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Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5)

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    Seeds of Error Carried to the World Field

    Thus the seeds of pantheism were being sown at the General Conference session of 1899, and through the General Conference Bulletin they were carried to the church throughout the world. Somehow the peril of this teaching was not discerned. It seemed to be beautiful light; light that if adequately understood would lead to holy living: God is in the air; God is in water; God is in the corn; God is in the bread; and it is because God is in men and women that disease cannot take hold of them.5BIO 285.9

    From time to time during the session, communications were received from Ellen G. White, who was in Australia, and certain meetings were set apart for the reading of these communications. One such was on Wednesday morning, March 1. The following Sabbath afternoon was also given over to “reading several Testimonies received since the opening of the session of the conference.” Elder G. A. Irwin read these. Significantly, the first carried the title “The True Relation of God and Nature.” Ellen White spoke of the Fall of man and of the worship of the Athenians who erected their altars for the worship of nature on which they might well inscribe “To the unknown God.” “Nature is not God,” she said, “and never was God. The voice of nature testifies of God, declaring His glory; but nature itself is not God. As God's created work, it but bears a testimony of His power.”—Ibid., 157.5BIO 285.10

    She continued:5BIO 286.1

    The ancient philosophers prided themselves upon their superior knowledge, but God has said of them: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.... Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator.”—Ibid., 157

    Then she made a point that showed where the “new light” would lead.5BIO 286.2

    Christ came to the world as a personal Saviour. He represented a personal God. He ascended on high as a personal Saviour, and He will come again as He ascended to heaven—a personal Saviour. We need carefully to consider this; for in their human wisdom, the wise men of the world, knowing not God, foolishly deify nature and the laws of nature.— Ibid.5BIO 286.3

    In the following words she clearly sorted things out:5BIO 286.4

    Those who have a true knowledge of God will not become so infatuated with the laws of matter and the operations of nature as to overlook or to refuse to acknowledge the continual working of God in nature. Deity is the author of nature. The natural world has in itself no inherent power but that which God supplies. How strange, then, that so many make a deity of nature! God furnishes the matter and the properties with which to carry out His plans. Nature is but His agency.— Ibid.

    How interestingly these words of counsel dealt with presentations that had been made earlier in the session. But as far as the record reveals, the delegates seem to have made no connection between those presentations and the messages that Ellen White sent from Australia. The timing, too, was significant, for she wrote nearly a month before the session opened and they arrived when truly needed. Those inspired messages should have forever buried the pantheistic teachings. But not so. They were forgotten, but pantheism was not. Dr. Kellogg and those who held views similar to his became even more bold in the presentation of pantheistic teachings. Such teachings threatened the principal doctrines that Seventh-day Adventists hold, particularly that of the sanctuary, with Christ ministering in the Most Holy Place. But the danger was not seen by most.5BIO 286.5

    The pantheistic views became popular and were taught in Battle Creek College. They were taught in the Sanitarium, and as has been shown, they were defended by some physicians and some ministers.5BIO 287.1

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