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Though we or an angel from heaven say otherwise . . .

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Divine Revelation

The Apostle Paul places a barrier of protection around direct revelations from God that distinguishes such revelations from all other utterances be they from man or angel in the following words:

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed”.
“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ”
Gal. 1:8, 12.

Peter, after being told by Jesus, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven”, was upbraided by Jesus shortly afterwards for making an uninspired utterance, in the following record: “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matt. 16:17, 23)

End-time Revelation

When the fullness of time came, as specified by the prophet Daniel, at the end of 2300 years that started in 457 BC and ended in 1844 AD (Dan. 8:14; 9:25; Ezra 6:14; 7:7), God raised up a prophet to whom was given messages by divine revelation. In one of the more notable visions, the messenger, Ellen G. White said:

“The Lord has shown me that Satan was an honored angel in heaven, next to JESUS CHRIST.  His countenance was mild, expressive of happiness like the other angels. His forehead was high and broad, and showed great intelligence.  His form was perfect.  He had a noble, majestic bearing.  And I saw that when God said to his SON, Let us make man in our image, Satan was jealous of JESUS.  He wished to be consulted concerning the formation of man.  He was filled with envy, jealousy and hatred.  He wished to be the highest in heaven, next to GOD” White, E. G., Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, p. 17.

Facing the Truth, Breaking Down the Idols

Some persons will not consider the views that are about to be expressed here as compelling enough to convince them, but the thoughts that will be presented will certainly satisfy a demand for consistency in terms of the big picture.  Before proceeding, I must warn persons that if they are not honest they may as well stop reading right now.  What this is about is almost similar to what Hezekiah did when he destroyed the brazen serpent that had previously served to bring healing to the Israelites in the wilderness but which had later become a snare and a source of idolatry.  Concerning that, the divine record says:

“He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and break in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.” 2 Kings 18:4.  Nehushtan means, a piece of brass.

So, I am issuing a warning that I am about to call attention to one of the sacred cows (false concepts that people hold dearly) that have been serving to ensnare them.

The divine record clearly shows that revelation is progressive. People in Old Testament times had misconceptions about certain things, some of which  Paul later said was revealed to him, although such things were hid in God before that time (Eph. 3:3-9).  The circumcised believers who contended with Peter, for entering the house of Cornelius, did not at that time understand some of the very things that Paul said was revealed to him, which God had to also reveal to Peter (Acts 11:1-18).  In a similar way, the creation story in the Bible provides a framework for me to understand who we are and how we got here. The later revelation through EGW regarding the origin of sin in heaven amplifies the story and places our world in a wider cosmic setting that allows me to make even more sense of the bigger issues of life in terms of how they will end. I will always seek to get the overall sense, just like a straight-line graph, even although every single point might not fall on the line.

The consistency of a story allows one to see fairly easily the elements that do not fit.  What I will not do is muddle my thinking processes with the kind of gymnastics that politicians and theologians sometimes do in making out that black is really white. I believe that the Bible is quite clear on who God is, who Christ is and who are the other players on the cosmic stage of the controversy, namely, Lucifer, other angels and man. As I explained (from the Bible) in my article Two Divine Beings, Not Three, I think the matter is quite clear and consistent that even a child can understand it. However, efforts have been made to add a mysterious, unknowable entity to the mix that has resulted in many people missing the simplicity of the story and concluding that the whole thing is a mystery.  The Trinity concept in all its forms introduces a third worshipful entity that muddles and mystifies the sense of the whole story.  As I see it, the Trinity concept does not fit with the controversy story between good and evil.

Cosmic Background to Earth’s Beginning

So I will stick to the simple and straightforward narrative that was given by EGW in describing what she was shown.  To bring focus to the special revelation that was given, which accords with the Biblical record (Isa. 14:12-14; Eze. 28:13-18; Rev. 12:7-9), I quote the statement again in full, within its extended context:

“The Lord has shown me that Satan was an honored angel in heaven, next to JESUS CHRIST.  His countenance was mild, expressive of happiness like the other angels. His forehead was high and broad, and showed great intelligence.  His form was perfect.  He had a noble, majestic bearing.  And I saw that when God said to his SON, Let us make man in our image, Satan was jealous of JESUS.  He wished to be consulted concerning the formation of man.  He was filled with envy, jealousy and hatred.  He wished to be the highest in heaven, next to GOD, and receive the highest honors.  Until this time all heaven was in order, harmony and perfect subjection to the government of God.

 It was the highest sin to rebel against the order and will of God. All heaven seemed in commotion.  The angels were marshaled in companies with a commanding angel at their head.  All the angels were astir.  Satan was insinuating against the government of God, ambitious to exalt himself, and unwilling to submit to the authority of JESUS.  Some of the angels sympathized with Satan in his rebellion, and others strongly contended for the honor and wisdom of God in giving authority to his Son.  And there was contention with the angels.  Satan and his affected ones, who were striving to reform the government of God, wished to look into his unsearchable wisdom to ascertain his purpose in exalting JESUS, and endowing him with such unlimited power and command.  They rebelled against the authority of the SON of GOD, and all the angels were summoned to appear before the FATHER, to have their cases decided.  And it was decided that Satan should be expelled from heaven, and that the angels, all who joined with Satan in the rebellion, should be turned out with him.  Then there was war in heaven.  Angels were engaged in the battle; Satan wished to conquer the SON of GOD, and those who were submissive to his will.  But the good and true angels prevailed, and Satan, with his followers, was driven from heaven.”  White, E. G., Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, pp. 17, 18.

She also said:

“The Sovereign of the universe was not alone in His work of beneficence. He had an associate – a co-worker who could appreciate His purposes”.
“Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God , was one with the eternal Father – one in nature , in character, in purpose – the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God .” 
White, E. G., Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34.

“His Son would carry out His will and His purposes, but would do nothing of Himself alone. The Father’s will would be fulfilled in Him.” 
White, E. G., Signs of the Times , Jan. 9, 1879 , pr. 2.

“God is the Father of Christ ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son ,”.
White, E. G., Testimonies vol. 8, p. 268

“The Father and Son alone are to be exalted” .   White, E. G., Youth’s Instructor , 7 th July, 1898.

I maintain honestly that I have not seen anything in all the explanations that have been advanced that would allow me to see harmony between such clear narrative descriptions of what EGW was shown regarding the start of the controversy between good and evil and the creation of man on the one hand and the later ad hoc statements that people use from her to teach a Trinity on the other hand.

Concerning the Holy Spirit as a person or persons, I do not see him/it as a God-being to be worshipped.  As a person or persons, in my view, it could be a reference to angels since these are the only other persons (apart from God, Christ, other angels and man) that have an identifiable place as individuals in the controversy between good and evil.  By these agents, God’s will is executed throughout the universe and along with God’s own omniscience, they provide communication link between heaven and earth (John 1:51; Gen. 28:12).

That is the framework that informs my cosmic perspective.  I see EGW’s description of what was showed to her there as being no less inspired than anything in the Bible – as coming from the same God. The record is that God showed her this more than once and on one occasion gave her a very specific instruction to write it out whereupon when she determined to do so, Satan tried to kill her, specifically to prevent her writing it out.  She, however, wrote it out in 1858 under the most trying circumstances of ill-health and partial paralysis.  The truth will always prevail.

Third-Person God-being Creates Mystery

Those later statements, in my view, concerning a third person of a so-called Godhead, only mystify the clear revelation concerning who God is, who Christ is, who Satan is, who the angels are and who we are.  They mystify the sense of the controversy between good and evil and open the door for all forms of spiritualism. For those who are familiar with the history, a notable luminary among the early Advent believers, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, actually stumbled into pantheism partly because of those very same later statements.  He described the dilemma that he encountered with the then held views of his brethren as follows:

“As far as I can fathom, the difficulty which is found in The Living Temple, the whole thing may be simmered down to the question: Is the Holy Ghost a person? You say no. I had supposed the Bible said this for the reason that the personal pronoun “he” is used in speaking of the Holy Ghost. Sister White uses the pronoun “he” and has said in so many words that the Holy Ghost is the third person of Godhead. How the Holy Ghost can be the third person and not be a person at all is difficult for me to see.” (Letter from J. H. Kellogg to G. I. Butler, Oct. 28, 1903).

Unfortunately, the prophet was unable to clear up Kellogg’s dilemma. She could only declare that he was in error, without being able to resolve his difficulty.  Her response was:

“I am compelled to speak in denial of the claim that the teachings of “Living Temple” can be sustained by statements from my writings. There may be in this book expressions and sentiments that are in harmony with my writings. And there may be in my writings many statements which, taken from their connection, and interpreted according to the mind of the writer of “Living Temple”, would seem to be in harmony with the teachings of this book.  This may give apparent support to the assertion that the sentiments in “Living Temple” are in harmony with my writings. But God forbid that this sentiment should prevail. (Series B, no. 2 pp. 53, 54).

So, no resolution of the difficulty was forthcoming.  Kellogg even found, from EGW’s writings, further justification for his erroneous views (which many of our brethren today echo, on the same basis, without even realising it) and explained the flow of his thoughts as follows:

“You, Elder Daniells, and others have spoken about a fine line of distinction, but I could not quite see what it was, but this statement by Sister White makes it clear to me. The difference is this: When we say God is in the tree, the word ‘God’ is understood in that the Godhead is in the tree, God the Father, God the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit, whereas the proper understanding in order that wholesome conceptions should be preserved in our minds, is that God the Father sits upon his throne in heaven where God the Son is also; while God’s life, or Spirit or presence is the all-pervading power which is carrying out the will of God in all the universe.” (Letter dated October 25, 1903).

So, the point is that Kellogg became confused partly because of this ‘Third Person’ concept that was being bandied about during his time.  He accepted it and simply followed it to what appeared to him to be its logical conclusion and ended up into pantheistic confusion.  And nobody was able to show him how his conclusion was not warranted, going by the premise of this ‘Third Person’ concept.  Many persons today have followed similar logic from a similar starting point and are virtually at the same place as Kellogg and don’t even realize it.  When persons, for example, try to prove that God is omnipresent – meaning that He is present in every location – and quote Psalm 139:7: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?”, and Jer. 23:24: “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”, are they really saying anything that is substantially different from Kellogg?  It appears to be essentially the same idea, yet persons have basically drifted along without even realizing it.

 Divine Message Above Messenger’s Limitations

It is not my view that EGW necessarily had more SPIRITUAL insight than any other godly person. She only received messages from God and those messages should be received as coming from God.  By her own admission: “My mind was locked, as it were, and I could not comprehend the meaning of the scriptures we were studying. This was one of the greatest sorrows of my life. I was in this condition of mind until all the principal points of our faith were made clear to our minds, in harmony with the Word of God. The brethren knew that when not in vision, I could not understand these matters, and they accepted as light direct from heaven the revelations given.” 1 SM 207. Today, I believe the SDA church has elevated the messenger above the messages.

Don’t forget, there is an account given in the Bible of an old prophet who misled a man of God, supposedly feeling at liberty to speak on God’s behalf when God did not give him a specific message, and caused the death of the man of God.  Notwithstanding that, God still spoke through the old prophet even after he gave the misleading message. You can remind yourself of the story in 1 Kings 13:11-32. These lessons should teach us to not place man in the position of God and take man’s every word as though they are all coming from God himself.

Resolving the Conflicts

In case you missed it, let me say it again: There is inconsistency in EGW writings on the subject of whether there is one Supreme Being (God – the Father) or whether there is a three-person co-equal supreme triad of divine persons (Godhead). There are statements attributed to her that are clearly Trinitarian.  That is not being denied. Whether she wrote them herself or not isn’t the issue.  The point is that such statements are inconsistent with other earlier statements that she clearly made in describing or outlining things that she attributed to direct revelation.  Further, she never attributed those later expressions concerning a three-person Godhead to divine revelation.

Therefore, to my mind, one either has to: (i) distinguish between direct revelation (what she “saw” or was “shown” to her) and her own opinions or ‘sermonizing’ or (ii) concede that her writings are inconsistent and hence unreliable.

For me, the first option is clearly preferable on the basis that there is a difference between what God says and what a human being thinks.  The fact that God has given a person specific messages to convey does not mean that all utterances of the person from henceforth are to be treated as God speaking.  Such a status belongs only to Christ. Not even Moses held that status. When the people asked Moses to ask God not to speak to them directly but rather to tell him (Moses), so that Moses could come back and tell them, God said He would raise up a Prophet like unto Moses and put His words in that Person’s mouth (Deut. 18:15-19).  When Christ came, God spoke again directly in the presence of Moses and Elijah, pointing to Christ as the Person that the disciples should listen to (Matt. 17:1-5).  People are lifting EGW above Moses and putting her on the level of Jesus Christ, the only person whose every word is divinely inspired, being as He is the Son of God and being called himself, the Word of God.

Recognizing the Difference

In relation to EGW statements about the Holy Spirit being the third person of the Godhead, whatever that means, my point still stands. I hold that EGW preached sermons and made utterances that did not always reflect full understanding of the subjects on which she spoke.  I guess it is just as what Job and his friends did.  Direct messages from God are different.  Further, remember that the church had settled on it’s vital doctrines quite early during the period when EGW’s mind was ‘locked’.  The Laodicean state crept in shortly after (before 1862 – before any trinitarian statements were made), arising from a feeling of self-satisfaction in their knowledge of the truth.  She said: “And I saw what God marked above everything else was their contented state.  They have the truth. None can successfully oppose, and they enjoy it, as if the Saviour had no work for them to do in the salvation of souls.”  Spiritual Gifts Vol. 2, p. 279.  In another place she said that she saw that if the people would not be aroused from that condition, God would allow errors to come in among them.  And I guess much of what transpired afterwards point to that as having happened not too long after.

I want you to consider the following statement by Paul, in which he tells us the level of regard we should have for direct revelation versus other utterances:
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed”.
“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ”
Gal. 1:8, 12.

He said: “though we . . . preach any other gospel” –  he included himself. When God gives direct revelation, not even the messenger himself has the authority to declare otherwise.

Today there is much confusion as to the truth, partly because people make no distinction between the messages that came directly from God and other utterances that may have been made by the messenger.  People are elevating the messenger above the messages.

Simple and Straightforward – Nothing Mysterious

Even statements by EGW herself that suggest a Trinitarian viewpoint do not supersede the plain declarations that she saw in vision that God was first, Christ next and Lucifer next in line to Christ; that Lucifer – the third – wanted God-status.  The Trinity concept from its earliest pagan origins was wholly for the purpose of achieving that objective.  Isn’t it rather strange that the pagans who were contemporaries of ancient Israel held to some form of trinity while the Jews, to whom was given the oracles of God, held only to one God, while also acknowledging the divine Messiah who would come, but no third God-being?

I would not accept the notion of a ‘Godhead’ being like a nuclear human family. That idea has its origin in paganism which started with Nimrod, Semiramis and Tamuz.  The Bible does not use the term Godhead in that way, but rather as a descriptive that means divine nature. So, we should not think of the Godhead (divine nature) as being like gold, silver or stone (Acts 17:29) and the invisible attributes of God including His power and godhead (divine nature) are revealed through the things that He has made (Rom. 1:20).  Those are the two instances in which the Bible uses the term “Godhead”, which in no way signifies a triad entity as trinitarians tend to make out.

The statement about Lucifer’s fall was not an isolated statement that gave a very simple and straightforward, literal picture of God and Christ.  Here are two others:

“I have often seen the lovely Jesus, that he is a person. I asked him if his Father was a person, and had a form like himself. Said Jesus, “I am in the express image of my Father’s person.” I have often seen that the spiritual view took away the glory of heaven, and that in many minds the throne of David, and the lovely person of Jesus had been burned up in the fire of spiritualism.” Spiritual Gifts Vol. 2, p. 74.

“Said the angel, Think ye that the Father yielded up his dearly beloved Son without a struggle? No, no. It was even a struggle with the God of heaven, whether to let guilty man perish, or to give his beloved Son to die for them. Angels were so interested for man’s salvation that there could be found among them those who would yield their glory, and give their life for perishing man. But, said my accompanying angel, That would avail nothing.” Spiritual Gifts Vol. 1, p. 26.

Spiritualism has taken over. We just need to get back to the simple, literal framework and put aside the idea of this invisible, mysterious, unknowable third person who has no form, which has set the stage for every reality concerning God to be spiritualized away into virtual meaninglessness.