $16.95, hardback.

Reviewed by Lyndon McDowell, a pastor in the Washington, D.C., area.

It has been a long time since I have enjoyed reading a book on denominational history as much as I enjoyed this one. The book is one of the 1888 centennial series published by Re view and Herald. It reads like a novel.

Within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the names of Waggoner and Jones have been linked inseparably with the doctrine of righteousness by faith. Various groups appeal to these men's writings to support a wide variety of emphases. But very little detail has been known or published about their lives. George Knight has brought Jones out of the shadows of history and into the light. He correctly portrays him as "one of the most fascinating personalities ever to grace a Seventh-day Adventist pulpit." Jones was also one of the most controversial preachers the church has had.

But George Knight has done more than bring Alonzo Jones out into the limelight of history. He has brought into focus many is sues in Adventist theology that are still with us today. He lists them in the preface to the book: "the meaning of the 1888 General Conference session, the problem of 1893 and the delay of Christ's return, the nature of sanctification, the Adventist holiness movement, charismatic gifts, the role of Ellen White, the human nature of Christ, the Adventist crusade against a Christian America, church and state relationships, and the proper function of church organization." As the author remarks, "the biography of A. T. Jones is not merely a fascinating story, but is pregnant with contemporary meaning."

Every minister who aspires to join in con temporary discussions should read this book to understand the setting of the issues. A careful reading should make the dogmatic more tolerant and awaken the indifferent to the root causes of the issues discussed today. It may also persuade some who have a flair for independence that what they regard as God-given zeal for reform may actually be only a personality aberration!


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Reviewed by Lyndon McDowell, a pastor in the Washington, D.C., area.

February 1988

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More Articles In This Issue

1888--issues, outcomes, lessons

Did the 1888 session yield good for the church or bad? How can we benefit from Ellen White's reaction and counsel?

The men of Minneapolis

How much of the conflict at Minneapolis in 1888 could be attributed to theological differences and how much to personality clashes?

What is the 1888 Message?

While we do not have transcripts of Jones's and Waggoner's talks at that fateful session, we have an impeccable source for the message of righteousness by faith they were to deliver.

Elder Hottel goes to General Conference

R. DeWitt Hottel's diary gives a participant's perspective on the 1888 General Conference session.

The dynamics of salvation

The text of a study document produced in 1980 provides background on the church's current understanding of righteousness by faith.

The biblical gospel of salvation

What is righteousness by faith? Is it only forgiveness, or does it demand moral rectitude?

Corporate repentance

Do church leaders today need to repent for the sins of their predecessors? Does the church as a whole need to repent for what happened in 1888?

Damnation or deliverance?

How does righteousness by faith relate to the messages of the three angels of Revelation 14-God's last warning to the world, the special commission of the Adventist Church?

Have we delayed the Advent?

While Ellen G. White wrote that we can hasten or delay the Lord's return, she also wrote that Jesus would come "at the appointed time." What did she mean?

Judgment or justification?

Many have rejected the idea of an investigative judgment. Why? Is this Adventist doctrine biblical?

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