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

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    Warnings Against the Threat of Pantheism

    During the crisis of 1903 and into 1904, Ellen White wrote concerning pantheism, its threat to the church and to the religious experience of those who were drawn to it. On August 4 she wrote:5BIO 302.4

    The doctor is ensnared in a net of specious deception. He is presenting as of great worth things that are turning souls from the truth into ... forbidden paths.—Letter 216, 1903.5BIO 302.5

    On September 18 in a letter to Elder Daniells, she referred to Kellogg's experience as a young man back in 1882:5BIO 302.6

    The Lord presented this matter to me, revealing that the result of such teaching was a subtle beguiling of the mind, and that the doctor himself did not foresee this result of his extreme views in regard to God in nature.... I told him that the Lord was greatly dishonored by being thus represented, and that such ideas would lead the people into spiritualism. [Note: As noted, this term was several times used in this setting to indicate a spiritualizing away of such basic truths as the personality of God.]—Letter 271a, 1903.5BIO 302.7

    While Kellogg himself gave up the ideas at the time, Drs. W. B. Sprague and W. J. Fairfield, who were associated with him, were lost to the truth, most likely as the result of the doctor's early interest in pantheism.5BIO 303.1

    In another September 18 letter Ellen White wrote:5BIO 303.2

    Dr. Paulson's mind is becoming confused.... Extreme views of “God in nature” undermine the foundation truths of the personality of God and the ministration of angels. A confused mass of spiritualistic ideas takes the place of faith in a personal God.... Let Dr. Paulson take heed that he be not deceived. He may say, “Sister White's own words are repeated in Dr. Kellogg's teachings.” True; but misinterpreted and misconstrued.—Letter 271b, 1903.

    Writing on October 2 to Dr. E. J. Waggoner, she said:5BIO 303.3

    I am authorized to say to you that some of the sentiments regarding the personality of God, as found in the book Living Temple, are opposed to the truths revealed in the Word of God. ... Had God desired to be represented as dwelling personally in the things of nature—in the flower, the tree, the spear of grass—would not Christ have spoken of this to His disciples?

    I have seen the results of these fanciful views of God, in apostasy, spiritualism, free loveism. The free love tendencies of these teachings were so concealed that it was difficult to present them in their real character. Until the Lord presented it to me, I knew not what to call it, but I was instructed to call it unholy spiritual love.—Letter 230, 1903.5BIO 303.4

    In a letter addressed to Dr. Kellogg, but held, as she did at times in critical situations, until certain attitudes or situations developed, she wrote:5BIO 303.5

    I have been given words to speak to you that I cannot withhold. A portion of the matter that is printed in the book Living Temple is incorrect and misleading, and ought not to be placed before the people.... In regard to the book Living Temple, I have been instructed by the heavenly messenger that some of the reasoning in this book is untrue, and that this reasoning would lead astray the minds of those who are not thoroughly established on the foundation principles of present truth.—Letter 232, 1903.5BIO 303.6

    Writing to Elders Prescott and Daniells on October 11, she compared The Living Temple to forbidden fruit, and stated:5BIO 304.1

    Like Adam and Eve, who took the apple from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and ate it, our own sheep and lambs are swallowing the deceptive morsels of error offered them in the pages of this book. I am instructed to warn our brethren and sisters not to discuss the nature of our God.—Letter 224, 1903.5BIO 304.2

    The principles involved were not new to Ellen White, as she disclosed in one of her letters on October 13:5BIO 304.3

    Before I was 17 years old, I had to bear my testimony against them [sentiments regarding God such as are found in The Living Temple] before large companies. In New Hampshire, two prominent men, who professed to believe in the Lord's soon coming, were active in disseminating ideas regarding God similar to those presented in The Living Temple.—Letter 217, 1903.5BIO 304.4

    On the night of October 13, 1903, she had a vision regarding Dr. Paulson. She saw someone looking over his shoulder and saying, “‘You, my friend, are in danger.’” She warned him against trying to make it appear that the testimonies sustained Dr. Kellogg's position, and revealed to him what she had seen at Oakland: “Angels clothed with beautiful garments, like angels of light, were escorting Dr. Kellogg from place to place, and inspiring him to speak words of pompous boasting that were offensive to God.”—Letter 220, 1903.5BIO 304.5

    While the Autumn Council was in progress in Washington, she wrote:5BIO 304.6

    If a change does not take place during the council meeting... it may be that I shall have to go to Battle Creek, and bear a decided testimony for God and for the truth in behalf of God's people.— Ibid.5BIO 305.1

    The warnings and counsels continued into 1904. In Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 2, published that year, are these words on page 47:5BIO 305.2

    That which has been said in the testimonies in regard to Living Temple, and its misleading sentiments, is not overdrawn. Some of its theories are misleading, and their influence will be to close the minds of those who receive them against the truth for this time. Men may explain and explain in regard to these theories, nevertheless they are contrary to the truth. Scriptures are misplaced and misapplied, taken out of their connection and given a wrong application. Thus those are deceived who have not a vital, personal experience in the truths that have made us as a people what we are.5BIO 305.3

    On August 7, 1904, Ellen White wrote:5BIO 305.4

    Separate from the influence exerted by the book Living Temple; for it contains specious sentiments. There are in it 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.... It will be said that Living Temple has been revised. But the Lord has shown me that the writer has not changed, and that there can be no unity between him and the ministers of the gospel while he continues to cherish his present sentiments. I am bidden to lift my voice in warning to our people, saying, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked.”—Testimonies for the Church Containing Letters to Physicians and Ministers Instruction to Seventh-day Adventists, 49 (Selected Messages 1:199).

    I am instructed to speak plainly. “Meet it,” is the word spoken to me. “Meet it firmly, and without delay.” But it is not to be met by our taking our working forces from the field to investigate doctrines and points of difference. We have no such investigation to make. In the book Living Temple there is presented the alpha of deadly heresies. The omega will follow, and will be received by those who are not willing to heed the warning God has given.—Testimonies for the Church Containing Letters to Physicians and Ministers Instruction to Seventh-day Adventists, 50 (Selected Messages 1:200).5BIO 305.5

    The issues were now in the open. Physicians, nurses, ministers, and church members, particularly in Battle Creek, were taking sides. How could the real issues be made clear? It was a life-and-death struggle for souls. What others did not see, Ellen White saw clearly, and it weighed heavily upon her.5BIO 306.1

    To sound a warning to the church throughout the land, Ellen White hurried the production of Testimonies for the Church, volume 8, with its section on “The Essential Knowledge,” dealing with God and nature and a personal God. She dwelt at length on the danger of speculative knowledge, her message buttressed with abundant scripture evidence of a personal God. The book The Ministry of Healing was in preparation at this time; there was included in it also a section entitled “The Essential Knowledge,” dealing with speculative knowledge and the false and true in education. Thus Ellen White went on record with warnings that would continue to sound.5BIO 306.2

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