Larger font
Smaller font

Foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist Message and Mission

 - Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    B. The Second Angel’s Message

    The interpretation of Revelation 14:8 was basically the same as in 1844; though during the years, there was further specification of the characteristics of Babylon. The concept of “Babylon” determined Sabbatarian Adventist evaluations of contemporary religious revivals among non-Adventists, their view of church unity, and the question of a possible cooperation with other Christians. It also contributed significantly to the understanding of the raison d’être of this religious body and its mission.FSDA 179.1

    1. The moral fall of Babylon

    In 1850 the question of what constituted Babylon was not yet settled. According to J. White, the first angel’s message had been preached to the Protestant churches but was rejected, resulting in the proclamation of the second angel’s message to God’s people in these churches. This, he said, signified that the term “Babylon” in this message was not concerned with the Roman Catholic Church, for “God’s people were not in that church,” 1J. White, “TAM,” p. 66 (TAM, p. 5). Even in 1859 he did not think that God’s people were in the Roman Catholic Church (J. White, “Babylon,” RH, March 10, 1859, p. 122). The heading “Conversion of a Roman Catholic,” RH, July 17, 1866, p. 56, indicates the uniqueness of this event. At the 1873 General Conference J. White mentioned the presence of “quite a representation from the Roman Catholic church” (“Conference Address ...,” RH, May 20, 1873, p. 180). so indicating that people did not come out of that church but “out of the Protestant Sects.” 2[J. White], “Angels No. 3,” p. 64 (AR, p. 11). Andrews, however, was of the opinion that “Babylon includes Protestant as well as Catholic churches.” 4J. White, “Babylon,” RH, March 10, 1859, p. 122. In this early period there was frequently a difference between the interpretation of Babylon of Revelation 14:8 and Revelation 17. Revelation 14:8 was interpreted in the context of the 1844 experience as referring to the Protestant churches, while Babylon of Revelation 17 was applied to the Roman Catholic Church as the mother harlot and Protestant churches as her harlot daughters. The importance of Revelation 14:8 seems to have determined J. White’s view of Revelation 17 (ibid.). A distinction between Revelation 14:8 and Revelation 17 was also seen by E. G. White. In 1884 she applied Babylon, symbolized by the harlot of Revelation 17, to the Roman Catholic Church and interpreted Revelation 14:8 as a description of the fall of the Protestant harlot daughters (The Spirit of Prophecy 4:232, 233). Later she enlarged her view of Revelation 14:8, stating that “it cannot refer to the Roman Catholic Church alone” (The Great Controversy, 1911, 383). This implied an inclusion of both Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. Although in 1859 J. White seemed to have broadened his concept when he applied the Babylon of the Apocalypse to “all corrupt Christianity,” he probably still meant by this Protestantism. Later, the view that Babylon included the Protestant and Catholic churches became the accepted one.FSDA 179.2

    Babylon was characterized by Andrews as “the professed church united with the kingdoms of the world. In other words, ‘Babylon is the apostate churches.’” 1Andrews, “Revelation,” p. 81. Nichols designated Babylon, the great city, as a symbol of “the church incorporated, and united to the state.” 2Nichols, “Babylon,” RH, Jan. 13, 1852, p. 75. Andrews further indicated that there existed a topological relationship between ancient Israel and contemporary Christianity. In the context of Revelation 17 he pointed out that “she [church] became a harlot by seeking the friendship of the world. James 4:4. It was this unlawful connection with the kings of the earth that established her the great harlot of the Apocalypse.” 4Ibid. (Brackets his.) Cf. Cottrell, “The Closing Messages.-” No. 10, RH, Oct. 19, 1869, p. 133. He said “the Jewish church which was represented as espoused to the Lord, [Jeremiah 2; 3; 31, 32,] became an harlot in the same manner, Ezekiel 16,” and “the fact that Babylon is distinct from, though unlawfully united with, the kings of the earth, is positive proof that Babylon is not the civil power” but a “professedly religious body,” for God’s people were to be in Babylon before her destruction, which could only mean that “the woman, Babylon of Revelation 17, symbolizes the professed church unlawfully united to the world.”FSDA 180.1

    The “unlawful union” of the church with the world was closely related to the fact that “she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Revelation 14:8). According to Andrews, “this harlot, in consequence of her unlawful union with the powers of earth, has corrupted the pure truths of the Bible, and with the wine of her false doctrine, has intoxicated the nations.” 6Andrews, “TAR,” p. 185 (TAR, p. 54). Cf. E. G. White, The Spirit of Prophecy 4:234, 235. As false doctrines Andrews mentioned the doctrine of natural immortality, infant baptism, the change of the fourth commandment of the Decalogue, postmillennialism and the concept of a spiritual parousia (“TAR,” pp. 185, 186 [TAR, pp. 54, 55]). Cf. E. G. White, The Spirit of Prophecy 4:235. Loughborough suggested that Babylon “causes the nations to drink by enforcing these doctrines upon their minds, and calling them to enforce them by law upon the people.” 7Loughborough, “Questions for Bro. Loughborough,” RH, Nov. 12, 1861, p. 192. In Cottrell’s opinion “all nations” had tasted the wine of Babylon “whether Catholic, Greek, or Protestant, and ‘the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.’” 8Cottrell, “Closing Messages,” No. 10, p. 133. Later E. G. White qualified this statement by saying that Revelation 14:8 “did not reach its complete fulfillment in 1844. The churches then experienced a moral fall, in consequence of their refusal of the light of the Advent message, but that fall was not complete. As they have continued to reject the special truths for this time, they have fallen lower and lower. Not yet, however, can it be said that ‘Babylon is fallen, ... because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’ She has not yet made all nations do this. The spirit of world-conforming and indifference to the testing truths for our time exists and has been gaining ground in the churches of the Protestant faith in all the countries of Christendom; and these churches are included in the solemn and terrible denunciation of the second angel. But the work of apostasy has not yet reached its culmination” (The Great Controversy, 389). She added that not until the condition described in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11 is reached and “the union of the church with the world shall be fully accomplished, throughout Christendom, will the fall of Babylon be complete. The change is a progressive one, and the perfect fulfillment of Revelation 14:8 is yet future” (ibid., pp. 389, 390). The wine, he said, was “especially the lust of civil power, which, when attained by an apostate church ... never fails to lead to oppression and persecution.” 1Cottrell, “Closing Messages,” No. 10, p. 133. As examples of religious persecution in the U.S.A. he mentioned Baptists and Quakers (ibid.). Although Babylon was a dangerous force, E. G. White saw the greatest threat from the side of apostate Sabbatarian Adventists 2E. G. White, “Testimony to the Church,” RH, Nov. 26, 1861, p. 205. She added, “unfaithful Sabbath-keepers are the worst enemies the truth can have.” Here she seems to refer to opposition of former believers like Ransom Hicks, R. R. Chapin, H. S. Case, C. P. Russel, J. M. Stephenson and D. P. Hall. Cf. the opposition of Snook, Brinkerhoff, Carver, Gilbert Cranmer, A. C. Long, W. C. Long, Preble, and Canright. and “Adventists who oppose the law of God.” 3E. G. White, TC, No. 25, 1875, pp. 173, 175, 178 (Testimonies for the Church 3:571, 572, 574, 1948). For the context of this remark, see e.g., criticism on SDA in the Voice of the West, 1865-69, and the World’s Crisis, 1865-75. Cf. the opposition of Grant, Wellcome, and Sheldon.FSDA 180.2

    It was the general opinion that the fall of Babylon in 1844 could have been avoided. The first angel’s message was seen to be a reformative instrument and a medicine which could cure Babylon, 4Andrews, “Revelation,” p. 82. In 1855 he stated that “the preaching of the hour of God’s Judgment and the immediate coming of the Lord, was at once the test of the church and the means by which she might have been healed” (“TAR,” p. 186 [TAR, p. 57]). Cottrell said that Babylon “rejected the only medicine that could effect a cure. God, in his providence and in fulfillment of his prophetic word, provided a remedy. It was the gospel of the kingdom.... Matthew 24:14; Revelation 14:6, 7” (“Babylon Might Have Been Healed,” RH, Aug. 4, 1853, p. 46). Cf. E. G. White, The Spirit of Prophecy 4:236. but when it was rejected her fall became inevitable. In 1851 Andrews called Babylon’s fall a “moral fall” which preceded her final destruction, “for the people of God are called out of her after her fall, and while her destruction is yet pending. Revelation 18.” 5Andrews, “Revelation,” p. 82. His rationale for calling it a “moral fall” was the rejection of “truth” by the “professed church.” 7Letter, E. G. White to Kellogg, No. 9, 1853. Cf. J. White, “TAM,” p. 66 (TAM, p. 5). Here he reasoned that due to the rejection of the first angel’s message by the Protestant churches, “Jesus, and the Spirit of truth left them forever, and the churches or Babylon fell.” Later, E. G. White stated more specifically that “the churches have grieved the Spirit of the Lord, and it has been in a great measure withdrawn” (The Spirit of Prophecy 4:237) In harmony with the criticism on Babylon E. G. White stated in 1853 that “coldness and death reigned” in the “nominal churches,” and, by pleasing men, “God’s spirit left them.” A few years later she also mentioned that “they have shut out the gifts God has placed in the church,” and depicted the rejection of the first angel’s message in the context of salvation history, stating that “as they rejected the light from heaven they fell from the favor of God” and Jesus “turned his face from the churches.” Assuming a typological relationship between Jews of Christ’s time and contemporary Christianity, she remarked:FSDA 181.1

    The nominal churches, as the Jews crucified Jesus, had crucified these [angels’] messages, and therefore they have no knowledge of the move made in heaven, or of the way into the Most Holy, and they cannot be benefited by the intercession of Jesus there. Like the Jews, who offered their useless sacrifices, they offer up their useless prayers to the apartment which Jesus has left, and Satan, pleased with the deception of the professed followers of Christ, fastens them in his snare, and assumes a religious character, and leads the minds of these professed Christians to himself, and works with his power, his signs and lying wonders. 1The Spirit of Prophecy 4:171, 172.FSDA 181.2

    Later she applied topological reasoning to postmillennial views in Christ’s time to illustrate the condition of the Christian world. 2E. G. White stated that “the churches of our time are seeking worldly aggrandizement, and are as unwilling to see the light of the prophecies, and receive the evidences of their fulfillment which show that Christ is soon to come, as were the Jews in reference to his first appearing. They were looking for the temporal and triumphant reign of Messiah in Jerusalem. Professed Christians of our time are expecting the temporal prosperity of the church, in the conversion of the world, and the enjoyment of the temporal millennium” (“The First Advent of Christ,” RH, Dec. 24, 1872, p. 10).FSDA 182.1

    In looking backward she noticed in 1858 that the spiritual condition of the churches after their fall had further declined, and that “they have been growing more and more corrupt; yet they bear the name of being Christ’s followers. It is impossible to distinguish them from the world.... Satan has taken full possession of the churches as a body.” 3E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts 1:189. She added, “Jesus had left the Holy place of the heavenly Sanctuary, and had entered within the second vail, the churches were left as were the Jews; and they have been filling up with every unclean and hateful bird” (ibid, p. 190. 190). For the decline of the churches, see M. E. Cornell, Facts for the Times ..., 1858, pp. 37-51; [Nathaniel Hawthorne], The Celestial Railroad [rev. ed., 1866]; Cornell, The State of the Churches, [1868]. Cf. Robert Atkins, A True Picture: or A Thrilling Description of the State of the Churches Throughout Christendom ... (Boston: J. V. Himes, 1843), which was repr. by Sabbatarian Adventists in 1853. In 1859 J. White found support for the designation “moral fall” in the fact that a progressive decline indicated a “moral change.” 4J. White, “Babylon,” RH, March 10, 1859, p. 122. First, he said, Babylon “falls”; then “she becomes the habitation of devils, and ‘the hold of every foul spirit,’ etc.”; next “God’s people are called out of her”; and finally “her plagues are poured out upon her, and she is thrown down with violence, ‘like a great millstone cast into the sea,’ and ‘found no more at all.’” 5Ibid. Cottrell saw an illustration of the moral fall in a topological relationship between the “Jewish church” of Christ’s time and the contemporary Christian church. He stated thatFSDA 182.2

    a moral fall or apostasy of a religious body is always a gradual work; but it cannot be announced till it reaches a certain point. That point was reached by the Jewish church when they rejected Jesus Christ. Then their house was left unto them desolate [Mt. 23:38]. So the professed Christian church of the last days, will reach, if they have not already, a similar point; and then their fall will be announced, in fulfillment of the second message. 6Cottrell, “Unity,” p. 125. Cf. Cottrell, “Closing Messages,” No. 9, RH, Oct. 12, 1869, p. 126.FSDA 182.3

    He also said that the moral fall was “a point in her apostasy where God abandons her, the spirits of devils rush in to fill the place of the Spirit of God, and worldly, unconverted persons flock in and make her a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” 1Ibid, No. 13, RH, Nov. 9, 1869, p. 157.FSDA 182.4

    The believers saw in the rise of Spiritualism and its penetration of religious bodies after 1844 strong evidence for their interpretation that Revelation 14:8 signified the moral fall of Babylon. In 1853 Cottrell indicated that “‘the rapping spirits’ have commenced their work since 1844, and are filling the professed churches with their delusions.” 2Cottrell, “Babylon,” p. 46. J. White expressed that it was “a startling fact, that since 1844 has been the period for the rise of foul spirits.” 3J. White, “Signs,” p. 71 (Signs, p. 95). Cf. R. Lawrence Moore, “Spiritualism,” in Gaustad, Adventism, pp. 79-103; Clark, 1844, I, 327-82. Andrews remarked that “as a demonstration that we are correct in regard to the application of Revelation 14, let the present movement respecting the spirits of the dead answer. An innumerable host of demons are spreading themselves over the whole country, flooding the churches and religious bodies of the land to a very great extent.” 5Cottrell, “Closing Messages,” No. 16, RH, Nov. 30, 1869, p. 182. Concerning the recent rise of Spiritualism he remarked that “its progress has been unprecedented and unparalleled by any movement affecting the faith or the infidelity of the people, since the world began. In the short space of a score of years its converts are numbered by millions, and all these are infidels, rejecting the great truths revealed in the Bible. Such a tremendous evil could not suddenly burst upon our world, but by God’s permissive providence; and his providence would not permit it without a cause. That cause must be departure from God and rejection of his truth” (ibid.). In 1872 an article was published stating that Spiritualism had now nearly embraced the whole world (Editorial, “Spiritualism in Asia,” RH, Dec. 3, 1872, p. 200). Later, Cottrell described as evidence of the moral fall “the advent of what is called spirit manifestations; which we might denominate, (considering the great number possessed of foul spirits in the days of the first advent of Christ,) the second advent of the devil and his angels.” The newly accepted view on the conditional immortality of man was considered an antidote for Spiritualism.FSDA 183.1

    As a result of this understanding of Spiritualism a distinction was made between the fall of Babylon in Revelation 14:8 and the one in Revelation 18:2. While Revelation 14:8 was seen as the moral fall in 1844, Revelation 18:2, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and she is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird” was interpreted as a future mission proclamation repeating Revelation 14:8 and adding a denouncement of the corruption and sins of contemporary Christianity caused by Spiritualism after the moral fall. 7Cf. Cottrell, “Babylon,” p. 46. J. White stated, “Mesmerism, Satan’s mildest bait, was but little known in this country prior to 1844; since then the church has been bewitched with its damning influences. Psychology was not mentioned; and no one so much as dreamed of all this clattering of ten thousand demons from the infernal regions, rapping, moving chairs, stands, tables, etc. That Babylon’s cup is full, that she is now a ‘hold of every foul spirit,’ we do not believe. But the present movements of Spiritualism show the text fast fulfilling” (“Signs,” p. 70 [Signs, pp. 91, 92]). According to J. White, Rev. 18:2 could not be applied to the churches before 1844, but in 1856 it was “fast becoming their real condition.” 1J. White, “The Third Angel’s Message,” RH, Aug. 14, 1856, p. 116.FSDA 183.2

    Besides manifestations of Spiritualism Cottrell found support for the moral fall in a “great spiritual dearth” in the churches 2Cottrell, “Closing Messages,” No. 15, RH, Nov. 23, 1869, p. 173. and in a rapid decline in morality evinced by organized gambling, religious balls, and parties for “the purpose of building churches, or the support of the ministry.” 3Ibid., No. 17, RH, Dec. 17, 1869, p. 189.FSDA 184.1

    2. The evaluation of religions revivalism

    The negative attitude of Sabbatarian Adventists toward religious revivals within contemporary Christianity was the result of their interpretation of the fall of Babylon. The religious revivals going on in 1849 were described by E. G. White as “false reformations.” 4E. G. White, “DBS,” p. 22 (Early Writings, 43, 44). She also predicted that false revivals would increase (ibid., p. 22 [Early Writings, 45]). Smith considered this a prophecy being fulfilled in the 1858 revivals (“Visions,” p. 63). Her evaluation was determined on the basis that individuals associated with these revivals had rejected the truth, 5E. G. White, Supplement to the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White, 4 (Early Writings, 45). See supra, p. 154. which seemed to explain the fact that there was no more “the travel [travail] of soul for sinners as used to be.” 7E. G. White, “DBS,” p. 22. She added that “those who professed a change of heart, had only wrapt about them a religious garb, which covered up the iniquity of a wicked heart. Some appeared to have been really converted, so as to deceive God’s people; but if their hearts could be seen, they would appear as black as ever” (ibid.). Therefore, she could state that these revivals “were not reformations from error to truth; but from bad to worse.” In the sanctuary context she commented thatFSDA 184.2

    the excitements and false reformations of this day do not move us, for we know that the Master of the house rose up in 1844, and shut the door of the first apartment of the heavenly tabernacle; and now we certainly expect that they will “go with their flocks,” “to seek the Lord; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself [Hosea 5:6] (within the second vail) from them.” 8[Ibid., p. 64. Cf. J. White, “Parable,” p. 102 (Parable, pp. 19, 20).FSDA 184.3

    Thus the powerful manifestations taking place during these revivals, she said, were “a mere human influence, and not the power of God.” 9E. G. White, “DBS,” p. 64.FSDA 184.4

    Not every Sabbatarian Adventist took such a determined stand against revivals. In 1854 a correspondent of the Review and Herald describing the various attitudes said, “Some are reasoning and doubting about this so-called work of God, feeling unprepared to deny that it is such; others believe there are true converts among them; some think they have nothing to do there; others have a mind to go and see; and a few take a firm stand against it as the work of Satan.” 1Letter, Albert Belden to J. White, RH, Feb. 28, 1854, p. 47. Another correspondent remarked, “many no doubt, are honestly deceived by these false guides, and may perhaps be eventually saved under the loud cry of the third angel” (E. R. Seaman, “Can Ye Not Discern the Signs of the Times?” RH, Feb. 21, 1854, p. 37).FSDA 184.5

    In referring to revivals of the churches which had rejected the 1844 Advent doctrine (including those during the late 1850s), E. G. White remarked that “the churches were elated, and considered that God was marvelously working for them, when it was another spirit.” 2E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts 1:172. She stated that Satan “hopes to deceive the honest, and lead them to think that God is still working for the churches” and predicted that the revivals “will die away and leave the world and the church in a worse condition than before.” 3Ibid. This statement seemed to be confirmed in a pessimistic evaluation of the revivals by two religious periodicals. 5J. White, “Babylon,” RH, March 10, 1859, p. 122. Cf. Smith, “Religious Declension of These Days,” RH, Feb. 24, 1874, p. 85. J. White commented that this evaluation “coming from two very high sources, in the religious world, makes the real condition of fallen Babylon appear worse than before her spurious revivals,” and felt that apostacy of the majority of new converts and increasing worldliness within the churches was evidence that the revivals were not genuine.FSDA 185.1

    Cottrell saw revivalism as a necessary element in SDA eschatological expectations. He remarked that “the word of God points us to a Protestant persecution just before us,” which implied that “there must be an increase of religion among the sects, in order to bring it about.” 7Cottrell, “The Present ‘Revivals’ in Babylon,” RH, May 13, 1858, p. 206. In the light of the SDA movement he felt that there was only one genuine revival, “the great revival,” which was described as “the revival of genuine Christianity, a coming up to the standard of truth and holiness” and “the revival of long-neglected and down-trodden truth-‘the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus’-without which no real, permanent good can be accomplished for this generation.” 8Cottrell, “The Great Revival Here,” RH, Aug. 29, 1865, p. 100. He justified his use of the term “great revival” because it was “the revival of primitive faith and practice, and because it will sanctify God’s peculiar people, and prepare them to be translated to Heaven without seeing death.” 9Ibid., p. 101. He had no expectations, however, that it would “convert the world, but one that was destined to gather out a few-the little flock.” 1Ibid., p. 100.FSDA 185.2

    3. Christian unity and cooperation

    The Sabbatarian Adventist view of Christian unity and attitude toward ecumenical trends in contemporary Christianity was fully determined by the second angel’s message. Already in 1851 Cottrell stated that “the union of Christians is an object for which we all pray,” 2Cottrell, “From ‘A Letter to the Disciples of the Lord,’” RH, April 7, 1851, p. 61. being achieved only “if we would attend to the ‘essentials’ of religion, and leave off contending for the ‘non-essentials.’” Essentials, he said, were recorded in the Bible, non-essentials “those which are wisely left out.” 3Ibid. Examples of non-essentials were Sunday observance and infant baptism (ibid.). J. White felt that “the church should be one; that the world might believe that God had sent his Son to save lost men.” 5Ibid. The responsibility that this had not been accomplished rested on Babylon, for “the confusion of this great Babylon has filled the world with infidelity.” He criticized attempts to achieve church unity among non-Adventists, pointing out that frequently various denominations had organized united efforts for “the conversion of sinners” but when the time came “to bend the converts to the different man-made creeds; then what confusion has followed, and what wounds have been inflicted upon the cause of Christ.” Therefore, he said that it was “no wonder that men have doubted the reality of the Christian religion.”FSDA 186.1

    In 1870 Cottrell distinguished three ecumenical movements. The first movement, Roman Catholicism, had called “its Ecumenical Council, and declared the infallibility of the pope as the bond of union.” 8Cottrell, “Unity of the Church,” RH, Oct. 18, 1870, p. 141. This was a reference to the Vatican Council (1869-70). The second movement, Protestant ecumenism, was represented in the proposed scheme of church union of a “Protestant Ecumenical Council” which was to convene shortly. 9Ibid. This scheme, Cottrell said, advocated “an open communion, and the recognition of one evangelical ministry, by the interchange of pulpits, thus to make visible the unity of the church,” 10Ibid. At that time the SDA opposed the idea of an open communion (see e.g., Butler, “Open and Closed Communion,” RH, May 27, 1873, p. 186). On the question of participation at the Lord’s supper Butler said: “Those who have been truly baptized by gospel baptism, and who take God’s holy law as their rule of morality, and take upon themselves the obligations of the church covenant when practicable, and live consistent Christian lives, are the proper ones to partake of the emblems of Christ’s broken body” (ibid.). and indicated that “denominational distinctions are not inconsistent with true Christian unity” because one “may be of Paul, another of Apollos, another of Cephas, and yet all of Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:13, 33, 41Cottrell, “Unity of the Church,” p. 141. He concluded, therefore, that “they can all agree upon certain unscriptural dogmas of the Bible,” and when they disagree on Biblical doctrines “they can compromise these as things non-essential, agree to disagree, and so form a sort of union which perhaps I cannot characterize better than by the expression, harmonious jargon, or disjunctive conjunction.” 2Ibid. He added that this signified that “I can fellowship whatever of Bible truth you hold, provided you will acknowledge my errors upon these subjects to be equally as good as the truth. By such mutual concessions and compromises the ‘visible unity’ of the church is to be effected” (ibid.). The third movement for Christian unity he saw in the SDA movement with its platform of “the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” 3Ibid.FSDA 186.2

    Improved relationships between Protestants and Roman Catholics were looked upon critically and with apprehension. When, in 1871, Protestants of various denominations made donations for the construction of a Catholic church and attended its consecration ceremony, the headlines of the article reporting these activities read: “Protestantism and Catholicism Joining Hands.” 4F.A.B., “Protestantism and Catholicism Joining Hands,” RH, May 16, 1871, p. 171. Cf. E. G. White, The Spirit of Prophecy 4:405.FSDA 187.1

    Some years later skeptical notes were heard about the Evangelical Alliance. 5C. H. Bliss, “The Evangelical Alliance,” RH, Dec. 16, 1873, p. 7. The Evangelical Alliance was formed in London in 1866; the article referred to its 6th General Conference. Cottrell called it “a mere confederacy of distinct and differing sects, each still holding their distinguishing doctrines,” not aimed at “correcting their errors” but at compromising their differences “to unite their power.” 6Cottrell, “The ‘Evangelical Alliance’ vs. True Christian Union,” RH, Feb. 24, 1874, p. 85. He contrasted it with the “perfect union in the truth” as expressed in Jn. 17:21, 23; 1 Corinthians 1:10 and “based on the promise of God in prophecy (Revelation 14:9-12)” which was “to test out the true children of God, perfectly uniting them in the commandments of God and the faith of the gospel.” 7Ibid.FSDA 187.2

    It was obvious that Sabbatarian Adventist concepts of unity and Babylon prevented any form of cooperation with other church organizations. 8Cf. Stephenson, “The Number of the Beast,” RH, Nov. 29, 1853, p. 166. There was also a warning given to prevent children from “associating with wicked children” ([J. White] “An Address ...,” The Youth’s Instructor, August 1852, 2). In 1859 E. G. White expressed herself against the practice of being a “surety for unbelievers”; that is, being financially responsible for, or in “partnership with unbelievers. God’s people trust too much to the words of strangers, and ask their advice and counsel when they should not,” because “the enemy makes them his agents, and works through them to perplex and take from God’s people.” 9E. G. White, TC, No. 5, 1859, p. 21 (Testimonies for the Church 1:200, 1948). The term “unbelievers” generally signified those who were not Sabbatarian Adventists. Joseph Clarke, a correspondent of the Review and Herald, saw biblical support for this prohibition in the experience of Asa and Jehoshaphat, kings of Judah (2 Chronicles 16:7, 8; 18-192; 20:35-37). 1Jos. Clarke, “Partnership, Suretiship,” RH, May 20, 1862, p. 198.FSDA 187.3

    All non-SDA, however, were not viewed in the same way. In 1868 E. G. White alluded to the existence of a unity based on spiritual qualities like not being self-confident, a meek and quiet spirit, unselfishness, obedience, justice, purity, and true holiness which characterized “the oneness of Christ’s followers the world over.” 2E. G. White, TC, No. 16, 1868, pp. 18, 19 (Testimonies for the Church 2:127). A similar view of unity, composed of individuals rather than of organized churches, she recognized when stating that “the children of God, the world over, are one great brotherhood.” 3Ibid., No. 21, 1872, p. 74 (Testimonies for the Church 3:52).FSDA 188.1

    The Seventh Day Baptists were viewed from a different perspective than other church organizations. In 1869 they were compared with the 7,000 who had not bowed their knee before Baal in the days of Elijah (1 Kings 19:18). 4Editorial, “More Sabbath-Keepers,” RH, May 11, 1860, p. 160. At the 1869 General Conference of SDA the suggestion was made “that we ought to cultivate fraternal feelings with all those who keep the commandments of God and teach men so.” 5General Conference Report, RH, May 25, 1869, p. 173. To improve relationships it was felt necessary to confess wrong attitudes of the past, and it was openly acknowledged that “some of our brethren have not pursued the most judicious course in regard to them.” 7Seventh Day Baptists, Minutes of the General Conference, 1869, p. 10. The response to this communication indicated that the imminent Second Advent and its motive for Sabbath observance was a major difference between the two organizations (ibid.). A communication was sent to the Seventh Day Baptists resulting in the appointment of Professor Jonathan Allen as a delegate to the 1870 General Conference of SDA. The resolutions of this conference expressed an earnest desire “to maintain with them relations of Christian friendship, and, as far as the circumstances of our respective bodies permit, to co-operate with them in leading our fellow-men, to the sacred observance of the fourth commandment.” In the same year the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, attended by Cottrell, approved a resolution pertaining to cooperation with Seventh-day Adventists “without compromising any distinctive principles.” Following the 1871 General Conference of Seventh Day Baptists, Andrews, a delegate, gave a favorable report but pointed out some of the difficulties of direct cooperation between the two religious bodies. He stated that “in some important points our views of divine truth are different,” adding that “we cannot, for the sake of united action surrender any portion of God’s precious truth, nor can we ask of the S. D. Baptists that they should on their part do anything of the kind.” 1Andrews, “Visit to the S. D. Baptist General Conference,” RH, Sept. 19, 1871, p. 108. Nevertheless, he expressed the hope that even “if we cannot act as one people, we can so conduct ourselves, as distinct bodies, that there may be true Christian friendship existing between us.” 2Ibid. Smith was the SDA delegate in 1872, Andrews again in 1873. 4General Conference Report, RH, Nov. 25, 1873, p. 190. The 1873 General Conference of SDA once more discussed the subject of cooperation and resolved to recognize Seventh Day Baptists as “a people whom God has highly honored in making them in past ages the depositories of his law and Sabbath” and “so far as practicable, to co-operate with them in leading men to the conscientious observance of the commandments of God.” Later such friendly relations were discontinued.FSDA 188.2

    4. The second angel and mission

    The message of Revelation 14:8 as part of the SDA theology of mission had a considerable influence on the SDA self-image, and the attitude to contemporary Christianity and ecumenism. The message explained the very raison d’être of Adventists as a separate religious body. J. White stated that “had it not been for this Message, the Advent people generally would have remained with the several churches,” and felt that “those who rejoice that they are Adventists, should prize highly the means that separated them from the churches, and made them what they are.” 5J. White, “Third Angel’s Message,” p. 116. In fact both the first and second angels’ messages played a vital role in the formation of the Adventists as a separate religious entity. J. White said that “if we had never heard the judgment hour cry, which was based on definite time, we never should have been led to bear a testimony which, being rejected by our own brethren, made it necessary for us to separate from the churches.” 6[J. White], “Call to Remembrance the Former Days,” RH, Jan. 13, 1852, p. 76. He affirmed that “the Advent cause owes its very existence to the first and the second angels’ messages of Revelation 14,” 8J. White, “Third Angel’s Message,” p. 116; [J. White], “Call to Remembrance,” RH, Jan. 13, 1852, p. 76. and thought it extremely inconsistent when individuals called themselves Adventists while rejecting the validity of these messages. Speaking in the context of salvation history, E. G. White pointed out that “prophecy was fulfilled in the first and second angels’ messages. They were given at the right time, and accomplished the work God designed they should,” 1E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts 1:150. and Andrews indicated that the angel of Revelation 14:8 “in connection with the Midnight Cry, moved forward with the power of the God of heaven, and accomplished his purpose.” 2Andrews, “Revelation,” p. 82.FSDA 189.1

    The characterization of Babylon as a union of Church and State was used by some believers as an argument to prevent the organization of Sabbatarian Adventists into an effective missionary church. Any organization required legal incorporation as a religious body under the laws of the State which necessarily would involve the adoption of a name for the new church. The initial step of the adoption of an official name, to “make us a name” (Genesis 11:4), Cottrell felt, formed the basis of Babylon. 3Cottrell, “Making Us a Name,” RH, March 22, 1860, p. 140. J. White objected to the argument because it was “the confusion of languages among the Babel-builders” which lay at the foundation of Babylon. 4J. White, “‘Making Us a Name,’” RH, April 26, 1860, p. 180. The refutation of this and other arguments 5See infra, pp. 206, 207. freed the way for the organization of Sabbatarian Adventists into the SDA Church in 1863.FSDA 190.1

    The emergence of the Sabbath doctrine was described as a result of the proclamation of Revelation 14:8. J. White indicated, “the second angel’s message called us out from the fallen churches where we are now free to think, and act for ourselves in the fear of God,” and immediately afterward “the Sabbath truth came up in just the right time to fulfill prophecy.” 6J. White, “TAM,” p. 68 (TAM, p. 12).FSDA 190.2

    One of the functions of Revelation 14:8 in the emerging theology of mission was to inform people about the fallen condition of contemporary Christianity so as to weaken their confidence in any church except that of the Sabbatarian Adventists. Cottrell stated that “the object of this message is to cut every honest soul loose from their allegiance to the religious bodies with which they may be connected, so that they may be prepared to act upon their own individual responsibility, in reference to the third message.” 7Cottrell, “Unity,” p. 125 (Unity, p. 15). A knowledge of the second angel’s message, therefore, was a prerequisite to an understanding of the third angel and functioned as part of the “burden” of the missionary proclamation. 8Cf. E. G. White, Manuscript 11, 1850; Cottrell, “Sabbath-Keepers,” pp. 20, 22.FSDA 190.3

    Owing to the rise of Spiritualism, a distinction was made between the proclamation of Revelation 14:8 and that of Revelation 18:2: The former was seen as an announcement of the moral fall of Babylon, the latter as its final fall. 9[J. White], “Babylon,” RH, June 24, 1852, pp. 28, 29. In J. White’s opinion the message of Revelation 18:2 “in connection with the great truths of the third angel of Revelation 14, will manifest the 144,000, who are to be ‘redeemed from among men,’ and changed to immortality at the coming of Christ.” 10Ibid., p. 29. Regarding the success of its future mission, he predicted already in 1852 that it was “to affect the world, arrest the public mind, and call out from this great Babylon the scattered members of the body of Christ.” 1Ibid. Since the beginning of 1850 the hymnal of believers included a hymn on the fall of Babylon with the phrase “Come ‘my people’ and forsake her” ([J. White], Hymns, p. 42). E. G. White shared similar convictions and saw in the Advent experience a type of the final call for separation from Babylon (Revelation 18:4), stating that “this message seemed to be an addition to the third message, and joined it, as the midnight cry joined the second angel’s message in 1844.” 2E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts 1:194, 195. Observing the growing influence of Spiritualism and people’s preference for the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church above those of the third angel’s message, Cottrell concluded that “it is easy to see how the second announcement of the fall of Babylon will unite with the third message, as its first announcement joined with the first in 1844” (“The Repeated Announcement,” RH, April 27, 1869, p. 140). Even at the present time J. White felt it his duty to say “to God’s people, wherever they may be in this great Babylon, whether with the Baptist, Methodist, Adventist, or any other sect, ‘Come out of her,’ flee from her foul spirits lest ye receive Babylon’s plagues.” 3[J. White], “Babylon,” RH, June 24, 1852, p. 29.FSDA 190.4

    The object of the mission efforts was “to recover the remnant” of God’s people. 4E. G. White, CEV, p. 47 (Early Writings, 70). In 1853 J. White stated that even non-Adventist ministers were “striving for heaven amid the moral darkness” surrounding Babylon and must be reached with the final proclamation of Babylon’s fall. 5[J. White], “Signs,” p. 72 (Signs, p. 95). It was during that year that J. B. Frisbie, 7J. B. Frisbie, “Church Order,” RH, Dec. 26, 1854, p. 147. Cf. E. G. White, The Great Controversy, 383, 390. She stated that “the great body of Christ’s true followers” were still outside of SDA (ibid., p. 390). The majority of these people were in the Protestant churches (ibid., p. 383). a Methodist minister who strongly opposed Sabbatarian Adventists, reversed his position and began to proclaim the Sabbath. With his recent understanding of the spiritual condition of other churches he observed in 1854 that “many of God’s dear children are in Babylon.” During the revivals of the late 1850s Cottrell urged missionary work “to enlighten” the “many honest souls united and uniting with the fallen, corrupt and corrupting churches of the present day.” He was confident that these individuals, “when they have the light, will obey the voice from heaven, Come out of her my people.”FSDA 191.1

    There was also a positive view of other church organizations. Their progressive mission work E. G. White used as an incentive for SDA. In 1874 she pointed out that “in missionary efforts we have done comparatively nothing, and yet we profess to be bearing a message of infinite importance which is to test the world. We are far behind other denominations in missionary work, who do not claim that Christ is soon to come, and that the destiny of all must soon be decided.” 10E. G. White, “The Spirit of Sacrifice ...,” The True Missionary, January, 1874, p. 1. At the same time George I. Butler 11George I. Butler (1834-1918) was an influential SDA who served as a minister and administrator. For a number of years he was president of the General Conference of SDA. contrasted the fact that “many of the leading bodies of Christians consider it a duty to send the light of Christianity to others in heathen darkness” with the absence of such convictions among SDA. 1Butler, “What Have We Been Doing for Other Nations?” The True Missionary, March, 1874, p. 21. He openly admitted that “we sometimes speak of these as the ‘nominal churches,’ 1.e., those in name merely. But where have we shown the genuine spirit of Christian sacrifice, such as the Judsons, the Boardmans, and hundreds of others, have manifested?” 2Ibid. He added that “here were men and women, refined and highly educated, fitted to shine in almost any sphere, who voluntarily relinquished many of the comforts of life and the society of friends, to place themselves among heathen, to endure every evil almost that could be conceived, and in many cases to die a lingering death, that they might elevate poor heathen in the scale of being, and bring them to Christ their Lord.
    “The obstacles they had to contend against before they could reasonably hope for success were tenfold more than we should have to meet in sending missionaries to civilized Europe” (ibid.). Yet the tragic thing, he said, was that after the specific SDA message had been preached for more than 25 years there was not “one single instance of a native American, S. D. Adventist who has yet voluntarily consecrated himself to the work of becoming a missionary to the enlightened nations of modern Europe” (ibid.). For a major reason for this lack of enthusiasm, see infra, p. 291, n. 164.
    The purpose of this confession was obviously to inspire believers with a greater vision of their mission. These concluding remarks ought also to be viewed in the context of the development of the SDA mission outreach which will be discussed in Chapter 6.
    FSDA 191.2

    Larger font
    Smaller font