LandMarks Magazine  

November 2002 Table of Contents


Adventism and Spiritualism, Part 2
By John J. Grosboll

Adventism and Spiritualism

For many years we, as Seventh-day Adventists, have thought that we were not susceptible to the dangers of spiritualism because of our understanding from the Bible on the state of the dead. We thought that when apparitions came we would not be deceived by spiritualism, but when we look at Ellen White’s writings, she gives warning after warning to Adventists about being deceived and caught up in spiritualistic teachings. God would not send us all of these warnings if there were no danger.

At the time the majority of these warnings were given, there was a leader in our medical work by the name of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. It was through a book he wrote, called The Living Temple, that Adventism was introduced to some new ideas about the nature of God. Concerning these new ideas, Ellen White started to write testimony after testimony. If you read these counsels, recorded in Testimonies, vol. 8, 255–335, she quotes one Scripture after another that show God is not like what John Harvey Kellogg was saying. She says that Dr. Kellogg’s ideas about the nature of God would lead into spiritualism.

I had always thought spiritualism was when you had apparitions of the Virgin Mary or of the apostles, or when somebody that was dead came to talk to you. But Ellen White described the new theories about the nature of God as spiritualistic teachings. (See Battle Creek Letters, 103, 104.)

In Part 1 we saw that Satan’s masterpiece of deception, by which he will deceive the whole world, is spiritualism, which involves much more than just apparitions. We will hear, as we draw near the end of time, about all of the different apostles appearing to people, and Ellen White says that when they appear they will teach things contrary to what they wrote in the Bible. At that time, if you know what the Bible says and your confidence is in the Bible, you will be secure. If you do not know what the Bible says, you will be swept off your feet.

We also learned in Part 1 what the big lie is that underlies spiritualism—that you can sin without dying. Another way to state it is that you put darkness in place of light. You call it light, but it is really darkness, and spiritual darkness is that you can live in evil and wickedness and yet have eternal life. As we look around, we see many instances in which darkness is placed for light—and we call the darkness light.

If a priest gets in trouble because he is a pedophile or a homosexual, what happens? Is he removed from the church? No, he is transferred to duties somewhere else. If a minister commits adultery, is his ministerial license withdrawn and his name removed from the church books? No, usually he is transferred to another church in another conference. By these actions, all of the sin is allowed into the church, which destroys the church, and that is exactly what the devil has in mind.

The idea that no matter how bad a sinner someone is, even if they are living in open sin, it is all right, is one of the things going on in the ecumenical movement that has even affected Adventism. Jesus loves you; He died to save you. That is true, but the problem, the darkness is the idea that Jesus will save you while you are living in sin. Jesus will not save you while you are living in sin! If you are living in sin, you are lost, no matter how many times you go to church, no matter how much you pray, no matter how often you study your Bible. If you are living in disobedience to God’s commandments, you are lost. (See The Great Controversy, 461–478.)

Remember, what underlies all spiritualism is that you put darkness in the place of light; you label it light, but it is actually darkness.

Should we be Separate

Who is in the dark? Revelation 16:10 says, "His kingdom [Babylon] was full of darkness." Babylon includes the churches that rejected the truth during the Dark Ages plus those churches that rejected the warning of the coming judgment and of Christ’s soon coming in the 1840s. (See The Great Controversy, 382, 383, 389.) Should we join Babylon, that is, join the darkness, or should we be separate?

The Bible says, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14. What communion is there with light and darkness? There is none! Paul says, Do not have any fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. (Ephesians 5:11.)

When God first called Saul on the Damascus Road and Jesus appeared to him, one of the very first things Jesus said to him concerned this whole issue of light and darkness and the power of the devil. (See Acts 26.) Paul, in recounting his conversion experience to King Agrippa, told how the Lord met him on the road to Damascus and said, "I will . . . send you, to open their eyes, [in order] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me." Verses 17, 18.

Are these Gentiles, these heathens who are in the dark, saved? No, they are lost. The ecumenical movement thinks that we will just take in everybody, but they are still lost; they are still in the dark. If they are going to be saved, we have to show them the way so God can turn them from the darkness to the light, from the power of Satan to the power of God. They have to repent and be converted.

Would you conclude that we should be separate from the darkness? Yes, we should be separate. If you join up with the darkness, the devil has control of your mind—you have yielded to spiritualistic powers.

Joining Babylon

When the Seventh-day Adventist hospitals in the Denver, Colorado, metropolitan area were relinquished to the Catholic’s hospital organization several years ago, what were they joining? Were they joining Zion or Babylon? They were joining up with Babylon; they were joining up with darkness. If you join up with darkness, what is going to happen to you? You are going to be in the dark; the powers of devils will control you.

Why do we have an independent Seventh-day Adventist Church in Zaire? Because, the general conference and the unions and divisions over there said that they were going to join with the Sunday-keeping churches. There are almost 70 churches joined together, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church is number 42 of these Sunday-keeping churches. That is Babylon, and we are joining up with it! What does that tell you? That tells you that the devil has gotten control of the minds of leaders in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

"Oh," someone may say, "certainly that is not true!" But it has happened. We cannot deny it. I want to show you something encouraging—God foresaw this. God foresaw that at the end of time we, as Seventh-day Adventists, would face a situation where the leaders of the church were going to come under the control of the devil.

"In His Word the Lord declared what He would do for Israel if they would obey His voice. But the leaders of the people yielded to the temptations of Satan, and God could not give them the blessings He designed them to have, because they did not obey His voice but listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer." Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 379. Since the leaders of Israel did not obey God’s voice, He could not do for them what He wanted to do. They were listening to the voice and policy of the devil. That is spiritualism! When the devil is talking to you and you are listening, you are under the control of spiritualism.

Mrs. White continues, "This experience will be repeated in the last years of the history of the people of God who have been established by His grace and power." Ibid. Are we in the last years? Yes, we are. Then it is time for this experience to be repeated.

Who are the people of God in these last days that have been established by His grace and power? It is the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, the Seventh-day Adventist structure. This church, the Seventh-day Adventist world-wide church—the general conference, the divisions, the unions, and the conferences—was established by the grace and power of God. But she says that the same things are going to happen as happened with the leaders of Israel—the leaders are going to listen to the voice and policy of Lucifer. That, friends, is spiritualism.

"Men whom He has greatly honored [men who, in the past, the Holy Spirit has used; people whom we have looked up to because they have led many souls to the Lord; they have preached the Three Angels’ Messages] will in the closing scenes of this earth’s history pattern after ancient Israel." Ibid. We are in that time.

When Spiritualism Takes Control

When spiritualism takes control in a family or in a church, what happens? We know that, at first, the devil puts darkness for light. But there is a second stage—you take light and you call it darkness. In the first stage you call darkness light, what is sin is accounted as right, but eventually it turns around and what is good is accounted for wrong. Ellen White says that right now in the United States the churches think good of all evil. Eventually, she says, they are going to think evil of all good. (See The Great Controversy, 556, 557.)

How does God try to save these deceived people? He sends them a messenger, and if someone is deceived, God might give them a very plain, pointed message, because God always tells the truth; He does not play around. We are talking about eternal life and eternal death. Paul says whatever reveals it, that is light. (See Ephesians 5.) When people see what is really going on, they see that they are headed straight to hell-fire, and unless they get turned around and start walking according to God’s commandments, they will lose their soul.

Then the devil gets people to call light darkness. God’s messenger, who comes with a message of truth and light, is berated. People are told not to listen to him/her because he/she is a fanatic, and they will be deceived. When God sends a messenger with light, the devil tries to get that message interpreted as darkness, so God has to send a very plain and pointed message.

About God’s messengers today, Ellen White says, "Those who have been thrust out to bear a plain, pointed testimony, in the fear of God to reprove wrong, to labor with all their energies to build up God’s people, and to establish them upon important points of present truth, have too often received censure instead of sympathy and help, while those who, like yourself, have taken a noncommittal position, are thought to be devoted, and to have a mild spirit." Testimonies, vol. 1, 321.

If someone just gives a smooth, mild message, they are accepted by men, but they are not accepted by God. Mrs. White says: "God does not thus regard them. The forerunner of Christ’s first advent was a very plain-spoken man. He rebuked sin, and called things by their right names." Ibid. See, if you are calling things by their right names, you call light, light; you call darkness, darkness, and you call sin, sin. If you cover it up, if you say we just have to put up with it and learn how to get along, that is calling things by the wrong names.

She continues, "He laid the ax at the root of the tree. He thus addressed one class of professed converts who came to be baptized of him in Jordan: ‘O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. . . . And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.’ [Matthew 3:7, 8, 10.]

"In this fearful time, just before Christ is to come the second time, God’s faithful preachers will have to bear a still more pointed testimony than was borne by John the Baptist. A responsible, important work is before them; and those who speak smooth things, God will not acknowledge as His shepherds. A fearful woe is upon them." Ibid. John the Baptist was talking to the general conference leadership of his day, and he said, "You are a bunch of poisonous snakes and I will not baptize you." Just preach love, people say, do not rock the boat, but it is better to be in trouble with men than it is to be in trouble with the God of heaven.

It is necessary to separate from the darkness. You cannot be part of it. If you are listening to preaching or teaching and you see that something is being said that is contrary to God’s Word, you better get out of there, because if you keep listening to it you will be deceived and you will not even know it. Ellen White tells us that these people who are deceived by the devil will boast, and you will not find anyone as self-confident as they are about the truth; they are sure that they know the truth and that everything is all right with them, but they are deceived. (See The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 406; Testimonies, vol. 1, 650.)

Spiritualistic Religion

Spiritualistic religion is going to take over the entire world just before Jesus comes. Except for those that are saved, the whole world will be part of it. All of the churches—Protestant, Roman Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, and people who do not even go to church—are all going to be part of this great movement. We need to understand some of the characteristics of this religion that is going to take over the world.

Ellen White, talking about spiritualistic religion, wrote: "You may be sure that pure and undefiled religion is not a sensational religion." Testimonies, vol. 8, 295. What is sensational religion and how does it come into the church? The dictionary defines sensational as "something that tends to arouse a quick, intense interest, curiosity, or emotional reaction." It really reaches out and grabs you.


One of the first things to do when trying to develop an emotional religion is to change the music within the church services to a music that has stronger beats and more volume. That has come into Adventism, and practically every other denomination, in the last few years.

That is not all. Have you ever heard a preacher who, with almost every sentence, is so emotional, so choked up, he can hardly speak? Even if it is not an emotional sentence he is choked up, and soon people are wiping their eyes, and they can hardly sit still because it is so emotional. That is sensational religion. Ellen White warned our ministers against having anything to do with that kind of preaching or delivery, anything theatrical, anything to arouse emotional reactions in people. (See Testimonies, vol. 5, 301.)

The gospel has the emotion built in. You do not need to try to get people worked up with emotion; the gospel has all the emotion in itself. But an emotional religion, where the people are stirred up by the manner of delivery and by a preacher who is all choked up with emotion, that is an emotional or sensational religion. Anytime you see that in a church, you had better get out, because if you stay there, your emotions are going to be affected and you will be caught up in sensational religion. That is one of the ways the devil gets into the church.

You can introduce the sensation of emotion into the church, and you do not have to have an apparition of the Virgin Mary; you do not have to have séances; you just have to get the people’s emotions worked up and then you have them in a state of mind where they can be influenced to do almost anything. When people’s emotions are all worked up, they will do things they would never do if their minds were calm and if they were thinking rationally, and that is the whole point.

Emotional religion is one of the characteristics of spiritualistic religion. If it comes into your church, you either have to get it out, or you have to get out, because the devil is taking over the church.


Another characteristic of spiritualistic religion destroys the spirituality in the family, and nobody knows that anything is going on. The preacher, the elders, the deacons, and sometimes the spouse does not even know, yet spirituality is being destroyed from within through spiritualism. This is very common, and if it is in your life, you must get it out or it will destroy you. A lot of people think, "Oh, that is just something I am thinking in my mind, and no one else knows." Ellen White says that the devil knows, because he is the one who put it in your mind. Here is what happens in people’s minds. Ellen White in addressing a man who was a minister, said, "You have been represented to me as being in great peril. Satan is on your track, and at times he has whispered to you pleasing fables and has shown you charming pictures of one whom he represents as a more suitable companion for you than the wife of your youth, the mother of your children." This man is in contact with the devil, but he does not know it. The devil is whispering pleasing fables to him, and not only that, the devil is giving him some imagination. Here is a married man, and the devil is putting pleasing pictures in his mind about some other woman, and he is imagining things about her. If you asked him if he were a spiritualist, he would tell you he does not have anything to do with it, but he does. He is in contact with the devil, and the devil is putting pictures in his mind.

Continuing on, Ellen White tells how the devil is teaching him: "The enemy of souls has gained much when he can lead the imagination of one of Jehovah’s chosen watchmen to dwell upon the possibilities of association, in the world to come, with some woman whom he loves, and of there raising up a family." So what was this minister imagining? He thought, "Well, I cannot leave my wife now, but I would like to be with this other woman in heaven." Ellen White says, "We need no such pleasing pictures. All such views originate in the mind of the tempter." Medical Ministry, 100, 101. This man was in contact with spiritualism. His Christianity was being destroyed through his imagination. He was taking a head-trip with a woman other than his wife.

"It is presented to me that spiritual fables are taking many captive. Their minds are sensual, and, unless a change comes, this will prove their ruin. To all who are indulging these unholy fancies I would say, Stop; for Christ’s sake, stop right where you are. You are on forbidden ground. Repent, I entreat of you and be converted." Ibid.

"You are on forbidden ground." Why? Because in your mind you are indulging in imaginations that are unholy, and if you keep on, it will wreck your marriage; you could easily end up in the divorce court. This is one of the most common ways that divorce occurs. First someone takes a head-trip, and after they do that for a few months, or years, it becomes reality, and Ellen White says that originates with the devil. That is part of spiritualism; you do not have to go to a séance; the devil is putting pictures in your mind. You are in grave danger of being influenced by the devil!

Clean up the Inside

There are other statements in the inspired writings about sensuality and how the devil attempts to gain control of the human mind through spiritualism, but I want to share a very encouraging statement about what we are supposed to do when we are up against something like this. "Minds that have been given up to loose thought need to change. . . . Man’s great danger is in being self-deceived, indulging self-sufficiency, and thus separating from God, the source of his strength. Our natural tendencies, unless corrected by the Holy Spirit of God, have in them the seeds of moral death. [You cannot just go on and do what comes naturally, because your natural tendencies are evil.] Unless we become vitally connected with God, we cannot resist the unhallowed effects of self-love, self-indulgence, and temptation to sin.

"In order to receive help from Christ, we must realize our need." Testimonies, vol. 8, 315, 316. What is our need? If we are not going to be taken control of by the devil, we must learn to control our mind, our thoughts, and our imaginations. That is how the devil first gets control of people. I am not just talking about sexual passions, but appetite is also involved in control of the mind. "We must have a true knowledge of ourselves. It is only he who knows himself to be a sinner that Christ can save. Only as we see our utter helplessness and renounce all self-trust, shall we lay hold on divine power.

"It is not only at the beginning of the Christian life that this renunciation of self is to be made. At every advance step heavenward it is to be renewed. All our good works are dependent on a power outside of ourselves; therefore there needs to be a continual reaching out of the heart after God, a constant, earnest confession of sin and humbling of the soul before Him. Perils surround us; and we are safe only as we feel our weakness and cling with the grasp of faith to our mighty Deliverer." Ibid., 316.

We have felt that we are secure because we know the state of the dead, and we do not realize that the devil, through spiritualism, has many other ways beside apparitions to get control of the human mind. The devil is trying to get our minds focused upon sensual gratification so we will lose control of our thoughts. When that happens, he’s got us; we are lost—unless we are converted, and lay hold of the power of Christ and say, Lord, I am absolutely helpless, but I am putting my trust in you, and I pray that you will come into my heart and mind and give me control of my mind again. How often do we have to do this? Ellen White says at every advanced step we have to put our trust in Jesus and ask Him to work this miracle within, because otherwise we are utterly helpless and the devil will take control of the mind. (See The Upward Look, 296.)

Ellen White said there will be people who come up to the day of judgment and it will be revealed that because of the secret thoughts of their hearts they will be lost. (See A Solemn Appeal, 80.) They might have professed to be Christians, but their mind was not purified. The devil had control inside. We are not saved on the outside until we are saved on the inside. Jesus said to the Pharisees, You make the outside clean but the inside is full of all kinds of corruption. Clean the inside up first. (Matthew 23:25, 26.) God wants to clean us up on the inside. When we are clean on the inside so that the devil does not have control of our mind, when we are not under the power of spiritualism, then we will be able to get cleaned up on the outside.

Do you want to be delivered from the power of the devil, the power of darkness? If you call upon Jesus and put your trust in Him, He will deliver you!

November 2002 Table of Contents



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