November 4, 1888 -- What could possibly be so special about that one date in recent history? That was the closing date of the 1888 General Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As we will see in the following study, the latter rain was offered to the remnant church during that week, but there was much discussion and opposition to the messages brought. It was God’s plan to produce the loud cry to the world and for Jesus to return to this earth within the next ten years. But sadly, there was so much uncertainty among the delegates that God had to delay His plan until His church would restudy and rethink what had happened, and would unite wholeheartedly under His leadership and would end the great controversy between Christ and Satan. On November 4, the delegates to that meeting walked out of Minneapolis directly into the wilderness, where we have been traveling, not for 40 years, but now 130 years and still counting.
If God’s plan would have been implemented, there would have been no world wars, no great depression, no terrorist attacks, and very few General Conference gatherings after that time. The history of the last hundred years would have been vastly different from what our history books have recorded. Just as God was extremely merciful to the seed of Abraham, giving them many second chances to learn from past failures and be restored to their high calling, so He has been extremely merciful to His remnant church. Instead of casting them away, He has given numerous chances for them to learn and be restored.
Can We “See” What Has Happened?
“Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind….the Pharisees…said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” John 9:39-41
The hope and very existence of the remnant church is built upon a written record. Without history as found in the Bible, the Seventh-day Adventist denomination would have no reason to exist. The belief that this record defines the relationship between God and man, and that this relationship can be perfect now and throughout all eternity, is the belief that has caused a distinctive group of people to be gathered out from all the earth.
Seventh-day Adventists do not believe the Bible because they were present when it was written, nor because they knew the authors personally and can vouch for their characters, nor because it is a flattering record. They believe it out of conviction that God gave it to His people, and it has in it the power to destroy enmity against God. The Christ of this book proved His point and did what Satan said fallen man could not do – obey God 100% of the time.
“We,” the remnant church, can read the history of the Jewish nation. “We” believe that “we” understand it. Can “we” read our own history and understand it?
The remnant church has been told that a shaking will come to it and will do wonders. Those that receive “the counsel of the True Witness…exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth.” There will be “deep repentance.” They will “be purified,” and be “clothed with an armor from their head to their feet,” and they will move “in exact order, like a company of soldiers.” Their countenances will show “the severe conflict which they had endured,” but their features will shine “with the light and glory of heaven.” They will have “obtained the victory,” and “speak forth the truth with great power.” It will have effect. (EW 269-271)
The Lord’s messenger, Ellen G. White, has placed in the hands of God’s people instruction for every phase of life. The history they have been making in the end of time will be read by the entire universe. That history has been written by men during the last 160 years and continues to be written now. That history would have closed ‘ere this if the purposes of God had been carried out. This is a fact well known to Seventh-day Adventists.
In sacred history there is a mysterious phenomenon that stands out in point of time when the life and work of Christ is considered. For centuries God’s chosen people had been looking for the day when Messiah would come. Then He came and He was rejected. He did not fit the preconceived ideas of what Messiah would be and do.
In a similar way, terrible to contemplate, “we” as a people have built up an array of ideas as to what happened at that remarkable meeting known as the Minneapolis Conference of 1888. “We” have published two views that are diametrically opposed with varying shades of opposition. The two views are so clearly stated that there can be no compromise. One or the other is wrong, terribly wrong, eternally wrong, for the Spirit of God is involved in the outcome. What anguish all heaven must feel in the circumstances. “We” must sense the peril of thinking “we see” for under such circumstances Jesus said “your sin remaineth.”
Over a period of years several books and documents have been written dealing with 1888. In addition, there stands the record given to the church by the Lord’s messenger, Ellen G. White. Her testimony covers the entire episode, and for a Seventh-day Adventist should be the peerless witness as long as time shall last. Here is an inspired record. There is no need to puzzle over conflicting human opinions, with their biases, oftimes faulty reasonings, and slanted conclusions. In her record there is no mystery.
The first book dealing with 1888 was Christ Our Righteousness in 1926 by Arthur G. Daniells, followed by about 13 more works. How can ministers of a church, supposedly of sound mind and normal understanding, produce two completely different concepts regarding the history of that church and the spiritual implications growing out of that history?
Movement of Destiny
The contribution Froom has made in Movement of Destiny is large and has been acknowledged. Repeatedly he vouches for the veracity of his work. He uses terms like “fair and faithful to fact,” “impartial in treatment,” “full picture in balance,” “true and trustworthy picture,” “comprehensive and trustworthy.” “Above all, I must not be unfaithful to God and to the Church.” Movement of Destiny, pp. 17-23
Froom’s verdict cannot be misunderstood. The thrust of the entire book ends with this thought: “It is my considered view that such a charge of ‘leadership rejection’ stands as invalid and unproved, and is deeply regrettable.” Movement of Destiny, p. 686
But what did Daniells “see?” “Who can tell what would have come to the church and the cause of God if that message of righteousness by faith had been fully and wholeheartedly received by all at the time? And who can estimate the loss that has been sustained by the failure of many to receive that message? Eternity alone will reveal the whole truth regarding this matter.” Christ Our Righteousness, p. 40
Ellen White’s perspective is very clear. “For the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth." RH Nov. 22, 1892. "I have been instructed that the terrible experience at the Minneapolis Conference is one of the saddest chapters in the history of the believers in present truth." Letter 179, 1902
There were three classes of listeners in 1888:
Class 1 –Those who saw great light in it and gladly accepted it
Class 2 – Some felt uncertain about the “new teaching”
Class 3 – Others were decidedly opposed to the “new teaching” (Most opposition in the third class)
Daniells has more to say:
“What a mighty revival of true godliness, what a restoration of spiritual life, what a cleansing from sin, what a baptism of the Spirit, and what a manifestation of divine power for the finishing of the work in our own lives and in the world, might have come to the people of God if all our ministers had gone forth from that Conference (in Class 1).” Christ Our Righteousness, p. 47
”O that we had all listened as we should to both warning and appeal as they came to us in that seemingly strange, yet impressive way at the Conference of 1888! What uncertainty would have been removed, what wanderings and defeats and losses would have been prevented! What light and blessing and triumph and progress would have come to us! But thanks be unto Him who loves us with an everlasting love, it is not too late even now to respond with the whole heart to both warning and appeal, and receive the great benefits provided.” Christ Our Righteousness, p. 69
Contrast this with Froom’s evaluation:
“1888 therefore came to mark the beginning of a new note and new day….1888 was not a point of defeat, but a turn in the tide for ultimate victory….the 1888 turning point in our history—of the battle hard fought and the victory so clearly won.” Movement of Destiny, pp. 187,191
Can this idea of “victory” be upheld? Who had the “victory?” Can we really believe that since 1888 “we” turned and have had a revival? “We” cannot have a victory and a defeat at the same time. History demands either the Lord God or Baal—never can it be both.
W. Prescott saw the “hard cutting spirit” manifested by the opposition. His plea was to sense the fact that the loud cry of the third angel’s message had come but had not been received.
Prescott – “Because He did not meet their (the Jews) ideas and did not conform to their plan, they rejected Him and put Him to death. In the same way, Jesus Christ is being rejected today, and crucified afresh.” General Conference Bulletin, 1893, p. 10
“I say that there ought to come upon us, ministers of the word of Jesus Christ, such a spirit of repentance as many of us have not known for many years. There ought to be a work wrought at this Conference (1901) that we have seen no signs of yet.” General Conference Bulletin,1901, p.321
The immeasurable difference between Froom’s evaluation of the situation and that of the Lord may be seen in the following comparisons. Froom’s comment is listed first, and Ellen White’s second. Elder O. A. Olson is the General Conference president.
F – “The record of Olson’s spiritual leadership is clear and loyal….He joined wholeheartedly with Ellen White.”
EW – “He has ventured on, directly contrary to the light which the Lord has been giving him.”
F – “Olson…fostered the study of the Spirit of Prophecy.”
EW – “He does not regard the testimonies.”
F – “Olson’s tenure of office was a time of…growing acceptance of the message of righteousness by faith”.
EW – “Unmistakably, Elder Olson has acted as did Aaron, in regard to these men who have been opposed to the work of God ever since the Minneapolis meeting. They have not repented of their course of action in resisting light and evidence.”
F – “His was a healing, unifying, and helpful influence.”
EW—“The disease at the heart of the work poisons the blood….The whole body is sick.”
F – “Olson’s tenure of office was a time of awakening from Laodicean self-satisfaction and self-reliance.”
EW – “The General Conference is itself becoming corrupted with wrong sentiments and principles….The people are learning that men in high positions of responsibility cannot be trusted to mold and fashion other men’s minds and characters.”
[Froom’s statements from Movement of Destiny, pp. 359-363. Ellen White’s statements from letter to A. O. Tait, Aug. 27, 1896, Special Testimonies, #19, p. 29,30, letter to O.A. Olson, May 31, 1896, Testimonies to Ministers, p. 359]
We need to understand this terrible situation with pity, sympathy, and tender sorrow.
Froom – “Only pockets of resistance remained, with certain individuals persisting in the rejective attitude.” Movement of Destiny, p. 371
How can reason support the contention that it was only “pockets of resistance” remaining? Can the Adventist conscience conclude that for all these 130 years since 1888, the Lord has withheld His Spirit because of only “pockets of resistance? Did Israel of old because of “pockets of resistance” go back into the wilderness after coming up to the borders of Canaan? The good report of Caleb and Joshua was not able to outweigh the bad report—the unbelieving report of the ten. Even when the ten repented, the terrible ill effect was not cancelled out. Their prayer to die in the wilderness was answered.
“They seemed sincerely to repent of their sinful conduct; but they sorrowed because of the result of their evil course, rather than from a sense of their ingratitude and disobedience….their hearts were unchanged.” PP 392
The following inspired statement in 1901 is especially poignant when we remember that Ellen White was planning to be translated.
“We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years, as did the children of Israel; but…His people should not add sin to sin by charging God with the consequence of their own wrong course of action.” Ev 696
The faithful report of Caleb and Joshua could not counteract the disbelief and evil lying report of the other ten spies. The fact that Jones and Waggoner continued to preach could not cancel out the “insubordination.” It is a known fact that there was widespread opposition to Ellen White and to the messages she was giving to the church.
Moses accepted the report of the two faithful spies. He was deeply grieved at the terrible rebellion of the people. In humiliation and distress of soul Moses went before the Lord and pleaded for the people, and the Lord heard and pardoned. But the damage was done! Moses with all his hopes and his whole life immersed in the welfare of Israel could not change the rebellion into obedience nor alter the verdict of the Lord: “turn you, and get you into the wilderness.” Numbers 14:25
Today we are still talking about the latter rain coming at some future time, in spite of the fact that the Lord offered this to us over 130 years ago. Ellen White offers some reasons for its rejection in A. V. Olson, Through Crisis to Victory, Appendix A, pp 257ff.
“There are many ministers who have never been converted.” The ministers were offering “lifeless prayers…dry discourses...they are not partakers of the divine nature.” “We want the ministers and the young men to be converted.” “The Pharisees refused to know God and Jesus Christ whom He had sent. Are we not in danger of doing the same thing as did the Pharisees and scribes?” “Come up out of the cellar of doubt, of unbelief, of jealousy, and evil surmising, into the upper chamber of faith, hope, courage, and thankfulness.” “How can you listen to all that I have been telling you all through these meetings and not know for yourselves what is truth?” “Eyes have ye but ye see not; ears, but ye hear not.”
Ellen White was addressed in the night season and told by her guide (an angel) to follow and she seemed to be at headquarters in Battle Creek. The guide went on to say, “This message, understood in its true character, and proclaimed in the Spirit, will lighten the earth with its glory.” If “we” accepted in 1888 all that “we” say “we” did, then it is long past time for this glory to be seen. “Self-esteem and self-righteousness are coming in upon us, and many will fall because of unbelief and unrighteousness, for the grace of Christ is not ruling in the hearts of many.” “You need greater light, you need a clearer understanding of the truth which you carry to the people….Let it not be said of this highly favored people, ‘Ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.”
“An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth, lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord’s message through Brethren Waggoner and Jones. By exciting that opposition, Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them….The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world.” 1SM 234,235
In a letter to her daughter-in-law, Mary, Ellen White says that 1888 was “a most laborious meeting,” and she had to “watch at every point lest there should be moves made, resolutions passed, that would prove detrimental to the future work,” and that “we have had the hardest and most incomprehensible tug of war we have ever had among our people.” She says that she is grateful to God for the strength and freedom and power of His Spirit in bearing her testimony, although it has made the “least impression upon many minds than at any period in my history.” Froom, Movement of Destiny, pp. 234-236, 673,674.
The decorum of one of the main proponents is set forth clearly by Ellen White. She refers to:
"A right spirit, a Christlike spirit, manifested, such as Elder E. J. Waggoner had shown all through the presentations of his views….As Elder E. J. Waggoner had conducted himself like a Christian gentleman, they should do the same….He conducted the subject as a Christian gentleman should in a kind and courteous manner." Ms 24, 1888
1952 Bible Conference
The 1952 Bible Conference, held in the Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church, Takoma Park, Maryland, should make “us” comprehend after these 70 years how confused the situation is in our midst and measure carefully what “we see.” The following quotation is from the organizers of the Bible Conference.
“To a large degree the church failed to build on the foundation laid at the 1888 General Conference. Much has been lost as a result. We are years behind where we should have been in spiritual growth. Long ere this we should have been in the Promised Land. But the message of righteousness by faith given in the 1888 Conference has been repeated here….And this great truth has been given here in this 1952 Bible Conference with far greater power than it was given in the 1888 Conference….No longer will the question be, ‘What was the attitude of our workers and people toward the message of righteousness by faith that was given in 1888? What did they do about it?’ From now on the great question must be, ‘What did we do with the light on righteousness by faith as proclaimed in the 1952 Bible Conference?’…The reception of the righteousness of Christ by faith will bring the Holy Ghost down from heaven. This will result in the very foundations of the world being shaken by the preaching of the Advent message. We are engaged in an effort to double our church membership in a four-year period from 1950 to 1953…..The reception of the righteousness of Christ by the church today will bring the second Pentecost….Thousands will be converted in a day as the message of salvation through Christ swells to a loud and mighty cry." Our Firm Foundation, vol.2, pp.616-618
So the question is: Was the message of 1888 truly repeated in 1952? And was it given with far greater power than it was given in the 1888 Conference? Listen to Froom about 1888:
“The epochal Minneapolis session stands out like a mountain peak, towering above all other sessions in uniqueness and importance. It was a distinct turning point. Nothing like it had occurred before, and none has since been comparable to it. It definitely introduced a new epoch.” Movement of Destiny, 187
Will “we” face our situation and our history exactly as they stand? One thing is as clear as it could possibly be – “We” have not remotely fulfilled the grand proclamations made at that meeting, nor has the church yet seen far greater power in its midst due to the 1952 Conference.
Within five years we held discussions with evangelical leaders to change some of our teachings so that we could be accepted by conservative evangelical churches as part of mainstream Baptist salvation theology. This led slowly but directly to Desmond Ford being invited to Pacific Union College in the 1970’s. Ellen White warned: “Christ is as really rejected today by the rejection of His messages of warning and reproof as when He stood in this world a man among men.” RH April 2, 1901
On what basis can “we” presume to say that the period between 1888 and 1901 were in some ways the most progressive years of the Advent Movement up until that time? It was but a few months later, Feb. 18, 1902, that the terrible sanitarium fire came. The shock of this was scarcely over, when ten months later the publishing house was burned. The Lord has told us that these losses did not just happen.
This means that our situation was very similar to that described in the Scriptures. There was war in heaven, and the war was of such magnitude that when that old serpent fought against Michael, his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth. What mortal man would dare to minimize the war in heaven because only about one-third fought against Michael? Yet history confirms that at least more than one-fourth of the delegates known and listed by name, not to count the unnamed group, were on the wrong side of the issue, warring against the light God sent.
The idea is presented and urged by Froom that the message of righteousness by faith was not officially rejected and that no action whatever was taken by vote of the delegates to accept it or to reject it. But the counsel of the Lord is recorded with explicit reference to Minneapolis. The understanding was clear enough and positive enough that five years after 1888, the session of 1893 publicly acknowledged: “Then what did the brethren in that fearful position in which they stood, reject at Minneapolis? They rejected the latter rain—the loud cry of the third angel’s message.” General Conference Bulletin, 1893, p. 183 On this one page of the Bulletin, seven times there is specific reference to “reject,” “rejected,” “rejecting,” “set aside,” or not receiving. The evidence is overwhelming, yet “we” presume to rationalize and set aside this solemn positive recorded history to suit our desire for self-vindication, which in the final analysis is to charge God for His delay in returning.
A modern thesis says, “It can hardly be said, however, that the doctrine of justification by faith had taken its place as a major tenet of the denomination. In order for the doctrine to have achieved this status, it would have to become part of the teaching of practically all accredited spokesmen of the denomination. Such was not the case.” Norval Pease, Justification and Righteousness by Faith in the Seventh-day Adventist Church Before 1900, p. 88
By evading the recognition that the 1888 message was the beginning of the latter rain and was rejected, a painful conclusion is forced—The leadership and ministry are good, but the laity are bad. “They have neglected…They have failed…their poor souls are naked and destitute…they will soon be rejected by their Lord.” Movement of Destiny, p. 239 “The Holy Spirit…could not do His allotted work because of the unpreparedness of the membership.” Movement of Destiny, p. 582. The false philosophy is this. There can be a church leadership which is right with God and a laity that is unresponsive. Where in the Bible is such a teaching formulated? If the message of 1888 as widely affirmed, produced a great revival in the 1890’s and if this is the third angel’s message in verity, it must be asked: What happened to the revival? How could other activities demand first place? How could there have been a failure to stress this message from 1900 to 1910 if it was truly accepted in 1888 as claimed?
1970’s Study Group
In the 1970’s a new study group was authorized by the General Conference to restudy 1888. The study group was given a number of guidelines to direct their study. Some of these guidelines are as follows [in dark type]:
Do our findings as we look at the documents reveal:
- That at Minneapolis and subsequently the church rejected the messages of justification by faith and righteousness by faith?
The issue is not whether the church or anybody accepted the historic Protestant doctrine of justification and righteousness by faith, but how was the message that was to have been the beginning of the latter rain and loud cry accepted? The truth is, the church never had a real chance to consider the message. The real issue is, Did the church leadership accept the message? Recorded history on this is clear enough.
- That there are varying essential qualities in the concepts of righteousness by faith as understood and advocated by Paul, Luther, Ellen G. White, Jones and Waggoner, and do the presentations of Jones and Waggoner disclose their holdings as unique and superior?
The real question is, Does God have a more mature concept of righteousness by faith for His people to understand in the time of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary? Is it essential that the people who receive the latter rain understand righteousness by faith in a deeper and more meaningful way than any previous generation has understood it?
- That Adventist historians…have either intentionally or inadvertently misrepresented the basic facts relating to the Minneapolis experience and the aftermath, and if all documents (particularly the E. G. White manuscripts) were taken into account their witness would be different than it is?
There is no question but that if all documents, particularly Ellen White manuscripts as well as published statements from her pen were taken into account, the witness regarding 1888 would be completely different than it now is. More than enough has been made available to settle the matter in a way quite different from that presented by these authors.
- That justification and righteousness by faith as taught in the Scriptures and amplified in the writings of Ellen G. White lead us doctrinally and experientially to positions superior to those commonly held today by evangelical groups?
This is an amazing question! If the answer is not a decided “yes,” than “we” have not the slightest excuse for existing as a people. If the latter rain had its beginning those many years ago, surely it is self-evident that something happened so that the “rain” has turned into what some would call a mere “drizzle.”
Testimonies to Ministers
Within the Seventh-day Adventist Church today, there is not a person alive who was in attendance at the notable 1888 Minneapolis Conference. This means that everything known of this era must be obtained from the written record—the history that was made then. There is an increasing number of ministers who see in 1888 a great tragedy, and they are beginning to voice their convictions in public from the pulpit. No matter how fondly any one of us may cherish our ideas, we will sooner or later be laid to rest, unless “we” as a generation are willing to die to our own concepts and take at face value, by faith, all that the Lord has said about 1888. To continue to rationalize is our doom.
In the 1962 edition of Testimonies to Ministers, there is found the following statement: “It is not the work of the custodians of the Ellen G. White writings to explain or interpret the counsels which have been given.” TM (1962 edition) p. xxxvi
This is most reasonable and would seem to be correct in every way. Notwithstanding this, the latest edition of Testimonies to Ministers has the most extended explanatory foreword of perhaps any E.G. White book ever published. To add to this, there are lengthy Appendix Notes such as none of her other books have. In fact, the Historical Foreword and the Appendix Notes have a total of 36 pages. When it is considered that the previous edition of this book published in 1944 does not have a single page of Historical Foreword, or one page or even one entry in an Appendix, it would seem strange that the 1962 edition should require 36 pages of special notes. In the preface of the 1962 edition is this statement:
“These notes will aid the reader in ascertaining correctly the intent of the author in the messages here presented.” TM (1962 edition) p. xi
This book contains perhaps more specific and direct reference to 1888 than any other published volume up to that time. Of the forty-odd entries made in the Appendix Notes, the largest group of references is to 1888. Following are some of Ellen White’s statements in this book.
“That men should keep alive the spirit which ran riot at Minneapolis is an offense to God.” TM p. 76 This was written May 30, 1896, over seven years after the session.
"Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify….This prophecy was literally fulfilled by the Jews in their treatment of Christ and of the messengers whom God sent to them. Will men in these last days follow the example of those whom Christ condemned?" TM 78,79
"I inquire of those in responsible positions in Battle Creek, What are you doing? You have turned your back, and not your face, to the Lord….But that light which is to fill the whole earth with its glory has been despised by some who claim to believe the present truth." TM 89
"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones….How long will you hate and despise the messengers of God’s righteousness? God has given them His message….If you reject God’s delegated messengers, you reject Christ." TM 91,96,97
"The true religion, the only religion of the Bible,…that advocates righteousness by the faith of the Son of God, has been slighted, spoken against, ridiculed, and rejected." TM 467,468
The two previous editions of Testimonies to Ministers had no editors’ comments. Why was there need in 1962 to interpret and supply notes that seem intended to give the impression that ultimately the ’88 session came out not too badly?
A specific example of this is seen on page 468 where the message of righteousness by faith was spoken against and rejected. The appendix comment says “there were many who received the message and gained a great blessing in their own personal experience.” There is no way to construe this passage to infer that there were many who received the message.
One argument used by Olson and Froom was that no vote was taken at the ’88 session, hence the rejection of truth could not have taken place. How tragic to even consider the idea that a vote could or could not have any spiritual significance in preparing a people for the final atonement. Could a vote possibly send or withhold the latter rain? Will a vote usher in the second coming of Christ?
Also, reference is made to only “some” who rejected the message:
"Unfortunately, several among the leaders of our work connected with the General Conference and our institutions at Battle Creek ranked themselves on the negative side and established in the very heart of the work of the church a hard core of resistance." TM xxv
In TM 359-364 Ellen White uses some of the most emphatic language about the “center of the work, and “men in high positions of responsibility.” The “some” to which she refers is none other than the leadership.
“The General Conference is itself becoming corrupted with wrong sentiments and principles….The high-handed power that has been developed, as though position has made them gods,, makes me afraid, and ought to cause fear….The people are learning that men in high positions of responsibility cannot be trusted to mold and fashion other men’s minds and characters….The righteousness of Christ by faith has been ignored by some.” TM 359-363
That “some” is the leadership. The “blinded eyes of men” is an age-old disease, so the Lord in His mercy has given us a “seer,” if “we” will accept His sight and guidance through her.
Froom uses about three pages in his book to portray Olson’s leadership years. “He (Olson) joined wholeheartedly with Ellen White….the years of Olson’s administration saw a real revival and reformation….He fostered the study of the Spirit of Prophecy.” Movement of Destiny, pp. 361-363
Froom’s appraisal is absolutely opposite from that of the Lord’s messenger. Where in all the Spirit of Prophecy can support be found for the statement that Elder Olson was “one who was ever loyal to the Spirit of Prophecy counsels?”
“Elder Olson, the present state of things has continued long enough. Your eyesight has become imperfect….I now beg of you to arise in the name of the Lord, and He will help you to retrieve the errors of the past, that are leading to serious results.” Letter 55, 1895
“I am sorry you have not regarded the warnings and instructions which have been given you…..Your practice has been contrary to these warnings….Bro. Olson, you have lost much from your experience that should have been brought into your character building, by failing to stand firmly and faithfully for right, braving all the consequences.” Letter, May 31, 1896
“O my brother, my brother, watchman upon the walls of Zion, how could you move in such uncertain paths? It seems more than I can explain. How could you consent to propositions which came to you through the same fallen angel that tempted our first parents?” Letter, July 5, 1896
“He has ventured on, directly contrary to the light which the Lord has been giving him….He does not regard the testimonies….Unmistakably, Elder Olson has acted as did Aaron, in regard to these men who have been opposed to the work of God ever since the Minneapolis meeting.” Letter, Aug. 27, 1896
“Light came to me from the Lord that Elder Olson had neglected the trust given him, and had failed in doing his duty to read the things that I had given him, to the ones who must have them….I did not suppose that those who claimed to believe the testimonies would lay them away and make no use of them….He went directly contrary to the cautions and warnings given him.” Letter, Nov. 21, 1897
How could men talk about “a real revival and reformation” when the Lord says venturing on “directly contrary to the light which the Lord had been giving?” Without reserve, the messenger points out that the unbelief of the Jews in “that day” is the same as “this day,” thus placing themselves where God has “no reserve power” to reach them. “I feel this in every meeting where I have been.” All “the power of brain, and all the power of thought, and all the power of talk” is “to stay the work of God.” “Let me tell you, the testimony will be this: ‘Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida!’” “It is something beyond anything I have ever seen in all my experience since I first encountered the work. The people of God who have had light and evidence have stood where God would not let His blessing fall upon them.” “I know that He has a blessing for us. He had it at Minneapolis, and He had it for us at the time of the General Conference here. But there was no reception.” Mss. Release No. 253
It is this last sentence to which the White Estate took exception. They said, “The wording of this sentence is clearly faulty, for, isolated, it is out of harmony with what follows.” How could any man, or committee, or board presume to add such a contradictory footnote? There is not a single line in the sermon to support such a prejudiced statement. She meant just what she said. Furthermore, the idea of “no reception” or in other words, a rejection, is used many times by the Lord’s messenger in other places and over a period of years.
“God has raised up men to meet the necessity of this time who will cry aloud and spare not, who will lift up their voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins.” RH Aug.13, 1889
“We should be ready to accept light from God from whatever source it may come, instead of rejecting it because it does not come through the channel from which we expected it.” RH Aug. 27, 1889
“The enemy of man and God is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken….It is perilous to the soul to hesitate, question, and criticize divine light. Satan will present his temptations until the light will appear as darkness, and many will reject the very truth that would have proved the saving of their souls.” RH Sept. 3, 1889
“God requires higher service now than ever before….He has brought us into a position where we need higher and better things than have ever been needed before….My brethren, if we were blind, we would not sin, but we have been privileged to look upon great light….We cannot stand where our fathers stood. We cannot be accepted of God in rendering the same service that our fathers rendered.” RH Feb. 25, 1890
"If God gives light, you must walk in the light, and follow the light….It is too late in the day to cry out against men for manifesting too much earnestness in the service of God….Every line I trace about the condition of the people in the time of Christ, about their attitude toward the Light of the world, I see danger that we shall take the same position….It is when we meet unbelief in those who should be leaders of the people, that our souls are wounded.” RH March 4, 1890
“When warning men to beware, to accept nothing unless it is truth, we should also warn them not to imperil their souls by rejecting messages of light.” RH March 11, 1890
“Our young men look to our older brethren, and as they see that they do not accept the message, but treat it as though it were of no consequence, it influences those who are ignorant of the Scriptures to reject the light….Shall we repeat the history of the Jews in our work?...How long will those at the head of the work keep themselves aloof from the message of God?” RH March 18, 1890
“Some of our leading brethren have frequently taken positions on the wrong side, and if God would send a message and wait for these older brethren to open the way for its advance, it would never reach the people.” RH July 26, 1892
“We want to understand the time in which we live. We do not half understand it….The trials of the children of Israel, and their attitude just before the first coming of Christ, have been presented before me again and again to illustrate the position of the people of God in their experience before the second coming of Christ….Today he is seeking to blind the minds of God’s servants, that they may not be able to discern the precious truth.” RH Feb. 18, 1890
“O how Christ longed, how His heart burned, to open to the priests the greater treasures of the truth! But their minds had been cast in such a mold that it was next to an impossibility to reveal to them the truths relating to His kingdom.” 1SM 407-408
“So it was with Israel. The principle that man can save himself by his own works…had now become the principle of the Jewish religion….Wherever it is held, men have no barrier against sin….The Jews…had refused to surrender themselves to God for the salvation of the world, and they became agents of Satan for its destruction. The people whom God had called to be the pillar and ground of the truth had become representatives of Satan.” DA 35-36
But wonder of wonders, God’s Spirit has said almost exactly the same thing about our church in our day. “Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit….The light…by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world.” 1SM 234-235.
Again it must be asked—Do we see this? Do we believe it? We say, “We see.” We speak much about righteousness by faith, and we have Sabbath School lessons on the subject, and so we are inclined to consider we have a true revival of the 1888 message.
“The enemy of man and God is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken.” RH Sept. 3, 1889. Is the power of the enemy being broken now in a way it was not just a few years ago? Ask our pastors. Ask our parents. Ask our school principals. Weep for Israel in this hour. What possesses us to call darkness light?
Who “rejected” Christ? How was a verdict obtained to crucify Him and release Barabbas? Who among the Jews “rejected” Christ. Surely it was not the people of the nation. A vocal minority carried the rejection to its terrible climax. There were the ex-high priest, the incumbent high priest, the judges, the priests, the rulers, the elders, and some other members of the Sanhedrin. Yet the nation was involved through the leaders. It was the religious authorities that sought the life of Christ.
“Not a few among the priests and rulers had been convicted by Christ’s teaching, and only fear of excommunication prevented them from confessing Him.” DA p. 699. They were in exactly the same condition as Laodicea. Though blind they thought they could see. Jewish history has established forever the fact that leaders, religious authorities, can be blind and not know it.
“From generation to generation they were working on false theories, carrying out principles opposed to the truth, and combining with their religion thoughts and plans that were the product of human minds. Human inventions were made supreme.” TM 359. In the same way the 1888 crisis can be seen to have roots in previous events.
For Israel, the revered memory of father Abraham had to be protected, and no matter how many Jews became Christians, this could not undo the tragic results of the course which had been taken by the leaders and elders. We too must face our history and we too must specifically go back to that place where we insulted the Holy Spirit and offended God. Only this kind of God-given repentance can suffice in the final atonement.
“Had Christ been before them, they would have treated Him in a manner similar to that in which the Jews treated Christ.” Special Testimonies, Series A, No.6, p. 20. When the Lord came to His people in 1888, it was to be a new experience, a new way, more intimate than ever offered before to the human race—but the leaders said, “Beware, fanaticism.” And we are saying the same thing today.
In 1937 Elder Taylor Bunch wrote “The Exodus and Advent Movements in Type and Antitype.” “Just as Kadesh Barnea brought ancient Israel to the greatest crisis of their journey, so the message of 1888 brought modern Israel to the parting of the ways and the greatest crisis of our history. That the Lord intended to pour out the latter rain and quickly finish His work is abundantly evident.” p. 89
“It is not necessary for us deliberately to choose the service of the kingdom of darkness in order to come under its dominion. We have only to neglect to ally ourselves with the kingdom of light….There are none so hardened as those who have slighted the invitation of mercy.” DA 324
“But the Holy Spirit has been insulted, and light has been rejected. Is it possible for those who for years have been so blinded, to see?” TM 393
If we now admit there was a rejection of the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy as given through Ellen White, and this rejection by the leadership, we must therefore admit there was a rejection of the Holy Spirit and this is the crux of the 1888 rebellion.
“The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God….There will be a hatred kindled against the testimonies which is satanic.” 1 SM 48
Our persistent delay to acknowledge our history for exactly what it says can put us in the same category as the Jews of old, when the Lord said of their temple, “Your house is left unto you desolate.” Matt. 23:38
The consequences of our procrastination are tragic. If the Lord could have come before now had we fulfilled our calling, it means we are in a degree responsible for the increasing woe coming upon the world. At this date, 130 years after the Minneapolis Conference, why do we insist that men know more about what happened at that time than the Lord Himself knows? The true and reliable source for that session and the years following is the testimony of the Lord’s servant. How long will we refuse her testimony? The Lord gave it to her and our refusal to accept it now is to continue to reject the latter rain and to evade her authority as surely as our fathers did.
Our faith in the Lord is based on a written record set down by men under inspiration. Our destiny depends on the truth of what they wrote. By the same Holy Spirit which inspired them to write, so depends the destiny of the remnant church, for it is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the testimony of Ellen White which makes her counsel valid and relevant. If it is not so, we have no reason to exist as a denominated people. The question is, Are we ready now and willing to repent, or must this yet be the work of a future generation? Can our wanderings now cease? Do we see our relation to our brethren of 1888? Are we willing to take our place beside them? Will we accept a spirit of humility and contrition?
“He (Daniel) did not try to excuse himself or his people, but acknowledged the full extent of their transgression. In their behalf he confessed sins of which he himself was not guilty, and besought the mercy of God, that he might bring his brethren to see their sins, and with him to humble their hearts before the Lord.” RH Dec. 16, 1890. If Daniel was willing to enter into this experience, why should we not be willing to do likewise?
If “the Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones,” then let us examine that message very carefully and make a plan for His people to get the message. The Lord sent the message. We have no right to try to stop it or in any way to discredit the men who brought it. They had “credentials from heaven,” and what they brought was the beginning of the latter rain and loud cry. Let them speak!
Let us lay aside A.G. Daniells and N.F. Pease and L.H. Christian and A.W. Spalding and W.H. Branson and A.V. Olson and L.E. Froom and all the 1000 pages and more that they have written about 1888. The Ellen G. White Estate must also be laid aside. The one who must now speak without repress, without comment, without interpretation or any explanation of intent is the Lord’s messenger to the remnant church, Ellen G. White. Let the dialogue of men be silent, and let the Lord speak through her pen.
The mystery of 1888 must be resolved; man cannot do it but the Lord can. We need only to accept what He has told us about our history, and this need not wait for a future generation. The universe has waited long enough. It is time for the atonement to be completed. Can we see ourselves as He sees us? Can we confess that we are blind? If we can, we have the promise of Jesus that He came into this world in order that “they which see not might see.”
[I am indebted to the research of Donald K. Short, The Mystery of 1888, for the inspiration to write this appeal to my generation to be the last one to live under Satan’s rulership of this planet.]