The Final Atonement – Conclusion
In our previous articles we looked at Pioneer Adventist teaching on the Final Atonement. This final article considers Contemporary Adventist teaching.
Erroneous Contemporary Adventist Teaching On the Final Atonement
Satan knew that to ensure victory in his battle plan against the Seventh-day Adventist truth, he must influence the leaders and teachers of the Church to falsify historical documents and to even lie about doctrinal positions once held by the pioneers of the Advent movement. Again we ask, how can we know what is the real truth when historical teachings have been falsified by modern teachers, ministry and church leaders?
"We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history," Ellen White replies in Life Sketches, 196. "…the value of the evidences of truth that we have received during the past half century, is above estimate." Review and Herald, April 19, 1906.
In 1957, the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church published their position on the "final atonement" in Ministry magazine, official organ to the ministry of the church. In this editorial, Roy Allen Anderson, then editor of Ministry magazine and Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference, stated that "the sacrificial act of the cross (was) a perfect, complete, and final atonement." Ministry, February, 1957.
Is this statement in harmony with the article written by Crosier, endorsed by the Spirit of God, and taught by pioneer Adventists for over 100 years? No, it is not. "…Jesus entered the most holy of the heavenly, at the end of the 2300 days of Daniel 8, in 1844, to make a final atonement," Ellen White replies. Spiritual Gifts, vol. I, 161, 162. In opposition to pioneer teaching, some leaders of the contemporary church say, "No, the sacrificial act of the cross was a perfect, complete, and final atonement."
In the "official" book, "Seventh-day Adventists Answer, Questions on Doctrine, also published in 1957, can be found the following statement on the final atonement: "Adventists do not hold any theory of a duel atonement." Representative Group of Seventh-day Adventists, Questions on Doctrine, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington D.C., 390. (emphasis theirs.) This book was endorsed by the highest authority of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Is this statement, by the highest authority of the contemporary Seventh-day Adventist Church, in harmony with the position held by Crosier, Ellen White and the pioneer Adventists? Not at all!
"But again, they say the atonement is made and finished on Calvary, when the Lamb of God expired…so the churches and world believes; but it is none the more true or sacred on that account." Crosier replies. Day-Star, Extra, February 7, 1846.
"When, therefore, one hears an Adventist say, or reads in Adventist literature—even in the writings of Ellen G. White—that Christ is making atonement now," contemporary church leadership concludes, "it should be understood that we mean simply that Christ is now making application of the benefits of the sacrificial atonement He made on the cross." Representative Group of Seventh-day Adventists, Questions on Doctrine, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington D.C., 354. (emphasis theirs.)
This was the official position of the church in 1957. Is this position still held today by the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Yes, it is. Note carefully the following statement from the official Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual.
Current Heretical Statements
"In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life, and the whole creation may better understand the infinite and holy love of the Creator. This perfect atonement vindicates the righteousness of God’s law and the graciousness of His character; for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness….The resurrection of Christ proclaims God’s triumph over the forces of evil, and for those who accept the atonement assures their final victory over sin and death. Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, 1986, 25.
Is the "official" statement in the Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual in harmony with the original statement written by Crosier? No, it is not. Is it in harmony with the writings of Ellen White? No, a thousand times no! "The blood of Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel the sin; it would stand on record in the sanctuary until the final atonement." Patriarchs and Prophets, 357.
"There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man," contemporary SDA Church leadership states. "In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross." Seventh-day Adventists Believe...27 Fundamental Doctrines, 1988, 312.
These statements, beyond question, confirm the erroneous idea that the atonement was finished and completed on the cross. The contemporary church leadership say "the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross."
"No, brethren, that is not the truth," Ellen White would reply if she were alive today. "This teaching is one of the errors of Babylon." How do we know Ellen White would speak thus? Because her writings speak thus. Note the following statement:
"The blood of Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel the sin, it would stand on record in the sanctuary until the final atonement." Patriarchs and Prophets, 357.
This "new theology" first began to be taught in 1957, after more than 100 years of the existence of the Advent truth as taught by Ellen White and pioneer Adventists! Where is the proof of this statement? In the year 1952 the truth of the final atonement finalized in the heavenly sanctuary was still being taught by the Editor-in-Chief of the Review and Herald.
"Of those who charge us with teaching strange doctrines because we believe that Christ’s work of atonement for sin was begun rather than completed on Calvary, we ask these questions: If complete and final atonement was made on the cross for all sins, then will not all be saved? for Paul says that He ‘died for all.’ Are we to understand you as being Universalists? ‘No,’ you say, ‘not all men will be saved.’ Well, then, are we to understand that you hold that Christ made complete atonement on the cross for only a limited few, and that His sacrifice was not world embracing, but only partial? That would be predestination in its worst form." Francis D. Nichol, Answers to Objections, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1952 edition, 408.
Ballenger’s Heresy Now Accepted By the Contemporary SDA Church
Satan has been very clever in his last-day deceptions. However, he made a serious blunder in 1905 when he directed his first assault on the "final atonement" phase of the sanctuary truth. His great mistake was the timing—the messenger of the Lord was still alive!
"There was in their midst one through whom the Spirit of God was able to point out what was truth and what was error." E. E. Andross wrote. E. E. Andross, Bible Study, No. II, July 13, 1911, 14.
What erroneous concepts did A. F. Ballenger teach on the sanctuary truth? We must know, because Satan has introduced the same erroneous concepts again into the Seventh-day Adventist Church and because we have been admonished that we should not "forget how the Lord has led us, and His teaching, in our past history." Life Sketches, 196.
Elder E. W. Farnsworth, who was also working in England with Ballenger and Andross at the time, reported on Ballenger’s erroneous teachings in a letter addressed "to the General Conference president, who in turn conveyed
the information to W. C. White on
March 16, 1905." Arthur L. White, EGW: The Early Elmshaven Years, vol. 5, 407:
"There was another feature of the meeting which was really sad to me. Brother Ballenger has got into a condition of mind which would seem to me to unfit him entirely to preach the message. He has been studying the subject of the sanctuary a good deal lately, and he comes to the conclusion that the atonement was made when Christ was crucified and that when He ascended He went immediately into the Most Holy Place and that His ministry has been carried on there ever since." Ibid.
Notice the three heretical concepts of Ballenger’s teaching.
1 The atonement was made when Christ was crucified,
2 and that when He ascended He went immediately into the Most Holy Place,
3 and that His ministry has been carried on there ever since.
Astounding! This is exactly the teaching of the "new" theology currently devastating the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This erroneous concept is entirely at odds with the historic teaching of pioneer Adventists. Moreover, this teaching is in opposition to the Spirit of Prophecy.
"He [Ballenger] sees clearly that his view cannot be made to harmonize with the testimonies," Farnsworth wrote in his letter, "at least he admits freely that he is totally unable to do so." Ibid.
Farnsworth stated further that, in his own mind, Ballenger felt that "there is an irreconcilable difference" between his theories and Ellen White. "This, of course, involves the authenticity of the Testimonies and practically upsets them," Farnsworth concluded. Ibid.
"Farnsworth reported that a number of Adventist ministers in Great Britain were taking up these new views on the sanctuary, and confusion was coming in," Arthur White observed. He stated further that, "Early in the 1905 session Ballenger laid before the leading brethren what he felt was new light, but they were unable to accept his reasoning and pointed out the errors in his application of Scripture." Ibid.
Ellen White’s Reply To Ballenger’s Teaching
What did Ellen White think of this "new theology" presented by A. F. Ballenger? What did she think of the erroneous concept that "the atonement was made when Christ was crucified and that when He ascended He went immediately into the most holy place and that His ministry has been carried on there ever since?" Did she have any light from heaven on the subject? What would she say if this erroneous concept was taught today?
"It will be one of the great evils that will come to our people to have the Scriptures taken out of their true place and so interpreted as to substantiate error that contradicts the light and the Testimonies that God has been giving us for the past half century," Ellen White replied to Ballenger. "I declare in the name of the Lord that the most dangerous heresies are seeking to find entrance among us as a people, and Elder Ballenger is making spoil of his own soul." Manuscript Release, S 59, 1905. (For further EGW statements on the teachings of A. F. Ballenger, see Christ In His Sanctuary, 3-18).
"There is not truth in the explanations of Scripture that Elder Ballenger and those associated with him are presenting," Ellen White cautioned. "I am instructed to say to Elder Ballenger, your theories, which have multitudes of fine threads, and need so many explanations, are not truth, and are not to be brought to the flock of God." Ibid.
The attack of Satan on the sanctuary truth at that time came to naught because the Messenger of the Lord was alive and confronted the false doctrine. However, today Ellen White is no longer with the Church. As Israel of old, we only have the writings of the prophet. Has the Seventh-day Adventist Church fallen for the old erroneous concepts of Ballenger? Although Ellen White had warned that these dangerous concepts "are not to be brought to the flock of God," that is exactly what has been promoted by the "new" theology.
Contemporary Scholars Endorse Ballenger’s Theories
In 1981 Roy Adams, currently assistant editor of the Adventist Review, wrote his Doctoral Dissertation at Andrews University. Adams wrote on the sanctuary doctrinal positions held by Uriah Smith, M. L. Andreason, and A. F. Ballenger. Notice carefully the following conclusion by Roy Adams on the position held by A. F. Ballenger:
"Ballenger’s treatment of Hebrews 6:19,20 is so strong, exegetically, that it has to be regarded as a significant movement towards a closer affinity to the biblical testimony in regard to the meaning of the phrase ‘within the veil.’ His argumentation, based as it was on solid scriptural indications, far surpassed the value of [Uriah] Smith’s on the same point. And inasmuch as the two positions were diametrically opposed to each other, Ballenger’s is to be preferred. Roy Adams, The Sanctuary Doctrine, "Three Approaches in the Seventh-day Adventist Church," Andrews University Seminary Doctoral Dissertation Series, Andrews University Press, 1981, 245.
Notice that Roy Adams, speaking for contemporary Seventh-day Adventist theologians, states that Ballenger’s treatment of Scripture "is so strong," and "that it has to be regarded as a significant movement towards a closer affinity to the biblical testimony." On this point Adams concluded that Ballenger’s argumentations are "based as it was on solid scriptural indications." Amazing! This man is currently the assistant editor of the Adventist Review, and will probably be the next Chief Editor.
"None of the figures [Smith, Andreason, Ballenger] appreciated the full implications of Hebrews 6:19,20," Roy Adams concluded, "but it was Ballenger who came closest to recognizing it." Ibid., 246.
"Now again our Brother Ballenger is presenting theories that cannot be substantiated by the Word of God," Ellen White replies to Roy Adams’ statement. "It will be one of the great evils that will come to our people to have the Scriptures taken out of their true place and so interpreted as to substantiate error that contradicts the light and the Testimonies that God has been giving us for the past half century." Manuscript Release, 59s, 1905, 409.
"Ballenger’s stress on the atonement at the cross and on Christ’s entry into the most holy place at His ascension," Adams stated, "may be retained and shown to be compatible with the notion of an antipical day of atonement commencing in 1844.…" Ibid., 255.
In a biography of M. L. Andreason, is a publishers note which erroneously states, "While denominational literature has adopted the phrase `the benefits of His atonement,’ every effort is put forth to make clear to the world that Seventh-day Adventists believe that an important part of the atonement is taking place in the heavenly sanctuary." Virginia Steinweg, Without Fear or Favor, 1979, Review and Herald Publishing Company, 183. This statement is just not true.
Seventh-day Adventist Church literature does not make "every effort. . .to make clear to the world that Seventh-day Adventists believe that an important part of the atonement is taking place in the heavenly sanctuary." The heresy has been advanced in the new 27 Statements of Fundamental Beliefs.
Uriah Smith Again the Scapegoat
Once more we have come full circle. Notice how Roy Adams, in his effort to present Ballenger’s theories as truth, downgrades Uriah Smith: "His [Ballenger’s] argumentation, based as it was on solid scriptural indications, far surpassed the value of Smith’s on the same point."
Roy Adams admits that Ballenger and Smith were at opposite ends of theology on the sanctuary doctrine, "And inasmuch as the two positions were diametrically opposed to each other…" The truth is that Ballenger was "diametrically opposed" to all pioneer Adventists. Indeed, E. E. Andross, who had worked with Ballenger in England, stated that, "He [Ballenger] sees clearly that his view cannot be made to harmonize with the Testimonies, at least he admits freely that he is totally unable to do so." Even Ballenger himself had stated that "there is an irreconcilable difference" between his theories and Ellen White. E. E. Andross, Bible Study, No. II, July 13, 1911, 13.
Then Roy Adams, completely disregarding Spirit of Prophecy counsel, states that "Ballenger’s [position] is to be preferred," to that of Uriah Smith. Adams could have chosen any other pioneer Adventist instead of Uriah Smith as an example of pioneer Adventist teaching on the sanctuary, because Uriah Smith’s writings on the subject are in perfect harmony with O. R. L. Crosier, James White, J. N. Andrews and others.
Notice that not one statement by Uriah Smith was quoted in our presentation of pioneer Adventist teachings on the sanctuary. Many of Smith’s statements could have been used to verify his unanimity with other pioneer Adventists. This was not necessary. Any serious research of Adventist history can plainly establish that Smith’s writings on the sanctuary are in perfect unanimity with those of his peers. Indeed, Roy Adams, in his conclusion, admits that there is little difference between Uriah Smith, M. L. Andreason, J. N. Andrews, and other pioneer Adventists. He champions the fact that there was a "radical departure in the area of the sanctuary" from pioneer writers such as Smith, Andrews, White, and Andreason.
"Ballenger’s radical departure in the area of the sanctuary was of immense significance to the purpose of this study," Adams admits. The Sanctuary Doctrine, 256.
"But while it would be impossible to synthesize the sanctuary theology of these three figures [Uriah Smith, A. F. Ballenger, M. L. Andreason] into a unified whole, it is feasible to build a contemporary Adventist theology of the sanctuary, using their insights, however diverse they are in some points," Adams reasons. "Such an eclectic approach would need to discard or modify some features while retaining others with profit." Ibid., 255.
This is the real problem with contemporary Adventist scholarship. They wish to teach truth mixed with error. Why? Because Adventist leadership aspires to join the great Ecumenical movement sweeping the world. They wish to be considered "Christian brethren" by the fallen churches of Babylon!
Roy Adams’ Erroneous Conclusion
"Clearly, this does not mean that Adventism may not learn a great deal from the issues Ballenger raised and championed," Adams concluded. "His many positive contributions to the theology of the sanctuary have already been noted." Ibid., 256.
"There is not truth in the explanations of Scripture that Elder Ballenger and those associated with him [Roy Adams] are presenting," Ellen White cautioned. "I am instructed to say to Elder Ballenger [and Roy Adams], ‘Your theories, which have multitudes of fine threads, and need so many explanations, are not truth, and are not to be brought to the flock of God.’" Manuscript Release, 59s, 1905.
"Within the Veil"
In his statement, Roy Adams concluded that, "Ballenger’s treatment of Hebrews 6:19,20 is so strong, exegetically, that it has to be regarded as a significant movement towards a closer affinity to the biblical testimony in regard to the meaning of the phrase `within the veil.’" The Sanctuary Doctrine, 245. As seen before, Ballenger believed that, at His ascension, and not in 1844, Christ entered directly into the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary to perform the second phase of His priestly ministry. Pioneer Adventists believed and taught that Christ did not go into the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary until October 22, 1844, at the end of the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14. Contrary to pioneer Adventists, contemporary Seventh-day Adventists teach that all of heaven is a sanctuary, and that "there is no veil at all in heaven— and all of heaven is a Most Holy Place!" (Garry F. Williams, in a sermon at a major Seventh-day Adventist Church). If you ask a contemporary Seventh-day Adventist minister or theologian he will tell you there is no veil in heaven, no two compartments in the heavenly sanctuary. Some may deny that this is what they believe, but they do believe this to be true. They really do not believe in a literal heavenly Sanctuary, but that "all of heaven is a sanctuary and a Most Holy Place." Ibid. Indeed, contemporary Adventist literature (and the official 27 Statements of Fundamental Beliefs), since the Evangelical Conferences of 1955-56, state that Christ is now ministering "the benefits of His atonement which He made on the cross."
"I declare in the name of the Lord that the most dangerous heresies are seeking to find entrance among us as a people, and Elder Ballenger is making spoil of his own soul," Ellen White warned. "Your theories…are not truth, and are not to be brought to the flock of God." Manuscript Release, 59s, 1905.
"It will be one of the great evils that will come to our people," Ellen White predicted, "to have the Scriptures taken out of their true place and so interpreted as to substantiate error that contradicts the light and the Testimonies that God has been giving us for the past half century." Ibid.
"Let us all cling to the established truth of the sanctuary," Ellen White concluded. Ibid. In 1905 this "truth of the sanctuary" would be the "established truth" presented by Crosier, James White, and other pioneer Adventists.
The contemporary Church is now teaching the false doctrines on the sanctuary that were first introduced by A. F. Ballenger. On the First Angel’s Message, the sanctuary truth, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is now in apostasy. How the Lord will choose to deal with the Church and this apostasy is a frightening possibility. Is it any wonder that Ellen White, commenting on this "Omega of Apostasy" stated that, "I tremble for our people." Sermons and Talks, 341.
(All emphasis supplied by the author.)
April 2000 Table of Contents