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    Chapter 7—At the 1903 General Conference

    There was a nervous tension on as the time of the General Conference session came in the Spring of 1903. It was held in Oakland, California. The matter of the disputed teachings and questions of administration were in the background of many minds. No one knew how things would turn in the conference.HSPMC 28.1

    For one thing, the General Conference delegation emphatically settled it that the conference in session should elect the leadership. The 1901 Constitution provided for the election of the large representative General Conference Committee, but the committee was to elect its own chairman. On this basis, a movement had been started at the 1902 Autumn Council to change the chairman. It was proposed by those friendly to the new teaching that Elder Daniells give himself to mission interests and that A. T. Jones be the chairman. The delegation at Oakland in 1903 changed the constitution providing again for a president of the General Conference, so that choice of leadership should rest with the general body in session.HSPMC 28.2

    The messages from the Spirit of Prophecy to the session were earnest appeals for putting away differences, for unity, for clearing away suspicion and criticism. And there was call to a reformatory work in all the institutions, and to loyalty to the message:HSPMC 28.3

    “Those who stand as teachers and leaders in our institutions are to be sound in the faith and in the principles of the third angel’s message. God wants His people to know that we have the message as He gave it to us in 1843 and 1844. We knew then what the message meant, and we call upon our people today to obey the word, ‘Bind up the law among my disciples.’”—General Conference Bulletin, 1903, p. 32HSPMC 28.4

    Especially kind and commendatory words were spoken by Mrs. White concerning the work of the medical leader. His position was not to be made difficult, but all were to stand by the good work he was doing. The medical leader, referring to the new building plans at Battle Creek, said:HSPMC 29.1

    “Now if we have made a mistake in erecting this building, the mistake can be corrected. The building can be sold, the entire institution can be sold. There are parties who will be very glad to buy.... If this Conference will vote that this enterprise shall be abandoned at Battle Creek, the property can be sold promptly, and the enterprise there can be off your hands.”—Id., p. 83HSPMC 29.2

    As though in answer to this proposition, Mrs. White, in a later message said:HSPMC 29.3

    “You were surprised to hear me say that we are not to let the Battle Creek Sanitarium go into the hands of the world; that we are to make another effort to place our institutions on solid ground.”HSPMC 29.4

    “When the sanitarium is placed on its proper foundation; when our people can see it as it was when it was first established; when they can see that no one man is to have the control of everything in it, then God will help them all to take hold with courage to build it up. Today you do not know just where it is. God wants us to know every timber of the foundation, where it is and what it is; then He wants all to put shoulder to shoulder, and labor understandingly. The Lord wants us to do our duty. He wants us to understand that Dr. ____ shall not be pushed out of his place but that he shall stand supported and acknowledged in his God-given work. This he will be if his feet are planted on the truth of the living God. If they are not planted on this truth, specious temptation will come in, through scientific problems and scientific theories regarding God and His Word.HSPMC 29.5

    Spurious scientific theories are coming in as a thief in the night, stealing away the landmarks and undermining the pillars of our faith. God has shown me that the medical students are not to be educated in such theories, because God will not endorse these theories. The most specious temptations of the enemy are coming in, and they are coming in on the highest, most elevated plane. These spiritualize the doctrines of present truth until there is no distinction between the substance and the shadow. You know that Satan will come in to deceive if possible the very elect. He claims to be Christ, and he is coming in, pretending to be the great medical missionary.”—General Conference Bulletin, 1903, p. 87HSPMC 29.6

    It was a startling message, as viewed in the light of the new-old teaching that was seeking entrance. As the conference progressed, Mrs. White told the officers of scenes that had passed before her regarding these dangers. She said she must come before the conference and open up the whole issue, so that all might understand. That was good news. We had held still, waiting for such a time. But Sister White came in and spoke on a general theme. Again she said she must open up the whole question; but again she spoke on other themes. Then, on the last Sabbath afternoon or evening, when the Conference was to close the next day, she told the executives that she must take up these matters Sunday morning. I recall with what expectancy I sat that morning, leaving editing work on the Bulletin to go. Now we would surely hear the issues set forth. But again Sister White came in, spoke on a theme of unity and courage and faith, and hurried immediately away to her home in St. Helena.HSPMC 30.1

    The conference was to end with the real issues as to erroneous teaching still untouched. Friends of the teaching learned of the situation. It was talked about that three times, under human influence, Mrs. White had proposed to take her stand against the teaching, and the Lord had restrained her.HSPMC 30.2

    But to the officers came a message from Mrs. White, saying:HSPMC 30.3

    “Under the pressure that came upon me last Sabbath, I felt that the time had come to warn our people against being taken advantage of in any way. But I was admonished that the course I had pursued during the meeting was the right course, and that I must not say anything that would stir up confusion and strife in the Conference. I was forbidden to say the things that I thought I must say on Sunday morning. Light came into my mind, and I was given a subject to present. I was instructed that I must lead the minds of the people away from the difficulties and perplexities around them.”HSPMC 30.4

    The time to meet the issue had not come, evidently, and when we saw later how Providence was all along preparing the situation for the time when the issue had to be met, we saw the clear guidance of the Lord in the waiting. The friends of the teaching, growing stronger, predicted freely that the course of the general brethren in quietly resisting the teaching and the plans associated with it, was sure to “split the denomination.” But the split never came, sad as it was to see some lose the way.HSPMC 30.5

    There was no longer waiting for counsel about publishing the book. The Living Temple was brought out and put on sale. It was urged upon the tract societies. The delicate situation involved is indicated by a letter dated Battle Creek, July 23, 1903, sent by the officers to conference presidents:HSPMC 31.1

    “Dear Brother:—HSPMC 31.2

    “A number of Conference Presidents have written to the General Conference office, saying that they are being urged to handle a new book, The Living Temple, the proceeds to go to sanitarium enterprises. They ask if the General Conference has made any recommendation in the matter, and what the attitude of the General Conference is toward the proposition. We feel it proper to state the facts to you.HSPMC 31.3

    “The General Conference has made no recommendation in this matter, which has come to the attention of its officers only through communications from the conferences. Somewhat over a year ago, a proposition was being considered relative to handling a popular medical book, for the benefit of our sanitariums, when the Object Lessons work was finished. At the last autumn council of the General Conference committee, in 1902, the matter came up for consideration, and proofs of the Living Temple were submitted. The religious teaching of certain portions of the book was very seriously questioned by various members of the Committee who had examined it. They felt that its tendency was to undermine the truth, and that the circulation of such teaching would do no good. After the matter had been thoroughly discussed, it seemed to the Committee that while it was not a proper thing for a General Conference Council to pass formally upon any question of religious teaching, it was likewise not a proper thing to recommend the circulation of literature so seriously criticized. The book was withdrawn by the author from the consideration of the Committee and the Committee has had no dealings with the matter since.HSPMC 31.4

    “Of course, as to the truth or falsity of teachings, every soul must individually know for himself. But we appreciate the fact that our conference brethren have a right to ask whether plans proposed are in harmony with the understanding and plans of the General Conference.HSPMC 32.1

    “Personally, in view of the times in which we are living, and in view of the instruction given us at the last General Conference, to the effect that ‘Spurious scientific theories are coming in as a thief in the night, stealing away the landmarks and undermining the pillars of our faith,’ we feel that each one charged with sacred responsibilities in leading this people in the final work of the message should move surely and understandingly.HSPMC 32.2

    “In view of these facts, we do not believe it is right to urge our people to take hold of the sale of the book on the plans proposed.HSPMC 32.3

    (Signed) “A. G. Daniells, President
    “W. A. Spicer, Secretary”

    The book was taken to some of the camp meetings by it s friends, who read from the writing of the Spirit of Prophecy (and the Bible, of course), interpreting Scripture and phrases and sentences of the Spirit of Prophecy as teaching the same as this book. It was promoted in some of the schools. It was a perplexing situation, but we seemed unable to act. The waiting commission was the order of the day.HSPMC 32.4

    Some friends of the aggressive propaganda were saying that the Spirit of Prophecy would not yet “roll the general men in the dust.” But we know that the Lord could never set His seal upon a system that said things one way in private only to talk another way in public. That sort of thing could never stand, regardless of our human fallibility and the possibility that we might err in pronouncing on an item of teaching.HSPMC 32.5

    Meanwhile the locating committee had found a place for the new headquarters for the General Conference and the Review and Herald office. The Spirit of prophecy had directed to Washington. As plans were under way for moving there was talk among leaders of the new philosophy that it was absurd to talk of moving the headquarters of the denomination. It was said to be like the mayor and a few aldermen of Battle Creek leaving the city and saying they had moved the city of Battle Creek. Why, it was said, the Sanitarium remained the Tabernacle remained, the church remained, and Elder A. T. J. and Elder E. J. W., and others were with them; and we think the headquarters will still be here, it was said.HSPMC 32.6

    But it was very soon apparent that as the pillar of cloud of God’s providence rose and led forward, the hosts of Israel moved with it, in their hearts. The cause of the living Advent Movement could not be led away into paths unknown and uncharted. In the unions, and conferences and churches the work was being pressed forward; and among workers and believers the removal to the East was seen as a command to go forward.HSPMC 33.1

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